Thursday, December 17, 2009

RET Networking Meeting and Poster Session - NSTA 2010

Please complete the survey/application referenced below if you are interested in presenting at the upcoming NSTA RET Networking Meeting and/or Poster Session. Registration for NSTA is processed through the NSTA web site http://http//

We will also be presenting on the RET program on Saturday, March 20th as part of the general meeting.

Please complete the following application:
Click here to take survey

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sam Perez (RET09) has students Build Robot

As posted by Sam to the Group Site...

"Hi Folks

I wanted to share with you the Final project that my Intro to CS atNorthern Essex Community College class did with the robot that Clairepurchased. 3 students assembled the Penguin robot and programmedbehaviors for it.

Let me know what you think?

-Sam Perez"

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Recent article written by Catherine and Katelyn

This past summer both Ms. Francis and Ms. Carrette were selected to participate in Research Experi-ences for Teachers (RET) at Northeastern University. It was a six-week summer research experience funded by the National Science Foundation for middle and high school mathematics and science teachers, and Community College STEM faculty. The program goals were to provide extensive summer research experi-ence which would be connected to the classroom curriculum. As part of the program participants were re-quired to conduct scientific research in an assigned laboratory, maintain a reflective journal, attend team and professional development sessions, and develop a research poster presentation to be shared with col-leagues at the end of the summer. Program participants worked in research laboratories affiliated with the Colleges of Arts & Sciences and Engineering, the Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems at Northeastern University and Boston University, and the Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing at Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
Ms. Francis worked in the Dr. Beuning‟s DNA laboratory which is part of the College of Arts & Sci-ences in the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department at Northeastern University. The objective of the research was to investigate how cells respond to DNA damage caused by ultraviolet light. A specific type of bacteria, E. coli, was subjected to increasing time intervals of ultra-violet light in order to determine maximum tolerance before cell death occurred as a result of DNA damage. Research techniques in-cluded gel electrophoresis, micro-biological plating, and chemical analysis. The DNA laboratory worked in conjunction with Massa-chusetts General Hospital in order to determine exactly where the DNA in E. coli was damaged by the ultraviolet radiation. As a result of this research, future applications could be made to humans with DNA damaged by ultraviolet light, and why they are at a higher risk for skin cancer.
Ms. Carrette participated in the Environmental Biotechnology lab in the Civil Engineering Depart-ment at Northeastern University. During her session she helped to maintain some of the current research experiments conducted there. Spe-cifically, she spent time working with Carla Cherchi and her algae reactors. Ms. Carrette entered at the very beginning of the project which involved maintaining the growth of three types of algae that will even-tually be used in an experiment to determine the effects of nanomaterials on algae growth. Pre-vious research has shown that nanoscale chemicals do affect bacteria. Research to study how nanoparticles influence other living things is ongoing. Knowing how these chemicals affect algae will give us insight on how these chemicals affect our environment.
Ms. Francis and Ms. Carrette will continue their affiliation with Northeastern University this year. On Veteran‟s Day they will reunite with the other RET teachers at Northeastern University to discuss current teacher preparation programs in science, and how they could be improved in the future. Plans will also be discussed on the upcoming poster presentation at the National Science Teachers Association Conference to be held in Philadelphia, PA in March 2010

Using Atlas of Science Literacy Workshop Presented by AAAS Project 2061

AAAS and the MIT museum are hosting a science literacy workshop...

"The MIT Museum invites you to explore invention, ideas, and innovation. Through interactive exhibitions, public programs, experimental projects and its renowned collections, the MIT Museum showcases the fascinating world of MIT, and inspires people of all ages about the possibilities and opportunities offered by science and technology. This intimate museum, given one of the 2007 Boston Globe "Best of the New" awards for the Museum's recent expansion, annually attracts 90,000 visitors from around the world."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education

To quote the homepage of this particular conference:

"Given the radical changes in the nature of the science of biology and what we have learned about effective ways to teach, this is an opportune time to address the biology we teach so that it better represents the biology we do. The goal of this conference is to mobilize people to focus on undergraduate biology education by engaging them in shared, directed, provocative, and ongoing discussions that lead to action in the immediate future. Participants will include innovators and leaders in biology research and education and representatives of professional societies, funding agencies, and research and educational centers. Together, we will develop a blueprint for change in biology education and, critically, an action plan.

The conference will serve as a catalyst for ongoing, shared activities and will highlight new and existing resources for effecting change. Working sessions during the conference will include articulating key concepts and competencies and how they are best assessed; student – centered learning including how students learn and appropriate pedagogy; the role of scientific research in the curriculum; implementing and evaluating educational innovations; expanding the toolkit of approaches to teaching for both current and future faculty; and changing institutional cultures to overcome barriers and create incentives for innovation."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

President's "Educate to Innovate" Campaign

President Obama has launched an “Educate to Innovate” campaign to improve the participation and performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This campaign will include efforts not only from the Federal Government but also from leading companies, foundations, non-profits, and science and engineering societies to work with young people across America to excel in science and math.
As part of the campaign, this Administration hopes to do a series of events, announcements and other activities that build upon the President’s “call to action” and address the key components of national priority.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to make "safe" video links from youtube.

When you find an educational video clip ("url") you would like to use. Typically from youtube.

Try this website: convert your clip to a "safe" link.

Simply copy & paste the "url" in safeshare & it will create a NEW link for you to use.

Frontline - Poisoned Waters than three decades after the Clean Water Act, iconic American waterways like the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound are in perilous condition and facing new sources of contamination.
With polluted runoff still flowing in from industry, agriculture and massive suburban development, scientists note that many new pollutants and toxins from modern everyday life are already being found in the drinking water of millions of people across the country and pose a threat to fish, wildlife and, potentially, human health. (more »)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Botany of Desire

Some of you may have already discovered this...PBS has a new special streaming free online. The program is entitled "Botany of Desire". It is based on the book written by Michael Pollan and is all about genetically engineered foods. This video is a perfect way to stimulate class discussion on genetics and evolution.

