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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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