Professional Development Seminars

Professional Development Seminars2019-10-26T22:25:56+00:00

What are Professional Development Seminars?

Are you seeking ways to enhance the science, technology and engineering content of your educational programs and exhibits? Could your offerings include more inquiry-based activities?

Our Professional Development Seminars are designed to meet the needs of informal educators, like you. Discover ways to strengthen your STEM content knowledge and leave with the skills and tools to develop compelling, hands-on, minds-on science lessons.

At our seminars, your staff and volunteers will connect with content expertise and like-minded educators. Our full-day seminars will get you thinking of unique ways to engage learners of all ages in your exhibits and programs. Explore authentic research during morning sessions, and strengthen your skills by turning the content into engaging hands-on, minds-on activities in the afternoon. Join us for an engaging seminar series, and expand your toolkit of inquiry-based activities to enhance science education at your institution!

What you’ll leave with:

  • Science, technology and engineering content knowledge to bolster your existing skills
  • Hands-on, minds-on activities to enrich your institution’s exhibits and school or public programs
  • Connections to school-based information and topics that teachers want to learn about

2020 Professional Development Seminar Series

Registration Information

Dates: January 16th, February 6th, March 12th and April 9th
Time: 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Location: Higgins University Center, Clark University, Worcester, MA
Cost: $45/seminar; $125/3 seminars; $160/all 4 dates
Registration fee includes lunch.
Certificates of completion are available after each seminar.
PDP certificates are available for those participating in 2 or more seminar dates.

Register Online

Download a Brochure

Thursday, January 16th

Ornithology and Our Changing Environment: Understanding Climate Change Through Bird Research

Trevor Lloyd-Evans, Director of Landbird Conservation Program, Manomet

How can birds be indicators of environmental change? What technologies can we use to collect data about climate change from bird populations? Since 1966, Manomet has sought the answer to these questions as they study seasonal migrations of land birds near Plymouth, MA. During this session, discover what 50+ years of bird migration research reveals about climate change. Explore what researchers have learned about climate change by studying canaries in coal mines to Peregrine Falcons and DDT. Investigate curriculum co-designed by Manomet and TERC’s Biosphere and Climate Initiative, and explore ways to connect your school programs to the study of local and global aspects of climate change.

Spark Creativity and Fuel Innovation by Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions
Kathy Shay, STEM Educator, Duxbury Public Schools

Asking questions is essential for students’ ability to investigate and solve problems in Science and Engineering. Yet question formulation is not often deliberately taught to students. This session introduces the Question Formulation Technique (QFT), a simple but powerful process which teaches students to produce, improve, and strategize how to use their own questions. The QFT was developed by the Right Question Institute, and this effective pedagogical strategy is used by over 400,000 educators around the world. In this session, experience the QFT and see examples of how it benefits student learning, stimulating curiosity and investigation across disciplines and grade levels. Explore how you can use QFT in your school programs to build science process skills that will support their studies back at school.


Thursday, February 6th

Insights Into Climate Change From Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Sites
Anne Giblin, Lead Investigator, Plum Island Ecosystems LTER; Senior Scientist and Interim Director, The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory

What does climate change look like? We used to talk about climate change as “global warming”. We now know the impacts of climate change can vary greatly depending on the location. Using examples from Long-Term Ecological Research sites along the Atlantic coast, Alaska, and Central Massachusetts, we’ll explore some of the expected as well as very unexpected ways in which ecosystems have responded to climate change. We’ll investigate how students can examine data near their homes for long-term trends and identify aspects of climate change most important to them. We’ll also examine new resources that are becoming available to help communities become engaged in resiliency planning, focusing on those where youth can become involved. Come away with ideas for how to address this climate change research in your own programming.

Digging Into Data Analysis!
Liz Duff, Education Coordinator, Mass Audubon’s Salt Marsh Science Project

Analyzing and interpreting data is an essential NGSS Science and Engineering Practice that students may have little experience with. Educational resources such as online databases and “Data Nugget” lessons give students the opportunity to practice this skill while learning about local, regional, and national research. Data Nuggets in particular offer real-time data that students can explore, collected from contemporary researchers at sites in Massachusetts like Plum Island and the Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites. Liz will lead us through some graphing data analysis exercises and introduce us to online resources available to support developing this practice. Join us to learn how you can use tools like Data Nuggets to integrate more data analysis into school programs and learning experiences.


Thursday, March 12th (Full-Day Seminar)

Becoming a 21st Century Organization For All
Ann Hernandez, Senior Manager of Inclusion Activities, Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC)

Diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI) are words we often hear are important for guiding the development of a successful program or organization, but it is often hard applying them in practice, especially in educational settings. During this seminar, an expert from the Cultural Competence Learning Institute (CCLI), a partnership between Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, Association of Science-Technology Centers, Association of Children’s Museums, and Garibay Group, will help you explore dimensions of diversity, establish common language in DEAI, identify practices in your organization that can be built upon, and reflect on experiences from individuals and organizations working in informal STEM education across the United States. Participants will plan strategies to apply DEAI concepts to teaching and programming development and to create culturally-relevant content. Participants will walk away with access to various resources for further development in cultural competence and DEAI. CCLI is a process and set of resources designed to help informal educators catalyze diversity and inclusion efforts in their institutions and think differently about what success looks like in the 21st century.


Thursday, April 9th

Weather-Wise, Not Otherwise
Rob Gilman, Meteorologist at 95.9 WATD-FM; Co-owner, Precision Weather Forecasting, Inc.

It’s only a matter of time before a major hurricane hits southern New England. Can we be ready to respond to such major impacts of a changing climate? In this session, Rob will lead us through a history of weather events in New England, remembering the “Blizzard of ’78”, the “Great New England Hurricane”, and the deadly tornadoes in Springfield in 2011, and highlighting a few of the impacts on travel and power distribution in recent times. We’ll explore the science behind these weather events, including how our winter-storms, or Nor’easters, differ from tropical storms in formation and track. And finally, we’ll look into the data and how we can better understand forecasting. Come away with a new perspective on how to investigate extreme weather in your school programs.

Phenomena Are Not Always Phenomenal: The Hows and Whys of Engaging Students in Phenomena-Based Instruction
Peter McLaren, Executive Director, Next Gen Education, LLC.

How do we promote deeper connections to learning among students? Today’s multiple-dimension state science standards provide guidelines for educators to move away from fact-based, topic-focused instruction and toward engaging students by having them figure out explanations for various phenomena they experience in the natural world. Phenomena-based learning helps elicit prior knowledge, develop conceptual understanding, and build science process skills. Join us to learn how educators can support student sense-making of phenomena and how to use this teaching strategy in your school programs. Explore different types of phenomena, from anchoring to investigative. Consider criteria for choosing quality phenomena, as well as the appropriateness of phenomena in different settings.


Registration Information

Dates: January 16th, February 6th, March 12th and April 9th
Time: 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Location: Higgins University Center, Clark University, Worcester, MA
Cost: $45/seminar; $125/3 seminars; $160/all 4 dates
Registration fee includes lunch.
Certificates of completion are available after each seminar.
PDP certificates are available for those participating in 2 or more seminar dates.

Register Online

Download a Brochure