Science & Engineering Saturday Seminars         Spring, 2009

-        Designed for science teachers; new teachers are especially welcome        

-                Five Saturdays each term; 8:30-1 at UMass Amherst

-                Educational materials, refreshments, parking, PDPs included

-             Advance registration is required; capacity is limited

-             Cost $30 per session, $120 for all five sessions

-        4 PDPs per half day session; option for 3 grad credits at reduced cost with extra work


* Note change in dates *


All sessions are in Lederle Graduate Towers 1033


Feb. 7.  The Biology of the Poles. Marie Silver, STEM Education Institute. As part of UMass participation in the International Polar Year research effort, curriculum has been developed for the K-12 teacher. Participants will learn about the unique life forms found in the Arctic and Antarctica. Hands on activities will include animal and plant adaptations to cold climates, plant succession following glacier recession and phenology (recording plant life cycles and correlating it to environmental change).

Feb. 28.  Nanotechnology. Mark Tuominen, Physics Department and Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing. Another in a series on nanotechnology; previous attendance is not required. The atomic force microscope (AFM) allows researchers to map surfaces at the atomic level; a multimedia module shows how this is done, and a hands-on activity models the AFM. Nanomedicine is explored via a diffusion experiment and a presentation.

March 7. Using Birds to Teach Biology. Bruce Byers, Biology. Observations of organisms in their natural environments can spark a life-long interest in biology. Charismatic organisms are especially well suited to this role. For example, birds are conspicuous inhabitants of urban, suburban, and rural environments, and are intrinsically appealing to almost everyone. They are easily observed at feeders and elsewhere, and engage in a variety of fascinating behaviors. In this workshop, we will share ideas for inquiry-based activities and exercises, centered around observations of birds, that address key elements of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for science, especially those Frameworks related to ecology and evolutionary biology.


March 14.  Traffic Engineering and the Everyday World. Mike Knodler, Civil and Environmental Engineering. This workshop introduces students to basic traffic engineering principles with emphasis on the safe and efficient operation of intersections.  More importantly, the sociological impacts of transportation on everyday life will be explored in detail. Over 40,000 people are killed each year on United States roadways, many at intersections.  In addition, increasing traffic volumes has led to congestion requiring improved vehicle movement efficiency at intersections.  Topics to be covered include: vehicle, operator, and roadway characteristics; traffic control; roadway capacity; geometric design objectives and plan formulation; demand forecasting; and economic, social, and environmental evaluation.  The workshop features several hands-on activities that can be adapted for all grade levels.

April 4. Where On Earth Are You? Rob Snyder, STEM Education Institute. Much of what we know about the structure of matter ranging from the distribution of electrons in an atom to the chemical composition of a star we know because we understand relationships among the wavelengths, frequencies, and energies of electromagnetic radiation. Specific wavelengths and frequencies of electromagnetic radiation are also used in many ways to map features on Earths surface.
This seminar provides an opportunity to build a model of a remote sensing satellite that detects visible light reflected or emitted from a model of a landscape on Earths surface. In another activity, GPS devices that receive specific frequencies of electromagnetic waves from a network of orbiting satellites will be used (weather permitting) to map a landscape.

May 2. Weather cancellation makeup date.

May 9. Recall for those registered for graduate credit.

Graduate credit option: There is a charge of $300 for 3 Continuing Education credits plus a $45 registration fee.  This is in addition to the $120 STEM Education Institute fee. Teachers may obtain credit for the seminar as many terms as they wish, but only 3 credits may be applied to UMass Amherst degrees. A lesson plan and a book report will be required for those enrolled for graduate credit. Register with Continuing Education or the UMass Graduate School. Continuing Education registration forms will be available at the first session.

Questions: Mort Sternheim,, 413-545-1908,

Online seminar registration and payment: Required for everyone whether or not they are registering for graduate credit.