If you have time, check it out:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Teachers' Participation in Research Programs Improves Their Students' Achievement in Science - Science October 16th

Many of you met Teachers/Program staff involved in the RET Program in NYC - you might find this article of interest.

Teachers’ Participation in Research Programs Improves Their Students’ Achievement in Science

Samuel C. Silverstein,1,* Jay Dubner,1 Jon Miller,2 Sherry Glied,3 John D. Loike1

Research experience programs engage teachers in the hands-on practice of science. Program advocates assert that program participation enhances teachers’ skills in communicating science to students. We measured the impact of New York City public high-school science teachers’ participation in Columbia University’s Summer Research Program on their students’ academic performance in science. In the year before program entry, students of participating and nonparticipating teachers passed a New York State Regents science examination at the same rate. In years three and four after program entry, participating teachers’ students passed Regents science exams at a rate that was 10.1% higher (P = 0.049) than that of nonparticipating teachers’ students. Other program benefits include decreased teacher attrition from classroom teaching and school cost savings of U.S. $1.14 per $1 invested in the program.

Teacher Preparation: Reforming the Uncertain Profession -- Remarks of Secretary Arne Duncan at Teachers College, Columbia University

Teacher Preparation: Reforming the Uncertain Profession -- Remarks of Secretary Arne Duncan at Teachers College, Columbia University

In preparation for the upcoming callback meeting - please take a look at recent recommendations for Teacher Preparation Programs and post a brief reflection regarding your pre-service experience and what you might recommend an ideal program include.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Amgen Award for Science Teaching

Amgen is issuing a call for applications for the 2010 Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence (AASTE). The award is designed to recognize and honor extraordinary science teachers at the K-12 level in communities where Amgen operates, including Massachusetts. Last year, four (4) teachers from schools in Massachusetts were AASTE recipients.
The selected winners will receive the following benefits:
· An unrestricted cash award of $5,000USD; and
· A restricted $5,000USD cash grant to the recipient’s school for the expansion or enhancement of a school science program, science resources, or the professional development of the school’s science teachers.
Following is a link that will be accessible starting Nov. 2nd containing information about the award, including criteria and the application process, on Amgen’s website:

About Amgen
As one of the world's foremost biotechnology companies, Amgen is keenly aware of the value and importance of science education. That is why we support science education programs aimed at encouraging bright young minds to explore a future in science. By improving access to resources for students and teachers and raising the community's understanding of the value of science literacy, Amgen is doing its part to develop the scientists of tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Callback reflection

I will unfortunately not be able to attend the callback session in November. For that reason, I am posting a reflection on the lesson I developed for school. I actually haven't the lesson I developed yet because we don't get to that topic until mid-3rd quarter. I did receive the magnetic molecules that i orderd though. I haven't had a chance to play with them yet, but plan to develop some type of handout/activity with more detail for the students to use them.

The year is off to a good start so far. My classes are all pretty good and I am lookign forward to trying some new things this year. Hopefully I will see some of the chem teachers at the ACS chemistry teacher workshop that will be held at BHS next Wed night.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Big Ideas of Nanoscale Science and Engineering: A Guide for Secondary Teachers

Grades 7-12
By Shawn Y. Stevens, LeeAnn M. Sutherland, and Joseph S. Krajcik
Middle and high school science teachers of all disciplines can use this book and its focus on nine "big ideas" to help students understand fundamental science concepts across disciplines. The big ideas that serve as the text’s organiza­tional and thematic framework are (1) size and scale, (2) struc­ture of matter, (3) forces and interactions, (4) quantum effects, (5) size-dependent properties, (6) self-assembly, (7) tools and instrumentation, (8) models and simulations, and (9) science, technology, and society.

Member: $22.36
Nonmember: $27.95

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fall Open Houses at Northeastern University for Seniors and Transfer students

Please pass on information to your students. (Registration required)

Dates - October 17th, 31st
November 7

Women in Engineering Day - 10/30/09Women in Engineering Day is an all day event for high school girls and their parents to find out more about our program. This year it is scheduled for Friday, October 30, 2009. The day starts out with a Welcome Continental breakfast, several information presentations, and a student panel of engineering women ready to answer all of your questions. Over lunch, meet our Admissions, Financial Aid, and Residential Life staff. The afternoon includes visits to our engineering research facilities with lots of fun activities. The day ends with an optional campus tour. To reserve a spot, please e-mail Rachelle Reisberg at by October 17th.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Green Grants for Public School Teachers

With $150,000 in new grant funding designated for projects that integrate green-related topics and experiences into the classroom, the NEA Foundation is growing its Learning & Leadership and Student Achievement grants program for individuals and teams of educators. The expansion of the grants program was made possible by unprecedented back-to-back financial commitments from Nickelodeon and the Staples Foundation for Learning.

Public school educators are eligible to apply for individual grants worth up to $5,000 for the development and implementation of ideas, techniques, and approaches for teaching “green” concepts.

The first grant application deadline is October 15, 2009, and the first grants are slated to be awarded in January 2010. The Foundation will award two more rounds of these green grants in 2010, with deadlines for applications falling on Feb. 1 and June 1.
Big Green Grants are available in the form of Student Achievement grants to K-8 public school educators. The NEA Foundation and Nickelodeon’s Big Green Grants program is dedicated to the development and implementation of ideas, techniques, and approaches for teaching green concepts to elementary and middle school students. The grants target environmental education as an area of great promise in helping students develop a sense of environmental stewardship. All Big Green Grants will be awarded in the amount of $5,000.
Green Grants to Public School Educators are available to K-12 public school educators in the form of both Learning & Leadership and Student Achievement grants. A collaborative effort between the Staples Foundation for Learning and the NEA Foundation, Green Grants to Public School Educators support projects that integrate green-related topics with various standards-based content areas to increase student engagement and improve academic achievement. The grant amount is $2,000 for individual Learning & Leadership grants and $5,000 for Student Achievement and group Learning & Leadership grants.
Apply for Green Grants
The online application process for the green grants is the same as all Learning & Leadership and Student Achievement grants. Interested applicants can designate their grant application for consideration for the green grants programs in our online application system. In appropriate cases, and educator may submit a single application to be considered for both a Big Green Grant and a Green Grant to Public School Educators.
Apply now for a Learning & Leadership or Student Achievement grant.

