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Last Summer Institute: July 12-16, 2010

The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Institute (STEM Ed), the Climate System Research Center (CSRC), and additional scientists involved in polar research at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) have created IPY STEM Polar Connections: An initiative to integrate the study of Polar Regions and activities associated with the International Polar Year into the middle and high school curriculum.

IPY STEM Polar Connections is a curriculum development and professional development program that explores global climate change and its impact on the Arctic and Antarctic. It includes residential summer institutes for in-service teachers who are involved in the professional development of their colleagues. During each summer institute, teachers are introduced to hands-on STEM Polar Connections materials that model a variety of proven techniques for effective teaching, including inquiry-based teaching and cooperative learning.

The summer institutes at UMass are designed to advance the knowledge that STEM teachers have of the characteristics of and processes that occur in Polar Regions so that they can effectively field test curriculum materials and disseminate them at the local, regional, and national level. STEM Ed has been a leader in teacher professional development in STEM fields since 1986. The CSRC brings together UMass graduate students, post-docs, research scientists, and faculty interested in different aspects of the climate system. IPY STEM Polar Connections builds on the experience of STEM Ed, the CSRC, and additional faculty at UMass as it promotes the teaching of polar science.

The activities of the STEM Polar Connections Modules are aligned with the National Science Education Standards and with state standards for each state and emphasize the value of advancing society's understanding of the nature and possible causes of changes in the physical environment and ecosystems of the Polar Regions and the relationship of those changes with other physical environments and ecosystems. The interdisciplinary activities of STEM Polar Connections Modules are designed to acquaint middle and high school students with the many avenues of polar research, the extent of international collaborations in polar research, and opportunities they will have to participate in that research. The modules utilize several formats in order to maximize the range of middle and high school STEM programs into which the modules can effectively be integrated.

 


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