Posts tagged ‘TERC math and science’

May 6, 2013

COMING SOON TO THE INTERNET NEAR YOU: The IGERT 2013 Video and Poster Competition!

Now in its third year, the 2013 Video and Poster Competition offers up a great case study in grad school scientists and engineers using social media to communicate science research to their colleagues and the public.

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and designed and facilitated by TERC, the IGERT 2013 Video and Poster Competition re-imagines the academic poster conference as an integrated, multimedia experience to introduce faculty, students, and members of the public to the latest interdisciplinary research changing our world—and the awesome young scientists and engineers behind that work. Last year’s presenters from over 125 IGERT programs nationwide submitted 113 videos (each tallying 3 minutes or less), highlighting research across topics including biologically-inspired robotic engineering; smart textile design; nano-plasmonic engineering for energy efficiency, and more.

On May 21-24, 2013, this year’s competition will open for voting online—attracting thousands of IGERT faculty, trainees, alumni, past participants, and members of the public to view, vote, share, and ‘like’ favorite videos and posters across social networks. 50 volunteer faculty judges will choose 20 winners; 4 will be chosen by IGERT Community members; and 1 by ‘public choice’—determined by ‘Likes’ on Facebook.

META BONUS: In a classic example of students-becoming-teachers—this year’s competitors have the social media/communicating science tips of 2012 Competition Awardees to draw from, summarized in a series of 9 videos. Be sure to check them out for insight into last year’s Awardees’ best social media practices, and be sure to head to on May 21st to ‘Like’ and share your favorite presentation. For more information on or the Video and Poster Competition, visit:

March 13, 2013

New Tumblehome Learning/’Mixing in Math’ Partnership Broadcasted in Times Square!

New Tumblehome Learning/TERC partnership broadcasted over Times Square!

New Tumblehome Learning/TERC partnership broadcasted over Times Square!

This past week, the question circulating around TERC’s physical and digital hallways was this: “Is that photo I saw on Facebook real?”

It is indeed! Our news release on the new Tumblehome Learning/’Mixing in Math’ partnership, announced by PR Newswire, was transmitted to the Reuters Sign in Times Square multiple times Tuesday through Friday of last week. Perhaps if you spent afternoons last week in Times Square, you may have caught a glimpse of the Food Fights, Puzzles, and Hideouts book cover!

So what’s this all about? Tumblehome Learning (THL), a non-traditional transmedia publishing company, has partnered with TERC to publish a ‘Mixing in Math’ suite of games and activities. Developed at TERC and based on work funded in part by the National Science Foundation*, these additions to the THL product line of science books and games include the book Food Fights, Puzzles, and Hideouts and the sets of games Jump Ship and Blockade. Spanning the key topics in the elementary grades’ Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, the products help parents, homeschooling families, librarians, and afterschool providers engage children ages 4-12 in the math of everyday activities.

In fact, Food Fights, Puzzles and Hideouts presents hundreds of full-color interdisciplinary math games, projects, and activities that can be done at home, at after-school programs, at school, or ‘mixed in’ to car rides, snack times, and parties. With the card deck Jump Ship players get nine fast-paced games and 22 different levels of play, and  Blockade packages eight dry-erase board games for 2-4 players and offers 28 game options.

Want to learn more or order any of these products? Please visit the official press release, or Tumblehome Learning’s site to order any of these resources for math learning at prices of $10.95 and under.

* ‘Mixing in Math’ has been funded in part by the National Science Foundation, (ESI-0406675, ESI-0714537, ESI-9901289), and has been extensively piloted with children, parents, and informal educators, including after-school providers, librarians, and family numeracy providers. Independent evaluation shows that the materials improve attitudes about math and build math skills and engagement among adults and children.


February 25, 2013

“In the PD Realm, One Size Does Not Fit All”

Metrics for what qualifies as the ‘best’ curriculum-based professional development program often differ slightly from district to district; school to school; even teacher to teacher. Generally speaking, adherence to content or subject; PD leaders’ levels of experience; and opportunities for participant discussions and networking are favorable—if not completely necessary—components for any curriculum-aligned PD program.

