Science Opportunities

ESU#9 Area Schools: Professional Learning

Science Teachers,

The goal of this flyer is to keep you up-to-date on the current workshops and/or opportunities for professional growth in our area. Please feel free to contact me with updates, concerns, questions, or suggestions @

Bookmark this flyer address as it will automatically update as well as include past, present, and future opportunities for professional growth.

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2021 Virtual Regional Science Olympiad

ESU 9 in Hastings and ESU 10 in Kearney are joining forces to offer a VIRTUAL Science Olympiad. ESU 9's Invitational will merge with ESU 10's Regional Science Olympiad in an effort to provide as many events as possible for our students. We gathered the current realities, we analyzed the possibilities, and we concluded that participation and teamwork in a virtual space was the best way to move forward. Please note that the events offered are subject to change and based on the willingness of coaches to score.

Why? Students deserve every opportunity to explore their world!

What? The events list for the ESU 9 & 10 Virtual Science Olympiad will follow the rules manual for Divisions B and C. Each event will be facilitated and scored by a coach. The technology platform and submission protocols will be developed and communicated by Dianah Steinbrink (ESU 10) and Kristen Slechta (ESU9) with guidance and support from our Nebraska State coordinator Susan Hester. Dianah and Kristen will be available to answer questions and provide support during virtual office hours on February 18th from 8:00-3:00 (link will be sent to all registrants).

When? Mark your calendars for the week of March 15th through March 19th! Keeping in mind the diversity of school district schedules, we are offering some flexibility by spreading out the events over a week’s time. Coaches will have time to score and communicate the results by March 25th. The announcement of winners and the awards ceremony will take place on March 26th. Registration Link:*

Please complete this form in its entirety by January 18th, 2021

*Events are assigned based upon the willingness of a coach and prioritized by timestamp. (a.k.a first-come, first-serve)

Where? Because we will be in a virtual space this year, consider the following...

  • Adaptation, flexibility, and patience will be key.

  • Honesty and integrity will be the core values that ground our energy and efforts.

  • Inclusivity and equity are lenses with which event protocols are designed.

  • To empower students to participate and be successful, the timeline for events is extended.


The charge is $3 per student in the ESU 9 & 10 area and $5 per student for school districts from beyond. If you did not register with the Nebraska Science Olympiad organization in 2020 you will need to complete the attached form and pay the fees to participate in the ESU 9+10 Virtual Science Olympiad.

We are looking forward to the 2021 Virtual Science Olympiad! If you have questions contact Dianah Steinbrink ( or Kristen Slechta (

Equity in Science Book Study

Every other Tuesday from February 9th to May 18, NDE, Missouri, Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho will be hosting our first Equity in Science Book Study!

We're kicking off with Dr. Bryan Brown's new book Science in the City which is all about student discourse and finding science in our every day, in and out of the classroom. It's called Science in the CITY, but we teamed up with rural states and will be applying the lens of the book to our local, often-times rural, contexts. Stanford University's Dr. Brown is so excited about our initiative he has agreed to attend one of our sessions with a unique agenda designed just for us! On top of that, I'll send the first TEN educators to sign up a FREE book! Participants are welcome to attend as fits in their schedules.


Registration Form

Tennessee District Science Network

In early 2019, NextGenScience launched the Tennessee District Science Network (TDSciN), a group of six districts in Tennessee working collaboratively to improve their science programs and move towards the vision of science education reflected in the Tennessee Academic Standards for Science.

From the outset, district leaders identified three major challenges:

  1. Educators were still learning how to assess student reasoning in science as required by the new standards,
  2. Not all students were provided with meaningful science experiences, and
  3. Students were scheduled to take a new state assessment. With the goal of addressing these challenges by improving understanding of assessment features designed for today’s science standards and advancing equity in science, the work of the Tennessee District Science Network was two-pronged: coherent but separate professional learning opportunities both for district leaders and for educators.

Resource and Tasks:

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Virtual Field Trip from the University of Nebraska State Museum

Science Chat Special: Winter Weather

Virtual Field Trip

with Kristen Axon, Atmospheric Sciences Graduate Student

ONE DAY ONLY │January 26, 2021

Kristen has loved weather since she was a little girl. She now chases storms for science. When most of us stay inside, she goes out! Kristen is excited to share her passion and the instruments scientists use to track and monitor the weather. During the program, learn what makes ice and snow, and then hear about when Kristen worked for an ICICLE! There will be plenty of time for Q&A as well.

Sessions will take place at 9:30 a.m. (Microsoft Teams), 10:30 a.m. (Zoom), or 2:00 p.m. (Zoom).

Learn more and register here>>

Central Nebraska Science and Engineering Fair


The Central Nebraska Science and Engineering Fair is going VIRTUAL for 2021.

