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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Program trains grad students to teach middle and high school math and science

Pastry shops in the North End add their own touch to traditional Italian pastries



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“It is well known that there is national crisis in terms of the need for math and science teachers,” she said. “The fact that the National Science Foundation and the Noyce Foundation have released significant resources to teacher preparation programs to build a generation of well prepared, committed Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teachers is testimony to the commitment these organizations have to respond to the needs of school districts and youth all across the country.” The need for an increase of high-quality math and science teaching has become a hot political topic across the country, and on Sept. 27, President Barack Obama announced his goal of recruiting 10,000 STEM teachers over the next two years and 100,000 over the next decade, according to a statement released by the Office of the Press Secretary. Beardsley explained that training teachers to educate middle and high school students is particularly important because those early stages in a students’ educational development are often when their interests in specific subjects are sparked. “The best engineers, chemists, bio-ethics specialists, surgeons and radiologists, not to mention stellar science teachers … have probably been inspired by wonderful teachers in middle and high schools,” she said. “Students who have enjoyed learning math and science throughout their education [and] have found the disciplines exciting and creative should consider sharing their enthusiasm and understanding with future generations of students.” Hugh Gallagher, associate professor of physics at Tufts, agreed with Beardsley, explaining that middle and high school teachers shape students’ educational foundations. “I’m sure all of us remember particularly strong — even inspirational — teachers in high school or middle school,” he said. “They knew the material inside and out, were passionate about it, and were able to explain even the most difficult concepts with clarity. … Hopefully, the students supported by this grant will go on to become those kind of inspirational teachers.”

The choice to train teachers to work specifically with students attending urban public schools has been met with some negativity, Beardsley said, with some fearing the schools might be dangerous or unsupportive. But the classrooms Beardsley and the other project participants have in mind are anything but those stereotypes, she said. “People have a host of misunderstandings about what it means to teach in urban schools,” Beardsley said. “Well-run urban public schools, like the schools we are partnering with in our Noyce grant, are among the most vital examples of schools that work for students, professionals and families in the nation.” Gallagher believes that the grant will not only equip students with superb teaching skills but also provide them with the resources to find teaching jobs after they earn their degrees — a pressing concern for many students. “I think that this grant, as well as the numerous other ongoing or upcoming STEM education initiatives, will impact Tufts in numerous ways. They will give science and math majors resources if they choose to pursue a career in teaching. These initiatives are making it possible for faculty like myself in research-oriented STEM departments to devote some of our time to helping to address the current crisis in STEM education in our nation’s schools,” Gallagher said. Moreover, Beardsley said, the students selected to partake in the scholarship program will have the opportunity take their areas of expertise beyond the theoretical environment in which they are usually studied. “The Noyce Project will support teachers to learn how to take their excitement about math and science and share that with students who have often not seen that math and science have much to do with their lives,” Beardsley said. “The candidates who are selected to be part of this program will have the opportunity to work in excellent schools alongside master teachers and university faculty who are dedicated to improving math and science education for all students and, in the end, improving the national picture of math and science literacy for all of us.”

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Mike’s Pastry: Commercial done right (300 Hanover St.) While a stop at Maria’s is certainly warranted, a visit to both Mike’s and Modern Pastry is mandatory. Both are known as the crème de la crème of all pastry shops because of their famous cannolis. The 48-year old Mike’s Pastry, brainchild of 88-year-old Mike Mercogliano — operations are now being handled by his stepson Angelo Papa — attracts big crowds on any given day. Mike’s cannolis are characterized by a thick tube of deep-fried crispy pastry and are typically filled with ricotta cream. Although plain ricotta is Mike’s best-seller, the store also offers a variety including chocolate cream, chocolate chip, Italian yellow cream and “New York Cheesecake.” All are paired with a selection of either Mike’s original-flavored shell or one dipped in chocolate sauce. “[The cannolis] at Mike’s are bigger and slightly sweeter,” sophomore Daniel Fortunato, who has eaten at both shops several times this year, said. “You can sort of taste more of the ricotta over at Modern because its fresher, but you ultimately get more value for your money over at Mike’s.” On the pastry side, Mike’s offers Sfogliatella, also known as “lobstertail,” a flaky pastry shell filled with either white or yellow cream. Modern Pastry: Gluten-free heaven (257 Hanover St.) North End locals looking for more “authentic” cannolis head to Modern Pastry, a newer shop housed in a smaller venue — but one whose cannolis sell just as well as Mike’s Pastry’s, according to a Modern Pastry employee who requested to remain anonymous. “I remember someone saying online that we sell over 2,000 cannolis a day,” he said. “And then I started approximating figures myself and realized that it was about the right number.”


Customers in the North End can often be seen lining up outside of Mike’s Pastry, a popular choice for cannoli lovers. But the difference in taste between the standard ricotta-cream cannolis at Mike’s and those at Modern Pastry is quite distinct, Fortunato said. Additionally, among Modern Pastry’s bragging points is that their cannolis are filled to order, unlike Mike’s Pastry’s, whose cannoli are prefilled. The two shops compete on a host of other pastries, as well — Italian yellow cream at Mike’s, for one, is easily confused with its Modern Pastry counterpart, vanilla custard. Both also price their cannolis at $2.50 for regular fillings and $2.75 for upgrades. Still, the shops have their differences, and Modern Pastry sets itself apart most notably by offering patrons gluten-free pastries, olive oil, dried pastas and artisanal chocolate truffles that come filled with exotic liqueurs and non-liqueurs alike — cherry, grand marnier, Irish cream, Kahlua, peanut butter and mint, to name a few.

"….this was, perhaps, the most valuable class I took at Tufts. Here's why: I learned enough about astrophysics, geology, chemistry, biology and anthropology to discuss these topics and learn more about them. I took this class because I needed a science requirement, but it exceeded my expectations." “This class was fantastic! No better way to fulfill a science requirement." (Course feedback from Tufts students in spring 2010)

Bio 0006/ Chem 0006/ Phy 0006 Tu/Th 3:00-4:15pm J+ block

From the Big Bang to Humankind


The Tufts Daily for Wednesday, November 10, 2010