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Projects & Activities

Visiting Scholar Presentations

Every year, MSTE brings scholars from other universities to the Faculty to provide presentations and meet with faculty and students.

Dr. Ian Mitchell, Monash University

Dr. Ian MitchellThe funds provided by the MSTE group supported the visit of Dr. Ian Mitchell of Monash University (Melbourne, Australia) from April 15th-17th, 2015. Dr. Mitchell was the central figure in the founding of the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning in 1985. Dr. Mitchell began his visit by attending a physics class at Loyalist Collegiate and Vocational Institute here in Kingston. At Queen’s Faculty of Education, Dr. Mitchell spoke with intermediate-senior teacher candidates in the Physics curriculum class about the PEEL database and introduced the class to recently developed insights into planning practices of experienced teachers. Dr. Mitchell also presented insights from PEEL at a guest lecture for teacher candidates and graduate students with interests in the sciences. On April 17th, Dr. Mitchell offered a seminar to all faculty members; the seminar was video-recorded and made available through the MSTE group. This visit allowed teacher candidates in science and faculty members to interact with Dr. Mitchell and engage in meaningful conversations about using the PEEL database to support student learning in science.

Dr. Peter Liljedahl, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Peter LiljedahlOn Thursday November 5, Dr. Peter Liljedahl, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Co-Director, David Wheeler Institute for Research in Mathematics Education at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia gave a talk to faculty and graduate students on the nature of illumination and its relationship to creativity. A lively discussion rounded out the event. All attendees coming from a variety of disciplines found something engaging and informative. “What is the nature of illumination? That is, what is it that sets illumination apart from other experiences? In this presentation the answer to this question is pursued through the use of historical and contemporary theories of discovery, creativity, and invention to analyze the qualitative experiences of prominent research mathematicians.”

Dr. Egan Chernoff, University of Saskatchewan

Professor Egan standing behind the "Queen's University" sign on Union and University.

Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (MSTE) Group Visiting Scholar from the University of Saskatchewan, Dr. Egan Chernoff, an ardent user of social media for mathematics education, lectured to our nearly 700 teacher candidates, met with faculty, staff and graduate students, and covered a number of classes this week. He offered an overview of his use of social media for education, with mathematics and the teaching and learning of mathematics providing the subject area context and examples. Throughout the week, Dr. Chernoff talked about different social media platforms, “who” is using “what,” and his own use of social media over the past four years (including, what he calls, MatthewMaddux debris). He also explained what social media has taught him about the teaching and learning of mathematics, how he has been able to keep up to date with the Canadian Math Wars and the option of being asocial (have followers, but not following anyone) on social media.

Social media was originally a hobby for Dr. Chernoff. Since he was “hesitant” to create a professional Facebook account, “MatthewMaddux” was born in 2008 (read the name quickly, it makes sense!). MatthewMaddux moved into the Twitterverse in 2009, mainly to “keep his students connected” outside the classroom, and then onto several other social media platforms shortly thereafter (Google+, Tumblr, Delicious, StumbleUpon, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Academia, Second Life).

In this process, Dr. Chernoff realized that his use of social media was fulfilling, what he believes, is a new form of service as an assistant professor – he was, in fact, digitally serving the academic community, his university, college and department and the public at large.

Currently, Dr. Chernoff’s main goals are to share information, rather than build community or engage in conversation (which is why many people take to social media), and to promote his own research. He acts as a “digital curator” for mathematics education, and has created a digital repository for online information on Tumblr, a microblogging platform and social networking site. He posts between fifty and a hundred times per month on his blog MatthewMaddux Education, which has approximately 1000 visitors per month.

Dr. Chernoff uses his own customized series of RSS feeds (e.g., from websites, listservs, Google News, Google alerts, email alerts, social media aggregators, etc.) to “sift through all of the ‘noise’ looking for mathematics education ‘signals’.” He then shares the signals that resonate with him (for various reasons) on various platforms (Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+) so his followers can “pick their poison.”

