MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Three Teachers from the Washington D.C. Public School System Are Finalists in MIT BLOSSOMS Contest

April 27, 2012

The Washington DC Public School System (DCPS) and MIT BLOSSOMS have been collaborating for about two years.  During the current academic year, ending soon, five different BLOSSOMS team members traveled to Washington DC, on four successive Professional Development  (PD) days, to train Wash DC STEM high school teachers in BLOSSOMS.  This included the theory behind the BLOSSOMS “Teaching Duet” pedagogy and the design of new BLOSSOMS modules.  As part of this process, we held a contest for STEM teachers in the DCPS, and we are happy to announce two winning BLOSSOMS lesson designs.  The winning DCPS teachers will be flown to Boston this summer and will videotape their new BLOSSOMS modules at MIT. We hope to post them on the MIT BLOSSOMS web pages in September.

Here are the contest winners:

Ms. Sydney Bergman, Plants and People!  The module will motivate the biology by including forensics and using DNA to solve crimes.  The module will describe the forensic applications of pollen as trace evidence and relate plants’ various pollen dispersal methods to plant reproductive strategies and its use in forensic investigations.  Up to 11 different video segments are planned, with lots of student activities between segments.

Ms. Diana Aljets and Mr. Justin Lessek, The King of Dinosaurs, or a Chicken Dinner? A Paleontologist’s Quest to Activate Atavistic Genes and Create a Dinosaur.”  This lesson naturally follows the MIT BLOSSOMS lesson on phylogenetic trees (physical characteristics vs. biochemical evidence).  Students will be able to create, interpret and explain a phylogenetic tree in order to determine the closest living relative to Tyrannosaurus rex.  Students will be able to evaluate the information from an NIH database and an assigned “Chickenosaurus article” in order to develop and express an opinion on whether scientists will soon be able to create dinosaurs.  There will be up to ten video segments, again with lots of learning activities for the students between segments.

Megan Rokop of the MIT-Harvard Broad Institute is pictured working in D.C. with
the three winning teachers: Sydney Bergman, Diana Aljets and Justin Lessek.