The OpenSciEd initiative was launched to address a critical need in science education: the need for high quality science instructional materials that are standards-aligned and practical for broad implementation. Led by BSCS Science Learning, a national consortium of curriculum developers and researchers is currently creating a three-year middle school science program to be distributed for free.
The program’s classroom materials and associated teacher professional learning materials are:
- designed to align with the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS),
- based on research on student learning and teacher practice,
- developed in collaboration with teachers and field-tested in hundreds of classrooms in ten states across the United States,
- open-source and locally adaptable, and
- continuously improved based on feedback from teachers and field testing.
The complete, three-year middle grades science program is now available for free download at openscied.org.
Learn more about select units below.
This 6th grade unit on weather, climate, and water cycling is broken into four separate lesson sets. In the first two lesson sets, students explain small-scale storms. In the third and fourth lesson sets, students explain mesoscale weather systems and climate-level patterns of precipitation. Each of these two parts of the unit is grounded in a different anchoring phenomenon.
The unit starts out with anchoring students in the exploration of a series of videos of hailstorms from different locations across the country at different times of the year. The videos show that pieces of ice of different sizes (some very large) are falling out of the sky, sometimes accompanied by rain and wind gusts, all on days when the temperature of the air outside remained above freezing for the entire day. These cases spark questions and ideas for investigations, such as investigating how ice can be falling from the sky on a warm day, how clouds form, why some clouds produce storms with large amounts of precipitation and others don’t, and how all that water gets into the air in the first place.
The second half of the unit is anchored in the exploration of a weather report of a winter storm that affected large portions of the midwestern United States. The maps, transcripts, and video that students analyze show them that the storm was forecasted to produce large amounts of snow and ice accumulation in large portions of the northeastern part of the country within the next day. This case sparks questions and ideas for investigations around trying to figure out what could be causing such a large-scale storm and why it would end up affecting a different part of the country a day later.
This 7th grade unit on matter cycling and photosynthesis begins with students reflecting on what they ate for breakfast. Questions about where their food comes from lead them to consider which breakfast items might be from plants. Then students explore (and taste) a common breakfast food, maple syrup, and see that according to the label, it is 100% from a tree.
Students apply what they learned in the previous unit to argue that they know what happens to sugar in syrup or other foods when they consume it. Students explore what else is in food and discover that foods from plants not only have sugars but proteins and fats as well. This discovery leads them to wonder how plants are getting these food molecules, why a plant needs food, and where a plant’s food comes from in the first place. Students figure out that they can trace all food back to plants, including processed and synthetic food. They explain that the pieces of their food are constantly recycled between living and nonliving parts of a system.
This 8th grade unit launches with a slow motion video of a speaker vibrating. After developing a model of sound in the previous unit, students now have the chance to explore the cause of a speaker’s vibration as opposed to the effect.
Students dissect speakers to explore what’s inside, and they build homemade cup speakers. They identify that speakers of all kinds have some of the same parts—a magnet, a coil of wire, and a membrane. Students investigate each of these parts to figure out how they work together in the speaker system. Along the way, students manipulate the parts to see how this technology could be modified to apply to systems in very different contexts, like MagLev trains, junkyard magnets, and electric motors.
This unit on thermal energy engages students in a design challenge to create a cup that keeps drinks cold longer. They identify the features that make some cups better at keeping drinks cold, and they construct their own models to explain how those features prevent the transfer of thermal energy.
In this unit for 6th grade, students build an understanding of energy transfer within and between materials based on a particle model, and they work on the practices of modeling, conducting investigations, constructing explanations, arguing from evidence, and designing solutions.
This unit on metabolic reactions in the human body engages students in an investigation of a real case study of M’Kenna, a 13-year-old girl, who reported some alarming medical symptoms to her doctor. Her case sparks questions and ideas for investigations to figure out which parts of M’Kenna’s body are functioning differently from a healthy person’s system and why. Through the work of investigating M’Kenna’s symptoms, the class constructs a model to explain what happens to food after it enters people’s bodies, and they use it to explain M’Kenna’s symptoms.
In this 7th grade unit, students build an understanding of how body systems interact to process food and use the energy stored within it. They work on the practices of developing models, interpreting data, and arguing from evidence.
In this unit, students investigate how sounds can cause objects at a distance to move. Motivated by a video of windows shaking when a truck outside plays loud music, students investigate what happens when an object makes sound. Over the course of the unit, they build a model that describes what happens when sounds are created that can explain the shaking windows and other examples of sounds causing objects to move.
In this 8th grade unit, students use a particle model of air to build an understanding of how sounds move that explains the effect of sounds on other objects. They work on the practices of planning and conducting investigations, using mathematical and computational thinking, and evidence-based argumentation.
The OpenSciEd Middle Grades Science Program is being released in phases. The final phase of the program will be complete in early 2022. The consortium of curriculum developers includes BSCS, Boston College, the Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin, Digital Promise Global, Northwestern University, and a broad network of leaders in science education. This developers consortium works in close collaboration with a state steering committee representing ten partner states from across the United States.
OpenSciEd is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Middle school educators across the US are expected to dive into next generation science. However, high quality NGSS-aligned materials and professional learning opportunities are scarce. That’s why BSCS’s 3D middle school science program — A Medical Mystery — is valuable. It supports teachers in the effective instruction of an NGSS-aligned, EQuIP-reviewed body systems curriculum unit.