These days, there’s also a surplus of choice in terms of delivery models for professional development. Too often, administrators are left asking, “Which of these many program models is ‘best’ to meet the collective needs of our teachers?” or “Which program structure can be adapted in content and duration to meet the implementation challenges facing our new teachers OR scaled up for our more experienced teachers?” Conversely, districts looking for targeted PD are forced to decide whether the ‘best’ program for them is an online course; a single-day drill-down; or a week of summer coursework. Paradoxically, a wealth of options in the PD realm doesn’t seem to make the decision-making process any easier—especially as very few PD programs come with a lovely ‘all inclusive’ label…

The Investigations Workshops umbrella of PD offerings...

The Investigations Workshops umbrella of PD offerings…

But with Investigations Workshops, no superintendent, principal, or teacher has to worry about exclusionary PD programming. Since 1996, the Workshops team has been offering a varied selection of expert-led PD programs to complement the Investigations in Number, Data, and Space curriculum. From face-to-face workshops to customized professional development models to online courses catering to groups or individuals and ranging in duration from one day to one year, Workshops offers the most comprehensive Investigations PD programming out there AND the most customizable programming for any need; for a single participant; for all participants.

In one large, urban Maryland district, administrators have adopted a ‘custom package’ of Workshops PD to great effect. By offering face-to-face workshops for new teachers, topical workshops throughout the year for teachers and instructional specialists, and the new online course, an Instructional Specialist of Elementary Math for the district says, “With Investigations Workshops’ varied offerings, we can meet the needs of all our teachers and, therefore, the needs of our system.”

In many ways, recognizing that we have a varied population of educators with different respective needs has helped us approach our customized Workshops programming,” she elaborates. “We have teachers who are very thirsty for face-to-face summer professional development and they seek out the opportunities that we can provide. We also have teachers who don’t want the intensive summer PD model, but get something out of customized Workshops institutes throughout the school year. And then we have a lot of teachers with packed schedules who prefer the new online course model, as they can fit it in to their busy schedules whenever they want. We know this custom approach is working because of word-of-mouth—teachers talk about their positive Workshops experiences, and we continue to get more and more interest in these opportunities.

She adds,

In the PD realm, one size does not fit all. Investigations Workshops offers the best variety of Investigations in Number, Data, and Space-specific professional development. We’ve been happily using the Workshops program for 5 years now, and plan on continuing to offer Workshops to all our teachers, new and experienced.

For more information about Investigations Workshops professional development offerings, custom packages, testimonials, or to contact the Workshops team, please visit:

January 28, 2013

Q&A: Investigations Workshops Talks Online Courses & Taking Elementary Math PD to the Web

In response to the need for quality math professional development that is available anytime and anywhere, TERC’s Investigations Workshops team has gone to the web. In 2012, they launched their online program to great success, with a full-house first group of participants completing a 6-week online course. On January 23rd, they debuted their second online course offering. I had the opportunity to sit down with Myriam Steinback, Project Director of the Workshops, and Cynthia Garland Dore, Sr. Research Associate on the project and a veteran Investigations Workshops leader, to chat about the history of the Workshops, their current ruminations on online models for delivering targeted PD, and their hopes for the future of elementary math professional development.

TERCTalks: Myriam, can you tell me how you got started with the Investigations Workshops?

Myriam: When I first began leading elementary math PD workshops back in 1996, the typical programs available to teachers were one-time, less-than-half-a-day sessions. Many teachers wanted more from their professional development, but for a variety of reasons, districts were not as focused on providing in-depth PD offerings. We established the Investigations Workshops with the goal of providing intensive programs focused on augmenting mathematical content knowledge. We really wanted to develop a resource for continuous improvement in math teaching and teacher learning.

Our first offerings were summer institutes in Massachusetts and Michigan but that soon expanded. We have provided support to schools and districts in 48 states and we run our programs throughout the year. We offer several content-specific workshops; targeted PD Institutes for district leaders and school administrators; and an institute for stakeholders who are designing Investigations-focused PD sessions themselves. Recently, we’ve started offering a blended Common Core Institute (including face-to-face work and follow-up webinars) to help leaders with the implementation of the CCSS. We also create customized programs for districts.

