Wednesday, April 30, 2014

For Immediate Release

MITS Shines at NSTA Boston 2014

At the 2014 National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Annual conference held April 3–6 at the Boston Convention Center.  MITS was well represented byNSTA8 educators from the MITS staff, MITS partner organizations and participants from MITS Professional Development Institutes.  Over 12,000 educators from across the country gathered for the 4 day event.

An exciting conference highlight for MITS was the continuous airing of a 6 minute documentary created by WebsEdge, spotlighting MITS unique professional development programs for educators and successful collaborative partnerships between formal (K-12) and informal organizations and institutions.  One of 14 organizations given the opportunity to create such a video through NSTA’s new initiative NSTA TV, MITS was invited to work with WebsEdge to produce this documentary which was aired daily at numerous locations on flat-screen TVs throughout the convention center and at 9 of the conference hotels.

The NSTA conference offered MITS the opportunity to showcase collaborations that demonstrate hands-on, minds-on, inquiry-based education during 3 sessions on Friday and Saturday.


Friday morning educators from several of MITS’ Summer Professional Development Institutes collaborated to share some of the inquiry-based, minds-on hands on activities they developed during their MITS institute experiences.  During the session, Exploring Interactions in the Sciences: Inquiry-based Investigations, session attendees moved from station to station, round robin-style. Annie Pugh and Natalie Belli from the Marblehead Public Schools presented their cross curricular teamwork targeting a unit in the life sciences: Ecosystems.  Mairead Curtis from the Lincoln Public Schools engaged participants in the Physical Sciences with a new approach to the concept of density during an activity demonstrating sinking and floating.  Samantha Toomey from Sutton Public Schools addressed the Earth Sciences by pulling out magnifying lenses and other tools to share a hands-on exploration of the nature of rock samples.

Friday afternoon MITS Executive Director, Sandi Ryack-Bell, MITS Board member and UMass Lowell Professor of Engineering Materials Dr. David Kazmer and Dr. David S. Unger, Director of Interpretation of the American Textile History Museum, presented a session entitled:  Know Science? Know Engineering? Putting Science Practices and Engineering Design Together in Your Elementary Classroom.  A filled room of participants engaged in activities and discussion to learn how science practices and engineering design can work together effectively in the classroom.  Paper rockets floated through the air and dynamic discussions took place as session attendees experiment with hands-on materials and explored the different levels of inquiry investigations.

Saturday found MITS instructors from partnering organizations providing a hands-on session that linked science inquiry with literacy in a session entitled as NSTA6they explored sharing with students “read it, write it, talk it, and do it.”  During the session, Elementary Investigations Strengthen Science and Literacy Skills, Rachel Stronach and Elizabeth Moniz of the Lloyd Center for the Environment challenged participants to clean up an “oil spill.” Marley O’Neil from Zoo New England engaged participants with a variety of animal skulls:  “What do you think this animal ate?”  “Is it an herbivore, carnivore or omnivore?”  “Where might it live?” Participants walked away with ideas for using multiple genres and activities for introducing science as an integrating context for literacy concepts.


The conference closed for MITS Staff at the New England Aquarium/Cambridge College reception on Sunday, where the staff had the opportunity to interact with Cambridge Professor and Coordinator of Science Education John Papadonis, NSTA President-elect Juliana Texley, MA DESE Science Director Jacob Foster, the New England Aquarium’s Supervisor of Teacher Services Nicole Scola, past MITS participants, and Cambridge College faculty.

Handouts from MITS’s conference session and the NSTA documentary on MITS can be found at   Information and registration materials for the MITS 2014 Summer Professional Development Institutes and the NSTA documentary about MITS can be accessed on the MITS web site

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.