Using an Abundant Aquatic Resource to Fuel Science Education

May 27, 2009

The RAC-CEMS is proud to present a fantastic opportunity for Science teachers to learn about a new way to use Zebra Mussels in an exciting, discovery based lesson for high school students.  This is an excellent opportunity to enhance your Living Environments, Environmental Science or Chemistry course.

Zebra Mussels covering a fat mucket (Lampsilis siliquoidea) - Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Zebra Mussels covering a fat mucket (Lampsilis siliquoidea) – Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Although zebra mussels have caused numerous problems in our water ways, these organisms actually can be an excellent tool to teach a variety of science and mathematics skills.  High school science teachers will learn how to easily collect, maintain and use these abundant aquatic organisms in a variety of hands-on scientific experiments and quantitative modeling exercises.  The activities are designed to promote inquiry-based learning, teach and strengthen students’ scientific research and mathematical analysis skills, and demonstrate to the students their relationship with their environment.  Activities will include the collection of mussels, the design and completion of hypothesis-driven quantitative experiments, and the integration of the field and experimental data into mathematical models detailing the effects of Zebra Mussels on the ecosystem.

The event will be hosted at Keuka College from July 27-31st  of 2009.  Seating is limited so sign up today!

Click on ApplyNow and remember to select Using Zebra Mussels for Good, Not Evil: Hands-on Experiments and Modeling Activities

Congratulations Cary Burke!

March 13, 2009

Congratulations to Cary Burke, the first finalist of the 2009 Excellence in STEM Teaching Award! Mrs. Burke is a High School Living Environment and Forensics teacher from Canandaigua Academy who uses creativity, humor, and singing to bring subject matter alive to students.

The STEM Award honors an activity Cary developed, called the Proteinia Game, which puts students in the role of a DNA cell during the process of a genetic mutation.

The game is structured as a traveling experience, in which the cell visits different countries: “DNAdia”, “RNAdia”, and “Proteinia”.  Everything is going well until the DNA cell encounters “a mean ol’ acid” who changes the cells’ travel plans.  The simulation includes: insertion, deletion, and substitution mutations which are beneficial, harmful, or neutral. Students carry a passport for each mutation which helps them compare the DNA strands.

Mrs. Burke has witnessed many “ah ha” moments during this activity as her students experience a genetic mutation. What has really stood out to her is that her students remember the experience far into the future, as she uses it as a  reference point for future learning.

Once again we would like to congratulate Cary Burke for winning the first round of the Excellence in STEM Teaching Award, and also recognize the exemplary work she does bringing science to students in a unique and memorable way!

RAC-CEMS STEM Teaching Institutes

February 6, 2009


Can you believe it’s already time to start thinking about summer? What a great time to look at the professional development opportunities that are available.

RAC-CEMS is pleased to announce that we will offer unique opportunities for learning and improvement by sponsoring seven STEM Teaching Institutes.

2009 STEM Teaching Institutes:

  1. Developing Mathematical Ideas: Building a System of Tens
  2. Inquiry in Earth Sciences
  3. Using Zebra Mussels for Good, Not Evil
  4. Finger Lakes Ecology Watershed Workshop
  5. Inquiry-based Interdisciplinary Mathematics, Science, Technology and Literacy
  6. Math, Science, and Technology Institute
  7. Hands-on Environmental Science Activities using GLOBE

Visit our webpage for detailed information and links to an online application.  Online applications will be available March 2nd and are submitted directly to The Center for Excellence in Math and Science.

The institutes span grade levels and subjects areas, with emphasis placed on Math and Science. Each STEM Institute supports the NYS Learning Standards using active learning to deliver a high quality professional development experience.

We welcome any questions or comments regarding the Institutes via email or by responding to this blog. We appreciate the community’s continued support, and look forward to seeing you this summer!!!