Past STEM Events

2000  |  1999  |  1998  |  1997  |  1996   |   1995   ]

Fall 2000

Getting Started With Student-Active Learning in the Introductory Chemistry Curriculum

Edward J. Brush: Department of Chemistry, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA 02325

The introductory sequence of general and organic chemistry has been a major focus of curriculum reform efforts in chemical education. A central target has been the "traditional" lecture style, an approach now generally believed to be ineffective with the learning styles of today's students. In the fall of 1999, I decided to adopt some of the pedagogical approaches discussed at the 1999 summer STEMTEC workshop, and to promote Student-Active Learning in my introductory general chemistry course at Bridgewater State College.

In this presentation I will discuss my own, somewhat tentative, approach for getting started with cooperative group work in the general chemistry classroom. The net impact has been very positive as student groups created and sustained a dynamic classroom environment by becoming actively engaged in problem solving, sharing ideas, providing feedback, and teaching each other. I will provide examples of group projects, assessment of the outcomes, and a discussion of the problems that were encountered. I will also include a preliminary report on the introduction of student-active learning in the organic chemistry classroom during the fall 2000 semester.

Tuesday, November 7, Hasbrouck Lab, 138
University of Massachusetts

Theory into Practice:
Constructivism, Cognition, and Cooperation in the Science Classroom

Dr. Frank J. Giuliano
Assistant Professor of Science Education
Westfield State College

Although many science educators are familiar with constructivist learning theory, translating this theory into practice often proves challenging. This presentation will combine background information in science education research with an interactive format to provide insight regarding how students learn. The primary tenets of constructivist learning theory and the role of cognitive variables in learning science will be highlighted, followed by a discussion of how to put these ideas to work in an interactive science classroom. The presentation will focus on ways to improve problem-solving skills, increase motivation, and foster a deeper conceptual understanding among students.

Tuesday, November 21, Hasbrouck Lab, 138
University of Massachusetts

Jim Kaput

The talk will be aimed at Pre-Alg/Algebra teachers - and their teachers. Title: Bringing Algebra to Life Using Simulations on Computers and Graphing Calculators
I will demonstrate and discuss using combinations of SimCalc MathWorlds software for both computer platforms and TI-83+ and TI-73 in pre-algebra and algebra classrooms. This will also include use of the new CBR Animator software that allows students to import their own physical motions and then animate them on the calculator or computer screen in order to compare them with motions given in other mathematical ways, such as graphs or equations. The theme is teaching the core ideas of algebra in ways that simultaneously lay the base for understanding calculus. Free software and curriculum materials will be made available.

Spring 2000

May 2, 2000 Julian Tyson:
Redesigning Chemistry Courses: reflections on the STEMTEC impacts on Chem 312.
UMass Chemistry department

        STEMTEC involvement can be a way for professors to clarify what
they want to achieve in the classrooms.  While many new ideas are
suggested at the workshops, professors may spend several semesters working
out what the new methods mean, in practice, for their particular course,
        Julian Tyson will speak about many of the strategies she has
implemented in her Chemistry 312  course at UMass, some positive and some
in progress.  Among the innovations she has tried, a obvious major change
has been the introduction of a teaching requirement.  Student reaction to
this part of the course varies between neutral to very positive.
        Among the other topics to be touched upon during the talk are:
student resistance to group work and co-operative learning, alternative
forms of assessment, the use of multiple choice homework exercises as a
grading time saver and improvements in exam style and questions.

for more information about Julian Tyson, to go

April 25 - Sheila Tobias:
In-Class Examinations in College Level Science: New Theory, New Practice

Sheila Tobias and her colleague, Jacqueline Raphael, have compiled narrative descriptions of college instructors' efforts to enlarge and alter the in-class examinations.  They use these narratives to demonstrate that while faculty may not test what they value, in time student come to value what they test.  An image of science emerges from traditionally constructed tests that dis-serves both the "second tier" student and the science major.  It is becoming obvious, if it wasn't before, that examinations drive student behavior.
Efforts to modify curriculum and pedagogy without equivalent attention to modifying testing and grading practices is, the authors think , inadequate.

For more information about Sheila Tobias, go to

April 18, 2000 Edward Connors:
Curriculum Standards in School Mathematics: Past, Present, and Future
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, UMASS Amherst,
Department of Mathematical Sciences United States Military Academy, West Point

In Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (1989), the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) cited three reasons for "groups" to formally adopt a set of standards: to ensure quality, indicate goals, and to promote positive change. On 12 April 2000, NCTM will release Principles and Standards for School Mathematics: Standards 2000. An October 1998 Discussion Draft, described  Standards 2000 as a "next step by NCTM in efforts to ensure quality, indicate goals, and promote positive change in mathematics education in grades pre-K12."  This "next step" is timely for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Nation, as educators, policy experts, and citizens craft a mathematics curriculum for the teachers, students, and administrators of the 21st Century.

In this presentation, Ed Connors will place the NCTM Standards in the context of post -Sputnik reform in mathematics education. If time allows, there will be analysis and commentary on what the media have dubbed MATHWARS. Dr Connors' perspective combines his experiences as a student, mathematician, mathematics educator, administrator, and parent.

