The second MITS Professional Development seminar was held on February 28th. Forty seven  teachers and museum educators met at Clark University in Worcester. The speakers for this session Jeff Winokur, Instructor of Elementary Education at Wheelock College and Dr. Sarah Partan, Associate Professor of Animal Behavior at Hampshire College.Educators explore science and literacy by sorting descriptive sentences.

Jeff introduced participants to strategies that can be used in both formal and informal educational settings to develop lessons that combine science and literacy skills.  Sharing videos of classroom teachers using these strategies with their students, Jeff presented real life examples of how these methods can be used in the classroom.  Participants worked in small group to analyze ways to apply these techniques in their own teaching.

A Hampshire College student unveils Rocky the Mechanical Squirrel.

Following the lunch break, Dr. Sarah Partan introduced Rocky the Mechanical Squirrel, sharing how she and her graduate students use robots to studying animal behavior. Focusing her research out in the field rather than a controlled laboratory setting, Sarah uses a robotic squirrel to help her understand the behavior patterns of the grey squirrel.   Participants spent time in the Clark University courtyard with two of Sarah’s graduate students and Rocky, hoping to observe a live squirrel’s response to Rocky’s presence and vocal calls.  Two other graduate students demonstrated the engineering and programming of the robot, bringing to light how biology and technology can be combined in applications in both fields.Teachers learn how a robotic squirrel can help students study animal behavior.

Participants came away with a great example of the intersection of engineering and science to study the natural world and ideas for ways this can be presented in the classroom for upper elementary, middle and high school students.