February 6     


Florence R. Sullivan

Program in Educational Technology

University of Massachusetts, Amherst


“Learning Through Building and Programming: Thinking and Reasoning

with Robotics"


Building and programming a robot is a rich constructionist learning activity. Indeed, solving a robotics problem requires two mutually constitutive processes: designing a structure (vehicle or machine) and programming the structure to perform a task. Students of robotics are, therefore, engaged in both technological design and computer programming activities. This presentation will offer empirical findings regarding the types of thinking and reasoning activities students engage in and the learning outcomes afforded by a robotics curriculum. Special attention will be given to how the affordances of the robotics environment in conjunction with a pedagogical approach emphasizing open-ended, extended inquiry prompts the utilization of science literacy-based thinking and process skills and leads to increased systems understanding.


February 27th           


John A. Armstrong                       

IBM Vice President, Science & Technology (ret.)

Trustee, University of Massachusetts


“Reflections on STEM Education”


Based on a 55 year career of learning, doing and managing research, and extensive experience in hiring STEM professionals, the speaker will reflect on STEM education, both for the specialist and for the educated public.


March 6               


John M Francisco             

Teacher Education & Curriculum Studies

University of Massachusetts


“Teachers Attending to Students' Mathematical Activity”


This study reports patterns in teachers’ observations of research sessions on mathematical learning involving middle grade students from an urban low-income, minority community. The focus is on the teachers’ attention to students’ mathematical activity and the interventions that help promote thoughtful mathematical activity in students. This study is part of the professional development component of a 3-year NSF funded longitudinal study on the development of mathematical ideas and ways of reasoning.



April 3 Postponed until April 10th            


Arthur Eisenkraft

Director, Center Of Science and Math in Context (COSMIC)

University of Massachusetts Boston


“Active Physics”


Active Physics is an inquiry based curriculum that uses a problem based learning model.  In Active Physics, students are presented with a challenge such as build an improved safety device for a car, create a light and sound show to entertain their friends, design a roller coaster for select populations, or make a model for a museum exhibit highlighting the atom and nucleus.  They then work on a series of activities which help them to learn the content.  After the completion of 8-10 activities, students then transfer their newly acquired knowledge to complete the chapter challenge.  The activities follow a 7E instructional model where activity always precedes content.  Active Physics bridges research and practice by creating curriculum materials based on research that has been tested in the school.


April 17


Joseph Berger

Educational Policy Research & Administration

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) the creation of 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.


May 1     


Abigail Jurist Levy

Center for Science Education

Education Development Center, Inc.


"Low Science and Math Teacher Retention: Causes, Consequences, and How 
Some Urban Middle and High Schools Are Making Progress"
Abigail Jurist Levy, Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Science 
Education, Education Development Center, will discuss the study of teacher 
retention she is currently leading. This study compares middle and high 
schools with teacher retention rates that are higher than the district 
average to similar schools with retention rates that are lower than the 
district average in an effort
to understand what policies and practices might explain their different 
outcomes. The study is now underway and this conversation will cover the 
design, methods, some of the issues associated with conducting this work 
in a large, urban district, and preliminary findings.