Category Archives: Main Blog

An Edited Google Doodle and a Genetics Mini-Mystery

Google’s Doodle on January 9 honored Har Gobind Khorana, a Nobel laureate whose work with DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis was seminal to deciphering the genetic code. Did anyone besides us (shout out to our own Eli Kosminsky!) notice that, midway through the day, the cartoon changed?

Google Doodle in the morning…

 

The same Doodle at night!

A comparison shows that the letters vanished from the paired strands draped across the doodle, leaving the flag-like bases letterless. A look at the letters depicted in the original doodle’s strands shows the letter “U,” for the base uracil, on both sides, making the drawing look like two paired strands of RNA. It’s the paired RNA strands that was the problem, we surmise. RNA, unlike DNA, comprises a single strand of nucleotide bases or “letters,” not a double strand (which, in the case of DNA, twists into the classic double-helix shape). By labeling both strands of the molecule with RNA letters, the doodle effectively depicted RNA as an extended double-stranded molecule, which is incorrect.

Removing the letters allowed the doodle to be interpreted correctly as showing the transcription of RNA from DNA, which is not only biologically relevant, it’s also a critical component of Khorana’s work. In fact, part of Khorana’s approach involved assiduously avoiding the now-classic behavior of some RNA sequences that might have been unintentionally represented in the original doodle—a strand folding back on itself, base-pairing to form obstinate structures that can actually prevent the reading and translation of the code by cellular enzymes. In addition, synthesizing custom-coded RNA strands was much more difficult than synthesizing DNA strands, so part of the time, Khorana cleverly synthesized DNA strands and allowed the cellular enzymes to make the RNA strands for him.

You can explore how to decode the genetic code yourself using our DNA/RNA simulator!* How would you determine the number of bases (letters) in each DNA word? You can design DNA and RNA sequences that clearly answer this question, and then move on to figuring out how to use your own sequences to reveal the code.

Transcription

The process of transcription. Note that only the red RNA strand includes “U” for Uracil, so the original Doodle’s labels didn’t make sense.

Translation

The process of translation. Here, the top base pairs are passed in by tRNA, and don’t form a strand at all, so this doesn’t match the original Doodle either.

* This Next-Generation Molecular Workbench model was developed thanks to a generous grant from Google.org.

Concord Consortium Publishes Important Research in Educational Technology

Nine publications illuminate our research in educational technology in 2017. Learn about engineering design tools that may help bridge the design-science gap (#5), a systems modeling tool that supports students in the NGSS practice of developing and using models and the crosscutting concept of systems (#1), an Earth science curriculum that increases student scientific argumentation abilities (#6), the relative ease of creating hierarchical data structures (#9), automated analysis of collaborative problem solving in electronics (#8), and more.

1. New systems modeling tool supports students

The NGSS identify systems and system models as one of the crosscutting concepts, and developing and using models as one of the science and engineering practices. However, students do not naturally engage in systems thinking or in building models to make sense of phenomena. The Concord Consortium and Michigan State University developed a free, web-based, open-source systems modeling tool called SageModeler and a curricular approach designed to support students and teachers in engaging in systems modeling.

Damelin, D., Krajcik, J., McIntyre, C., & Bielik, T. (2017). Students making system models: An accessible approach. Science Scope, 40(5), 78-82.

2. Students should face the unknown and engage in frontier science questions

Students should see science as an ongoing process rather than as a collection of facts. Six High-Adventure Science curriculum modules provide an opportunity to bring contemporary science and the process of doing science into the classroom. Interactive, dynamic models help students make sense of complex Earth systems. Embedded assessments prompt students to interpret data to make scientific arguments and evaluate claims while considering the uncertainty inherent in frontier science.

Pallant, A. (2017). High-Adventure Science: Exploring evidence, models, and uncertainty related to questions facing scientists today. The Earth Scientist, 33, 23-28.

