Transforming science education through research-driven innovation

Exclusive BSCS Biology: Understanding for Life Webinar

BSCS Science Learning and Kendall Hunt Publishing Company recently released BSCS Biology: Understanding for Life to meet the changing needs of science classrooms across the country. Rave reviews from teachers, students, and EdReports assure us that we’re on the right track. And now, we want to offer our supporters an inside look at our vision for the future of science education.

Join us for an exclusive webinar presented by Daniel Edelson, BSCS Executive Director.

Cartoon with a talking toad and elephant.

Monday, October 30, 2023

1-2 p.m. (MT)

Questions? Please contact Lauren Novo at [email protected].

BSCS Biology: Understanding for Life becomes the first green-lit high school science program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 6, 2023 – BSCS Science Learning and Kendall Hunt Publishing Company recently released a new full-year program to meet the changing needs of high school biology classrooms across the country. Today, this program–BSCS Biology: Understanding for Life–became the first high school science program ever to earn all-green ratings from EdReports

Green ratings signify that materials meet EdReports’ high standards for quality and usability.

“Since we released our first textbook in 1958, BSCS has led improvements in high school biology,” said Dr. Daniel Edelson, executive director of BSCS. “With the release of the Next Generation Science Standard, we decided it was time to create a brand new biology program that would enable teachers to make the challenging shifts in teaching that the new standards require and would prepare students to use science throughout their lives. The review from EdReports reassures us that we are on the right track. We are excited that this recognition will open the door for districts and schools across the country to adopt BSCS Biology.”

Districts and schools have long looked to EdReports as a trusted source for impartial reviews of instructional materials, but EdReports has not published reviews for high school science programs until this year. In its inaugural review of high school science programs, EdReports gave BSCS Biology green ratings on all three gateways: designed for NGSS, coherence and scope, and usability. The free report offers comprehensive information of the program’s quality.

BSCS Biology includes four units, each centered around an important societal challenge that requires an understanding of biological systems, like disease risk, prevention, and treatment and ecology. In each unit students investigate the societal challenge as the context for developing the scientific knowledge and abilities called for by the Next Generation Science Standards.   

“Over their lives, today’s students must play a role in resolving pressing societal challenges like antibiotic-resistant infections and unsustainable food systems,” said Dr. Lindsey Mohan, the project director for the development of BSCS Biology. “As we set out to create this program, we were motivated by the goal to prepare students to play a part in solving these 21st-century challenges, whether they do so in their professional or civic lives.” 

The program intentionally integrates supports for English language learners and students with below-grade-level literacy skills. 

“I work with a small group of students who are all new to the country. And overall, my students have stepped up to use their English to explore the topics in BSCS Biology,” said Dani Booth, a high school biology teacher in Colorado. “I have a student who arrived in the US five months ago; he has been able to understand the concepts and use his notes and word wall to participate in class. This is a huge win for a student brand new to learning English.” 

Booth is just one of many field-test teachers who believe this program will completely change the way students learn and use science throughout their lives. Faith Nelson, a high school biology teacher in Illinois, has already seen one student use her deeper understanding of biology to advocate for herself at the doctor’s office. 

BSCS provides a variety of print and digital resources to support successful implementation of the program. And the organization’s robust professional learning program supports teachers and leaders in making the shifts in teaching and learning called for by A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards. 

“BSCS has been setting the standard in science education for 65 years–since the release of our first three high school biology textbooks during a critical time in US history,” said Edelson. “Those textbooks were widely adopted and impacted millions of students. We are confident that our new program will bring teachers the rigor and inquiry they’ve come to expect from BSCS over the decades, while featuring the science all young learners need to thrive in today’s complex world.” 

About BSCS Science Learning

BSCS Science Learning develops research-based science education programs and services. We have a 60- year track record of leveraging research to create practical solutions. Today as an independent nonprofit, we offer classroom-tested instructional materials and immersive professional learning and leadership development experiences that meet the needs of the diverse populations and educational contexts of 21st century America. Our staff includes experienced educators, educational researchers, and scientists who share a commitment to transforming science education. Learn more at

About Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Kendall Hunt has been providing innovative educational solutions for close to 80 years. As the publisher of hands-on science, mathematics and gifted curricula for grades K-12, we are also a leading partner in open educational resource offerings. Our award-winning research and standards-based programs are available in both print and digital components fully engaging students, teachers and parents. For more information, visit

Henry “Ed” Drexler was a pioneer of BSCS textbooks and beloved high school biology teacher for 67 years. He dedicated his career to tapping into the inquisitive spirits of students through meaningful biology education, and remained closely connected to BSCS through it all.

We are deeply saddened to learn of Ed’s recent passing. He directly impacted the BSCS community and countless educators and learners across the country. And today, we are grateful to celebrate his legacy with stories about and from him.

