Wednesday, April 2, 2014

For Immediate Release

MITS Professional Development Seminar Highlights how Educators Can Enhance Their Programs
to Meet the Revised Science Standards

On March 19, over 50 formal and informal educators gathered at Clark University for the third seminar in the Museum Institute for Teaching Science’s 2014 professional development seminar series. The topic of the day was The New Massachusetts Science, Technology/Engineering Curriculum Frameworks: What Do They Mean for You, Your Programs, and Your Institution?

The workshop, facilitated by Dr. Jacob Foster of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), started with a presentationDSCN1907 and rich discussion on the evolution of the Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Frameworks and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Participants learned about the process the state of Massachusetts went through in deciding whether or not to adopt or adapt the NGSS, and the ways in which the revised standards differ from our existing framework.  Dr. Foster was a member of the Next Generation Science Standards writing team so he brings a unique perspective to how NGSS mirrors the Massachusetts revised framework. Workshop participants not only learned about the process of creating and revising the standards, but they were also prompted to think about how the changes at the state level may impact their own programs and classrooms.

In the afternoon Jake was joined by MITS’ Executive Director, Sandra Ryack-Bell and Education Specialist, Rosemary Rak to further explore what the revised framework looks like in practice. Both Dr. Rak and Ms. Ryack-Bell were involved in the process of evaluating the NGSS standards as they were developed and the revision of the current Massachusetts Standards. Participants got a chance to investigate the revised standards by participating in inquiry-based activities and discussions that could be used to create lessons and programs that highlight the NGSS science and engineering practices.  For example, informal educators reflected on some of their current offerings and brainstormed ways they might adapt them to address NGSS Crosscutting Concepts and infuse new science practices.

Meanwhile middle and high school teachers in attendance examined Content and Skills Crosswalks developed by the MA DESE that compared the current standards with DSCN1232the proposed new standards. These formal educators then proposed specific ways to incorporate the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices in their classroom instruction and assessment. The take home message for the day was that although the new framework may seem daunting to many educators it is designed to support the principles of what good science and engineering practice looks like in our classrooms and programs. In the end the revised standards is just one more step towards increasing science literacy in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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. 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.