3. Automated feedback helps students write scientific arguments

Automated scoring and feedback support students’ construction of written scientific arguments while learning about factors that affect climate change. Results showed that 77% of students made revisions to their open-ended argumentation responses after receiving feedback. Students who revised had significantly higher final scores than those who did not, and each revision was associated with an increase on the final scores.

Zhu, M., Lee, H.-S., Wang, T., Liu, O. L., Belur, V., & Pallant, A. (2017). Investigating the impact of automated feedback on students’ scientific argumentation. International Journal of Science Education, 1–21.

4. Review of research on women’s underrepresentation in computing fields

This literature review synthesizes research on women’s underrepresentation in computing fields across four life stages: 1) pre-high school; 2) high school; 3) college major choice and persistence; and 4) postbaccalaureate employment. Access to and use of computing resources at the pre-high school and high school levels are associated with gender differences in interest and attitudes toward computing. In college, environmental context contributes to whether students will major in computing, while a sense of belonging and self-efficacy as well as departmental culture play a role in persistence in computing fields. Work-life conflict, occupational culture, and mentoring/networking opportunities play a role in women’s participation in the computing workforce.

Main, J. B., & Schimpf, C. (2017). The underrepresentation of women in computing fields: A synthesis of literature using a life course perspective. IEEE Transactions on Education, 60(4), 296-304.

5. Students improve knowledge by designing with robust engineering tools

Eighty-three 9th grade students completed an energy-efficient home design challenge using our Energy3D software. Students substantially improved their knowledge. Their learning gains were positively associated with three types of design actions—representation, analysis, and reflection—measured by the cumulative counts of computer logs. These findings suggest that tools are not passive components in a learning environment, but shape design processes and learning paths, and offer possibilities to help bridge the design-science gap.

Chao, J., Xie, C., Nourian, S., Chen, G., Bailey, S., Goldstein, M. H., Purzer, S., Adams, R. S., & Tutwiler, M. S. (2017). Bridging the design-science gap with tools: Science learning and design behaviors in a simulated environment for engineering design. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 54(8), 1049-1096.

6. Students improve their scientific argumentation skills

Making energy choices means considering multiple factors, exploring competing ideas, and reaching conclusions based on the best available evidence. Our High-Adventure Science project created a free online energy module in which students compare the effects of energy sources on land use, air quality, and water quality using interactive models, real-world data on energy production and consumption, and scaffolded argumentation tasks. We analyzed pre- and post-test responses to argumentation items for 1,573 students from three middle schools and seven high schools. Students significantly improved their scientific argumentation abilities after using the energy module.

Pallant, A., Pryputniewicz, S. & Lee, H-S. (2017). The future of energy. The Science Teacher, 84(3), 61-68.

7. Students learn about sustainability

Educators must figure out how to prepare students to think about complex systems and sustainability. We elucidate a set of design principles used to create online curriculum modules related to Earth’s systems and sustainability and give examples from the High-Adventure Science module “Can we feed the growing population?” The module includes interactive, computer-based, dynamic Earth systems models that enable students to track changes over time. Embedded prompts help students focus on stocks and flows within the system, and identify important resources in the models, explain the processes that change the availability of the stock, and explore real-world examples.

Pallant, A., & Lee, H. S. (2017). Teaching sustainability through systems dynamics: Exploring stocks and flows embedded in dynamic computer models of an agricultural system. Journal of Geoscience Education, 65(2), 146-157.

8. Automated analysis sheds light on collaborative problem solving

The Teaching Teamwork project created an online simulated electronic circuit, running on multiple computers, to assess students’ abilities to work together as a team. Modifications to the circuit made by any team member, insofar as they alter the behavior of the circuit, can affect measurements made by the others. We log all relevant student actions, including calculations, measurements, online student communications, and alterations made by the students to the circuit itself. Automated analysis of the resulting data sheds light on the problem-solving strategy of each team.

