ES-TEP Earth Science Professional Development Coming Summer 2021!

By Dana Smith, 

ES-TEP Interest Survey

Are you (or will you be) a 6th grade teacher transitioning to the new earth science standards?  Are you a high school teacher looking to pick up additional licensure in earth and space science so that your district can meet the requirements of the new standards?  If you answered YES to either of these questions - do I have great news for you!

My name is Dana Smith, and I am on the MnSTA Board of Directors and a member of the ‘Earth Science Teacher Education Program’ team that is developing Minnesota specific earth science professional development for 6th grade and high school teachers to begin in summer 2021!  ES-TEP is an MnSTA sponsored program for future Minnesota earth science teachers.  You might recognize some of my collaborators in this program: Mary Colson, John Olson and Lee Schmitt.  Minnesota geosciences professors Dr. Kate Pound (St Cloud State University), Dr. Bryce Hoppie (Minnesota State University - Mankato) and Dr. Russ Colson (Minnesota State University - Moorhead) are also partners on the team!  We also have an amazing list of guest presenters and specialists who will be contributing their expertise as well!  

Earth/ESS1.pngWe are working RIGHT NOW to secure legislative funding for this program so that we can offer ES-TEP programs to educators across Minnesota!  Our goal is to fund as much of the program as possible and make ES-TEP accessible and affordable.  We are committed to reflecting the diversity of Minnesota educators that participate in our programs, including BIPOC and underrepresented populations, alternatively licensed educators, classroom generalists, science specialists, and educational assistants working toward licensure. As the legislative session progresses, we will keep you updated via the MnSTA website and social media, plus the MDE Science Update regarding funding, dates and application details!  Please make sure to watch for them!


Here are the tentative plans:

The ES-TEP 6th grade professional development will be a one week, bootcamp style, regional (think...stay close to home and use place-based phenomena in your classroom) workshop that incorporates earth and space science content as well as teach you how to develop three-dimensional units.  We’ll help you choose phenomena, write storylines and lessons, and walk you through investigations that you can use as a jumping-off point in your transition to the new standards.  We will also provide ongoing support as you begin your journey, and create regional cohorts so that you aren’t doing it alone.  Clock hours and CEUs will be issued for this workshop.  Our goal is to offer at least one in-person workshop in summer 2021 (end of July/early August), and depending on funding, offering up to 11 more over the next 3 summers! We will move all over the state, so we are sure to have a workshop near you! We are gauging interest for this program at this survey. 

Earth/ESS2.pngThe ES-TEP high school professional development will be cohort style over two summers beginning in summer 2022.  The first summer will include a two-week course blending content and pedagogy - you will wear both your ‘teacher hat’ as well as your ‘student hat’.  We will focus on how to facilitate student ‘sense-making’ and help you build your three-dimensional teaching and learning toolkit.  During the subsequent school year, there will be online coursework within your cohort, and then another two-week course during the next summer.   These are graduate-level courses and participants will earn 12 credits through our program.  Depending on your undergraduate preparation in the earth sciences, there will also be additional online prerequisite courses available to you in advance.  We will work with each participant to help you determine your needs. Our goal is to offer 3 cohorts; one in Moorhead, Mankato and the Metro starting in the summer of 2022.  We are gauging interest for this program at this survey. 

You may also gain earth science knowledge through professional development workshops and online courses. Here are some opportunities via various organizations, Earth Science PD Opportunities.   Do you have questions?  Feel free to contact me at We hope as you begin planning your summer PD, you will consider applying for ES-TEP!  Please watch for application news coming soon!  We look forward to partnering with you as you work toward honing your teacher craft and content knowledge of Minnesota earth science!