Tuesday, January 23, 2018

For Immediate Release

MITS Fall 2017 Highlights

With winter in full force, we look back at opportunities during Fall 2017. Following successful summer programs, the Museum institute for Teaching Science (MITS) staff regrouped with teachers for summer institute call-backs and developed their own skills by attending conferences. Here are some of the highlights of Fall 2017!

  • On October 20th MITS Executive Director, Sandra Ryack-Bell, led a full-day pre-conference session at the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) Annual Conference in San Jose, CA. The session, “Developing Professional Development Programs for Your Institution: What Is the Right Fit for You?”, assisted museums and other cultural institutions in establishing high quality professional development programs for teachers. Presenters from Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Science Museum of Minnesota, Project Learning Tree, Discovery Place, Inc. of Charlotte, NC and Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago shared their expertise. Participants learned about successful models and used ASTC’s instructional guides for designing and implementing professional development programs.
  • MITS had a significant presence at the Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers (MAST) Annual Conference in early November. Staff led an interactive session about adapting traditional curriculum to inquiry-based science lessons. In another session, MITS Summer Institute alumna Stacey Reed spoke about her development of a conference-style assessment system for the classroom. MITS partners from Framingham State University’s Center for Climate Change Education and the Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center for Integrated Science Learning, Vandana Singh and Irene Porro (MITS Board member), led a discussion of different models used to look at climate change data, the topic of the MetroWest Summer Professional Development Institute. Another highlight: our partner from the Lloyd Center for the Environment, Liz Moniz, was honored with the Russell P. Stanhope Distinguished Friend of Science Award.
  • MITS concluded its Summer Professional Development Institutes on November 4th and 18th with call-back sessions that brought summer participants back together. Teachers shared and critiqued the inquiry-based activities they developed following their week-long experience – these activities were also shared via the online Schoology platform and are available to all participants. Call-backs reconnect educators with a peer network, encouraging the flow of resources among teachers and the brainstorming of strategies for classroom implementation and assessment of hands-on, minds-on lessons.
  • Again this year, MITS was selected to provide an interactive exhibit at the November Massachusetts STEM Summit in Worcester. Past participants and partners shared their MITS experiences, highlighting the value of graduate level professional development programs and the importance of inquiry-based learning in the sciences, with visitors to the MITS exhibit. Furthering the conversation about inquiry-based education, MITS Board member and WGBH Director of STEM Curriculum and Instruction, Jake Foster, presented a session on “Adapting Digital Media for STEM Instruction”.
  • MITS Customized School Services reached over ninety teachers from grades K-6 this fall and worked directly with school districts and small groups of teachers. Educators engaged in inquiry-based activities related to space science, climatology, chemistry, physics and teaching science through literacy as they explored using the Science and Engineering Practices in their curriculum.
  • On December 1st, Assistant Director of Education, Brianna Wilkinson, presented at the Berkshire STEM Educators Conference at Berkshire Community College. During the session, educators considered the progression of Science and Engineering Practices through grades pre-K to 12 in the 2016 revised Science and Technology/Engineering Standards, and were given tools to support their classroom work.
  • Bringing to light sustainable energy topics for classrooms, MITS partnered with Mass Audubon for a two-day teacher workshop, “Lighting the Way with Wind and Solar: Pathways to a Sustainable Energy Future”. On December 1st and 2nd, educators engaged in the Science and Engineering Practices by examining the link between climate change and human energy consumption. Participating teachers designed solar-powered water fountains, designed community energy grids, created solar homes, and crafted their own wind turbines.

For MITS, fall is a time for networking with participants and informal education partners to implement high quality professional development programs for K-12 teachers and informal educators across the state of Massachusetts. We look forward to more great learning experiences in the new year, including our Professional Development Seminar series, presentations at the NSTA (National Science Teachers’ Association) national conference in Atlanta, Summer Professional Development Institutes in six regions across Massachusetts, and our collaboration with MA STEM networks, MAST (Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers) and other educational networks throughout the state.


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 www.mits.org or call 617-328-1515.