September 19

Julie Brenninkmeyer
Museum of Science, Boston

"Engineering the Future: Designing the World of the 21st Century"

"Engineering the Future: Designing the World of the 21st Century" is a 
full-year high school course being developed by the Museum of Science, 
Boston. Students learn about the role of engineers in society and how they 
create the human-made world. Students can then examine how everyone is 
affected by changes in technology and how people influence future 
technological development by the choices they make as workers, consumers, 
and citizens. The course is intended to help today's high school students 
understand the ways in which they will engineer the world of the future, 
whether or not they pursue technical careers. Engineering the Future maps 
directly to Massachusetts and national standards. It prepares students for 
the engineering/technology MCAS and provides students with an introduction 
to key physics concepts.

October 3

Merle Bruno 
School of Natural Science, Hampshire College

Beverly Park Woolf and Toby Dragon 
Dept. of Computer Science, University of Massachusetts

"Fostering Inquiry and Critical Thinking through Technology"

We describe several Web-based tutors that provide support for inquiry and 
problem-based learning and move students towards more active learning. The 
learning objective for students is to solve open-ended problems based on 
observations, formulating questions, and organizing data. Using 
computational tutors in large lecture-style classrooms, students are 
invited to solve cases, e.g., to diagnose a patient's disease or predict 
the location of the next earthquake. Teams of students ask their own 
questions, generate hypotheses and test their
predictions in biology, geology and forestry. Students brainstorm 
predictions that might resolve some aspect of the problem and enter 
possible causes for the observed phenomena. They gather data to confirm or 
refute each hypothesis and resolve open questions. For example students of 
biology interview a patient about symptoms and request specific 
physiological signs, medical history, lab tests or patient examinations. 
Tools help students organize their data so they
can more readily see patterns in the level of support for different 
hypotheses, learn to assess evidence that impacts their hypotheses and 
search for data through a variety of outside sources, including the Web.

These tutors were evaluated with high school students and with 
undergraduates at three colleges. We discuss these results along with 
recent cognitive research on teaching and learning which formed the basis 
of the project.  For more information, see 
http://ccbit.cs.umass.edu/Rashihome/

October 17

Rob Snyder
Brookline High School, Retired
"Teaching Talent Can Be Measured By a Test - True or False; Are Teacher 
Certification Tests a Gateway or a Barrier?"
Many states now require that prospective science teachers graduating 
from colleges and universities pass a certification test before they can accept 
a teaching position.  In many instances, less than 50% of prospective teachers 
are able to attain a passing score on the certification test in a field they 
have studied as an undergraduate.  This raises a number of questions.  Are the 
tests necessary?  Are the tests flawed?  Is there a discontinuity between 
undergraduate and graduate coursework and the science content of the tests? 
Should the tests be administered after several years of teaching in order to 
determine if a teacher is to be awarded a professional status (such as tenure)? 
Should there a national exam rather than exams administered by each state?  Are 
the dynamics of the average public school classroom such that class management 
skills become more important than high level content knowledge? Rob Snyder 
retired three years ago, after a 34 year career as a middle school and high 
school science teacher, and will share how his experience as a 
"pre-certification test" teacher in New York and Massachusetts, his experience 
as a teacher-mentor, and his recent experience as a writer of teacher 
certification tests has shaped his view of the teacher certification process.
November 7
Bruce Byers
Dept. of Biology, University of Massachusetts
"Evolution in the classroom: How should we respond to the Intelligent Design challenge?"

For biology teachers, Intelligent Design theory is the elephant in 
the room. What constitutes an appropriate and effective classroom 
response to this high-profile, well organized attack on scientific 
thinking? Should we ignore it? Confront it directly? Modify course 
content to implicitly counter its claims?  This talk will describe ID 
theory's explicit challenge to teachers and will explore options for 
responding to it.
November 21 Charlene D'Avanzo Dean, School of Natural Science, Hampshire College "Teaching Issues & Experiments in Ecology (TIEE): a Peer-Reviewed Electronic Journal Designed to Help Ecology Faculty Teach Better" TIEE was established in 2000 with support from NSF and the Ecological Society of America (ESA). It is designed to meet three challenges to the reform of ecology teaching: 1) Integrating sound science, innovative pedagogy, and instructional technology, 2) Disseminating accessible and adaptable materials for a wide range of faculty, and 3) Elevating teaching as scholarship through a peer reviewed journal. In addition to introducing TIEE, I will describe evaluation results and our new "research practitioner" program in which faculty do research on their own teaching. December 5 Joe Berger School of Education, University of Massachusetts "Improving Postsecondary Teacher Preparation in Afghanistan" The Afghanistan Higher Education Project (HEP) focuses on the re-development and strengthening of the capacity of the education system by focusing on improved teaching and capacity building at the tertiary level. The intended results include improved quality pre-service and in-service teacher education for secondary school teachers. The HEP team is charged with developing leadership, staff capacity and the structures and systems within the Faculties of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education to spearhead the i) rebuilding of secondary and higher education; and ii) creating a national system of pre-service education and in-service professional development to support secondary education teachers, school administrators, and faculty in seventeen four-year tertiary institutions.