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

MDE provides updates to help schools implement the Every Student Succeeds Act here.

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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

February 2019

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



Second Draft of the Minnesota Science Standards

The second draft of the 2019 Minnesota Science Standards which will be published Feb. 14. It will be available for feedback until Feb. 28. The draft and the feedback survey will be posted on the MDE Science page.

The Department of Education will hold virtual Town Hall meetings (webinars) to explain the draft, answer questions and take comments on February 19, at 7 AM, noon, 4 PM and 7 PM. Connection information will be posted on the MDE Science Page on Feb. 14. The MN Science Teachers Assn. will hold Feedback Sessions for the draft. Check the MnSTA website for information.

The final draft will be published in May with full implementation of the standards and a new version of the MCA exam in three or four years.


*Write items for the MCA Exam

We would like to invite you to apply to be part of Building Capacity for Science Assessment: Science MCA-IV Item Writing Workshop in the summer of 2019. The workshop will be 5 days total, starting with a virtual training on June 14 followed by in-person meetings on June 26-27 and July 15-16. Approximately 15-20 additional hours may be needed to complete the item writing assignments.

This item writer workshop is intended to train and support educators as Science MCA-IV writers using new 2019 Minnesota science standards. Emphasis will be given to unpacking the new standards and the writing of one cluster of items based on a phenomenon. In addition to providing training in assessment development and literacy, this workshop includes time for collaboration and feedback from your peers.

If you are interested in being part of this MCA-IV item writer workshop this year, contact us for more information or enter your information by March 15, 2019 at this location If you have colleagues that might be interested in participating, please share this information. For more information:


*Support a senior Thesis

A senior science education student at the College of St. Benedict invites high school teachers to complete a survey about their beliefs and practices related to implementing technology-based assessments. Follow this link to complete this short anonymous survey by Friday February 10th.


Teacher Events and Workshops


*Wind and Solar Education Workshop, Feb. 9, St. Paul

We are getting excited for the 2019 MN Renewable Energy Challenge (What's a Renewable Energy Challenge? -- this will give you an idea!) and we have training planned to help new and returning participants get ready!  Attendees will receive free gear, support and we may even feed you!  The workshop for new coaches is 9 am – 1 pm at Farnsworth School. Learn more.

*Grow Healthy Conferences, March 1 & 2, Chaska (Landscape Arboretum)

  • Schoolyard Gardens Conference, March 1 8:30 – 4, Share ideas and resources for building and sustaining school gardens. From nutrition programming to building valuable community partnerships, the conference agenda highlights practical and inspirational tools from the leading experts and educators. Learn more.
  • Garden-to-Plate Food Conference, March 2 8:20 – 3, Many Minnesotans are growing food for their communities. This conference will bring together the latest research and best practices to ensure Minnesota community food growers bring a bounty of safe produce to their communities. Learn more.


NSTA National Conference on Science Education, April 11-14, St. Louis

Astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent a year in space, is the keynote for the annual National Science Teachers Association conference. Hear from the leading researchers and practitioners of science education as they present engaging session. Learn teaching strategies that will support Minnesota’s next science standards. Explore the very large exhibit area and look for instructional materials. Network with teachers from across the country and enjoy social events. This year the national conference is nearby and affordable.


  • Three-Dimensional Grand Slam
  • Jazzing Up Science with Cross-Curricular Connections
  • Phenomena: Gateway to Learning
  • Confluence of Equity and Education

Click here for the conference preview.


Green Schools Conference & Expo, April 8 -9, St. Paul

This national event brings together all the players involved in making green schools a reality. And it is coming to the River Center in St. Paul. This year GSCE is co-located with IMPACT, the leading event for sustainable development in the Midwest. The conference offers engaging educational sessions, case studies, hands-on workshops and lectures from today's green school experts. GSCE provides an unmatched opportunity for green school advocates nationwide to collaborate and learn from one another — all with a vested interest in making a positive difference in our children’s futures. Check out the conference website.


MN Codes Summit, May 16, Minneapolis

Join us for a day of hands-on sessions that explore ways to empower ALL learners by integrating computer science, coding, and computational thinking into a variety of curricular areas, from K-12!  The event will be 9 am – 4 pm at the University of Minnesota. The keynote speaker is Joan Freese of TPT/SciGirls. Learn more.