TERCTalks: It has been a busy year for you with the launch of the online course. Could you tell me about the first class of teachers, and any observations and findings you have from the first iteration of the course?

Myriam: I have to say we hesitated going online for a while, mainly because we wanted to do it right. A real strength of our face-to-face program is the collaborative inquiry into the math. You just can’t deny the incredible collective impact of a group of math educators fully engaged and excited about solving math problems together! We wanted to make sure we didn’t lose the kinds of meaningful interactions we saw in our face-to-face workshops.

Fortunately,  we had the right development team that included the curriculum authors and ETLO (EdTech Leaders Online). In the fall of 2012, we offered our first course—we ran five full sections—and the feedback was very gratifying. One participant told us that this course was the 8th online course she had taken and she had never had one that was so interactive and well set-up. She specifically mentioned loving the way she could view and interact with student work. Others mentioned how they appreciated being able to take the course with other teachers from their schools and how the time to reflect allowed them to get a better understanding of Common Core standards.

Q: What have you been able to incorporate from what you learned in this course about Investigations and about the Common Core, into your classroom? Wordled responses from course participants...

Q: What have you been able to incorporate from what you learned in this course about Investigations and about the Common Core, into your classroom? Wordled responses from course participants…

TERCTalks: You have now both led face-to-face workshops and the online course. Can you talk about how they compare?

Myriam: For those of us facilitating the course, comparisons with our face-to-face experiences were inevitable. Surprisingly, we realized that interactions among participants were not only possible, but also very reflective, engaging, and, in some cases—eloquently articulated. The asynchronous nature of the course prompted some participants to say, “I love that I can do this in my PJs whenever I want!” We even had a participant in one of our sections say—upon introducing herself—that she was due to give birth “any time now”, and would continue the course to completion, which is exactly what she did.

Cynthia: While some participants ‘came’ to the course alone, some administrators registered groups of teachers from their schools and had them meet weekly to go through the week’s session together and discuss and debrief. We realize that this situation is not one that all schools can do, and we are in fact happy to have people from schools across the country in attendance.—however, the model of registering multiple teachers from the same school is a nice way to add a blended, face-to-face aspect to the programming. So we definitely can say it was a big success—the interactions among participating educators across grade levels, backgrounds, and differing geographic regions were powerful.

TERCTalks: Can you elaborate on some of the cool tools and features of the online course?

Myriam: The online course has ‘Voice Threads’, video, a sorting feature that allows participants to search and sort student work, and also ‘Key Learnings’ e-guides for each session. And the Discussion Forum includes prompts so that participants can address and respond to issues pertinent to each course session.

Cynthia: I think the way we can archive the course experience is a wonderful feature. The course sections will be available for participants to return to for up to a year after they complete the course. The first course finished up in December, and already,  I am impressed with the number of participants who have returned to the resources and conversations.

TERCTalks: What’s next on the horizon for Investigations Workshops?

 Myriam: We are committed to offering a full suite of online programs to complement our face-to-face programs. New courses will be rolled out this spring. Our online course offerings allow us to strengthen a professional learning community of math educators that—in many ways—grew out of our institutes throughout the years. We’re able to continue the mission we established when we began—to provide resources that support continuous learning in mathematics education—and we couldn’t be happier that the response to our online program has been so enthusiastic.

 Thanks Myriam and Cynthia!

For more information about the Investigations Workshops PD offerings or to register, please visit:


June 14, 2012

Slower/Faster, Larger/Smaller: Exploring Ratio and Proportion with ‘Math Moves’

“This chair is too big!” she exclaimed. So, she tried out the next chair.”This chair is too small,” she said. So, she tried the very last chair in the corner.”This chair is JUST right,” and she said happily snuggled into it.-Goldilocks at the Math Moves Exhibit

TERCtalks tries out the ‘Math Moves’ chairs for size at the Museum of Science, Boston

There’s something quite fantastical about the new ‘Math Moves’ exhibit at the Museum of Science in Boston. Entering the Blue Wing flanked by a larger-than-life chair (and a doll-sized one) to the tune of sonic resonance and the sight of cast shadows, the setting is far more Robert Southey-ish/Lewis Carroll-y than ‘Museum Forum for Pre-Algebra Learning’ or ‘Early Preparation for STEM Career Interest’. But—as a true testament to the exhibit’s success—‘Math Moves’ exposes youngsters ages 6-12 to concepts of ratio and proportion through genuinely fun activities that are not only ‘hands-on’—they’re multisensorily, experientially and kinesthetically-on!

