Transforming science education through research-driven innovation

Middle School COVID-19 and Health Equity Unit

BSCS Science Learning is seeking teachers to participate in a field trial of an instructional unit for middle school on COVID-19 and Health Equity. The field trial is to be conducted between January 15 and March 15, 2021. The information gathered in the field trial will be used to revise the unit for publication.

About the unit

The 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.

Over the course of the unit, students will study the COVID-19 pandemic in light of historical pandemics 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,
  • How the actions of individuals can help to end pandemics.

The unit also supports the development of two social emotional competencies: self awareness and social awareness.

The unit employs an inquiry-based approach and is designed for 15 class periods of instruction, with optional extensions. Because of its interdisciplinary nature, it is appropriate for use in middle school science, social studies, or health classes.

Confirmed new cases of COVID-19 in 2020.
COVID-19 spread simulation tool.

About the field trial

BSCS Science Learning, the developer of the unit, is conducting a field trial to gather information from teachers and students that will inform revisions to the unit. The trial will be conducted from January through March 2021. Teachers who participate in the field trial will complete surveys that request feedback about individual lessons and the unit as a whole. They will also report on the experiences of their students. Where approval can be obtained to collect information from students, participating teachers will distribute surveys to students and submit copies of student work. All of this data will be analyzed by educational researchers to inform decisions about how to revise the unit. Teachers who participate in the field trial will be paid a stipend to compensate them for their participation in the data collection.

About BSCS Science Learning

BSCS Science Learning is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming science education through research-driven innovation. An innovator in science education since 1958, BSCS has brought inquiry learning experiences to millions of students and teachers around the world. Today, BSCS conducts research on science teaching and learning and develops instructional materials, teacher professional learning programs, and leadership development programs, all based on research and extensive testing.

Information for Interested Teachers, Schools, and Districts

The field trial is limited to 30 teachers, and the application and review process is designed to select teachers, school settings, and student populations that are representative of U.S. middle schools today. Preference will be given to teachers in schools where BSCS will be able to collect data from students. Schools and districts that are able to commit to providing the full range of data from 2-3 teachers and their students are encouraged to apply as a school or a district on behalf of those teachers.

Data Collection Plan

The field trial calls for the collection of information from teachers and students. The information that will be collected will be analyzed to provide developers with information that will help them to improve the unit.

  • Data collection from teachers: Participating teachers will be asked to complete a number of online surveys before, during, and following their enactment of the unit. There will be an initial survey asking teachers about their background, school, student population, and the course in which they are teaching the unit. There will be a set of short surveys to be completed during the unit that will ask teachers about their experience and the experience of their students during specific lessons. Finally, there will be a reflective survey to be completed after they are finished with the unit that will ask teachers for retrospective feedback about the unit as a whole.
  • Data collection from students: Where approval can be obtained to collect information from students, students will be asked to complete short surveys that ask for feedback on their experiences during specific lessons. They will also be asked to complete a reflective survey after completing the unit. In addition, teachers will be asked to submit copies of work for specific lessons from a small number of students.

Requirements and expectations for teachers

  • Participants in the trial are asked to teach the entire unit, but they are encouraged to modify and adapt lessons as they would if they were not in a field trial. This means that some teachers may skip activities or add additional material. Sections of the unit may also be taught in-person, virtually, or asynchronous.
  • Participants must commence and complete teaching the unit between January 15 and March 15, 2021.
  • Participants are required to obtain approval to participate from the appropriate authority in their school or district.
  • Participants are required to complete the full set of teacher surveys. Teachers may teach the unit to more than one class, but are asked to identify a specific class to focus on for the data collection.
  • If BSCS obtains approval to collect data from students, participants are expected to administer surveys to students and to submit copies of select student work.
  • Only teachers in US schools who will be teaching the unit to students in grades 6-8 are eligible to participate.

Payment and recognition

Participants will be acknowledged in the published unit for their role in the field trial. Teachers who complete the requirements for teaching and participating in the data collection process will receive a stipend. Stipends range from $300 for classrooms where only the teacher submits data to $500 for classrooms where the teacher supports the collection of the complete suite of student data.

Application process

The application process is designed to reflect the three considerations in the selection of participants. BSCS seeks to have a geographic and demographic diversity in the field trial that is representative of the expected audience for the unit. We seek to maximize the number of sites that are able to collect student data. We seek to complete the field trial in a timely fashion. To meet these objectives, the application asks for the following:

  • basic information about the setting of the school (urban, suburban, rural) and the demographics of the student body;
  • the background of the teacher applicant(s), the title of the course the unit will be taught in, and the window of time when the applicant plans to teach the unit.

Applicants will also be asked to certify that they have obtained permission from the appropriate authority to participate in the field trial.

After initial review of applications for other considerations, BSCS researchers will contact applicants and begin the process of applying for school or district approval to collect data from students. BSCS will accept teachers into the trial on a rolling basis until all places are filled. Once accepted, teachers will be encouraged to begin the trial as soon as possible. Click here to apply. 

Preference will be given to schools or districts with 2 or 3 applicants. Applications on behalf of multiple teachers should be submitted by a supervisor or administrator on their behalf using the special application form for that purpose.


Are you a middle school teacher who would like to participate in this field trial?


For more information, please contact Cari F. Herrmann Abell.