Nismec       News

Issue 3.1   Fall 2007

The Northern Indiana Science, Mathematics and Engineering Collaborative
NISMEC | ND Outeach | School Districts -> Mishawaka | South Bend | PHM | Elkhart | New Prairie | John Glenn |

Introductory Note
HASTI 2007 & 2008
Coming events
Summer programs 2007
*Sensing our World
*Mishawaka TSI
Summer programs 2008
*Math Circle
*RET Notre Dame
*TSI Saint Marys
*MS-Squared Notre Dame
*Quarknet & JINA
Other Items
*Clear Domes
*Coral Reef Crochet
*GI Resistance
*National Science Board
*SB Foundation Forum
Quiz: Outside the box

Editorial info

Guided Inquiry is our Focus

Developing our Math and Science Education Collaborations

Introductory Note
This is the first NISMEC electronic newsletter of our third year: we report news and events most relevant to educators and friends of educators in Northern Indiana; our mission is to publicize important events and news in the world of inquiry based learning in science, mathematics and engineering at all grade levels K-12, college and graduate work. Relevant national and international news, programs, and other internet publications are also included.
Use the hyperlink index at the left to reach the items of interest.
    To the right is a cartwheel which indicates some of the activities of NISMEC as a hub bringing Guided Inquiry (GI) to the teachers and schools (formal education), and to the students and community (informal education). It is in the South Bend tradition of the Studebaker wheels providing the support for the Oliver ploughs which helped to take the American settlers to the Western frontier.
    Without the connections the wheel falls apart!
    The NISMEC logo echoes the same ideas, placing us in Northern Indiana on the map.

     We welcome new NISMEC member The Riverbend Community Math Center. Its Director, Amanda Serenevy, has developed many direct student contact math programs throughout the area, and has been active is several NISMEC-associated activities in the summer, some of which are described below. We congratulate Amanda on receiving her Ph.D. (in Math) from Boston University this Spring. More details on the Center's programs can be found at its website.
     We are sorry to see Jan MacLean leave her post as Executive Director of Curricular and Educational Programs at School City of Mishawaka (SCM). She has been a pillar of strength in assuring the smooth development of the Guided Inquiry program for Science in the K-6 grades in the 8 Mishawaka elementary schools. She has been at MSC seemingly for ever, but is moving to brighter horizons at nearby Fort Wayne - good luck Jan!
    Dan Towner, previously the principal at John Young Middle School moves up to take her place as Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and has already been actively engaged with this year's summer workshops.
     NISMEC has become the Northern Indiana hub for ISTEM, the Statewide Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics network established at the beginning of the year - see below for a brief history and update on the two organizations. Initially, Saint Marys College and The University of Notre Dame will be responsible for running the NISMEC hub. This development will allow us to develop an expanded set of programs in support of STEM development in the schools and also in the (Northern Indiana) local communities.
     Discussions are underway with several local organizations, particularly The Memorial Hospital Foundation and IUSB, on the coordination of local education support STEM programs.

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Northern Indiana's presence at HASTI 2007:

     The Hoosier Association
    of Science Teachers, Inc
     The annual meeting took place in Indianapolis in early February 2007: a double-sized booth housed our joint programs of Quarknet, JINA, Saint Mary's and NISMEC;
      The figures show Carolyn Freeman (Mishawaka) talking with Karen Morris (Notre Dame) at the booth. Below, are Amanda Serenevy's wonderful polygonal models, and the remote controlled toy dynosaur, all great hits in the exposition arena.
       Many presentations from NISMEC associates were given. Joseph Bellina (Saint Marys) led the way with many presentations, several of them being extended 3-hour workshops. The areas covered the topics of introducing Guided Inquiry into classroom at the elementary and middle-school level. We were reporting on the summer workshops of 2006 with Mishawaka and South Bend and Penn-Harris-Madison teachers, some of whom were at the conference.

