FREE Article on Principal Science Professional Development

You probably will not be surprised to know that a building principal is a major key to successful professional learning of science teachers. Dr. Kate McNeil and her team have done lots of great work studying professional development for building principals and also in developing tools for this specific type of professional learning. See Instructional Leadership for Science Practices.

You can also find a FREE article from the Journal of Research in Science Teaching titled Professional Development to Support Principals’ Vision of Science Instruction. This article nicely describes how principals initially engage with observing science lessons and how to connect those initial strategies to reform efforts in science instruction.

One of my favorite quotes is below. I appreciate this quote because I feel like my personal experiences working with multiple middle school and high school principals aligns with this finding.

PEI FREE Online Workshop 6 STEM Clock Hours

During the last decade of working as a consultant one of my favorite partners to collaborate with has been Pacific Education Institute. They provide excellent free materials focused on getting students outside engaging in authentic science and engineering tasks.

There is an opportunity coming up soon to join PEI for an online workshop on Designing Field Investigations.

See information below and click HERE for the registration form. (I wish I wasn’t booked on these days so I could join in!)

Below is information from PEI:

This is a FREE workshop in three components:

  • Jan 11, 4pm – 6pm (ZOOM)
  • Asynchronous Tasks (approximately 2 hours)
  • Jan 25, 4pm – 6pm (ZOOM)

Participants completing all three components will receive 6 Washington State approved STEM clock hours and the opportunity to earn an implementation stipend.

Dear Data

In my work teaching preservice and inservice teachers about the Next Generation Science Standards I like to think that I have a certain “expertise” about the Science and Engineering Practices. But last year I realized that I had been neglecting (and making some assumptions about) the practice of Analyzing and Interpreting Data. As I started to dig in and engaged in some online learning activities about Analyzing and Interpreting Data I soon realized that my understanding of this practice was pretty shallow and that I was lacking in innovative ways of considering the practice.

One resource that I found during my learning was the website (and book) Dear Data. I immediately fell in love with the idea of the project and I could feel myself being pushed outside my comfort zone. I was seeing how collecting and representing data could be personal, fun, creative, and artistic. I was in.

Dear Data stems from a year-long project that involved two women (Giorgia and Stephanie) who lived on different parts of the globe. They decided to collect everyday data and then to represent their weekly findings visually by designing hand-made postcards. The postcards were mailed each week and then collected to form the book Dear Data. The authors also recently released a very thoughtful interactive journal titled Observe, Collect, Draw: A Visual Journal. Giorgia and Stephanie began the project and their ritual eventually became a catalyst for a friendship. See the embedded video below of the authors discussing the Dear Data project.

I’m considering having my college students immerse themselves in this type of data collection and representation. How might you use these type of data stories with your students?

My Top 10 Science Picture Books of 2022

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have a deep love of all things picture books. I used picture books as an elementary teacher to teach multiple content areas and I’ve continued to use picture books in my work with preservice and inservice teachers.

Here are my Top 10 Science Picture books for 2022. To be clear, some of these books were not published in 2022 but I “discovered” all of these in 2022. I hope you enjoy the list. Let me know what you might add in the comments.

Animal Allies: 15 Amazing Women in Wildlife Research by Elizabeth Pagel- Hogan

This book describes 15 women and their outdoor research on biodiversity and conservation.

Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Adapted by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt)

I have been a huge fan of the original Braiding Sweetgrass for several years. I use excerpts from the book in professional development and in courses I teach. So when I learned that the book had been adapted for youth- I was thrilled. This book is a gift from Dr. Kimmerer that shares stories of Indigenous ways of thinking and Indigenous relationships with the natural world. Maybe not technically a “picture book”…but I felt it was more than worthy of sharing here. If you have never read the original Braiding Sweetgrass this might actually be a great entry point.

The Dirt Book: Poems About Animals That Live Beneath Our Feet by David L. Harrison, illustrated by Kate Cosgrove

Some people I work with are surprised to learn how much I love poetry. (I guess “science” people aren’t supposed to appreciate literacy?) This fabulous little book uses 15 poems to describe soil and the living things that thrive within the soil. Excellent book for primary students.

Disasters by the Numbers: A Book of Infographics by Steve Jenkins

There are a lot of reasons why I love this book- but the primary reason is that it provides a great way for students to engage with the science practice of Analyzing and Interpreting Data. This practice tends to be a challenge for students at all levels and having a set of infographics on a compelling topic is highly useful. The book provides multiple ways of representing data and helps make the case that representing data doesn’t have to be boring and static- but that thoughtful data representation helps tell a story.

Inside In: X-Rays of Nature’s Hidden World by Jan Paul Schutten, illustrated by Arie ‘t Riet

This is a wonderful book that shows how art and science can be combined. The beautiful and haunting x-ray images provide an invitation to consider structure and function (on of our Crosscutting Concepts) in the natural world.