Monday, September 21, 2009

NESACS Connections to Chemistry - October 14th Burlington H.S.

October 14th, 2009 3:30-8:00PM

The Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society (NESACS) and the Education Committee of the Northeastern Section invite high school chemistry teachers to a program at Burlington High School (Burlington, MA) on Wednesday, October 14th, 3:30 – 8:00 PM. This program will help connect high school teachers with the numerous education resources that are available from the American Chemical Society.

3:30 - 4:00 Registration and Refreshments
4:00 - 4:25 Welcome and Overview
4:30 - 6:10 5 Simultaneous 50 minute Workshops Presented in each Session:

Session I: 4:25 - 5:15 Workshops A & B & C & D & E

Session II: 5:20 - 6:10 Workshops A & B & C & D & E

6:15 - 8:00 Dinner and Address

Address: The Centrality of Chemistry

Dr. Bruce Bursten, Past President, ACS
Dean, College of Arts and Science, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

* The deadline for registration is Friday, October 9th. The registration fee is
$20.00 and is non-refundable after October 5th. Workshop and program-related materials, dinner, a one-year subscription to ChemMatters, and a certificate for three hours of Professional Development will be provided to all workshop participants.

For more information see:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Engineering in K 12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects

Panel Urges Engineering Be Added to Curriculum
By Sean Cavanagh
"Engineering studies, or lessons on how products are designed and built, have the potential to bolster student engagement and understanding in math and science, despite the topic’s relatively modest and undefined presence in the nation’s schools.
That’s the conclusion, outlined in a
study unveiled today, of an expert committee charged with evaluating the status of engineering lessons in K-12 schools and judging their effectiveness.
The report was released by the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council, independent, nonprofit entities that are chartered by Congress to provide advice to federal lawmakers on science and technology issues.
Engineering lessons can potentially “act as a catalyst for a more interconnected and effective K-12 STEM education system in the United States,” say the authors, referring to science, technology, engineering, and math education. “Achieving [that] outcome will require significant rethinking of what STEM education can and should be.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My summer at Northeastern University

This summer I had the opportunity to work with Professor Hashemi in the mechanical engineering department at Northeastern University. Our research was focused on the study of failure modes of thin lightweight sandwich structures. Even though I found various aspects of the project to be time consuming/tedious manual labor, I had a great time using different machines within the engineering laboratory. Some of the machines were so big and powerful that one felt empowered when using them. Between my research project, a long commute from Nashua, NH, the weekly assigned readings, and the Google postings, I found myself overwhelmed at times. Although it was a very intense six week commitment for the summer, at the end I felt it was well worth it. This experience has been enlightening and rejuvenating in many ways. Will I do it again? Absolutely!

I have done several other RET programs in the past, but I consider my experience at Northeastern one of the best opportunities I have had throughout my teaching career. What made this program so enlightening was the blend of authentic research experience with professional development. Previous to this program I have not had formal education classes, so I certainly learned valuable education theory in the professional development sessions. I remember how excited I felt when reading the assigned chapters of How Students Think. As I read, a pool of ideas came to me on how to develop more inquiry-based learning experiences for my students.

As I reflect back on my experience this summer, I am grateful I had the opportunity. I look forward to exposing my students to my research experience during this summer and enlightening their minds with more inquiry based lessons.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Free SolidWorks 3D software for teachers

Free trial SolidWorks 3D software for teachers!SolidWorks offers the most innovative resources for teaching and learning math, science, and engineering design principles. Through 3D modeling and virtual simulation, SolidWorks provides relevant examples that teachers can utilize to reinforce core competencies and modernize the learning experience. SolidWorks is easy to use, with curriculum that makes it easy to learn, easy to teach. Visit Here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

September 8, the National Acad. of Eng. and the NRC Ctr for Education will release a new report, Engineering in K-

On September 8, the National Academy of Engineering and the NRC's Center for Education will release a new report, Engineering in K-12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects, at a public symposium in Washington, D.C. Irwin Jacobs, co-founder, current board member and retired CEO & Chairman of Qualcomm, Inc. will deliver the keynote address.

Engineering has been the silent "E" in discussions of the importance of K-12 STEM education in the United States, which have tended to focus on the need to improve teaching and learning in mathematics and science. The report finds that a growing number of K-12 students are experiencing the open-ended, problem-solving process of engineering design. And data suggest these experiences can improve student interest and achievement in science and mathematics, increase awareness of engineering and the work of engineers, boost interest in pursuing engineering as a career, and increase technological literacy. This has implications not only for the future quality of STEM education, but also for the nation’s capacity to grow a workforce that can address the many technological challenges we face.

Please join us on September 8 to learn more about the project and the report’s findings and recommendations. All attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the published report, and lunch will be provided. Visit the webpage below for the complete agenda and registration information. Please note that seating is limited and registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

The audio feed for portions of the symposium will be webcast. Information on how to connect to the webcast will be available at beginning September 7.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Week 6 Reflection

The end is just the beginning. Six weeks flew by; and what I'm taking from this RET experience will set me up for success in the years to come. I wish all first-year teachers could have this opportunity. Here is a list of the top ten things I will take with me:

1) "Inquiry" - promoting an scientific atmosphere for kids (similar to the real world) where the answers are yet to be discovered.

2) Lab journaling - for both myself & the students. Use pen. date. time. titles. data. research. etc.