      With the help of the Partnership grant (see below) many teachers from the Mishawaka elementary schools were able to attend the conference. Their presentation with the NISMEC group (The Teacher Science Institute) was well-attended, and they were also able to see examples of several other "Guided Inquiry" programs from other schools around the State. The title of the conference was "Making Connections", and this was achieved. Besides the three-day booth, workshops by NISMEC colleagues included, Joseph Bellina (Saint Marys' College on "Why do Guided Inquiry Anyway?", aseries of extended workshops), Gordon Berry and Kent Mikel (Notre Dame, and PHM Discovery Middle School on "Guided Inquiry in Middle School"), Mary Hynes-Berry (Erikson Institute, Chicago, on Snowflake Bentley, Science and Literacy). Our nearby partners, the Elkhart Schools and ETHOS (David Emory and Patsy Boehler), also had a booth and gave presentations.

      NISMEC members have submitted twelve abstracts for 12 sessions at the HASTI 2008 conference, and we will have our usual double booth in the Exhibition area - plan to visit during your conference schedule (February 6-8, 2008). The HASTI theme for 2008 is "Thinking Outside the Box" - so your thoughts will be especially welcome! (Test your out-of-box thinking skills in the quiz below!)

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Coming events
    * Monday, Tuesday, November 13, 14, at the Marriott Hotel, downtown Indianapolis:
    CELL conference: Indiana's Future: Equity, Engagement & Education for Economic Success: Transforming Today's Schools for Tomorrow's World.
    * Saturday, December 1,
    at Notre Dame's new Jordan Hall of Science from 9 am to 2 pm.
    Partnering for Education and Research - An Invitation to Local K-12 STEM Teachers
    The Notre Dame extended Research Community (NDeRC) and Notre Dame's Colleges of Engineering and Science are hosting an event on Saturday, December 1, at Notre Dame's new Jordan Hall of Science from 9 am to 2 pm. This exposition will include booths and talks to acquaint area teachers with the educational outreach and research opportunities available through Notre Dame. A $100 professional development stipend will be paid to each teacher who attends.
    Register at: or call Anne Zakas at: 574-631-2789. See below for information about NDeRC.
    * October 27 till December 13, 2007 at The Chicago Cultural Center
    The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Exhibit
    The coral reef stitch - Crocheters strive to warn the world about effects of global warming, pollution - mathematics in action... See below for more details.
    * January 19, 23, 2008 in Baltimore
    The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) winter meeting.
    * February 6-8, 2008 in Indianapolis
    HASTI 38th Annual Meeting "Thinking outside the box".
    * Friday, March 7, 2008 at Indiana University South Bend
    Spring Math/Science Conference - a one day meeting, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. aimed at developing a coordinated view of science and math learning at all levels - K-16 to adults, to enhance our local social and business economy: participants will include "business and civic organization leaders, teachers and school administrators, university professors and administators, parents and parent/neighborhood organization leaders and others".
    * March 27-30, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts
    The National Science Teachers of America (NSTA) Annual Meeting.
    * April 9-12, 2008 in Salt Lake City, Utah
    The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Annual Meeting.
    * April 17, 2008 at The Century Center, South Bend
    Great Friends of Schools Annual Luncheon of The Public Education Foundation.
    Keynote Speaker: Dr. Pedro Noguera, Steinhardt School of Education at New York University (NYU).
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2007 Summer School Programs

"Will this cup turn over?"

"Overview of the excitement in the Jordan exhibit hall"

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    MS-Squared - Middle School Mathematics and Science
    Summer Workshop Notre Dame 2007

            Instructor Kent Mikel (PHM Discovery School) stands top left in the yellow shirt
              Undergraduate assistant Tiffany Fruge, from Louisiana is at the front left.