Horwitz, P., von Davier, A., Chamberlain, J., Koon, A., Andrews, J., & McIntyre, C. (2017). Teaching Teamwork: Electronics instruction in a collaborative environment. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 41(6), 341-343.

9. Students understand how to structure data

In this study participants were presented with diagrams of traffic on two roads with information about eight attributes (e.g., type of vehicle, its speed and direction) and asked to record and organize the data to assist city planners in its analysis. Overall, 79% of their data sheets successfully encoded the data. Even 62% of the middle school students created a structure that could hold the critical information from the diagrams. Students were more likely to create nested data structures than they were to produce one flat table, suggesting that hierarchical structures might be more intuitive and easier to interpret than flat tables.

Konold, C., Finzer, W., & Kreetong, K. (2017). Modeling as a core component of structuring data. Statistics Education Research Journal, 16(2), 191-212.

The Concord Consortium’s Top 10 News Stories from 2017

The year 2017 was a significant one for the Concord Consortium. Even though we lost our founder—and an amazing friend, colleague, mentor, and collaborator—our memories of Robert Tinker and his work resonate in an enduring way. Not many people can say they’ve worked with a legend. But anyone who knew our beloved founder recognized they were in the presence of a brilliant mind and a person with genuine compassion. While Bob’s passing on June 21, 2017, is a source of sadness for us all, we honor his legacy every day through our work. Share your memory of how Bob inspired you (and read stories of the many people Bob inspired).

Here, we share our year’s top 10 news stories.

1. Data Science Education Leaps into the Future

We jump-started the new field of data science education to bring about effective learning with and about data. In February 2017 we convened the Data Science Education Technology conference in Berkeley, California—right next to our West Coast office—with over 100 thought leaders from organizations around the U.S. and six continents. We’ve also hosted over a dozen meetups and webinars since that seminal event. We’re planning our schedule for 2018 and invite you to help us bring about the data science education revolution.

2. We Publish Influential Research and Analysis

We published authoritative articles in the Earth Scientist, the International Journal of Science EducationIEEE Transactions on Education, the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, the Science Teacher, the Journal of Geoscience Education, the Community College Journal of Research and Practice, the Statistics Education Research Journal, and Science Scope. We’re looking forward to 2018, too, with several papers scheduled to be published in the New Year.

3. We Embraced Our Creative Side and Reached Out to You

We embraced our creative side, and collaborated with Blenderbox to create a website that invites users to explore our work and use our free digital resources. Two jam-packed newsletters offered visionary commentary as well as practical instruction. We expanded our blog, and reached out to many more of you through Twitter and Facebook. Keep your shares and comments coming.

Energy3D can be used to design four types of concentrated solar power plants: solar power towers, linear Fresnel reflectors, parabolic troughs, and parabolic dishes.

4. General Motors Awards $200,000 Grant

General Motors is committed to powering its worldwide factories and offices with 100% renewable energy by 2050. The company furthered its commitment by awarding the Concord Consortium a $200,000 grant to promote engineering education using renewable energy as a learning context and artificial intelligence as a teaching assistant. The project will use our signature Energy3D software, an easy-to-use CAD tool for designing and simulating solar power systems.

5. What a Busy Year Presenting on the Road

We presented our free resources and research at over 25 sessions at NSTA, NARST, AERA, ISTE, BLC, American Society for Engineering Education, NSTA STEM Forum & Expo, MAST, EdSurge, International Dialogue on STEM 2017, and ISDDE2017, plus the Global Education & Skills Forum in Dubai and the International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interactions in Japan. Phew! At AERA 2018 we’ll host a special session to honor the work and legacy of Bob Tinker called “Deeply Digital Learning: The Influence of Robert Tinker on STEM Education and the Learning Sciences.”

Students can explore and evaluate the condition of their local watershed using the free, web-based Model My Watershed application.