For more information about Paul Jablon, go to

April 4, 2000:  Mort Sternheim and STEMTEC PIs
STEMTEC: success stories and innovations from a K-16 education collaborative

STEMTEC, an initiative to improve math and science teaching from kindergarten through college levels, is almost 3 years old. This talk will present an update of the project as well as tell some of its success stories.
 The STEMTEC project's main focus is helping teachers, and prospective teachers, to learn the most effective ways of teaching math and science.  This has been done by linking the Five Colleges with area community colleges and neighboring school districts.  The collaborative nature of the program has been strong.  From increasing women and minorities in science to recruiting gifted future teachers to improving introductory college courses, STEMTEC has had a broad reaching effect on the valley and the state’s educators.  Based solidly on the theory that future educators teach as they were taught, STEMTEC has focused on both college pedagogy and future teacher  training.

Winter 2000

March 21, 2000 Jablon, Paul: At-risk HS students and science as part of an interdisciplinary project, a success story.
Assistant Professor at the School of Ed, UMass Lowell

Despite the effective implementation of the best practices espoused by the National Science Standards for science classrooms, it has become evident that an alarming percentage of students are not in any fashion engaged in science learning. In many cases by the time students are sophomores in high school, many cut their science classes or are truant from school completely. Most teachers believe these disengaged students to be unreachable. In contrast, a program originally based in a public school in New York City demonstrated remarkable success both in science achievement, attendance, and graduation rate with this disengaged population. Results of an eleven year longitudinal
study of the structure and results of the program will be interspersed with actual footage of the program in operation, including interviews with students, teachers, and graduates.

Besides being an Associate Professor of Science Education at UMass Lowell, and previously running the undergraduate and graduate science education programs in science education at Brooklyn College (CUNY), Paul Jablon was a high school science and interdisciplinary teacher for 19 years in New York City public schools. He was also one of the creators, developers, directors, and teachers of the program under discussion.

For more information about Paul Jablon, go to

March 7, 2000 Steve Levey:
Distance Learning: Where Is It "Growing?"
Office of Extended Engineering Education, UMass at Amherst

Distance learning, be it through video instructional programs or over the internet, is growing at a rapid rate.  This is clear from reviewing the increase of courses, programs and enrollments over the past several years both at UMass and worldwide.  However, it is also clear that distance learning is not for everyone.  During this talk, an overview of distance learning will be discussed along with factors vital to its effective delivery.  This effective delivery goes beyond the simple implementation of technology and works to bridge the physical gap between student and faculty.

For more information about about Steve Levey, go to

Feb 15, 2000 Tom Keating:
Design and Implementation of an On-line Professional Development Community: A Project-based Learning Approach
Assistant Professor at the School of Education, Boston College

Tom Keating Science education seminars often lack a rich experience and active context within which students are exposed to the theoretical, pedagogical, or content knowledge of their discipline. This talk reports on the application of a situated, project-based learning environment in the context of a graduate student education seminar. The product of the seminar was the Internet Learning Forum (ILF), a video centered, Web-based learning forum. The ILF was designed to support an online community of in-service and pre-service mathematics and science teachers. The design and development of the ILF provided an authentic situated learning experience for the participating students and faculty.

For more info on Tom Keating, go to

February 1, 2000 Larry Bangs:
Bridging Disciplines through Technology
Curriculum Developer and president of

Computers have become a cornerstone of educational practices. Current generations of computer software, using the visual and textual possibilities of modern computers, have begun to fulfill the dream of cross-discipline integration in school's curriculums. Larry Bangs will present a glimpse of a curriculum developed for a computerized delivery. The discussion will look at a computerized presentation of an integrated study of astronomy, mythology, mathematics, physics and history, and a look at a program which integrates the studies of mathematics, music and physics. Students exposed to this integrated style of learning have overcome dyslexia and poor leaning habits to attain degrees with many honors from such schools as Dartmouth, Princeton, Columbia, Williams, Bowdoin, and the University of Vermont.

Learn more about Larry Bangs and his curriculum at

Fall 1999

Tuesday, September 21, 1999, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, room 138
University of Massachusetts Amherst

"Ten Equations that Changed Biology and Could Change Biology Education"

John Jungck
Department of Biology, Beloit College

Mathematics has played exceptionally important roles throughout the history
of biology. Frequently, these roles have been unappreciated in biology
curricula because textbook authors assume that biology students have an
inadequate mathematical preparation. This practice: (1) deskills many
biology students, (2) is inconsistent with our requirements, (3)
misrepresents contemporary biological research, and, hence, (4)
underprepares students to read much of the biological research literature or
to contribute in many areas of biology.  However, the recent calculus reform
movement has empowered thousands of American undergraduate biologists to
become proficient in the use of mathematical software packages that could be
used to investigate the behavior of many famous mathematical models in
biology.  But where can they look?  There are numerous recent texts in
mathematical biology, research journals, web sites, and some advanced
biological texts which are replete with numerous models.  However, there is
a need to identify a succinct list of achievements that represent the power
of mathematics in biology. The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium has
instantiated many of these mathematical models in computer simulations
designed to help students develop long-term strategies of research. Hence,
ten equations, a brief description of their historical importance, and
investigative laboratory activities will be presented in order to draw
students' and faculty's attention to a variety of mathematical models that
are intrinsic to many of the significant discoveries in twentieth century
biology and which provide a foundation for a more conceptual approach to
biology education.

