On January 31st MITS held it s first of three Professional Development Seminars for 2013 at Clark University in Worcester. Fifty three educators from museums, science education and cultural organizations and K-12 schools joined Dr. Chris Rogers from Tufts University’s Center for Engineering Education and Dr. Beryl Rosenthal from the Metropolitan Waterworks Museum for an exciting day of inquiry-based STEM activities.
During the morning session Dr. Rogers presented how LEGO building blocks and motors can be used to create a great STEM learning experience combining engineering, robotics, and inquiry science. In small groups, participants worked together to build their own robots that could move across the floor. The challenge? Build this robot without using any wheels. Thirty minutes later 14 robots were crawling, climbing or racing across the conference room floor, each with its own unique features. It was amazing to see how many different designs arose out of a limited array of materials.
Following lunch, Dr. Rosenthal led the group through the fascinating story of Boston’s Metropolitan Waterworks, a story that weaves together science, engineering, and social studies. Participant learned about the historical problem of how Boston dealt with its clean water supply problem, the feats of engineering it took to build reservoirs, aqueducts, and huge pumps, and the science underlying all of it. The presentation was followed by the opportunity to play with a variety of pumps, maps and lots of hands-on materials. Using turkey basters, rubber tubing, balloons and plastic cups models of water pumps and aqueducts were built and tested. By the end of the day, participants left with a toolbox of activities to use back at their institution or school.