Julian F. Tyson (PI), Chemistry; Kathleen S. Davis (co-PI), Teacher
Education and Curriculum Studies; Morton M. Sternheim (co-PI). Physics and
of Fellows per year:
Ten graduate students (GK-12 Fellows).
audience of the project (K-12 grade band):
Middle school students in Springfield, MA
NSF supported disciplines involved:
all STEM disciplines with emphasis on contributions from chemistry,
physics, astronomy, geosciences, and biology.
Middle school teachers in a masterís degree program will work in
(six in all--consisting of a UMass faculty participant, one or two GK-12
fellows, and up to three teachers) on the implementation of research
with their school students.
STEM Connections will start with summer workshops for the Fellows and
teachers. Teams will then work together for
two semesters in a course focused on teacher learning of
instruction while concomitantly developing similar projects with middle
and benefits: The project will provide science teachers in the middle
schools in the Springfield school district with opportunities to acquire
content knowledge and training in inquiry- and project-based teaching,
the opportunity to conduct research as a part of a team with GK-12 Fellows,
The Fellows and faculty will gain an understanding of the needs and
culture of the schools, laying the foundations for future
The project will provide fellows with increased experience in
pedagogical approaches, and will also provide a diverse population of middle
school students with role models and mentors.
Six UMass faculty participants will work with the GK-12 Fellows on the
themes during the summer, participate in the initial workshop, and work with
teams during the remainder of the summer and the academic year.
The research topics include the hydrologic cycle, water chemistry,
atmospheric ozone, arsenic from pressure-treated decks, factors affecting
growth (including microgravity), pollen and seed cell growth, and the
and behavior of birds. The teachers involved are working towards a Masterís
Degree in Science Education, for which STEM Connections will offer a
six-credit course (taught by PI Davis) on Inquiry- and project-Based
The GK-12 Fellows will be prepared for their role in helping
inquiry-based projects in the middle schools by visiting schools, working
faculty, taking a methods course for pre-service teachers, and planning and
participating in the summer workshops.
Fellows will join the middle school teachers for the Inquiry-Based
Learning course, and also meet as a group at UMass.
Both Fellows and teachers will take part in local professional
activities, and prepare manuscripts for submission to relevant
The year-long experience will culminate in a middle school science
conference in Springfield.
aspects are (a) the alignment of the program with the Masterís program,
focus to the professional development aspects for the teachers in line with
their expressed needs for real research experiences where inquiry is
content learning, (b) the integration of the preparation of the Fellows with
that of pre-service science teachers, and the provision of training in
issues by Springfield professional development staff, and (c) the oversight
the activities in the schools by graduate research assistants from the
Education working with the course instructor (co-PI Davis).