     Twenty math and science teachers, attended the two-week workshop at the new Notre Dame Jordan Hall of Science, in mid-June. The principal thread of the workshop was to introduce ideas and practice of Guided Inquiry Learning for Mathematics and Science integrated together in the classroom. The teachers came mostly from the South Bend Intermediate Centers, but included two from Mishawaka and one from Edwardsburg. The course homework text was NRC's "Inquiry and the National Education Standards" which formed the basis of how teachers can introduce Guided Inquiry into their existing math and/or science lessons.
     The highlight seemed to be learning how to use motion detectors in learniung about Newton's laws, but as the pictures below show you - we learned how to "weigh a tree" , measure densities and other properties of our pet rocks, how volcanoes work, and the math and science of mangoes....
      The 3 instructors, Kent Mikel, Amanda Serenevy, and Gordon Berry were helped out by visitors Ann Brown and Connie Sprague (IUSB), Phil Sakimoto (ND), Joseph Bellina (Saint Marys), and Mary Hynes-Berry (Erikson).   Our Intermediate Center students in South Bend are now reaping the benefits of these new looks at learning!

    Jenni Vanderweide, Corey Luczynski & Bill Flatt

    Patrick Sousley & Debbie Ramirez

    Linda King, Lorna Guthrie & Joy Swindler

    Joy Swindler, Linda Nalepinski & Sharon Brandt
    (behind) Jessie Warren, Gordon & Amanda Serenevy
          Contacts have continued with and between the teachers; we will present a workshop at HASTI next February (see above) based on the two-week session; and we expect to have follow-up workshops in the summer of 2008 (see below).

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2008 Summer Programs
Math Circle
Summer Teacher Training Institute

       The first Math Circle Summer Teacher Training Institute will be held at Notre Dame, from July 6th to 12th, 2008.
    The one-week workshop will include Demonstrations of Math Circles approach, practice sessions in running Math Circles, discussions of theory and practice, and conversations about selected math topics will be hosted by Bob and Ellen Kaplan, Amanda Serenevy and Sam Lichtenstein.
    Tuition is $750 for the week, room and board included. However, local attendees not needing room and board can attend without charge.
    Apply/Register directly by e-mail to, or contact Amanda Serenevy for more details.

    The program is supported by generous grants from the Flom Foundation, the Herbert O. Wolfe Foundation, and MSRI, and is sponsored by NISMEC and ISTEM.
    --note--Robert and Ellen Kaplan, who teach at Harvard University and have published the book "Out of the Labyrinth: Setting Mathematics Free", founded The Math Circle in 1994: They believe that "the deep joys of inventing and discovering math belong to everyone, and the Math Circle has succeeded in providing a forum for the free discussion and play which leads to that joy."
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Other News and Items of Interest
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    "Notre Dame Clear Domes"
    New experiments for your class!!
    Last summer's middle-school program included studies of the reflections and refractions
    of laser light in a semicircular piece of plexiglass.

    - Gordon Berry of Notre Dame and Kent Mikel of Discovery Middle-School (Penn-Harris-Madison) included them in a workshop at the HASTI meeting in Indianapolis. Since many of the workshop participants wanted the domes to use in their own class-rooms, we have persuaded the Notre Dame Physics Department Machine shop to make extras, so that we can sell them to you at cost. The pieces can be used at all grades, Elementary, and Middle School through High School and College. In more advanced classes they can be used to make quantitative measurements of the angles of reflection and refraction, learn about "refractive index",and to test Snell's law.
    They work well with narrow beam white light sources, but especially with lasers of any color, red or green. The domes are half an inch thick, with a diameter of 4 inches, and all sides are polished. Our administrative assistant came up with the name "ND Clear Dome", to distinguish it from Notre Dame's "Golden Dome". (For a small extra charge, we can add a gold coating!)
    Ordering "Clear Domes"
    Our pricing is $5 for one, ($5 times N for N<15), $75 for 25, including postage - please send a check made out to The Physics Department of Notre Dame at the following address: Professor Gordon Berry, Physics Department NSH 225, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame IN 46556. Include your own shipping address - shipping (by USPS priority) will be within a few days.
    Lasers are most easily purchased from The Laser Guy at The red ER12 Executive laser-pointer costs $7.50 plus shipping; the green ER17 laser-pointer is $110 plus shipping.
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       ASU Graduate Program for High School Physics Teachers

    If you want to go somewhere warm for the summer, try this: Arizona State University offers High school teachers the chance to take its well-recognized peer-led modeling workshops:
    "Most are 3-week workshops that thoroughly treat the pedagogy and content for the mechanics portion of a physics course. Content is reorganized around basic models to increase its structural coherence. Participants are supplied with a complete set of course materials and work through activities alternately in the roles of student or teacher."
    You can find further information at their website:
    Editor's note: Their site has not yet been updated to give specifics for the coming year, but is expected to be shortly.

