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Science Updates...from the Minnesota Department of Education!

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Preparing for New Minnesota Science Standards

John Olson, Minnesota Department of Education Science Specialist and colleagues are writing a series of articles for the MnSTA newsletter in preparation for the review of the science standards in 2018-19. They are including ideas about science learning and teaching that have come from research and teaching experience, which will influence the writing and implementation of our next science standards.

Please access the articles here!

For further information see the MN Dept. of Education standards webpage or contact

Most recent MDE Science Update

November 2018

This periodic update from the Minn. Dept. of Education (MDE) is sent to a few email lists, including the Minn. Science Teachers Assn. (MnSTA) and district/organization contacts. We encourage you to forward this to other teachers and science leaders. Archived editions are at this MnSTA site. See MDE contacts at the end of this document.

Note: MDE does not endorse any resource or event that is not conducted by MDE.

* indicates an item that was not in the previous edition



Provide feedback for the First Draft of 2019 Science Standards

Your feedback is requested for the First Draft of the 2019 Minnesota Science Standards! The Standards Review Committee will publish the First Draft on November 8th and the feedback period will be Nov. 9 - 26th. The draft and the link for a feedback survey will be provided on the MDE Science page. You can complete the survey as an individual or as a group, such as a PLC or district science group.

You should plan to attend one of the in-person feedback sessions to learn more about the background of the draft, participate in discussions and enter your feedback. Here are some of the opportunities. (More sessions have been added since the previous posting)

Mn Dept. of Education official Town Hall meetings. All are 5:30 – 7:00 pm and led by MDE staff. The public is invited. . The Town Halls will include general discussion of the draft and may provide an opportunity for individual entries into the online feedback survey. Bring a laptop or tablet, if available, to use the survey.

MnSTA Conference on Science Education, Nov. 9, St. Cloud. There will be feedback sessions in each strand led by committee members. See information about the conference in a later section

District Science Leader Network, Nov. 13, 9am–noon. MDE Roseville.

MnSTA Regional meetings. MnSTA Region Directors will conduct feedback and networking sessions. Check with the contact for details and to register. Bring a laptop or tablet, if available, to use the survey.

You should prepare to review the first draft by becoming familiar with the primary reference document that is being used by the committee, A Framework for K-12 Science Education, especially chapters 1 and 2. This document is available as a free download at the National Academy Press. More information about the Framework and how it may impact new standards is in a series of articles at the MnSTA Science Standards website.


Teacher Events and Workshops

MnSTA Conference on Science Education, Nov 8-10, St. Cloud

Pick up new tips, ideas and resources for your teaching and connect with colleagues from across the state. Conference information and registration.

Thursday Evening

  • Free workshop Team Teaching with Mother Nature by Jeffers
  • Reception and a special screening of the Netflix documentary Chasing Coral at the historic Paramont Theater


The Keynote speaker is Steve McComas, the Lake Detective of Blue Water Science. Steve has been working on lakes and streams for over 40 years and specializes in lake management and lake restoration projects.

There will be sessions all day Friday in content area strands. Each strand will include a session for feedback for the first draft of the next Minnesota science standards.

The elementary strand will include an elementary share-a-thon of instructional ideas by participants.


The Strand keynotes are:

  • Biology: Emily Mohl , St. Olaf College, researches milkweed plants, a food source for Monarch butterflies
  • Chemistry: Alan McCormick, University of MN, will describe teacher research opportunities and his work on dispersants for oil spills
  • Earth Science: Bryce Hoppe, MN State University- Mankato, focuses on environmental and engineering geology
  • Elementary: Julie Jackson, Texas State University, is involved in science education research
  • Physics: Kevin Haglin, St. Cloud State University, chair of physics and astronomy


The end of the session day will include a reception and annual meeting of the membership. After a busy day join up with your regional or content colleagues and enjoy dining at local restaurants.

Saturday (single day registration is available)

  • Elementary Workshop: Interactive Word Walls by Julie Jackson, Texas State
  • Secondary Workshops: Science and Engineering Practices in Action, and Sound and Acoustics for Teachers and Students
  • Relicensure-in-a-Day. One hour sessions for each of the licensure requirements.


MN Earth Science Teachers Conference, Feb 1, Plymouth

This annual Mn Earth Science Teachers Assn. conference features a keynote on inclusive science from Native Skywatchers.  Concurrent session topics include Skywarn storm spotting and severe weather, bedrock geology and groundwater management, authentic learning and assessments, and ESRI Story Maps. The Thursday evening pre-conference session features the Como Planetarium and dinner at Gabe’s by the Park.


Outdoor Education and Raptor Lab Teacher Workshops

Learn to use the Raptor Lab a free interactive online learning environment that models the process of scientific investigation in real-world settings through the active role-play of different scientific careers involved in veterinary care and wildlife rehabilitation. Then provides a platform for students to team up, investigate outside, and share their own inquiry-based investigations online. Raptor Lab is appropriate for students from sixth grade through high school. This free day-long workshop will look at the Outdoor Investigator module of the Raptor Lab and provide techniques to bring students outside and do scientific inquiry. All educators of any grade are invited. Details and registration

Nov. 26, Deep Portage, Hackensack

March 9 Audubon Center, Sandstone

April 6 St. Mary’s, Morris

If you are interested in hosting a workshop, contact


Teacher and School Awards and Opportunities


Green Ribbon Schools Award

Be recognized for environmental and sustainability efforts and spur your school to greater accomplishments. This award honors schools, districts and colleges who are

  • reducing energy and resources consumption
  • improving health and wellness
  • providing effective environment education

Awardees receive a plaque for the school, local recognition, use of the Green Ribbon School Logo on their website, and an invitation to the national award ceremony and related activities in Washington, DC.

This year the school application has been streamlined to make the application process more open-ended. The information and applications will be soon posted on the MDE Green Ribbon Schools webpage and are now available from The application is due in January.


*Presidential Award for Math and Science Teaching

Celebrate great teaching! Nominate a colleague or yourself for the Presidential Award, which brings state and national leadership opportunities and $10,000. Two teachers from each state receive this award from the White House. This year applications are sought from secondary teachers with a deadline of May 1. Information and nomination site.


Knowles Teaching Fellows for early career teachers

The Knowles Teacher Initiative is accepting applications for their 2019 Cohort of Teaching Fellows. The Knowles Teaching Fellows Program is an intensive and cohesive, five-year program that supports early-career, high school mathematics and science teachers in their efforts to develop teaching expertise and lead from the classroom. Applications for 2019 Knowles Fellowships are due by November 25, 2018.


Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship

The AEF Program provides a unique opportunity for accomplished K-12 educators in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to serve for eleven months in Federal agencies or in U.S. Congressional offices, applying their extensive knowledge and classroom experiences to national education programs and/or education policy efforts. Applications are due by November 15, 2018.


NSTA Science Educator Awards

The National Science Teachers Association has several Awards and Recognition Programs. All involve recognition at the NSTA conference and some include a monetary or material funding. Some go to many teachers and have few applicants. Applications are due December 17.

Some that are of interest to teachers are:

  • Simmons Award for new Teachers
  • Grumman Engineering Education Award
  • Yeager Exemplary Teaching Award
  • Shell Science Teaching Award
  • Shell Urban Educators Award
  • SeaWorld Environmental Educator of the Year
  • Shugrue Award for Elementary School Teachers
  • Vernier Technology Award


School Programs and Instruction Resources


*Mighty Mississippi River Electronic Field Trip, Nov. 14

Register your class (especially grades 5 – 8) for the Mighty Mississippi Electronic Field Trip--a free, source-to-sea, web-based learning adventure that streams live November 14, 2018. The hour-long interactive television program, produced by PBS affiliate WYES New Orleans in collaboration with Hamline University’s Center for Global Environmental Education (CGEE), features field segments with content experts (including CGEE’s John Shepard) interviewed by student reporters at Lake Itasca, the Twin Cities, and multiple points downstream.

CGEE’s fully revised Waters to the Sea®: Mississippi Adventure web-based, NGSS-aligned, learning program serves as a companion for the Electronic Field Trip. This rich multimedia learning resource includes dozens of short videos, immersive 360-VR panoramas, and interactive modules on the following topics: Earth Science, Life Science, History/Geography, Arts & Culture, and Current Affairs.


*National Bridge and Structure Competition

Students in grades 7 – 12 form teams of up to three people to design a Truss Bridge that is tested for strength-to-weight ratio using a kit and software supplied by the organization. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is a participant in this program and can arrange mentors. Information and team registration (Due Nov. 5) is at this Transportation and Civil Engineering site. The MnDOT contact is Marcia Locker at


*Youth Eco Solutions

YES! is a unique youth program that develops youth leaders among students in grades 7 – 12 while inspiring widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies, waste, and energy conservation best practices, local foods, habitat restorations, and water quality improvement projects, which contribute to the environmental and economic health of rural Minnesota communities. In addition, students are gaining leadership and workforce skills such as problem solving, communication, teamwork, innovation, and project management. 

Participating YES! teams of students are guided by motivated adult coaches. Throughout the year, YES! Coordinators work intensively with teams to assess community assets and needs, create action plans, identify and involve community partners, and link teams with further funding resources to match the students’ passions with real needs and opportunities in their communities. Students also take part in hands-on YES! educational opportunities during the school year. 


*Captain Planet Grants

K-12 educators who are interested in receiving support for students to design and implement hands-on environmental solutions should check out some of the grant opportunities that Captain Planet Foundation™ is offering! Take a look and see if they have a program that fits your needs.


*3M Science Encouragement Program

3M TECH offers classroom visits to provide students, especially women and minorities, with the opportunity to meet and interact with role models who enjoy technical careers. 3M volunteers from a variety of technical job positions, degree levels, and backgrounds participate. The visits encourage a variety of questions from the students, such as: scientists sharing stories from their own career path, guidance on courses to take now to prepare for college, demonstration of the products or technology the scientist/engineer has developed as part of their job, and the facts around technical careers (salaries, types of jobs available, high demand for trained persons, etc.). Submit requests by Dec. 14.  Information and Registration.


