Welcome to the public website of the American Modeling Teachers Association!
AMTA is a professional organization of teachers, by teachers and for teachers who utilize Modeling Instruction in their Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teaching practice. Its mission is to provide professional development for science teachers in the Modeling Method of Instruction, to provide resources that support the use of Modeling Instruction in physics, chemistry, biology and middle school science classrooms, to support and enable collaboration among Modelers–to foster brilliant teaching and deep learning. 

Modeling Instruction, under continuous development since 1990 under the leadership of David Hestenes (Emeritus Professor of Physics, Arizona State University), corrects many weaknesses of the traditional lecture-demonstration method of teaching science, including fragmentation of knowledge, student passivity, and the persistence of naive beliefs about the physical world. Unlike traditional approaches to teaching science, in which students wade through an endless stream of seemingly unrelated topics, Modeling Instruction organizes each course around a small number of scientific models that form the content core of the discipline, thus making the course coherent. It applies structured inquiry techniques to the teaching of basic skills: (the Next Generation Science Standards call these Science and Engineering Practices) in mathematical modeling, proportional reasoning, quantitative estimation and technology-enabled data collection and analysis. Continue reading Welcome

100Kin10 Partners AMTA, STEMteachersNYC and AAPT Win $195,000 Grant

For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Colleen Megowan-Romanowicz

100Kin10 Partners AMTA, STEMteachersNYC and AAPT Win $195,000 Grant
Innovative Response to President Obama’s Computer Science for All Challenge

The American Modeling Teachers Association (AMTA) announced that the organization was selected, in partnership with lead organization STEMteachersNYC, and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), to receive a $195,000 grant from 100Kin10. The grant will fund their project to equip physical science teachers with the skills and curriculum needed to integrate computational thinking into their classrooms with leaders from the Bootstrap project. The award was one of a handful of grants awarded to expand the reach and quality of engineering and computer science education across New York State.

The project, entitled “Modeling Physics, Computational Thinking, & Bootstrap,” helps students understand basic physics concepts by incorporating computer programming as one of the key tools for building models of the physical world. Targeted to ninth grade, during which every student is expected to take science, this initiative is designed to spark students’ interest in subjects related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for the rest of their academic careers. This initiative also combats a root cause of inequality of opportunity in pursuing STEM careers: disparate access to quality teaching in middle and high school.

“We chose to fund this project because it employs an innovative, integrated solution to the challenge of eliminating barriers to computer science and engineering. Bringing together the expertise of three of our members and a fourth collaborator is a real source of strength, and we look forward to success in ninth-grade classrooms across the region,” said Maya Lundhagen, 100Kin10 Co-Founder and Director of Partner Commitments and Growth.
The project will be led by STEMteachersNYC, an organization dedicated to training teachers to use highly-effective teaching methodologies to get students engaged in mastering the critical STEM subjects. The two-year project will involve 20-24 teachers and reach about 1,000 students each year. It will equip teachers with a hands-on, inquiry-based pedagogy supported by a set of tested, engaging curriculum modules for classroom use. After the project period, all four project partners plan to promulgate the approach through professional development workshops for teachers throughout the country. The project includes an evaluation of its effectiveness.
“We are excited to be chosen for this grant, especially because this project goes to the heart of our respective organizations’ core missions of driving student success through cultivating excellence in science teaching. By equipping Modeling teachers with a robust method of teaching computer programming and Modeling-aligned resources, we can directly help students incorporate computational thinking into their investigations about how the physical world works. This dynamic will result in some very exciting, very deep learning for both teachers and students”, said Dr. Colleen Megowan-Romanowicz, Executive Officer of AMTA.

This project employs the proven teaching approach known as “Modeling Instruction.” Modeling uses student-driven authentic laboratory investigations to help students construct, refine, and apply the fundamental conceptual models that form the content core of the sciences, represent these models in multiple ways, and share their understanding with fellow students to promote deep understanding. AMTA partners with STEMteachersNYC to train teachers to be effective at bringing Modeling Instruction to their classrooms. Unlike many educational reform fads, Modeling Instruction has proven to be very “sticky” – around 90% of the teachers who participate in professional development workshops and learn the pedagogy use it for the rest of their careers.

The project will train 20-24 New York-based physics and physical science teachers already skilled in Modeling Instruction to learn the novel math-based programming approach known as Bootstrap, and to employ these integral tools for exploring and understanding the conceptual models that are at the core of the physical sciences. During the summer of 2016, participating teachers will infuse computational thinking into several existing Modeling Instruction science curriculum modules. During the 2016-17 school year, teachers will test the modules in their classrooms, with monthly meetings to discuss issues and share best practices. In the summer of 2017, this first group of teachers will help train a new cohort of teachers, refine the first modules, and create 3-4 additional curriculum models for classroom testing in the 2017-18 school year.

