Read the latest and archived news stories about the Concord Consortium’s activities and staff.

  • Feb 7, 2018
    Learning scientist Jie Chao kicks off new blog series Everyday Inquiry with R. She shows how to use the R programming language to ask and answer questions about data.
  • Jan 30, 2018
    If you care about finding renewable energy solutions to environmental problems, you probably would like to join an international community of Energy3D users to model existing or design new solar power systems in the real world and contribute them to the Virtual Solar Grid — a hypothetical power grid that I am developing from scratch to model and simulate interconnected solar energy systems and storage.
  • Jan 29, 2018
    With funding from the National Science Foundation, we sought to understand the contributions and challenges of teacher implementation of digital games by studying Geniverse, an immersive, game-like learning environment that infuses virtual experimentation in genetics with narrative elements.
  • Jan 25, 2018
    There are three kinds of mathematics: the math that’s taught, the math that’s learned, and the math that’s needed in the 21st century STEM workplace. With support from the Advanced Technological Education Program at the National Science Foundation, Michael Hacker, Co-Director of the Center for STEM Research at Hofstra University, and Paul Horwitz organized a conference to study why those three “maths” are not the same.
  • Jan 24, 2018
    Integrating computational thinking into core science content and practices is a major goal of our InSPECT project, which is developing hands-on high school biology investigations using simple electronic sensors with Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity—a far cry from the simple germination experiments students usually encounter.
  • Jan 11, 2018
    Google’s Doodle on January 9 honored Har Gobind Khorana, a Nobel laureate whose work with DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis was seminal to deciphering the genetic code. Did anyone besides us (shout out to our own Eli Kosminsky!) notice that, midway through the day, the cartoon changed?
  • Jan 4, 2018
    Nine publications illuminate our research in educational technology in 2017. Learn about engineering design tools that may help bridge the design-science gap (#5), a systems modeling tool that supports students in the NGSS practice of developing and using models and the crosscutting concept of systems (#1), an Earth science curriculum that increases student scientific argumentation abilities (#6), the relative ease of creating hierarchical data structures (#9), automated analysis of collaborative problem solving in electronics (#8), and more.
  • Jan 2, 2018
    The year 2017 was a significant one for the Concord Consortium. Even though we lost our founder—and an amazing friend, colleague, mentor, and collaborator—our memories of Robert Tinker and his work resonate in an enduring way. Not many people can say they’ve worked with a legend. But anyone who knew our beloved founder recognized they were in the presence of a brilliant mind and a person with genuine compassion. While Bob’s passing on June 21, 2017, is a source of sadness for us all, we honor his legacy every day through our work.
  • Dec 21, 2017
    Can dragons get cancer? Students in Dr. Ludmila Tyler’s Biochemistry Molecular Genetics and Genomics course at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst asked this question last semester. As part of their course work, they used our Geniverse software to study dragon genetics and develop new genes, mutant alleles, and phenotypes based on investigations of scientific literature.
  • Dec 19, 2017
    Our dragon genetics games have engaged thousands of students for many years. In that time, teachers have asked for an easy way to track their students’ progress and performance. Until now, teacher reports have been difficult to pull out of our system and impossible to parse in real time. The GeniGUIDE project, in partnership with North Carolina State University, is developing a teacher dashboard to accompany our new Geniventure software.
  • Dec 16, 2017
    Astrobiology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering research on the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life across the universe, just published a research paper titled “Transport-Induced Spatial Patterns of Sulfur Isotopes (δ34S) as Biosignatures” by a group of researchers at Pennsylvania State University, the University of Texas at El Paso, and Rice University.
  • Dec 6, 2017
    Following the recommendation to incorporate the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) science and engineering practices in their classrooms, schools across the country are looking for ways to integrate scientific argumentation into their curriculum. Since 2012 the High-Adventure Science project in collaboration with National Geographic Education has offered free online modules for Earth and space science topics that include multiple opportunities for students to engage in argument from evidence.
  • Nov 25, 2017
    Energy3D is a “smart” CAD tool because it can monitor the designer’s behavior in real time, based on which it can generate feedback to the designer to regulate the design behavior. This capacity has tremendous implications to learning and teaching scientific inquiry and engineering design with open-ended nature that requires, ideally, one-to-one tutoring so intense that no teacher can easily provide in real classrooms.
  • Nov 21, 2017
    General Motors (GM), along with other RE100 companies, has committed to powering its worldwide factories and offices with 100% renewable energy by 2050. Last month, the company furthered its commitment by giving the Engineering Computation Team at the Concord Consortium a $200,000 grant to promote engineering education using renewable energy as a learning context and artificial intelligence as a teaching assistant.
