Meet the Authors
Meet a few of the amazing authors who write our secular home school curriculum.
Meet the Authors of REAL Science Odyssey, History Odyssey, and History Quest:
Meet the Authors of Pandia Press’ secular home school curriculum: Samantha Matalone Cook, Lisa Hawkins, Blair Lee, Dahlia Schwartz, and Lindsey Sodano. They come from wide-ranging backgrounds and educational experiences, but they all have in common a strong desire to make a difference in childhood education. Here we introduce you to a few of these remarkable authors.
Blair Lee, M.S. is the founder of Secular Eclectic Academic (SEA) Homeschoolers, a supportive community of over 39,000 members that advocates for the exclusive use of secular academic materials. Meet the author of Pandia Press’s critically acclaimed REAL Science Odyssey Series, as well as the author of The Science of Climate Change: A Hands-On Course. Blair earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Master’s degree in Chemistry at the University of California San Diego. She is a passionate advocate of innovative academics using secular materials. Through her speaking and writing, her goal is to empower homeschoolers to dare to be innovative and create something unique and academically-rich when handcrafting their child’s journey through learning. When teaching at her local community college, Blair found that many of her students were lacking in basic foundational science upon entering college. She believes science can be and should be taught from the beginning of a child’s education. She began working with her own son and his friends on methods of teaching science concepts usually reserved for high school or college students. The results of her research and writing is REAL Science Odyssey Chemistry 1, Biology 2, Astronomy 1, Astronomy 2, Earth & Environment 1, The Stargazer’s Notebook—concept-rich, hands-on courses that engage young people’s minds and lay a firm foundation of science concepts. Blair now spends her time writing science for young people and is currently working on REAL Science Odyssey Biology 1 and Earth & Environment 2. She lives in California with her husband, son, many dogs, and several guinea pigs. When not homeschooling her son and writing textbooks, she loves to ski, cook (most chemists are good cooks), read, and hike. You can contact Blair directly with questions about REAL Science Odyssey and SEA Homeschoolers at [email protected].
Check out Blair Lee’s recent books:
The Stargazer’s Notebook–A Yearlong Study of the Night Sky, the ideal instruction manual, planner, journal, and cosmos laboratory for the astronomy student and amateur stargazer ages 10-100.
Earth & Environment 1, an innovative course for those yearning for a more nuanced Earth science curriculum with environmental science woven throughout.
Lisa Hawkins was born and raised in New York, although she also lived for some time in Miami, Puerto Rico, and on a commune in San Diego. She went to Swarthmore College in the Philadelphia area, where she thought she was going to be a research biology major. After almost setting fire to her chemistry lab and mistaking a fake plastic owl for a real one, Lisa realized that a career in lab science was not for her, and probably dangerous for everyone else. Grudgingly, she took a history course her junior year and was immediately hooked for life. She went on to Temple University to earn her Masters in History and Widener University to do graduate work in Education and Literature. In 1993, she married her college sweetheart, and together they have four children, who have been homeschooled. Lisa has been an adjunct college professor since 1998, creating courses and teaching in history departments for several institutions both live and online. In 2012, she received an “Outstanding Adjunct Faculty” award from one of her universities. Lisa had also been a high school literature and history teacher at an inner-city, classically based academy. When she’s not teaching or reading nerdy history books, she will be watching international soccer games, listening to Van Morrison, or enjoying a good movie. Well, her husband questions whether all the movies she enjoys are good, since she continues to find Napoleon Dynamite funny after several viewings, but that’s another story.
Watch Lisa Hawkins’ YouTube video: Building a More Powerful History Curriculum – This presentation will provide parents with some bold arguments about how using primary documents not only improves the nature of their history curriculum, but also helps to broaden their children’s understanding of their world, recognize hidden assumptions, and expand their sense of humanity.
You can learn more about the courses Lisa offers for older students and contact her directly through her website, www.questcourses.com
Dahlia Schwartz has been interested in physics since her family acquired a cheap telescope when she was a child. She graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and worked for the Space & Communications group at Hughes Aircraft Company for five years. A few degrees, decades, and careers later, Dahlia started homeschooling her two children. She now helps to run a homeschool co-op where she has had a wonderful time developing science classes that encourage kids to think outside the usual box, such as a world-building class in which students create their own planet, from the big bang to the development of language, culture, and technology, learning about subjects such as physics, chemistry, biology, linguistics, and anthropology. Dahlia lives in Michigan and enjoys teaching, reading, complex origami, playing guitar and, when the Michigan weather permits, taking out her newer, bigger telescope to marvel at the universe.
