SCIENCE OF THE POLAR REGIONS BROUGHT TO MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL CLASSROOMS WITH $597,000 GRANT TO UMASS AMHERST
AMHERST, Mass. The National Science Foundation has awarded $597,000 to University of Massachusetts Amherst scientists to help middle and high school teachers learn and teach about the polar regions where changes in snow and ice are revealing secrets of the planetís past climate and the climate of the future. The 3-year curriculum and professional development project aims to integrate activities associated with the International Polar Year 2007-08, an intense, coordinated research effort by scientists around the globe that investigates the polar regions and their links to the rest of the planet.
"Much of the world lives far from sea ice and melting glaciers," says Mort Sternheim, director of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Institute at UMass Amherst. "This project will help educators understand how changes in the polar regions impact all of us" he says.
The funding will support residential summer workshops with academic year on-line communication for in-service teachers who are involved in the professional development of their colleagues under the umbrella of the UMass Amherst's STEM Education Institute and department of Geosciences' Climate System Research Center. During each summer institute teachers will be introduced to sets of STEM Polar Connections Modules that will emphasize the process of scientific inquiry and explore a variety of proven techniques for effective teaching, including inquiry-based teaching, cooperative learning, and methods for formative assessment of student learning.
The summer workshops at UMass will be designed to advance teachers' knowledge of the characteristics of the polar regions and processes that occur there so educators can effectively field test curriculum modules and disseminate final versions of the modules at the local, regional, and national level.
"This is a wonderful synergy between our STEM efforts and polar researchers on our campus," says Sternheim.
Other researchers involved in the project include Julie Brigham-Grette and Ray Bradley from the department of Geosciences, Paul Siqueira, of the electrical and computer engineering department, and STEM Education staff, including science teacher Rob Snyder, post-doctoral researcher Kate Devlin, English teacher Holly Hargraves and environmental educator Marie Silver.