*Physic Force demonstration shows, January, Minneapolis; May, Rochester

Science teachers of all ages - did you know that the University of Minnesota’s Physics Force performs for free 12 times every January at Northrop Auditorium on the U of MN campus and in Rochester in May? Did you know that the Force will help subsidize your transportation fees if you are at a high-poverty school? Well, we do. This year's shows are better than ever, with live fire, lightning, a crushing barrel, and a performer falling from a tower.  

Before the school year gets too hairy, sign your classes up for the free tickets!  Your kids will see large-scale physics demonstrations done by trained professionals paired with comedy done by total amateurs. Information and registration.


Student Programs, Awards and Competitions


STEM Award for students of color

A partnership between the Donaldson Company and the Science Museum of Minnesota recognizes high school students of African American, Latino, Native American, and Asian heritage for their interests and achievements in STEM. Minnesota educators and STEM professionals may nominate a student they teach or mentor and students are welcome to nominate themselves. The deadline is November 5. More information.


Trailblazers: Women Succeeding in Science and Technology, Nov. 1, Richfield

Million Women Mentors, Keyot, and Best Buy are teaming up to bring a great mentorship event at Best Buy in Richfield 6:30 – 8:30 pm. The event will give women in high school or college the opportunity to explore STEM-related education and career options in an open, collaborative and fun setting! A panel of female STEM professionals will share their experiences and give a glimpse into a day in the life of STEM-related career professionals. Then, attendees will be off to a fun networking session where they can connect with other attendees and talk with STEM professionals about their experiences and the variety of career options available in STEM. Information and Registration link.


*Girls, Science and Technology, Nov. 10, St. Paul

Join Fox 9 and prominent female scientists from around the state for this important community event, 10 am – 4 pm at the Science Museum of Minnesota. It’s a brilliant and fun opportunity for girls to be introduced to the exciting worlds of science and technology through hands-on demonstrations and activities. Information and a link to free tickets.


*Science and Engineering Competitions

November is an important month for registering for competitions. Some to consider:


Minnesota Programs and Competitions


Many competitions, out-of-school programs and field trip opportunities are posted at the Mn-STEM website and listed in the Reach for the Stars Catalog of Programs and Activities.


MDE Contacts:

John Olson, Science Content Specialist, @JohnCasperOlson

Jim Wood, Science Assessment Specialist

Judi Iverson, Science Assessment Specialist

Send submissions for the Science Update to John Olson


Other Minnesota Links:

Minn. Dept. of Education Science Page

Minn. Science Teachers Association

Frameworks for MN Science and Mathematics Standards

Get – STEM Connections between schools and businesses

Mn-STEM STEM programs and resources for families, schools and community

Sharing Environmental Education Knowledge environmental education resources

Minnesota Academy of Science: Science Fair, Science Bowl and other competitions

Mn DNR Education website: Curriculum, professional development, posters, etc.


MDE Updates - Open Access

Science Update November 2018
Science_Update_Nov_2018.pdf (application/pdf, 729.7 K) posted at 5:23 PM, October 26, 2018
Science Update October 2018
Science_Update_Oct_2018.pdf (application/pdf, 780.7 K) posted at 12:45 PM, October 3, 2018
Science Update Sept 2018
Science_Update_Sep_2018.pdf (application/pdf, 764.4 K) posted at 5:45 PM, September 4, 2018
Science Update August 2018
Science_Update_August_2018.pdf (application/pdf, 655.4 K) posted at 8:50 PM, August 10, 2018
Science Update June 2018
Science_Update_June_2018.pdf (application/pdf, 929.7 K) posted at 7:00 AM, May 30, 2018
Science Update May 2018
Science_Update_May_2018.pdf (application/pdf, 728.1 K) posted at 6:36 AM, May 3, 2018
Science Update April 2018
Science_Update_April_2018.pdf (application/pdf, 810 K) posted at 11:38 AM, April 6, 2018
Science Update March 2018
Science_Update_March_2018.pdf (application/pdf, 806.4 K) posted at 1:37 PM, March 7, 2018
Science Update Feb 2018
Science_Update_Feb_2018.pdf (application/pdf, 827.1 K) posted at 7:08 PM, February 6, 2018
Science Update Jan 2018
Science_Update_Jan_2018.pdf (application/pdf, 763.9 K) posted at 7:42 AM, January 11, 2018

More documents

All 22 documents


John Olson, Science Content Specialist,

Dawn Cameron, Science Assessment Specialist,

Jim Wood, Science Assessment Specialist,

Doug Paulson, STEM Integration Specialist,


MDE Quick Links

MDE Science Page (standards, awards, misc.)

MDE Statewide Testing (MCA resources)

Frameworks for the Minnesota Science & Mathematics Standards