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The Maine Center for Research in STEM Education (RiSE Center)

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The Maine Center for Research in STEM Education (The Maine RiSE Center) provides an integrated approach to University-based research and professional development in science and mathematics education. The Center is a joint effort of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Education and Human Development and College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture.  The activities of the Center bring together faculty from the science and mathematics disciplines with faculty from education.  With this combination of resources, the Center is reevaluating and reforming introductory level science and mathematics  courses, establishing new practices for K-12 science teacher preparation, and building infrastructure with teachers, schools, and administrators through out the state.

Activities undertaken by the Center are targeted to create attractive, content-rich teacher preparation and continuing education options for mathematics and science teachers. The Center is working to develop well-qualified science and mathematics teachers for grades K-12 and to spearhead the development of coherent, developmentally appropriate curricula for mathematics and science.

You can find us by accessing the Map to the RiSE Ctr.


Director: Susan McKay, 207-581-4678
Administrative Specialist:
Leisa Preble, 207-581-4672


A partnership bringing together over 45 rural Maine schools, the University of Maine, three Maine non-profits with expertise in science education, and science and technology leaders at the Maine Department of Education to target the teaching and learning of physical sciences in grades 6-9 and the preparation of science teachers at the University of Maine.  To find out more about this partnership, click on the link above.

The Maine Elementary Sciences Partnership (MaineESP) is an exciting expansion project of the MainePSP. Supported for three years by a $1.7M grant from the Maine Department of Education’s Math Science Partnership Program, the MaineESP seeks to create an infrastructure to strengthen rural science education in grades PK-5. To find out more about this partnership, click on the link above.

Job Opportunities
All professional positions are filled at this time. Post doctoral positions are still available. Please click on the “Open Positions” link on the right.



University of Maine professor’s research is popular topic for ScienceInsider

The Weekly – Bangor Daily News, February 5, 2015

ORONO, Maine — In 2014, an article about a University of Maine professor’s research made a best-read list.
Michelle Smith, assistant professor in the school of biology and ecology, co-authored a paper about teaching approaches. Aleszu Bajak then penned “Lectures Aren’t Just Boring, They’re Ineffective, Too, Study Finds,” for ScienceInsider about the research that Smith and others conducted with lead author Scott Freeman of the University of Washington, Seattle.

The piece was ScienceInsider’s third most popular of the year, just behind pieces on plagiarism and Ebola.

The researchers re-analyzed 225 studies that compared grades of students enrolled in undergraduate science, engineering and mathematics courses taught in a typical lecture format with the grades of students in STEM courses that utilized active learning methods.

For more information on this topic, please click on the link (above).
Additional article from UMaine News – Smith’s Research a Hot Topic for ScienceInsider.


Rules of engagement: Transforming the teaching of college-level science -

December 18, 2014,, Discovery page
A science education advocate (Michelle K. Smith) who trained as a molecular biologist uses her analytical background to create teaching strategies that energize both students and faculty.





Commencement Speaker 2014 – Justin D. Lewin
Justin D. Lewin of Castle Hill, Maine, majored in biology. He also began graduate work toward a Master of Science in Teaching in January. His numerous academic honors include an Armed Forces Communication & Electronics Association STEM Teachers for America’s Future Scholarship and Maine PSP Summer Undergraduate Research Assistant Fellowship, both in 2012, and a UMaine Center for Undergraduate Research Fellowship in spring 2013. For more about Justin, please click on the above link.

2014 Fellows by the American Chemical Society (ACS)
Mitchell Bruce, an associate professor of chemistry (and member of the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education), was named a 2014 fellow by the American Chemical Society (ACS). Bruce is one of 99 scientists recognized by the society for demonstrating outstanding accomplishments in chemistry and making important contributions to ACS, the world’s largest scientific society. The 2014 fellows represent a range of disciplines and geographic locations, from 30 of the society’s technical divisions, 57 local sections and 23 national committees. This year’s class will be recognized Aug. 11 at the society’s 248th national meeting in San Francisco. A full news release with a complete list of this year’s fellows is online.

Promotions, Promotions – 2014!
If you see them around, please congratulate Francois Amar on his promotion to Full Professor and Dean of the Honors College, Michael Wittmann on his promotion to Department Chair of the Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, and Sarah Nelson on her promotion to Associate Research Professor. We are so proud of them!!



5th Annual University Course Observation Program – Accepting Applications
The Maine Physical Sciences Partnership (MainePSP) and the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education are pleased to offer an opportunity for middle school and high school STEM teachers to observe STEM courses at the University of Maine for our 5th Annual University Course Observation Program (UCOP).  Teachers who participate in this program will receive $1200.  This program is sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
The program takes place during your February and April vacations.  Round I will take place Tuesday, February 17 - Thursday, February 19.Round II will take place Tuesday, April 21 - Thursday, April 23.  Each day will run from 8 am to around 4 pm, with lunch included.  Participants must attend all six days. Preference will be given to those teachers who have not yet had a chance to participate in this program.
Teachers participating in UCOP will learn about instructional practices being used at the university level, utilize observation protocols to collect data in the classroom, provide feedback about the teaching practices observed, and participate in group discussions about effective and ineffective classroom practices.  We will provide training on how to use the observation protocols.  We view this program as a collaborative effort with feedback very much welcome! 
In addition to taking part in the February and April UCOP on the UMaine campus, UMaine staff would also like to come to your classroom and conduct an observation.  The observation information will allow us to begin to design university-level professional development for faculty to help them better understand the needs of first​-​year students.

We hope you will consider being a part of this exciting program!  Applications are due by January 16, 2014.  

​If you have any questions, please contact Erin Vinson at​


2015 Jackson Laboratory Teaching Sabbaticals
The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) and The University of Maine would like to announce the final Teacher Research Sabbatical program: a paid academic-year research experience open to all STEM teachers in Maine and other rural New England states.  This will be the LAST year for the sabbatical program as JAX shifts resources to a more broadly-disseminated model for teacher professional development in genomics.

Read about one teacher’s sabbatical experience in “Spirit of discovery”!

Maine RiSE Center Colloquia & Seminar Series:
3:00-4:00 pm, First Monday of the month
Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium, 165 Barrows Hall (unless otherwise indicated)
Click on the link (above) for more information.

Friday, February 6
Mila Kryjevskaia, Dept. of Physics, North Dakota State University
The role of Dual Process Theory in probing student reasoning in physics
Rm. 141 Bennett Hall, 3:15 – 4:15 pm (jointly hosted by the Dept. of Physics and Astronomy and the RiSE Center)

Monday, April 6
Marilyne Stains, Dept. of Chemistry, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Hill Auditorium
Title: TBD


Upcoming Conferences:

No Question Left Behind: Bringing Guided-Inquiry Curricula into Science and Mathematics Classrooms

June 28-30, 2015 at the University of Maine, Orono, Maine

More information coming soon.

Upcoming Thesis Defenses:

None at this time


 Congratulations to the following MST Students who will be graduating this season:




Pi Pi Baby

The Resource Coordinator and the Owl Rescue

Maine PSP Indoor Soccer Team – 2011-2012

Team RiSE 2012 Winter Schedule

Directions to Fields:


The Center was created by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Education, Award Number R125K010106.

Image Description:

Image Description: Maine Physical Sciences Partnership

Image Description: Maine Elementary Sciences Partnership logo

Image Description: Michelle Smith in Interactive Classroom

Image Description: Michelle Smith gives a talk at the University of Adelaide, Australia, about the benefits of interactive teaching to student learning, and the data collected from STEM classroom observations at the University of Maine. Smith's talks involve asking the audience to vote on clicker questions and discuss findings with their colleagues. Credit: Robert Williams Photography

Image Description: Justin Lewin - Commencement Speaker, Graduation 2014


Past Center News

Additional Links

Contact Information

The Maine Center for Research in STEM Education (RiSE Center)
5727 Estabrooke Hall
Orono, Maine 04469-5727
Phone: (207) 581-4672 | Fax: (207) 581-9555E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469