6. We Won!

Congratulations to the WikiWatershed online toolkit, which includes the Model My Watershed app developed in collaboration with the Stroud Water Research Center. It was awarded the 2017 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. And our Water SCIENCE project won a facilitators’ choice award in the National Science Foundation’s STEM for All Video Showcase.

7. We Partnered with Publishers to Bring STEM Inquiry Activities to More Students

  • We continued our partnership with McGraw-Hill Education to create engaging simulations for their Inspire Science elementary science curriculum. These simulations allow students to explore questions in ways that scientists and engineers do, and cover a variety of topic areas in K-5 science.
  • We incorporated our Next-Generation Molecular Workbench into PASCO’s Essential Chemistry textbook as fully interactive simulations that challenge students to explore topics in chemistry such as chemical reactions and particle motion.

If you’re interested in creating a groundbreaking STEM curriculum or pursuing an innovative new idea together, we’re excited to explore the possibilities with you.

     

8. Twenty-four Hours of Pandemonium and Prototypes

Our East and West Coast offices got together in July for a “FedEx day,” so called because the goal is to develop a blizzard of new prototypes and innovations in 24 hours and deliver them overnight! We developed prototypes for blocks-based programming in augmented reality (imagine Scratch/StarLogo, but with printable blocks that connect like puzzle pieces); a collaborative ecology game based on a tangible user interface; an internal project dashboard (think Intranet on steroids); an agent-based convection model; a way to connect real-time sensor data from our offices directly into our data exploration tool CODAP; and an open-source editor for activity transcripts. Plus President Chad Dorsey got out his power tools and built a picnic table that turns into a bench — almost Transformer-worthy.

    

   

9. Six New Employees Sign On

We welcomed six fabulous new employees in our Concord, MA, and Emeryville, CA, offices: Tom Farmer, Lisa Hardy, Eli Kosminsky, Andrea Krehbiel, Joyce Massicotte, and Judi Raiff. Want to join our growing family? We’re hiring!

10. Thirty-One Projects Research and Develop Educational Technology and Curriculum

Through 31 research projects with countless amazing collaborators, we’re extending our pioneering work in the field of probeware and other tools for inquiry and continuing to develop award-winning STEM models and simulations. We’re taking the lead in new areas, including data science education, analytics and feedback, and engineering and science connections. And we’re exploring and creating cutting-edge new tools and technologies for tomorrow’s learners in our innovation lab.

Dashboard helps teachers understand student progress and performance in genetics game

Our dragon genetics games have engaged thousands of students for many years. In that time, teachers have asked for an easy way to track their students’ progress and performance. Until now, teacher reports have been difficult to pull out of our system and impossible to parse in real time. The GeniGUIDE project, in partnership with North Carolina State University, is developing a teacher dashboard to accompany our new Geniventure software. We are currently piloting the beta version of this dashboard in multiple classrooms in Maine, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

“A dashboard is a visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives that has been consolidated on a single computer screen so it can be monitored at a glance.” – Stephen Few

Our dashboard displays information processed by an Intelligent Tutoring System (ITS) integrated into Geniventure. As students complete challenges in the game, they are rewarded with different color crystals for their accomplishments (Figure 1). Students who complete a challenge efficiently and without mistakes receive a blue-green crystal. Those who make a small number of missteps receive a yellow crystal while those with more mistakes receive a red. A black “try again” crystal is given to a student with too many mistakes to move on. As students level up through the missions, the ITS builds a model of conceptual understanding of specific learning goals. As student performance on these concepts improves over time, evidence that they have a solid understanding grows stronger.

Figure 1. Student view within Geniventure of the colored crystals (bottom of screen).

Our preliminary teacher dashboard design (Figure 2) was guided by three factors. First, we looked back at our many years of classroom observations of teachers who implemented our suite of dragon genetics games—from our most recent Geniverse to GeniGames and BioLogica—and asked: What information could have helped teachers better facilitate student use of the game? Second, we examined recent dashboard designs implemented in prior Concord Consortium projects to help us distinguish between in-class and after-class use. Finally, we looked at other teacher dashboards that are currently available on the market.

Figure 2. Beta version of Geniventure teacher dashboard.

During the pilot testing, we’re closely observing how teachers use the primary view of the dashboard, which provides information on both student progress and performance during class time. We hope to answer the following questions:

  • Can the teacher adequately track student progress through the game?
  • When do teachers intervene and when do they allow students to struggle? (Do teachers first help those students with black or red crystals?)
  • Do teachers look at how many attempts a student made at a challenge?
  • If teachers notice that particular students are ahead of the class, what actions do they take?

The dashboard also displays a graphical representation of student understanding of genetics concepts highlighted in the game. Some concepts are directly related to specific student actions (e.g., two recessive alleles are required to produce a recessive trait) while others are calculated based on performance across certain challenge types (e.g., genotype to phenotype mapping). The teacher can delve deeper into these secondary reports to view not only individual student data (Figure 3), but also aggregated class data (Figure 4). Through classroom observations and interviews with teachers, we hope to determine:

  • Do teachers have the time and bandwidth to make sense of the concept understanding graphs during class?
  • To what extent do the concept graphs help teachers understand where individual students, or the entire class, are having trouble?
  • What action, if any, do teachers take based on the concept graphs?

Figure 3. Display of individual student’s conceptual understanding.

Figure 4. Representation of class average conceptual understanding.

As our ITS becomes more sophisticated, we plan to widen the concepts we track and make better use of student data to inform teachers.

How do you make use of dashboards? Let us know what features you’d like to see as we improve our ITS-enhanced dashboard.

General Motors funds engineering education based on Energy3D

Designing a parking lot solar canopy at Detroit Airport
General Motors (GM), along with other RE100 companies, has committed to powering its worldwide factories and offices with 100% renewable energy by 2050. Last month, the company furthered its commitment by giving the Engineering Computation Team at the Concord Consortium a $200,000 grant to promote engineering education using renewable energy as a learning context and artificial intelligence as a teaching assistant.

Modeling GM's rooftop solar arrays in Baltimore, MD
Modeling GM's solar arrays in Warren, MI
The project will use our signature Energy3D software, which is a one-stop-shop CAD tool for designing and simulating all kinds of solar power systems including photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP), both of which have reached a very competitive cost of merely 5¢ per kWh or below in the world market. A unique feature of Energy3D is its ability to collect and analyze "atomically" fine-grained process data while users are designing with it. This capability makes it possible for us to develop machine learning algorithms to understand users' design behaviors, based on which we can develop intelligent agents to help users design better products and even unleash their creativity.

The generous grant from GM will allow us to bring this incredible engineering learning tool and the curriculum materials it supports to more science teachers across New England. It will also help extend our fruitful collaboration with the Virtual High School (VHS) to convert our Solarize Your World curriculum into an online course for sustainable engineering. VHS currently offers more than 200 titles to over 600 member schools. Through their large network, we hope to inspire and support more students and teachers to join the crucial mission that GM and other RE100 companies are already undertaking.

By supporting today's students to learn critical engineering design skills needed to meet the energy and environmental challenges, GM is setting an example of preparing tomorrow's workforce to realize its renewable energy vision.

Energy3D allows users to select brand name solar panels

Fig. 1: 20 brand name solar panels in Energy3D
Fig. 2: The daily outputs of 20 types of solar panels
Previous versions of Energy3D were based on a generic model of solar panel, which users can set its properties such as solar cell type, peak efficiency, panel dimension, color, nominal operating cell temperature, temperature coefficient of power, and so on. While it is essential for users to be able to adjust these parameters and learn what they represent and how they affect the output, it is sometimes inconvenient for a designer to manually set the properties of a solar panel to those of a brand name.