Students using this program are immersed in an online environment that challenges them to solve the medical mystery: “What’s Wrong with M’Kenna?” Over the course of several lessons, students investigate how and why M’Kenna is constantly sick, unable to keep her food down, and losing weight. They use scientific reasoning skills and argumentation to identify the digestive system as the problematic organ system—and then engage with a series of interactive experiences, simulations, and animations to observe and analyze the differences between M’Kenna’s digestive system and a healthy person’s digestive system.
Ultimately, students solve the mystery and explain all of M’Kenna’s symptoms based on how body systems interact. More importantly, they learn to use the inquiry-based practices of scientists and crosscutting concepts of systems and system models to construct their own understanding of complex phenomena.
This resource includes the complete middle school science curriculum unit, a teacher’s guide, and an online professional learning course. The curriculum received a high rating of E/I on the EQuIP Rubric, before final revisions.
Planning for online instruction? This document will help you quickly adapt A Medical Mystery for your new online classroom setting.
This resource was developed in partnership with OPB.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. (DRL-1502571). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
What is the best time of year to host a lilac blossom festival? Does a plastic bag tax work to reduce litter in the environment? Students now have the opportunity to explore large data sets to answer questions like these and ultimately increase their confidence in analyzing data.
BSCS Science Learning has launched Invitations to Inquiry to help middle and high school students work with community and citizen science data from projects hosted on FieldScope. Teachers and students use FieldScope to collect, visualize, and analyze data. Using these new Inquiries, students can explore FieldScope’s advanced mapping and graphing tools to dig deeper into data in the context of meaningful science classroom lessons.
Each lesson engages students in interpreting graphs and maps to learn about where the data are collected and what they mean. In one Inquiry, students use data from the Chesapeake Bay estuary to determine suitable sites for oyster reef restoration. In another, students investigate what contributes to light pollution using data collected internationally.
The 12 Inquiries are designed for 2-4 days of learning and support the Science and Engineering Practices from the Next Generation Science Standards. They include teacher guides, slides, handouts, and other instructional resources and supports. Although the Inquiries are designed for classroom learning with computer access, each activity presents an opportunity to get outside and collect data for local and global community and citizen science projects.
This work is funded by a grant from the Pisces Foundation .
How can people help end pandemics? Educators and students across the country are currently investigating important questions like this in the classroom (in-person and online!) while navigating COVID-19 in their own daily lives.
BSCS Science Learning has created free units on COVID-19 & Health Equity for middle and high school. This fall, teachers and students can work together to make sense of the pandemic and how it disproportionately affects underserved communities by engaging in science inquiry and social and emotional learning.
BSCS worked closely with OpenSciEd and experts to develop the multidisciplinary middle and high school units. OpenSciEd is distributing these units along with units for grades K–5.
High School Science Unit
The high school unit focuses on the question, “What can we learn from the spread of the COVID-19 virus to protect our communities? ” It is designed to teach students about the COVID-19 pandemic, transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and the impacts of the pandemic on communities, especially communities of color.
The unit employs an inquiry-based approach, and is designed for 14 class periods of instruction, with several optional extensions. There are four broad areas of learning goals targeted in this unit:
- virus transmission between people and communities,
- mitigation strategies and using probabilities to explain how we can lower the chance of transmitting the virus between people and across communities,
- understanding disproportionate impacts on communities and the policies and practices that lead to those impacts, and finally,
- development of two social emotional competencies–self awareness and social awareness.
The high school science unit was developed in a partnership between BSCS Science Learning and current classroom teachers from across the country. Epidemiologists, public health experts, equity and antiracist education experts, community groups, as well as social-emotional learning experts contributed to the material development.
Middle School Science Unit
The middle school unit focuses on the question, “How can people help end pandemics?” It is designed to teach students about the COVID-19 pandemic, transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and the impacts of the pandemic on communities.
The unit employs an inquiry-based approach and is designed for 15 class periods of instruction, with optional extensions. Students will study the COVID-19 pandemic in light of historical pandemics to develop two social emotional competencies, self awareness and social awareness, and to build an understanding of the following key concepts:
- how the COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person and through communities,
- how strategies to reduce transmission of COVID-19 work, and
- how the actions of individuals can help to end pandemics.
The middle school science unit was developed in a partnership between BSCS Science Learning and current classroom teachers from across the country. Epidemiologists, public health experts, equity and antiracist education experts, community groups, as well as social-emotional learning experts contributed to the material development.
Funding for the COVID-19 & Health Equity Units was provided by a generous donor, who prefers to remain anonymous.
Educators in central O’ahu want to immerse students in traditional and next generation science learning in a way that deepens their connection to the place of Hawaiʻi. With this goal in mind, the Leilehua-Mililani-Waialua Complex partnered with BSCS Science Learning to co-design and field-test a new curriculum unit for middle school students.
The resulting science unit, Restoring Ea, is place-based, three-dimensional, and phenomenon-focused. While specifically designed for seventh grade teachers and students in central O’ahu, Restoring Ea could be adapted and used by middle school teachers across the country who are looking to engage their students in meaningful, next generation science learning.
The Restoring Ea unit includes classroom materials and associated professional learning resources. It is now freely available.
