Fall 2009 Tuesday Seminars
STEM seminars are held at 4PM on the first and third Tuesdays of
each month during the academic year in Hasbrouck 138.
Everyone is welcome; no reservations are needed, and there is no charge.
Parking is available in the Campus Center Garage.
Senior Project Manager, Creative Research and Development, LEGO Education
“Inviting Everyone In: LEGO WeDo as a friendly STEM Environment for Early
Elementary School Teachers and Students”
WeDo is designed for 7-11 years with an initial focus on activities for 7-9
years. This seminar will describe and explore LEGO building and programming
activities organized around the four WeDo themes: Amazing Mechanisms (curriculum
emphasis on physical science), Wild Animals (curriculum emphasis on technology),
Play Soccer (curriculum emphasis on mathematics) and Adventure Stories
(curriculum emphasis on language).
“Evolution in America: A Short History of the First 150 Years”
The U.S. is the world’s most confused and divided nation regarding Darwin’s
theory of evolution. Approximately one in two Americans denies evolution and
doesn't want it taught in school. Yet these same individuals draw much of their
political and social thinking from “survival of the fittest.” The other half
accepts evolution as true, wants it taught, but rejects it as an explanation for
social behavior. This national schizophrenia derives from the fact that while
Darwin thought evolution was neutral, Herbert Spencer, evolution’s great
popularizer, believed it was directional – the law of all progress. I’ll show
how this situation has developed in three broad historical phases -- early
acceptance followed by swift rejection (1859-World War I); eclipse
(1920-mid-1970s); and revival (up to the present) – exploring the major
struggles within science, religion, society, and politics, race in particular.
Professor Emeritus, Microbiology, University of Massachusetts
"DNA & Protein 3D Structure for High School Teachers"
Ready-to-use software, tutorials, and lesson plans offer interactive, rotating,
zooming 3D models of high-impact macromolecules such as influenza neuraminidase
and Tamiflu, DNA, antibody, hemoglobin, HIV-protease and inhibitor drug, lipid
bilayers and channels. BioMolecular Explorer 3D features molecules that dovetail
into high school curricula. Proteopedia.Org, a new wiki with Jmol, makes it easy
to author new 3D structure tutorials which are immediately online. SMART Teams
engage students in the design of physical
molecular models with researchers. Transmissionist tutorials vs. discovery-based
learning will be contrasted. Molecular Workbench from the Concord Consortium
exemplifies the latter, and has built-in report-generation and assessment tools.
All software is free, works in web browsers on Windows or Macs without
installing anything except java, and is available from http://HighSchool.MolviZ.Org
Dept. of Biology, University of Massachusetts
"Alternate Reality Gaming: A model for large-scale problem-based
A new genre has appeared in the gaming world in which participants
self-organize to solve large-scale problems in an alternate reality by
taking action in the real world. These games, which sometimes attract
hundreds of thousands of participants, may offer some promise for
engaging students in problem-based learning. I will provide an overview of alternate-reality gaming, identify some of the learning goals inherent in this genre, sketch out how these might apply to scientific problem-solving, and describe a proposal for a new class based on these techniques.
Dept. of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts
Geology, Evolution, and /Incompetent/ Design
This talk first takes the creationists/ anti-evolutionists / intelligent
(?) designers at their word and tests their arguments and claims against
the geologic record's evidence of superposition of innumerable changing
environments associated with progressively more complex life forms with
time. It concludes that despite such overwhelming evidence this
will probably be a losing argument with the bulk of the American public.
Instead it suggests applying arguments of intelligent (?) design to
obvious defects in human anatomy with the humorous tone of a political
campaign as a possibly more effective strategy.
Integrated Science and Humanities, Hampshire College
“Science Education and the Challenge of Islamic Creationism”
While the spread of creationism (and its Intelligent Design incarnation) remain
a concern in the West, it is a far more serious issue in the Islamic world.
Whereas, Christian creationist movements have failed repeatedly to bring a
change in the educational system of the US, Islamic creationists have a serious
opportunity to succeed. At first glance, the Islamic debate over evolution may
appear to be a replay of the western reaction to Darwinism. However, there are
some key differences. For example, young earth creationism - the idea that the
world was created some time within the last ten thousand years - is completely
absent in the Muslim world. I will highlight some of the key features of
contemporary Islamic creationism and compare it with creationism in the US. I
will also address how biological evolution is being taught in schools and
colleges in various Muslim countries.