3) Professional collaboration: the "how to's" when it comes to working with colleagues: language, ideas, development, etc.

4) Several new "cool" techniques: plasma machine. hemacytometer. passages. microfluidics & more.

5) A deeper understanding: of what a life in research "truly" is: repetition, grants, sacrifice, reward, learning from failures, aseptic techniques, honesty, integrity...

6) Interdisciplinary connections: Knowledge is not static! Science depends on the numbers from math, as well as language, culture, history, etc.

7) Fun! : There are plenty of opportunities to make light of serious situations; a stop to smell the roses message- what's the use of all this science & technology if we don't know how to enjoy it :o)

8) Working with high schoolers: It was an excellent preview of what my career would be like if I ever graduate from middle school education.

9) Lesson plans: This aspect of my teaching evolves daily & has been accelerated by this experience with some extremely valuable tools e.g. backwards design & putting the "life" in life science.

10) Gratitude: I can't thank you enough: NSF, Northeastern, Dr. Murthy & crew, Claire, Rocco, Mark, Matt, Greg & everyone else whom made this summer so inspirational. I look forward to future opportunities to work with you all.

- Jason Souza
Bigelow Middle School
Newton, MA

The Final Reflection

These six weeks have flown by at an unbelievable pace. When I return to school, I'll definitely share my experiences in RET with my colleagues. I'll tell them about the research I was helping with and how great it is that I can relate cutting-edge research to the topics covered in my class. My department head is big on sharing lesson plans, so I'll probably end up presenting my lesson plan to the rest of the math department, at which I'll share a bit about the RET program and how it gives teachers a chance to work on actual research. I'll definitely recommend the program to a few teachers at my school, I know that they would enjoy the program as much as I did. All in all it was a great summer, and I thank everyone involved for giving us teachers this awesome opportunity.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

RET final reflection

Paul Chanley said...
RET-2009: Final Posting.Fellow colleagues: RET is fabulous and I highly recommend the program. The experience was enlightening and I consider it one of the best professional development opportunities that I have participated in. The people I met are great. And while it is a six week commitment for the summer, I felt it was well worth it. The program allowed me to explore areas I would not have typically been able to get involved in. For example, while working on the boat project at BU, I engaged in the full cycle of the engineering design process. Normally, you focus on only one or two areas of the design process during a professional development experience. In the case at BU, we went from determining the essential question to developing a preliminary design, prototyping, and then working toward the final design and redesign. That is a big accomplishment in a six week time span. Check out the Massachusetts’s Curriculum Frameworks Engineering & Technology “Engineering Design Process.” We experienced the whole process.Paul

Week 6 - Would I recommend the program?

I enjoyed my experience this summer because I was able to learn something new and do something challenging. I had the opportunity to work with and get to know some very nice people as well. One thing that surprised me about the program was how much stuff there was other than the actual research. I would have preferred to have a pure lab experience with less professional development and other seminars because I get plenty of that during the school year and I wanted to just do research. I would recommend this program to colleagues because I do think it was worthwhile. I did get some of the lab experience and challenges I was looking for.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Would I recommend the RET program?

The RET program at Northeastern University is challenging, enriching, and helps to motivate the teacher. I would highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to work during their summer off.

The previous school year was an exhausting one for me. I taught science full-time, coached three after school sports, taught yoga, tutored, and endured ACL surgery. In the Spring, I applied to RET as a returning member. I knew what the program had in store for me and was very excited to participate. The RET program requires a lot from the participant, but the participant is adequately compensated. I regret that I could have given even more to the RET program this summer, if I hadn't had the stressful year I had previously.

That being said, I will take away a lot from this summer's experience. I will make the research I conducted and the lesson I created as part of RET, the center of my teaching this year in my biology classroom. I am excited to teach the students techniques that they have never been exposed to. I look forward to pushing my students to inquire and solve problems on their own.

Participate in RET at Northeastern if you are willing to push yourself and desire to experience the best professional development available to science and math teachers.

Toyota Tapestry - 20th Annual Science Grant Competition

Calling All K–12 Science Teachers: Toyota TAPESTRY Program Now Accepting Entries for the 20th Annual Science Grant Competition

The Toyota TAPESTRY Grants for Science Teachers program, sponsored by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., and administered by NSTA, is now accepting entries for the 2009–2010 competition. Now in its 20th year, the program offers grants up to $10,000 to K–12 science teachers for innovative projects that enhance science education in their school and/or school district over a one-year period.
Fifty large grants and a minimum of 20 mini-grants totaling $550,000 will be awarded this year. Individual science teachers or a team of up to five teachers can submit proposals in one of three categories: physical science application; environmental science education; and integrating literacy and science. A judging panel convened by the NSTA will select the award-winning projects based on several criteria, including their innovative approach in teaching science and ability to create a stimulating and hands-on learning environment.
Since the program’s inception in 1990, Toyota TAPESTRY grants totaling more than $8.6 million have been awarded to science teachers across the country. More than 2,000 teachers have used those funds to develop and execute extraordinary programs that helped hundreds of thousands of students nationwide make a passionate connection with science.
For more information about the Toyota TAPESTRY Grants for Science Teachers program or to learn how to apply,


Applications must be submitted no later than January 18, 2010 to be considered. Don’t delay, apply now!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Week 5 Reflections

Week 5

For lack of a better phrase, it was crunch time this past week. With the poster session and lesson plan presentation on deck for week 6, I had to finish measuring all of the peak intensities in the Raman spectra, and at least begin the analysis of the combined intensity data. It’s hard to believe the project is winding down –the time is just flying by.


