Category Archives: MAT Science

2017 Teacher Research Project Conference

On May 17, 2017, Brown MAT students gathered at The Wheeler School in Providence to present their year-long teacher research projects. Director of Teacher Education Daniel Bisaccio welcomed everyone to the conference.

Dulari Tahbildar (Brown ’00), executive director of Breakthrough Providence whose works centers on educational equity and social justice, provided the keynote address. Dulari challenged the MAT students by participating in an exercise that encouraged them to reflect on their own teaching experiences and what they hope to do and be in the future classroom.

After a brief reception for students, faculty, mentors, and friends, 39 MAT students presented their projects during three 30-minute sessions. Visitors ambled from room to room to view presentations on computers and on posterboards, some with visual aids ranging from completed classroom assignments to student poems to taxonomy.

Read on to see candid conference photos of some of the presenters and their projects: Continue reading

4/1/17 Brandwein Lecture at NSTA – Los Angeles

Emma Marris

Brown MAT Science Educator Director Dan Bisaccio will be presiding at the Brandwein Lecture at NSTA / LA 2017 on Saturday, April 1, from 11:00 a.m.-noon in Petree Hall C, Los Angeles Convention Center and has invited environmental author Emma Marris to be NSTA’s 2017 Brandwein Lecturer, presenting “Nearby Wilderness, Novel Ecosystems, and Connecting to Nature.” Please join us!

Emma Marris will talk about how nearby nature and overlooked wild corners in urban and suburban spaces can be used to connect students to nature. Weedy patches can be hotspots of diversity and overgrown fields are rich with data about how nature will adapt to a changing climate and the pervasive influence of humankind. Marris will make the case that thinking of nature as only large parks or protected areas far away contributes to alienation from nature and leaves out students who cannot afford to visit national parks or buy expensive gear. A recent study that showed more UK students could recognize Pokemon species than a sparrow provoked widespread horror, but don’t forget that sparrows are the ultimate urban bird.

See Emma’s TED Talk, “Nature Is Everywhere; We Just Need to Learn to See It” here.

Emma Marris has written for many magazines and newspapers, including National GeographicDiscover, the New York Times and Slate. She has a Master’s in Science Writing from Johns Hopkins University and worked for many years as a reporter for the journal Nature. In 2011, she published her first book, Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. In 2016, she gave at TED talk about seeing the hidden nature that surrounds us and won a National Association of Science Writer’s “Science in Society” award for a commentary in Orion about our responsibility to save species—even at the cost of wildness. She grew up in Seattle, Washington, and lives with her husband and two children in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

3/13 Environmental Leadership in Education Conference

Don’t miss our environmental leadership conference next Monday from 6-8 p.m.!

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Featuring keynote speaker Cheryl Charles (see her Ted Talk here)  and former Children and Nature Network president/CEO, and Rutgers Cooperative Extension 4-H Senior Program Coordinator David Foord, who will present his video, “Inspiring a New Generation: The Pathway to Nature for All.” Free to attend; register here!

Brown Director of Science Presents at NEEEA

At this year’s New England Environmental Education Alliance conference, held in Litchfield, CT from Nov. 4-6, Brown University’s Director of Science Education Dan Bisaccio presented “Mapping Nest Success in Migratory Birds” to educators from around the region. Bisaccio, who is also the director of graduate studies for Brown’s MAT program, instructed fellow educators on using field-based inquiry to visualize nest disturbance data using maps.

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Bisaccio helping a student use field-based inquiry

In Bisaccio’s hands-on field exercises, students craft artificial nests and eggs of migratory birds and investigate the impact of forest fragmentation on nesting success. Locations of the nests are then mapped using GPS and nest disturbance analyzed, and the data and process allow students to learn about global habitat connections and conservation issues for migratory birds in an exciting, interactive way. Students as researchers can then share their data with other students around the country using HabitatNet.

Alumni Reunite at National Science Teachers Association Convention

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Professor Dan Bisaccio reunited with several recent Science MAT alumni at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Conference in Nashville, TN.

Pictured, Prof. Bisaccio poses with Brianna Balke (Science ’13), Warren Predizet (Science ’14), and Beth Leach-Savage (Science ’10). Other MAT alumni in attendance at the conference were Emily Berman (Science ’14) and Natalie Tarr (Science ’15).

Dan Bisaccio Presents on Next Generation Science Standards

Dan HeadshotProfessor Dan Bisaccio, Director of Science Education, presented two workshops at the Rhode Island Science Teachers Association Conference this past weekend (March 12, 2016). His topics included: Using Backwards Design to Identify Instructional Sequences that Prepare Students for NGSS Assessments and Modeling a NGSS Science Lesson using Inquiry and Engineering Practices.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) call for a shift in teachers’ practices in teaching and assessment of science. It is crucial for science teachers to develop the knowledge and skills in creating and implementing instructional and assessment tasks that align with the NGSS.

Science Students Attend ING Summit

Director of Science Education and Professor Dan Bisaccio, two current Master of Arts in Teaching students (Erin Capra and Kay Holland, Science MAT ’16), and an Undergraduate Teacher Education Program student (Emile Blouin, Science UTEP ’16) attended the Inspiring a New Generation (ING): A North American Summit on November 6-8, 2015. Dan Bisaccio was one of the organizers of the summit.

