STEM Education Institute Seminars

Spring, 2005



February 1


Rod Hart, School of Education


 Teaching as a Performing Art - A look inside an acting class for teacher


Last Fall several in-service and pre-service math & science teachers

participated in an experimental new course - an acting course for teachers!  Using exercises and techniques developed in the theater, these novice teachers used their voices and bodies to communicate not only their course material, but also their commitment to the students and the subject.  The teachers learned how to prepare like an actor for the classroom stage.  They discovered how to use the tools of the theater director to set the stage for achievement, and practiced the art of improvisation to develop their ability to respond to students and classroom challenges more effectively.  In this lively and engaging talk, Rod Hart will give you a behind the scenes look into the world of teaching artistry.



February 15            


Chris Condit, Geosciences                


Displaying Maps and Providing an Integrated Framework Linking Maps, Images, Guide Texts and Data Through CD and Web Publication as Dynamic Digital Maps (DDMs)


Maps can provide an essential context for teaching and interpreting the many geographically related subjects. High quality color maps, images, movies, analytical data and explanatory text, including field guides, can be integrated in a cross-platform web enabled DDM format that is intuitive to use, easily and quickly searchable, and requires no additional proprietary software to operate. The media are stored outside the program, which acts as an organizational framework and index to present these data. An open-source DDM-Template into which

one can insert their data, and an accompanying "Cookbook" on how to do this are available at, along with six DDMs that demonstrate this potential.  Making a DDM from the Template requires the use of the English-language programming environment Revolution ( which has a low learning curve and excellent built-in tutorials.


March 1                     (


Pre-College Engineering for Teachers (PCET): Connecting Engineering to the Middle and High School Curriculum

Sarina J. Ergasa, Kathleen Rubina, Bree Carlsona, Claire Huttlingerb

  1. College of Engineering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
  2. Holyoke High school.

All people should have some knowledge of engineering design. For this to happen, teachers need to incorporate engineering design into their curricula. During the summer of 2004 approximately 30 teachers from middle and high schools throughout Western Massachusetts participated in interdisciplinary teams to learn innovative ways to integrate engineering design into their classrooms. During the two weeks of Pre-College Engineering for Teachers (PCET) workshops at UMass Amherst, teachers learned about the engineering design process through four major themes:

      Assistive technologies - design of drinking straws, ramps and other devices for use by disabled people.

      Alternative energy - design of wind generators and energy efficient buildings.

      Water Quality - design of water treatment facilities.

      Personal project development of an engineering design projects for individual classrooms or schools.

In this seminar, we will share our experiences with the PCET workshops and discuss the integration of these activities into the Massachusetts frameworks.

PCET is a collaboration between Tufts University, UMass Amherst, UMass Lowell and Western New England College and is funded by the National Science Foundation.



April 5                                   


Barrett N. Rock, Professor of Natural Resources and the Complex Systems Research Center, University of New Hampshire


Conducting Environmental Research Using K-12 Student Data: The Forest Watch Program at the University of New Hampshire


The University of New Hampshire (UNH) has developed a K-12 regional outreach program designed to introduce teachers and their students to field, laboratory, and satellite data analysis methods for assessing the state-of-health of white pine (Pinus strobus), a known bio-indicator for tropospheric or low-level ozone damage.  This program, entitled Forest Watch, provides workshops designed to help teachers introduce their students to selected hands-on techniques, based on UNH research methods. Forest Watch students evaluate the health of trees growing outside their classrooms, doing hands-on authentic science and becoming actively involved in meaningful scientific research. Results to date will be presented, representing both the scientific knowledge gained and the nature of the learning by the students.




April 19


Chris Emery , ARHS (retired), Mary V Mawn, School of Education


Science Education Online:  Inquiry and Electricity and Magnetism Course -- What We Learned


This past summer, the graduate course Inquiry and the Teaching of Electricity and Magnetism was offered online for the first time.  One of the goals for this course was to have students learn by doing by participating in a variety of guided and open-ended inquiries.  Throughout the course, students were able to answer existing questions and to ask deeper questions as a result of doing lab work in the home, thinking about the results, and interacting with others via online discussions. This talk will provide an overview of the structure of this course and describe lessons learned while teaching online.  Data about the effectiveness of the course consists of anecdotal comments, student performance on weekly quizzes and major assignments, and pre-/post confidence survey results.



May 3            


Steve Schneider, Astronomy Department


Planet Earth: Hands-On, Interactive, and Online


As part of the Science Education Online project, we transformed a summer program for teachers on global environmental issues and earth systems science to the online format. The challenge was to carry over the hands-on spirit of our "Planet Earth" program to an environment that seems very impersonal at first glance. Prof. Richard Yuretich and I used strategies to encourage cooperative work, including experimental "kits," digital cameras, and modeling scientific collaborations. This worked better than we had hoped! I will demonstrate several examples of the various strategies we used in translating our course to the online environment.