Wonder Women of Science: Twelve Geniuses Who Are Currently Rocking Science, Technology, And the World by Tiera Fletcher; Ginger Rue, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

It is no coincidence that there is another book on this list to feature women in science. One of my goals is to always promote and elevate the work of women in science. And this book does just that by sharing about 12 current women in STEM fields. This book also provides ideas for how to get involved with STEM.

The Mystery of the Monarchs: How Kids, Teachers, and Butterfly Fans Helped Fred and Norah Urquhart Track the Great Monarch Migration by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Erika Meza

I was listening to a story about monarch butterflies on NPR a few months ago and really got captured by the story. I thought that I knew a bit about monarchs and their migrations…but I realized I only knew a bit. This book not only provides information about monarchs but also tells a “citizen science” story of how school children collaborated with scientists to learn about butterflies. Great stuff!

Narwhal: The Arctic Unicorn by Justin Anderson, illustrated by Jo Weaver

I mean, what more do I need to say besides narwhal…the arctic unicorn? Lovely book.

Watercress by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin

Watercress is a book that many people might not see as a “science” book- but it is a beautiful book about culture and the natural world and plants. If you don’t know about this award winning book then I highly recommend you check it out.

The Vanishing Lake by Paddy Donnelly

This final book is another that might not be considered a true science trade book, but I would argue that this story poses a phenomenon (a vanishing lake) and describes the everyday ideas that a grandfather and granddaughter have about the phenomenon.

I hope you enjoyed this list and discovered at least one book that might be useful for your work with students or for you personally.

Leave a comment for other books that you would nominate. Thanks.

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Invitations to Inquiry (Free Secondary Science Supplements) Video Blog

Invitations to Inquiry by BSCS is a set of nicely-designed mini-units that provide thoughtful ways for secondary students to engage in the practice of analyzing and interpreting data. Below is a screencast where I provide a quick overview of the materials.

Other Links and Resources:

Science Education in an Age of Misinformation

Stanford University recently released a report titled Science Education in the Age of Misinformation. The report makes the case for why misinformation is a problem and how scientists and science educators might address the problem. The report provides some clear recommendations and also some compelling examples.

You can access the full report as a pdf HERE. You can also visit the accompanying website HERE.

WA Only: PEI FREE Field Experiences Workshop

I have had the pleasure of learning with the talented folks at Pacific Education Institute (PEI) for several years now. I’ve even had the honor of collaborating with them on developing materials and delivering professional development. So I wanted to take the opportunity to push out information for a FREE workshop series from PEI on Designing High Impact Field Experiences. I highly recommend any professional learning from PEI. Unfortunately I’m already booked on one of these evenings, otherwise I would see you there.


  • Online via Zoom
  • March 16th and March 29th via Zoom with 2 hours of asynchronous work
  • Zoom sessions 4-6pm
  • 6 STEM Clock Hours
  • Click HERE for more information and to register

FREE Webinar: Pedagogical Commitments for Climate Justice Education

The Climate Teacher Ed Collaborative (@ClimateEdTools) is hosting multiple monthly FREE online webinars. The first is titled Pedagogical Commitments for Climate Justice Education on February 11th, 2022 from 11am-noon PST. Dr. Fikile Nuxalmo and Pablo Montes will be sharing about their NSTA publication on Pedagogical Commitments for Climate Justice Education. I just signed up and hope to see other colleagues there too.

If you are interested you can register HERE.

Tech Boy

I don’t talk about it much on this site but I’m not only a huge science education nerd, I’m also a huge everyday nerd. I read and collect graphic novels and comic books. I watch anything Marvel, DC or Star Wars related and I definitely enjoy playing video games.

So when I recently stumbled on a STEM-focused comic book that was authored by a young person- I was intrigued and knew that I had to share it here.

Thirteen year-old DeJuan Strickland also enjoys video games and comics. He noticed that there were only a few superheroes that looked like him. He noticed that there weren’t many comics that explicitly connected to STEM…so he created his own superhero comic and character- Tech Boy!

You can hear DeJuan talk about his vision and his project in the news clip embedded below. You can order your own copy (or even a classroom set) of Tech Boy HERE. It also sounds like DeJuan has been hard at work and has another comic coming soon…so keep your eyes open for more from DeJuan.

Have You Seen the Latest STEM Teaching Tools?

If you are someone who follows this blog then you most likely are already a fan of the brilliant STEM Teaching Tools site. If it’s been awhile since you’ve visited then I highly recommend heading there now. The last several Practice Briefs are powerful (not that the previous ones were not) and tackle some important topics in equity-focused science instruction. Here are a few of my favorites to get you started: