Transforming science education through research-driven innovation

Professional Learning to Support A Medical Mystery

This course is full for the summer and fall of 2021.

Calling all Middle School Science Teachers!

Are you interested in a high quality professional learning (PL) opportunity to support the enactment of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned curricula? Do you know other middle school science teachers who could benefit from an immersive PL experience designed to enhance both teacher and student learning?

BSCS has a fully-online PL course developed to guide teachers through our new body systems curriculum unit: A Medical Mystery. This NGSS-aligned unit immerses students in an online environment that challenges them to use scientific reasoning skills and argumentation to solve, “What’s Wrong with M’Kenna?”

Intrigued? Learn more about A Medical Mystery!

Part 1 of the PL (held in summer) engages teachers in developing an understanding of A Medical Mystery, learning STeLLA® strategies as they are embedded in the unit, and analyzing classroom video of the units in action.

Part 2 of the PL (held in fall) supports teachers as they begin to use the unit with students. Teachers who continue onto Part 2 of the course will film themselves teaching the unit and will engage in video-based analysis-of-practice with their peers.


  • Part 1: June – August, 2021 is a 7-week summer course. Participation each week requires approximately 4 hours of asynchronous work (with mid-week and end-of-week assignments), and 2 hours of synchronous work. Exact meeting schedule will be developed to accommodate the availability and needs of participants.
    • Total hours of participation: 42 hours across 7 weeks
  • Part 2: September – November, 2021 includes 5 2-hour synchronous sessions spread across 10 weeks. Participants teach A Medical Mystery to students, film themselves using the materials with students, and engage in video-based analysis-of-practice to refine their understanding and use of the unit.
    • Total hours of participation: time to teach the unit plus 10 hours across 10 weeks
    • Completion of Part 1 is a prerequisite for registering for Part 2.
  • Location: Online; basic equipment

Why participate?

Throughout this comprehensive institute, you will:

  • become familiar with the Next Generation Science Standards and learn how to successfully enact NGSS-aligned curriculum.
  • enhance your own understanding of body systems content to better support students’ classroom engagement and 3-dimensional learning.
  • develop an understanding of BSCS’s signature STeLLA strategies—which have shown to be highly effective in improving both teacher and student learning.

This resource was developed in partnership with Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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.

Five Tools and Processes for Translating the NGSS into Instruction and Classroom Assessment

As a teacher, how can you plan for instruction and classroom assessment based on the new science standards and Framework for K-12 Science Education? As a leader, how can you support teachers as they navigate this process?

Discover an effective pathway at a Five Tools Institute. The Five Tools and Processes to support educators in translating disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and performance expectations into a coherent unit plan for (NGSS-aligned) phenomenon or problem-focused units of instruction.

Which Five Tools Institute is right for you?

BSCS customizes Five Tools Institutes based on the target participants’ needs and goals. The most popular examples of what we offer and for whom include:

Five Tools Institute 1: Learning the Process

Learning Goals

  • develop a deeper understanding of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Framework for K-12 Science Education.
  • using a middle school example unit, learn how to design and plan three-dimensional, phenomena or problem-driven units of instruction.
  • leverage facilitation guides and other resources to help you navigate the Five Tools model of professional development.

Target Participants

  • K-12 Teachers, Teacher Leaders, District Leaders

Five Tools Institute 2: Developing a Unit of Instruction and Classroom Assessment

Learning Goals

  • develop a deeper understanding of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Framework for K-12 Science Education.
  • learn how to design and plan three-dimensional, phenomena or problem-driven units of instruction.
  • use the tools and processes to develop a unit of instruction and classroom assessment.
  • access facilitation guides and other resources to help you navigate the Five Tools model of professional development.

Target Participants

  • K-12 Teachers, Teacher Leaders, District Leaders

Five Tools Institute 3: Leadership Development

Learning Goals

  • develop a deeper understanding of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Framework for K-12 Science Education.
  • Learn how to support educators in designing and planning three-dimensional, phenomena or problem-driven units of instruction using the Five Tools.
  • Access, review, and practice using facilitation guides and other resources to help you lead educators in navigating the Five Tools model of professional development.

Target Participants

  • Science supervisors
  • K-12 teacher leaders (leaders of teams can include classroom teachers)
  • District/school administrators
  • Science consultants
  • University faculty

How can you participate in an institute?

When BSCS has an institute available for public registration, we will post the opportunity on this page.

If we don’t currently have an institute available that meets your needs, contact us about how we can collaborate with you on developing and/or hosting one.

BSCS can support the design and implementation of Five Tools Institutes of various sizes across the country.

BSCS Science Learning is offering a free professional learning (PL) opportunity with our new Invitations to Inquiry with FieldScope lesson materials, which get students working with real-world data from citizen science projects using FieldScope .

Invitations to Inquiry with FieldScope are 2–4 class period environmental science instructional materials that provide educators and students an initial experience with asking and answering questions by analyzing environmental community and citizen science (CCS) data. They are also designed to support educators and students in sensemaking using scientific data, making progress toward the NGSS practices of analyzing and interpreting data and constructing explanations.


The current opportunity for PL is an online, self-paced course and is free and open to any educators interested in community and citizen science and/or using data in your classrooms or informal settings.

