Spring 2012 STEM Tuesday Seminars


STEM seminars are held at 4PM on the first and third Tuesdays of each month during the academic year in Hasbrouck 138. Everyone is welcome; no reservations are needed, and there is no charge. Parking is available in the Campus Center Garage.


February 21


Mark Goldner

2011 PolarTrec Teacher and seventh and eighth grade science, Brookline Middle School


 “Glaciers, Mud and the Midnight Sun: A Science Teacher’s Adventure -  PolarTrec”


What happens when a simple school teacher meets intrepid polar researchers? This past summer teacher Mark Goldner found out, through the scientific adventure of a lifetime! Goldner, a 7th and 8th grade science teacher at the Heath School in Brookline, joined researchers Julie Brigham-Grete and Ross Powell, in Svalbard, Norway studying glaciers and what glacial sediments can reveal about climate change. Thanks to the NSF, Goldner was able to experience first-hand what it is like to conduct polar field research. He will share his experiences being part of the research team and how he is connecting this adventure with his students in the classroom.


March 6

Bob Barkman,  Professor of Education at Springfield College

Dr. Julie Smist

Professor of Chemistry at Springfield College, and 

Ron St. Amand , Director of Science for Springfield Public Schools


“The Elephant in the Middle of the Room: Identifying and Changing Student Misconceptions”


It is well known that many students have misconceptions, but, unless, teachers take time at the beginning of a lesson to probe them, these misconceptions persist into adulthood.  This presentation will highlight the importance of using teaching strategies designed to reveal student misconceptions and provide experiences to help change them.  This session will address the National Assessment Standard by: sharing the results of action research to identify student misconceptions, develop ways to change them, and measure changes in student achievement. The ways found to improve classroom practice through formative assessment tools will be highlighted.



March 27


Scott Auerbach

Chemistry, UMass, Program Director of iCons


“iCons: Integrated Concentration in Science”


iCons is a four-year program embedded in a major within the University of Massachusetts College of Natural Sciences. Its mission is to produce the next generation of leaders in science with the attitudes, knowledge, and skills needed to solve the inherently multi-disciplinary problems facing our world. The iCons program is composed of three courses (one per year) and a senior capstone project. The curriculum integrates scientific expertise across disciplines and gives students the opportunity to work on real-world problems from day one. This new program provides collaborative learning experiences, discovery-based projects, leadership development, and multi-disciplinary analytical skills. The speaker will talk about how the iCons program is doing as it enters its second year here on campus.


April 3


Martina Nieswandt

School of Education, UMass


"Snapshots of Undergraduate Students' Interest during Analytical Chemistry Laboratory Activities"


This qualitative study explores whether undergraduate students’ interest can be aroused in a mandatory analytical chemistry class that generally is considered of little to no interest. Assuming that certain features of a learning situation arouse a person’s interest regardless of personal preferences (interestingness or non-interest) for the situation this study asks: (1) Do a series of analytical chemistry laboratory activities, which are part of a required undergraduate analytic chemistry course, arouse students’ situational interest? (2) If so, what stimuli promote situational interest and how does it develop throughout the semester?


April 10


David Cash

Undersecretary for Policy, Mass Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs


“From Biology Major to Science Teacher to Department of Public Utilities

Commissioner: A Wonderful Winding Career Path”


David W. Cash was appointed a Commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities by Governor Deval Patrick in June, 2011. Prior to this appointment Dr. Cash was the Undersecretary for Policy in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). In this role, Dr. Cash advised the Secretary of Energy and Environment on an array of issues including energy, land management, water management, oceans, wildlife and fisheries, air and water quality, climate change, environmental and energy dimensions of transportation, and waste management. He was one of the architects of clean energy legislation and implementation in the first term of the Patrick-Murray Administration, including the Green Communities Act, the Global Warming Solutions Act, the Green Jobs Act and the Clean Energy Biofuels Act. Recently, he led the Secretariat's effort in developing the Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020, which provides a roadmap of policies and program that will lower energy costs, create clean energy jobs, and reduce greenhouse gases. Prior to working for the Commonwealth, Dr. Cash was a research associate at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a Lecturer in Environmental Science and Public Policy. He also taught science in the Amherst, Massachusetts public schools from 1990-1993. He received a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the Kennedy School at Harvard in 2001, and a B.S. in biology from Yale University in 1987.