Rats, a ball python named Russell, a tarantula and some fish can only mean one thing — a biology classroom. And the owner of all these creatures — and 15 new rat babies the morning of the interview — is none other than Lance Maffin, a high school teacher at Bondurant.
Maffin teaches biology, anatomy and physiology and Tech Connect. He hopes to add a biological engineering class next year. Maffin, the project leader, says “if approved, Bondurant will then have four Project Lead The Way courses. One PLTW class can be used as an engineering credit at our public universities.”
Maffin has been an educator at Bondurant since 2005 and a golf coach since 2008. Prior to Bondurant, he taught environmental science at Pella for two years.
“My wife, Kristin Maffin, teaches fourth grade and started teaching at Bondurant first,” he says.
Maffin, a UNI graduate with a nursing background, believes biology is the most important subject in school. He is currently teaching a genetics unit which can change one’s perspective on life.
His favorite question from a student is “Why do I need to know this?” His method of teaching snowballs everything together to connect our “web of life” so students can use the fundamental things and understand the big picture.
“Knowing how things work in life is important,” he says.
During the summers, Maffin has done research at Iowa State University. Last September, a genetic eBook called “iTAG” was published, which Maffin was a part of. A year earlier the original document was published with the American Society of Plant Biologists.
“I like to do anything and everything,” he says. The book is available through iTunes Books and then accessible in the iBook app on an iPad.
Using the biology “equipment is the most fun.” Maffin explains that “it’s real science, not the cookbook experiments like most people remember from biology classes. We clone DNA.” Maffin had a good influence not only from his father, but from his own high school biology teacher.
Maffin loves to “have fun with the kids; even if it’s a serious situation, I still want to have fun.”