The project brings together the expertise AMTA, which has a 20-year history of training and supporting science teachers who use Modeling Instruction; STEMteachersNYC, a non-profit grassroots STEM teacher alliance in New York City dedicated to bringing quality professional development to local teachers, Bootstrap, a project founded at Brown University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute that uses the Pyret programming language to “bootstrap” middle school algebra learning; and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), the national professional organization of physics teachers. STEMteachersNYC will organize the workshops, which will be held at Teachers College, Columbia University, with all partners participating in various aspects of the recruitment, instruction, curriculum development and evaluation.

100Kin10 unites the nation’s top academic institutions, nonprofits, foundations, companies, and government agencies to train and retain 100,000 excellent STEM teachers by 2021 to educate the next generation of innovators and problem solvers. AMTA, STEMteachersNYC and AAPT are all members.

The American Modeling Teachers Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, enhances student learning in STEM through professional development and research in the Modeling Method of Instruction, collaboration and community among Modeling teachers, and classroom-tested curriculum resources optimized for Modeling Instruction classrooms.

AMTA Board member David Weaver receives AAPT Homer L. Dodge Citation

David Weaver, AMTA Board Member at Large, today received the Homer L. Dodge Citation for Distinguished Service to the American Association of Physics Teachers. David’s term as Member at Large on the AMTA Board runs from 2014-2017, and we are honored to have his contribution to AMTA in addition to his exceptional work with AAPT.

Read the press release announcing David’s award here.

David Weaver receiving the Citation
Steven Ino, Past President of AAPT, presenting the Homer L. Dodge Citation to David Weaver at the AAPT National Meeting in New Orleans, LA.


Distance Learning: Electricity and Magnetism available spring 2016

There has been a lot of interest in having distance learning “second” Modeling Workshops for Modelers who really want to experience second semester conceptual model development (in physics and chemistry) using Modeling curriculum resources in a workshop setting with experienced instructors. In light of this, AMTA will offer a 45-hour Distance Learning E&M Modeling Workshop led by Matt Scheffler and David Weaver.

E & M iconThe course will run on Wednesdays from Feb. 3 through May 11, 2016, with synchronous class meetings:

  • 4:00-7:00 PM Pacific
  • 5:00-8:00 PM Mountain
  • 6:00-9:00 PM Central
  • 7:00-10:00 PM Eastern,

The course will run for 15 consecutive weeks which will require three hours per week during the aforementioned times for synchronous communications as well as at least three additional hours per week for individual and virtual group work. Regardless of whether you sign up for graduate credit or not, we expect you bring your Modeling “A” game each week and interact both in class and out of class like we all expect from our students. If you don’t have at least 6 hours per week to devote to this course, you should probably wait until you can attend a traditional face-to-face course.

Prerequisites: A distance learning course is a different learning experience from a face-to-face Modeling Workshop. It assumes participants are familiar with Modeling discourse management, classroom culture and the design of the learning environment in a Modeling classroom. For this reason we do not recommend that you take this course if you have never before taken a Modeling Workshop. But if you’ve been wishing you could make it to another workshop and just couldn’t manage the logistics, this could be just what you have been looking for. Nothing beats a face-to-face workshop, but if that’s not possible for you, this will be a solid alternative.

Here is David’s description of the course:

E&M Distance Learning Modeling Workshop (not an oxymoron)

Matt Scheffler, who teaches at Wheaton Warrenville South HS, and I are offering a distance learning E&M modeling workshop for 4 graduate credits, starting in February. Continue reading Distance Learning: Electricity and Magnetism available spring 2016

Contribute to AMTA when you buy whiteboards

AMTA has entered an agreement with WhiteBoardsUSA in which they will donate to AMTA 10% of all sales to our members. All you need to do is mention that you are an AMTA member, and they will send us a check!

group around a whiteboardFor ten years, WhiteBoardsUSA has been distributing class-size whiteboards (23.6″ x 31.6″) in both portrait and landscape formats (each has a handhold cutout which determines if the board is landscape or portrait). They thought a ten-year anniversary would be a good time to offer a fundraising opportunity for AMTA–we appreciate their thought and encourage you to think of whiteboardsUSA for your next whiteboard purchase.

whiteboard being routedThese boards aren’t as cheap as buying them and having them cut at your local big-box lumber store, but they have smoothed/ rounded edges and the handhold cutout that you won’t get going “on the cheap.”

If your budget will allow it, we encourage you to purchase from whiteboardsUSA–click here and be sure to mention you are an AMTA member when you purchase so we get our donation!

If you place an order with WhiteboardsUSA, please let us know we we can judge how well this campaign is going:

[contact-form to=’wendy@modelinginstruction.org’ subject=’Whiteboard purchase’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Your institution’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’What did you order?’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

Supporting Modeling Instruction around the USA and the world.