Posted on 10/05/2022
This is the image for the news article titled OpenSciEdThe Regional Science Coordinators from the nine Washington ESDs have been collaborating with each other and school districts across the state in a cohesive approach to science instruction through OpenSciEd.

OpenSciEd is an open educational resource, meaning units are available for free to anyone, designed to use common materials that schools either already have or which are easily available. It has repeatedly been evaluated and approved as meeting Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) based on the EQuIP Rubric for Science.

OpenSciEd has Universal Design for Learning (UDL) built in and is designed to support all learners. Units are phenomenon-based and student-driven, using what students would find in everyday life to connect them to scientific concepts.

“We start with the puzzling real-life thing because that’s what real life science is like,” says Lorianne Donovan, ESD 123’s Regional Science Coordinator.

drawings of a normal cup and a fancy cup with questions about how air interacts with the drinks inside written around themAn 8th grade classroom might start with a phenomenon near and dear to their hearts: “When I drop my cell phone, why does the screen sometimes shatter and sometimes not?” From there, the students investigate physics and contact forces through the relevant framework of the things that matter to the students. Another classroom might explore chemistry through bath bombs or thermal energy through cups and thermoses, all starting from experiences students encounter in everyday life.

 OSPI wrote a grant for ESD Regional Science Coordinators to help develop OpenSciEd materials through field testing with students and professional development for teachers. Last year, high school teachers field-tested OpenSciEd materials, using units in their classrooms and reporting back with feedback as to what worked, what didn’t, and what needed modifications.

Over the summer, middle school teachers were invited to attend week-long or three-day OpenSciEd professional development. Participants received a stipend to attend and came away with all the materials for the first unit and the training to bring it to their students this school year. Approximately 60 teachers participated at each professional development session, with 20 of each being trained as facilitators for their own school districts.

Walla Walla, Othello, and Prosser School Districts are the first in our region to try the units with students.

“When we get to final published units, we know they’ve been tested with real students,” says Ms. Donovan. “It’s amazing to hear teachers’ conversations about how students are talking and thinking differently in a science classroom.” 

High school field testing started last year and continues this year, including in Prosser School District in the ESD 123 region, as does more OpenSciEd support for middle schools. In the coming years, Ms. Donovan says the science coordinator team hopes to start designing an OpenSciEd curriculum for elementary students.

Learn more about OpenSciEd work across the nine ESDs at
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