Tuesday, October 5, 1999, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, room 138
University of Massachusetts Amherst

William Gerace
Department of Physics and Astronomy, UMass

Electronic Classroom Communication Systems:  Past, present, and future (at
UMASS anyway)

Classroom communication systems (CCSs) provide opportunities for
innovative pedagogy but are not all fun and games.  Employing any
technology in instruction is not without its problems and a CCS is no
exception.  The extent to which the difficulties are worth the effort
is, of course, a function of the instructors style and instructional
goals.  The two CCSs that have been employed at UMASS will be described
and compared.  The virtues, limitations and fiscal viability of both
Classtalk and PRS will be discussed.

Tuesday, October 19, 1999, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, room 138
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Junior Writing for Biologists at UMass: A model for science/math?", Joe
Kunkel, Department of Biology, UMass

The Junior Writing Course in Biology is inherently a project based learning
course but after a STEMTEC Workshop the course was thoroughly revised.  Each
of six projects was modified to increase student-active and group
Base groups with a balanced experience constitution are established using
voluntary ordering and random assignment.  A walk-around during the initial
meeting serves to establish bonding within the base groups.  Random groups
are used within exercises to stimulate student interaction and familiarity
ad hoc group cooperation.  Digital images of, and by, students are used to
encourent interaction and name recognition. A WWW site with the entire
plan is available at URL: to
complement and help elucidate the course.

Tuesday, November 2, 1999, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, room 138
University of Massachusetts Amherst

"Science Through the Multiple Intelligences; Patterns that Inspire Inquiry"

Robert Barkman
Department of Education, Springfield College

For centuries, intriguing patterns have inspired scientific inquiry and
theories to explain them.  Beginning with a pattern for students to discover
rather than scientific principles to memorize is compatible with how the
brain constructs meaning. Observation of patterns stimulates burning
questions and creates a need to know.  The workshop will feature the role
that multiple intelligences, particularly the eighth, play in developing
pattern recognition skills and guiding students to construct knowledge and
experience real learning.

Tuesday, November 16, 1999, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, room 138
University of Massachusetts Amherst

"Engaging Learners over the Internet: The Nutrition Online Experiences"

Nancy Cohen
Department of Nutrition, University of Massachusetts

Nutrition Online is comprised of net-courses offered for teachers and for
nontraditional undergraduate students by the UMass Department of Nutrition,
STEM Institute, and UMassK12.  In this presentation, ways that are used to
engage learners and encourage participant-participant interaction in the
Nutrition Online courses, including threaded discussion and debates, quizzes
via OWL or self-tests, small group projects, and chat will be described.
Learner response to the methods used in the courses, as well as differences
in perceptions and participation by teachers, nontraditional students, and
traditional undergraduate students will be discussed.  Lessons learned by
the Nutrition Online team will also be addressed.

Tuesday, December 7, 1999, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, room 138
University of Massachusetts Amherst

"Field biology in the required science course: How's this bug going to
get me a job?"

Robert Dickerman
Biology Department, Springfield Technical Community College

Most students at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) are required
to take laboratory science courses.  Biology is a popular choice. In the
past year I have introduced a field biology project as a significant portion
of the laboratory component of the course.  The project was added in the
belief that an important part of producing an educated student is to produce
a student with some sense of how science is done.
Students research predator/prey relationships surrounding the goldenrod gall
fly (Eurosta solidaginis), a common inhabitant of local fields.  Students
develop their own questions, and design and execute research projects to
shed light on those questions.  Reports are presented to their peers.  A
fundamental issue is that many students are simply fulfilling a science
requirement and do not believe they have an inherent fascination with
biology, let alone small flies.  Gall flies are an excellent subject for
circumventing this underlying prejudice.  With the right approach, they
excite interest in science and lead to an understanding that scientific
reasoning is a part of life and not an esoteric discipline.   Experiences
with this insect, and approaches to making the work relevant to students
will be discussed.

