Faculty

ScratchJr

ScratchJr is a new, innovative software program to support integrated STEM learning in early childhood education. The program is designed specifically for K-2. ScratchJr will work to teach children through three main strategies: discipline-specific knowledge, foundational knowledge structures and complex problem-solving skills.

ScratchJr is a project led by Professor Marina Umaschi Bers and her DevTech Research Group at Tufts University and by Professor Mitch Resnick from the Lifelong Kindergarten at the MIT Media Lab. The project is being funded by the National Science Foundation.

Watch the video below for more information on this ongoing project:

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The Old Guy Project

The Old Guy Project is an Independent Film Production course through the drama department taught by Professor Jennifer Burton. Only 10 students were allowed into this advanced film making class where they actually become part of a production team. The students will gain real-life experience for executing strategies for successful producing, including budgeting, fundraising, contracts, copyrighting, casting, scheduling, location scouting, shooting, editing, marketing and distribution.

One of the 10 students in the class, Sam Plasmati, A13, says:

We’re getting first hand experience in film production. We’ve spent the semester so far preparing for filming  - doing PR, location scouting, dealing with equipment, casting. We just had our first shoot at the Tufts Campus and nearby locations in Medford and Somerville and it was a huge success. We students had an active role in all aspects of the  shoot – helping produce, helping with sounds, helping film.

“Old Guy” is intended as a comedic look at how aging is represented in the media.This project is a collaboration between Tufts University and the LA-based production company that Professor Burton co-owns, Five Sisters Productions. The goal is to create a web-series which is roughly based on the experiences of Burton’s father, a professor turned actor at age 75, working in the entertainment industry.

For a behind-the-scenes look at what Professor Burton, Sam and the other students are doing, take a look at their Twitter account and follow them for more updates. And be on the lookout for the release of “Old Guy”!

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Daylight Saving Time

This past weekend was Daylight Saving Time, when most people in the U.S. set their clocks an hour forward. CBS reported on this event and noted that some find Daylight Saving’s useful while others find it to be quite frustrating.

Tufts faculty member Michael Downing, the author of Spring Forward, a book all about Daylight Saving Time, explained the origin:

Daylight saving was originally meant to save electricity with lighting at homes.

He also remarked about some long standing Daylight Saving Time errors that have occurred. For example, what happened after Russia sprung forward for the first time in 1928:

When October came, the Russians forgot to fall back. It wasn’t until 1985 that an AP reporter stumbled onto the fact that the clocks were all wrong in Russia.

For more facts and insights from Downing, watch the rest of the CBS report here.

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The Power of Engineering

Chemical engineering students and faculty at Tufts have the opportunity to join AIChE, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. According to their website, AIChE  is the world’s leading organization for chemical engineering professionals, with more than 45,000 members from more than 90 countries.

One of the Institute’s greatest benefits is connecting members to one another and allowing them to participate in conferences around the world. In one of such event, AIChE members discussed the power of engineering in improving our world and our lives.

Ayse Asatekin, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Tufts, took part in the discussion and added to the passionate voices of other chemical engineering students and educators from all over the country.

Watch the video and see Professor Asatekin’s remarks:

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Welcome to Twitter, Dean of Student Affairs Office!

The Dean of Student Affairs is the office responsible for keeping students safe and supported. Those on the hill all know Dean Bruce Reitman, whether it’s through his friendly emails or personal chats.

The office’s website offers an array of resources for students as well as explanations of the many ways they can come to students’ aid. They recently took their communications efforts a step further by joining Twitter.Their feed contains relevant news for students: events and alerts, as well as the office’s commentary on day-to-day life on the hill.

Check them out and give them a follow – they’ll fill your newsfeed with lots of sassy, Jumbo fun!

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Tufts Elementary Education Program

The Tufts Elementary Education Program released a new video that talks about their new emphasis on teachers who focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in elementary schools. This program aims to equip these new teachers with the best tools in the STEM areas, so that when they start in elementary schools they can become useful resources for the other teachers.

Check out this video and for more information, visit their website.

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“Derp” Gets an Update

Nearly three years ago in Ming Chow’s Game Development class, Richard Mondello, A12, and Philip Tang, E12, created an app they called Derp. Derp is a “fast-paced two-ball pong-inspired game that you play with a someone sitting directly across from you.”

Ming Chow’s Game Development class, in the Department of Computer Science, teaches students how to create complete computer and video games from start to finish. The class focuses on the different elements to a game,  user interfaces, sound, animation, and game hacking.

A new version of Derp, that now supports the iPhone 5, was released after the new year. Check it out!

 

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Professor Roger Fielding on Sarcopenia

Tufts Senior Scientist Roger Fielding recently sat down with Andrew Dudley, a specialist on Sarcopenia, to discuss Fielding’s research innovations. Sarcopenia, which involves the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass, is a hotly researched field, and Fielding’s work at Tufts has paved the way in recent years.

As the Director of the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, and Sarcopenia Laboratory, a branch of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Fielding works to understand how nutrition and physical activity may help prevent or reverse physical dysfunction in adults. Fielding explains that:

We study the factors that influence the age-related changes in muscle mass and muscle strength, and we try to examine interventions that could potentially slow or reverse the process.

Check out the video below, and learn more about Sarcopenia on Facebook and Twitter.

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Stop Motion Animation: Dr. Brian Gravel

Stop Motion Animation (SAM) software is huge these days, and Tufts lecturer Dr. Brian Gravel believes that it’s critical for K-12 classrooms. Gravel works for the Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach, where he has been working on the SAM Animation Project since 2004.

His work spawned a spinoff project, iCreate to Educate, which focuses on using SAM to effectively teach lessons on language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, art, and music to young learners. In the video below, Gravel introduces the basics of SAM software and describes the effectiveness of the iCreate to Educate programs, based on research funded by the National Science Foundation.

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Tufts Professors on “Academic Minute”

In the past year, several Tufts professors have been featured on “Academic Minute,” a series broadcast by WAMC Northeast Public Radio that focuses on the academic innovations coming out of colleges and universities around the world. In August, the series featured Tufts Music Professor Dr. Joseph Auner, who spoks about the technology behind modern electronic instruments. “Academic Minute” has also spoken with Dr. Gregory Crane, editor of the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts, who researches the importance of Arabic translations of documents from Ancient Greece.

Professor Crane explains the significance of Arabic translation:

Many scientific terms such as algebra and chemistry come to us from Arabic. European culture rediscovered ancient sources like Aristotle and Euclid via Latin translations from Arabic translations of the Greek originals.”

The “Academic Minute” podcasts reach a wide audience on a daily basis. For more information, check out the podcast’s Facebook and Twitter Pages.

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