  • Nov 20, 2017
    High Frequency Electronics is a magazine for engineers. In the cover article titled “Substrate Selection Can Simplify Thermal Management” in its November 2017 issue, author John Ranieri included our Energy2D software as one of the modeling tools recommended to the reader, alongside with mainstream commercial products from industry leaders such as Mentor Graphics and ANSYS.
  • Nov 4, 2017
    Previous versions of Energy3D were based on a generic model of solar panel, which users can set its properties such as solar cell type, peak efficiency, panel dimension, color, nominal operating cell temperature, temperature coefficient of power, and so on. While it is essential for users to be able to adjust these parameters and learn what they represent and how they affect the output, it is sometimes inconvenient for a designer to manually set the properties of a solar panel to those of a brand name.
  • Oct 31, 2017
    Bill Finzer and Sherry Hsi will both present at the EdSurge Fusion Conference in Burlingame, California, near our Emeryville office.
  • Oct 20, 2017
    Many people know Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park, in which he posits that humans used remnants of dinosaur DNA to imprudently create a modern theme park populated with dinosaurs. Crichton often used science as a takeoff point in his novels. But Harvard scientist George Church is currently working to revive woolly mammoths using DNA samples frozen for thousands of years.
  • Oct 19, 2017
    Carolyn Staudt will present information about the NSF-funded Teaching Environmental Sustainability: Model My Watershed project and share free resources at the Massachusetts Education Leadership Association (MSELA) 2017 conference.
  • Oct 14, 2017
    We have been invited to present at the Energy Innovation Forum on October 18 organized by the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.
  • Oct 12, 2017
    The Clean Power Plan, which sets state-by-state targets for carbon emissions reductions, has been called a climate game changer, but the director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has repealed the plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
  • Oct 6, 2017
    Earth’s landforms have been shaped over hundreds of millions of years by the movement and interaction of Earth’s tectonic plates. While geoscientists can correlate the wide variety of landforms to this movement, teaching about it poses significant challenges. It’s hard for students to reason spatially and temporally about such processes.
  • Oct 5, 2017
    The primary way students and teachers interact in the classroom is through talking. A teacher poses a question, a student answers, followed by discussion, or argument. Back and forth, words are exchanged; ideas are refined and understood.
  • Oct 3, 2017
    When your students begin to work through models and activities you have assigned to them, you can track their progress, compare responses, and leave electronic feedback.
  • Oct 2, 2017
    There are over 100 standalone models available in our STEM Resource Finder, which you can assign to your students. Consider the following ways you might use them in your classroom.
  • Sep 29, 2017
    Once you’ve registered as a teacher and created a class, you can assign resources to your students.
  • Sep 29, 2017
    Studying water resources is also a good vehicle for learning to visualize and analyze data, make hypotheses, use both hands-on and digital instrumentation, and solve problems.
  • Sep 28, 2017
    Houston’s downtown flooded after Hurricane Harvey. Florida neighborhoods have struggled with murky standing water after Hurricane Irma. Catastrophe can overwhelm any system, but why doesn’t the ground just absorb the extra water?
  • Sep 27, 2017
    We’re thrilled to announce our new website, designed in collaboration with the team at Blenderbox. They understood us from the very beginning, describing in their first creative abstract a vision for a “forward-looking, accessible, and good weird” website.
  • Sep 14, 2017
    SAS, a software company based in Cary, NC, is powered by a solar farm consisting of solar panel arrays driven by horizontal single-axis trackers (HSAT) with the axis fixed in the north-south direction and the panels rotating from east to west to follow the sun during the day. Xan Gregg, JMP Director of Research and Development at SAS, posted some production data from the solar farm that seem so counter-intuitive that he called it a “solar array surprise.”
  • Sep 12, 2017
    In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey evolved from a series of thunderstorms to one of the first major hurricane landfalls in the United States since early 2005. Right on the heels of Harvey, Hurricane Irma blasted through the Caribbean and onto the U.S. mainland, striking Florida in early September.
  • Sep 11, 2017
    Our updated STEM Resource Finder (previously called the Learn Portal) at now allows you to search for resources, create classes, assign activities, and track student progress with reports. All in one place. All for free.
  • Sep 1, 2017
    A breakthrough in medical research has allowed a team of scientists to edit the DNA of human embryos to repair a version of a gene that causes cardiomyopathy, a genetic disease resulting in heart failure. While some see this genome editing technology—known as CRISPR—as a remarkable tour de force, others find the practice extremely alarming.