Week 6

Week 6

This week was very enjoyable. The making of my research poster was an interesting exercise. Since I wasn’t permitted to show, or even discuss, our actual data, I decided to make more of a “teaching poster” than a “research poster”. Of course I did report the actual type of work we did, but I dedicated much more board space to background information on wastewater treatment to prevent eutrophication of waterways, general techniques to remove phosphates from wastewater, and a section on “how the Raman effect works”. I wrote these sections in less technical language so that the students at Middlesex Community College may understand the content. I found this to be a little more challenging, and fun, than putting together a straight-forward research poster. I feel that I have an artifact that I can much more easily use to promote RET to colleagues at Middlesex, and REU to students in the future, than a more technical poster would allow. And I do plan on promoting both programs with great enthusiasm.

I also really enjoyed hearing the lesson plans from the group. Not only was I grateful for the feedback to my work, but I took away a number of good ideas that I can use to help teach chemistry (in the areas of solution conductivity, scale of subatomic particle size, and intermolecular forces in particular – I must buy one of those water molecule magnet kits!)

Reflections on the program as a whole:

Reflections on the program as a whole:

Reflections on the program as a whole:

Personally, I was extremely satisfied with my research experience. Although I know it was just a lucky coincidence that my group had a need that met my “expertise from a previous life”, it truly was gratifying to contribute to the group in an immediate and concrete way. I felt more like a post-doc than a grad student. (Maybe it was just my silly bloated ego getting fed, but I’m self aware enough to admit that it felt pretty good). I also want to point out that I didn’t just copy my grad student work. The field of Raman Spectroscopy has integrated new technologies and applications since my research days, so I was able to learn quite a bit of these advances. I hope that, if I am fortunate enough to participate in RET in the future, I would be able to continue the Raman Microscopy work in Professor Gu’s lab.

I feel I learned some valuable education theory in the professional development sessions. Unlike the high school teachers, formal education classes are not required for my profession, and therefore much of the vocabulary and even some of the concepts were new to me. This new knowledge will be very helpful in my interaction with colleagues and college administrators who have more formal backgrounds in education. I will also certainly be even more focused than before on developing more inquiry-based lessons. (My colleagues and I already integrate many hands-on and other activities in lieu of traditional lectures; we just didn’t call it “inquiry based learning”.)

It was a great pleasure to get to know the high school and middle school teachers. I think that having a better understanding of their working conditions, challenges, and successful strategies will help me to understand my own students’ prior experience. In general, I think that the interaction between us all can only help our ability to shepherd people through the entire 7-16 education process. Whether or not helping a more seamless laddering for our students through the system is an explicit goal of RET, it is certainly a valuable consequence of our participation.

Lastly, I’d like to comment on the quality of the people I met and worked with for these past 6 weeks. They are simply exceptional. I leave the program having a great deal of admiration and respect for the job the high school teachers are doing. I hope my son’s teachers in the future are as dedicated, compassionate, and most importantly, competent.

I hope we all stay in touch and use this forum as our own learning community, one in which best practices are shared and questions can be comfortably posed.

Have a productive and happy school year.
News and Events
August 6, 2009
The Center for STEM Education hosted the final presentations for the Research Experiences for Teachers Program and the Young Scholars Program. The poster session was a great success, attended by all participants, their families, faculty mentors, and additional faculty from the University. Read more >>

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Week 6 Reflection

If you were going to tell a colleague about the RET program - what would you say? Would you recommend the program?

I would definitely recommend this program to any qualified colleague. The blend of authentic experience with professional development is certainly rare in my experience (I have had ONE previous experience of the type: a weekend-long ornithology study on Appledore Island, Isles of Shoals through another NSF funded program called the ARMADA project. The rest have consisted of me listening to other people and doing my best to think positive and find the takeaway for my classroom.).

Six weeks in a university laboratory makes this professional development completely different and completely relevant. I come away from this experience having truly learned about plastics, plastics engineering, nanotechnology, and the operation of a variety of tools (thermoformer, optical scopes, drop shape analyzer, dynamic stress analyzer, etc.).

In addition to this wealth of experience, (including insight into the emerging field of nanotechnology and the realities of the laboratory setting), I also developed a working lesson plan and have access to those my colleagues developed (besides implementing my own lesson plan, I plan to run Raphael Matty’s from last year, and he and I plan to collaborate on his lesson plan from this year).

I look forward to bringing this experience to my students this school year (and to future classes) and to participating in the RET program next summer . . . thank you to all who made it possible!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Final Reflection Week 6

As I reflect back on my experience this summer, I am grateful I had the opportunity to work with the principal investigator and the graduate students in the DNA lab as well as the teachers and coordinators in the RET program at Northeastern University this summer. They all contributed to my professional growth as a teacher. Often my professional development consists of a one day workshop on a specific topic. This six week professional development opportunity gave me the chance to update my lab skills while expanding my knowledge of current DNA research. I also had the opportunity to network with a diverse group of teachers which broadened my perspectives on education. I had never been involved with Northeastern University until this summer, so I was amazed at the scope of educational opportunities and lab facilities available in the science area. The coordinators of the program, professors, and graduate students were all supportive of the RET program which made me feel welcome from the very first day.

Catherine Francis
Chemistry Teacher
North Reading H.S.
Prof. Beuning's DNA lab.

No, we've only just begun

Wow, it was only six weeks?

In retrospect, this was a very remarkable series of experiences over six weeks. The intensity was not anxiety-filled, rather there were just a lot of things that were back-to-back, all equally useful, pleasing and very memorable. I found my enthusiasm never relenting and my interactions with: the Sun lab group, my RET cohorts, the lead teachers and administrators never waning. I had a blast.

When I first found out I was assigned to lab group working with electricity and magnetism (E&M), I thought that this was really a good match. After all, its my favorite subject in Physics and maybe it would help me with my coverage of the material in the two AP courses that I teach. It was a good match/fit for my "teaching load". It's of note, that I also push my Science Research students to look at and investigate in areas that I call, "Biophysics". Yet, I felt a little bit disappointed because I really wanted to be where I thought my heart & soul is: molecular biology. I know now that for this Summer at least my placement in Nian Sun's lab group doing "Electrical Field Fine-Tuning of Magnetization..." was like trying on a "glass running shoe" and having it fit perfectly; that's only because I would never put on a glass slipper. I never realized how much more I could possibly learn that was new. I was wrong! I also know that many of you were also revitalized in a content area (e.g., John, Catherine, Kate). Often when this happens, it's stressful. There's the pressure to perform at a high levels. Well, I felt like I soared through these six weeks. Everything that was back-to-back pumped me up. And even when I got back to the dormitory room (which BTW, always smelled like "Toast"), I found that I was still in overdrive, working on papers, writing, uploading researched information, etc., etc.

Lunch became a special time eating in Curry Hall. There was always what I refer to as "Shop talk", after all people need to decompensate. I found myself: helping you all with this problem or that one, getting help myself with problems, unloading about Boston parking tickets, laughing at people's stories, and just being part of this whole NEU RET scene. I mentioned to Claire at Uno's, that there was a word running through my thoughts about the people part of this RET experience: Solidarity. The minute I said it, I immediately thought of Polish politician Lech Lawesa but I am not going to go off on anymore tangents. The point is that we are a highly spirited group that enjoyed these experiences and each other's company: thoughts, emotions, thinking, empathy, et al.

I take the teaching of what I teach very, very seriously. I think this comes out in the classroom continually. I tend to be accused by grateful parents all of the time of overworking their children; they say this with a smile, an outstretched hand, and even sometimes an embrace. To my surprise, I even have students transferring into my subject sections all of the time. There's frequently a comment like, "I want to learn a lot more, be more successful, motivated. I don't get that in Mr./Mrs. ______'s class." I frequently bump into former students all of the time. Unbelievably they tend to say one similar phrase, "You can't believe how much you affected my life and helped me decide what to be." Many of them have become doctors and even teachers. A big thing that I picked up on very early in preparing for my E&M research was, "I am so sorry that I have seemed insensitive to my AP Physics students. I know now why they complain about learning this material." I am very grateful also about becoming sensitive to being too hard a teacher. I feel that this was an extremely important thing for me to realize. Don't ever give up on how much you touch and impact your student's lives. It's like, we do reach out and touch someone every forty plus minutes in ways that we can't imagine.

So it's not at all what we did in six weeks. More importantly, it's what we realize about ourselves and what we start to do in terms of our: own problem-solving and critical thinking, knowledge of subject matter, pedagogical repertoires, emotional thinking and sensitivity to other's needs. We started this all on June 29th and on August 6th we didn't end it all, we're just continuing it in the next phase in a different venue!

Try and have a little rest and relaxation (even if that involves house painting) before that next phase begins.

Thank you so much.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Bringing it Back to the Classroom

So, I have rarely posted to journals or blogs. In fact, this is my first attempt at posting to any blog, ever. I'd like to provide you all with a final thought. I promise that, from time to time, I will post some nuggets for you to ponder. They will be in my own voice, unfiltered, without references or places to get more information. The only place you should go is back to the classroom. Reflect on what is going on within it.

The essence of Research Experiences for Teachers is to be able to bring back your experiences to your school - that is what we mean by the phrase Back in the Classroom. Let me unpack this for a minute. From day one we stressed that you begin thinking about a lesson plan that included inquiry. We, the professional development providers, tried to give you a flavor of what might be possible in your classroom. But, let us be honest, the real learning was going to happen in the laboratory, which was just a few short hours away.

Let's take this experience for what it is. Six weeks is not a very long time. [sigh] To really experience learning (a transformation), you need more time. [sense my sarcasm] I am sure that you will agree with me, you really were not able to grasp the questions with which your principal investigator and their cadre of graduate students were grappling. And, your contribution to the research was minimal. By comparison, 180 days (that are just a few short weeks away) are also not enough for your students to grasp the questions that are most fundamental to your discipline. [sense of despair] There are too many standards that need to be met and students are not even motivated or intellectually equipped to learn the most basic of these standards. [false cynicism] Most of my students will not be scientists or engineers in the future anyway. [echo] Am I right? [is anyone listening?]

Think about what just happened in the last six weeks. Ask yourself, "Did my subject-matter competence improve? Did the research stimulate my problem-solving ability? Were my abilities for critical reflection and mathematical/analytical skills honed? Isn't this what I want my students to do in my classroom?"

THAT happened in JUST SIX WEEKS!

IMAGINE what could happen if you recreated just FIVE DAYS of that experience in your classroom.

What do you think your students would get out of it?

What if you had access to lessons that would allow you to recreate this experience for the ENTIRE YEAR?

Now, what do you think your students would get out of it?

Have a great rest of the summer and good luck in the fall.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Last Week

I am not sure if we are posting as new posts all the time, or if we are using the comments to give each successive post to the same topic. We should try to standardize that format again, although being the last week it is probably not super important. This week was busy, just like the rest. There was a sense of urgency to get us to analyze our data and try to wrap up the project, but really there is no end to it. A paper should be written, and the data should be analyzed by someone that has more experience in the field. We presented our data to the grad students and professors that we were working under, mostly because we worked so independently the whole time that they wanted to know what we did. The final data was not conclusive though, so there will be more to work on next summer for who ever picks the torch up.
This is a picture of Peter doing what we do in the lab. It was supposed to be in the powerpoint presentation that happened Thursday morning, but for some reason the computers in the lab did not like the file format the the picture was saved in. Blogs are more exciting if you add pictures to illustrate what you are saying.

Sam Perez (Mass Bay Community College), Katelyn Carrette (North Reading High School), Greg Banks (Urban Science Academy, West Roxbury High School/Boston Public Schools), and Jason Souza (Bigelow Middle School, Newton) discuss research undertaken this summer at Northeastern University's Research Experience for Teachers Program (RET-PLUS) at the final poster session for RET's and Young Scholars (YSP) participants. (

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Last Week Blog

The 2009 RET Summer is an awakening. This experience rekindled my love for research. The lab environment and having to work with eager young minds in a two way learning mode was both refreshing and enlightening. Usually in the school year, Im the expert but with this summer experience I am a peer learner with the other BU engineering students. Everybody learns from one another. This experience also propelled me to complete my PhD application for computer science. Hope I get in.

