Nismec       News

Issue 4.1   Winter/Spring 2008

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 2008
Coming events
Summer programs 2008
*Sensing our World
*Math Circle
*RET Notre Dame
*Quarknet & JINA
*ETHOS programs
Other Items
*Robinson Center
*Achievement Gap
*Bill Gates
*2 Million minutes
*Blackboard/Bottom Line
*Clear Domes
*Compadre Library

Quiz: Outside the box

Editorial info

Guided Inquiry is our Focus

A Vision for Education in St. Joseph County and Indiana

Introductory Note
This is the first NISMEC electronic newsletter of our fourth 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.

Times and registrations for this summer's teacher and student support programs

Return to top

     We welcome new NISMEC member The IVY TECH. George Twaddle in the School of Technology is the link between NISMEC and Ivy Tech: we will developing joint programs together, and coordinating especially our local STEM outreach programs. More details on Ivy Tech's programs can be found at its website.
     NISMEC is the Northern Indiana hub for I-STEM, the Statewide Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics network established at the beginning of the year - see our previous issue for a brief history and update on the two organizations. Initially, Saint Marys College and the University of Notre Dame are responsible for running the NISMEC hub. Professors Joseph Bellina of Saint Mary's and Gordon Berry of Notre Dame have attended the first two meetings of the 11 member I-STEM Coordinating Committee. NISMEC receives I-STEM funding to help us enhance all forms of STEM education in the schools and in the community. This coming summer, we are using this support to develop an expanded set of Teacher Professional Development Programs for the South Bend, Mishawaka and Penn-Harris Madison schools, principally (but not exclusively) in the middle grades (see below for 2008 summer workshop details).
        It is an exciting period in the development of STEM education both statewide and locally: The I_STEM network is working closely with the Indiana Department of Edcuation, as well as with the Governor and the Legislature, and with financial support from the biotech industry around the state: the goals of this initiative are strongly in-line with the NISMEC "Guided Inquiry is our Focus" goal - hence, it is providing opportunities to bring research-based learning modules into the classrooms at all levels (P-16), as we have begun successfully in the Mishawaka K-6 classrooms.
        Locally, the NISMEC group is gradually expanding to include our community partners - in recent months, The Memorial Hospital Foundation with Reg Wagle, the IUSB Department of Education with Dean Michael Horvath, and the Ivy Tech Technology Department with George Twaddle, have begun to play important roles; the "Innovations Park" being established by the University of Notre Dame is expected to provide impetus to stronger relationships between the County's Higher Education Organizations and the technological and manufacturing companies, coordinating solutions to our STEM needs and understandings. STEM education is likely to play a role at the new KROC center (to be built at Chapin/Western Avenue intersection, and several other joint Community STEM initiatives are underway.
       This year promises to be exciting and will be "kicked-off" with the IUSB meeting in April...
      The School of Education at IUSB under the leadership of Dean Michael Horvath is spearheading an important "First Annual" conference: "The Next Step in Math and Science Education: Our Community's Future", April 18th (details below).

Return to top

HASTI 2008:

     The Hoosier Association
    of Science Teachers, Inc
     The annual meeting took place in Indianapolis in early February 2008: a double-sized booth housed our joint programs of Quarknet, JINA, Saint Mary's and NISMEC. Our presence at the meeting was stronger than ever, paricularly on the presentations schedule. You can view the listing of our 12 contributions and download their handouts from the NISMEC website.   The Mishawaka Partnership grant (in its final year) enabled many teachers from the Mishawaka elementary schools to attend the conference.    The HASTI theme for 2008 was "Thinking Outside the Box" - (Solutions from our own test of your out-of-box thinking skills in our last newsletter are given below!)  

