Science & Engineering Saturday Seminars    Spring, 2017

Designed for science, math, technology teachers; new teachers are especially welcome    

  • Five Saturdays each term; 8:30-1 at UMass Amherst, Lederle Grad Towers 1033 (except as noted)
  • Educational materials, refreshments, parking, PDP’s included
  • Advance registration is required; capacity is limited
  • Register for as many sessions as you wish
  • Cost: $35 for one seminar, $140 for all 5
  • 4 PDP’s per half day session; option for 3 grad credits at reduced cost with extra work


February 4. Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology. Boris Lau, Environmental Engineering. Nanotechnology can be a double-edged sword. The same unique properties that enable the beneficial use of engineered nanoparticles (NPs) in water treatment and other novel applications also make their unintentional interactions difficult to anticipate. NPs are not only found in our latest gadgets, but are ubiquitous in the environment. Natural NPs influence important environment processes such as soil genesis and biogeochemical cycling of elements. The behavior of natural and engineered NPs, many of which serve as an avenue for rapid and long-range transport of contaminants in the environment, is an important topic for the safety of drinking water.

February 11.  Patterns in Nature. Benjamin Davidovitch, Physics; Jennifer Welborn, Amherst Regional Middle School; Wayne Kermenski, Hawlemont Regional School. Patterns allow scientists the opportunity to view and study principles of the universe.  If one knows the basic principles of the universe, one can explain why a pattern occurs.  In this Saturday workshop, participants will observe patterns in nature and conduct experiments in order to explain these patterns.

March 4. Discovering the secrets of biology as told by a fruit fly. Sonia Hall, University of Massachusetts Medical School. Fruit flies have been revealing the mechanisms that regulate the development and health of organisms for over 100 years! We will explore tools from the model organism community that can be utilized to teach foundational biological concepts such as transcription, translation, and protein synthesis. These tools will then be used by participants to develop a project based educational module to teach course content related to cell division and cell biology as it relates to growth and development.

March 25. Superhero Robotics. Frank Sup, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.  The session will focus on exoskeleton technologies and is designed to give students a safe, hands-on learning experience that resonates with their STEM classwork. The program will offer teachers motivating scientific materials using a simple robotic elbow exoskeleton to use in their own classrooms. Please bring a laptop.

April 8. Building Green with Wood. Peggi Clouston, Environmental Conservation. Climate change can be tackled in two ways: by reducing carbon emissions and by removing carbon from the atmosphere. Wood is unique in that it is the only building material that can do both. In this seminar, we will look into recent innovations in wood technology, new uses of wood in large scale and high-rise construction, and learn the wide range of benefits of building with wood including environmental benefits. Participants will experience first-hand how wood performs as a structural material with class demonstrations, lab activities, and 'make-it and break-it' sessions. An additional bonus is that the class will take place in the brand new UMass Design Building, a state-of-the-art timber frame structure.

April 29. Weather makeup day if needed.

May 6. Recall for those enrolled for graduate credit. Hasbrouck lab.


Graduate credit option: There is a charge of $300 for 3 graduate credits plus a $45 registration fee; register for Nat Sci 697A (Cont & Prof. Ed) or 697 F (University). This is in addition to the $140 STEM Education Institute fee. Teachers may obtain credit for the seminar as many terms as they wish, but only 3 credits may be applied to UMass Amherst degrees. Registration online for graduate credit is now done only online. See; it is no longer done by completing a paper form. A lesson plan and a book report will be required for those enrolled for graduate credit.

Questions: Mort Sternheim, mmsternheim@gmail,com, 413-545-1908,

Online seminar registration and payment: Required for everyone whether or not they are registering for graduate credit.