SCIENCE NOTES - Sept 6, 2019

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Sept 6, 2019

Science Update

In this issue...

News and Updates

Eric Hall

Hello, everyone!

It's my pleasure to formally introduce myself as the new state science consultant at the Iowa Department of Education.  While I've worked with many of you in various capacities in the past, I look forward to continuing to deepen and improve implementation of our Iowa Core science standards in my new role.

A little about myself...

I taught science in grade levels 9-12 and worked with an academically and culturally diverse student body in the Des Moines schools for eighteen years. I also served as the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme Coordinator and Instructional Coach at Hoover HS for five years. In this role, I oversaw students’ progress through the IB Middle Years Programme and supported staff in finding ways to incorporate a more global, sustainable, and reflective mindset into their respective curricular areas and instructional practices. I also helped manage STEM BEST grants, working to bring off-site research experiences to students as a Hoover STEM Academy adviser. 

During my summers, I co-coordinated a research experience for teachers (RET) program and middle school biorenewables summer academy at Iowa State for many years, and I was both a past-president and a conference chair of the Iowa Science Teaching Section of the Iowa Academy of Science.

Although I certainly have big shoes to fill, I am excited to lead the team as the new science consultant in Iowa.  This monthly SCIENCE NOTES newsletter will serve as a way to showcase bright spots across the science education landscape in Iowa, as well as to communicate important and relevant news and opportunities.

If you have any stories, events or resources that could be shared in the next SCIENCE NOTES, please send them my way at the email address at the bottom of the page.

Thank you for your continued work and dedication to high quality science learning experiences for all students.  Enjoy your weekend!


#iasciencechat - Twitter Chats Begin!

Primary contacts: Bev Berns,, Tracy Jarrett, and Eric Hall,

Join us on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30pm for focused, online professional learning and networking. Twitter chats will last 30-45 minutes and allow Iowa science teachers to connect with colleagues both in-state and nationally as part of this fast-paced format. Science teachers can stay informed about the science education landscape in Iowa and nationally while participating in discussions to gain and deepen knowledge around best practices in science education and the Iowa Core science standards. For additional information, log on to Twitter and search for #iasciencechat. Our first chat will be on Tuesday, September 17 at 7:30pm.


Exciting Announcement on September 11!

Be sure to keep an eye on Iowa Dept of Education communications on September 11.  We’ll be announcing Iowa’s math and science PAEMST finalists!


Science and Children Article

Submitted by: Ashley Delaney,
URL provided:

A big welcome to Ashley Delaney, AEA11 Science Consultant, who has a featured article in the current edition of Science and Children focused on integrating science and engineering with literacy and mathematics in early childhood classrooms. You can access the article and get ideas on integrated ECE units HERE. Welcome, Ashley!


Nominate a Presidential Scholar by Sept. 30

Presidential Scholar

Submitted by: Deborah Darge,
URL provided:

The Iowa Department of Education is seeking nominations for outstanding high school seniors for the 2019-20 U.S. Presidential Scholars selection cycle. We encourage you to nominate students who, while demonstrating outstanding scholarship, might not otherwise be nominated through the current SAT/ACT, arts, or CTE recognition processes. If you have an outstanding high school senior deserving of consideration, submit a nomination through the Department’s online Presidential Scholar Nomination Form by Sept 30.

Department Director Ryan Wise will select 25 students (10 males, 10 females, and 5 in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) category) to submit to the U.S. Presidential Scholar Program for consideration. The 2020 Presidential Scholars will be selected by the Commission on Presidential Scholars and will receive the Presidential Scholars Medallion at a ceremony in their honor in Washington, DC. Reviewers will consider the following categories:

  • Involvement and service (in school and community)
  • Leadership and character
  • Writing samples
  • Academic achievements
  • Discretionary points for extraordinary achievement, heavy workload, family responsibilities, or obstacles overcome.

The CTE component of the program will honor students on the basis of outstanding scholarship and demonstrated ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. Reviewers will consider the following categories:

  • Mastery of technical skills
  • Strength in teamwork, decision-making, and problem-solving
  • Real world application

Specific information to be included in each nomination is described on the Department’s online General Component Presidential Scholar Nomination form, or the CTE Component Presidential Scholar Nomination form. Nominations must be submitted no later than Sept. 30.

