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Institutes and Seminars

Institutes and SeminarsThe Science Museum of Minnesota's Teacher Professional Development Group at Science House can provide custom professional development services for your school, district, or university. We specialize in addressing achievement disparities in STEM education on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, disability, language, and sexual orientation. We can provide professional development and support in creating a foundation for STEM equity through STEM-based investigations, discussions, and readings; developing distributed STEM leadership communities; and effecting systemic change in educational systems. We have growing evidence that our work dramatically closes achievement disparities in STEM in the districts and schools with whom we have worked

Frequently asked questions:

How does the Science Museum of Minnesota's Teacher Professional Development Group approach working with teachers?

You will find that our professional development is deep, engaging, and warm. Rather than provide educators with ready-made lessons and curricula, we work to translate the best in research-based approaches and theory into classroom practice. This involves engaging teachers in learning experiences that integrate STEM and cultural relevance by reading and discussing pertinent research articles, and carefully constructing the social environment to promote participation and community. We take a systems-based approach, taking our clients' context and environment into account during all phases of planning.

What's the relationship between Science House and the Teacher Professional Development Group?

Science House is a zero-emissions building in the Big Back Yard and the home of the Teacher Professional Development Group. It is the location of the Museum's professional development activities and a lending library of over $500,000 worth of STEM materials. The materials at Science House are available to teachers with district memberships. In addition, member districts also receive a 20% discount on professional development services. For many districts, the cost of Science House membership quickly pays for itself when they contract with us for professional development or borrow classroom sets of expensive equipment such as microscopes or Vernier Probes.

Can you help us address "achievement gap" issues in math and science?

The Teacher Professional Development Group is increasingly recognized and valued for our pioneering work in this area. Over the past several years, our group has placed access, equity, social justice, and culturally relevant teaching in STEM at the center of our professional development. One of the ways we do this is by following education researchers such as Gloria Ladson Billings in reframing the concept of "achievement gap" as an "education debt." Viewed this way, the "gap" is not a problem with students. Rather, the problem is a "debt" for which the entire educational community needs to take collective responsibility. We work with teachers to place STEM investigations into relevant contexts, understand identity formation and Discourse, deconstruct STEM curriculum, and explore white privilege and institutional racism and their impact on school systems.

Can you help us implement the MN K–12 Academic Standards in Science?

Within STEM integration, we are well positioned to support your understanding and implementation of the Minnesota Academic Standards in Science, including the engineering strand together with the Minnesota Academic Standards in Mathematics. Our staff has extensive training and experience in helping to make practical use of national standards documents: the Next Generation Science Standards and the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics Principles and Standards for School Mathematics..

Can you provide support for curriculum and program implementation?

While we do not advocate for any one program or curriculum, the Teacher Professional Development Group has collective expertise in a variety of STEM curricula and programs. Our approach is to work with educators on identifying key concepts, modifying lessons and units to make them more culturally responsive, and examining ways to integrate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

What are your areas of expertise and backgrounds?

The Professional Development Group has combined backgrounds in systemic science education reform, scientific research, university/K-12 partnerships, equity and access, program evaluation, district-level science administration, and all levels of teaching from kindergarten through graduate levels. We have content expertise in chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, earth science, formative assessment, differentiation, complex instruction, critical race theory, sociolinguistics, and disability studies. We have garnered this experience in public and private K-12 schools and colleges, R1 universities and tribal colleges, museums, and other non-profit agencies.

Who have some of our past clients been?

Over the past several years, we have worked with STEM leadership teams from 25 districts in the Twin Cities Metro area through the Nexus program; worked regionally with teams from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Iowa through the PAGE program; and designed and delivered customized summer institutes with entire schools and districts.