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Teacher Resources - Middle School Collaborative

Middle School Collaborative (MSC)
Guided-Inquiry in Middle School Mathematics and Science

Collaboratives for grades 6-9 are currently being run by the Maine Physical Sciences Partnership (PSP). For more information, please click here.

Join a network of middle school educators, university faculty and others with an interest in guided-inquiry in middle school mathematics and science. The goal of this network is to provide curriculum materials that can be readily implemented in the classroom, along with ongoing collaboration and support. The MSC will hold two fall 2008 and two spring 2009 workshops, facilitated by exemplary veteran middle school teachers with extensive guided-inquiry experience. Each workshop includes dinner, classroom materials, and a $40/meeting stipend. Certificate of Attendance and Continuing Education Units provided upon request.

Participation in the workshop series is flexible and attendance at prior meetings is not necessary. The courtesy of a reply confirming attendance is requested for planning purposes, but not required. Bring your middle school colleagues!  To pre-register, please contact Leisa Preble (

The MSC is sponsored by the Center for Science and Mathematics Education Research at the University of Maine (, with support from the National Science Foundation under Grant Numbers EEC-06 48793 REU Site: Explore It! Building the Next Generation of Bio-Refinery Researchers, and EPS-05-54545 EPSCoR: Investing in Maine Research Infrastructure: Sustainable Forest (

For more information about the collaborative, please contact:

Amie Gellen, Assistant Director
Center for Science and Mathematics Education Research
University of Maine

Middle School Collaborative Series 2008-09

Workshop #1
Trees, Me and Technology:  Using Data to Ignite Critical Thinking

Date:  October 29, 2008
Time:  4:30-7:30 PM
Location:  Library, Troy A. Howard Middle School, Belfast, Maine


Workshop #2
Microscopic Pie:
Experiments students can conduct to predict the medicinal properties of some well known plants

Strategies for Gender Equity in the Classroom: A review of practical strategies to promote gender equity.
A self assessment, website reviews, and one shot wonder program ideas.

Date:  December 10, 2008
Time:  4:30-7:30 PM
Location:  114 Bennett Hall, University of Maine, Orono


Workshop #3
Middle School Engineers
:  Mirroring current research being conducting at the
University of Maine‘s Advanced Engineering Wood Composites (AEWC) Center.
The Advanced Engineering Wood Composites (AEWC) Center at the University of Maine in Orono, is conducting cutting edge and collaborative research on hybrid wood composites, which are 6 to 7 times stronger than wood alone. We will use inquiry to make and test wood composite planks to determine the most durable recipe.

Date:  January  27th
Time: 4:30 -7:30PM
Location: 114 Bennett Hall, University of Maine, Orono


Workshop #4
Science Saturday

This workshop will include a series of hands-on activities that focus on inquiry and provide curricula ready to use/adapt for your classroom. Activities will connect guided-inquiry in middle school classrooms with the cutting edge research being done by the Forest Bioproducts Research Initiative at the University of Maine. Activities may include elements of Workshops #1, #2, #3.  Specific details will be announced soon.

Date: Saturday March 14, 2009
Time: 10:00AM – 2:00PM (exact time will be announced soon)
Location:  University of Maine at Machias (exact building location will be announced soon)




Workshop Facilitators:

  • Patricia Bernhardt, BA in Biology (1979) and a MA in Curriculum (1988) and Instruction for California State University, Patricia Bernhardt has been teaching for 21 years at the high school and middle school levels, and is currently a grade seven life science teacher at James F. Doughty Middle School in Bangor, Maine.  During her time at the James F. Doughty Middle School, she has coached spring track at the middle school level and field hockey at both the high school and middle school level.  She has been student council advisor, started a science club, and ran the science fair when there was a state competition.  Additionally, along with her 8th grade science colleague, she started an aquaculture tank which students keep in operation to demonstrate the fragility and stability of ecosystems.  She has written two funded grants for the aquaculture tank.  Before moving back to Maine, Patricia taught at the Bryant Alternative High School where she chaired the one person science department.  During this time, the school had on-site day care to accommodate the number of students already parenting.  As a result, there was a large gender imbalance (mostly women) in her classes.  One of the goals of this program was to encourage students to continue their education. The population of this school was culturally and ethnically diverse.
  • Elizabeth Haynes has 20+ Years of teaching experience (from Grade 2 to college) in both mathematics and life/physical sciences.  She is presently employed as a Title I mathematics teacher for sixth grade at Troy Howard Middle School in MSAD #34, Belfast.
  • Tracy Vassiliev, BS in Biology (1992), MS in Marine Bioresources (2006) and a MEd in Middle School Science and Gifted and Talented (2007). Tracy was initially a research scientist for the Lobster Institute in Orono, Maine but now is entering her seventh year of teaching at the Bangor Middle Schools as a grade 8 Applied Science and Accelerated Physical Science teacher. She is also the GT teacher at both middle schools. Tracy has worked as an RET (research experience for teachers) for the University of Maine Sensors! Program, and spent her last two summers working with the University’s Forest Bioproducts Research Initiative. Tracy has had the opportunity to present at the national level on several occasions throughout graduate school, at the National Marine Educators Conference in Portland, ME in 2007 and most recently co-presented at the 2008 National Science Teachers Conference in Boston, on collecting and using data in the middle school classroom. Tracy has worked with the Challenger Learning Center Education Committee for about six years and is currently involved with the C’s to Shining C workshop:  Connecting Climate Change to Curriculum, funded by the Maine Department of Education through a Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant. Tracy is excited to be working with the Middle School Collaborative this year and looks forward to meeting fellow educators all over the state of Maine.



This activity is supported by National Science Foundation award #EPS-0554545 to Maine EPSCoR
at the University of Maine

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