UMass STEM Ed Institute Presents: Spring 2015 STEM Tuesday Seminars

March 10 

Michael Barnett

Professor of Science Education and Technology, Boston College

Seeding the Future: Creating a Green Collar Workforce

This recently funded NSF Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to implement and study the impact of a hydroponic farming project, using solar panels and windmills to help power the indoor gardens at Bostons Salvation Army Kroc Center  will engage approximately 1,000 students and 40 to 60 teachers at 20 schools. The Project will teach public high school students to grow hydroponic fruits and vegetables and then sell them at farmers markets in underserved areas of the city.

March 24

Beth McGinnis Cavanaugh, Director, Team Through My Window, Springfield Technical Community College; Dave Hart, OIT, UMass

Through My Window:  Engaging Children and Young Teens in Engineering Through Narrative

Through My Window is a multimedia learning environment in which middle school-aged children interact and identify with engineering through narrative.  Funded by the National Science Foundation, the project has been thoughtfully designed by learning experts from Smith College and Springfield Technical Community College with the goals of engaging learners with engineering ideas, improving attitudes toward engineering, and providing a deeper understanding of what engineering is about.  Members of the project team will describe the idea-centered instructional design of the Through My Window learning environment, focusing on the project's full-length young adult STEM mystery novel "Talk to Me", an online learning adventure in artificial intelligence (AI) called "Rio's Brain", and preliminary evidence about what students are learning.

 March 31

 Luk Hendrik

AECERN, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

 Mobile Platform for Data Capture and Use in the Class and Beyond

 Discoveries made by our students can inspire deep and lasting learning. But there are many challenges to setting up effective discovery-based learning opportunities. Aecern is a non-profit education organization based in Woods Hole, MA that is exploring how technology can help by providing tools and structure to guide and facilitate data capture and use, both in the classroom and beyond. In collaboration with teachers in MA and throughout the US we are building the Aecern Discovery Hub. This free learning platform prompts students to capture discoveries they make through a mobile app (for iPad, iPhone only at this time). Their discoveries are automatically made available to them online through our website, where they can be reviewed, shared, and incorporated into learning activities. Teachers can either build their own version of the Aecern app, or use one designed by our community of discovery educators. During this presentation we'll give a hands-on introduction to the Aecern Discovery Hub, provide an update on our progress to date, and put out a call for educators (you?) who would like to collaborate with us to help make this learning resource great.

April 21

Leslie Schneider, InterLACE

 InterLACE - A Digital Teaching Platform for Making Collaboration Visible

How can technology-supported learning help to move beyond content delivery and truly enhance STEM education so that students develop a broad mix of 21 st century skills? Dr. Schneider will demo and discuss InterLACE (Interactive Learning and Collaboration Environment), a research-validated digital collaboration platform that enhances students interaction, engagement, learning and thinking skills.  For teachers and administrators, InterLACE also facilitates the use of real-time formative assessment that is, frequent, interactive assessment of student progress and understanding.


April 28

 Debbie Carlisle, PhD, Education

 Developing Students Spatial Skills in General Chemistry

 The study of chemistry requires the understanding and use of spatial relationships, which have been shown to be challenging for many students. This study implemented guided activities designed to strengthen students? spatial skills, with the aim of preparing   students for advanced study in chemistry and other future STEM coursework. A pre/post quasi-experimental design was employed in which the experimental (n = 209) and control group (n = 212) were administered a pre and post-test. The results of a one-way ANOVA  confirmed that student performance differed significantly between groups, indicating that the guided activities were successful in strengthening students? ability to reason with spatial information. In particular, the results indicate that students? improved their ability  to identify symmetry planes, visualize in 3D, mentally rotate molecules, and translate between 2D representations and 3D molecular models. The results also suggest that a large amount of class time need not be devoted to enhance students skills, and that a diverse group of students can be trained together effectively without the need to separate high and low ability individuals.