      The figure above shows Joe Bellina at the booth. To the left, is another view with the NISMEC ladies - Amanda, Carolyn, Beth and Karen

Return to top

Coming events
    * Feb 28-March 1, 2008 in Austin, Texas,
    The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PTEC)
    Annual Meeting.
    * March 27-30, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts
    The National Science Teachers of America (NSTA) Annual Meeting.
    * March 18, 2008 Centers of Excellence: Success Stories of University/Industry Partnerships Life Sciences Lunch Series, 1:30AM to Mar 18 2008 1:00PM at Barnes & Thornburg LLP, South Bend, 5th Floor Conference Center, South Bend. Register (no charge) at This address.
    * 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).
    * Friday, April 18, 2008 at Indiana University South Bend
Next Step 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".

    * April 25, 2008 in Indianapolis
    First Annual Indiana Building Awareness for Science Education Symposium
    Jointly organized by the Indiana Department of Education and the I-STEM partners, to answer the
    question "What steps can we take to make STEM education stronger in Indiana?" (by invitation).
Return to top

    2008 Summer School Programs
    At JINA (The Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics)

       "Sensing Our World in Color" for Middle School students is a week-long, all-day summer camp about physical science, materials, physics, and sensors for students aged 12 - 14. Tentative Dates: either June 9-13 or July 28-Aug 1, 2008. Application Deadline May 1 JINA.  
    JINA also runs the summer 1-week Pixe-PAN programs: June 16 - 27, 2008 for Instructors and June 23-27 for students;
    and the PAN program at Michigan State University, Lansing Michigan.
    Contact Mary DeWitt at the JINA outreach website for more information on these and other JINA programs.

Return to top
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."
Return to top
Return to top
Return to top
    The Quarknet and JINA Programs
      These two outreach programs in the Physics Department at Notre Dame both participate in the High School teacher RET programs mentioned above; they also have several other ongoing programs linking teachers and students at middle- and high-school levels with Notre Dame physics research. The focus of Quarknet is in high energy physics, giving high school teachers the opportunity to do summer research and also to network together with throughout the school year. JINA (The Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics) has a wide range of programs to help students and teachers at all K-12 (and other) grade levels: their programs include minigrants, fieldtrips, workshops and support for art in science.
    More information regarding summer programs can be found on their websites:
    JINA Outreach:

Return to top

           ETHOS Summer Programs [Contact ETHOS]

    2008 Science Liaison Summer Institute
    A 10 day (June 2-6, and June 9-13) Institute linking Science and Literacy through writing and reading for comprehension:
    - designed for teachers in grades K-8 - contact ETHOS for applications and further information.

Return to top

Other News and Items of Interest
Return to top
    Robinson Center receives $282,000 for business initiative
    A $282,000 appropriations request for the University of Notre Dame's Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC)
    by Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., has been funded in a bill that recently became law.
    Donnelly presented a ceremonial check at a celebration to mark the seventh anniversary of the RCLC Feb. 22 at the center.

    The RCLC will receive the funding to support and develop Robinson Enterprises, a comprehensive training,
    entrepreneurship and business promotion initiative. The program will specifically promote business success
    for at-risk youths and young adults (ages 16 to 24) through training, mentoring and start-up incubation for
    the launch of for-profit enterprises.

    Founded by Notre Dame in 2001, the RCLC is a community-driven education center. In addition to Robinson Enterprises,
    the center sponsors a number of programs and activities and hosts others led by local agencies and organizations.
    These include violence prevention initiatives, health education and screenings, GED and English-as-a-second-language
    classes, children's programming, youth tutoring, and after-school programs. It also features a Computer Teaching
    and Learning Center, which is equipped with 20 computers and provides instruction and Internet and e-mail access.
Return to top

Return to top

    The skills you need to succeed: What Bill Gates thinks about education:
    One of the most important changes of the last 30 years is that digital technology has transformed almost
    everyone into an information worker.

    Today and in the future, many of the jobs with the greatest impact will be related to software, whether it is
    developing software working for a company like Microsoft or helping other organisations use information technology
    tools to be successful. In almost every job now, people use software and work with information to enable their organisation to
    operate more effectively. That's true for everyone from the retail store worker who uses a handheld scanner
    to track inventory to the chief executive who uses business intelligence software to analyse critical market trends.

