In The News

Gearing up for an exciting 2019-2020 with NSELA

Posted: August 14, 2019

Greetings Science Leaders,

As many of you gear up for another academic year, I am honored and excited to take the helm of this amazing organization.  It can be quite intimidating taking over NSELA from such a long line of excellent leaders, but with the help of our executive director Don Knox, our managing company Civica, our amazing Board of Directors, committee chairs, and members, I have confidence that our organization is in good hands.  I may create a more focused post in the future - but for now, I wanted to take a moment and share my heart.  

In creating a “position statement” to run for president, I had the opportunity to sit down and rethink my philosophy of science teaching, the role and responsibility of NSELA in the profession, and my beliefs regarding science, technology, science leadership, and science education.  As I prepared to start this year, two years after writing this statement, I looked to my old application as a place to remind myself why I am doing this. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the nomination packet was not just platitudes, but actually reflected my heart. As a result, I plan to share a series of my thoughts, taking a few at a time, starting with, “My own leadership as K-12 science curriculum specialist is being challenged as I implement three-dimensional standards in my district towards that vision.”  

I am still stretched to be helpful and supportive to teachers and administrators of Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) while providing the appropriate push to meet the current reforms of science education.  My work in LPS is strengthened because of what I gain from NSELA membership. I share these insights - not as an endorsement of a certain individual, approach, or product - but because all that I share comes directly or indirectly from the NSELA member network, and I hope if you see something you might try or explore - you will become active in NSELA.  

  • LPS is beginning the fourth year of implementing various approaches to match NGSS and 3D instruction in all secondary science courses across middle and high school.  

    • We have created many aligned lessons using American Museum of Natural History 5 Tools Approach with teachers who have been immersed in training to lead this lesson development process. 

    • We have created and utilized many lessons from recent NSELA presenter -  Brett Moulding (pictured below) Gather Reason Communicate approach to lesson design #Going3D, also a regular visitor to Lincoln. 

We are starting to explore OpenSciEd and lessons from NGSS Sensemakers.  LPS experienced four days of professional learning for over 40 teachers this summer from the Sensemakers group from Northwestern University and schools across the U.S.  My teachers have never been so excited to enact some 3D-units they have experienced in this setting: 7th Grade Metabolism, Evolution in Biology, and Hot-Cold in Chemistry.

    • I have grown from an opportunity to work for NSTA to design and deliver professional learning institutes.  I greatly appreciate Ted Willard and Trisha Shelton for creating these opportunities for personal growth. As a result, the “sound storyline” enacted in LPS from NextGenStorylines was featured on the Office of Ed Tech STEM site as exemplifying collaboration in STEM.  Consider taking two minutes and appreciating the power of these approaches:
  • LPS 7th grade became a research site for Amplify Science Middle School Study funded by NSF, “Evaluating the Impact of Amplify Science Middle School Curriculum on Teaching and Learning”.  I am excited to see how professional curriculum materials impact our teaching and learning while we help the nation understand how curriculum impacts student learning.

  • I began a new adventure as Co-Chair of the newly formed Lincoln STEM Ecosystem.  We are starting a community wide movement to connect in- and out-of-school STEM rich learning environments to better connect students to their interests and future careers in STEM.  You can follow me @lnkse and as we undertake this challenge.

Thank you for taking the time to get to know me a little better.  All that I am in my professional role is deeply connected to NSELA.  I look forward to continued sharing through newsletters, webinars, and face to face professional development for NSELA and hearing more from you. 

In my next edition, I will discuss how, “...the challenges many of us face are also a great opportunity to make a difference in science education to impact more than ever before.  NSELA is uniquely poised to support the majority of our nations’ children who are in schools and non formal educational settings.”

I look forward to improving science education together.  NSELA is probably best known for its powerful professional learning and networking opportunities. As an affiliate of NSTA, leadership in science education has been our focus since 1959.  We have reflected this in our mission statement, encapsulated by three words: Advocate, Collaborate, and Educate. I feel a great sense of gratitude to our membership (you!) and our many partners who make NSELA possible: Amplify Science, Flinn Scientific, Kendell Hunt, Legends of Learning, Pascoe, Pearson, Texas Instruments, and Vernier.

I wish you the best for those of you heading back to school in the coming weeks.  Please feel free to contact me anytime to share your excitements and suggestions. How can NSELA serve you? 



