K-8 Science | High School | OpenSciEd


Hi {First Name},

We're excited to announce the launch of Activate Deeper Learning -- a special monthly newsletter featuring big ideas, inspiring stories, and innovative strategies to help educators bring transformational learning to all students!

In a recent blog post, we shared the results of a study in which students overwhelmingly expressed a loss of deep learning during the pandemic. As we work to define a new normal post-pandemic, teachers and students continue to face challenges that were unthinkable just three years ago. The future has never felt so uncertain. 

However, these difficult times also present opportunities for us to empower and equip students to boldly create a future that will benefit everyone. As TIME magazine highlighted in its annual Innovative Teachers 2022 issue, teachers are continuously innovating student learning, now more than ever. 

In this newsletter, we'll also explore the many exciting ways STEM learning is rapidly changing and how teachers can prepare students for the tech-driven, brave new world they’ll be entering in just a few years.

We welcome your questions and feedback. Connect with us anytime. We'd love to hear how you're innovating STEM learning with your students! ðŸš€

The Activate Learning Team

Redesigning the Public School System by 2025: How School Superintendents Are Focusing On the Future

If you were to redesign schools to be more student-centered, equity-focused, and future-driven, what would be essential components?

This is the question that the AASA Learning 2025 National Commission (leaders in education, business, and the non-profit sector) explored in a research report published in 2021. The report is a call to action to the broader education community to redesign the public school system by 2025. It serves as a guide for specific change while also empowering districts and schools to tailor plans to the needs of their learners, educators, and communities. This call to action is for everyone (not just school leaders) to reimagine the future: "All must play an active role in redesigning systems, reengineering instruction, and co-authoring the learning journey."

The organization's vision of systemic redesign includes: (1) culture, (2) social, emotional, and cognitive growth models, and (3) resources. The goal is a solid commitment to the whole learner, anti-marginalization, and a future-driven outlook. It's an ambitious, inspiring mission and many school districts have already signed up to participate. Can these goals be achieved by 2025? Time will tell!

How can STEM educators participate in this future-driven initiative?

The School Superintendents Association has developed multiple resources and opportunities for teachers to participate. Check out their website for an overview of the Learn 2025 framework and resources. Read the official Learn 2025 report, which outlines what's needed, what's next, and how educators can participate.


How One Science Teacher Developed a Meaningful Connection with Students Using OpenSciEd

"For the spring semester, I decided to teach the @OpenSciEd HS biology Cancer Unit. I was initially hesitant to teach this unit because I had just lost my aunt to lung cancer earlier in the school year. Here is a summary of how it went...1/18" — William Baur (@Pearwilliambaur) June 16, 2022

William Baur is a science teacher based in Washington State (and a farm hand!). Baur recently took to Twitter to share his experience, creating a meaningful connection with his students and connecting science learning to real-life human experience in a way that not only engaged students, but helped them share their personal experiences as well. At a time when teachers and students are experiencing a lack of meaningful connection in classrooms disrupted by the pandemic, this is no small accomplishment!

How did he do it?

Baur outlined his process of experimentation and discovery in 18 tweets. For starters, he embraced his fears and allowed himself to be vulnerable with students: "I decided to be upfront with my students and share with them about my aunt's recent passing. I had never been so vulnerable with students. This really helped students feel comfortable to share their family's cancer history and ask meaningful questions." 

He then developed a series of interactive lessons using OpenSciEd curriculum, which gave him the freedom and flexibility to explore the sensitive, difficult topic of cancer through the lens of science while giving students a voice in co-creating the learning journey through interactive exercises. This resonated with students and opened a pathway to deeper learning and a more meaningful connection between Baur and his students. Hats off to Baur and his students!


Why STEM Students Want Deeper Learning Now and How Teachers Can Help Them Achieve It

Students point to a loss of learning in three main areas that are crucial for deeper learning: foundational understanding of key concepts, peer collaboration, and building relationships. 

[Read More]

Boost Student Data Literacy Skills with PocketLab and Activate Learning

Let's talk about the importance of data literacy skills when it comes to creating the ultimate classroom of the future!

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Open Source Learning: How to Create a Successful OpenSciEd Implementation Strategy

In a search for deeper, more nuanced learning opportunities, many have turned to open-source resources for a fresh perspective aligned with modern reality. One of these initiatives is OpenSciEd.

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Present in class yet absent in science: The individual and societal impact of inequitable science instruction and challenge to improve science instruction

Current science instruction does not educate K-12 students equitably and creates short- and long-term impacts on individual students and society. While students may be present in class, they may not have access to quality science learning experiences. The goals of this paper are to show how science instruction may not be reaching its aim of equitable access and to offer recommendations for creating a new baseline standard for equitable science instruction.

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How States Are Creating Conditions for Use of High-Quality Instructional Materials -- Findings from the 2021 American Instructional Resources Survey

A growing body of evidence suggests that the use of instructional materials that are high quality, accompanied by professional learning supports, can improve student achievement. In this report, the authors discuss key policy strategies undertaken by a network of states (the High-Quality Instructional Materials [HQIM] Professional Development Network, or IMPD Network). The authors then share findings on standards-aligned curriculum material adoption, use, buy-in, and supports across the United States and among states in this network.

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Scientific argumentation and responsive teaching: Using dialog to teach science in three middle-school classrooms

Despite broad consensus on the value of classroom dialog for promoting scientific argumentation, tensions have emerged in the literature regarding the degree to which teachers should guide the dialogic process (dialogic stance). The authors use the lens of responsive teaching to examine how one teacher adjusts his instruction to foster dialog in three middle-school science classrooms.

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Science Books for Summer Beach Reading

We hope you are enjoying your Summer, instead of sharing teaching resources, we're making this resource list light and fun (resources for the beach!). Here's a short roundup of new science books to enjoy while watching the waves roll in!

The Science of Can and Can't: A Physicist's Journey through the Land of Counterfactuals (Chiara Marletto) -- According to physicist Chiara Marletto, laws about things being possible or impossible may generate an alternative method of providing explanations. Each chapter in the book delineates how an existing vexed open problem in science can be solved by this radically different approach, and each is augmented by short fictional stories that explicate the main point of the chapter. [Read More]

The Parrot in the Mirror: How evolving to be like birds made us human ( Antone Martinho-Truswell ) -- The shared similarities between humans and birds originate not from shared ancestors but from parallel histories. In this book, Antone Martinho-Truswell explores these similarities to argue that we can learn a great deal about ourselves by thinking of the human species as 'the bird without feathers'. [Read More]

Geopedia: A Brief Compendium of Geologic Curiosities (Marcia Bjornerud, Pedia Books Book 6) -- Geopedia is a trove of geologic wonders and the evocative terms that humans have devised to describe them. Featuring dozens of entries—from Acasta gneiss to Zircon—this illustrated compendium is brimming with lapidary and lexical insights that will delight rockhounds and word lovers alike. [Read More]

Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything (Jordan Ellenberg) -- Shape reveals the geometry underneath some of the most important scientific, political, and philosophical problems we face. Geometry asks: Where are things? Which things are near each other? How can you get from one thing to another thing? Those are important questions. Geometry doesn't just measure the world—it explains it. Shape shows us how! [Read More]

Here's to a much-deserved enjoyable Summer!

At Activate Learning, we believe there is a better way to engage students in STEM. Our K-12, interactive curriculum engages students with authentic learning and phenomena that are relevant and meaningful. We inspire teachers with research-based curricula that support three-dimensional learning and prepare students for the careers of tomorrow.

To learn more about how we can help bring transformational learning to your classroom, submit your info below and one of our curriculum specialists will contact you.