Acera: The Massachusetts School of Science, Creativity and Leadership is proud to announce that Lab Sciences Specialist Michael Hirsch has been named an Educator Fellow for Science Friday, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the public’s access to science and scientific information. Its programs air on National Public Radio affiliates every Friday from 2-4pm.
Hirsch is one of seven science teachers selected from hundreds of applicants, and he is the only teacher from Massachusetts chosen to participate. The cohort of educator fellows work with each other and with other scientists to conceptualize and create educational resources that are free for teachers and aligned with Next Generation Science Standards.
“It’s been great to meet and collaborate with teachers from around the country in a wide variety of settings. It really shows what is possible for science education and all the different ways that it can be done” said Hirsch. “Plus, when science teachers work directly with scientists, they come up with amazing ways to take that experience and curate it for kids in the classroom.”
As an educator fellow, Hirsch will take some of the curricula he has developed and taught at Acera – including labs on fermentation, gene editing with CRISPR, and the skin microbiome – and build them into a series of science units that teachers everywhere can access and implement in their own schools that will live on Science Friday’s website under the Educate tab.
Also as part of his fellowship, Hirsch led a virtual panel discussion featuring polar research scientist Prem Gill at the most recent Science Friday Summer Institute. The goals of the Institute were to introduce science educators to amazing scientists and their work, as well as amplify underrepresented voices in science in order to increase diversity in the science community. As Hirsch’s involvement with Science Friday deepens, his role will evolve from educator fellow to educator mentor, where he will guide new cohorts of fellows and take part in additional Science Friday educator initiatives.
“Ever since I was in single digits, I wanted to be a writer,” Hirsch recalled. “I love expressing myself through the written word, and the fact that I get to do it for Science Friday beautifully marries my passion for it with my never ending devotion to science.”
Similarly, as a curriculum creator for Acera’s public outreach division, AceraEI, Hirsch leads free professional development workshops for local public school science teachers in new and cutting edge science labs. To date, more than 30 public school districts – including Boston, Lowell, Salem, Lawrence, and Lynn – have participated in AceraEI’s free training, and teachers have used the curriculum in their own classrooms with students.
Hirsch began his work life as a scientist in Kendall Square biotech, researching and creating therapeutics for metabolic disease and inflammation. During that time, he helped place more than 20 drugs into clinical trials and published several papers in the field of diabetes. Realizing that his favorite part of being a scientist was teaching others his research and sharing his passion of science, he earned his masters degree and Massachusetts teaching certifications and taught biology and chemistry in public high schools for three years, where his zeal and excitement towards his content made him a favorite among students. Hirsch was attracted to Acera’s embrace of curiosity, inquiry-based conceptual learning, and ever-changing innovative curriculum. In addition to science, Hirsch is an avid musician and a published pop culture media writer.
Covering the outer reaches of space to the tiniest microbes in our bodies, Science Friday is the source for entertaining and educational stories about science, technology, and other cool stuff. In addition to its radio program, Science Friday produces podcasts, videos, original web articles and educational resources for teachers.