Down to a science

New physics and aquatic science teacher grew up loving chemistry.


Kristen Tibbetts

Koslan gives a lecture to his AP Physics 1 class about momentum. Koslan loved chemistry as a student, but grew to love physics when he became a teacher.

Steven Tibbetts, assistant editor

Nick Koslan, one of many new teachers at McCallum this year, grew up with a love for chemistry and a passion for guitar. So it may come as a surprise to learn that Koslan doesn’t teach either guitar or chemistry, but instead physics and aquatic science.

Although physics is Koslan’s favorite class to teach, he didn’t get interested in the subject until he started teaching it.

“I spent my first seven years after high school as a mechanic, then I went to school,” Koslan said. “I became I biochemist. I worked in a few labs, and then we had our daughter, and I needed more time off than the labs had, so I got a job teaching physics, and I happened to love it.”

Although Koslan is not as involved in chemistry now, he still keeps up with the other passion he had as a kid: guitar. He first picked up the guitar when he was a kid and has played ever since.

Koslan writes on his whiteboard during his AP Physics 1 class. Physics is Koslan’s favorite class to teach. “You get to see physics all around you, so we can always be active, we can keep the class active and moving around,” Koslan said. Photo by Sarah Slaten.

“I got grounded for two months, and there was a really bad acoustic that my mom had, and I had nothing better to do,” Koslan said. “I’ve been playing guitar for 25 years, maybe 30. A long time. I’ve been playing jazz for almost five years.”

Koslan has come to McCallum from Akins High School, where he was the head of the physics department. Even though this is his first year here at McCallum, Koslan was already familiar with the school as lots of his family attended McCallum.

“I grew up here in Austin, and my family went here, so I’ve always liked it, and it’s a great school,” Koslan said. “I like all the kids. Everyone helps each other it seems like, so I really like that, and the kids here are a lot more determined than where I came from.”

There is a joy to [teaching], there’s a joy in the labor and seeing how the kids grow and learn the curriculum.

— Nick Koslan

Koslan likes teaching physics better than aquatic science because he finds it to be more challenging and interesting.

“We have a lot of fun,” Koslan said. “It’s a higher-rigor class so there is a big challenge for the kids and so we get a large degree of freedom because of that, so I don’t have to be as strict, the curriculum is already strict for us. But then you get to see physics all around you, so we can always be active, we can keep the class active and moving around.”

But no matter what class Koslan is teaching, the teaching gives him joy.

“Honestly, teaching isn’t so much a happiness; there’s a joy that you get from it really, there’s this joy,” Koslan said. “Because you don’t really want happiness. Happiness is like you’re in a good mood, you’re going down the road, and somebody cuts you off, and your happiness is gone. It’s fragile. it disappears. But joy, you can have joy through ups and downs and stuff. And there is a joy to it, there’s a joy in the labor and seeing how the kids grow and learn the curriculum.”