Science & Engineering Saturday Seminars         Spring, 2010

-        Designed for science teachers; new teachers are especially welcome        

-        Five Saturdays each term; 8:30-1 at UMass Amherst, Lederle Grad Towers 1033 (except as noted)

-        Educational materials, refreshments, parking, PDP’s included

-           Advance registration is required; capacity is limited

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

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

January 23. What Electrical Engineering Can Do for You. Marinos N. Vouvakis, Electrical and Computer Engineering. When asking the average high-school student what Electrical Engineering is all about, the most probable answer is: it deals with the electrical wiring and outlets, or in the best case, it helps build TV sets. Although this would have been the case for the Electrical Engineering of the 30s or 50s, modern electrical engineering is been considerably more exciting. We will give an overview of Electrical Engineering, and outline the basic principles behind some of the most ubiquitous electrical engineering technologies such as the iPhone, the laptop computer, the internet, radar, etc.  

January 30. Weather cancellation makeup date if needed

February 6. Ice, glaciers, and oceans. Julie Brigham-Grette, Ray Bradley, Beth Caissie, Geosciences. Hands on explorations of remote sensing, the effects of rising ocean levels, and changes in the forces driving ocean circulation. Melting ice and snow exposes water and land, increasing the energy absorbed from sunlight. We will explore ways to measure this change in the “albedo,” and will do an experiment that models remote sensing by satellites.

March 6. Technology-Enhanced Science Activities *In Lederle Grad Towers Room 201*Frieda Reichsman and Eric Martz, Microbiology. Explore inquiry-based, interactive activities from the Concord Consortium that use dynamic models and simulations to guide students from the phenomena of their everyday lives to the molecular underpinnings of life. The Science of Atoms and Molecules Project (SAM) includes scaffolded activities that address physics, chemistry, and biology topics such as of diffusion, protein structure and function, lipids and carbohydrates, the genetic code, chemical bonds, and more. Mutate a gene and see how an RNA in the cell instructs a ribosome to produce proteins with an altered amino acid sequence. Working with a dynamic model, you can explore for yourself how hydrophobic and hydrophilic amino acids affect protein folding. As they progress through activities, students answer embedded assessments; you view or print their answers as reports using a teachers' web portal. All SAM activities are free and use the free, open-source Molecular Workbench software to examine three-dimensional molecular models and help students experience molecular movements, collisions, and attractions.

March 27. Antibiotics in the EnvironmentErik Rosenfeldt, Civil and Environmental Engineering. Discharges of pharmaceuticals and personal care products into aquatic ecosystems are an emerging environmental issue. Antibiotics are of particular concern since they may lead to the evolution of antibiotic resistant microorganisms.  A simple assay that detects activity associated with antibiotics is known as the AntiBiotic Challenge [ABC], and is based upon a commercially available test for finding antibiotics in meat, urine, and dairy products. The assay has been adapted so that students will have no contact with potentially pathogenic microorganisms and only simple equipment is required.

April 3. Science of the Eye.  Ishara Mills-Henry, Biology, MIT. In the retina, photoreceptor cells translate light into electrical and chemical signals that are processed through several downstream neurons.  We will discuss photoreceptor function as it relates to color vision, the proteins involved in phototransduction (signaling pathways and ion channels leading to changes in membrane potential), the evolution of color vision, and the genetics of color blindness.  In the second part of the workshop, we will focus on how the processing of visual stimuli in the brain plays a critical role in vision. Many optical or visual illusions are a result of how the brain perceives what we see and studying them has provided further understanding of the mechanisms of visual perception.  Hands-on activities will include aligning opsin gene and protein sequences and how optical illusions are interpreted.

April 10.  Weather cancellation makeup date if needed.

May 1. Recall for those registered for graduate credit. Hasbrouck Lab.

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 for CNS 697S, ST-Contemporary Science and Engineering II. We will have registration forms at the first seminar.

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

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