Science Education M.Ed./Ed.S.

There’s never been a more pressing demand for qualified science teachers. Yet few mainstream programs offer a cohesive curriculum that prepares teachers to create inquiry-based science classrooms that lay the foundation for future learning. Our online master’s/education specialist degree program for science teachers integrates cutting-edge educational methodologies with science content in subject areas ranging from biology and earth science to physical sciences. Solidify your knowledge and build effective teaching strategies you can apply right away in the classroom in this comprehensive program noted for its interdisciplinary, hands-on approach. This program serves a diverse population of students, including elementary and middle school teachers or others who want to increase their science content knowledge. Successful completion of this program fulfills the requirements for professional licensure for elementary teachers in Massachusetts and may fulfill requirements for other states. Teachers from other states must consult their own state licensing regulations.

The Education Specialist Degree (Ed.S.) provides cohesive, specialized training for teachers who already hold a master’s, without the commitment and formal examination of a doctoral program.

Course of Study

Course Description Credits Next Offered
  Required Pedagogy Courses    
EDUC 610 Investigating Science Classrooms 3  
EDUC 667 Theory of Learning and Teaching in STEM Education 3 Spring 2020
EDUC 691SO Science Education Online Culminating Course 3 Spring 2020
  Science Content Courses    
ASTRON 690A Discovering the Universe: Astronomy for Teachers (Astronomy) 3  
GEO-SCI 603 Investigating the Oceans (Geosciences) 3  
NUTRIN 503 Nutrition & Health in the Science Classroom (Nutrition) 3  
NATSCI 604 Organisms: Diversity & Interactions (Biology) 3  
NATSCI 620 Genetics in the Science Classroom (Biology) 3 Spring 2020
GEO-SCI 501 Planet Earth (Geosciences) 3 Spring 2020
NATSCI 603 Chemistry by Example (Chemistry) 3  
NATSCI 602 Matter in Context (Chemistry) 3  
NATSCI 691A Electricity & Magnetism in the Science Classroom (Physics) 3  
NATSCI 601 Energy, Forces, and Motion (Physics) 3  
GEO-SCI 590M Investigations in Meteorology  3  

Coming soon: EdTech course for elementary and middle school teachers.

EDUC 610 Investigating Science Classrooms

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst welcomes you to Investigating Science Classrooms. This online course is designed for the professional development of teachers in science. Thiscourse aims to foster meaningful discussions about the nature and practice of elementary and middle school science education. This course will help you as a practicing elementary or middle school teacher to identify elements of inquiry and implement them in your science classes.

Using traditional teaching tools of readings, discussions, and personal investigations, teachers in this course will reflect and consider real-life classroom application of appropriate pedagogical learning tools. These activities will spur conversations around topics such as science learning strands and core concepts, issues of conceptual change, the function of talk and argument in science, modeling and science explanations, and the place of visual thinking in science teaching. You will have the opportunity to produce an investigation geared for your teaching situation that permits you to experience the inquiry and engineering design process firsthand. You will examine digital resources you might find useful in your own classroom and investigate the eight practices of science and engineering as outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  Finding ways to embed these eight practices in your teaching will help ensure that your teaching practice will give your elementary or middle school students a solid foundation of inquiry science. 

EDUC 667 Theory of Learning and Teaching in STEM Education

This course is meant to build understanding of some of the major theoretical ideas that support science education and active science learning.  The course content is built around the theory of constructivism as seen through the lens of the Nature of Science. These two overarching ideas are presented in partnership with three areas that directly impact the delivery of science: 1) how learning takes place in the brain; 2) how to deal with preconceptions and misconceptions; and, 3) how various active learning strategies can be important approaches to deeper learning and understanding in science. 

EDUC 691SO Science Education Culminating Course

In this culminating course, you will develop a professional portfolio comprised of selected artifacts and reflective narratives drawn from previous course activities and/or those newly composed. This portfolio will demonstrate understanding of teaching practices and integrate the principles of science teaching and learning central to the Science Education Online program. The purpose of the portfolio is to provide opportunities for you to reflect upon and extend previous SEO work related to teaching and learning and to demonstrate your understanding of effective science teaching practice for student learning.

* This course is taken as the culminating course in the program and is offered once a year, either in the Fall or Spring semester. It should be taken in the last year of the program.