Spring 1999

Tuesday May 4, 1999, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, room 138 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Using Molecular Visualization Software to Teach Protein Structure and Function at the Introductory Level" Brian White Department of Biology, UMass Boston An understanding of protein structure and function is an essential component of understanding modern biology. In order to understand how genes influence the characteristics of an organism, students must understand how the amino acid sequence of a protein influences its structure and function. Traditional 2-dimensional blackboard or textbook presentations do not adequately present the 3-dimensional nature of proteins. Molecular visualization software allows the user to explore a 3-d chemical structure. I have developed several web-deliverable lecture presentations on protein structure as well as several lab sessions where the students use this software to explore various chemical and protein structures. Wednesday April 21, 1999, 4 PM, Gunness Conference Room, Marcus Hall University of Massachusetts Amherst "Interactive Geometry on the Internet" Thomas Banchoff Department of Mathematics, Brown University Interactive computer graphics every day changes the way we do mathematics and the ways we communicate it to our students and our colleagues. In this online presentation, we will examine several "paperless" course experiments in multivariable calculus, linear algebra, and a mathematics course for non-concentrators on The Fourth Dimension, taught at Brown, and last semester at Yale. We will also view a totally electronic journal, dedicated to subjects that cannot be expressed in traditional publications, including a gallery of "Surfaces Beyond the Third Dimension". Tuesday April 6, 1999, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, room 138 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Community Based Learning Within the Chemistry Curriculum" Patricia O'Hara Department of Chemistry, Amherst College Warranted or not, public concern exists regarding trace level contamination of public drinking water with "xenoestrogens" or man-made compounds which act like the growth stimulant, estrogen. A new introductory chemistry module which has as its central theme the measurement of low levels of xenoestrogenic pesticides in the town of Amherst's public drinking water was recently developed (P.B.O'Hara et al, J.Chem.Ed (in press)). In summary, students were introduced to sample handling and measurement of pH, temperature and conductivity, and then traveled to several different sites to collect water and perform preliminary characterization of their samples. In subsequent weeks, the students performed various analytical techniques to measure the levels of the pesticides which are potent estrogen mimics. Finally, the students used molecular modeling to explore the three-dimensional structure of three pesticide families and compared these structures to the steroid hormones. Details of the interactions between the college, high school, and elementary school will be presented. Thursday March 25, 1999, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 138 University of Massachusetts Amherst "What Can We Learn From The History Of Science Education?: Rediscovering Armstrong's Heurism, (i.e. Learning by Discovery)" Mick Nott School of Education, Sheffield Hallam University, UK This talk focuses on a science teaching method called heurism or learning by discovery. This method was propounded in England by H.E. Armstrong from 1884 until his death in 1937. Armstrong developed heurism with his own children and introduced it to schools and schoolteachers. However heurism was resisted by many science teachers and constrained by other factors of schooling, e.g. class sizes. Heurism was resuscitated in the 1960s through the Nuffield curriculum projects. Armstrong's ideas have survived into the 1990s with things like investigations, constructivist methods, active learning and authentic science. Heurism was and is constrained by the nature of schooling and by a flawed view of the nature of science and the nature of learning. Tuesday February 16, 1999, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 138 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Mentoring, Minorities and STEMTEC?" Sheila Browne Department of Chemistry, Mount Holyoke College The teaching strategies used in STEMTEC courses, group work, active learning and project based learning have been very valuable to my chemistry and environmental studies classes. These same strategies, with some modifications, can also be used to increase the retention of women and minority students in science classes and to help in recruiting these students in science. I will discuss how these are used in my organic chemistry courses and how "affective strategies" aimed at student attitudes are often just as valuable. A few small changes can make a big difference in a student's confidence and ability to learn in a science class. Tuesday February 2, 1999, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, room 138 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Changing Views: What it means to teach mathematics" Virginia Bastable SummerMath for Teachers, Mount Holyoke College Since 1983, SummerMath for Teachers Program has been offering programs examining the teaching of mathematics which are designed to provoke teachers to examine the principles upon which they base their classroom practice. Through this work SMT staff has developed a sense of the variety of meanings K-12 teachers attach to the phrase "teaching mathematics" and has gathered some sense of what it means to change those views. At this interactive meeting, SMT staff will organize a discussion designed to engage all participants in conversation about what "teaching mathematics" might mean to them and for their colleagues.

Fall 1998

Tuesday December 1, 1998, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, room 138 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Digital Video and Computer-Based Modeling Tools" Paul Irish Champlain Valley Union H.S., Hinesburg, VT Computer-based modeling tools such as STELLA=AE allow a student to construct a model to compare to scientific observations, a critical step in the scientific method which is under emphasized in most laboratory experiences at the introductory level. When used in concert with computer-based data collection tools, such as digital video, they provide students with the capability to more deeply analyze and understand real-world events. An example of the process as used in a physics laboratory will be presented in depth. Additional models in other disciplines will be shown. Tuesday November 17, 1998 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, room 138 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Can Physics Revitalization STEM the Decline in Majors? " Edward S. Chang Department Physics & Astronomy, UMass Amherst This October, Jose Mestre and I attended the Physics Revitalization Conference. The key ingredient that attracted over 500 applicants was the declining number of physics majors over the last 5 to 10 years. We presented data on our Department, including innovative teaching techniques. I will present ideas about new tracks, industrial relation boards, recruiting techniques, and more interactive teaching methods. I will also show the audience how to set goals and to make plans to get from here to there. Tuesday November 3, 1998 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, room 138 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Scientific Literacy for All: It's an Inside Job" Kathleen Davis School of Education, UMass Amherst In this presentation, Dr. Kathleen Davis, Asst. Professor of Science Education, will present recent research regarding issues of gender in science and science education. She will discuss door-openers and gatekeepers to women's and girls' legitimate participation in science activity and careers and instructional approaches that may serve to facilitate and support students' engagement and learning in science. Tuesday October 20, 1998, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, room 138 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Computers and assessment, Thinking and learning " Donald P. Buckley University of Hartford Assessment tools can be important features of interactive multimedia learning environments, providing feedback, encouraging mindful engagement, providing incentives to strive for high levels of competency, and enabling collection of diagnostic information about the learning needs of individuals. However, assessment assumes more subtle guises in the open-ended environments that facilitate the development of critical inquiry skills. A provisional taxonomy of learning goals and assessment designs will be suggested, with examples. Tuesday October 6, 1998, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, room 138 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Waking Them Up: Ways to Involve Our Students during Class" Sandra L. Rhoades Mathematics Department, Keene State College, Keene, NH Do you spend more time lecturing than you'd like to? Are you interested in easy-to-use ways to integrate active learning into your classroom? These issues will be the focus of this colloquium. We'll discuss simple active learning techniques that can be easily integrated into a traditional lecture or that can be used in non-lecture classes. Participants will also reflect on and discuss implementing these techniques in their own classes. Tuesday September 15, 1998, 4 P, Hasbrouck Laboratory Rm. 138 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Teaching Human Biology through Medical Cases" Merle S. Bruno School of Natural Science, Hampshire College For three years, the introductory level Human Biology course at Hampshire College has been taught using actual medical case studies which are analyzed and "solved" by groups of first semester students. This is a STEMTEC course in which cooperative learning techniques and regular student feedback have been introduced to improve the effectiveness of group work. In this seminar, an example of the approach used in class will be presented.

Spring 1998

Tuesday May 5, 1998, 4 PM, Marcus Hall, Gunness Conference Room University of Massachusetts Amherst "Ethiopian Number System and its Relation to Education" Ayele Bekerie African Studies & Research Center, Cornell University In their determination to develop a knowledge system reflective of the cultural accomplishments and social cohesion of a diverse people, the Ethiopians successfully invented and utilized a writing system with some distinct properties, including a number system. The numerals of the system were adopted from the Ethiopic writing system. They also assigned numeral values for the 182 syllographs (syllabic letters) of the system, which has 26 main syllographs by 7 sound categories. The first column or sound category is named Ge'ez which means free or SUNDAY. The number values of this coulumn are used for the coding and decoding of a whole category of knowledge, such as reckoning of time, astronomy and cultural calendar. For instance in Ethiopia, we find the division of the year into 12 months of 30 days each, and to each five or six days are added. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the use of a numbering system in the construction and dissemination of knowledge within the Ethiopian Tewahedo Christian tradition. Tuesday April 7, 1998, 4 PM, Marcus Hall, Gunness Conference Room University of Massachusetts Amherst "Life is not a Lecture: Implications of the Changing Economy for Teaching and Learning" Andrew Churchill, Hampshire County School To Careers Partnership and Lonnie Kaufman, Amherst Public Schools; Participants will engage in an interactive exercise to identify the skills and knowledge necessary for success in today's world and today's workplace. In addition, we will explore the implications of this information on the teaching and learning occurring in our classrooms. Participants will also view a video which presents a first-hand view of the skills and practices demanded from today's workers. Finally, we will introduce ways in which the School-to-Career initiative is attempting to address these issues within our local schools and communities. Monday March 23, 1998, 4 PM, Marcus Hall, Gunness Conference Room University of Massachusetts Amherst "Personal Response System: A Wireless Student Response System for Promoting Active Learning" Nelson Cue Department of Physics The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology A new wireless student response system designed and developed at HKUST for implementing active learning in the classrooms will be demonstrated. This so-called Personal Response System (PRS) uses infrared transmitters, not unlike those used with TVs and VCRs, to transmit student answers to a receiver. A computer analyzes the responses and prepares a histogram of the class response, which is then projected on a screen to provide feedback to the instructor and the students. Each transmitter is "programmed" with a unique ID number, allowing the computer to "recognize" the origin of each response, thereby facilitating functions such as quiz administration and tabulating class attendance. A few transmitters will be available for the audience to try out. Tuesday March 3, 1998, 4 PM, Marcus Hall, Gunness Conference Room University of Massachusetts Amherst "Teaching and Learning Against Our Will: The Role of Volition in Mathematics Classrooms" Portia C. Elliott TECS Department Chair, UMass Teachers of K-12 mathematics must organize environments and guide interactions so as to ensure that children stay engaged volitionally. Creative problem solving is thwarted when we do not attend to this important factor in the learning process. During this presentation, we will discuss ways to capitalize on modality strengths, to develop cognitive abilities, to assuage mathematics anxieties while engaging the "will" of learners. Tuesday February 3, 1998, 4 PM, Marcus Hall, Gunness Conference Room University of Massachusetts Amherst "Misconceptions and Science: Two Birds with One Projectile" Peter Letson Department of Physics, Greenfield Community College This talk will consider two challenges in science education. First, misconceptions are integrated into a student's understanding of the world before they arrive in a course and are not effectively addressed by lecturing. Second, traditional laboratory exercises, which illustrate well accepted theories but do not exemplify the scientific method, explain away discrepancies in the data rather than honor them.

Fall 1997

Tuesday December 2, 1997, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 113 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Immediate Feedback and Reinforcement in the Classroom" Nelson Cue Department of Physics, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR Immediate feedback and reinforcement are key ingredients of active learning. These could be addressed to all students in class by using the "Studio" approach or a classroom communication system (or student response system). Both approaches have been tried at HKUST. The experience has led us to develop a low-cost wireless system, called Personal Response System (PRS), that could significantly impact classroom instruction at all levels. Tuesday November 18, 1997, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 113 University of Massachusetts Amherst "The Internet and Education" Aura Ganz Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UMass The Internet provides an opportunity to change the way education is delivered. The Internet and telecommunications media allow educators to bring valuable learning resources to their students regardless of time and place. Through the World Wide Web students can access course materials, including visualization and sounds, anytime and anywhere. A number of key elements of the Internet's ability to help classroom education will be presented. As an example, the Internet course developed for freshmen engineering class will be presented. Tuesday, November 4, 1997, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 113 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Authentic Computer Investigations on the WWW" Eric Klopfer Technology Coordinator at Amherst Jr./Sr. High, Amherst, MA The current rush of computers into the classroom is fueled almost solely by the great attraction of the Internet and its vast resources. But is it really useful to us as educators? While the Internet allows massive rapid deployment of information, the majority of its contents provide little benefit over lower tech solutions. I present an example of a fully interactive authentic scientific investigation (on the evolution of cooperation) that I developed to make better use of the potential of the Internet. I will also point out other similar resources that are available. Tuesday October 21, 1997, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 113 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Teaching for Active Learning: How do you know when it happens? What evidence will you accept?" Diane Ebert-May Science and Mathematics Learning Center, Department of Biological Sciences Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ The seminar will model innovative instructional strategies we have developed and empirically tested in a large introductory biology course at Northern Arizona University with funding from the NSF. We will examine various assessment strategies used to provide data about student learning and how we use this information to inform our decisions about curriculum and instruction. Tuesday, October 7, 1997, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 113 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Ways of Knowing": Science as the Scientists Do It S. Leslie Blatt Professor of Physics and Education, Clark University, Worcester, MA We have been developing a set of courses for teachers-to-be (already extended to in-service teachers) combining subject area content and methods based on how practitioners in the field actually do their academic/professional work. "Ways of Knowing in the Sciences" is the pilot course in this series. I will describe the mix of activities, readings, discussions, and writing opportunities used in the course, and the responses and results gathered thus far. Our approach seems to be working for everyone: faculty, teachers, and students. Now we are trying to understand why! Tuesday September 16, 1997, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 113 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Tune In and Turn on to WGBY's Telecommunication Services for Massachusetts Educators" Sarah Cothran, WGBY/TV Teacher Media Services, Springfield, MA Kate Rhodes, Coordinator for WGBY Teacher Media Service WGBY/TV, public television for western New England, provides a wide range of technology-based services to enhance classroom instruction for Massachusetts K-12 educators. The WGBY Teacher Media Service staff will provide you with an overview of their resources and professional development opportunities including Massachusetts Educational Television (MET), the National Teacher Training Institute (NTTI) , PBS MATHLINE, the Connecticut River Education Initiative (CREI) and more.

Spring 1997

Tuesday May 13, 1997, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 130 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Telecomputing: A "Quantum Leap" in Science Education" Uri Marchaim Dept. of Biotechnology, MIGAL Galilee Technological Center, Kiryat Shmona, Israel The present curriculum has not kept pace with the rapid development of technology, and it does not prepare students for today's world. It breaks science into separate disciplines, but students must learn to integrate these in a new form of thinking. A new approach to education uses computer technology, methods of searching, gathering and analyzing data, telecommunication, and experimentation as tools to provide this integration. Project-Oriented Interdisciplinary Learning activities in Israel and ideas for joint telecomputing projects with developing countries will be presented. Monday May 5, 1997, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 126 University of Massachusetts Amherst "On geometrical aspects of African cultural traditions and their use in education" Paulus Gerdes, Universidade Pedagogica, Maputo, Mozambique Some examples of geometrical considerations involved in cultural activities, like basket weaving and decoration, story telling and drawing in the sand, mural painting, corporal ornamentation, will be presented from various regions of the Africa south of the Sahara, together with ideas and experiences of incorporating and exploring them in mathematics education. Tuesday April 29, 1997, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 126 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Researchers' perspectives and Teachers' perceptions" David Hammer, Education Department, Tufts University, Medford, MA Since March, 1995, a group of high school physics teachers and I have been meeting to talk about the teachers' ongoing, everyday experiences with their students. We meet every other week during the academic year to discuss "snippets" from the teachers' classes, using journals, audio and videotapes, and samples of students' work. Within this setting, we explore perspectives from education research to consider how these perspectives might contribute to the teachers' perceptions of their students' knowledge, reasoning, and participation. I will describe how the project has evolved, including examples of snippets and our conversations. Tuesday April 15, 1997, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 126 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Attracting Underrepresented Groups to Math & Science" Ana Gaillat, Greenfield Community College, Greenfield, MA Elaine Ironfield; Holyoke Community College, Holyoke, MA Georgena Van Strat, Springfield Technical Community College, Spfld, MA How can we attract more women and minorities into the sciences and mathematics? Our Pioneer Valley Community College neighbors have developed programs that attract and advance underrepresented individuals into these careers and local four-year academic institutions. Our panelists will describe their programs and their impact. Tuesday March 4, 1997, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 126 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Concepts First - A Small Group Approach To Physics Learning" Ronald Gautreau, Physics Dept., New Jersey Institute of Technology Lisa Novemsky, Graduate School of Education, Rutgers We describe a methodology for teaching introductory physics called Overview, Case Study--Physics (OCS physics), developed by Alan Van Heuvelen from Ohio State University. We have had remarkable success using OCS physics at NJIT since 1991 with beginning students, and in particular with minority students. . In OCS physics, concepts are taught first, with essentially no mathematics. Only after students understand concepts is math brought in at the appropriate level. Much of the instruction is accomplished by students learning while working in small groups. In a certain sense, "second teaching" occurs in the small groups following "first teaching" when the instructor introduces the concepts in a more formal manner. Tuesday February 18, 1997 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room TBA University of Massachusetts Amherst "Computer-Based Discovery Methods in Chemistry" William Vining, Department of Chemistry, UMass Our work centers on creating computerized educational systems that allow students to explore and discover for themselves the concepts of chemistry. These systems take the form of a CD-ROM based textbook for general chemistry and a set of approximately forty interactive simulation modules. The media-rich CD-ROM is most effective in relating to students the manner in which chemists visualize events on the molecular scale. Both the methods of creation of these programs as well as how they are used in class will be discussed. Tuesday February 4, 1997 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 126 University of Massachusetts Amherst "Problem-Posing, Problem-Solving, and Peer Persuasion: Using BioQUEST" Steve Brewer, Department of Biology, UMass BioQUEST has proposed a model for problem-based teaching in biology called the 3P's: problem-posing, problem-solving and peer persuasion. Students are provided with real or realistic data and encouraged to (a) decide what is problematic about the data, (b) construct or apply an external model to solve the problem, and (c) persuade their peers and instructors that they have solved the problem. I will describe how I have used the BioQUEST model to develop curricula and software. Thursday January 23, 1997 9 am - 2:30 pm, Lederle Graduate Research Tower room 1634 University of Massachusetts "A Workshop on Alternatives to Traditional Tests" This workshop is for all faculty who teach science and math and who are looking for ideas about different ways to assess student progress. Learn from and work with colleagues from the Five Colleges in this interactive workshop about alternatives to traditional tests. Open to Everyone - Preregistration required (no charge). To register call (413) 545-2016 or email Steve Nathan. Lunch and parking provided at the Campus Center Garage. Topics and Presenters: * "The Pyramid Exam" David Cohen and Jim Henle, Department of Mathematics, Smith College * "Student Assessment Using Portfolios" Merle Bruno, School of Natural Sciences, Hampshire College * "Assessment for Probing Conceptual Understanding in Physics" Jose Mestre, Department of Physics, UMass * "Slide of the Week: An Alternative to Quizzes in Geology" John Reid, School of Natural Sciences, Hampshire College * "Conceptual Structure and Assessment" Steve Brewer, Biology Computer Resource Center, UMass For more information call (413) 545-2016

Fall 1996

Tuesday December 3, 1996, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 126: "Teaching Computer Ethics" Angus " Terry " Dun University of Massachusetts, Franklin County Vocational School The subject of ethics in a computer oriented society is rapidly becoming an issue which all educators will need to address with their students. This presentation will outline the course curriculum implemented at Franklin County Technical School and further adapted as an On-line program on UMassK12's Internet system. The presenter will discuss some successful strategies for dealing with teenage views on the subject of ethics and will share experiences that may help others to implement a similar effort in their institutions. Tuesday November 19, 1996, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 126: "Visualizing Biological Molecules with Free Software: RasMol and Chime" Eric Martz, Department of Microbiology, UMass RasMol is software for displaying organic molecules of all sizes, especially proteins and nucleic acids, in 3D color, with molecular motion. It can be used for classroom demonstrations or interactive student assignments concerning molecular structure. Movie-like scripts are becoming available on the web for DNA, proteins, antibodies, etc. Chime is similar to RasMol but works as a Netscape plug-in, so the moving images appear directly on a web page. Both programs and "movie" scripts are free and work on Windows-capable PC's or Macintoshes, and will be demonstrated in this seminar. Tuesday November 5, 1996, 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 126: "K-12 Inservice Programs in Physics and Physical Science" Chris Emery - Amherst Regional High School Barbara Filmore - H.B. Lawrence School, Holyoke Steve Murray - Holyoke Public Schools Since the mid-1980's, NSF funded projects have prepared workshop leaders to provide local inservice training aimed at strengthening teachers' content knowledge and confidence in teaching physics concepts in grades K-12. This presentation will provide an overview and sample activities for the Operation Primary Physical Science, Operation Physics and Physics Teaching Resource Agent programs. Tuesday October 15, 1996 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 126: "Science Education Reform: A View from the World of Schools and Classrooms" Karen Worth, Wheelock College School of Education, Boston, MA Education Development Center, Newton , MA Over the past 10 years there has been a dramatic shift in the mainstream view of the importance of science education and what it should be. National Science Education Standards and Benchmarks are dramatic demonstrations of this shift. This presentation and discussion will focus on some of the realities of implementation at the elementary level; the dilemmas and questions faced at the school and classroom level. Monday September 30, 1996 4 PM, Hasbrouck Lab, Room 126: "Science Literacy" Audrey Champagne, Department of Chemistry, School of Education State University of New York at Albany Among the abilities of the science literate person contained in AAAS and NRC reports are the abilities to argue the validity of scientific principles, to defend the theoretical soundness of predictions, to propose inquiries based on observations, and to rationalize the scientific appropriateness of personal or civic decisions. Argue, defend, propose and rationalize are verbs that imply communication. The documents suggest that the communication of science literate persons requires scientific knowledge and the ability to reason in scientifically sound ways. The talk will focus on the attributes of science literate communication and how inferences about the quality of students' knowledge can be inferred from classroom discourse--conversations in which students engage, presentations they make, and text that they compose. Tuesday September 17, 1996 4pm, Hasbrouck Lab, room 126: "Netcourses and Netseminars: Teaching on the Internet" Robert F. Tinker, Chief Science Officer, TERC, Cambridge, MA The answer to the oft-repeated lament about the lack of educational value of the Internet would seem to be network-based courses, or netcourses. Once we figure out how to do them, these should take education by storm, making the best teachers available anytime and anywhere. Netcourses could break the monopoly of schools on education and offer an unimaginable richness of educational resources where there are currently few. This talk will summarize the techniques and technologies for successful netcourses for teacher professional development, with an emphasis on mathematics and science, and will extrapolate that experience to courses for students across all fields.

