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IslandWood is partnering with teachers to help them find ways to make their science classes more meaningful and engaging for all of their students with phenomena and investigations based in their local community. Towards this end, IslandWood is providing teacher workshops and individualized school-based supports.

Teacher Professional Development

“A great introduction to what the NGSS mean & look like in actual practice, taught in a very active, interesting way that feels attainable and endurable.” – Elizabeth Smith-Gordon, Bryn Mawr Elementary

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)* call for students to use the practices, concepts, and content of science and engineering to understand and solve problems relevant to their lives. Emphasizing context from students’ home environments makes science applicable and increases engagement, while building the foundations to understand larger global issues like climate change.

Teacher Workshops
IslandWood is offering a four-workshop series in multiple locations around North and Central Puget Sound for teachers and informal educators who teach science to 2nd-8th graders. The series helps teachers bring the Next Generation Science Standards alive with local phenomena, schoolyard investigations and real-world problem solving towards student’s understanding climate science and developing solutions for local environmental problems. A total of 14 workshops are expected to serve more than 200 teachers.

Storylines Support in the Olympic ESD
IslandWood is supporting teachers participating in Olympic ESD’s Elementary Storylines Project. in using local phenomena and investigations as a part of their schoolyard garden storylines.

On-Site Support

“I walked away from the follow up session with so many ideas for community connections and curriculum connections that I could create a year-long unit of study that would address a large percentage of the NGSS, CCSS and 21st Century Skills. The best part is that since the follow-up session was conducted at my teaching site [it] gave me ways to engage my students in their immediate environment.” – Teri deCocq, Mukilteo School District

IslandWood staff are meeting up with teachers at their schools in the Olympic, southern Northwest and Puget Sound ESDs to support them in incorporating local phenomena, field experiences, and community assets into their curriculum. Supports are personalized to the needs of the teacher, but have included:

  • Exploring the schoolyard or community and discussing how it could fit into science curriculums.
  • Further developing work started in an IslandWood teacher workshop.
  • Adapting a field lesson to support a science unit and fit specific students and their schoolyard.
  • Assistance with delivery of a field-based lesson.

These sessions are often an extension of the work started in a workshop but also include other teachers who are interested. Serving teachers in their local place helps address equity issues for those who do not otherwise have nearby opportunities for teacher training.

Sign up for workshops and on-site support on IslandWood’s Website.

Upcoming Classes

10:00 am Community Science Workshop
Community Science Workshop
May 15 @ 10:00 am – 2:30 pm
Collaborate with IslandWood staff and other teachers to make climate science engaging and meaningful for your 6th-12th grade students. Our professional development opportunities are designed to support powerful learning experiences that connect to students’ lives.[...]

Partners & Collaborators

Pierce County Conservation District
King County Wastewater
Washington Stormwater Center
Seattle Audubon
Olympic ESD
Northwest ESD
Puget Sound ESD
Orcas Love Rain Gardens


Workshop 1: Science in the Schoolyard

Venture outside the walls of the classroom to find local environmental phenomena that can anchor your classroom science unit. Explore with us the big picture of Next Generation Science Standards’ “three dimensional” science learning and then get hands on with the Science and Engineering Practices as you use them to build an understanding of an example phenomenon in our “schoolyard.” You’ll leave this workshop with ideas and examples you can use in your own classroom science curriculum.

Workshop 2: Community Mapping with Crosscutting Concepts

Mapping neighborhood assets, opportunities, and problems can engage students more deeply in science and engineering. In this workshop you’ll learn how system models, looking for patterns, and observing change over time can help students investigate and map their community. Local ecosystems, water flow, and community assets are some of many possible areas for your mapping efforts. By the end of this workshop you’ll have strategies to use in mapping your community and ideas for how you can use the information gathered.

Workshop 3: Engineering in Community

How does engineering relate to solving problems in your community? Learn how IslandWood is using the engineering design process to help students investigate local stormwater problems, seek stakeholder input, and develop solutions. Explore what is involved in putting student ideas into action including possible real-world constraints, practical small-scale solutions potential partners, and mini-grant options. We’ll work together to figure out a plan for the topics and students you teach.

Workshop 4: Urban Water Systems

Would you like to learn more about how urban water systems actually work? Are you curious how water systems, the impacts of climate change, and related conservation issues can interest your students and integrate with NGSS? Join us to learn about wastewater and stormwater systems (may include tours of facilities, depending on the site) and then workshop how you might use this content in your classroom. Appropriate for all 4th-12th grade teachers.

Success Stories from IslandWood

ClimeTime cited in leading science journal

ClimeTime cited in leading science journal

The Washington state program ClimeTime, which is facilitated by the state’s nine Education Service Districts (ESDs) and community partners, was recently cited as a popular and effective model for educator education in climate science. The Journal of Science Policy and...

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Equitable At Home Science Learning!

Equitable At Home Science Learning!

On May 29, 2020, 31 teachers and five IslandWood educators wrapped up a virtual four-part course focused on science teaching and learning--from your own home! Using STEM Teaching Tools and an impressive collection of participant expertise, the group explored...

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Urban Waters Management at Pt. Defiance

Urban Waters Management at Pt. Defiance

On February 29th, educators gathered at the Environmental Learning Center right next to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, to explore the subject of Urban Water Systems. This beautiful building is home to high school students from SAMi (Science and Math Institute), and...

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