About the Unit
Restoring Ea is a place-based middle school science unit exploring management strategies that could be used for the Loko ea fishpond to sustainably feed people and ensure the ecosystem is healthy and pono (balanced). This unit honors and leverages traditional and scientific ways of knowing to create experiences that connect students to ‘āina (land) through investigations of place. Focused on ecosystems and food sovereignty, students begin with an exploration of food shortages during emergencies and learn that Hawai’i imports most of its food, including fish. Students wonder how their kūpuna (ancestors) fed themselves prior to importing food. They learn that loko i’a (fishponds) used to feed many people, and one fishpond, Loko ea, is being restored to improve the ecosystem and feed people. Local teachers and students visit Loko ea to kilo (observe), hear mo’olelo (stories) about her past and present, and participate in stewardship activities. In the classroom, teachers help their students investigate the relationships between the desired fish and other key organisms that live at Loko ea. Students consider the ideal environmental conditions for the desired fish and how changes to the environmental conditions affect Loko ea and her organisms.
This unit leverages BSCS’s FieldScope interactive community & citizen science platform to allow students to investigate environmental data previously collected at Loko ea over time and also to collect additional data themselves.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funded the co-design and field-testing of this unit.
Allergies affect more than 50 million Americans, and are among the leading causes of chronic disease in the US. One in every 13 children, roughly two students in every classroom, have allergies to food.
To help middle school teachers more effectively teach about food allergies, BSCS Science Learning has developed an online curriculum supplement called Allergies & Scientific Inquiry. Students using this multimedia resource learn how to distinguish food allergies from other negative food reactions. They explore the role of the immune system in causing allergy symptoms and learn how medical research is contributing to better allergy management.
Lessons engage students in the practices of scientific inquiry, and are aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. Teachers can access instructions for navigating the classroom lessons once logged into the teacher portal.
Is this the right resource for your classroom? Here’s a sample of what students will learn:
- Allergies involve inappropriate reactions of the immune system.
- Scientific medical diagnosis of food allergies is critical.
- The main management option for people with food allergies is avoidance.
- The management of food allergies is improved if people know how to correctly read food labels.
- Individuals with food allergies should not be stigmatized.
This resource was supported by a grant (R25 A1098674-01) from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Building upon the success of the BSCS Science: An Inquiry Approach high school program, BSCS Science Learning has developed and field tested* a multidisciplinary science program for middle school students.
BSCS Middle School Science is a standards- and inquiry-based program comprised of four units: Earth/Space Science, Life Science, Physical Science, and Science and Society. Designed for maximum flexibility, the units are grounded by the BSCS 5E Instructional Model and can be adapted for various teaching styles and classroom settings.
The curriculum is available free online for teachers.
*The field test results demonstrated significant content gains across all four units.
This resource was funded by the US Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences.
BSCS Science Learning is a place of learning, scholarship, and reflective practice. Dedicated to hearing from scholars, educators, scientists, designers, and other professionals, the BSCS Seminar Series brings distinguished speakers to share ideas and present their latest work to our community conversations.
We acknowledge and recognize the experts and colleagues in the broader STEM community who are volunteering to speak to our staff. More importantly, we’d like to share their talks with educators who are invested in their own professional growth.
Below you’ll find information about our speakers and links to their talks.
Angela Calabrese-Barton and Edna Tan – June 15, 2022
Michelle Wilkerson – May 25th
Cindy Passmore – April 27, 2022
Mon-Lin Monica Ko – March 23, 2022
Joe Krajcik – February 16, 2022
Melanie Peffer – October 27, 2021
Gregory Radick – September 29, 2021
Thomas M. Philip – August 25, 2021
Alexis Patterson – July 21, 2021
Saul Perlmutter – June 30, 2021
Michael Menchaca – May 26, 2021
Todd Campbell & Okhee Lee – May 19, 2021
Ann Edwards – April 28, 2021
Jessica Parker & Julie Yu – April 21, 2021
Jill Wertheim – March 31, 2021
Batya Friedman & Nick Logler – March 17, 2021
Heidi Carlone – February 3, 2021
May 25, 2022
Michelle Wilkerson; University of California, Berkeley
Topic: Learning through Data, Experience, and Histories in the Writing Data Stories Project
The current moment in science education is full of promise For the past 3 years, I have had the honor of collaborating with teacher educators, software developers, literacy scholars, science and mathematics teachers, and young people to explore how storytelling might deepen and broaden students’ engagement with data. “Writing Data Stories” is an NSF-funded project that explores how students might more deeply engage with both science and data through telling stories with and about the socioscientific datasets they analyze. We refer to these stories as syncretic data stories, to emphasize the productive tensions that can emerge from putting aggregated data in direct conversation with personal narrative. Although the project was originally conceptualized as a longitudinal collaborative curriculum design effort, the disruptions and constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic have led us to develop a more flexible ecology of pedagogy, curriculum materials, and technologies to engage students in data storytelling. In this presentation I will share the core theories and products that have emerged from the project so far. I will also illustrate through analyses of teacher and student work in classrooms and after-school environments some of the successes and challenges of our approach.
Michelle Hoda Wilkerson is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education and the Graduate Group in Science and Mathematics Education at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research broadly explores the question: How is computing changing what is important to teach and learn in middle and high school science and mathematics classes?This has led her to study how young people learn with and about scientific computing artifacts such as simulations, data analysis tools, and interactive visualizations. Recently, she has explored how learners’ relationships with data — for instance as consumers, subjects, and creators of data — shapes how they understand and engage in data analysis. Michelle’s scholarship has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the George Lucas Education Foundation, and Google Education Research. Her work has appeared in general and STEM-specific venues including Educational Researcher, Journal of the Learning Sciences, Science Education, and the Journal of Science Teacher Education and in 2020, the AERA’s Jan Hawkins Award for Humanistic Research and Scholarship in Learning Technologies.