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The Story of ISTEM
- The Indiana Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Resource Network
    Several years ago, the National Governors' Association began an effort to enhance P-16 education throughout the United States. James B. Hunt, The Governor of Tennessee, then Chair of the Association had begun the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, and had a strong interest in developing "students with the needed skills for the modern marketplace".
    The October 2005 national meeting "Rising above the Gathering Storm" was the result of this initiative, and its published Proceedings have become a blueprint to offset the oft-stated loss of competitive edge of the United States economy compared with the rest of the industrialized nations of the world. The National Academy's published report of the Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for A Brighter Economic Future can be read on-line at no cost.
    Indiana's economy, particularly its strong biotech industry, is viewed to have the same needs - hence the Indiana delegation that attended the Gathering Storm meeting, and others, set in motion the development of a State-wide initiative with the goal of revitalizing Indiana P-16 science and mathematics education.
    A broad group of interested people from all parts of Indiana, representing Education, Government and Industry, met at the first annual CELL meeting on Education in November 2005. {CELL is the Center of Excellence and Leadership of Learning of the University of Indianapolis - their annual meeting Indiana's Future: Equity, Engagement & Education for Economic Success: Transforming Today's Schools for Tomorrow's World takes place each November}. In early 2006, with financial and other support from the Governor, the Legislature and a group of Indiana biotech companies, Biocrossroads sent out an RFIP to all educational institutions and others throughout the state to search for ideas and initiatives for developing a state-wide organization for the support of P-16 STEM education.
    Thus, by late 2006, a steering committee I-STEM was formed to develop organizational plans and start to implement the educational plans and ideas contained in the results from the RFIP process. Purdue University was chosen chosen to provide the principal leadership; the State was divided up into 10 geographical regions each to be represented on the Policy Committee, which meets at regular intervals. NISMEC is the I-STEM hub for the Northern Indiana. The network recently received an initial $3.4M grant from the Lilly Foundation to help in initial operations. Further information on the history of I-STEM and its present operations can be found at its website.
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    The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Exhibit at The Chicago Cultural Center till December 13, 2007
    The Riverbend Community Math Center Director Amanda Serenevy has her paper-folding polyhedra, etc
    - here is another mathematics modeling way to learning... The coral reef stitch - Crocheters strive to warn the world about effects of global warming, pollution
    A yarn for our times, by Charles Storch | Chicago Tribune staff reporter, October 18, 2007
    A Latvian emigre teaching mathematics in upstate New York in 1997 used crochet to produce the first physical model of a convoluted geometric abstraction. Inspired by her, two Australian sisters living in Los Angeles decided about two years ago to expand the model into a symbol of their homeland, the endangered Great Barrier Reef. Galvanized by the sisters, 120 Chicago-area residents began three months ago to crochet their own reef.
    The upshot of this far-flung activity is the "Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef", a new exhibition in the Chicago Cultural Center that runs through Dec. 13. It is seven crocheted interpretations of reef marine life, with loopy kelps, fringed sea anemones and curly corals. Most reefs are richly colored, but a few are bleached white or smothered in plastic to show what damage higher water temperatures, agricultural runoff and garbage can inflict.

"Colorful coral - crochet objects"

"Colorful coral - complex geometrical solids"

    The sisters .... created the Institute for Figuring, an organization that sponsors lectures, exhibitions and small publications. Margaret Wertheim said the institute "communicates the poetic and aesthetics dimensions of science and mathematics." ...
    Informal crocheting workshops are to be held noon Thursdays during the run of the exhibit, "Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef," in the Chicago Rooms, 2nd Floor, Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph St.
    The full Tribune article can be found here.
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Minimizing resistance to inquiry-oriented science instruction: The importance of climate setting.
    As many of us know, there are many obstructions to developing Guided Inquiry learning at all levels and from many external influences. Carl J. Wenning, (Coordinator, Physics Teacher Education Program, Department of Physics, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4560, has analyzed these many areas of resistance - here follows his abstract of an article published in J. Phys. Tchr. Educ. Online, 3(2), December 2005 - the complete article can be found in the NISMEC archives (pdf-file).

