Science Update - April 2020

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April 2020

Science Update

COVID-19 Distance Learning Resources

Supporting Students' Science Learning During COVID-19 School Closures


During the COVID-19 crisis, many people are looking for helpful resources to support learning away from brick-and-mortar school buildings. Engaging in safe, meaningful science learning can be done in homes, neighborhoods, and in online/virtual learning environments.

The resources below were developed by members of the Council of State Science Supervisors (CoSSS).  Each resource is guided by a focus on equity and is framed through a lens of socio-emotional health.  They might be useful to educators and educational leaders to help chart the course in these very uncertain times.

Overview:  Supporting Science Learning

Advice for Families

Advice for Students

Sample Learning Menu

Additional versions of the family and student resources are available in a variety of languages (Arabic, Chuukese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalong, and Tongan) through the STEM Teaching Tools website:

These resources will continue to be updated over time, and others are in active development.  Once complete, they'll be hosted on the STEM Teaching Tools website above.


Features of Supportive Learning Environments & Resources
from the Overview: Supporting Science Learning, linked above

As educators move to a distant/online learning environment there are often questions about what this kind of learning might 'look like'.  While it's impossible to re-create a classroom experience in a virtual environment, it's important that we consider how materials or approaches can be used to:

  • Support flexible scheduling and limited technology access.
  • Engage students in meaningful science explorations, investigations, and/or sense-making.
  • Encourage students to engage in activities that already happen in their homes with materials that families already have (especially so families do not need to purchase additional supplies).
  • Help students make explicit connections to their interests and identities.
  • Invite family members to be a partner in students’ learning.
  • Provide students with choices for how they engage, what they investigate, or how they demonstrate learning.
  • Support students in self-reflection related to content and process to support their science learning.
  • Exercise sensitivity when referencing the current pandemic as a possible phenomenon to investigate.
  • Encourage, support, and facilitate first-language family participation in the learning.

For more information, check out the Overview:  Supporting Science Learning document mentioned above.


Resources to Support Science Learning During COVID-19


The Iowa Department of Education has collected a variety of resources to support student learning during the COVID-19 crisis.  The optional linked resources are intended for use by families, educators, and/or students to support enrichment and/or continuity of learning.  Most were created and made available through sources other than the Department, and the Department does not endorse any specific curriculum or resources.  Resources linked may or may not be aligned to specific coursework.

Elementary (Grades K-5)

Middle School (Grades 6-8)

High School (Grades 9-12)

Professional Learning Opportunities

Iowa Ag Literacy - 'Outstanding in their Field' Podcast


There’s an outstanding new podcast now streaming. Have you listened to it?

Outstanding in their Field is a new podcast highlighting agriculture literacy efforts and innovation by interviewing agriculturalists and educators alike. Each episode features one interview with a farmer or agribusiness professional, and one interview with a teacher who uses agriculture in their classroom. In each episode, you will learn about a different commodity, how it is produced, and how that translates into agriculture literacy efforts in the classroom.

This podcast is a partnership between the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation and New York Agriculture in the Classroom. This gives a unique perspective on agriculture in the U.S., from corn and soybeans in Iowa to maple syrup and urban agriculture in New York. Subscribe to Outstanding in their Field wherever you listen to podcasts and be sure to follow the Facebook and Instagram accounts for more updates. For more information about the podcast, visit


Calling All Instructional Coaches!


The Iowa Science Coaching Network is an hour-long webinar led by expert instructional coaches from Southeast Polk CSD. The webinar serves as a platform for coaches and other instructional leaders to learn about the science standards and best practices, share resources used to coach teachers and provide PD to teachers, and reflect on coaching strategies through coaching conversations and by posing questions to other coaches. All webinars are recorded and can be found with resources on the ISCN website.

The most recent webinar (Feb 25) featured learning about the science standards implementation innovation configuration map (IC Map). The IC Map provides teachers and coaches clear descriptors for high quality standards implementation in K-12 science classrooms. Check it out here:

The next webinar begins at 9:00am on April 21, May 12.

Register for upcoming webinars at:


MINK & CO Collaborative's Final Series of the Year


The focus of this year's online meetings has been "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 will take place from 4-5pm on Thursday, April 16. Our friends in Nebraska will lead the conversation about evaluating classroom assessments.

Register for webinars here:

Find archived webinars and additional information here:


#IAScienceChat Twitter Chats!


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.

April 21 - New Teacher Perspectives

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

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


How Well Do You Know Iowa's Science Standards?


These online modules have been designed to help with the learning targets for years one and two of the Iowa Science Standards implementation. These modules can be used as stand-alone pieces for learning about the specific topic, or you can follow the suggested pathway to engage with all of the learning goals established for Iowa's implementation of our new science standards.

These online courses are available at no cost to Iowa district and AEA employees.

Visit, and click on the "Science" link under "Subjects" in the navigation menu.

Resources for Distance Teaching & Learning

Need Online Data for Students to Analyze?


ICEC’s Resource Enhancement and Protection – Conservation Education Program (REAP-CEP) grant-funded projects focused on utilizing Iowa authentic data for the classroom! The first project was designed to enhance educators’ ability to address Iowa Core Science Standards and connect students to real-world, local conservation science and research. In partnership with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, ICEC prepared data, lesson plans, and resources for use at the 6-12 grade level.

The next phase of the project expanded upon the first grant by offering training (Winter Workshop, “Iowa’s Phenomenal Natural Resources”), developing online resources, and additional support materials. This work also expanded the audience to Preschool through 5th grade. All of this information, training, and resources are available through a dedicated Google Site: Iowa Authentic Data; From Phenomena to Data Analysis.

Watch this short video to see what the new site has to offer!

These materials are free and accessible to educators statewide by simply filling out this form ( OR visit our website for this form and details on accessing the new Google Site:

Questions and comments can be direct to


Online Weekly STEAM Challenges from ISU & ISGC

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has partnered with the Iowa Space Grant Consortium to create a weekly STEAM challenge that pulls from NASA curriculum.

We also have weekly activities from 4-H that have a STEM component.


Exploring the History of Women in STEM with Primary Sources

The link below will take you to a collection of educational resources provided by the Library of Congress to support the use of primary sources by students.  Last month, one of the suggested lessons uses primary sources focused on women in STEM careers.  Check it out!


Stay Current on National Science Education Trends & 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 February 2020 issue provides a discussion around Making Student Thinking Visible, Revealing Student Thinking in Science, and How to Help Reluctant Students Share Ideas.

Visit to sign up and access archived past issues.


NASA Virtual Field Trips


The Iowa Space Grant Consortium wants to share a collection of virtual field trips that NASA has compiled.  These focus on taking students inside NASA's Commercial Crew Program and can be accessed here:

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