As the country's oldest public institution dedicated to the education of teachers, it is fitting that Framingham State University continues to host events each year that facilitate discussion of best practices among teachers at all levels.
The University's Science Department is recognized as a leader in the Commonwealth when it comes to fostering professional development among colleagues.
This semester, the university's Biology department served as host of the Massachusetts Association of Biology Teacher's (MABT) annual conference. Nearly 70 middle school, high school, and college teachers spent the day on campus taking part in workshops and presentations by faculty.
"The conference is an opportunity for teachers to catch up on research developments and some of the hands-on things being done in the classroom," said Dr. Margaret Carroll, chair of the Biology Department. "We've hosted the conference since 2003."
Keynote speakers this year included Harvard University Professor Hopi Hoekstra, who gave a presentation on the genetics of color adaptation among mice, and author and ecologist Michael Caduto.
Framingham State also serves as host each year to BioTeach, a program run through the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation that provides high school teachers with grant money for biotech equipment.
FSU Biology Professor Paul Thorp organizes multi-day workshops on campus where faculty train teachers from schools that have received grants on how to use biotech equipment and demonstrate labs they can do with students.
"Our people have the background and can help these teachers sort out the best equipment to buy," Thorp said. "We can also instruct them on different lessons they can teach in the classroom using the equipment. The goal is to have biotechnology taught in every high school in the state."
In March, about 60 high school teachers attended BioTeach events at FSU on two different weekends.
Workshop lessons included DNA fingerprinting for crime scene investigations. "You give the students a crime scene and five suspects and have them tell you who did it by analyzing the DNA left at the crime scene," Thorp said.
FSU faculty who gave demonstrations during the events included Chemistry Professor Steven Cok and Biology professors Charlotte Zampini and Eugene Muller.
Another example of the Science Department's outreach efforts is the annual Massachusetts State Science Olympiad, which was recently held at Framingham State for the 15th consecutive year. The event is coordinated by Chemistry and Food Science Chair Carol Russell. This year, 41 high school teams from across the state signed up to participate, which is a record number. Approximately 700 students, coaches and volunteers were on campus for the Olympiad.
There were 25 different events held, which included laboratory exercises, building events, and tests. A number of Framingham State faculty, staff and students were among the volunteers. Acton-Boxborough Regional High School emerged as the winner this year and will represent Massachusetts at the Nationals.