Partnership for Science & Engineering Practices

The Partnership for Science and Engineering Practices is supported by a Math and Science Partnership award from Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction partnering Seattle Public Schools, the Renton School District, University of Washington’s Colleges of Engineering and Education, and the Institute for Systems Biology. This webpage will periodically be updated – please check back.


Project Overview

In partnership with the University of Washington Colleges of Engineering and Education and the Institute for Systems Biology, approximately 70 elementary and middle school teachers from Seattle Public Schools and the Renton School District will enhance their science and engineering content and pedagogical content knowledge as related to the Science and Engineering Practices of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Each of the three years of the project, teacher participants will engage in a 10 day professional development cycle comprised of 7 summer workshop days and 3 school year release days.  Throughout each cycle, teacher participants will explore the NGSS Practices of Engaging in Argument from Evidence, Constructing Explanations, and Designing Solutions to Problems.  Working in collaborative teams supported by experts in science education and STEM professionals, the teacher participants will adapt their existing science instructional materials to align with the NGSS Practices.  Each of the 3 years of the project will focus on a different science domain (Physical, Earth, and Life).  The tools developed to guide teacher participants to adapt their instructional materials, as well as the specific adaptations will be made available by way of the project website, and other appropriate methods of dissemination.


Project Goal

Increase teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge for:

  1. The NGSS Scientific and Engineering Practice of Engaging in Arguments from Evidence
  2. The NGSS Scientific Practice of Constructing Explanations and the Engineering Practice of Designing Solutions
  3. NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas for Engineering
    • Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
    • Developing Possible Solutions
    • Optimizing the Design Solution


Project Strategy

Teacher professional development will take place over the course of a calendar year.  At the beginning of each summer, project participants will convene for a 1-day Annual Project Launch.  Later in the summer project participants will convene for a 5-day Institute during which time they will work with STEM professionals to develop enhancements for specific sets of science instructional materials.  During the school year, project participants will pilot their instructional materials enhancements as well as meet with project colleagues during 3 Release Days.  At the end of the school year, project participants will join the subsequent 1-day Annual Project Launch to reflect on progress to date, setting the sate for the next year’s scope of work.



Year 1 Focus (2013 -2014 School Year)


Renton School District

All middle school science teachers (25 total)

Representing the district's 3 comprehensive middle schools

Seattle Public Schools

45 Elementary teachers

Representing 25 of the district’s elementary schools

Science Instructional Materials

3rd grade: Sound

4th grade: Circuits & Pathways

5th grade: Land & Water

6th grade: Levers & Pulleys

7th grade: Force & Motion

8th grade: Populations & Ecosystems


Partnering Institutions

Seattle Public Schools logo.png

Seattle Public Schools




Renton School District




UW College of Engineering


UW College of Education



Institute for Systems Biology


Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction


Contact Information


Kirk Robbins

Lead Project Facilitator

Independent Science Education


Laurie Collins

Project External Evaluator

President, Center for Research
and Learning



Dan Gallagher

Project Director, Seattle Public School Liaison

Science Program Manager, Seattle Public Schools


Ethan Smith

Math and Science Program
Coordinator, Renton School District


James Riley

Professor of Engineering,
University of Washington


Phillip Bell

Professor of Science and Math Education, University of Washington


Dana Riley Black

Director, Institute for Systems Biology, Center for Inquiry Science