April 27, 2022
Cynthia Passmore; University of California, Davis School of Education
Topic: What is practice like in practice? Exploring model-based curriculum design and enactment
The current moment in science education is full of promise as the field matures in its understanding of what NGSS-type teaching is and how it might play out in classrooms. Theoretical constructs like framing, epistemic agency, meaningful sensemaking, purpose, and problematizing (to name just a few) are appearing with ever more frequency in the literature as researchers work to interpret various elements of dynamic learning environments grounded in scientific practice. In this talk I map this landscape onto the commitments to modeling and model-based reasoning that have provided the foundation of our curriculum development efforts in the MBER project in order to understand more about what is happening during enactment and inform future empirical and theoretical work.
Cynthia Passmore is a professor specializing in science education in the University of California, Davis School of Education. She did her doctoral work at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and prior to that she was a high school science teacher. Her research focuses on the role of models and modeling in student learning, curriculum design and teacher professional development. She investigates model-based reasoning in a range of contexts and is particularly interested in understanding how the design of learning environments interacts with students’ reasoning practices.
March 23, 2022
Mon-Lin Monica Ko; University of Illinois Chicago
Topic: Leveraging curricular and students’ resources to instigate and sustain problematizing
How can curriculum materials, teachers, and students work together to promote meaningful science learning? This is a particularly important question to address, given the plethora of open-resource science curriculum that have become increasingly available to teachers. In this talk, I draw on my collaborations with secondary science teachers to illustrate the tensions and possibilities of using curriculum materials to support science instruction and discuss how enacting and reflecting on curriculum use can lead to productive adaptations and principled understandings about curriculum design.
Mon-Lin Monica Ko is a Research Assistant Professor at the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois Chicago. Her research aims to make science learning more meaningful to secondary science students. She investigates how teachers develop and sustain instructional practices that redistributes epistemic agency and how co-design promotes teacher learning. She holds a PhD in Learning Sciences and a BA in Biology with an emphasis on Neurobiology from Northwestern University.
February 16, 2022
Joe Krajcik; Michigan State University
Topic: Designing Science Education Learning Environments to Support Learners in Developing Knowledge-in-Use
Our global community faces challenges of food and water security, climate change and destruction of nature, health, and education for all. These challenges will be solved if individuals throughout the globe have the science and engineering knowledge and collaborative capabilities to solve such complex problems. All learners throughout the globe need to experience science education in which they will develop usable knowledge of science. From making personal decisions about daily life issues to working in rewarding scientific careers, knowledge-in-use of science is essential. Knowledge-in-use is described as knowledge that learners can apply to make decisions, solve problems, innovate and learn more when needed.
How should science learning environments be designed to focus on developing knowledge-in-use where learners use the big ideas of science and scientific practices to make sense of phenomena and solve design problems? Investigating questions that students find meaningful has long been supported as a viable learning structure. Project-based Learning (PBL) structures science learning environments around questions that engage students in collaborative inquiry. Because PBL focuses on students and their interests, it is sensitive to the varied needs of diverse students with respect to culture, race, and gender. In this session, Krajcik will engage participants in how to design learning environments that align with the features of project-based learning and show how the various features of PBL are anchored in what is known about how students learn.
Joseph Krajcik serves as director of the CREATE for STEM Institute and is the Lappan-Phillips Professor of Science Education and a University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University. Throughout his career, Joe has focused on working with colleagues and science teachers to design and test project-based learning environments to reform science teaching practices and to research student learning and engagement. Joe served as president of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), from which he received the Distinguished Contributions to Science Education Through Research Award in 2010. He served as lead writer for developing Physical Science Standards for the NGSS and the lead writer for the Physical Science Design team for the Framework for K – 12 Science Education. In 2020, Joe was elected to the National Academy of Education and received the prestigious McGraw Prize for Innovation in Pre-K-12 Education and in 2021, the International Society for Design and Development in Education Prize for Excellence in Educational Design. He has published over 100 peer reviewed manuscripts and his book on Project-based Learning is in its fifth edition.
October 27, 2021
Melanie Peffer; University of Colorado Boulder
Topic: Biology Everywhere: Integrating experiences as biology education researcher and biology instructor to communicate biology to the general public
Where have you experienced biology today? Although we experience biology daily, many struggle to see the connection. Some don’t feel like they are a science or biology person, or think they can’t engage with biology, or view biology as simply a collection of abstract facts that don’t matter outside of the classroom. This ultimately leads to low science literacy and hurts society as people either choose not to engage with major science issues like conservation, climate change, or public health, or fall victim to competing predatory information. So, what do we do?
The bedrock of my book, Biology Everywhere, is that when we present science through the lens of daily experiences, it becomes relatable and accessible. Viewing science as meaningful to our lives fires the imagination, sparks curiosity, and encourages learning. It is easier to feel like a science person and confidently engage with science. Rather than an abstract collection of facts, science becomes a dynamic and fascinating process we engage in and with every day.
In my seminar, I’ll discuss the history of Biology Everywhere, from getting my doctorate in molecular biology, to crossing disciplines with a postdoctoral appointment in learning sciences, to my experiences teaching non-majors biology. I’ll also give examples from Biology Everywhere about how I’ve incorporated the real-world in the classroom, including how to effectively build bridges between biology and other disciplines, such as the arts.