    Establishing and maintaining a classroom atmosphere conducive to student learning should be a goal for all teachers. As science teachers shift from traditional didactic forms of instruction to inquiry-oriented instruction, they sometimes encounter resistance from students, parents, administrators, and even teaching colleagues. In advance of and following changes in classroom pedagogy, it is imperative that teachers properly consider and take actions to set and maintain an appropriate atmosphere. Teachers must also be prepared to react to negative external influences that might originate with parents, administrators, and fellow teachers. The author describes several forms of resistance, and offers techniques of climate setting that, if used properly, can alleviate concerns and help create classroom, school, and community atmospheres conducive to student learning via inquiry.
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The National Science Board, Gathering Storm and America Competes
    On October 3, the National Science Board released their report, "A National Action Plan for Addressing the Critical Needs of the U.S. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education System." {In the NISMEC archives: NSB plan} The plan proposes a series of steps that the Board believes will bring greater coherence to the nation's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education system and ensure that students are taught by highly effective STEM teachers. As part of ongoing investigations on the country's STEM education system, members of the House Science and Technology Committee's Research and Science Education Subcommittee recently held a hearing on the report. The hearing provided an opportunity for a range of stakeholders to give their response to the recommendations, including the NSB's proposal to create a Congressionally-chartered "National STEM Education Council" to help guide STEM education improvements.
    One of the other recent seminal reports, the National Academies' "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" report -- which much of the recently passed America COMPETES Act {Summary - NISMEC archives} was based on -- placed a major emphasis on the need to improve STEM education and made its top priority increasing the number of highly qualified STEM teachers. In the same period that the Gathering Storm report was being developed, the NSB initiated a process to explore how to improve STEM education throughout the nation. As part of this effort, the Board established a STEM education commission to advise it on how to accomplish this goal. At present, there are no consistent STEM content standards in use among the states and no consistency in the sequence in which STEM courses are taught. A chronic shortage of highly qualified STEM teachers is a major impediment to improved student performance in STEM subjects. For more information on this hearing or the Committee's work with science and math education, visit the Committee's website and the Triangle Coalition Legislative News page.
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The Public Education Foundation, Inc.
    Check out the local(South Bend) Chapter of the Public Education Foundation:
    Their initiatives and goals include:
    *A continued and increased focus on reading readiness and remediation.
    *Working with the South Bend Community School Corporation to increase our support of professional development programs for school teachers and administrators.
    *Expanding our outreach into the community to gain more widespread support and understanding of the challenges facing our public schools and schoolchildren.
Quiz: Thinking outside the box
    *Here is a cross-word puzzle with 16 squares: use these clues and your OUTSIDE-THE-BOX thinking skills:
    Horizontal: 1. 4-letter word that describes what dogs do. 2. What cats do. 3. What lions do. 4. What fleas do.
    Vertical: 1. Insects. 2. Parts of the head. 3. What bad boys like to do. 4. Comfort.
    *If that is too hard for you, here is an easier fishtale:
    A Chicago fish merchant offered a 20 percent reduction on a fish that weighed "ten pounds and half its weight,"
    if the buyer could tell him how much the fish actually weighed.
    What did it weigh?
    The answers will be given in the next NISMEC newsletter.
    *And to complete this section - here is a topical story:
    A high-school senior was up before the judge for the second time -
    the first time he had complained that his parents were always beating him, and so the judge had given custody to
    his uncle and aunt.
    Now he complained that they were beating him too..
    So the judge responded: "I know what you must do - go to Notre Dame - there, they don't beat anyone!"
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Newsletter Archives

Editorial information, etc.

    .........mathematics, engineering and the other sciences too!
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