  • Students will build a virtual poster.
  • Students will create and record a presentation about their project.


  • Project registration OPENS on January 1, 2021 at 12:00 AM CST.
  • Project registration CLOSES is February 17, 2021, at 11:59 PM CST.
  • Students must submit their virtual poster and presentation by 9:00 AM CST on February 24, 2021.
  • Finalists will be announced on social media on March 7. Interviews with the finalists will be scheduled.
  • A virtual award presentation will be made available on Monday, March 15, 2021, on our webpage.
  • THREE Projects in grades 9-12 are eligible for the VIRTUAL ISEF competition.
  • Special awards (including cash prizes) are available in both the junior high and senior high divisions.
  • There are NO registration fees thanks to a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund!
  • More details on how the format of the poster and presentation will be emailed out and posted on our website by January 1, 2021.

If any teachers want to be notified by email of announcements concerning this competition, please contact me using the email below to get on the mailing list: (

Jay Cecrle


Central Nebraska Science and Engineering Fair






Email Contact:

FREE Webinars from Argument Driven Inquiry!

Free Webinar: Tool Talk and Types of Investigations

In this webinar, we'll discuss tips and tricks for the tool talk, and go through the different kinds of ADI Investigations.

  • Date: Wednesday, Jan. 27th
  • Time: 1:30 pm Pacific, 3:30 pm Central, 4:30 pm Eastern


Free Webinar: Argument Creation and the Argumentation Session

In this webinar, we'll talk through some tips and tricks for making the argument board creation and argumentation process go smoothly in a virtual setting.

  • Date: Wednesday, Feb. 24th
  • Time: 1:30 pm Pacific, 3:30 pm Central, 4:30 pm Eastern


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Using Google Slides to design your Virtual Classroom and COMMUNICATE!

Launch Nebraska: Supporting Independent Science Learning

Session 9: Supporting Independent Science Learning
Systems thinking: a cautionary tale (cats in Borneo)
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Online Teaching Resources You Can Use - A List Compiled by NSTA Collection


Due to the coronavirus pandemic many school districts across the country have decided to close schools and teach online full time. NSTA has compiled a list of resources to assist teachers with this challenge. The external resources in this collection have been shared by educators, but have not been reviewed by NSTA. Additional resources from NSTA are also included to provide on-going professional learning experiences. We will continue to add to resources to this collection to support your distance learning needs. Please continue to share with us!

NDE’s Science Education Specialist

From Cory Epler, Ph.D.
Academic Officer
Office of Teaching, Learning, & Assessment

I am excited to share that Audrey Webb has accepted our offer to become NDE’s Science Education Specialist. Audrey’s first day will be Monday, June 22nd.

For the past four years, Audrey has taught in the San Francisco (CA) Unified School District teaching high school science. In this position, she designed and implemented project-based curricula for secondary biology, physiology, and physical science. In addition, she is a member of the San Francisco Teaching Residency program, a program designed to train teacher candidates in equitable instruction and assessment, cultural relevance, and restorative practices. Audrey also has experience as a Title I Reading Teacher and an EL Support Specialist. She holds a B.A. in Science from St. Olaf College (2011) and a Master of Education from Stanford University (2016).

Audrey is a “native” of three-dimensional science standards, and I am excited about the experience she brings in providing phenomenon-based instruction and assessment, informed by her training at Stanford. She has family in Western Iowa, so she is excited about getting closer to her family.

Once she starts, I know that Aubrey will start to make contact with each of you, but I wanted to let you all know the good news. Thanks!

OpenSciED: 2 New Units for RELEASE

We will be releasing two new units on Thursday, February 13th. On that day, you will be able to access the new units from our website.

GIS Soil Conservation Webinar Series - (STIPEND)

GIS Soil Conservation Webinar Series is intended for teachers that have done a previous GIS workshop to advance their GIS skills. The workshop will be led by Mr. Kyle Tredinnick and be done on zoom. Successful completion of the workshop includes a stipend. Registration is limited. Details are available on the attached flyer. Contact Kyle at with any questions.

Challenger Learning Center & eMISSIONS!

Hello from the Challenger Learning Center, we know that today’s students are tomorrow’s innovators and we are excitedly gearing up for another successful year. If you have already booked your e-Mission, we look forward to working with you and your students! If you have not yet booked your e-Mission for this year It’s Not Too Late!

You will find the current list of e-Missions and e-Labs that we offer for grades

3-12 at:

We value your commitment to quality education, and our staff at the CLC will continue to support you in this process. If you are having difficulties with scheduling, for whatever reason, please contact us so we can assist you in anyway we can to bring these exciting distance learning experiences back to your school.

Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me or our Program Registrar Kristi West at 304 243-8740

Laura Ondeck | Lead Flight Director

The Challenger Learning Center

Wheeling University

316 Washington Ave, Wheeling WV, 26003

Phone: (304) 243-2029 | Fax: (304) 243-2497| Email:

Nebraska Junior Academy of Sciences

The Nebraska Junior Academy of Sciences is designed to promote science and technology across Nebraska by providing incentives for students to apply creativity and critical thought to solutions of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and engineering problems. It offers an opportunity for students to meet, exchange ideas, and discuss career possibilities with scientists and engineers from colleges and industries.

Students will develop a scientific research project, write an abstract of the project, and give an oral presentation the day of the competitions. Students will compete in two divisions: Grades 6-8 in the Junior Division and Grades 9-12 in the Senior Division. Each Regional Science Competition will select 6 junior and 6 senior high projects to advance to the State Science Fair. Judges at the State Science Fair will nominate ten Senior Division projects to attend the American Junior Academy of Sciences Conference. These students will present their research in a poster and round table session. There are 6 different regional science fairs your school can compete in. Contact the regional director for registration and more information.

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Central Nebraska Regional Science and Engineering Fair in Curtis, Nebraska on March 16, 2020.

We are a nonprofit organization that promotes independent science research in public schools for Western Nebraska. This fair was formerly held in Curtis, Nebraska. This year it is being held at the University of Nebraska at Kearney on March 16, 2020.

This fair is open to all students in grades 6-12 in counties along and west of Highway 281 in Nebraska. Our fair offers a variety of awards recognizing outstanding research. First place in grades 9-12 are eligible to attend the International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, CA in May of 2020.

I am trying to contact different schools in ESU territories that can attend to make them aware of this fair. Would it be possible to forward this email on to principals of the schools in your respective territories? I would also be fine with getting principal email lists and I can send an information email directly to them.

We have a website ( where teachers can register and find more information about this fair.

Attached is a map of our fair territory. Anyone east of this territory can visit the Greater Nebraska Science and Engineering website. Same ISEF affiliated fair, different counties.

Thank you for any help you can provide. Science fair is an excellent way to cover our new College and Career Ready Standards in science. Many schools are probably carrying out research projects and science fair. This is a great opportunity to showcase their work and potentially win prizes.

Interested and have questions, please contact

OER Microsites and Other OER repositories for PK - 12

State Microsites

Michigan - Social Studies textbooks by grade level, Science materials and CK-12 flexbooks for 4 - 8th grade, check out the Phenomenal Science Collection - Units of Study for lower grades are here

Connecticut - Storylines, units, tasks, and assessments are linked to the multiple DCI’s covered within. For multiple grades.

Iowa - Elementary Science Units K - 5

Utah - Flexbooks for Science for 3 - 8th grade a well as Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Earth Science with web pages with supporting materials for each book, lots of CTE content and materials

Wisconsin - Physical Science Textbooks and Materials, Life Science Textbooks and materials, Professional Development Materials

Illinois - All subject areas at all levels

Georgia - textbooks

Unwrapped Indicators by Nebraska Educators! Looking for vocabulary? Concepts? Skills? Level of Rigor?

Go to the Nebraska Open Educational Resources (OER) Commons:
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3 Ways to Know if You’re Using Quality Science Materials

3 Features of High-Quality Science Materials

1. “Phenomena don’t have to be phenomenal” but they should be intentional.

Phenomena are observable events that occur in the universe that students can explain or predict with their knowledge of science. Tides, sunrise, leaves changing color, and the way dew collects on grass are just a few of the many examples of phenomena.

Phenomena-driven instruction can transform classrooms into places where students’ curiosity and wonder are the foundation for learning, where building knowledge is centered around understanding the natural and man-made world around them, and where kids are honing the investigative skills of scientists that can benefit them no matter what path they ultimately choose.

But what separates average instructional materials from great ones is that the best materials are purposeful when presenting phenomena. They connect the phenomena students are exploring to the core science ideas and concepts students need to learn.

Chemical reactions often make impressive phenomena, but students need to be able to explain what caused the color to change, or what caused a gas to be released, or how the number and types of atoms were conserved during the reaction. Without opportunities to collect data or analyze information about the reaction to build these explanations, the reaction serves as nothing more than something interesting to see.

It’s easy to pick out all sorts of engaging phenomena to wow students, but if phenomena are only used to capture student attention, taught in isolation, or are irrelevant to students’ experience, we’re missing a huge opportunity.

Instead, these questions are at their best when students investigate them as a way to engage in science and engineering practices or to identify larger patterns and connections on their way to a deeper understanding of science content. In short, the content students must master should always guide the choice of phenomena, not the other way around.

2. Students have opportunities to do the thinking, questioning, designing, and discovering for themselves

The phenomena we choose matters, but so does the way students engage with those phenomena. We must be wary of materials that do the work of students for them, explaining phenomena too readily or presenting content as a series of facts and terms for students to memorize.