James Blake, Ed.D.
2019-2020 NSELA President

James Blake, Ed.D. is the K-12 Science Curriculum Specialist at Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) in Lincoln, Nebraska.  He held multiple science state leadership roles as State Director of Science Education for the Nebraska Department of Education and Nebraska Director of Science Olympiad. Follow Dr. Blake on Twitter: @lpssci @drjblakesci @lnkse @nselascience or email: [email protected]



"A Safety Minute" by Dr. Ken Roy - NSELA Safety Compliance Officer

Posted: August 14, 2019

NSELA Safety Minute by Dr. Ken Roy – NSELA Safety Compliance Officer - For current safety updates five days a week, follow Dr. Ken on [email protected].

Safety Data Sheet (SDS) ACS Lab Safety Video - Preparation and planning are key to working in the chemistry lab. To be prepared, students and their science teachers must understand the hazards of any chemicals they will be working with. The place to find that information is the Safety Data Sheet or SDS.  Check out this great ACS tutorial on SDS use:



"A Safety Minute" by Dr. Ken Roy - NSELA Safety Compliance Officer

Posted: August 7, 2019

NSELA Safety Minute by Dr. Ken Roy – NSELA Safety Compliance Officer - For current safety updates five days a week, follow Dr. Ken on [email protected].

"Laboratory Safety & Legal Prudence: Meeting Duty of Care!" Watch Dr. Ken’s presentation at the NSTA National Congress on Science Education (NCSE) last month now on YouTube. Critical information for science teachers/Supervisors relative to lab safety/liability! This can be used for PD at beginning of year for your staff. It is an absolute must!!



RSVP for An Upcoming Webinar - "Strategies for Engaging Educators with Place-Based Learning"

Posted: July 17, 2019

When: August 1, 2019
Time: 3:00 PDT
Speakers: Lauren Kaupp and Deb Morrison


As a second course in the summer webinar series for the theCouncil of State Science Supervisors (CSSS) community through the Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education (ACESSE) project collaboration. The goal of all of these webinars is for participants to develop knowledge and resources to support classroom teachers in their context to design more inclusive science learning environments. For this webinar, CSSS has specifically reached out to include NSELA members.

There are many assets for learning that are located in place. This webinar builds on the ideas and tools we developed in STEM Teaching Tool #57 to explore how instruction can be designed to center on place-based authentic phenomena that engage students’ in learning by centering on their interests and identity. The webinar has been developed by Lauren Kaupp, State of Hawaii Department of Education, and Deb Morrison, Institute of Science Education - University of Washington, Seattle.

The webinar is scheduled for August 1, 2019 from 3:00 pm EST/12:00 pm PST/9:00 am HST.Please RSVP to get the connection information for the webinar and to help organizers better facilitate the webinar. Sponsors of this webinar include: the CSSS, the NSF-funded ACESSE project, and the STEM Teaching Tools initiative at the University of Washington.

If you have any questions please email Lauren Kaupp at [email protected].

Searching for District Science Leaders:  What makes a good course?

Posted: July 17, 2019

Achieve—who coordinated the development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and host of other tools and resources to evaluate how well instructional materials, assessment tasks are designed for the NGSS—is embarking on a project to help support teachers and districts to answer the question of what a quality course looks like and to make sure we get this right, we want to partner with you.

The Course Quality Toolkit will focus on professional learning to support district team conversations about quality and a framework of categories and indicators to consider in the discussion. Once a district zeros in on their focus, the toolkit will connect district teams to tools and resources they can use for evaluating quality. The intent of this toolkit is not for teacher evaluation, but to help districts work together to ensure high quality courses for all students. It will be designed to support work in science, mathematics, and English Language Arts.

Partner district leaders and educators across these three content areas will review an initial draft, participate in webinars, come together for a face-to-face professional learning to experience using the toolkit, and use the toolkit to evaluate courses in their districts. In addition having a seat at the table in designing the toolkit and the free professional learning (with travel expenses covered), districts get pre-release access to the toolkit, and receive a $2500 stipend to cover the work outside of the face-to-face meeting.

To learn more, check out this one page summary.

If you are interested, please contact Neelo Soltanzadeh [email protected] as soon as possible.

Applications are due by August 1, 2019.

We are particularly interested in districts that serve a diverse student body, or have a high proportion of students receiving free and reduced lunches, but all are welcome to apply.

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