  • Aug 30, 2017
    The CRISPR gene editing technique is faster, cheaper, and more accurate than past methods of editing DNA. And it’s creating a huge buzz in the world of science and medical research. By precisely removing, adding, or altering part of the genome, CRISPR enables geneticists to target and edit genes that are associated with genetic diseases—without affecting other areas of the genome, a major drawback of previous approaches.
  • Aug 25, 2017
    Last month, I attended the Earth Educators’ Rendezvous in Albuquerque where I participated in the Geoscience Education Research and Practice Forum. Approximately 40 geoscience educators and researchers gathered for four days to prioritize grand challenges in geoscience education research and recommend strategies for addressing the priorities.
  • Aug 25, 2017
    This series details the eclipse-chasing exploits of our President and CEO, Chad Dorsey, as he heads down to Tennessee on a quest for the total solar eclipse. See the whole series. The final leg of the trip is here at last.
  • Aug 24, 2017
    Sigh. The drive back. Just like the partial phases of the eclipse itself, everything passes by in reverse, but it’s never quite as exciting.
  • Aug 22, 2017
    Wow. That’s pretty much all one can say after an event like that. Once an eclipse has passed, it’s hard to capture it in words.
  • Aug 21, 2017
    We’re settled in Tennessee, awaiting totality. As we do, this final post in a three-part mini-guide describes the stages involved as totality nears and takes over, and the planning and prioritizing involved in experiencing and capturing it.
  • Aug 21, 2017
    Well, the big day is here—now we wait, trying nervously to eat breakfast, clear our jitters, and get our equipment ready.
  • Aug 21, 2017
    As we prepare to enter Tennessee, we’re paying some attention to the other aspects of prepping for a total solar eclipse in our Prepping 101 mini-guide.
  • Aug 21, 2017
    We wake to a reminder that weather isn’t something to be taken for granted—cloudy skies greet us outside the hotel room window. Thankfully, we still have over 500 miles to go, and those will be driving out of the cloudy hills of Pennsylvania and into the warmer, more hospitable regions of the South.
  • Aug 20, 2017
    As we prepare to enter Tennessee, it’s worth paying a bit of attention to the other aspects of prepping for a total solar eclipse. The prep really, boils down to three main stages: 1) Picking the site, 2) Prepping for partial phases, and 3) Prioritizing plans for totality.
  • Aug 19, 2017
    We’ve been planning, prepping and packing for long enough—time to get on the road! In order to get a jump on the expected traffic and have time to get our bearings on location, we’ve headed out several days in advance of the Big Day.
  • Aug 18, 2017
    Packing for the 2017 Great American Eclipse is amazingly simple, especially considering the laboriousness of prior eclipse-chasing quests. For one, it’s possible to drive there, something generally unthinkable with most eclipses.
  • Aug 17, 2017
    When you’re looking up at the solar eclipse on August 21 (wearing appropriate eye protection, of course), you might also be wondering: What else is out there? Black holes, dark energy, life forms? Are we really alone in the universe?
  • Aug 17, 2017
    As the suitcases start to fill and the lists of remaining to-dos become gradually shorter, the actual fact seems increasingly hard to believe—2017 is actually here, and the chase is about to begin once again.
  • Aug 16, 2017
    Prof. Tariq Iqbal and his student Emadeddin Hussein from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada published a paper in the Journal of Clean Energy Technologies titled with “Design of Renewable Energy System for a Mobile Hospital in Libya.”
  • Aug 14, 2017
    In his spare time, Saul Amster likes to program. He’s currently working on a project to turn a tablet into a magic mirror. Yes, like Snow White’s evil stepmother (“Mirror, mirror on the wall…”), except imagine asking the mirror for the day’s forecast or the score of last night’s game.
  • Aug 5, 2017
    The Building Energy Simulation Test (BESTEST) is a test developed by the International Energy Agency for evaluating various building energy simulation tools, such as EnergyPlus, BLAST, DOE2, COMFIE, ESP-r, SERIRES, S3PAS, TASE, HOT2000, and TRNSYS.
  • Aug 3, 2017
    How can you make a cardboard owl that flaps its wings? Or a paper flower that blooms?
  • Aug 3, 2017
    Before interning with senior scientist Charles Xie this summer, Maya Haigis had no idea how many solar panel manufacturers there are—”There’s a ton!” A data science major at the University of Rochester, Maya put her analytic skills to work at the Concord Consortium collecting data on solar panels.