Dahlia writes science books for every child who has been curious about the world around us, and especially her own children, Aliana and Itamar, who taught her that even young children are capable of comprehending precise and complex scientific ideas. Thanks to them, she has discovered that true wonder and excitement about science springs from being exposed to the deep questions that science asks and to the ideas that are often, mistakenly, reserved for advanced science classes.
Lindsey Sodano is a writer, editor, and mom of three who lives in Mason, Ohio. She has degrees in English and education from Boston College, where she focused her studies in English on children’s literature and feminist literary criticism and her education studies on alternative forms of education such as homeschooling and gender-specific schools. After several years in the business world, Lindsey began homeschooling her oldest child, JR, with a classically-inspired eclectic approach.
Most of Lindsey’s family is obsessed with history. Both her brother and father-in-law are/were high school history teachers, and she suspected her son might follow in their footsteps when he started answering historical questions on the game show Jeopardy! correctly at age 6. Lindsey has a special interest in literature-based history studies, so much so that she gave her two younger children names inspired by characters from Táin Bó Cúailnge and the Odyssey. These days, Lindsey has a special interest in learning all about how homeschoolers can earn college credit while still in high school. In her spare time, she enjoys participating in community theatre, singing, playing piano and guitar, and visiting theme parks with her kids.
Samantha Matalone Cook, BA, MAT
Upcoming History Odyssey Level 2
Samantha Matalone Cook has almost three decades of experience in education, program development, and the arts and is a dedicated mentor and lifelong learner. She has a BA in Humanities, with an emphasis in Medieval History and Archaeology, and an MaT from the George Washington Graduate School of Education and Human Development, specializing in Museum and Non Profit Education. As an educator, Samantha has worked with both small and large organizations to create educational programming that centers and connects the learner to concepts and skills. She has taught in classrooms and in private workshops, mentored other educators, and worked for and with many museums including the Smithsonian.
Samantha’s love of history extends back as far as she can remember, and was humored by her family with long road trips to see historical sites and the gifting of an unrestricted, continuously growing personal library. This passion continued through her education and extensive travel around the world. She was able to share her enthusiasm with others by working on archeological sites, as a historian for an art history website start-up, and as an educator in museums and classrooms. To Samantha, the study of History and the Humanities is essential to understanding ourselves and our society, connecting to the human condition, learning compassion and resilience, and inspiring both active citizenship and thoughtful creativity. While she delights in every period of History, she’s particularly fond of the Middle Ages, an emphasis in her academic study, with the Golden Age of Piracy coming in a close second.
Samantha consistently writes about history and the humanities, feminism, mythology, human development and learning, and alternative education and educational reform for various publications. She is an active speaker and advocate, featured at many events including Maker Faire, HSC Conference, Mastermind Talks, East Bay Mini Maker Faire, The Global Education conference, AERO, SEA and more. Samantha is a founder and advisor of Mothership Hackermoms, an organization in Berkeley that gives new mothers creative support and provides child care. She is founder and former ED for Curiosity Hacked, a non-profit hackerspace for kids and families, where she built international learning communities and pushed the boundaries of what learner-centered, alternative STEAM education could look like. She is a consultant and advisory board member for Home Base, a community education center for home educating families, and an advisor and consultant for SEA, and international advocacy group for secular, academic education.
Currently, Samantha is working on a consulting basis with both families and organizations, leading educator workshops, as well as continuing to experiment with learning through classes and workshops. She has been teaching dynamic, project-based classes on History and the Humanities for many years, and continues to expand how her favorite subject can be used as a catalyst for understanding, expression, and intersectionality. In addition, Samantha is writing book two books: one on Project Based Learning and one on Ancient History, which is the first of a four part series for Pandia Press’ History Odyssey (Level 2). She also finds new adventures and manages mischief every day with her three home educated kids in their Colorado mountain home. You can find more information about Samantha and her work at www.samanthamatalonecook.com
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