*Native Skywatchers Workshop, June 10 - 11, St. Cloud

This two-day workshop is designed for all educators & persons interested in increasing their knowledge of Ojibwe and D(L)akota Star Knowledge.  A new focus this year will include: Earth and Sky, and interdisciplinary STEM connections. The workshop includes multiple hands-on activities so participants will be able to experience the culture and the science in the most authentic and meaningful way possible. Learn more here.


*Green and Sustainable Chemistry Workshop, June 18-20, Minneapolis

The Center for Sustainable Polymers in partnership with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association are offering a FREE three-day workshop at the University of Minnesota to high school chemistry teachers on green and sustainable chemistry. The workshop was developed through the University of Minnesota Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program. A stipend, graduate credits and lab materials are available. Applicants from across the state of Minnesota are welcome. Applications are due March 15. Learn more.


*Rivers Institutes: Mississippi, June 24- 26; St. Croix, July 22-24

Join us this summer as Hamline University's Center for Global Environmental Education (CGEE) presents its acclaimed Rivers Institute, a FREE, three-day, field-based professional development opportunity for educators.

The Rivers Institutes are designed to increase teachers' science content knowledge and investigation skills and help area educators translate their professional experiences into meaningful, engaging classroom investigations. Learn more.


Become a SciGirls Strategies Trainer, June 25 – 28, St. Paul

Twin Cities PBS (TPT) invites schools and school districts across Minnesota and Wisconsin to participate in SciGirls Strategies: Gender Equitable Teaching Practices in CTE Pathways for High School Girls! This National Science Foundation -funded Train-the-Trainer program provides high school-level Career and Technical Education and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math teachers and district leaders a FREE four-day workshop on employing gender-equitable equitable teaching strategies with the goal of attracting and retaining more female students in CTE/STEM classes.

This course will be held at Twin Cities PBS (TPT) studios in St. Paul and trains participants to provide professional development. Transportation and lodging will be reimbursed along with a stipend and funding for implementation. For more information contact Alex Dexheimer,


*Geosciences Teacher Leadership Academy, July 7 – 12, Houston TX

The academy will provide K-8 teachers with Earth science content, hands-on activities, educational resources, and real-world science experiences that they can use with their students in the classroom and with their colleagues in professional development settings. The program will be residential in Houston. Academy-related travel, lodging, and subsistence costs will be reimbursable through a grant from ExxonMobil. School administrators can nominate one teacher or teams of two to four teachers by emailing nominee names and email addresses to using the subject line “K-8 Teacher Leadership Academy Nominee(s)”


*WaterWorks! A Drinking Water Institute, August 5-7, Oakdale

Enrich your water-related curriculum, investigate drinking water quality and chemistry, learn about inquiry-based models for your classroom, and find water resources within your community. This three-day, hands-on workshop allows grade 4-10 science teachers to gather information from expert presenters about how safe, reliable drinking water is delivered to your community, as well as drinking water issues facing Minnesota. Meals and resource binder provided. Choose between two graduate credits or stipend. Join the ranks of over 400 teachers that have participated in WaterWorks! throughout Minnesota over the last 18 years. Funded by the Minnesota Dept. of Health and the American Waterworks Association. Learn more.


*Minnesota Zoo: ZOOMS INSTITUTE for Teachers: August 5-8, Apple Valley

See the Zoo in a whole new way! This four day workshop will engage teachers in utilizing animals and the Zoo as a tool to integrate engineering concepts into their curriculum, based on the Minnesota State Science Standards. Sessions focus on Engineering BY Animals, Engineering FROM Animals (biomimicry), and Engineering FOR Animals. Through hands on activities, expert talks and behind the scenes experiences, see how STEM is being used by aquarists, conservationists, and zoo staff to help care for and conserve wildlife both in the zoo and in the wild. Learn more. Computer Science Workshops, St. Paul

Designed to support middle and high school teachers before and during their first year teaching Computer Science Discoveries or Computer Science Principles, the Professional Learning Program begins with a five-day, in-person summer workshop followed by four additional sessions throughout the year. Best of all? No previous experience teaching computer science is needed. 

We welcome elementary school teachers to sign up year-round for our no-cost, high-quality one-day professional development workshops for Computer Science Fundamentals courses from an experienced computer science facilitator.