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Over 200 key stakeholders, many under the age of 35, gathered at the National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to design strategies to build life-long relationships with nature for current and future generations. Participants represented primarily the United States, Canada, and Mexico with several from other countries including China, Australia, Brazil, and Peru. The World Parks Congress, held in 2014 in Sydney, Australia, set the stage for the Summit by focusing a major strand on “Inspiring a New Generation”. The 2015 ING Summit built on the issues identified by the Congress and determined specific strategies to address them in North America.

The unique conference agenda was structured with brief provocations followed by facilitated whole-group discussion regarding what’s working well now; identifying gaps, successes and aspirations; brainstorming initiatives that would help the ING movement gain momentum; overcoming significant barriers to success; and identifying and paving the way for new initiatives. The resulting North American Framework for Action includes 15 initiatives that participants prioritized and committed to carry out in the next five years.

The Brandwein Institute hosted the conference in partnership with the National Environmental Education Foundation. Sponsoring organizations were the Canadian Wildlife Federation, the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, the American Nature Study Society, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and supporting organizations included Canadian Parks Council, Children & Nature Network, Parks Canada, IUCN Commission on Education and Communication, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, U.S. National Park Service and The Corps Network.

The 15 initiatives will be posted on http://ingsummit.org. The results and progress of the North American Framework for Action will be reported at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii in September 2016 and will serve as a model for other countries.

National Science Foundation Awards a 5-Year Grant for Summer STEM!

We are very excited to announce that the National Science Foundation has awarded a 5 year grant to Professor Dan Bisaccio and his colleagues Charles Steinhorn (Vassar College), Victor Donnay (Bryn Mawr), and Maria Rivera (Barnard College) for “Summer STEM Teaching Experiences for Undergraduates (TEU) from Liberal Arts Institutions”.   The TEU program will develop and test a model program that provides undergraduate STEM majors with an immersive summer experience in secondary mathematics or science education. Over five summers, a total of 120 undergraduates (24 per year) will be recruited from a network of 60 liberal arts institutions to take part in a 6-7 week program that integrates a high quality STEM discipline specific pedagogy course with a teaching practicum. Twelve students per summer will participate in a mathematics TEU program at Brown University and 12 will participate in a science TEU program at Trinity College.

Sixty liberal arts colleges and universities have committed to join this project as institutional partners. The majority of these institutions do not currently offer discipline-specific STEM pedagogy courses in their Education programs. The TEU pedagogy course will enhance participants’ discipline specific pedagogical knowledge and skills. In the practicum, which is tightly integrated with the course, participants will create and deliver lessons of their own design to local urban secondary students in a summer enrichment program. The teaching practicum will allow participants to apply the theories and strategies they are learning in their pedagogy course directly to classroom teaching. The TEU participants will be closely supervised in their teaching by master teacher mentors.

The high school students for the Brown TEU will be drawn from the Providence area and will be taking part in Brown Summer High School (BSHS). For the Trinity TEU, students will be the entire class of rising sophomores from the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA). Over the 5 years, roughly 1250 high school students will receive an enriching STEM experience through these programs. This project builds upon a highly successful TEU pilot project focused on math pedagogy held at Brown Summer High School in 2013 and 2014.

Science MAT Alumni Receive Prestigious Knowles Science Teaching Fellowships!

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Brianna Balke (MAT ’13) and Emily Berman (MAT ’14)

Over the past five years, three graduates of our MAT Secondary Science program have received the highly selective Knowles Science Teaching (KST) FellowshipsLyuda Shemyakina (MAT ’10), Brianna Balke (MAT ’13), and this year, Emily Berman (MAT ’14) have been named KST Fellows!

Selection criteria for these fellowships include strong content knowledge in the sciences, potential to develop exemplary teaching practices, and possession of the qualities of highly effective teacher leaders.

KST Fellows receive an annual stipend and are eligible for a number of grants throughout their five year fellowship, such as professional development grants (valued at up to $4,000 per year) to cover the cost of relevant activities including workshops, mentoring, practitioner inquiry, and Fellow observations. Fellows are also eligible to receive up to $1,200 per year for teaching materials, and are able to apply for leadership grants to pursue efforts that will have a positive impact on STEM education beyond their own classroom.

Balke and Berman are both science teachers in an urban charter school in Rhode Island, while Schemyakina is a science teacher in Chicago. Congratulations to these teacher leaders on their continued accomplishments!

Congratulations to MAT Science Mentor, Erin Escher, winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching!

Erin EscherMAT Science Mentor Erin Escher has been named by the White House as one of 108 recipients of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching!  This honor is given annually to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers across the country. Winners receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation, and are invited to Washington, DC for an awards ceremony, educational and celebratory events, and visits with members of the Administration.

The award is a part of President Obama’s initiative to strengthen education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in order to fully harness the promise our nation’s students. Read the official White House press release to find out more about the award and the President’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign.

Erin Escher has been teaching at Rhode Island’s Portsmouth Middle School for the past 14 years. As an eighth grade science teacher and leader of the school’s garden and hydroponics club, Erin shares his curiosity in science and enjoys playing an interactive role in his students’ discovery and generation of knowledge. He has been influential in promoting STEM at his school by leading STEM workshops and serving on the school improvement technology committee.  In his free time, Erin acts as a Mentor to Science student teachers in the Brown MAT Program.

Congratulations Erin!