Science Updates - January 2020

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January 2020

Science Update

In this issue...

News & Updates

It's time to create high quality 3D science assessments with MINK & CO!


The focus of this year's online meetings will be "Eliciting Student Evidence to Improve Science Learning". Each session will be facilitated by science educators from one of the sponsoring states, and concentrate on one particular aspect of assessing in an NGSS-aligned classroom. To learn more and to access the resources from last school year, please go to the MINK Website, linked below.

Our next webinar series begins on January 16 at 4pm.  We'll provide a clear and simple framework for developing 3 dimensional classroom assessments, and discuss how others have been successful when implementing these kinds of assessments.

Register for webinars here:

Find archived webinars and additional information here:


Interested in virtual field trips for elementary students?


Iowa PBS, previously Iowa Public Television, is looking for input from elementary teachers from around the state.  We are interested in developing a series of short, web-based videos that highlight historical and scientific places and stories here in Iowa, a virtual field trip of sorts for elementary students, ideally for grades 2nd-5th. We request input regarding the need and usage of this content. Please take a couple of minutes to complete this short eight-question survey and provide feedback on this proposed project. We appreciate your valuable time and support.


#IAScienceChat is back in 2020!

Jan Twitter Chat

Join us on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30pm for focused, online professional learning and networking. Twitter chats will last 45-60 minutes and allow Iowa science teachers to connect with colleagues both in-state and nationally.

Jan 21 - Designing 3D assessments (Tammy Askeland-Nagel, Jordan Manning, Adam Puderbaugh, Amy Johannsen)

Feb 18 - Work-based learning (Laura Williams and Jake Welchans)

April 21 - Questioning strategies - TBD

May 19 - Phenomenon-based teaching & learning (Tiffany Morgan and Bryan Bauer)

Just log into Twitter, search for #IAScienceChat, and join the conversation!


The #PAEMST 2019-2020 Cycle is Now Open


Do you know a K–6th grade STEM teacher who should be recognized for their impact in the classroom? Nominate them for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (#PAEMST) today! Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to honor our nation’s greatest educators!


Partnership Hopes to Advance Student-led Research in Pork

The Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation and the Iowa Pork Producers Association are announcing a new program to encourage more students to get involved in swine and pork science research. Iowa students who complete and conduct a science experiment that is related to pigs, pork, pig production, swine care, or in a related subject area will be eligible to receive a $200 scholarship.

Today's pig farmers and pork producers use a lot of science to determine how to best raise their animals. Good science can help propel the industry forward and allow pork and pork by-products to continue to be an important part of the food supply and agricultural industry. Iowa ranks #1 in pork production.

“We are excited to offer this research opportunity to students,” said Joyce Hoppes of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “Our industry relies on science for advancement in animal care and product improvements.”

The scholarship can assist students in the development of a project, be used to purchase supplies for their experiments, or purchase supplies for the presentation of the project. The funds can also be used to help fund travel to any of the four science fairs and symposiums hosted in Iowa including: the Junior Science & Humanities Symposium (March 2-3, 2020 in Iowa City, IA); the Western Iowa Science and Engineering Fair (March 14, 2020 in Fort Dodge, IA); the Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair (March 20, 2020 in Cedar Rapids, IA); or the State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa (March 26-27, 2020 in Ames, IA).

“Students can complete a research project in any of the more than 70 categories,” said Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation executive director, Will Fett. “There are so many interesting connections between pork and science that students can explore. Everything from biomedical and health sciences to mathematics and microbiology can relate to pork and swine.”

Ten students (grades 6-12) will be selected to receive the scholarship. The deadline to apply for the scholarship will be February 1, 2020. Students selected to receive the scholarship and their teacher or sponsor will be contacted by February 15, 2020.

For more information about this activity or other education activities please contact the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation at Students can apply for the scholarship and begin their science research by visiting

Professional Learning Opportunities

Do you want to learn about better integrating engineering design into science classes?

My team of teachers – and the Iowa Science Foundation - would like to provide a workshop on engineering design for the elementary teachers and science teachers of your district at no cost to you or your teachers. My team of teachers and college students are not accepting any payment or stipend for the workshop. There is no cost to the teacher participants. And the Iowa Science Foundation has agreed to reimburse districts up to $1,000 for substitute coverage. (That’s right! The Iowa Science Foundation will pay for the substitute coverage so that teachers can attend the workshop!)

We are award winning teachers and expert presenters. Our most recent workshop on Engineering Design received ratings that were all above 4.5 on a 5.0 scale, including 4.78 on the question, “I would recommend this workshop to friends and colleagues.” We are happy to provide additional information at your request.

Will you host a workshop for your district’s teachers? Can we talk and choose a date?

Please reply at your earliest convenience so that we can get a conversation started. I would like to discuss a date in spring or the upcoming 2020 – 2021 school year.
I hope to hear from you soon!

Cordially yours,
Ken L. Turner, Jr.


Plan to attend the 5th Annual Emerging Educators Academy!


The Outstanding Educators’ Academy of the Iowa Department of Education in partnership with the Iowa State Education Association, Simpson College and its Department of Education is hosting the 5th Annual Emerging Educators Academy on January 30, 2020 at Kent Campus Center at Simpson College.

The conference is for all pre-service and 1st through 3rd year Teachers as well as their mentors.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with outstanding Iowa educators, professional leaders, and Department of Education consultants to focus on recruiting and retaining effective educators.

