Spring 2013 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 5


Dr. Brian Lukoff

Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University


Using Learning Catalytics to Create an Interactive Classroom


Peer instruction and other interactive teaching methods have  been shown to dramatically improve conceptual understanding.  While no  technology is necessary to take advantage of these teaching methods,  technology can enable the instructor to better understand student  understanding, prompt students to engage in deeper thinking, and  facilitate more productive student discussions in the classroom.  In  this talk, I will introduce Learning Catalytics, a cloud-based platform  for interactive teaching that allows students to use web-enabled devices -- laptops, smartphones, and tablets -- to engage in rich, authentic tasks in class.  With Learning Catalytics, instructors can go beyond clickers and other  response systems to create a rich interactive  environment that integrates assessment with learning.


February 19


Justin Fermann

Professor, Chemistry, UMass


The Science of Craft”


Learning scientific principles and skills needed to understand and master the crafts of blacksmithing, ceramics, brewing, and glassblowing."  I'd like to talk about what motivated the development of a GenEd curriculum that was such a radical departure from

what is traditionally offered in Chemistry, the design work we did leading up to the first offering of the class, the challenges we faced in running it, and some ideas from either successes or failures that we can take away.


March 5

Richard Brady

Founder and Director of Minding Your Life; Mindfulness in Teaching and Learning


“Learning to Stop, Stopping to Learn: Discovering the Contemplative Dimension in Education”


Contemplative pedagogy is a young and growing approach in American education. It invites  new  possibilities for the emergence of creativity  and  promotes depth  of  understanding and a more personal relationship with  course content. The path to contemplative learning is different for each educator who travels it. I will relate experiences that led me to develop a personal contemplative practice and describe how, over time, my practice affected my teaching.  I will focus especially on contemplative methods I used in teaching a tenth grade mathematics course. In  the  process I will  discuss the dimensions of centering, questioning, awareness, and community  that were  central to the contemplative  element of  the  course.



April 2

Linda Slakey

Former Dean, Commonwealth College, Former National Science Foundation Division Director


Moving toward a Culture of Evidence Based Teaching in Undergraduate Courses

It seems self-evident that the practice of undergraduate STEM education should align with what we know about how students learn, and about the activities that draw students in and support persistence for all, but that is not the case now. Rather, in spite of a strong research base establishing the importance of student-centered pedagogy, lecture as a dominant mode of instruction still prevails widely as the cultural norm in undergraduate instruction. My current work is aimed toward building a community of funders, national organizations, and practitioners committed to catalyzing cultural and systemic change toward alignment of cultural norms and practices with the research on learning, and knowledgeable about likely strategies for success. In my talk I will provide an update on major national activities in progress to implement STEM reform, and to expand our knowledge about how to bring about widespread and lasting change.

Files from the presentation


April 23


Wayne Kermenski

Science Teacher, Mohawk Trail Regional School District


Project Based Learning, the Fifth Academic Class”


A few years back, Mohawk Trail Regional Middle School created a course entitled, Project Based Learning or PBL.  It became one of five academic classes for middle school students.  The goals for this course included inquiry-based projects that enforced skills students learned in their other courses.  In addition, the course was responsible for implementing social curriculum, math and reading literacy remediation, and authentic learning opportunities.  The benefits from this course included an increase in student attendance, a well-rounded education for our students, and a letter of acknowledgement from the Governor for our achievement in our MCAS math scores.  Come find out about this dynamic course and learn what has been successful for us.