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OpenSciEd Announces Development of Elementary Science Program

October 13, 2022

This Collaborative Project Will Result in Completion of Full K-12 Science Program by 2026

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEOctober 13, 2022 – OpenSciEd’s suite of high-quality K-12 science materials is growing once again—this time in service of the country’s youngest science learners. This fall, OpenSciEd will launch the development of an elementary science program, designed to support teachers in engaging students’ natural curiosities and interests about the world.

The complete (grades K-5) program will meet the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and include ELA/literacy and math integrations. It will be freely available by spring 2026.

Northwestern University will lead a developers consortium—including BSCS Science Learning, Carolina Biological Supply Company, Horizon Research, Inc., Michigan State University, Oakland University, and The University of Texas at Austin—to create, field-test, revise, and publicly release units over the next four years. The consortium will also provide professional learning opportunities and open source resources to address the pressing needs of elementary teachers and support their effective implementation of the science materials.

“Our elementary classrooms need to be places where students see the science they are learning as addressing questions and problems they care about,” says Northwestern University’s Brian Reiser. “We are excited to work with our development partners, teacher collaborators, and state leaders to develop the instructional materials and professional learning resources to make this vision a reality for K-5 students and teachers.

A nine-state steering committee and science teachers and students across 300 classrooms will be critical partners in this work. As teachers prepare to help write and test materials in class, students will have a voice in sharing what phenomena intrigues them. Kindergarteners may wonder why their playground equipment gets hot when it’s sunny outside, while second graders want to know why polar bears don’t live nearby. Fourth graders might be curious about why things wash up on beaches. As in the OpenSciEd middle school units now available, and the OpenSciEd high school materials now in development, OpenSciEd K-5 units will help students build key science ideas and practices that connect to the problems and questions students identify.

A group of experts will also be dedicated to incorporating equitable sensemaking strategies throughout the program. The resulting units will not just be designed to engage some students, they will be designed to engage all—particularly students from underserved communities.

“We believe elementary students should engage with science in ways that spark curiosity, deepen their understanding of the world around them, and foster their own identities,” said Erin Hahimoto-Martell, acting associate commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. “As a state partner, we look forward to participating in the development of the OpenSciEd curriculum, a key resource to support our elementary educators in the teaching of science. We are excited by the developer consortium’s commitment to equity and the deep knowledge and experience they bring around science instruction.”

The elementary program is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.

The release of this program in 2026 will also mark the completion of OpenSciEd’s full K-12 science program.

“OpenSciEd’s partnership between states, teachers, learning scientists, curriculum developers, and philanthropy has brought tremendous quality and accessibility to the middle grades science market. And today, 40,000 middle school teachers are engaging their students in meaningful and equitable science learning,” said James Ryan, executive director of OpenSciEd. “High school students and teachers will benefit from this partnership starting this winter. And with this announcement, we are thrilled to be letting our elementary colleagues know that their turn is just around the corner.”