Fig. 3: The Micky Mouse solar farm
From Version 7.4.4, I started to add support of brand name solar panels to Energy3D. Twenty brand names were initially added to this version (Figure 1). These models are: ASP-400M (Advanced Solar Photonics), CS6X-330M-FG (Canadian Solar), CS6X-330P-FG (Canadian Solar), FS-4122-3 (First Solar), HiS-M280MI (Hyundai), HiS-S360RI (Hyundai), JAM6(K)-60-300/PR (JA Solar), JKM300M-60 (Jinko), LG300N1C-B3 (LG), LG350Q1K-A5 (LG), PV-UJ235GA6 (Mitsubishi), Q.PRO-G4 265 (Q-cells), SPR-E20-435-COM (SunPower), SPR-P17-350-COM (SunPower), SPR-X21-335-BLK (SunPower), SPR-X21-345 (SunPower), TSM-325PEG14(II) (Trina Solar), TSM-365DD14A(II) (Trina Solar), VBHN330SA16 (Panasonic), and YL305P-35b (Yingli). Figure 2 shows a comparison of their daily outputs in Boston on June 22 when they are laid flat (i.e., with zero tilt angle). Not surprisingly, a smaller solar panel with a lower cell efficiency produces less electricity.

Note that these models are relatively new. There are hundreds of older and other types of solar panels that will take a long time to add. If your type is not currently supported, you can always fall back to defining it using the "Custom" option, which is the default model for a solar panel.

Adding these brand names helped me figure out that the solar panels deployed in the Micky Mouse Solar Farm in Orlando (Figure 3) are probably from First Solar -- only they make solar panels of such a relatively small size (1200 mm × 600 mm).

Learn about two Concord Consortium projects at EdSurge Fusion Conference

Bill Finzer and Sherry Hsi will both present at the EdSurge Fusion Conference in Burlingame, California, near our Emeryville office.

The Common Online Data Analysis Platform—Getting more students in more classrooms to do more with data

William Finzer
Thursday, November 2
12:00 – 1:00 PM

CODAP is a free web-based data tool designed as a platform for developers and as an application for students in grades 6–14. Designed with learning in mind, CODAP continues the legacy of the award-winning software packages Fathom and TinkerPlots. It builds on a decades-long legacy of research into interactive environments encouraging exploration, play, and puzzlement. CODAP is about exploring and learning from data from any content area—from math and science to social studies or physical education!

The data set in CODAP has information on 27 mammals, including humans! Learn more by examining the tables and graphs.

Computationally-Enhanced Papercrafts for Engineering Education

Sherry Hsi
Thursday, November 2
12:00 – 1:00 PM

Paper Mechatronics is a novel design medium integrating traditional educational papercrafts with mechanical design, electronic engineering, and computational thinking. Paper mechatronics makes possible a craft-oriented approach to engineering and computing education that integrates key concepts from mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, control systems, and computer programming, while using paper as the primary material for learner design, exploration, and inquiry.

Watch how to create your own devices from cardboard – machines, robots, toys, automata, kinetic artwork – that move!

Even Fiction Can Expand Our Understanding of Science

Andy Zucker was a senior scientist at the Concord Consortium who is now enjoying his retirement, including working with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO).  

Many people know Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park, in which he posits that humans used remnants of dinosaur DNA to imprudently create a modern theme park populated with dinosaurs. Crichton often used science as a takeoff point in his novels. But Harvard scientist George Church is currently working to revive woolly mammoths using DNA samples frozen for thousands of years.

A value of Crichton’s works is they remind us of the important role that data play in science. Science is not only an experimental science. It often relies more heavily than standard textbooks suggest on the accumulation of accurate data long before theories explain the data.

In the latest Crichton novel, Dragon Teeth, a newly discovered manuscript posthumously published nine years after his death, fossil hunters work in the American West in 1876. Although fictionalized, Dragon Teeth is based on a real-life rivalry between two remarkable, obsessive men—Edwin Drinker Cope of the University of Pennsylvania and Othniel Charles Marsh of Yale—who were responsible for finding fossils of more than 1,500 species. Their exploits were known as “the Bone Wars.”

