Friday, December 9, 2016
For Immediate Release
The Museum Institute for Teaching Science, part of an active STEM community in Massachusetts
On November 1st, the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council held its annual STEM Summit in Worcester. The summit brought together a unique audience, allowing industry representatives, informal educators, institutes of higher education, government officials, and classroom teachers to share a space and connect with each other. The Museum Institute for Teaching Science programs tap into the Massachusetts Regional STEM Networks, which have recently been redefined by the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council, and the summit provided helpful information about the redistribution of regions and resources: http://www.mass.edu/stem/getinvolved/pipelinenetworks.asp.
The Museum Institute for Teaching Science (MITS) also hosted an exhibit space. Classroom educators, alumni of previous MITS programs, were available to talk with attendees about the MITS Summer Professional Development Institute experience and applications of inquiry-based learning to the classroom. Jason Welch of Holbrook Junior/Senior High School was accompanied by two of his students who were able to discuss how they built, tested and launched a SeaPerch remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to collect data in the field. MITS partners Rachel Stronach and Liz Moniz of The Lloyd Center for the Environment and Kathy Zagzebski of the National Marine Life Center illustrated how they involve teachers in using the science and engineering practices during Summer Professional Development Institutes. When they weren’t busy sharing photos, drawings and models from their classrooms to demonstrate their students’ engagement in inquiry-based learning, MITS’ invited educators to attended several workshop offerings geared towards helping teachers shift to the revised Massachusetts Science, Technology and Engineering standards or create new STEM opportunities in the classroom.
A few days later, MITS educators attended the Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers (MAST) 2016 Conference in Boxborough. Themed “Science in the World Around Us,” the conference focused on nurturing students’ sense of wonder, developing critical thinking and science literacy, and promoting investigation of natural phenomena. Sessions highlighted the increased rigor of curriculum implied by the 2016 Massachusetts Science, Technology & Engineering Standards. A series of sessions showcased the ongoing efforts of educators throughout the state to meet the revised Massachusetts Science, Technology and Engineering Standards.
To kick off the conference, keynote speaker Page Keeley provided attendees with ideas for formative assessment and challenged participants to answer some of her “probes” themselves. After polling the audience of educators about their background knowledge of science concepts, Keeley explained how student misconceptions are formed.
Sessions throughout the conference featured MITS connections. Educators from MITS partner institutions like Harvard Forest and Mass Audubon encouraged attendees to take kids outside and keep investigation local. MITS alum Jacey Vaughan of Everett School District, recipient of the 2014 Elaine Adams Professional Development Award, offered a session entitled “Learning to Implement Inquiry Levels in the Classroom.” During the session, she she told the story of her MITS Summer Professional Development Institute experience, and talked about the importance of MITS’ program in helping her to develop and apply the knowledge and skills required for inquiry-based learning.
An early Friday morning session led by MITS educators provided a platform for alums of other MITS programs, including Customized School Services and Summer Professional Development Institutes, to share their experiences. Kristina Woods and Celeste Cruse from Lawrence School in Falmouth talked about an investigation they created collaboratively called, “March Across Time from the Birth of the Earth to our Cape Cod Backyard.” Carrie Flagg of Norton Middle School (Westfield, MA) participated in multiple MITS summer institutes with colleagues from her school, and talked about how she and her colleagues were able to work as a team to bring curriculum changes to their classrooms. Susan Sweeney of Barnstable Intermediate School showcased her use of resources from MITS courses to start making small shifts toward guided inquiry in her classroom. Laura Smith of Mansfield Public School discussed the inclusion of inquiry-based activities in her earth science curriculum, and identified the positive impact these additions have had on student learning.
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.