ASTRON 690A Discovering the Universe

The universe is a huge subject! Its size is almost unimaginable, and it is populated by objects that are almost beyond belief. In this course we introduce the many of the denizens of the cosmos and we explore how a scientific approach can reveal many of the properties of these fantastic objects. We apply scientific understanding from many different scientific disciplines to build a more complete picture of what we observe.

It is our hope that by the end of this course students will have a solid grasp of how we know "where'' and "when'' we are in the universe, the ways in which we are able to explore remote objects, and how to convey these ideas to students through projects and activities. We will explore how peoples throughout history, from different historical and cultural settings, have made sense of the sky and how people today, from diverse backgrounds, think about and interact with celestial phenomenon. We will examine the many ways in which astronomy relates to the world of work in order to enable elementary and middle school teachers to help their students think about their knowledge of the universe in relation to careers.

We focus on the Astronomy-related aspects of the middle-school Earth & Space Science frameworks, but the study of astronomy also ties into many of the Physics and Chemistry frameworks, and to a lesser degree some of the Life Science frameworks. We will also:

  • Undertake inquiry-based projects to understand how learning can be enhanced through personal discovery of astronomical phenomena.
  • Apply scientific and mathematical reasoning to interpret phenomena we observe.
  • Work collaboratively in teams to apply critical thinking and the scientific method to solve problems.
  • Learn to adapt advanced scientific topics for use in the middle-school classroom.

GEOSCI 603 Investigating the Ocean

Explore the various domains of the oceanic realm, including the sea floor, the water in the ocean, and the variety of marine life, and evaluate the role of the ocean in the dynamic equilibrium of the Earth. Adapt ocean science investigations to the middle-school classroom.

Course is designed to have in-service and pre-service teachers gain hands-on knowledge of the ocean environment. Course will focus on the scientific study of the ocean and the complex relationship humans have with the sea. Topics will include: geology of the ocean basin & relationship to plate tectonics, volcanoes, and earthquakes; how the ocean maintains its chemical composition; ocean circulation & global climate; biological productivity & marine ecology; coastal problems & overfishing. Prerequisites: Must be currently teaching science at K-12 level or enrolled in a teacher preparation program. Must have taken a science course or have permission of the instructor.

NUTRIN 503 Nutrition and Health in the Science Classroom

This course will address topics such as the functions of human body systems, the organization of multicellular organisms, development, and nutrition. Course objectives will be accomplished using an interconnected collection of hands-on and computer activities based on case studies on topics of interest to middle school students. For instance, through recording their own dietary intake and activity levels, participants will be introduced to issues of data collection and analysis, reliability of data collection methods, and techniques for carrying out nutritional analyses.

Nutrition is an important topic for middle and high school students. Obesity and eating disorders are major problems at this age; many students are experiencing growth spurts and changes in body structure. Web resources can be used to analyze levels of fats, calories, vitamins, and minerals in fast foods and snacks and to plan adequate diets that support students' tastes and life styles. Participants will be organized into collaborative, inquiry-based learning teams to solve progressively presented web based medical cases in which nutritional or other biological issues are introduced.

NATSCI 620 Teaching and Learning About Genetics: Genetics in the Science Classroom

An inquiry into how genes impact our everyday lives. This course, which is designed for elementary and middle school teachers, will increase participants' knowledge of genetics, make connections to state and national standards, and lead to the development of grade-appropriate curriculum materials for use in the classroom. Biochemical and cellular principles, heredity, human disease, biotechnology, and the implications of genetics will be discussed.

NATSCI 602 Matter in Context

This is the first course of a two-semester chemistry program that provides teachers with everyday experiences are directly related to fundamental chemical concepts. As such, it emphasizes the need to make careful observations, collect data, formulate conclusions and make predictions based on those findings. Teachers gain knowledge and skills by observing local chemical phenomena that allow them to then examine more complex chemical systems like global warming, ozone depletion, and the greenhouse effect; air and water quality; ecosystems; environmental factors in evolution and biodiversity; the earth, and the food web. Inherent in this process is an exposure to modeling, both developing and using physical and mathematical models to describe observed chemical phenomena. Teachers will practice inquiry methods, enhance their critical thinking skills, and learn to use a variety of technical and laboratory skills to design, perform and interpret experiments.