Spring 1996

Wednesday May 8, 1996 4 pm, Hasbrouck Lab, room 20: "African Science and Technology: Implications for the Curriculum" Gloria T. Emeagwali, Professor of History/African Studies, Central Connecticut State University World Civilization textbooks are commonly used in colleges and universities. We discuss their conceptual deficiencies, structural orientations, myths and overall perspectives vis-a-vis African civilization and give reasons why such texts should include a discussion of African Science and Technology. We identify research findings in this area which should be included in these texts and also at various levels of the curriculum. We conclude by discussing the contributions of African Science and Technology to metallurgy, mathematics, medicine and textiles. Monday April 29, 1996 7pm, Furcolo Hall 227: "Highlights of the AERA Annual Meeting" presented by: The Math and Science Education Research Area and the STEM Education Institute This will be of special interest to students and faculty in Science education, math education and cognitive science. Bring your own brown bag dinner or contribution toward shared pizza Friday April 19, 1996: "Development and Evaluation of New Strategies for Teaching Physical Science" John Clement, Research Director Scientific Reasoning Research Institute SRRI has identified many conceptual difficulties that present serious roadblocks to students learning mechanics and has developed a variety of productive techniques for addressing these problems. We will contrast the techniques preferred for different topics as a step toward developing a set of more general principles for science instruction. This work speaks to some recent controversies concerning popular methods for fostering conceptual change such as: (1) Whether and how to use analogies; (2) How and when to use surprising demonstrations; (3) How to foster productive group discussions. The work emphasizes the importance of visualizable models that make sense to students. Wednesday April 3, 1996, 4-7 PM: "ThinkQuest Web Page Workshop for Teachers" The ThinkQuest Contest, which is brought to you by pioneers and leaders in Internet networking technology and applications, is simply the most exciting opportunity available for teachers and students who are interested in using the Internet as a learning medium. And to encourage you to learn about this new medium, the contest will award up to $1,000,000 in scholarships and awards to students, teachers, and their schools. This workshop describes ThinkQuest, why it is important to you and your students, and how you can participate. You will also receive invaluable resources to help you learn, master, and use the World Wide Web (even if you don't yet have an Internet connection). Finally, you will learn about many valuable Internet and WWW tips, resources, and opportunities (such as CyberFair 96, the Global SchoolHouse (a partnership between Microsoft and Global SchoolNet), and others) from the most experienced Internet educators in the nation. Friday March 29, 1996: "UMassK12: Internet Access for Massachusetts K12 Teachers and Students" A Panel Presentation by UMassK12 Staff and Users On May 1, the UMassK12 team will mark its tenth anniversary of electronically linking Massachusetts K12 teachers and students to people and information sources around the world. As the technology has advanced from FidoNet microcomputer bulletin boards to full Internet access via text-based and graphical interfaces, the number of participants has grown explosively. The panel will survey how the system is used and discuss questions of accessibility, training, and support. Monday March 4, 1996: "Science Education Standards: Does K12 Reform Link To Higher Education?" James E. Hamos, Associate Professor of Cell Biology, Director of the Office of Science Education, University of Massachusetts Medical Center Educational standards suggesting content attainment levels for K-12 graduates have been developed nationally and statewide for many academic disciplines. Within science education, "Benchmarks for Science Literacy" (American Association for the Advancement of Science) and "National Science Education Standards" (National Research Council) have been incorporated into the Massachusetts "Curriculum Frameworks for Science & Technology". This seminar focuses on the development of these Curriculum Frameworks, and raises the issue of the relationship of education reform measures to higher education. Wednesday February 14, 1996: "School / College Collaborations: from Information Transfer to Original Research" Merle S. Bruno, Professor of Biology, Hampshire College Since the early seventies Dr. Bruno has worked on various school/college collaborations. These include Five College/ Public School Partnership programs such as PIES (Partners in Elementary Science) and SPACEMET as well as a recent three year teacher enhancement partnership with the Coalition of Essential Schools. Dr. Bruno will present many of the elements found to be successful in these partnerships such as involving teachers in active investigations, group problem solving and cooperative learning groups.

Fall 1995

Thursday December 14, 1995: "Educational Grants: Some Guidelines for Novices a Panel Discussion" Panel Members: Leroy Cook, Physics and Astronomy Karl Stephan, Electrical and Computer Engineering Morton Sternheim, Physics and Astronomy Richard Yuretich, Geology and Geography This workshop is intended to provide information on the process of obtaining an educational grant. Such grants differ significantly from the research grants that college faculty are often familiar with. Our panel will guide a "novice" step by step from the initial idea to the final proposal submittal. The audience will be invited to participate with questions and comments. Thursday November 30, 1995: "Improving Science Education through Technology/Multimedia" David W. Brooks, Professor of Chemistry Education at the Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska Professor Brooks directed the General Chemistry programs at Texas A&M and the University of Nebraska for a total of fourteen years prior to working almost exclusively on technology applications in science education. He is well known for his pioneering work in developing videodisc/hypercard materials for both secondary and university level instruction and will Mary Alice Wilson, Five Colleges/Partnership present a seminar on the use of multimedia materials in science education. Tuesday October 24, 1995: "Introducing Constructivism into the Classroom: the New Zealand Experience" Malcolm D. Carr, Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Research Center, University of Waikato The research into teaching and learning in the SMTER (Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Research) Center has had some influence on classroom practice, on the curriculum and on teacher training. These influences will be discussed and some of the tensions associated with change outlined.
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