Category Archives: STEM

Fostering Change: Ideas and Best Practices for Diversity in STEM Teaching in K-12 Classrooms

Screen Shot 2018-03-17 at 7.55.25 PMOVERVIEW: The Smithsonian Science Education Center and the Shell Oil Company have collaborated to compose a document titled- Fostering Change: Ideas and Best Practices for Diversity in STEM Teaching in K-12 Classrooms. This playbook provides support in trying to diversify the STEM teaching ranks.

PURPOSE: Here is some wording directly from the playbook that describes the purpose of the document.

The nation faces challenges to achieve excellence in its science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce; and, the importance of fostering diversity in STEM teaching is fundamental to this success. Several theories support the importance of having educators in the classroom who reflect the background and experiences of the students in their schools. Across the nation, there are programs that aim to increase the number of STEM teachers or programs to increase the number of teachers from diverse communities at large, but very few programs aim to do both at the same time. In 2015, an effort was launched by Shell and the Smithsonian Science Education Center to bring together individuals and organizations with the unique ability to foster change through a series of activities designed to assist school districts in implementing systemic reform to increase diversity in their STEM teaching community.

Together, these experts identified several opportunities that can impact a school district’s path toward increasing the diversity of STEM teachers in the classroom, while preparing these same STEM teachers for science leadership opportunities. One identified need was a playbook of recommended discussions, practices, and tools that a school district could use to foster change. This playbook will provide school district decision makers and change makers with a starting point to begin their efforts. The playbook is designed to be responsive to district needs and will be revised as we collect feedback from school districts and individuals who offer best practices for success.

I recommend skimming the Table of Contents to get a clear overview of the playbook.

This is a thoughtfully designed resource to add to your toolbox of equity-focused science resources.

AUDIENCE: school district leaders, human resource departments, college of education administrators and recruiters, supporters of equity and diversity in STEM teaching and learning


WA Only: LASER Workshop 11-29-17 Next Gen Science & Engineering for Equity

Hi all,

This is a very affordable opportunity for upper elementary and middle school science teachers in the Puget Sound Region to dig into STEM education and equity.

Here is the link if you are interested in signing up:

Below is information copied from the registration site…


Wed, November 29, 2017

8:30 AM – 4:00 PM PST


Microsoft Conference Center

16070 NE 36th Way

Redmond, WA 98052


This full-day workshop for upper elementary and middle school teachers will give participants tools to engage their students in science and engineering practices aligned with the NGSS. From building low-cost sensors, to iterating design challenges to writing across the STEM disciplines, teachers will add to their toolkit of effective and engaging teacher practices. Professor Jose Rios’ keynote will challenge participants to develop their ideas about educating for equity and access in STEM.

Six STEM clock hours will available for an extra fee, pending approval.

Tenative Agenda

  • 8:30-8:45 am – Opening
  • 8:45:- 10:30 am – Hacking STEM
  • 10:30 – 10: 45 am – Break
  • 10:45 – 12:30 pm – Science/Engineering Notebooks
  • 12:30 – 1:15 pm – Lunch
  • 1:15 – 2:00 pm – Equity Presentation
  • 2:00 – 3:45 pm – Engineering Fellow Program
  • 3:45 – 4:00 pm – Closing

Video Case: Powerful Engineering Example

I’m always looking for powerful examples of engineering to share with teachers and students. This is one of my current favorites- the story of designing an elegantly simple microscope and centrifuge that can save countless lives around the world. Enjoy!

Learning Targets in a NGSS Classroom

OVERVIEW: I have had several conversations with teachers and administrators about how learning targets, objectives, and success criteria should look different in science learning than they might in other content areas. Some of these conversations have been greeted with skepticism (to say the least) so it will be nice to have a resource to help guide this topic in the future. The latest STEM Teaching Tool #46 is titled: How to define meaningful daily learning objectives for science investigations… and it looks like a brilliant overview of this important topic.

PURPOSE: This STEM Teaching tool provides clarity and examples for how learning targets in science can be public, helpful, constructed with students, and designed in a way to not “give away” the concept being learned.

AUDIENCE: district and building administrators, teachers of science, PD providers, teacher educators, curriculum writers



What do Pre-service Teachers Need to Know About NGSS? A Twitter Essay

OVERVIEW: Dr. Phil Bell at the University of Washington was recently asked what pre-service teachers should know about the Next Generation Science Standards. He responded with a series of Tweets or a Twitter Essay. (As an instructor of multiple science methods courses I’m considering making this a part of my syllabus.)

AUDIENCE: Any teacher educators of K-12 teachers of science (I think this list also applies to practicing teachers of science and those who provide science professional development.)

PURPOSE: This Twitter essay provides specific resources and reminders about how the teaching of science is much more than just putting a bunch of content into the heads of learners. My personal favorite is recommendation #3:

Make equity & social justice a central, daily focus of your science teaching practice —not an add-on 


I also highly recommend following Dr. Bell on Twitter if you don’t already:

Here is a short video of Dr. Bell discussing the role of play and personal engagement in science learning.

Science Literacy: Concepts, Contexts, and Consequences

OVERVIEW: The National Academies Press recently released a report on the state of science literacy titled Science Literacy: Concepts, Contexts, and Consequences. Like all of the NAP documents you can read it FREE in your browser, download for FREE or order a hardcopy (Not FREE).

AUDIENCE: Science teachers, educational researchers, policy makers, administrators, others

PURPOSE: This report provides an overview of the state of science literacy in several areas and provides a number of Conclusions for each area:

  • Science Literacy and Health Literacy
  • Science Literacy in Society and the World
  • Science Literacy for Communities
  • Science Literacy for Individuals

Here is the description from the NAP site:

Science is a way of knowing about the world. At once a process, a product, and an institution, science enables people to both engage in the construction of new knowledge as well as use information to achieve desired ends. Access to science—whether using knowledge or creating it—necessitates some level of familiarity with the enterprise and practice of science: we refer to this as science literacy.

Science literacy is desirable not only for individuals, but also for the health and well- being of communities and society. More than just basic knowledge of science facts, contemporary definitions of science literacy have expanded to include understandings of scientific processes and practices, familiarity with how science and scientists work, a capacity to weigh and evaluate the products of science, and an ability to engage in civic decisions about the value of science. Although science literacy has traditionally been seen as the responsibility of individuals, individuals are nested within communities that are nested within societies—and, as a result, individual science literacy is limited or enhanced by the circumstances of that nesting.

Science Literacy studies the role of science literacy in public support of science. This report synthesizes the available research literature on science literacy, makes recommendations on the need to improve the understanding of science and scientific research in the United States, and considers the relationship between scientific literacy and support for and use of science and research.


Successful STEM Education

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 3.59.56 PMOVERVIEW: Successful STEM Education is a site that provides resources, information, and events about effective tools and practices for K-12 STEM education. The site also contains links to 2 important STEM education reports:

Successful K-12 STEM Education

Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education

My favorite part of the site is the STEM Smart Briefs– these 10 briefs provide an overview on research that relates to common challenges and recommendations in K-12. Topics of the briefs include:

  • Connecting Informal and Formal STEM Education
  • CTE Pathways to STEM Occupations
  • Engineering: Emphasizing the “E” in STEM Education
  • Preparing and Supporting STEM Educators

TARGET AUDIENCE: Administrators, STEM teachers and teacher leaders, PD providers, informal science providers, curriculum directors, and others in education

PURPOSE: Provides key STEM Education resources in one location.