I recommend this program to other teachers who want to rekindle their love for research. For those who may have never experienced a research environment, this is an opportunity to connect to another means of experiencing learning. Of course we have our seminars or conferences, but these tend to be passive learning and research is active learning and one has the opportunity to create knowledge to inform one's teaching.

I think we need to have more than 6 six weeks to do research. 8 weeks would be ideal as some experiments or projects take longer to do. Also the admin housekeeping took some days off from lab time and additional time may be needed.

Also the timing of the lesson presentation should be advanced a bit. The feedback can be used to change some items on the final poster. Having the lesson presentation in the last week might be a bit late already.

I suggest a project management session for future RET teachers. This involves learning MS Project and using it in the lab setting. I am open to teach a session on this for next year. I have taught project management in my college.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

RET 2009 Final Reflection – working at Prof. Erin Cram’s Worm Lab

Prior to coming to the lab, I had been on email communication with Prof. Cram so that I was able to get started with background reading on our potential projects. The readings included background information on the soil nematode, C. elegans, a review on the Distal Tip Migration – the main focus of the Cram Worm Lab. I had the best summer experience working with Prof. Erin Cram learning using molecular biology techniques to identify proteins that interact with each other. . Prof. Erin spent time giving us an overview of the research project, helped us get familiarize with the instrumentation and techniques used our experiments. She set us up with a graduate student Mouna Ibourk who helped us with the Yeast Two Hybrid Experiments. We felt we were very much part of the lab group as we were able to participate into eh group meeting, the journal club and friendly academic exchanges with all the graduate students and undergraduate students in the lab.

Prof. Erin Cram personally helped us get settled with the norms and protocols in the lab including getting our lab safety and hygiene training during the first week. She was always available to answer our questions and helped us understand the experiment procedures. She also introduced us to the various basic references including my favorite – “Integrated Genomics” .

The project that we were involved with relied on two molecular biology approaches to study functional genomics or more specifically which proteins affect the proper development and migration of the distal tip cell in the nematode C. elegans. Yeast Two Hybrid Screening allowed us to test whether the SIAH-1 protein interacted with CACN-1, a novel protein discovered and studied in the lab. We also performed RNAi silencing experiments where SIAH-1 depletions were accomplished by feeding the C. elegans with bioengineered (transformed) bacteria. By doing so, the worms were not able to make the SIAH-1 protein by degrading the rna that codes for the protein. My lab experience helped me see how bioinformatics in the form of protein amino acid sequence available on the web accessible data bases can be used to design either the whole protein or in our case a part of the protein. Our experiments started with these primers which were inserted in the worm cDNA cloned and then transformed into bacteria which were then fed to the worms. One of the most important thing that we learned is that the timing protocol for yeast, e.coli and C. elegans were different and careful planning was needed so that observations and data collection can be accomplished during the weekday. While we did not have enough time to collect more data, we were fortunate to be able to finish this preliminary study and identify the relative importance of the SIAH-1 protein in distal tip development and migration in C. elegans. The highlight of the lab experience was that we were able to prepare two plasmids pUN63 and pUN64 both containing the SIAH-1 fragment that now reside in the Cram Worm Lab -80°C plasmid repository, available for future investigations.

My experience helped me gain appreciation for the C. elegans and work on genes and proteins. The best tie-in to my lesson plan is the importance of covalent and non-covalent (intermolecular) molecular interactions are in biological recognition. This is relevant in the cascade of reaction mechanism and signaling processes involved in cancer metastasis, immune response and proper development of an organism.

The experience made me realize that I want to spend time exploring the connections between the shapes of molecules and how they interact with each other, with genetics and biology. My lesson plan will include exploring the interactions by creating water, amino acids, DNA and globulin models both with space filling models as well as with a software that will help in better visualization of the electrostaic potential interactions on the surfaces of a molecule.

The lab notebook used for recording of experimental data used in the lab was novel to me. It gave me a chance to put it into practice and allowed me to see the practical aspects of using their method. The lab uses a three ring binder, loose sheets and a plastic sleeve for each page.

I definitely learned a lot this summer and provided me with great inspiration on teaching more science applications across disciplines.

Hurray for the C. elegans!!!

Mary Espanol

Monday, August 3, 2009

I said "High 90's" didn't I?

Hi Once Again,

I took a lot of extra time to compose my last blog rather doing the stream of consciousness thingy like I usually do and just type it online. That is, I went into microsoft word, composed my thoughts, saved the document as "a plain text file" and what happens, I do a hatchet job on the last paragraph.

It should have read, " "Nothing seems to go wrong and so that being said, “Cancel the dumb last thought.” I thank each and everyone of you!


Week #5-A time for confluence and appreciation


I am always guided by a mantra that inspires me to always accentuate the positive. I exude it with my wife, children, friends, students colleagues. And now even though things haven’t been completely 100 per cent, but we’re shooting in the high 90’s!

In the fifth week, everything continued to come together beautifully. My research data was not only substantive and substantial in quantity, but also consistent with earlier results. The hysteresis simulation continued to correlate well with existing data-driven hysteresis curves. The lesson plan turned out beautifully and my entire RET experience continues to be nothing short of super. In addition, for me the poster was “A piece of cake.” And the planning for the modeling of my lesson was proceeding nicely too. I am sorry if anyone’s hasn’t gone so smoothly. Even when critical materials have seemingly vanished (e.g., an apparatus to demonstrate Lenz’s law disappears and then magically turns up right where it was supposed to be in the first place …).