For example, we should shy away from content that simply shows students a video of an eclipse to generate interest and immediately follows this video with text that describes how an eclipse occurs. Instead, students should have opportunities to generate their own questions and ideas about the cause of an eclipse, and then engage in opportunities to model or test their own ideas as they make sense of this phenomenon.

Quality materials provide common entry points and opportunities for students to ask their own questions, collect their own evidence, and construct their own explanations connected to science content.

What’s more, well-designed materials offer structures that support kids in thinking like scientists: in identifying patterns so that they can understand cause and effect relationships, in digging deeper into systems and models to test ideas or develop explanations based on the data they’ve collected and the knowledge they’ve been building.

The research shows that students are most likely to excel when they are engaging in science rather than just learning about it. The best materials support teachers in creating classrooms where students are not simply passive recipients of facts, but active participants in constructing their own knowledge.

3. Learning objectives are meaningful and connected to the standards

As educators, we all understand that the lessons and units we’re teaching students have bigger learning goals attached to them: goals for the day, goals for the week, goals for year. The materials you’re using should display that same level of understanding and connection to those larger learning goals, and the standards students and teachers will ultimately be held accountable to.

In examining science materials, it’s a good idea to take a look at how the learning objectives are presented to both the teacher and the student. It should be clear how each objective relates not only to the performance expectations but to the larger standards for a particular grade-level or grade band. Assessments play a role here as well: how students are evaluated must be directly connected to what the materials present and the knowledge kids are spending their time building.

Teachers and students will be in a much better position if materials are clear about how each learning objective is connected to the bigger picture. Programs can offer many different pathways for meeting the standards, but those paths should be evident to the ones guiding and participating in the learning.

The Support Teachers and Students Deserve

We know that instructional materials are not the silver bullet. But we also know that materials can make a difference in what and how students learn. Teachers who will be inspiring the next generation of science leaders deserve the support of great content that provides exciting, intentional opportunities for kids to explore the natural and man-made world and develop a deep understanding of how it works.

I believe that only through working together can we ensure all students have access to science education that will prepare them to be citizens who can make informed decisions and leaders who can work together to discover and develop solutions to our most urgent challenges.

National Geographic! Geo-Inquiry Experience! Paid! Check it out...

In 2019, the National Geographic Society will be hosting a Summer Institute for middle school teachers from across North America. The National Geographic 2019 Summer Institute will be held Monday, July 15 - Saturday, July 20, 2019 at the Jackson Campus of the Teton Science Schools in Jackson, Wyoming. During the institute, National Geographic will train selected educators to be facilitators of in-person outreach and professional development for National Geographic Educator Certification and the Geo-Inquiry Process. Throughout the week educators will spend time reviewing adult learning principles, learning more about National Geographic Society’s educational values, and becoming expert facilitators.

National Geographic will cover the cost of all food, accommodations, and transportation for educators teachers during the institute. Participation in the summer institute is the first step in a partnership with the National Geographic Society. For the commitment to National Geographic and this initiative, each educator will receive a $600.00 stipend paid in installments over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year. Prior to applying for this opportunity, please review this document to understand the expectations associated with participation. To be considered for final selection, please complete this application form by January 28, 2019. If you have any questions regarding the National Geographic 2019 Summer Institute please reach out to the Educator Network at

Science Teacher shares her expertise in DESIGN CHALLENGES:

Kristen Benton of Kenesaw: Check it out!

Scout Mindset

Interested in training your students to think on their own, be more observant, and argue with evidence? Checkout the "SCOUT MINDSET" @

Constructing MODELS:

#3. How to best support the construction of a MODEL: Try this TED Talk: "Got a wicked problem? First tell me how to make toast!"

How is your NE College & Career Ready Science Standards implementation going?

Here's an interactive booklet to help you along your journey!

University of Nebraska State Museum & V I R T U A L Field Trips


Visit "Archie" and company from your classroom! No need to schedule transportation, pack a lunch or even leave your school when you visit us on a Virtual Field Trip. Our educators and scientists interact with your students on a variety of science and natural history topics through our live, interactive videoconferencing programs. Classes are designed to fit within your schedule, curriculum needs and are aligned with science standards. Many of our programs include a physical kit with hands-on materials to enhance your visit.

Thanks to Brandon Timm at Aurora Public Schools for sharing this information. If you have questions, he has experienced such a field trip and utilized a kit. Contact

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Raising Nebraska

Squeeze the Most Out of your
Field Trip Experience at Raising Nebraska

Pick your Day
Pick Your Time
Pick Your Program
Spring Registration Available Now!
Phone: 1-308-385-3967

Click Here:

STEM in the Elementary Classroom!

Professional Development Specialist

"Educating, Empowering & Inspiring Lifelong Learners"