Article written by Kay Nolan for BSCS in 2018

The year was 1961. Ed Drexler was a science teacher at a Catholic high school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

He was turning 35, eight years younger than John F. Kennedy⁠—who’d become the nation’s 35th president that January⁠—but three years older than the president’s glamorous wife, Jacqueline Kennedy. 

Science was all over the news⁠, at least insofar as space exploration was making headlines. NASA, an agency less than two years old, was in a frantic race with Russia to launch satellites and eventually, manned spacecraft.

Drexler had attended Pius XI High School himself, served in the Navy during World War II, then obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He’d originally hoped to become a physician, but struggled with chemistry, which was a prerequisite for medical school. Still, science fascinated Drexler, so he studied to become a biology teacher. His former high school principal, whom he’d approached after college graduation for a recommendation, offered him a job, and well, there he was, a decade later.

But Drexler was becoming frustrated in the classroom. “I liked what I was doing but I felt that I wasn’t doing right by giving the kids a program that was interesting,” said Drexler in a recent interview for BSCS. “For instance, I wasn’t doing any laboratory work. It was all textbook materials. I knew that’s not the way to teach biology, but I didn’t know how [else] to teach. I was teaching the way I learned to teach at the university.”

A trip in March 1961, to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to attend a science teachers meeting, changed everything.

“Dr. Arnold Grobman lectured on something called the BSCS,” said Drexler. “I asked him afterward if I could participate in the program. He took my name and phone number. Two months later, he called me and said there was going to be a field test in Milwaukee (of newly designed curriculum) at different high schools and would I like to participate? I said yes.”

Grobman was the first director of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, an agency created the same year as NASA, with the goal of improving science instruction in American high schools.

Drexler traveled to BSCS headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, for orientation and instruction on how to present the new textbooks, which were designed in three versions: blue (molecular), green (ecological) and yellow (cellular). “All dealt with biology, but they dealt with it from a different aspect,” Drexler recalls.  Back in Milwaukee, “We were in the testing program for the yellow version. We met every Monday night and talked about what we found out, problems with the books and so forth.”    

Front cover of the blue version, first edition: Molecules to Man
Front cover of the green version, first edition: High School Biology
Front cover of the yellow version, first edition: An Inquiry Into Life

Drexler was hooked. He loved the idea of teaching students science from an inquisitive point of view, as opposed to lecturing them on supposed “facts.”

“Before BSCS, biology was a rhetoric of conclusions,” says Drexler. “Everything was ‘known’ and we were simply learning things that were ‘known.’ With BSCS, there were a lot of unknowns that we could look at.  The kids left the class knowing about biology, but having a lot of questions about biology, and, we hope, were interested in those questions and kept on with the subject material. It wasn’t a finished thing; it was an ongoing thing, literally, for the rest of their lives. “

“It’s hard to describe. You’d have to experience it in order to appreciate that it was a much better way of teaching,” Drexler says. “I would never have taught that way if I weren’t getting a lot of direction from the people in Boulder and experiencing new things all the time.”

Drexler remained active with BSCS for the rest of the 1960s and for the next several decades. He spent summer after summer in Boulder, helping to write and revise textbooks, returning each fall to teach with renewed enthusiasm. He participated in a BSCS field study as recently as 2010.

And in his early 90’s, he was still teaching. He remained on the faculty at Pius XI High School for nearly 70 years, after joining in 1950.

On March 13, 2023, at 96 years old, Ed Drexler passed away peacefully surrounded by family. Read his obituary here.

Dear friends,

Happy Darwin Day! As we do every year, we are taking advantage of Charles Darwin’s birthday to celebrate science. This year, we are celebrating the contributions of scientists who have been overlooked or undervalued because of bias. At BSCS Science Learning, we are committed to raising the profile of diverse scientists as part of our work as science educators.

Dr. Jessica Wade, a physicist based in London, shares that commitment. While she is an accomplished scientist herself and has received the British Empire Medal for her work, she spends much of her time shining the spotlight on others. In fact, Jess has written more than 1,750 Wikipedia entries for overlooked female and minority scientists.

It all started five years ago, when she spontaneously wrote her first biography about Kim Cobb, an accomplished climatologist who impressed her at a science event. Jess figured, the more people who know about Kim and others like her, the more opportunities they’ll receive.

Her commitment to this effort is aligned with her personal campaign to get more girls interested in studying and working in STEM. She believes that it’s important not only to increase the number of girls choosing science but also to increase the proportion of women who stay in the field.

We had the opportunity to connect with Jess directly, and it’s clear she shares our admiration for today’s science educators, who are crucial to this endeavor. To them she’d say, “You have the most important job in the world: training future scientists to help protect the planet we love. I’m sorry you’re not celebrated as much as you should be. Thank you for continuing to inspire and innovate.”