    Communication skills and the ability to work well with different types of people are very important too.
    A lot of people assume that creating software is purely a solitary activity where you sit in an office with
    the door closed all day and write lots of code. This isn't true at all. Software innovation, like almost every
    other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down
    and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs.

    So if you look at how progress is made and where competitive advantage is created, there's no doubt that the
    ability to use software tools effectively is critical to succeeding in today's global knowledge economy.

    A solid working knowledge of productivity software and other IT tools has become a basic foundation for
    success in virtually any career.

    Beyond that, however, I don't think you can overemphasise the importance of having a good background in maths
    and science. If you look at the most interesting things that have emerged in the last decade - whether it is cool
    things like portable music devices and video games or more practical things like smart phones and medical technology
    - they all come from the realm of science and engineering.

    I also place a high value on having a passion for ongoing learning. When I was pretty young, I picked up the habit
    of reading lots of books. It's great to read widely about a broad range of subjects. Of course today, it's far
    easier to go online and find information about any topic that interests you. Having that kind of curiosity about
    the world helps anyone succeed, no matter what kind of work they decide to pursue.
Return to top

Return to top

    The Blackboard and the Bottom Line: Why Schools Can't Be Businesses
    This is the title of the latest book by Larry Cuban of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
    [Published by the Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2004, 253 pp. with index, $23.95 softcover]
    As stated in a recent review,
    "Ford Motor Company would not have survived the competition had it not been for an emphasis on results.
    We must view education the same way," the U.S. Secretary of Education declared in 2003. But is he right?
    In this provocative new book, Larry Cuban takes aim at the alluring cliché that schools should be more
    businesslike, and shows that in its long history in business-minded America, no one has shown that a
    business model can be successfully applied to education.

    In this straight-talking book, one of the most distinguished scholars in education charts the Gilded Age
    beginnings of the influential view that American schools should be organized to meet the needs of American
    businesses, and run according to principles of cost-efficiency, bottom-line thinking, and customer satisfaction.

    Not only are schools by their nature not businesslike, Cuban argues, but the attempt to run them along business
    lines leads to dangerous over-standardization--of tests, and of goals for our children. Why should we think that
    there is such a thing as one best school? Is "college for all" achievable--or even desirable? Even if it were possible,
    do we really want schools to operate as bootcamps for a workforce? Cuban suggests that the best business-inspired
    improvement for American education would be more consistent and sustained on-the-job worker training, tailored for the
    job to be done, and business leaders' encouragement--and adoption--of an ethic of civic engagement and public service.

    Two reviews and a discussion about Cuban's book Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom
    and a discussion with Larry Cuban on Tinkering Toward Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform
    - Excerpts from a Conversation at the Askwith Education Forum.
Return to top

    "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.
Return to top

       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:
    "Modeling Instruction is an innovative and successful pedagogy that structures inquiry around scientific models. It combines the learning cycle (5 E's) and a plethora of other research-based innovations in education. It develops in students the ability to analyze data, reach a conclusion and defend it; and it emphasizes experiment design." Most of the workshops last 3-weeks and thoroughly treat the pedagogy and content for the mechanics portion of a physics course. Content is organized 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 been updated to give specifics for the coming summer.

Return to top

Return to top

Quiz: Thinking outside the box
    * The answers from the last issue are:
    The crossword: Across: 1. BITE 2. BITE 3. BITE 4. BITE; Down: 1. B's=Bees. 2. I's=EYES 3. T's=TEASE 4. E's=EASE

    The fish weighs 20 pounds!

    * How about this new quiz - 12 questions - What berry is indicated by the following?:
     1. Red when it is green?  2. Created by Mark Twain?  3. On the grass
     4. Irritating?  5. A dunce?  6. Used for hats?
     7. Respected because of his age?  8. A beverage?  9. Melancholy?
     10. Celebrates a great festival?  11. Reminds you of hens?  12. Furnishes an old-time ride?

    * Answers in the next issue as usual:

Return to top

Newsletter Archives

Editorial information, etc.

    .........mathematics, engineering and the other sciences too!
Return to top


Return to NISMEC: