Emily Hoffman and Lindsey Cotter

Urban Ecology Institute (UEI), Boston College


”Urban Ecology in an Urban After-School Setting”

The Urban Ecology Institute's Field Studies Program aims to provide opportunities for students to engage in real-world scientific inquiry, increase their intellectual and social self-confidence, and gain a sense of responsibility for their urban environment by partnering with urban school districts and community based groups.  School teachers and out-of-school educators are given the tools and training to lead young people in ecological investigations to answer questions about the health of their environment. Lindsey Cotter and Emily Hoffman from UEI's Education Division will lead a multi-faceted discussion about the unique and important STEM learning opportunities that after-school programming provides to youth, the realities of working with urban school district partnerships, as well as the lessons they have learned and their plans for future programming within the Boston area.




October 7       


Marlina Duncan

Northeast Alliance for Graduate Education and Professoriate (NEAGEP) Program Director, University of Massachusetts Amherst


NEAGEP Initiatives and Successes:  No Longer a Dream Deferred”


The Northeast Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (NEAGEP) is a unique coalition of large and small, public and private Research Extensive Alliance Institutions lead by the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The goal of the NEAGEP is to increase the number of domestic students receiving doctoral degrees and entering the professoriate in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We are particularly interested in recruiting, supporting and mentoring students of those population groups underrepresented in STEM fields (i.e., African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders).   


The original Alliance Institutions included UMA, BU, MIT, Penn State and Rutgers Universities.  In 2004-05 (NEAGEP Phase 2), five additional Alliance Institutions were added and they are the Universities of:  Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.  The Alliance Institutions have complementary research strengths and cover a broad spectrum of disciplines.  The impressive array of internationally recognized programs available in the Alliance matches the wide range of interests of students from our Partner Institutions, Bennett College, Jackson State University, Lincoln University, Medgar Evers College and the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez.  We work together to match students with appropriate programs and to find them excellent mentors.



October 21             


Judah Schwartz

Visiting Professor of Education and Research Professor of Physics and
Astronomy, Tufts University


“Formulating Measures: Toward Modeling in the K-12 Science and Mathematics Curriculum”

Models are ways of relating the behavior of different measures to one another. Measures are constructs that we devise to quantify the amount or degree of a property of interest. It follows that to devise models one first needs to be able to formulate measures. We explore the sorts of measures that are all too often taken for granted in the K-12 mathematics and science curriculum, with particular attention to quotient measures and product measures. In particular, we propose a problem type that explicitly parses the act of modeling into 1) an initial stage in which measures are formulated, 2) a next stage in which relationships among these measures are postulated. There is, of course a final stage, which will not be discussed, in which measurements are made and decisions made as to whether the model is sufficient for the purpose for which it is formulated or needs to be revised.




November 4           


Mark Leckie

Dept. of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst

“Using Paleomagnetism to Tell the Age of Deep-Sea Sediments: Lessons from
the School of Rock”

The Earth’s magnetic field is strong but dynamic. How might geoscientists
use the predictable and unpredictable properties of the magnetic field to
unravel Earth history? Suppose you’re on a scientific mission to unravel
ancient changes in Earth’s ocean-climate system and investigate today’s
climate characteristics relative to past conditions. Your geological
archives will be marine sediments because they contain some the best
records of past climate change. Now imagine that you have access to
deep-sea core material from a region of interest. After describing the
cores, what next? What would you like to know? Determining the relative
age of the sediments provides historical context for the changes observed
or measured in the cores. Age also provides a means of correlation to
other regions, and it provides temporal calibration for rates of
processes, such as sediment accumulation. Establishing an age model for
deep-sea cores is a first-order priority in ocean-climate research.

My School of Rock colleagues and I have developed two inquiry-based
modules specifically designed for Earth science teachers and undergraduate
geoscience classes that incrementally demonstrate how age can be
established for marine sediment records using authentic scientific ocean
drilling data. The two modules utilize microfossils (ancient plankton with
hard parts) contained within deep-sea sediments (biostratigraphy), and the
paleomagnetic record preserved in sediments (magnetostratigraphy). Other
tangible topics investigated in these modules include ecology, evolution,
and biogeography, as well as seafloor spreading and the development of the
Geomagnetic Polarity Timescale. Both units complement companion modules
built by our team on the nature and distribution of marine sediments and
stable isotopes as tools in paleoclimate research based on deep-sea
records. All modules are designed so students explore the process of
science by making observations and interpretations, plotting and analyzing
data, posing hypotheses and investigating ways to test their hypotheses.
The modules can be used as a series of short exercises in both small and
large lecture settings, or they can be used as a comprehensive package for
laboratory sections. Instructors can use parts of a module in class and
assign other parts as homework assignments. While the biostratigraphy and
magnetostratigraphy modules provide valuable lessons on how scientists
establish the age control for our proxy records of global change, they
also provide broader connections to the process of science and discovery,
both past and present.

The initial School of Rock was a sea-going, hands-on discovery expedition
that connected scientists and educators with one of the largest, yet
largely untapped, geoscience databases available. The expedition was
sponsored by the Joint Oceanographic Institutions (JOI) in alliance with
Texas A&M University and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia
University, who jointly operate and staff the research drilling vessel
JOIDES Resolution. Since the maiden voyage of School of Rock in 2005, a
number of 1-day, 3-day, and 7-day land-based teacher workshops have
engaged educators in the use of authentic scientific ocean drilling data
for teaching across the STEM disciplines. All the activities developed by
the college-university instructors and participating Earth science
teachers are available online at



November 18


Michele Cooke

Dept. of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst


“Use your hands! Geologic Classroom and Field Activities with Deaf  High School Students”

Over the past five years I've worked with earth science teachers at seven schools for the deaf around the country to develop new classroom curriculum to demonstrate the geologic processes of mountain building.  The deformation sandbox gets students observing, measuring, discussing, interpreting and predicting granular deformation.  Students also discover the utility of models to understand the large-scale and slow processes that occur within the earth.  To reinforce the analogy to geologic deformation, I've run three field trips for teachers and selected students to Utah (2005), Western New England (2006) and southern California (2008).  On these trips the students visit exposures of geologic faulting and folding and learn to see the world as geologists do. What I enjoy most about teaching these students is their excellent observational, and spatial thinking skills honed by the use of American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary language.   ASL uses a spatial grammar that is adept at describing and discussing the three-dimensional relationships of geologic deformation.  The same skills that structural geologists are trained for: 1) detailed observation and pattern recognition, 2) three-dimensional visualization, 3) developing dynamic image in their minds, are also skills that signers use every day.



December 2


Kathleen Gorski 

Wilbraham & Monson Academy


“An Einstein Fellow’s Miraculous Year”


There have been Einstein Fellows since 1990 and The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program Act was passed by Congress in 1994. But just what is an Einstein Fellow? And what do they do for their Fellowship? This program for K-12 STEM educators will be outlined and some of the many the opportunities afforded by the program will be presented. Writing legislation, writing and reviewing curricula, sitting on grant proposal panels, meeting with international educational leaders, representing federal agencies, and serving on focus groups for STEM initiatives are just some of the  reasons an Einstein (Fellowship) year is miraculous.