For questions regarding the nomination process, contact Deborah Darge at or (515) 242-6176. Read more about the Presidential Scholars Program.

Professional Learning Opportunities

Fall Professional Development Opportunity - Exploring Iowa’s Natural Resources

Submitted by: Barb Giger,
URL provided:

Exploring Iowa's Natural Resources: Online Course
Target Audience: STEM, Science, Social Studies, Ag. and Natural Resources; Grades K-12
Dates: September 15, 2019 – January 5, 2020 (16 weeks)
Location: online
Instructor: Barb Gigar

Cost: $305 - Materials, 3 License Renewal Credits; $455 – Materials, 3 Drake Graduate Credits

The goal of this course is to help you utilize a STEM-based approach that incorporates local natural resources as unifying themes to implement Iowa Core concepts in your curriculum. You will work in small groups and individually to create a network of contacts and resources to teach natural resource concepts. Group and individual assignments will build on each other throughout the course.

Participants will build a project-based learning unit for their personal teaching situation, so you can immediately incorporate the course resources and tactics into your teaching. It is offered for 3 license renewal or graduate credits, and also qualifies for credit for the STEM endorsement through Drake.

This course guides the participant through several resources that utilize a STEM-based approach to explore natural resources including:

  • Outdoor Observation Skills
  • Field Investigations
  • Schoolyard Biodiversity
  • Project Based Learning Model
  • Project WILD
  • Aquatic WILD


IPTV Seeking Iowa Science Teachers to Participate in Iowa Phenomena Cohort


Submitted by: Tiffany Morgan,
URL provided:

Iowa Public Television is seeking innovative Iowa science teachers to participate in a professional development cohort exploring Iowa Earth and environmental science phenomena. Selected participants will collaborate with teachers across the state to research strategies for using local phenomena to inspire student questions, work with conservation professionals to find and capture local phenomena, and create original resources for a new IPTV educational website. Teachers selected to participate will earn a $650 stipend for completing the project requirements. Relicensure and graduate credit is available. Visit our website HERE for additional information.


Physics Coursework Opportunity

Submitted by: Dr. Lawrence Escalada,
URL provided:

The UNI Physics Department in collaboration with UNI Continuing Education has created a new pathway for existing science and math teachers to become endorsed to teach physics. This endorsement pathway will help improve teachers’ physics content knowledge and better prepare Iowa students for a future in STEM. The coursework is designed for teachers who are licensed by the state of Iowa to teach 5-12 math or science and are interested in the Iowa 5-12 Physics Endorsement or the physics component of the Iowa 5-12 All Science Endorsement.  For more information visit our website HERE.


ISTS Fall Conference Information


Submitted by:  Craig Johnson,

Join your friends and colleagues at the 2019 ISTS Fall Conference. If you have already registered - thank you! Please disregard this reminder! If you haven't registered use the link at the bottom of this page to learn more and register.

The Pre-Conference and Conference are packed with information you can use, opportunities to network, break out sessions, workshops, exhibitors and more.

Conference Keynote Speaker
Benjamin Herman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Learning, Teaching and Curriculum
University of Missouri

Choose from more than 70 Break-out and Expo Sessions
Exhibit Hall

Learn more and Register

Science Education Resources

Argument-based Strategies for STEM Infused Science Teaching (ASSIST) tools and resources


Submitted by: Mark McDermott,
URL provided:

The Argument-based Strategies for STEM Infused Science Teaching (ASSIST) approach provides a framework for developing effective science learning environments at all grade levels. The argument-based Science Writing Heuristic (SWH) is combined with the purposeful integration of mathematics, engineering, and technology to develop units of study aligned with the NGSS and the Iowa Science Standards. Focusing on literacy skills as a way to develop science understanding, especially consistent engagement with multimodal communication is also emphasized.

ASSIST project developers along with a number of teachers who have participated in professional development related to the approach have developed templates and resources to help teachers plan and implement units. Teachers can access copies of the latest version of tools and associated resources at this link. Feedback and comments about the tools or suggestions for further resources can be emailed to Mark McDermott.

Eric Hall
Science Consultant
Bureau of Leading, Teaching, Learning Services
Iowa Department of Education
Grimes State Office Building
400 E 14th St
Des Moines, IA 50319