Melanie has a B.S. and Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Pittsburgh and completed postdoctoral training in learning sciences at Georgia State University. She is affiliated with the University of Colorado Boulder as a research scientist in the Institute of Cognitive Science and a teaching assistant professor with the Health Professions Residential Academic Program where she teaches introductory biology courses. Her research is focused on how people learn biology, with an emphasis on teaching about the nature of science knowledge and how we can use educational technologies to assess students’ understanding of science.
Melanie is the author of the best-selling book, Biology Everywhere: How the science of life matters to everyday life. Biology Everywhere is a journey through the science of life as told through our daily experiences. She is also the 2021 High Plains Library District Foundation’s writer in residence. She will be spending her residency working on a children’s spin off series of Biology Everywhere. The first book, Biology Everywhere: River Adventurers is due out in December 2021.
September 29, 2021
Gregory Radick; University of Leeds
Topic: Genetics education for the real world
The traditional, start-with-Mendel introductory curriculum in genetics is, at its best, outstanding in helping students to learn to “think like a geneticist.” But is that an appropriate goal for genetics education in the 21st century? In this talk, I want to make the case for a genetics curriculum which aims less at creating geneticists than at improving students’ ability to cope well with the genetic information which increasingly surrounds them. I will dwell in particular on one attempt to “de-Mendelize” the genetics curriculum, putting much greater emphasis than is traditional on phenotypic variability and on the complex gene-gene and gene-environment causal interactions which bring about that variability. I will also discuss a BSCS Science Learning-Cornell project now underway to assess the impact on students of these alternative emphases.
Gregory Radick is a Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds. He has published widely on the history of biology and the human sciences after 1800, with particular emphases on Darwin and Darwinnpism; genetics and eugenics; and sciences of mind, language and behavior. He has also pursued more general questions about scientific knowledge, especially to do with the history-of-science counterfactuals (e.g.,”What would biology be like now if the Mendelians had not triumphed in the early 20th century?”). He currently serves as the co-Principal Investigator on the NSF-support project “Honoring the Complexity of Genetics: Exploring How Undergraduate Learning of Multifactorial Genetics Affects Belief in Genetic Determinism,” which builds on an earlier study on genetic determinism in the genetics curriculum. He is the author of The Simian Tongue: The Long Debate about Animal Language (awarded the 2010 Suzanne J. Levinson Prize of the History of Science Society for best book in the history of the life sciences and natural history) and the coeditor of The Cambridge Companion to Darwin.
August 25, 2021
Thomas M. Philip; University of California Berkeley
Topic: Learning as Entwined with Ideologies: Theoretical, Methodological, and Pedagogical Possibilities and Implications
In this talk, Thomas M. Philip will explore how ideologies, particularly racial ideologies, are intertwined with learning. Looking across multiple learning contexts, Philip will consider the pedagogical, theoretical, and methodological insights and possibilities when we attend to interaction and the local construction and contestation of ideologies.
Thomas M. Philip is a Professor of Education at the University of California Berkeley. His research focuses on how teachers make sense of and address power and hierarchy in classrooms, schools, and society. His recent scholarship explores the possibilities and tensions with the use of artificial intelligence and digital learning technologies in classrooms. Philips received his Ph.D. in Cognition and Development and a B.S. in EECS from the University of California, Berkeley. His research has been recognized by multiple awards including the National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship; the AERA Division C (Learning & Instruction) Jan Hawkins Award for Early Career Contributions to Humanistic Research and Scholarship in Learning Technologies; and the National Association for Multicultural Education’s Research Award.
July 21, 2021
Alexis Patterson; University of California Davis
As the scientific and technological divide widens, access to quality science instruction has become a civil rights issue: those equipped with the knowledge and skill will remain caretakers of status and power. This inequality is especially salient for students in marginalized communities and schools where stereotypes fuel low expectations for academic achievement and success. For many students the classroom represents their earliest formal experience with both the content and process of science, placing science teachers in a unique and precarious position: getting students excited and engaged about science while simultaneously preparing the next generation of STEM professionals and scientifically literate citizens. We offer a model: (W)holistic Science Pedagogy (WSP). It is both a teacher- and student-centered approach of instruction to disrupt patterns and hierarchies. The WSP approach requires five commitments from the teacher: A commitment (1) to an ever-developing self-awareness, (2) to science and its practices, (3) to science as a transformative agent, (4) to their students’ social emotional wellness, and (5) to restorative practices. This talk will introduce the five commitments and examine these commitments within the context of science teaching.
Alexis Patterson Williams, PhD, is an associate professor at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Patterson Williams’s research lies at the intersection of equity studies, social psychology, and science education. Her work explores 1) equity issues that arise from social hierarchies when students work together on group projects in science and 2) teacher development of practices that support equitable and robust interactions between students that can deconstruct implicit and explicit language and literacy hierarchies. Her recent project has led to the development of an educational framework, (W)holistic Science Pedagogy, with her colleague and sister scholar, Dr. Salina Gray.
June 30, 2021
Saul Perlmutter; Professor of Physics, UC Berkeley
Senior Scientist, LBNL
Topic: Science, Reality, and Credibility
There is a body of techniques and practices, a language and culture, that is usually implicitly taught by apprenticeship and osmosis to graduate students and postdocs in the sciences. This is the underpinning of an approach to building a credible sense of the “real world” that is shared by scientists, but not much used (or understood) by the rest of society. Equipping future generations with this scientific-style critical thinking could be one of our most reasonable defenses against confused thinking and misinformation, both major challenges to our democratic societies’ ability to make deliberative decisions. Can we make these implicit concepts explicit, and teach them to scientists and non-scientists alike? Could this help our society address difficult issues such as are raised by the global environment and economics? And how could citizen scientists use these tools to help build sources of credibility on the web and in the news? This talk is intended to start a discussion.