At BSCS, we love everything Jess represents. We also understand that the best way to honor Jess is by sharing stories of other scientists. So each day this week, we’ll be featuring Wikipedia entries she’s written about scientists you may not know but should. We hope you are as moved by Jess’s actions as we are and will follow along online.


Daniel Edelson signature

Daniel C. Edelson
BSCS Executive Director

All teachers have access to free, high-quality science curriculum

For Immediate Release – February 7, 2023 – OpenSciEd has gained widespread support for its freely available, open source middle school program designed for the next generation science standards. Today, EdReports validated that support by giving the program all-green ratings. Green ratings signify that materials meet expectations for high standards of quality and usability in EdReports’ review system for science programs in grades 6-8.

“We can now confirm with complete confidence that every middle school teacher has access to free, high-quality science curriculum,” said James Ryan, Executive Director of OpenSciEd. “We believe this recognition by EdReports, a trusted external review source, will mean a lot to the nearly 50,000 teachers who are currently using our materials in classrooms nationwide. And we suspect that many more teachers will turn to this program as they aim to engage and inspire students while meeting the demands of challenging science standards.” 

EdReports gave the OpenSciEd Middle School program green ratings on all three benchmarks: designed for the next generation science standards; coherence and scope; and usability. The free report offers comprehensive information of the program’s quality. 

It took a massive, collaborative team to produce such a highly-rated program. In 2018, OpenSciEd convened four philanthropic organizations, 10 partner states, a network of national educators, and a developers consortium–including BSCS Science Learning, Boston College, The Dana Center at the University of Texas-Austin, Digital Promise Global, and Northwestern University. The complete (grades 6-8) open source program became freely available in February 2022. 

“When we set out to create the OpenSciEd Middle School Science program, we worked with our incredible network of partners to institute a rigorous process for developing, field-testing, and revising each unit,” said Dr. Daniel Edelson, Executive Director of BSCS Science Learning. “We learned an enormous amount from classroom feedback and from external reviews. All of these important steps allowed us to produce a program that teachers can trust to engage their students and achieve their standards.” 

Now more than ever, OpenSciEd encourages teachers to register for free access to the program. Teachers will discover phenomenon-driven units that provide equitable learning opportunities for students of all backgrounds. They’ll also find freely available professional learning materials, such as facilitator guides, slide decks, and videos to accompany every unit.

OpenSciEd continues to differentiate itself by offering access to high-quality curriculum and high quality professional learning – both of which are critical in transforming science teaching and learning. In fact, OpenSciEd has a network of certified providers who are ready to support teachers with using the materials. 

“The success of our middle school program is possible because of hundreds of field test teachers and thousands of students; their voices and wisdom are integrated throughout the curriculum.  And, we recognize that we are just getting started,” said Ryan. “Right now, we are rolling out high school science units and preparing for the development of elementary science units. We will continue providing free, high quality materials, along with high quality professional learning support, so that all K-12 students have the opportunity to excel in science.” 


About OpenSciEd
OpenSciEd was launched in 2018 as a nonprofit to address the need among teachers and school districts for high-quality, open-source, full-course science instructional materials, as well as curriculum-based professional learning materials to support the implementation of middle school science instructional units as a result of the adoption of the National Research Council’s document, A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The middle school materials are made possible by the generous philanthropic support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. For more information about OpenSciEd, please visit the website here.

About EdReports is an independent nonprofit designed to improve K-12 education. increases the capacity of teachers, administrators, and leaders to seek, identify, and demand the highest quality instructional materials. Drawing upon expert educators, our reviews of instructional materials and support of smart adoption processes equip teachers with excellent materials nationwide.

This is the most functional unit I’ve taught in 15 years. It’s one that allows kids to create something they can see in the real world. It outlives the moment, and gives kids a reason to proudly say, “Hey everyone, come check out my trellis!”

– Ilana Lowe, fourth & fifth grade teacher

Dear friends,

It’s been an eventful year at BSCS Science Learning. This spring, we released two major instructional materials programs for middle and high school students nationwide, including our new flagship biology program, BSCS Biology: Understanding for Life.  

We are also making moves to engage younger learners. 

Emily Harris is one of several BSCS research scientists who is particularly invested in transforming science teaching and learning at the elementary level. Emily began her career in education by running school gardens, and she has championed place-based science learning ever since. A couple years ago, she had an idea to support elementary teachers in meeting the “engineering design” expectations of the Next Generation Science Standards—by returning to her roots. 

So she partnered with Life Lab, a leader in school garden education in Santa Cruz, California, and secured funding from the US Department of Agriculture to create Engineering in the Garden

This program helps upper elementary teachers and garden educators engage students in designing solutions to address real-world problems that arise in schoolyards and school gardens. And now, teachers like Ilana Lowe are confidently facilitating robust outdoor learning experiences in which students research, design, and build full-size trellises to support climbing pea plants. 

