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A Summer Institute for Science, Math, and Technology Teachers
at the University of Massachusetts
in Amherst
   Program Features:
  • Monday to Friday, June 24 - 28, 2013 at UMass Amherst
  • Funded by the National Science Foundation
  • Sponsored by the STEM Education Institute
  • Middle and High School Science, Math, and Technology Teachers
  • Teams of science and computer teachers encouraged
  • Participants MUST bring a digital camera, and are encouraged to bring a laptop computer (see note at bottom)
  • Stipends ($375), materials, parking, lunches
  • Housing for those outside the commuting radius
  • 3 graduate credits available at reduced cost; free PDP's (Professional Development Points)
  • Academic year follow-up with UMass faculty assistance

We are pleased to announce a new NSF funded STEM Ed program entitled STEM Digital Images in Geoscience Investigations:  Teaching Analysis with Light, or STEM DIGITAL. It will enable high school and middle school teachers and students to conduct environmental research aided by the analysis of images from digital cameras, scanners, and the Internet.

Image analysis plays a large role in the workplace and offers excellent career opportunities. Digital cameras are powerful tools for inquiry based curricula, classroom research, and learning about image analysis. They have become ubiquitous as their prices plummet and capabilities improve, making them affordable for classroom use. However, teachers and students mainly use digital images for documentation: creating PowerPoint presentations, handouts, posters, etc. There are good examples in the literature of how to use digital imaging as an investigative tool, but these are seldom seen in classrooms.

STEM DIGITAL will show how digital image analysis can be applied to environmental quality issues in ways that can readily be introduced into STEM courses, engaging students and encouraging them to think about related careers. The project will develop research agendas that will employ a variety of image analysis tools. The air quality theme, led by Steve Schneider (Astronomy), will focus on the three components of the atmosphere that primarily affect visible, infrared and ultraviolet light, respectively: particulates and aerosols, carbon dioxide, and ozone. The water quality theme, led by David Reckhow (Engineering) will look at the role of plant biomass on drinking water quality and on global carbon cycling. Arsenic is listed as number one in the US in terms of environmental contaminants that pose a potential threat to human health; research topics will include the identification and mapping of local arsenic contaminated sites and bioremediation possibilities. This will expand on the impressive arsenic outreach program of Julian Tyson (Chemistry).

STEM DIGITAL will use the AnalyzingDigitalImages software which provides free, easy-to-use tools for spatial, temporal, spectral, and intensity measurements.  This package was developed by John Pickle, formerly at the Museum of Science in Boston and now at Concord Academy. There will be three cohorts of 30 teachers who will attend one week summer institutes in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

In the fall of 2013, we will offer a 13-week online version of the program. This will become a permanent part of an online M.Ed. program.


Connections with curriculum standards and careers will be highlighted.

As usual in STEM Ed programs, teacher incentives will include stipends, food and housing as needed, and funds for materials. They will receive free “Professional Development Points” needed for continuing licensure, or optional reduced-cost graduate credits. The project will encourage applications from teams with STEM teachers and computer teachers or coordinators in order to strengthen the impact of the program in the school.

You may choose to also participate in an academic year follow up and work on approximately six projects spread over the fall and spring semesters. These will be a combination of new projects, extensions from summer projects, and data sharing projects. The timing and content of these projects will be largely decided by the teachers during the summer workshop to match their curriculum needs. Three optional graduate credits will be available for the institute; the cost will be $300 plus a $45 registration fee. PDP's will be provided at no cost. Summer participants will be required to submit a lesson plan and all accompanying materials by August 20th . Grades for the course or PDP's will be issued shortly after that. Another 3 credits will be available at $345 for the academic year component.

STEM DIGITAL will enable teachers and their students to use digital images and image analysis software for qualitative and quantitative analysis, engaging students, improving their in-depth understanding of fundamental science and technology, and ultimately increasing their interest in STEM and information technology careers.  It will add to our knowledge of important environmental processes related to the movement of arsenic compounds in the environment and the dissolution of natural organic matter. It will also allow us to compare the efficacy of the in-person and online professional development programs.

*Note on cameras and computers: You don’t need to be an expert photographer or computer user, but you should be comfortable with both.