This course will take approximately 3–4 hours to complete. It is located here  –please be sure to sign up  so we can keep a record of who completes the course.


Which topics do the materials cover?

Check out all 12 Invitations to Inquiry with FieldScope.

What is FieldScope?

FieldScope is BSCS Science Learning’s platform for citizen and community science projects. With FieldScope’s interactive platform, organizers of field studies can leverage sophisticated graphing and mapping visualization tools and resources to enhance their existing and planned citizen science projects.

STeLLA Online: A Highly Successful Video-based Professional Learning Model in an Online Environment

Calling all Elementary Teachers!

BSCS Science Learning invites you to participate in our nationally-recognized professional learning (PL) program, STeLLA® (Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis). We’ve translated research into practice by creating a fully online version of STeLLA – that is now available to elementary teachers across the country!

STeLLA supports teachers in learning to use effective teaching strategies through a powerful video-based lesson analysis approach. This research-based program has demonstrated impacts on both teacher and student learning above and beyond any impacts from a traditional science teacher professional learning program.

Elementary teachers who want to implement research-based curriculum and improve their teaching have something to gain from STeLLA. And so do their students.

The cost to participate is $1,820. Secure your spot in STeLLA Online. Space is limited!

Why Participate?

  • STeLLA builds a sense of community among educators.
  • Participants will become more effective and confident science teachers.
  • STeLLA significantly increases student achievement in science.
  • STeLLA accelerates learning…which is especially valuable in a time when a lot of learning has been lost.
  • The program is fully online, allowing teachers to participate from anywhere.

What’s Required?

Participating teachers commit to approximately 90 hours PL spread across the summer and 2021-2022 school year.

  • In the summer, participants must complete 10 online modules, containing asynchronous assignments and synchronous sessions held via Zoom:
    • complete approximately 4 hours of asynchronous work each week for 10 weeks, and
    • participate in ten 2-hour synchronous sessions.
  • In the fall semester 2021, participants must:
    • teach 7 Earth’s Changing Surface lessons provided by BSCS (each lesson is approximately 45 minutes in length),
    • film themselves teaching one of the Earth’s Changing Surface lessons, and
    • participate in five 2-hour synchronous sessions held via zoom discussing their own video and the videos of their peers enrolled in the course.
  • In the spring semester 2022, participants must:
    • teach 6 Water Cycle lessons with main learning goals and activities provided by BSCS (each lesson is approximately 45 minutes in length),
    • complete asynchronous assignments (approximately 1.5 hours per week for five weeks), and
    • participate in six 2-hour synchronous sessions.

About the PL Opportunity

There’s been a lot of buzz about the STeLLA PL model (check out this EdWeek article) and with good reason. STeLLA is based on a 17-year line of research and development and has demonstrated significant impacts on science teaching and student achievement in science.

We’ve translated research into practice by developing this new online model. Now, teachers across the country, in rural and urban areas alike, can take part in this exciting professional learning experience.

Teacher Recertification Credits

Participating teachers will receive up to 89.5 total hours of credit (based on actual participation). We will provide each teacher with a certificate of participation and will detail each teacher’s dates of participation. Teachers may be able to use the certificate toward recertification, depending on district policies.

BSCS Science Learning is conducting a National Science Foundation-funded study exploring whether learning about the multifactorial causes of human variation reduces racial bias among middle and high school biology students. We are looking for interested teachers to participate in the study. We will prepare teachers for this study through a free five-day summer institute. The institute is not occurring in summer 2022. To be notified when the institute will be scheduled, please click here.

About the Study

As a participant, you would teach your standard curriculum on molecular genetics for a week. Afterwards, over the following four weeks, your students would learn about Mendelian genetics and multifactorial genetics in different orders. In half of your classrooms you would teach Mendelian genetics and then multifactorial genetics. In the other half you would teach multifactorial genetics and then Mendelian genetics. The BSCS research team will explore how these units affect students’ quantitative reasoning in biology and their knowledge of genetics, and whether this learning, in turn causes reductions in cognitive forms of racial prejudice. For more on our work, visit Towards a More Humane Genetics Education.

About the Summer Institute

Participating teachers would attend a free five-day summer institute at BSCS Science Learning in Colorado Springs, CO to learn about how to use these genetics instructional materials to teach genetics to reduce racial bias. BSCS will pay for all lodging, food, and travel for participating teachers. Also, BSCS can pay districts up to $300 dollars per participating teacher to cover the costs of a substitute if needed. We will select a total of twenty teachers for the study. Preference will be given to teachers who:

  1. Can provide BSCS with a letter of support from their principal confirming that they support their teacher’s participation in the study provided their school district approves of the study.
  2. Can attend the five-day institute during the summer (dates TBD) at BSCS Science Learning in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
  3. Teach at least four sections of biology at the same grade and level (e.g. all introductory biology, or all honors, or all AP, or all sheltered).
  4. Are interested in participating in the research in upcoming school years.
  5. Are committed to carrying out this study with diligence, which means meeting all deadlines, managing paper work, and paying careful attention to study details.
  6. Are interested in learning how to teach for social justice in biology education.