OpenSciEd is a nonprofit organization that brings together educators, philanthropic organizations, curriculum developers, and professional development providers to improve science education through the development and implementation of high-quality, freely available science instructional materials. While this work has begun at the middle school level with Grades 6 through 8, the goal of OpenSciEd is to ensure that all educators, from elementary to high school, have access to a free, coherent, rigorous, research-based set of instructional materials that will support all students in meeting the vision for science literacy described in A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards.
OpenSciEd was launched to address the demand for high-quality, open-source, full-course science instructional materials, as well as to support the implementation of these science instructional units. OpenSciEd seeks to ensure any science teacher anywhere can access and download freely available, high-quality, locally adaptable full-course materials.
Not at all! OpenSciEd is a multi-year effort that is now just in its beginning stages, initially focused on Grades 6–8. There will be many opportunities for states and science educators to get involved.
Science education in middle school continues to lay the foundation for later learning in high school and college-level science courses, which further helps prepare students for post-secondary learning and career opportunities. Middle school science is typically taught by a science specialist in a dedicated science class, which is often not the case in elementary schools.
Absolutely! OpenSciEd works with classroom educators, state science leaders, experienced science curriculum developers, individual school districts, Achieve, and the science education community to create and pilot robust, research-based, open-source science instructional materials that are designed for A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards.
OpenSciEd believes it is essential that teachers and leaders are actively involved in the design, development, and enactment of instructional materials. The inclusion of all these voices helps shape the materials to focus on the science learning needs of today’s students.
Ten partner states volunteered to join this effort and are involved through their state departments of education, collaborations of multiple districts, or regional education agencies working with specific schools. The partner states are California, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Washington.
Each partner state—and specific districts, schools, and teachers in those states— participated in curriculum-based professional learning during Summer 2018 and Winter 2019, in preparation for the Fall and Spring field test of units of instruction in Grades 6–8.
Each state is creating its own locally appropriate mechanism to field test units, collect data, and listen to feedback from teachers, schools, and districts about this work. Though OpenSciEd will ultimately have broad reach, it will always be a locally driven initiative. Upon completion, the instructional materials will be freely available to anyone and can be customized to suit the users’ needs.
- Science—and therefore science education—is central to the lives of all Americans, particularly students, preparing them to be successful in their educational, personal, and professional endeavors.
- Our nation’s future leaders require—and deserve—a world-class science education that is knowledge-rich, encourages discovery, and will give them what they need to not only effectively prepare for jobs that may not yet exist, but to thrive in the world of tomorrow.
- An in-depth understanding of science content and gaining scientific reasoning skills—such as analytics, problem-solving, and data interpretation—will be crucial to students as they pursue their careers.
- Science also provides context and support for other subject areas, such as mathematics and English Language Arts.
- When teachers have access to great instructional materials, they can focus their time, energy and creativity on bringing lessons to life and finding ways to inspire their students to learn and grow based on their unique needs and interests.
- High-quality science instructional materials must be accessible to all teachers if they are going to help students become informed citizens and knowledgeable users of today’s rapidly expanding technological innovations.
- Too many teachers are provided with outdated and unaligned instructional materials, sending them online, in search of foundational materials. Science teachers spend an average of seven hours per week searching for appropriate instructional materials (both freely available and paid for) and an additional five hours per week creating materials to accompany their lessons.
High-quality is defined as well-designed and well-crafted instructional materials reviewed and approved by independent, third-party experts (such as EdReports and Achieve) using widely agreed upon criteria. Each unit is being reviewed using the EQuIP Rubric by the Peer Review Panel.
- Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely available materials that can be downloaded, edited, locally adapted, and shared to better serve all students.
- OER materials make distribution faster (they’re downloadable) and localization easier (they can be edited).
- Because they’re freely available, OER materials are available to all schools and districts.
- OER materials can continuously evolve because they are being used and adapted by classroom teachers in real time.
- Based on early research, OER materials show promise in improving student outcomes and providing more empowerment opportunities for teachers.
OpenSciEd will make no requirements to schools, districts, or states; instructional materials adoptions will remain the purview of schools and districts under each district or state’s current laws and policies.
To date, 19 states and the District of Columbia, representing more than 35 percent of U.S. students (Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) have adopted the NGSS. Additionally, 20 states have adopted new science standards whose development was influenced by A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards.
Unit Development and Release Timeline
Each OpenSciEd unit undergoes an 18-month development process that includes brainstorming, writing, external reviews, a robust field test, and revision. OpenSciEd will be releasing units at the end of this process and after they are evaluated by Achieve’s EQuIP Peer Review Panel and have received a quality rating. We will release the first three units (one in each grade level) in August 2019. An additional three units will be publicly released every six months afterward until the entire three-year sequence (18 units) is available. More information and the projected release schedule can be found on the Development Schedule page.
