Season 3, Episode 1

Science as the underdog, and the research behind it.

In our first episode, we unpack the research around our season theme of science as the underdog, with Horizon Research, Inc. Vice President Eric R. Banilower and Senior Researcher Courtney Plumley. Eric and Courtney dive into the research they’ve found and their experiences as former educators to show how science is often overlooked in K–12 classrooms. We discuss how the science classroom compares to other subjects in terms of time and resources, how schools are a reflection of society, and what’s needed to change science and its impact on a larger scale.

Meet our guest(s):

Eric R. Banilower and Courtney Plumley

Eric R. Banilower is a Vice President at Horizon Research, Inc. (HRI), and has worked in education for over 30 years. Eric was previously a high school physics and physical science teacher before he joined HRI in 1997, where he has worked on a number of research and evaluation projects. Most recently, he has been the Principal Investigator of the 2012 and 2018 iterations of the National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education, a nationally representative survey focusing on the status of the K–12 STEM education system.

Courtney Plumley is a Senior Researcher at Horizon Research, Inc. She began her career in education as an elementary school teacher before starting at HRI in 2009. In her time at HRI she has worked on many K-12 STEM research and evaluation projects. Most recently, Ms. Plumley has worked with Carnegie Corporation of New York on mapping the landscape of K-12 science education in the US and is managing the field test for the OpenSciEd elementary materials.

Meet our host: Eric Cross

Eric Cross is a seventh grade science/technology teacher, grade level lead, and digital learning innovator for Albert Einstein Academies, International Baccalaureate schools. He is also an adjunct professor of learning and technology at the University of San Diego and a Google certified innovator. Eric earned a bachelor’s degree from Azusa Pacific University and a Master of Education from the University of San Diego. He had 17 years of experience working with at-risk youth and underserved populations before becoming a middle school teacher. By building relationships with students, colleagues, and the community, he has become an empowered leader in and out of the classroom. Through meaningful learning experiences centered around student agency, STEM has become accessible to students through highly engaging lesson design, thoughtful integration of digital tools, and culturally relevant pedagogy.


Our data is showing us places where the system needs to provide teachers and their students the opportunities to do great things. —Eric R. Banilower