Science & Engineering Saturday Seminars                  Spring 2008

-        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

-             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




February 2. International Polar Year. Ray Bradley and Julie Brigham-Grette (Geosciences) and STEM Ed staff. The "International Polar Year" (IPY) is a 24 month period that started in March 2007 and is intended to focus international research efforts on the Arctic and Antarctic regions. NSF funds will allow STEM Ed and the UMass Climate System Research Center to develop curriculum materials and offer summer institutes for science teachers as part of the IPY program. This session will address some of the rapid changes occurring in the polar physical environments, the corresponding impact on the biosphere, and the history and politics of the polar regions.

March 1. *** Rescheduled for May 3 ***  Nanotechnology.  Mark Tuominen, Physics, UMass.  More on this exciting new branch of science and technology that deals with materials and devices as small as a few atomic diameters. Attendance at earlier nanotechnology sessions is not required.  

March 15. Using Digital Cameras in the Science Classroom.  John Pickle, Concord Academy and the Museum of Science. Digital cameras may be used to support science education by collecting spatial and spectral data and providing visualizations of many abstract concepts.  We will explore a variety of ways to keep cost down but engagement class-wide in physics, biology, meteorology, geology, oceanography, environmental science, and even chemistry. The workshop will explore how to use a digital camera as a: 1) Documenting and Measuring Tool, 2) Light Sensor (UV, Visible, and Near Infrared), 3) Polarized Light Sensor (Same spectrum as above), 4) Movie Camera, 5) Time Lapse Movie Camera, and 6) Aerial Photography device. Several digital cameras will be provided, but bringing your own digital camera will help develop use of your camera's capabilities.

April 5. Arsenic in the Environment. Julian Tyson, Chemistry. Arsenic contamination is a major environmental problem. It occurs naturally in wells as close as New Hampshire and as far away as Bangladesh, where many people die as a result. It was widely used in the US until recently in pressure treated wood, pesticides, and herbicides. Although this material has been voluntarily phased out, an enormous legacy remains. Measurements of arsenic levels are easily made using inexpensive Hach water field test kits. This makes it possible for middle and high school students to investigate the extent to which arsenic from a pressure-treated structure has contaminated the environment in their own back-yard, in a playground, or around telephone poles. They can also test for arsenic in a wide range of consumer products and do experiments on the removal of arsenic from water and soil.

April 12.  Pioneer Valley Watershed. Brian Adams, Greenfield Community College. Hasbrouck Lab. The Pioneer Valley Watershed is one of the ecological entities that connect area towns. The Connecticut River itself is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife refuge, a designated national river, and at its mouth, an Estuary of International Significance. Using this important watershed as a unifying theme, students can undertake a detailed exploration of the watershed and its rich ecological and natural history, touching on many aspects of physical and biological science contained in the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework. Specific activities include measurements of water flow rates and their correlation with the watershed as defined by maps, water chemistry studies, and studies of the invertebrate populations.

May 3.  Weather cancellation makeup date.

May 10. 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 $40 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 NatSciM 697A: Contemporary Science and Engineering, or Educ 615Y (Sci/Engin Seminars).

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

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