Each OpenSciEd unit undergoes an 18-month development process that includes brainstorming, writing, external reviews, a robust field test, and revision. OpenSciEd will be releasing units at the end of this process and after they are evaluated by Achieve’s EQuIP Peer Review Panel and have received a quality rating.
Teachers and students are central to the development process. Teachers are included in the brainstorming and writing process by providing initial feedback from their classes. The materials are then field tested by over 250 teachers and 5000 students where extensive data is gathered from both teachers and students; this data then drives the materials revision process.
Logistics about Access & Materials
Released OpenSciEd units will be available for download as a PDF or as a Google document that can be copied to a personal folder or downloaded as a Microsoft Word document. We have also partnered with Kendall Hunt for those who would like to purchase printed copies.
OpenSciEd instructional materials will also require hands-on materials for investigations. The kit materials needed for these hands-on activities can be found here. In addition, OpenSciEd has partnered with AquaPhoenix for those who would like to purchase pre-assembled kits.
Released OpenSciEd units can be download as a PDF or as a folder of Google Documents and Slides that can be copied to a personal folder. From the Google Drive folder, units can also be downloaded as Microsoft Office documents. We have also partnered with Kendall Hunt for those who would like to purchase printed copies. A link to purchase materials from Kendall Hunt can be found on this page.
The units are free to access, download and modify. If you would like to purchase a printed version of the units, you can do so from our preferred printer Kendall Hunt.
We have partnered with Kendall Hunt for those who would like to purchase printed copies of the units. Alternatively, the PDF versions of the units can be taken to a printer of your choice.
We have partnered with AquaPhoenix for those who would like to purchase lab material kits to accompany the OpenSciEd units. AquaPhoenix is providing two kit options for purchase for each unit:
- A full kit with all of the materials necessary to teach the unit outside of perishable items such as ice, radishes, and filled helium balloons. This kit includes all of the specialized equipment needed for the unit.
- A specialized equipment kit with only the unit-specific equipment that is needed to teach the unit.
We will also be providing a material list for each unit if users would prefer to source their own lab materials.
Open Educational Resources (OER)
All of the OpenSciEd units are being designed as Open Educational Resources that are licensed as CC-BY-4.0. OpenSciEd believes that by providing these units freely to all users, including commercial vendors, we will increase the number of teachers and students who have access to high-quality science instructional materials. Educators should feel empowered to use, modify, and reuse all of these resources. We encourage you to share broadly and openly any changes and innovations you make to these resources so others can reflect on and take advantage of your best thinking. This license does require appropriate attribution, which means you must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the OpenSciEd endorses you or your use.
Professional Development Questions
OpenSciEd identifies the professional development organizations with expertise and experience in supporting teachers in the use of the OpenSciEd units.
Organizations with expertise and experience in supporting teachers in the use of the OpenSciEd units are listed on this page, along with contact information. We highly recommend you contact one of these organizations for professional learning in combination with exploring and using OpenSciEd curriculum.
Yes, multiple days of professional development materials (agendas, facilitator notes, slides, handouts, etc.) for each unit are available at on the Access Materials page. There are PD materials to support someone leading events for teachers new to OpenSciEd curriculum and facilitator training PD materials for events where educators who are going to facilitate an OpenSciEd PD learn about the PD structure and materials.
Scope and Sequence Questions
The full scope and sequence document can be found at this page. Physical, Earth and Space, and Life sciences are taught at each grade level. Individual units concentrate on an aspect within a discipline, yet they may also rely on learnings from previously taught units from another discipline.
The OpenSciEd units draw upon more than one science discipline when it benefits students’ understanding of the anchoring phenomena. For example, in Unit 7.4 Photosynthesis and Matter Cycling, in order to understand where food comes from and where it goes, students utilize both life science and physical science core ideas.
Six. Units range in length from four to six weeks of instruction.
One of the strengths of an Open Education Resource is that we embrace districts, schools, and teachers making the materials their own, including resequencing the units. Yet, the materials are designed and written for the intended scope and sequence and hence there are dependencies between units. Lessons and units often rely on concepts and skills that were in units that preceded them in the intended scope and sequence. In addition, care was taken to align the content in each unit to the math and English Language Arts content a student should know at specific grade levels. OpenSciEd has committed to identifying these dependencies for each unit, as much as reasonably possible, so that teachers and institutions can make informed choices when they customize OpenSciEd for their contexts
Because we are listening to states, districts, schools, and teachers who are asking for materials, regardless of grain size, that fully embrace three-dimensional science instruction. We believe that utilizing the OpenSciEd units in the context of the existing curriculum will better support teachers and students in transitioning to this new way of teaching and learning science.