GEOSCI 501 Planet Earth

An inquiry-based exploration of Earth systems, focusing on significant environmental issues that affect the air, water, solid Earth, and biosphere. We will investigate global warming, acid rain, ozone, volcanoes and other topics. We will explore how these topics fit within the context of global processes and cycles in the Earth system and make comparisons with other planets.

NATSCI 603 Chemistry by Example

This is the second semester of a two-semester chemistry program (it is best taken following Matter in Context, but may be taken alone by a student with a comfort level in science and mathematics). As with the first course, it provides content area training within the context of contemporary issues. This semester, the focus will include chemical reactions, acid rain, natural, synthetic and bio polymers, recycling, sustainable energy sources, a qualitative look at heat and energy, and others. Although more emphasis is placed on the quantitative aspects of chemistry such as measurement, uncertainty, the use and limitations of mathematical modeling, dimensional analysis, quantitative laboratory skills, and others, the focus of the course is to provide a lasting qualitative understanding of basic chemical concepts. The goal is to provide middle school science teachers with an accurate picture of the scientific processes and the skills that are needed to understand and solve individual, local and global chemistry-based problems.

NATSCI 691A Electricity and Magnetism in the Science Classroom

To provide an introduction to the basic concepts of electricity and magnetism appropriate for teachers of grades 5-8 and consistent with the Massachusetts Frameworks for Science and Engineering/Technology. In addition to providing a foundation in physics content, students will work in an inquiry-based mode with hands-on investigations and lab activities being an integral part of the course.

One of the significant outcomes of this course should be the participants' ability to recognize and utilize the skills of inquiry learning in the design and implementation of science curricula in their own classrooms. Skills such as: designing investigations; collecting, organizing and presenting data; identifying patterns; using math as a tool for analysis, and a basis for making inferences; communicating with others using "scientific language"; learning to ask new questions and to redesign investigations based on new, but perhaps incomplete understanding will be presented and reinforced throughout the course. During the study of circuits, for example, students will design and build a conductivity tester which will then allow them to classify materials as conductors and insulators. In the study of electromagnetism, Oersted's discovery will provide the basis for investigating the variables which affect the nature and strength of an electromagnet. Threaded discussion activity, as well as more formal assignments involving model lesson plans will provide the mechanism for sharing and critiquing ideas and outcomes.

GEOSCI 590M Investigations in Meteorology

The purpose of this course is to provide the middle school teacher with:

  • a thorough understanding of several key concepts and processes of meteorology.
  • the ability to effectively present the meteorology topics appropriate for the middle school science classroom.
  • the tools necessary to develop a meteorology pedagogy using inquiry based learning in the middle school classroom.

NATSCI 604 Organisms: Diversity and Interactions

Participants will explore the diversity of life through an investigation of representative ecosystems found in the northeast U.S. with an emphasis on the northern hardwood forest and one of its best known inhabitants, the sugar maple. They will begin with field studies into particular habitats and compare biodiversity among habitats. Initial observations of the organisms themselves, including classification to the kingdom level, will lead to a study of how organisms are organized into populations, communities, and ecosystems. In the final unit, participants will draw from their experiences studying diversity in habitats and populations to explore communities, ecosystems, and succession. Throughout the semester, participants will be organized into groups that share observations, conduct investigations, and create presentations online. They will be continuously engaged in hands-on activities, adaptable for use with middle-school students.

NATSCI 601 Energy, Forces, and Motion

An introduction to the most fundamental area of physics: the nature of motion, what affects it, and how it is measured. We examine Newton's laws, including the law of gravity, and how forces produce acceleration. The course also examines the nature of energy-potential and kinetic-and how it relates to motion and forces. We will concentrate on how to analyze physical situations and solve the basic equations of motion. This course is intended to help middle-school science teachers develop their understanding of the physics of motion.

Admissions

Application Timeline

A rolling application procedure is in place; we try to admit students year-round. However, to guarantee that your application will be reviewed in time for registration you should meet the following deadlines: for summer/fall acceptance your complete application should be received by March 15; for spring acceptance your complete application should be received by November 15.

Required Materials

  • Online Application
  • Resume
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • 1 copy of Official Transcripts from all colleges/universities attended
  • 1-2 page essay explaining your reason for seeking acceptance to this degree program

For more information, please contact Emily Schneider at eschneider@oe.umass.edu or (413) 545-1917.