This year educators will explore "Perspectives in our Practice and breakout sessions will focus on building classroom community, mental health and loving teaching.

For registration and additional information, click here:


Water quality workshop - Water Connects Us All

Water Connects Us All: Growing Networks for Clean and Safe Water in the Heartland

  • Two graduate credits for $275
  • Total cost of $275 for 2 graduate credits, food, lodging, and a plethora of teaching materials.
  • Learn how to teach environmental issues based on the theme, Water Connects Us All.
  • Sub-grants available for water quality projects!
  • All grade levels (P-12) and content areas are encouraged to attend.

Eii utilizes: Iowa Core/NGSS, Project-based teaching and learning, STEM, K-12 Cross-cutting Concepts, Engineering Practices, Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning, Differentiated Instruction, The 5 E’s Learning Cycle

Location and Dates
Upper Iowa University Fayette Campus
605 Washington St.
Fayette, Iowa 52142
February 28, 29, and March 1, 2020 and May 1 and 2, 2020
Initial workshop-Friday, evening, Saturday, and Sunday
Update workshop-Friday evening and Saturday

For expectations and additional information, click here:


Join the ocean exploration expedition!

Formal or informal community educators can apply until January 10th to join a deep sea exploration expedition aboard E/V Nautilus for 1-3 weeks next year. We're passionate about providing opportunities to educator role models from URM and inland communities to help share the ocean and STEM career exploration with their learners.

Applications are available now for educators K-20 to explore the Eastern Pacific Ocean with Dr. Robert Ballard’s Corps of Exploration as a Science Communication Fellow! This team of explorers conducts cutting-edge scientific exploration of parts of the global ocean never seen before using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and multibeam mapping technology.

The Science Communication Fellowship includes:

  • experience sailing 1-3 weeks as part of the exploration team on board an
  • oceanographic expedition in the Eastern Pacific Ocean between June - November 2020;
  • participation in an expense-paid science communication training workshop at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography in April 2020;
  • a one-year commitment to collaborate with the cohort of Fellows, STEM professionals, educators, and research scientists;
  • development of a STEM-lesson or outreach material deliverable for your education audience.

Learn more and apply online before January 10, 2020 at:


Climate change & Wonders of water workshops at the Blank Park Zoo

Blank Park Zoo

The Blank Park Zoo would once again like to invite educators to professional development opportunities that will be held at Blank Park Zoo on the dates listed below. The workshops are good for one hour of license renewal credit.

Participants in our workshops engage in relevant inquiry investigations that are connected to the Iowa Core and Next Generation Science Standards, learn research-based instructional practices, and gain knowledge and ideas that will be useful in their classrooms. Lessons are flexible, allowing teachers to adjust for their students’ abilities; and relate to all age groups in several subject areas (science, literacy, mathematics, social studies, and the arts).

By attending one or more of these workshops, teachers will be eligible to schedule a free classroom animal program.

Class dates and topics:
January 24/25, 2020 – Climate Change
April 3/4, 2020 – Wonders of Water

For more information contact:  Kathy McKee, K-12 Education Coordinator, Blank Park Zoo, 515-974-2557,


Iowa's PHENOMENAL Natural Resources


Date:  January 24-25, 2020
Location:  Marshalltown Community College, Marshalltown, Iowa

Includes hands-on sessions to explore natural resource-based phenomena, along with several resources to identify and explore phenomena with your students. Full registration includes:

  • Project WILD and Aquatic WILD Guides including expanded field investigations (recently updated, $55 value),
  • Revised “Using Iowa Authentic Data” units
  • Resources to teach outdoor observation skills, field investigations, and more!
  • 1-year membership to ICEC
  • Meals (Friday lunch, dinner; Saturday breakfast and lunch)
  • One teacher recertification credit is available through AEA Learning 

Member registration: $100 ($125 after January 9)
Nonmember registration: $135 ($160 after January 9)
Saturday only registration: $50 ($60 after January 9)

For registration and additional information, click here:

Resources for Teaching & Learning

Looking for more ways to stay current on national science education trends and research?

Next Gen Navigator is a monthly e-newsletter delivering information, insights, resources, and professional learning opportunities for science educators by science educators on the Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional instruction.

The November 2019 issue provides a discussion around accessing science in elementary grades, identification of high quality instructional materials for middle school, and the current trends and practices in STEM education in secondary classrooms.

Visit to sign up and access archived past issues.


Instructional coaches - check out the most recent Iowa Science Coaching Network webinar


The most recent installment of the ISCN webinar series is online!  Learn about some high quality teaching resources for science classrooms, including the Question Formulation Technique, equitable talk strategies and tracking student understanding.

If you like what you see, register for future webinars at the URL above.  Our next session will take place on February 25, and will include an overview of the Iowa Science Standards innovation configuration map - an amazing tool to help teachers and schools consider their level of science standards implementation.  Join us!


Need a quick and easy way to access the Iowa Science Standards and NGSS?

The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) has helped to develop a free app for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), in partnership with Mastery Connect.

You can download the Next Generation Science Standards app by searching "MasteryConnect" or "Next Generation Science Standards" in your app store or by visiting the iOS Store, Android Marketplace, or Windows Store.

The Next Generation Science Standards app gives you multiple ways to view the standards, including DCI and Topic arrangements, and also includes convenient search functionality.

Visit the NSTA website to learn more:

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