A savvy social media user, Dr. Chernoff knows how to do this efficiently. He explained how all Tumblr posts are automatically pushed to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn and how all Twitter posts are automatically pushed to Facebook.

In person, Dr. Chernoff is anything but asocial; however, he has made the choice to be asocial online and is completely devoted to his professional role as curator. He doesn’t actually follow anyone on Twitter, and he doesn’t post about what he had for lunch. While his choice is to confine his use of social media to curating, Dr. Chernoff noted that it is possible to be asocial in the opposite way on social media, that is, you can follow different people to gather information, but not post anything yourself.

Dr. Chernoff pointed out that the “social component of social media is not always a good thing” and that the anonymity associated with comments is a huge issue. For example, Popular Science no longer accepts comments and, in the near future, Dr. Chernoff will no longer accept comments at MatthewMaddux Education. With regard to the future, he also predicted that “digital service will probably be expected of university professors in the future.”

Clearly from Twitter, students, faculty and staff appreciated combination of Dr. Chernoff’s experience, his asocial approach to social media, and social approach to meetings. To quote some of our tweeps:

“Everyone in this room already loves @MatthewMaddux because he is encouraging us to use our devices. #MSTE

“A prof that encourages us to USE our cellphones and laptops, you have my attention. @MatthewMaddux #MSTE

@MatthewMaddux great lecture @queensu today! #TweetingDuringLecture

In fact, Dr. Chernoff has used a social media platform to Storify his visit to Queen’s, ‘MatthewMaddux visits the MSTE Group at Queen's University’.

Thanks to Dr. Chernoff for sharing his experience, expertise, and encouragement!


For 2016, the 9MathMashUp was held on Thursday April 7, 2016 in the Faculty of Education gymnasium.


MathMashup is a new event that was started in April 2015 by teacher candidates as part of their alternative practicum. This year the Alternative Practicum team consisted of three Intermediate/Senior teacher candidates; Mackenzie Ash, Stephen MacGregor, and Steven Whalley, under Dr. Jamie Pyper’s supervision. This was a single day event for students enrolled in Grade 9 Applied Mathematics, designed to support and provide students with the “Big Ideas” of the Grade 9 curriculum. Students from 3 different schools attended this event. The students worked collaboratively to earn points through completion of various activities such as an obstacle course where graphing calculators and motion sensors were used to find the total distance of the course.

MSTE-QSLMA 7/8 MathOlymPIcs

For 2017, the MSTE-QSLMA Grades 7/8 matholymPIcs will be held on Friday, April 7, 2016 in the Faculty of Education gymnasium.


Three medals on a table.Each year in the May-June period the Ontario Association for Mathematics Education (OAME) organizes an Ontario Mathematics Olympics (OMO) for Grades 7 and 8 students. The teams for this event come from the various chapters of OAME. The chapter for south-eastern Ontario, the area in which Kingston and Queen's University are located, is called the Quinte-St Lawrence Mathematics Association (QSLMA). We host the QSLMA Grades 7/8 Mathematics Olympics here as a preliminary round of the provincial OMO. This event is financially supported by the Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (MSTE) Group here at the Faculty of Education.

Previous events can be seen in these wikis:


MSTE Science Video Resource

The following videos are designed to assist in the planning and teaching of a variety of junior level science units within the Ontario curriculum. Each video contains a series of demonstrations and student activities with clear connections to the curriculum expectations. Also presented are brief explanations of the scientific principles at work, activity procedures, strategies for classroom implementation, and a list of all necessary materials. Activities can be modified for individual learners, small groups and different levels of difficulty. All materials used can easily be found around any regular classroom, school or home. Ultimately, these videos should serve to generate ideas, facilitate planning, and help make science class engaging, meaningful and fun.

Grade 4 Videos

Light and Sound

Pulleys and Gears

Grade 5 Videos



Human Organ Systems

Grade 6 Videos



The Origins of MSTE

The Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Centre at Queen's University was established in 1988.

