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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.

Professional Development

Our Mission

The primary mission of AMTA is to provide quality professional development for teachers of K-12 (as well as post-secondary) STEM courses. Most of this occurs in summer workshops of 2-3 weeks duration that thoroughly treat the pedagogy and content for a middle or high school physics, chemistry, physical science or biology course. Content is organized around a small set of basic models (rather than a lengthy list of topics) to increase its structural coherence. Workshop leaders have attended multiple Modeling Instruction workshops and have considerable experience teaching using this method. Participants are supplied with a complete set of course materials and work through activities alternating in the roles of student or teacher, as they practice techniques of guided inquiry and cooperative learning. At some workshops, teachers receive stipends and/or tuition waivers, instructional materials, and sometimes housing at reduced rates. (State-funded workshops provide these only for in-state teachers.) Generally, workshops use whatever probes and interfaces are available at the site..

Why are Modeling Workshops so long? AMTA strongly recommends workshops that are three weeks in duration because these provide teachers the opportunity to practice the interactive engagement techniques crucial to the successful implementation of Modeling Instruction in the classroom. Two-week workshops can also be effective, provided academic year follow-up support is available. Professional development experiences that are shorter in duration are not considered Modeling Workshops. Such “Modeling Lite” or “Introduction to Modeling” type sessions afford participants the chance to explore aspects of modeling instruction. However, we believe they provide teachers neither sufficient time to develop a deep understanding of the pedagogy nor the opportunity to practice the listening and questioning skills that allow one to successfully implement the approach.

Are you considering hosting a Modeling Workshop? Click here for an outline of host institution responsibilities.

Free 1-year membership in AMTA! Participants in full workshops this summer are eligible for a free 1-year membership in AMTA. Your workshop leader will provide you details on how to enroll. At the end of the year you will have the option of renewing your membership. Follow this link for some details.

Ask your school district to pay for your Modeling Workshop. The document HowGetFinancialHelp from Jane Jackson offers advice on getting financial help from your district or other sources.

Follow this linkto see the list of workshops planned for Summer 2016.

Maiden Voyage of a Kinematics Robot

Matt Greenwolfe, a long-time physics modeler, recently had an article published in The Physics Teacher (April 2015) describing a robotic kinematics apparatus he designed. Students program the robot by drawing kinematic graphs on a computer and then observe its motion. The full article is available on the Publications and Report page under the [Research] tab. Enjoy.