Michael Bechtel

Associate Professor of Science Education

(319) 352-8380

(319) 352-8606


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More about Michael Bechtel

B.A., Wartburg College, 1994
M.Ed., University of Wisconsin, 2007
Ed.D., Edgewood College, 2012

Current Research/Areas of Interest
I am interested in STEAM fields (specifically the general fields of biology, chemistry, agriculture, and physics) and educational practices (constructivism, metacognition, student-teacher relationships, academic retention, HOTS, STEAM, NGSS, etc.). Two special areas of interest are biophilia (as described by E.O. Wilson and supported by H. Gardner) and the interweaving of content, andragogy, and content andragogy (as described by J. Ogden). I am currently working on the creation of classroom aquaponics lessons/systems (used in several school districts in more than six states).

  • Biophilia refers to the appropriate and productive use of living organisms in the classroom setting
  • Andragogy does not refer to the age of the student but refers directly to four crucial and active assumptions (according to M. Knowles):

          1. moving focus from dependence to self-direction
          2. growing a reservoir of experience to serve as a resource for learning
          3. orienting learning towards developmental tasks
          4. applying classroom learning to real-life challenges

    The realm of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics) education is an interesting field that allows for intertwining endeavors built from each individual discipline (sciences/mathematics and education). I work to assist students with forming their own approaches to teaching (and understanding) science.

    I taught the sciences in public schools, community colleges, technical colleges, and university systems in three states (Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) for the first 19 years of my career. Besides three PK-12 teaching licenses, I also have Director of Curriculum, Principal, and Superintendent certifications.

    The Ioponics system I created in partnership with Wartburg College students was selected for funding by the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council in 2021, 2022, and 2023. Because of that funding, this interactive system is now in 70 Iowa counties. In 2023, I was the runner-up in the adult category of the annual Cox Conserves Heroes award program for making a positive impact on the environment.

    I also have received awards from the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim (’16), Chellevold (’15), Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers (’13), Gustav Ohaus (’12), WKBT (’10), Horace Mann (’09), Central High School (’08), Wartburg College (’07), Saydel High School (’02, ’01, ’00, ’99, ’98), and Iowa Academy of the Sciences (’00) for teaching performance and interactive lesson planning. My personal interest in biophilia focuses on exotic animal and herpetile husbandry.

    Courses Taught
    BI 120 Science of Water
    BI 131 Biology of Ordinary Things
    BI 250 Introductory Research
    BI 281 Field Experience Mentor
    BI 295 Ecology and Culture of the Amazon II
    BI 315 Ornithology
    BI 371 Animal Research
    BI 470 Secondary Content Methods: Biology
    CH 450 Chemistry Independent Study (Advanced Inorganic/Chemistry Education)
    CH 450 Chemistry Independent Study (Chemistry of Ordinary Things)
    CH 470 Secondary Content Methods: Chemistry
    ED 483 Student Teacher Supervision
    ED 488 Middle School Teaching
    GM 295 Ecology and Culture of the Amazon I
    IS 101 Asking Questions, Making Decisions
    LS 281 Field Experience
    LS 371 Internship
    LS 450 Independent Student Learning
    MA 470 Secondary Content Methods: Mathematics
    PBH 255 Applied Public Health Practice
    PBH 455 Applied Public Health Research
    PHY 120 Science of Water
    PHY 130 Physics of Ordinary Things
    PHY 132 Earth Science
    PHY 450 Independent Study and Research
    PHY 470 Secondary Content Methods: Physics
    SCI 385 Elementary Science Methods

    Mail address
    Biology Department
    Wartburg College
    100 Wartburg Blvd
    PO Box 1003
    Waverly, Iowa, USA 50677-0903