The Origins of MSTE

In 1996, at the end of his tenure as the MSTE Group’s first co-ordinator, Dr. John Olson wrote a synopsis titled “MSTE: an Evolving Collaboration” outlining the group’s origins and its successes in its formative years. He wrote:

In 1988 Queen’s University made a proposal to the Royal Bank of Canada to establish a Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Centre. At that time, there was concern that Canada needed to improve educational provision in the area of mathematics, science and technology through enhanced school programs and teacher education. The Faculty of Education offered to contribute to this process by developing greater interaction between teacher education and educators in the field. Those who prepare teachers could learn from the experience of outstanding in-service teachers just what could be done in school settings, and practicing teachers, in turn, might benefit from the guidance of reflective practitioners and educational researchers who could contribute international perspectives. With this in mind, the then Dean of Education, Paul Park, proposed that an endowment be established to enable people from the field of education to come to the Faculty of Education for extended periods of time. Accordingly, in 1990 the Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (MSTE) Group was established dedicated to improving teacher education programs, as well as influencing and learning from those in the field of education.

To meet this goal a number of opportunities for outstanding educators and educational researchers to interact with faculty, local teachers and teacher candidates were established. Based on the success of significant collaborations with international scholars leading up to the formation of the MSTE Group, one of the first initiatives was the establishment of a Royal Bank Visitorship that brought distinguished educators from many backgrounds and interests to the Faculty every year. The highlight of their time at Queen’s was the presentation of the Royal Bank Lecture, well attended by faculty, teacher candidates, and teachers, as well as members of the wider community. Often symposia, workshops or discussion groups were planned around the lecture to give educators a greater opportunity to interact with the visitor on the issues at hand.

This was the case with the first Royal Bank Visitor, Dr. Ursula Franklin, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, who gave a public lecture on The Nature of Technology and Society. In the two day colloquium that followed, local teachers interacted with her and with faculty in thinking about ways in which mathematics, science and technology education could help students understand social problems that they would confront in the next decade. At the time, Dr. Olson wrote:

Her visit established one of the themes of the Group, which [was] to look at the ways in which mathematics, science and technology interact in helping students understand the role of these subjects in society, in the economy, and in everyday life. She helped us understand that we live in a culture tremendously influenced by science and technology.

Now, almost twenty-five years after the inaugural visitorship, Dr. Olson, and some of the other founding MSTE Group members in attendance have been asked to revisit Dr. Franklin’s address titled “The Real World of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education: Global Challenges and Local Action,” ( first published in the MSTE newsletter  volume 2, Number 1 December 1991, and re-published here). Their voices speak to the complexity and importance of the issues Dr. Franklin and other early MSTE visitors raised—and the role of MSTE in the future.

Dr. Olson, Professor Emeritus, Science Education, focused on the potential of MSTE in the curriculum:

The following quote caught my attention: “ ….I advise especially those who are uneasy about a technology-dominated society to become competent enough to not “read technology” but read between the lines….” (Franklin, 1992, p 3)  In the context of MSTE it points to the opportunity a group like MSTE has to find how the ability to “read technology” can be achieved in the curriculum and through pedagogy. This can be achieved through looking at the larger debates of society where politics and rhetoric come into play and where the contribution and limitations of scientific knowledge are also at play. That contest is in fact the domain of technology seen in its broadest context where science and other domains of enquiry contest in decision making.

Such a curriculum transcends that of the mainstream university course and is directed to ends beyond science itself. This is not an easy task. There are conserving forces at work in schools and universities that would have technology as a logos subordinated to science and science to mathematics. These trends inhibit the educational potential of these subjects.

Dr. Ann Marie Hill, Professor of Technological Education speaks of educational responsibility:

It was with such pleasure that I re-read Ursula Franklin’s 1992 paper based on her 1991 address at an invitational colloquium of the MSTE Group. However, it is also particularly perturbing to me. Dr. Franklin’s impressive and thoughtful address of 1991 could have been written today, 23 years later. The same reflections/concerns about the educational system, learning, and the human condition that she so eloquently expresses are even more critical today. Traditional conceptions of education, curriculum, and learning have gained momentum in educational systems, internationally, over the past 23 years – accountability, testing, and standardization have a far too great influence on what and how teachers teach, and hence, how students learn. If we look under the rug for some leftovers of some past progressive educational efforts, we may find glimpses of education whose mandate is for learners “to think and be thoughtful” (Franklin, 1992, p. 4).

