Science & Engineering Saturday Seminars    Spring, 2016

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

Click here for online seminar registration and payment

January 23. Strategies for Teaching Atomic Structure and Quantum Mechanics. Mike Thompson, Chemistry, Amherst Regional High School. The structure of the atom is one of the most fundamental concepts in all of science and also, in my experience, one of the most difficult to teach at an introductory level.  In this seminar, we will explore ways to introduce the basic principles of atomic structure and quantum mechanics to upper elementary, middle, and high school students through demonstrations, lab activities, computer simulations, and analogies.  Topics will include: a brief history of atomic structure, the Bohr model of the atom, the wave/particle duality, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, wave functions and orbitals, and electron configurations.  We’ll also look at some important applications of quantum mechanics, including Neon lights, fluorescence, lasers, spectroscopy, and chemical bonding.

January 30. Transportation Engineering. Mike Knodler, Civil and Environmental Engineering. Transportation, commonly defined as the safe and efficient movement of people and goods, has a daily impact on everyone. As part of the seminar learn the basics of transportation engineering, including concepts related to building roadways, timing traffic signals, and planning for new transportation facilities.  The class will be hands-on and include several activities to bring back to your classroom.  

February 27. Pollen Biology. Alice Y. Cheung, Hen-ming Wu, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Pollen is a specialized cell type in plants whose function is to deliver sperm to the female for fertilization. Therefore pollen is important for seed formation and essential for agriculture, ecology as well as the economy. It is also an excellent system for studying many fundamental biological processes, including genetics, cell-cell communication and cell growth. Pollen grains and pollen tube growth are also visually fascinating to observe. Much of the methodology is readily transferable from the research laboratory to the teaching laboratory at all levels. In this workshop, we shall introduce pollen biology in a short lecture and have experimental set-ups for participants to explore during the session. In addition, we will provide a protocol packet and some essential experimental materials for participants to facilitate their adopting some of the experiments to their classrooms.

April 2. Invasive Plant Species: Coming to an ecosystem near you!  Robin Harrington, Biology, Turners Falls HS. Invasive species are a threat to biodiversity worldwide, including in local habitats. Understanding of the process of invasion is the first step preventing further spread. Invasive species can be brought into the science curriculum in a number of places: plant growth and reproduction, dispersal, and even as a component of global change. Many students are aware of invasive plants in their neighborhoods or communities. We will focus on the characteristics of invasive plant species and their ecological and economic impacts. We will explore online resources and ideas for student research on invasive species and end with a walk on campus to identify local invasive plant species.

April 9. Mapping Nest Success in Migratory Birds. Dan Bisaccio, Director of Science Education, Brown University. Students craft artificial nests and eggs (and you will too!) of migratory birds and investigate the impact of forest fragmentation on nesting success.  Locations of the nests are then mapped using GPS and nest disturbance analyzed. Through this hands-on field exercise students learn about global habitat connections and conservation issues for migratory birds.  Students as researchers may then share their data with other students around the country using HabitatNet.  Learn how to visualize nest disturbance data using maps while creating a nest and eggs to take home with you.  

April 30. Weather Makeup. .
May 7. Recall for those registered for graduate credits. ** 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 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,, 413-545-1908,

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