  • Aug 2, 2017
    A parabolic dish Stirling engine is a concentrated solar power (CSP) generating system that consists of a stand-alone parabolic dish reflector focusing sunlight onto a receiver positioned at the parabolic dish’s focal point.
  • Aug 1, 2017
    Earthquakes occur worldwide daily, and their aftereffects vary widely, from minimal to devastating. From California to the Mediterranean, some communities live with the threat and consequences of earthquakes and their aftershocks on a regular basis. Understanding what causes an earthquake is not easy.
  • Jul 27, 2017
    Funded by the National Science Foundation and in collaboration with Prof. Dunwei Wang’s lab at the Department of Chemistry, Boston College, we are exploring the feasibility of using thermal imaging as a universal indicator of chemical reactions.
  • Jul 26, 2017
    In June, Professor Silvia Wen-Yu Lee and her team at the National Changhua University of Education in Central Taiwan offered a 10-hour modeling curriculum to approximately 100 seventh grade students.
  • Jul 20, 2017
    Tucson Electric Power (TEP) and AREVA Solar constructed a 5 MW compact linear Fresnel reflector (CLFR) solar steam generator at TEP’s H. Wilson Sundt Generating Station — not far from the famous Pima Air and Space Museum.
  • Jul 18, 2017
    Breeding virtual dragons is all in a day’s work in biology classrooms using Geniverse, our free, web-based genetics software. Although Geniverse is a game-like environment, it’s far more than child’s play.
  • Jul 17, 2017
    Did you know that while dragons and their model species drakes are fictional and fanciful, the genetics of these virtual Geniverse creatures is based firmly on the real-world genetics of model organisms?
  • Jul 15, 2017
    Linear Fresnel reflectors use long assemblies of flat mirrors to focus sunlight onto fixed absorber pipes located above them, thus capable of concentrating sunlight to as high as 30 times of its original intensity.
  • Jul 13, 2017
    In Version 7.1.7 of Energy3D, I have added the basic functionality needed to perform simulation-based analysis of solar power plants using parabolic trough arrays. These tools include 24-hour yield analysis for any selected day, 12-month annual yield analysis, and the 3D heat map visualization of the solar field for daily shading analysis.
  • Jul 8, 2017
    A Panda-shaped photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant in Datong, China recently came online and quickly went viral in the news.
  • Jul 6, 2017
    Many of the readers of my blog may not know Energy3D is, in fact, also a Google Maps application.
  • Jul 5, 2017
    Concord Consortium Senior Research Scientist Sherry Hsi remembers our founder Bob Tinker who passed away on June 21st.
  • Jun 30, 2017
    A parabolic trough is a type of concentrated solar collector that is straight in one dimension and curved as a parabola in the other two, lined with mirrors.
  • Jun 24, 2017
    It is in deep sadness that we mourned the passing of Dr. Robert Tinker on June 22, 2017. Bob was the founder of the Concord Consortium and the Virtual High School.
  • Jun 22, 2017
    Khi Solar One (KSO) is a 50 MW solar power tower plant located in Upington, South Africa, which was commissioned in February, 2016. KSO has 4,120 heliostats on 346 acres of land.
  • Jun 16, 2017
    One of the unique features of Energy3D is its ability to model, design, and simulate solar power towers.
  • May 25, 2017
    Check out our newly revamped CODAP website! We hope you like our new CODAP website, which is designed to make it easier to find information about CODAP and data science education.
  • May 24, 2017
    If I didn’t tell you that this is an actual solar farm near the Epcot Theme Park in the Disney World in Orlando, Florida, you probably would think this is some kind of school project done by kids.
  • May 22, 2017
    The most common configuration of solar farms is perhaps arrays consisting of rows of solar panel racks. But have you ever thought about why?
  • May 18, 2017
    Future sustainable and resilient infrastructure is expected to be powered by renewable energy, be able to respond intelligently to changes in the environment, and support smart and connected communities.
  • May 14, 2017
    According to Wikipedia, the 20 MW PS20 Solar Power Plant in Seville, Spain consists of a solar field of 1,255 heliostats.
  • May 10, 2017
    Have you ever thought about what a pity it is when a senior engineer with 40 years of problem-solving experience retires? Have you ever thought about what a loss it is when a senior teacher with 40 years of teaching experience retires?
