Monday, March 10, 2014

For Immediate Release

The Mechanics of Motion and Science Partnerships:
MITS Professional Development Seminar Teaches Educators About the Science of Motion
and Ways that Informal Educators Can Support Classroom Teachers

On February 27, over 30 formal and informal educators gathered at Clark University for the Museum Institute for Teaching Science’s second professional DSCN1223development seminar in its 2014 series. The topics of the day included: STEM in Motion: Studying the Mechanics of Movement and Meeting of Minds: Teachers and Informal Science Educators Working Together.

The February workshop started with a highly informative and hands-on session on the study of movement by Dr. David Willis, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UMASS Lowell. Dr. Willis’ presentation oriented participants to the ways modern technology and research design are used to study flight. Dr. Willis is one of the few researchers in the world studying the mechanics of bat flight with the hope of finding ways to mimic bat flight in modern aircraft innovation. He shared with us not only what was learned from his biomimicry research, but also how what has been learned in nature can be applied to the human world in machines ranging from CNC machines and 3D printers to large scale projects such as military planes and helicopters. Workshop participants not only learned about the methods and tools that engineers use to study flight, but they were also treated to an aeronautic engineering challenge by being tasked to design their own working parachute using just paper, string, and tape. Through facilitating this challenge Dr. Willis was able to illustrate to our participants the complexity of the science behind flight.

In the afternoon, participants were treated to a presentation by Dr. Michelle Scribner-MacLean, Professor of Science and Math Education at UMASS Lowell. DSCN1152Dr. Scribner-MacLean’s presentation looked at the roles that museums and informal science organizations can play in supporting increased science teaching in formal classrooms. Participants were treated to viewing a case study of a teacher trying to effectively teach a science lesson in a classroom, and then discussed in groups what they felt worked and didn’t work in the case study. Dr. Scribner-MacLean then provoked participants to challenge themselves and to think about their own practice and try to find ways that a museum partnership could enhance and support what is being taught in schools. After much rich discussion Dr. Scribner-MacLean then presented the group with a myriad of examples of successful partnerships that she has been a part of in her work at UMASS Lowell. Her take home message illustrated the importance of collaboration and the role that informal science organizations can play in the development of scientific literacy in our school

MITS Professional Development Seminars (PDS) are designed for staff, volunteers and other professionals from science, technology, engineering, history and cultural institutions in New England. The PDS series provides content and teaching resources as well as networking opportunities for professionals in informal education settings. Each PDS is a full-day session, divided into 2 segments. The mornings are spent exploring STEM content areas with scientists and policy makers. Afternoon sessions are skill-based, focusing on turning real-life science into exciting, inquiry-based, minds-on, hands-on lessons and activities for K-8 students and teachers based on state frameworks.

The PDS registration fee for participants is $35 per full-day session. Registration is required. Interested educators may register online or print out a mail-in registration form at

The Museum Institute for Teaching Science specializes in providing hands-on, minds-on, inquiry-based STEM professional development for formal and informal educators. For more information, visit or call 617-328-1515.