Butler Alumna Makes Science Fun

Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

Julie Boyk ’10, Senior Education Coordinator for the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Chicago, remembers having a difficult time deciding which college to attend. She was excited to be accepted to Butler University but she had two other colleges who were offering scholarships from which to choose. It wasn’t until her dad was heading to Indianapolis for a business trip that he asked her along to tour the campus.

“I went on the trip just to appease my father. It was freezing cold and snowing, but the moment I stepped out of my dad’s car, I felt at home,” Boyk said. “I thought, ‘this is where I was going to spend the next five years of my life.’ We went on a tour, further drawing me into what some people call ‘Butler magic;’ I was hooked.”

Boyk spent her next few years at Butler working toward her degree in Early/Middle Childhood Education. About a year after graduation, Boyk stumbled across a position at MSI while perusing the museum’s website prior to a planned visit, and since she had been having a difficult time finding a job within the school systems, she decided to apply. Julie Boyk with students

“MSI was the mecca of field trips as a kid from the Chicago suburbs, so the thought of working there brought back many positive memories,” Boyk said.

During her interview, Boyk pulled from the skills toolkit Butler’s College of Education gave her to demonstrate a potential lesson plan that was hands on, thoughtful, and tasty since Oreo cookies were involved.

“All of the hands on work Butler exposed me to was very helpful and I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today without that,” Boyk said.

Before she made it home, Boyk had an offer.

Since getting hired, Julie has had many realizations about herself and the job she had in mind before starting at MSI.

“I never saw myself teaching middle school or high school students, but it’s so fun. I’ve discovered it’s one of my favorite parts,” Boyk said.

Her list of favorites regarding her work at MSI doesn’t stop there. Every day is different and through MSI’s Learning Labs she has the opportunity to teach a wide range of science subjects like forensics, pendulums, simple machines, and Mars, where students and Boyk have the opportunity to teleconference with real NASA scientists to ask questions.

If she had to choose a favorite aspect of her job, it would be when she gets to make science fun for all of the students who enter the museum with the mindset that science is boring, or confusing.

Julie Boyk with students

“Not too long ago we were doing a project about Mars and a student in 6th or 7th grade asked me if I was a scientist. Technically I’m not, but to answer his question, and to get him involved I responded by saying ‘Yes, I am a scientist and you are too,’” Boyk said. “At first he said ‘No, no I’m not.’ He came up to me after class and told me, ‘I understand what you mean now about how I’m a scientist too,’”

Creating even just a small shift in attitude among students about science, and making sure they understand that science can be messy and fun is why Boyk loves the work she does and for a museum that is considered an industry leader.

“I’m able to touch the lives of so many more students with what I’m doing here. Between myself and four other co-workers, we are able to interact with about 24,000 students a year,” Boyk said. “We really are at an important museum, and it makes me want to work above and beyond my abilities to make sure I represent the museum in the best way possible.”