  • May 9, 2017
    We are delighted to highlight the work of Erin Cothran from Hudson (Massachusetts) High School, for National Teacher Appreciation Day! Erin is teaching a 10th grade chemistry unit she developed based on the driving question, “How can something that can’t be seen crush a 67,000 lb. oil tanker made of half-inch steel?”
  • May 6, 2017
    To design a solar panel array, we need to understand the specifications of the type of solar panel that we are going to use. Although all solar panels provide nominal maximum power outputs (Pmax or Pnom), those numbers specify the DC power outputs under the Standard Test Conditions (STC) or PVUSA Test Conditions (PTC).
  • May 1, 2017
    Hypothetical solar power near Hancock Tower in BostonAt the ACE Hackathon event on April 28, we introduced the concept of the Virtual Solar Decathlon to students at Phillips Academy who are interested in sustainable development.
  • Apr 20, 2017
    Thank you to the fantastic crowd at Cyberlearning 2017 who attended our Data Science Education Meetup at Mussel Bar and Grill on Tuesday night.
  • Apr 6, 2017
    An infrared street viewThe award-winning Infrared Street View program is an ambitious project that aims to create something similar to Google’s Street View, but in infrared light.
  • Apr 2, 2017
    Thanks to all the great folks who attended our NSTA 2017 Data Science Education Meetup at BottleRock LA last night. We had a great crowd attend, complete with representatives from Magnitude.
  • Mar 31, 2017
    In April, high school students in Lowell, Massachusetts will start exploring various solarization possibilities in the city of Lowell — famously known as the Cradle of American Industrial Revolution.
  • Mar 06, 2017
    The March 2017 issue of The Science Teacher features “The future of energy: Having students compare the effects of different energy sources on the environment,” an article on the High-Adventure Science energy module by Amy Pallant, Sarah Pryputniewicz, and Hee-Sun Lee.
  • Mar 2, 2017
    Over 100 thought leaders from organizations around the U.S. and four continents gathered from February 15 to 17 to generate important innovations needed in technology and teaching and learning at the Concord Consortium’s first Data Science Education Technology conference.
  • Feb 26, 2017
    Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) represents an innovative way to think and design buildings as both human dwellings and power plants.
  • Feb 16, 2017
    We are pleased to announce that the solar panel and analysis tools in Energy3D (version 6.5.6 or higher) are now fully applicable to arbitrary imported structures.
  • Feb 11, 2017
    A headache in the practice of simulation-based engineering or computer-aided engineering is the incompatibility of the meshes used to create and render structures (let’s call them the drawing meshes) and the meshes needed to simulate and analyze certain functions (let’s call them the analysis meshes).
  • Feb 10, 2017
    We are proud to announce the Data Science Education Technology (DSET) Conference to be held February 15-17, 2017, at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, CA.
  • Feb 6, 2017
    A new collaborative research project at the Concord Consortium and Michigan State University will develop and research learning materials on the molecular and cellular basis for genetics and the process of evolution by natural selection.
  • Feb 3, 2017
    A new resolution may overturn the Interior Department’s “Stream Protection Rule,” which required coal mining companies to monitor and test the quality of local streams and rivers before, during, or after mining operations.
  • Jan 30, 2017
    The Community College Journal of Research and Practice has published a new article by Paul Horwitz, Alina von Davier, John Chamberlain, Al Koon, Jessica Andrews, and Cynthia McIntyre in January 2017.
  • Jan 29, 2017
    Energy3D can be used to analyze the solar radiation on houses, buildings, and solar power plants to help engineers design strategies for exploiting useful solar energy or mitigating excessive solar heating.
  • Jan 20, 2017
    In Part I, I showed that Energy3D can import COLLADA models and perform some analyses.
  • Jan 17, 2017
    Our Common Online Data Analysis Platform (CODAP) software provides an easy-to-use web-based data analysis tool, geared toward middle and high school students, and aimed at teachers and curriculum developers. CODAP is already full of amazing features.
  • Jan 14, 2017
    Energy3D is a relatively simple CAD tool that specializes in building simulation and solar simulation.
  • Jan 7, 2017
    The Ashalim solar project in the Negev desert of Israel will reportedly power 130,000 homes when it is completed in 2018. This large-scale project boasts the world’s tallest solar tower — at 250 meters (820 feet), it is regarded by many as a symbol of Israel’s ambition in renewable energy.
  • Jan 05, 2017
    The January 2017 issue of NSTA’s Science Scope features “Students making system models: An accessible approach” by Daniel Damelin, Joseph S. Krajcik, Cynthia McIntyre, and Tom Bielik.

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