The fictional protagonist is based on the real-life fossil hunter Charles Sternberg, who supplied superb fossils to scholars and museums around the world, and who wrote, “I could tell of a hundred narrow escapes from death.” Larger-than-life figures like Cornelius Vanderbilt and Wyatt Earp were alive in 1876 and play roles in the novel. It is easy to see how Crichton used authentic history to create a fast-paced adventure story.

Some ancient people thought dinosaur bones came from dragons, but it was not until the 1840s that the term “dinosaur” was coined. The first dinosaur fossil was discovered in America in 1858. The site where Custer and his troops met their ignominious end in 1876, Montana’s Little Bighorn, is not far from key locations where dinosaur fossils were collected.

Data collectors are the unsung heroes of science. Without the thousands of butterflies collected in the Amazon by Henry Bates, scientists would not have had direct evidence of the creation of a new species—a discovery that Darwin called the “beautiful proof” for natural selection. Johannes Kepler was the first to understand that the planets move in elliptical orbits; his theory relied on the data of others (e.g., Tycho Brahe). The photos of X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin were used by Watson, Crick, and Wilkins to establish that DNA has a helical structure. Our current understanding of dinosaurs and how they were wiped out by a meteor strike depends on data from fossils, but also from ancient pollen, geological finds, and astronomical data.

Dragon Teeth proves that even fiction can broaden our understanding of science and of the data collectors responsible for enlarging human understanding of the world.

Learn about watersheds at MSELA Conference

Carolyn Staudt will present information about the NSF-funded Teaching Environmental Sustainability: Model My Watershed project and share free resources at the Massachusetts Education Leadership Association (MSELA) 2017 conference.

Friday, October 20, 8:00 – 9:15 AM
Courtyard Marriott in Marlborough, MA
Marlborough Salon E

The Teaching Environmental Sustainability: Model My Watershed project is a collaborative research project at the Concord Consortium, Millersville University, and the Stroud Water Research Center.

Together, we’re teaching a systems approach to problem solving through modeling and hands-on activities based on local watershed data and issues. The curricula also integrate low-cost environmental sensors, allowing students to collect and upload their own data and compare them to data visualized on the free Model My Watershed app.

If you’re wondering what a watershed is, you’re not alone. Simply put, a watershed is “all the land area where the rain runs downhill to a certain point,” explains Carolyn Staudt, who directs the Teaching Environmental Sustainability: Model My Watershed project at the Concord Consortium. She continues, “Water is shared—there are people upstream and downstream. What you do with your local watershed impacts everyone.”

Model My Watershed models human impacts on a watershed.

Learn more

MSELA conference
Teaching Environmental Sustainability: Model My Watershed
Part I: What is a Watershed?
Part II: Part II: Students Learn about Water . . .  and Take Action
Monday’s Lesson: Can you filter your water?

The 2017 Energy Innovation Forum

We are invited to present at the Energy Innovation Forum on October 18 organized by the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. The event will connect about 30 companies in Massachusetts with funders, investors, university researchers, and industry leaders to stimulate innovations in energy technologies.

For those who cannot attend the event, I am sharing our two posters here. You can also take a look at the PowerPoint slides for the Infrared Street View Project and the Virtual Solar Grid Project (we will do both oral and poster presentations). Both projects focus on developing a unique crowdsourcing model that integrates STEM education and energy research. The projects provide examples of using citizen science to support and engage a large number of students to learn science and engineering and participate in large-scale energy research.

The Infrared Street View Project will support research and education in the field of energy efficiency whereas the Virtual Solar Grid Project will support research and education in the field of renewable energy (primarily solar energy at present). Both projects are based on cutting-edge technologies being developed in my lab.