For me, the most important aspect of Dr. Franklin’s 1991 address that it is the responsibility of educator’s to provide an educational environment for students “to think and be thoughtful”. This is no easy task in today’s educational environment. Dr. Franklin presses the points that “knowledge is not neutral, objective or value free” (Franklin, 1992, p. 1), that “dominant views on gender, race and ideology” (p. 1) have influenced present day knowledge – and continue to do so, and that “the teaching of science and technology will be truncated and incomplete if it does not contain discussions about why certain problems are of interest and fundable at particular points in time while other questions don’t seem to matter” (p. 1). These are powerful statements, statements that should guide the MSTE Group to not only consider and remember, but to guide the Group in its mandate to improve the teaching of mathematics, science, and technology.

Dr. William Egnatoff, Associate Professor (retired), Computers in Education, encourages us to consider the way we wish to live and how MST education can be of benefit:

All human activity has moral and political underpinnings and intentions. Our scientific and technological endeavours are motivated by notions about the world and us in it that are often not made explicit. That gets us in a lot of trouble. Franklin reminds us to look at our hidden assumptions and intentions. She provides us with well-designed and sharpened tools—mindset, metaphor analysis, questions--for such inquiry. If we want life on earth to be increasingly peaceful and sustainable, our educators should pick up Franklin’s razor to cut through the noise and distractions of our daily lives and corporate economic and political enterprises in order that we can redirect our means of MST education to that end. Finally, we should bring to such education the cultivation of the joy of creative thinking and action.

Dr. William Higginson, Associate Professor (retired), Mathematics Education looked not at Dr. Franklin’s presentation itself but rather what it signified for the emerging MSTE Group:

Dr. Franklin’s presentation and subsequent colloquium, completed a rather remarkable collection of influences and alliances which, taken together, gave a broad definition to the nature and early direction of the MSTE Group. Two intellectual underpinnings that took place in the years just prior to the formation of the MSTE Group are significant. One was the very significant work of Skip Hills and Brian McAndrews with the legendary American scholars, Philip Morrison and David Hawkins. Prolific and profound, these two individuals and their educator wives had cut a wide swath through American scientific, social, historical, philosophical and educational circles for almost half a century. The second leg was my work with the key thinkers at the Media Lab at MIT led by Negroponte, Papert and Wiesner where I held two visiting appointments in the 1980’s. These partnerships led to a number of visits, lectures and workshops and provided material for the creative genius of Dean Paul Park to turn into what became the MSTE Group, under the very capable administrative leadership of inaugural Co-Ordinator, John Olson. The visit of Dr. Franklin, stressing the importance of the social dimension of Science and Technology, can be looked at as a public addition to our high-profile roster of distinguished and wise advisors. We were, probably more than we were conscious of, setting the bar very high.

Dr. Franklin’s presentation can resonate with today’s readers as it did almost 25 years ago. The connection between mathematics, science and technology—and the society it informs and is shaped by — has not diminished, and indeed, is more important than ever before.

The Invitational Mathematics Classroom

Led by Lynda Colgan.

When we hear the word environment, we usually think of things like air and water quality, trees and buildings, and so on. As we consider the environment in which learning experiences take place, however, it is important to think about not only the physical needs of our students, but also their emotional and social needs. This project will result in significant renovations to Room A342 in order to create an invitational mathematics learning facility that aims to reduce mathematics anxiety and promote self-directed and active learning. Currently, the elementary mathematics classroom, with its traditional appearance, favours students with strong verbal or mathematical/logical intelligences, while neglecting other types of students. The creation of a colourful classroom that houses a range of exemplary resources and offers flexibility will better meet the needs, learning styles, experiences and mathematics content knowledge of the very diverse group of students who comprise P/J cohorts.