The other program participants are terrific: warm, friendly, helpful, kind, generous, funny to the point of looney, and most of all real. Someone asked my at lunch, “What are you doing for the rest of the Summer?” I answered, “Taking it easy.” Yet I want to tell you that when things just “click for ya’,” then for me that’s a vacation.

Nothing seems to go wrong and so that being said, “Cancel the dumb last thought.”
I thank you each you!


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Week # 5 : Lab Experiences

Last week my focus shifted from research to preparation of RET 2009, poster. I emailed my PowerPoint slides (for poster) to Prof. Nian Sun and his graduate student Guomin Yang.
Prof. Sun critically reviewed my poster content and made constructive comments. This required running some additional simulations on ANSOFT software. Prof. Sun was extremely pleased with the results of my simulations. He has approved purchase of a transducer for the antenna that I designed; Guomin will place an order with PI company soon. Friday morning , I visited the high permormance computer center at Harvard University. I could not visit the imaging department as the folks there were away on a conference.

Regarding poster preparation, I had to overcome some challenges on formating. However, persistence paid well and I am ready to roll now. I am looking forward to an exciting time next
week. There is lot to learn during presentations scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday.

Manju P.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Week 5 Reflection

This week we finished all of the manufacturing and testing of our specimens. We are in the process of analyzing our data from the buckling tests we preformed on our specimens. We tested four different criteria and it has been a little confusing as to what we are looking for in our data. Some parts are clear and others are required more data manipulation and a little creativity. During these past few weeks we started out by building sandwich structures with various gaps between the aluminum and foam components, simulating defects in adhesion during the manufacturing process. Now that we have the data we’re trying to see what it all means. I think a better way to have done this project would have been to develop a working hypothesis in the beginning, construct our specimens based on our hypothesis, and see if the data supports our ideas. At this point we’re trying to find out what the data means, in essence, forming a hypothesis based on our current data. This backwards way of experimenting has made the last set of data analysis and construction of our poster more challenging than it needed to be. With an initial set of goals upfront, this project could have been more productive.


Reflection on final weeks of NU RET 2009

This has been a stimulating experience.  Mary and I have made two new plasmids, pUN63 and pUN64, so our names will forever be on file in the Cram Lab binder that lists plasmids made in this lab.  The plasmids were created for the RNA interference experiment which we set up on Monday of this week.  We will see the results on Friday and next Monday.  The yeast two hybrid experimental results are just in today.  The experiment was successful and showed a strong interaction between the proteins we are studying.

Working in a molecular biology lab has made me more mindful of what my chemistry students will face in biology class after they have had chemistry.  I plan to incorporate examples from biology at every opportunity so they will have an easier time transferring their chemistry knowledge to biology.

The interactions with the other teachers in the program have been invaluable.  I look forward to trying some of the other lesson plans as well as the one I am working on.  The blog will be very helpful to share ideas with one another to make the lessons run successfully.  When I taught freshman physics our school had a weekly workshop at which physics teachers planned the course curriculum and labs.  Those who had already done the lab with their students were able to warn the rest of us of potential problems and how to trouble shoot the lab.  They also shared ideas about points that were confusing for students and how to clarify the concepts.  I see the blog as serving a similar purpose for those of us at various schools.

Margaret Farrar

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My RET Experiences

I have been been able to create my scientific and teaching personality during last four week-long experiences at Northeastern University. I see lot of purpose in my stay and interactions. We are all geared to be better teachers disseminating cutting edge research and technology to our classrooms. There is strong emphasis on reflection and transferring research experience to day to day teaching. Interacting with young and bright scientists in labs where graduate students use state of the art facilities and are immersed in the rigor and depth of their research fields is a rewarding experience. There is variety in the programs in terms of field trips, professional development discussions, invited talks, and in-depth research.

I also feel fortunate to be part of Boston-Cambridge community. It is diverse and enriching. I will be visiting Centre of Nanoscale Research at Harvard University. It is a unique facility one of its kind. The museums in Cambridge and Boston area are fantastic. This has been a treat!!!!


On Being a Scientist: Third Edition

Some interesting discussions took place regarding ethics in research. Specifically, how the pressure to seek and retain funding may compromise research integrity.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Week 3 - July 12th

Week of July 12th - Week 3
Week 3

July 13th - July 16th

Monday - Labs 8:30 - 4:30

Tuesday - Labs 8:30 - 4:30

Wednesday - Lab 8:30 - 12:00

12:00 - Brown Bag Lunch - 90 SN

Presenter - Judy Newmark - Biology - topic - new imaging techniques to non-invasively determine the health and viability of preimplantation embryos.

1:00 - 2:30 - Professional Development Session* - 90 SN

* Please post initial ideas regarding your lessons to the Discussion Board - please bring a written draft for small group discussion if completed.

2:30 - 4:30 - Lab (Lowell group meet - visit Nian Sun's lab)

Thursday - Field Trip information - Biogen - contact Ryan at for more information.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

RET 2009 - Orientation Session

Our first meeting will be held on May 21st at Northeastern University in 431 Stearns Center located at 420 Huntington Avenue. Directions to Northeastern University can be found at

You are asked to post a brief introduction to the RET Google Group Page prior to this first session. (Please note the group page is available to 2009 participants only. You have each been extended an invitation to join this page.

You will also be receiving your laboratory assignment and introductions to your partner and faculty advisor.

Orientation/First Week Schedule

Orientation - May 21st 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. 431 ST - NU
Introduction - June 25th 3:00 - 6:00 p.m. 431 ST - NU

Week 1
June 29th - Day 1 - Professional Development - 8:30 - 4:30 p.m. - 431 ST - NU
June 30th - Day 2 - Professional Development - 8:30 - 12:00 - Lunch - Lab's
July 1 - Day 3 - Labs
July 2 - Day 4 - Labs

RET at NSTA New Orleans 2009

RET Participants from across the country convened in New Orleans to share their experiences in RET programs here and abroad. Lessons developed can be found at