Saul Perlmutter is a 2011 Nobel Laureate, sharing the prize in physics for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe. He is a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley and a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he leads the international Supernova Cosmology Project, the Berkeley Institute for Data Science and the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics. His interest in scientific-style critical thinking for scientists and non-scientists alike led to Berkeley courses called Sense & Sensibility & Science and Physics & Music, which he has been teaching for more than a decade. An author of over 200 scientific publications, Perlmutter has also written popular articles and appeared in numerous PBS, Discovery Channel, and BBC documentaries. In addition to other awards and honors, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
May 26, 2021
Michael Menchaca; University of Hawai’i at Manoa
Topic: Post-Pandemic Education: Moving from Crisis Instruction to Optimal Teaching
Nearly a year out from official shut downs, significant teaching still occurs either completely online or in some combination. Even where spare, online delivery is evident and experts predict will continue to grow. Oft bearing the brunt of instructional blame, educators have been placed in the unenviable position of delivering crisis instruction without appropriate expertise or training. Educators truly do their best, learning while doing. How now do we move from this crisis mode to thoughtful planning and optimal delivery?
To begin to address the question, this presentation will focus on the following:
- Underpinning models for effective online and blended delivery
- Considerations for building community, both in class and out
- Considerations for formative and summative assessment
- Best practices for tools and strategies, including for professional development
The goal of the presentation is to provide an overview and begin a reflective dialogue about how ideas might best fit (or not) in your organization’s particular situation. Optimal design, while best founded on effective modeling and practice, must also be mission-aligned to organizational goals and objectives. Thus, time will be set aside for questions and dialogue.
Michael Menchaca is professor and chair in the Department of Learning Design and Technology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He specializes in distance education and conducts research in e-learning, technology integration, social justice with technology, and complex learning environments. He has designed and implemented online programs for over 20 years. He currently serves as editor for the IAFOR Journal of Education: Technologies and Education. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, reading, and traveling, and vows to be traveling as soon as safely possible.
May 19, 2021
Todd Campbell; University of Connecticut &
Okhee Lee; New York University
Topic: Teaching Science to Address Societally Pressing Problems: The COVID-19 Pandemic and Systemic Racism
The COVID-19 pandemic offers an unprecedented context to engage all students in societally pressing problems, while making visible the endemic nature of systemic racism that has led to disproportionate numbers of cases and deaths among racial and ethnic minority groups. We propose an instructional framework for STEM education with justice, by foregrounding justice and capitalizing on new advances in STEM disciplines to support justice-centered decisions and solutions to societally pressing problems. During the presentation, we will walk the participants through navigating data sources and share a sequence of science lessons to exemplify our instructional framework. We will conclude with a brief discussion of research questions as we continue to develop and refine our proposed instructional framework.
Todd Campbell is the Department Head of Curriculum and Instruction and a Professor of Science Education in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. His research focuses on cultivating imaginative and equitable representations of STEM activity. This is accomplished in formal science learning environments through partnering with pre-service and in-service science teachers and leaders to collaboratively focus on supporting student use of modeling as an anchoring epistemic practice to reason about events that happen in the natural world.
Okhee Lee is a professor in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. Her research involves integrating science, language, and computational thinking with a focus on English learners/multilingual learners. She was a member of the NGSS writing team and served as leader for the NGSS Diversity and Equity Team. She was also a member of the Steering Committee for the Understanding Language Initiative at Stanford University.
April 28, 2021
Ann Edwards; WestEd
Topic: Advancing Quality Teaching: Professional Development in a Networked Improvement Community of Postsecondary Math Educators
Mathematics is the primary obstacle to college completion in US institutions of higher education. Over 60% of incoming community college students are required to take at least one remedial math course before they can enroll in college-credit courses; however, 80% of those students do not complete any college-level math course within 3 years, and are therefore unable to obtain a degree or credential or to transfer. In comprehensive 4-year institutions, approximately 20% of incoming students are placed into remedial math and about 60% do not complete a college-level math course within 2 years, significantly decreasing their likelihood of graduation. The Carnegie Math Pathways is a networked improvement community [NIC] of over 90 IHE’s aimed at dramatically improving these outcomes. A NIC is a form of social organization that brings the tools and processes of improvement science together with the learning structures of networks to enable a community of stakeholders to achieve a shared aim. The approach is explicitly designed to accelerate learning-by-doing and knowledge sharing in order not only to develop evidence-based solutions but also generate the know-how needed for those ideas to be effectively implemented at scale across contexts. This presentation will focus on Advancing Quality Teaching, an NSF-funded project that aimed to use networked improvement methods to develop and continuously improve professional learning opportunities for instructors in the Carnegie Math Pathways NIC. I will illustrate how we applied improvement methods to the problem of improving instructional practice and course outcomes, highlighting challenges we faced in the design and implementation of professional learning at scale as well as lessons learned about doing networked improvement in the messy real world.
Ann R. Edwards is a Senior Research Associate in Mathematics at WestEd. Her work focuses in mathematics education, including research in the areas of mathematics cognition, instruction, curriculum, and teacher learning. She has also designed curricula and professional development at all grade levels K-16 as well as adult education. She brings a deep commitment to addressing issues of equity that shape mathematics teaching and learning. She is currently the Director of Research and Implementation for the Carnegie Math Pathways initiative, a network of faculty members, researchers, designers, students, and content experts committed to increasing student success in developmental mathematics and overall college and career outcomes. She is also the PI of the Scaling Up through Networked Improvement project (NSF), which studies the use of quality improvement tools in the support of institutional implementation of educational innovation at scale, and was co-PI of the Advancing Quality Teaching project (NSF), focused on developing professional development at scale for a national network of college mathematics faculty engaged in reform of entry level mathematics courses. She is also currently the co-PI of an IES-funded evaluation study of community college corequisite mathematics courses and a content lead for the NAEP Mathematics Framework revision. She has published in numerous journals and books including the NADE Digest, Journal of Teacher Education, Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, Teachers College Record, and the Handbook of Research on Learning and Instruction. Edwards received a BA in applied mathematics from Harvard University; and an MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in education in mathematics, science and technology.
April 21, 2021
Jessica Parker; The Exploratorium &
Julie Yu; The Exploratorium
Topic: The Exploratorium’s Teacher Institute: Providing a Professional Home for Secondary Science Teachers and Leaders
The Exploratorium has been a professional home for science educators for over 40 years. Jessica Parker, the Director of Teaching and Learning, and Julie Yu, a Senior Scientist, will discuss the many ways the Teacher Institute supports secondary science teachers and leaders through sustained professional learning, educator networks, and free, teacher-tested resources. Our approach is designed around phenomena-based experiences that invite educators to engage as learners – to develop deeper science content understanding by learning in a way they are being asked to teach – and reflect on pedagogical moves modeled by facilitators. We will share program models, research projects, and online and in-person approaches that make the Exploratorium uniquely positioned to support secondary science teachers and leaders.
Jessica Parker is the Director of Teaching and Learning at the Exploratorium. She manages a K-12 team made up of veteran science educators, PhD scientists, and educational researchers who support over 1300 teachers and leaders annually across five different programs. With 12+ years teaching in higher education and secondary classrooms, Jessica has a passion for STEM education, extensive experience in supporting professional learning networks, and expertise in digital media and learning and maker education. She is the author of Teaching Tech-Savvy Kids: Bringing Digital Media into the Classroom. Jessica completed her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley; she has a BA in Mass Communication and a MA and a PhD in Education.
Julie Yu is a Senior Scientist at the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s museum of science, art, and human perception. She provides science content support throughout the museum and works with teachers to bring inquiry-based science learning to their classrooms. With a broad interest in all sciences, she has a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, with a minor in molecular and cell biology. Her work and research have spanned from viruses and stem cells to teacher learning and inquiry to concrete and cement. This has led to a myriad of opportunities, including teaching science to Tibetan monks and nuns, launching an explosion of 2000 ping pong balls, and acquiring a US patent. She is currently captivated with thinking about food as a way of bringing together key interests of science, culture, identity, and eating.
March 31, 2021
Jill Wertheim; Stanford University
Topic: Building Capacity for NGSS Implementation using Performance Assessments
Assessments can be a powerful lever for advancing priorities in science education including supporting 3-dimensional reasoning, addressing inequities in access and outcomes, and building student agency. Yet, few educators have access to assessments designed for these purposes, limiting their ability to inform and improve their progress toward their goals. In this talk, I will discuss how the Stanford NGSS Assessment Project (SNAP) is using a blend of synchronous and asynchronous online courses, local communities of practice, and direct support to build capacity for the principled design and use of science performance assessments tailored to the specific context in which they will be used. Insights from case studies that are currently underway in large urban districts in California will illustrate ways districts are leveraging the potential of these courses to be implemented at scale to support district-wide reforms.
Jill Wertheim is the Director of the Stanford NGSS Assessment Project (SNAP) at the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE). Dr. Wertheim’s work focuses on the design, development, and use of performance assessments as part of a balanced system of assessment in classrooms, schools, districts, and states. Prior to coming to Stanford, Dr. Wertheim studied how assessments can be used to uncover students’ ideas about earth science at AAAS Project 2061 and expanded this work into geography education at National Geographic. She holds a PhD in the Geological Sciences from University of California, Santa Barbara and a BA in Geology and Music from Middlebury College.
March 17, 2021
Batya Friedman; University of Washington &
Nick Logler; University of Washington
Topic: Value Sensitive Design: Engaging Moral and Technical Imaginations
Tools and technologies are fundamental to the human condition. They do no less than create and structure the conditions in which we live, express ourselves, enact society, and experience what it means to be human. They are also the result of our moral and technical imaginations. Yet, with our limited view, it is not at all obvious how to design tools and technology so that they are more likely to support the actions, relationships, institutions, and experiences that human beings care deeply about – a life and society of human flourishing. Value Sensitive Design (VSD) was developed as an approach to address this challenge from within technical design processes. In this talk, we will provide an introduction to Value Sensitive Design, foregrounding human values in the technical design process. Our remarks will situate VSD within a broader discourse on sociotechnical systems and present VSD’s core theoretical constructs. Then we will introduce some methods from VSD, along the way demonstrating two methods – Envisioning Cards and value scenarios – in the context of a design activity. Next we’ll discuss some current examples of applying VSD, first to the design of robots for healthcare and then to the invisible materiality of information technology. In doing so, we will explore technology trends at the cusp of the 21st century from a VSD perspective. Thinking longer-term and systemically, we will bring forward a range of potential challenges and design opportunities in light of these trends. Our comments will engage individual lives, society writ large, what it means to be human, the planet and beyond.
Batya Friedman is Professor in the Information School and holds adjunct appointments in the Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, and the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington. She co-directs the Value Sensitive Design Lab and the UW Tech Policy Lab. Batya pioneered value sensitive design (VSD), an approach to account for human values in the design of information systems. First developed in human-computer interaction, VSD has since been used in architecture, civil engineering, computer security, energy, human-robotic interaction, information management, land use and transportation, legal theory, and moral philosophy. She is currently working on multi-lifespan design and on methods for envisioning – imagining new ideas for leveraging information systems to shape our futures. Voices from the Rwanda Tribunal is a first project in this multi-lifespan design research program. Her 2019 book co-authored with David Hendry provides a comprehensive account of value sensitive design and is titled Value Sensitive Design: Shaping Technology with Moral Imagination. In 2012 Batya received the ACM-SIGCHI Social Impact Award and the University Faculty Lecturer award at the University of Washington, in 2019 was inducted into the CHI Academy, and in 2020 received an honorary doctorate from Delft University of Technology. She received both her B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.
Nick Logler is a PhD Candidate in the Information School at the University of Washington. He is a research assistant in the Value Sensitive Design Lab and the Tech Policy Lab. His work explores our relationship with everyday technologies and materials. He has asked undergraduates, children, and families to disassemble desktop printers to investigate how we expand our understanding of what is and can be a material, how context shapes our understanding of material systems, and how these understandings shape how we live in a material world. Prior to joining the PhD program at the Information School Nick helped start and run a makerspace in Newport, Rhode Island that works with young people, teachers, and school systems. He received his B.A. from Loyola University Maryland, and his M.A. from American in Washington, D.C.
February 3, 2021
Heidi Carlone; The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Topic: Studying and designing for diverse youths’ STEM-linked identity work
I am passionate about studying, and now designing, science, technology, and engineering (STE) learning settings that have the potential to redress public school’s practices of epistemic injustice stemming from racism, sexism, ableism, and classism. Minoritized youth, especially those in schools that serve high populations of students living in poverty, are not given equal access to be knowledge creators (epistemic agents) in classrooms. This situation often worsens as students move through the K-12 public school system. After years of studying the culture of K-12 science and engineering learning settings and the identities that are celebrated and marginalized within them, my work is shifting to design-based research approaches. I have begun to co-design STE learning settings to cultivate diverse youths’ disciplinary-linked identity work, and I also co-created a network to support elementary teachers who teach in schools serving high populations of minoritized youth and youth whose families are socioeconomically disadvantaged (STEM Teacher Leader Collaborative). In this talk, I discuss lessons learned from my studies of culture and youths’ identity and how I have applied those lessons to design for youths’ disciplinary-linked identities. My move to designing and studying for identity work represents what I hope will be a shift for our entire field of science education; a move that puts us closer to what Bent Flyvbjerg (2001) calls “social science that matters.”
Dr. Heidi Carlone, Hooks Distinguished Professor of STEM Education at University of North Carolina Greensboro, works to make science and engineering (STEM) pathways more accessible and equitable for historically underserved and underrepresented populations. Three questions drive her work: (1) How can innovative K-12 instruction cultivate STEM identities for diverse youth? (2) How can we enrich K-12 diverse youths’ STEM learning ecologies (support systems) in sustainable ways? (3) How can we design professional learning networks to support, nurture, and celebrate rigorous and equitable STEM teaching and retain excellent teachers? She publishes and presents her work in national and international venues and has earned over $5 million dollars in funding from local and national foundations. She has received a number of awards in her academic career including: The UNCG Alumni Teaching Excellence Award, the UNCG School of Education Teaching Award, the Early Career Research Award from the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, the Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation, and Sallie Mae First Year Teacher of the Year in Wake County Schools.
Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. While opioid use by teenagers has decreased to historically low levels in some cases, there has been a dramatic increase in vaping. Research is showing that exposure to nicotine, marijuana, or other drugs during adolescence can affect the brain’s function and development on both a short-term and a long-term basis.
BSCS Science Learning has developed a curriculum supplement to teach middle school students about drug abuse and addiction in relevant, real-life contexts. The module—Drug Abuse, Addiction, and the Adolescent Brain—helps students understand how drugs of abuse change the way the brain works and consequently change a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. A unique aspect of this module is the focus on how drugs of abuse can affect the developing brain of an adolescent differently than they do the adult brain.
This program is freely available and features five classroom lessons with four video segments.
This resource was developed with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Do we need more wind farms? Should I buy solar panels for my roof? Is my lifestyle contributing to climate change? These are relevant questions in today’s world. And the ability to answer them depends on an understanding of energy.
That’s why BSCS Science Learning developed EMAT. This free online course helps teachers frame complex energy concepts in a way that will resonate with high school students and prepare them to participate in important societal conversations. Supporting both teacher and student learning, EMAT includes six units: Coal, Nuclear Energy, Wind, Geothermal Energy, BioFuels, and Solar Energy. These units feature 34 engaging classroom videos, 30 content animations, and 20 interactive learning experiences.
This resource was developed in collaboration with Oregon Public Broadcasting, the National Teachers Enhancement Network of Montana State University, the National Renewable Energy Lab, and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL 1118643. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.