Ilana admits she had some skeptical students at the start. Nine-year-old Cheryl was worried that her ideas would be ignored. Theo, a history and English buff, was not interested in building things. And Antonio felt frustrated as he failed to tie the knots properly. Ilana found it incredibly endearing to watch her students become better communicators and collaborators along the way. 

Cheryl told Ilana that she learned what it means to share and consider all ideas in a safe space. Theo says he learned that the iterative process of designing, building, and revising is much like the writing process—and now he feels a different connection to science. And Antonio says he learned that his classmates, who helped him figure out how to tie the knot, can be great teachers too. 

These lessons will serve the students well as they continue on to middle school science—where maybe we’ll meet them again. Either way, we will keep embracing every opportunity to impact young learners.

And we hope to continue doing this work, especially where it’s needed most, in partnership with friends like you. Will you make a donation to support today’s science educators and learners?


Daniel Edelson signature

Daniel C. Edelson
BSCS Executive Director

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 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.”

You are invited to an inside look at BSCS Science Learning’s latest innovation in instructional materials design! Join BSCS’s Dr. Lindsey Mohan and Cindy Gay as they introduce Anchored Inquiry Learning during an exclusive webinar.

Toads having a conversation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

1:30–2:30 p.m. (MT)

At BSCS, we dream of a scientifically literate society. Every day, for decades, we have worked closely with science educators, scientists, and organizations across the country who share this dream. Together, we have engaged students in inquiry-based learning experiences that transcend the classroom. And this year, we are rolling out a new instructional model designed to bring all young learners the scientific knowledge and skills they’ll need for life in today’s complex world.

Tune into this webinar to discover:

  • How BSCS’s 60+ year journey toward a scientifically literate society has led to the introduction of Anchored Inquiry Learning in classrooms today.
  • What makes Anchored Inquiry Learning transformative and distinct in a family of outstanding phenomenon-driven models.
  • How students, teachers, leaders, and parents are responding to this new Anchored Inquiry Learning approach.
  • What’s next in our shared journey as scientists, educators, learners, and innovators.

This webinar is specially developed and free for BSCS friends. Your support is always appreciated.

Questions? Please contact Lauren Novo at [email protected].

BSCS remains committed to students, teachers, and their communities, and to the ongoing work of building science education for a more just and sustainable world. But learning cannot happen if teachers and students don’t feel safe. No teacher should ever have to consider how they would react if a murderer walks into their classroom with a weapon aimed at their students. Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde – these are not isolated events, they are symptoms of an urgent public health epidemic. Gun violence has surpassed vehicle collisions as the leading cause of death among schoolchildren in our country. This statistic is shocking. On top of this, the anxiety and fear instilled in this generation of students and teachers has created a cascade of mental health crises that will be with us for decades. We cannot remain silent as teaching and learning becomes untenable. We urge policymakers to make the health and well-being of students and teachers their priority.

I have been very fortunate to meet amazing women trying to make progress in science. It has been easy for me to encourage and empower them in their career, just by explicitly recognizing their excellent skills and aptitudes.

– Dr. Carolina Vera

Dear friends,

Each Darwin Day, BSCS celebrates the impact of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. We also celebrate the unlimited possibilities of what a diverse and inclusive scientific community can achieve. So now, we use this occasion to highlight scientists who at times have been overlooked or undervalued due to their positions in society.

Carolina Vera is one such scientist. Today she is one of the most influential meteorologists and climate scientists in South America. And it’s because during her childhood in Argentina, she often wondered “why.” Why were some summers hot and dry, with little to no rain? Why were others filled with flooded fields? With plenty of encouragement from her mother, she was inspired to investigate.

Image: Carolina Vera

Carolina’s research focuses on climate variability and simulation—and has been applied to help improve mathematical models used to make forecasts. She also serves as a leader on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and contributes to knowledge on our capacity for climate resilience. Perhaps most importantly, she uses her position to advocate for underrepresented groups of scientists.

As a female scientist in South America, she has experienced her fair share of challenges. There were times when she was the only woman in a meeting and felt pressure to prove that she deserved to be there based on merit, not representation. There were other times when she was asked not to speak up if it meant contradicting her male peers. But with a strong female support system of her own, she overcame these challenges and has become an important voice for other female climate scientists.

At BSCS, we made a commitment long ago to educate students about the science they need for life. That includes both evolution and climate science. Today, we are equally committed to educating all students about the value of their voices in the scientific community. As we face some of the most pressing societal challenges of any generation, we need more scientists like Carolina Vera—scientists who are advancing the field through innovation and inclusion.


Daniel C. Edelson
BSCS Executive Director