Mass. teachers upgrade their skills at summer workshops

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Through five ECEP-sponsored professional development workshops in Massachusetts, teachers from across the state and New England reinvigorated their teaching practices with new techniques and curricula. Some participating educators were novices in the field of computer science, and were looking for guidance in introducing the subject. Others were focused on inspiring students who may have been turned off to computing in the past. With offerings involving video game programming, bio-simulations, and robotics competitions, teachers learned a variety of innovative approaches –and had a lot of fun in the process.
With ECEP, the support of the National Science Foundation, and partnershipship with universities and MassCAN, five summer workshops included the following:

  • Project GUTS, Framingham State University
    • A 3-day workshop on incorporating computer modeling and simulation in STEM classrooms.  Participants learned how to use StarLogo Nova.
  • Data Science with iSENSE, UMass Lowell
    • Participants worked with iSENSE, a cloud-based collaboratived data visualization system, on data science activities that they could bring to their high school CS courses
  • Bio-Simulation, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Tower Hill Botanical Garden
    • Participants learned about local polinators and agro-ecosystems at Tower Hill Botanical Garden, then designed computer simulations to address ecological questions
  • Bootstrap, Framingham State University
    • Through a 3-day workshop, educators learned this online program, which improves students’ algebra skills through video game development
  • Coaches Connect (FIRST LEGO League), MGHPCC, Holyoke
    • A one-day intensive to coaching 9-14 year olds in robotics competitions using LEGO Mindstorms robot sets

In all, approximately 70 educators participated in the workshops. Teachers left the workshops with curriculum plans, certificates of participation, and additional opportunities for support (such as web platforms and email contacts) from workshop leaders.