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Welcome to the Science Teacher Update! Here, you will find ideas to inspire your Next Generation Science Standards implementation for the classroom. We will also showcase student events happening in the Keystone area and, of course, professional development opportunities!


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Science Update for October 2023


Reforming Science Practices

Student Discourse/Academically Productive Talk

Classroom discourse has been proven to play a major role in student learning. John Hattie’s research lists classroom discussions as a high-impact strategy, with an effect size of .82.  In science classrooms, where our goal has shifted from simply having students “learn about” science to having them “figure out” phenomena, academically productive talk has an even more important role. With the right planning and a few useful talk moves in hand, classroom discussions can open up an entirely new aspect of your learning community. All students can contribute valuable perspectives to help move everyone’s science thinking forward.

Here are a few resources to support introducing more academically productive talk into your classroom:

If you would like to try introducing more academically productive student talk into your classroom and are looking for a thought partner for how to start, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at and plan a way we can collaborate!

Media Connections

Digital Planetarium

Do you help students figure out new ideas related to astronomy as part of your science curriculum?  If so, Keystone’s Digital Planetarium may be the perfect tool to enhance those experiences and give students an opportunity to observe and model many astronomy-related events that are typically only accessible via laptop simulations, videos, or textbooks.  Uses include observing and modeling the patterns in the length of a day over the course of the year, changes in the sky related to the seasons, moon phases, unique events like solar eclipses, and more!

You can find standards alignments, video tutorials, and other resources on our website.

Use of the digital planetarium requires specialized training  - please contact me at for details on how that can happen in a personalized way.

🎉 Exciting News: Due to significant usage of our current planetariums, we’ll be updating one of the older models to a larger, more advanced version soon!  Stay tuned or contact me directly if you’re interested in more details on this new addition to the media collection.


Science Safety

Eye Protection in the Science Classroom

One of the major pieces of safety equipment in the science classroom is eye protection. If your students are engaged in an investigation or are observing a demonstration where there is a risk of harm to their eye, appropriate eye protection is important to help keep everyone as safe as possible.

Eye protection is required for (but not limited to) the following instances:

  • When using chemicals (including common household chemicals being used in schools) or glassware
  • When working with heat sources (e.g. Bunsen burners, hot plates)
  • When working with materials or equipment under stress, pressure, or force that might cause fragmentation or flying particles
  • When an activity generates projectiles, uses elastic materials under stress (e.g. springs, wires, rubber, glass), or causes collisions
  • When dust or fumes are present (eye protection reduces the dust or fumes reaching the eye)
  • When working with biological specimens
  • When using sharp cutting tools

Eye protection is required for everyone present in the lab, students, teachers, assistants and aides as well as any visitors to the classroom.

Make sure to closely inspect any goggles that are provided for use in your room:

  • Indirectly vented chemical splash goggles Z87.1-2015 + D3 are required when using laboratory hazards such as but not limited to hazardous chemicals, glassware, heating sources, preserved specimens or dust/solid particles.

  • Check your goggles for an imprint on the body that clearly indicates that these are certified goggles rather than the cheaper imitation versions.

This short video excerpt outlines the different kinds of goggles and their uses and is taken from the FLINN LABORATORY SAFETY courses.  I highly recommend these as a resource to learn more about (or refresh your knowledge) various facets of safety in the science classroom.

Upcoming Opportunities (Professional Learning, Grants, and Student Events)

McElroy Excellence in Education Enrichment Grant Application Now Available

Do you have an idea for a project that you have always wanted to try but never quite had the money? The McElroy Trust has awarded the Keystone AEA region $30,000 to fund area educators’ innovative projects that demonstrate educational excellence in amounts up to $2,000 each. Projects are to be completed between January and May of 2024.

For an application form, a copy of the evaluation rubric, and additional information, please go to Keystone AEAs website.

McElroy applications are due by Friday, November 3, 2023, at 4:30 p.m. Please UPLOAD it to the grant website listed above.

For additional information, please contact me by email at


Nominate a Teacher for the IOWA STEM Teacher Award

 (The deadline to nominate a PK-12 teacher in a private or public school is October 10)

 Nominations are open for the 2024 Iowa STEM Teacher Award sponsored by Kemin Industries and the Iowa STEM Advisory Council. Now in its tenth year, this award celebrates PK-12 teachers who go above and beyond to inspire their students and show them the possibilities of STEM. Their leadership and dedication to STEM in Iowa helps increase interest in and awareness of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, working to help students prepare to be successful in our future workforce.

One teacher from each of Iowa’s six STEM regions will receive a $1,500 award to use in their classroom, along with an additional $1,500 for personal use. The deadline for nominations is Tuesday, October 10. Recipients will be announced January 2024.

 Nominating a teacher is easy. To nominate a teacher today, click here.   


MASTER OF ARTS - Science Education offering at UNI

Improve your science teaching with research-based best practices in alignment with the Next Generation Science Education Standards. This program integrates theory, application, and content for K-12 teachers to update pedagogy, add endorsement areas to their teaching license or update content knowledge in specialty areas.

  1.  Learn more at

  2. Apply at and begin courses in Summer 2024

  3. Submit admission requirements and send official transcripts

WiSE Go Further STEM Conference

Go Further STEM Conferences will be held on November 2nd and 9th at Iowa State University. These conferences are designed for 8th-10th graders and are designed to provide hands-on STEM activities for students to explore new majors and opportunities at ISU. 

Use this link to learn more about this exciting opportunity.


Build Iowa’s Future Design Challenge

The Design Challenge application is now available and includes monetary prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in each of the K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 grade bands! Read more about this project and submit your interest on the Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning Design Challenge Overview Page! Sign up by Oct. 20th. Students' projects must be submitted by April 5th to be considered. Explore potential academic standards that this project may support here.

Contact: Jason Martin-Hiner

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Jason Martin-Hiner

School Improvement Facilitator