Remembering Elizabeth Karplus

October 1, 2021

The Lawrence is saddened to learn that Elizabeth Karplus, a pioneer in science education and a formative influence on the work we do, passed away on September 22, 2021.

Elizabeth Karplus (Betty) dedicated her professional life to teaching and learning, including running a radiochemistry laboratory and teaching at Mills College. Married to Professor Robert (Bob) Karplus , who pioneered the methodology of field testing and classroom revisions that is at the center of learning design today. Together, Bob and Betty co-authored papers on the development of scientific reasoning that have had a lasting impact on the field of science education. For her many contributions to the field, she was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2019.

Craig Strang, Associate Director of The Lawrence, has a personal connection to the Karplus family. “Betty Karplus was my neighbor growing up, the after school snack serving mom of my friend down the street. Twenty years later when I came to work here I learned that Bob is a legend at Lawrence Hall of Science. Still later I learned that Betty had an equally impressive life and career. I’m still learning about all her accomplishments and the people she influenced.”

A drawing of the Outdoor Nature Lab at The Lawrence.

Rena Dorph, Director of The Lawrence, notes: “Elizabeth Karplus (Betty) dedicated her life to science and learning and was committed to engaging young people of all abilities in both. We are fortunate to celebrate Betty’s incredible life with our new Outdoor Nature Lab that will honor her and Robert (Bob) Karplus’s lifelong devotion to discovering nature and science discovery. We are so joyful that Betty was able to be here for the ground breaking of this special new space and look forward to its grand opening at the end of this year.”

The family has asked that donations in her memory support the Robert and Elizabeth Karplus Outdoor Nature Lab at The Lawrence Hall of Science.

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