Reform of Science and Math Education to be Discussed at UMass Amherst Gathering

AMHERST, Mass. - Approximately 40 grammar, secondary school and college educators will meet at the University of Massachusetts July 18-22 to discuss how to reform the teaching of science and math. The event is being held under the auspices of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Teacher Education Collaborative (STEMTEC). The collaborative’s goal is to reform science and math education.

"The purpose of the institute is to offer ideas and tools to science and math educators around the state, aimed at introducing their campuses to more student-active and inquiry-based learning strategies," said Morton Sternheim, professor emeritus of physics, and the founder of STEMTEC. "Another purpose is to facilitate a growing network of educators dedicated to teaching reform and to the better preparation of prospective K-12 teachers."

STEMTEC is funded by a $5 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation and links UMass with Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, and Mount Holyoke colleges; Greenfield, Holyoke, and Springfield Technical community colleges; and several neighboring school districts. The project advocates hands-on learning, student participation, and cooperative learning as keys to improving the teaching of math and science at every level of the educational system.

Faculty members from schools including Bridgewater State, Elms, Lesley, Salem State, Springfield, Westfield State, and Wheelock colleges plan to attend the event.

"While there are many piecemeal efforts in Massachusetts and other states to reform science and math education, this is an attempt to cross boundaries at four levels, including the K12/college divide, disciplinary boundaries, cross-campus, and cross-region," said Susan Newton, STEMTEC’s special projects director. "There is a growing awareness that this kind of fertile collaboration is important in authentic educational reform," said Newton.

Teachers will attend workshops, share their classroom experiences, and discuss how individual courses can be revamped to better engage students. The educators will then bring these concepts and ideas back to their own campuses, Newton said.