In the ‘Math Moves’ realm, grasping proportion can be as simple as sizing up three chairs (a la ‘Goldilocks’ above) or manipulating and gauging shadow sizes by moving cutout objects in front of a light source. Understanding ratio can come through dancing on a rainbow footboard near a monitor where visitors can see visualizations of their speed in comparison to a partner’s speed, or moving wheels along a track to compare frequencies of sound. And active engagement with fractions could come through building blocks, balancing levers, or even using body size as a relative unit of measure.

The ‘Math Moves’ exhibit is part of the MathCore project, a 5-year research endeavor and partnership between Explora (Albuquerque, NM); the Museum of Science, Boston; the North Carolina Museum of Life + Science; the Science Museum of Minnesota; San Diego State University’s Center for Research in Math & Science Education; Selinda Research Associates; and TERC’s Tracey Wright, funded by the National Science Foundation (DRL-0840320). Educators from the four institutions, three research centers, and advisors met in the first year to develop innovative ideas for exhibits on ratio and proportion. The result is a collaborative exhibit that is being hosted at the four institutions over the next 3 years. The project is being evaluated on visitor experience over time.

Next up for MathCore? An exhibit component uniting dance and math, currently in development. Think dancing “twice as fast” or “half as fast” within a fixed amount of time is a no-brainer? Well, even this adult learned a thing or two about math and movement during a test trial. Stay tuned for further details!

March 28, 2012

Our *TOP SECRET* NSTA Annual Conference Preview…

Alright, it’s not really top secret. Hopefully that got your attention, though!

The trees are starting to bud; the nip in the air is starting to mellow; the days stretch a little longer; and flight confirmations are crowding the inboxes of TERC staff. That’s right—it’s Spring Conference Season!

From March through May, the bustling hallways of TERC quiet down a bit as TERC researchers travel to the NSTA, AERA, NCSM, and NCTM Annual Conferences as presenters and attendees (among others). This year, I’m ‘holding down the fort’ as my Institutional Development colleagues are off to represent TERC in the NSTA exhibit hall (go visit TERC at booth #1668!). For those of you (us) not headed to Indianapolis, check out the great roster of TERC presenters at NSTA:

Click to download the official listings document and descriptions!

• On Thursday, March 29th, our own Tamara Ledley will be presenting “Climate Change Essential Knowledge and Beyond: Using the Past to Predict the Future” from 8:00-9:00 a.m. in Indianapolis’ Omni Severin. On Friday, she will be presenting as part of NESTA’s Share-a-Thon session “Atmospheres, Ocean, and Climate Change” from 11 a.m. to noon at the Indianapolis Westin, and later from 2:00-3:00 p.m. on “Teaching Climate and Energy”—a presentation full of teaching tips and tools available through the CLEAN (Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network) collection of resources. Tamara is a Senior Scientist at TERC, and conducts research on Earth system science and climate change.

• Also on Thursday the 29th, TERC Senior Scientist Sara Lacy and Senior Science Educator Sally Crissman will be presenting the BEST Pathway Session entitled, “How Can Students in Grades 3-5 Understand Energy?” On Friday, Sally will be sharing her materials and strategies for teaching inquiry-based elementary science as part of the NSTA Elementary Extravaganza. Sara is a physical scientist currently working on this project dedicated to developing learning progressions for teaching energy and matter. Sally Crissman is a former classroom teacher and Co-Developer of The Inquiry Project.

 • Last but not least—Gary Curtis of Dublin Public Schools in Dublin, Ohio will be speaking about Investigating Astronomy on Friday afternoon from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Investigating Astronomy is TERC-developed, and the first comprehensive astronomy curriculum for high school students. The IA textbook is available through It’s About Time publishers.

Bon voyage, science teachers, administrators, and presenters en route to NSTA! And be sure to stay tuned for more ‘top secret’ conference previews for AERA and NCSM/NCTM!