Full scholarships are available for all Minnesota teachers. Contact Hadi Partovi for details.


Teacher and School Awards and Opportunities


Presidential Award for Mathematics 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.


*Outstanding Biology Teacher Award

The National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) recognizes an outstanding biology teacher from each state. Nominees do not have to be members NABT. In addition to an application form, nominees will be asked to submit a video of their classroom teaching, an essay, and four letters of recommendation. For more information, go to the NABT Awards website, download an application form, download video suggestions, or contact Jim Lane (, Life Science Instructor at Mahtomedi High School.


School Programs and Instruction


*On-line AP Physics Course

This is an opportunity for high schools that are not offering Advanced Placement physics to enroll at no charge 1 – 8 qualified student in this AP Physics 1 program. Boston University and West Virginia University are seeking partner high schools for the National Science Foundation funded program called Project Accelerate. For further information have the building administrator contact Mark Greenman at Boston University


*Eyes on the Wild: Citizen Science for your classroom:

Research scientists at the U of M are trying to answer a number of biological questions such as "whether simulated wolves induce a behavioral response in prey that is strong enough to trickle down and affect plant and soil communities" using the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve in East Bethel, MN as their laboratory. To answer questions like this, they have divided the reserve up into a grid and placed trail cameras throughout the property to capture wildlife activity. They have enlisted the help of citizen scientist volunteers to go through the hundreds of thousands of pictures that have been taken and help them identify the wildlife in the pictures.

Click here if you would like to get involved in this project, or other similar citizen science projects on the Zooniverse website.


Student Programs, Awards and Competitions


Lake Superior Youth Symposium May 16-19, Duluth

Youth in grades 8-12 will experience the science, art, culture and challenges of protecting one of the greatest bodies of freshwater on the planet - Lake Superior. Activities will include hands-on workshops, research, field trips in the Duluth area, dynamic speakers and a final night pizza party and dance at the Great Lakes Aquarium!

Work with scientists, engineers and artists to explore the many ways you can engage with the environment and pursue your passions. Internationally known speaker and 2013 CNN Hero Chad Pregracke is slated for the keynote address to talk about his career cleaning up rivers which started when he was 17.

Start planning now for your group to come to UMD and be part of this amazing experience. The registration fee is $200 per participant and includes housing meals and activities. Scholarships to low-income students will likely be available. Visit the symposium website for more information


National Youth Science Camp, June 27 – July 20, West Virginia

Teachers of seniors, encourage your students to apply. We often get very few Minnesota applicants!

Two graduating seniors from Minnesota will be chosen for this prestigious FREE science camp in the mountains of West Virginia. The NYSCamp is a residential STEM program designed to honor and challenge some of the nation’s rising STEM leaders. At the NYSCamp, STEM professionals present lectures and lead small-group directed studies on a broad array of STEM topics; some delegates are able to conduct research at the nearby Green Bank Observatory. The NYSCamp experience also features excursions into the Monongahela National Forest including backpacking, rock-climbing, caving, kayaking and mountain biking.

Delegates are required to participate in the NYSCamp program for its entirety; the fast-paced activities and remote location simply make travel to and from the NYSCamp very difficult. The NYSCamp is offered to selected participants at NO COST so that talented students may attend regardless of their financial ability – transportation included. Minnesota uses the NYSCamp’s online application system. For more information contact, Minnesota coordinator. The application deadline is February 28.


*Materials Science Camp for High School Students, July 9-13, Minneapolis

The University of Minnesota Materials Camp excites and engages young, aspiring minds. The camp is offered at no cost to students entering their junior or senior year. Industry professionals take great pride in influencing the next generation of engineers and scientists. Materials Camp utilizes hands-on learning principles of applied math and science; a truly unique, team-based problem solving experience that explores materials science and engineering principles. Applications are due March 31. Learn more.


Science and Engineering Competitions


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 Feb 2019
Science_Update_Feb_2019.pdf (application/pdf, 637.7 K) posted at 11:20 AM, February 5, 2019
Science Update Jan 2019
Science_Update_Jan_2019.pdf (application/pdf, 1219.5 K) posted at 12:37 PM, January 1, 2019
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

More documents

All 24 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