VSI Science and Engineering Academy


The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) call for engaging students in the science and engineering practices in order to learn the core ideas and crosscutting concepts.  New to these standards is the inclusion of engineering which provides a great opportunity for students to apply their understanding of science concepts to real world problems.   But what is engineering?  How is it related to science? And what does it look like in the classroom? 

The VSI Science and Engineering Academy will focus on the knowledge and strategies teachers need to help students engage in science and engineering explorations as well as provide support as they implement their understanding to the classroom. 

Audience:   Teams of teachers of science in grades K-8

Dates: Summer institute:  August 3-8.   Sunday 4:00-7:00 PM, Monday and Tuesday 8:30-4:00 and 6:00-8:00 PM, Wednesday-Friday 8:30-4:00, plus 3 Follow up dates during the school year TBD.      

Location:  Lyndon State College

Format:  Science/Engineering/Pedagogy Institute integrating science, engineering, inquiry, formative assessment, and relevant technology.  An engineer, science professor and pedagogy specialist will work together to design and deliver the content and learning opportunities.

Stipend: $700 Stipend, NSTA Learning Center Subscription, meals, and optional lodging.


  • 5 days in the summer, August 3-8.  Lyndon State College, 8:30-4:00 and three required evening sessions.
  • 3 follow-up days during the school year
  • Targeted Science Content through participation in NSTA’s SciPacks, self-directed online modules (10-16 hours). These learning experiences focus on a set of key content ideas and allow teachers to target and choose the content they need.   For more information, please go to: NSTA Learning Center  **
  • Site-specific PLC work***. 3 professional learning community meetings will provide both the time and the collegial support to complete the requirements of the program. The PLCs will allow teams to examine key practices to enhance student learning, reflect on student progress, and plan next steps for instruction.
  • Participation in evaluation of the VSI program including but not limited to: teacher and student pre/post tests, surveys, and interviews.

Content:  In 2014-2015, the content focus will be energy centered on the essential questions of “What is energy?” and “How                     is energy transferred and conserved?”   These concepts will also be examined from an engineering perspective and the                 engineering design process will be used to solve problems related to energy.  NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs) that       form the focus of this summer institute include, but are not limited to PS3 – Energy; ESS2 – Earth’s Systems;  PS1 –       Matter and Its Interactions.  This energy content focus will apply to DCIs that exist at each grade level K-8.

Cost:  $1240

Program Description:  This year long program, targeted for teachers in grades K-8, will begin with a summer institute that will use a problem-based approach with a focus on environmental science and engineering.  During the summer institute, teachers will engage as adult learners with the relevant science content and practices as well as use the engineering design process to solve the problems related to energy. Teachers will build from this experience and develop a related engineering design task and science unit to support it for implementation in their own classroom. Working closely with the Engineering Professor, Science Professors, and Pedagogy Specialists teachers will receive the content support, time, and materials needed to develop the investigations and design tasks.  Best practices in instruction will be taught and modeled throughout the experience including questioning, writing, discourse, and opportunities to make meaning. Ongoing year-long support will be provided through site specific PLC. Additional targeted content will be provided through NSTA SciPacks and a free subscription to the NSTA Learning Center.  Teachers will present and share their units and tasks at the final follow up session and via the VT DOE site, VE2.

*Summer Institute and 3 follow-up dates:  Using a focus on engergy and engineering content, Science and Engineering Academy teachers, as adult learners, will come to understand fundamental science concepts related to the big ideas of energy and how these understandings are acquired through the practice of science. The content will center around conceptual ‘big ideas’ identified in part by the research on misconceptions, and there will be a priority on integrating math in meaningful ways. Teachers will engage in energy related engineering problems and explore the related science needed to solve the problem. These exercises allow for differentiation and scaffolding and will set the stage for content knowledge acquisition, use of technology, data collection, and data analysis, all of which will be components of the solutions they generate.


**Additional content support will be addressed in 2 ways: (1) Via targeted, individualized support the teachers receive as they design their unit and engineering task.  (2) Via NSTA’s Learning Center, teachers will gain additional science content and learn of pedagogical implications for student learning by participating in self-directed online learning experiences (SciPacks) related to environmental science concepts. (3) Access to the professors for ongoing support.  During the institute, teachers will be able to ask the institute’s science professors in person for clarification, receive feedback on their assignments, and learn about links to helpful resources. Following the eight-day residential portion of the program, this support will extend across the school year with online discussion forums and follow up meetings.


***Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and continued support for science teacher leaders. VSI staff will work with current VSI and district science teacher leaders to establish and co-facilitate on-site Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in the team’s school or district. These PLCs will meet three times during the school year to provide sustained support to the teams beyond the institute and follow-up meetings as the new
learning is implemented in classrooms. Research shows that meeting with teachers and providing a regular space, time, and a protocol for reflection on practice will grow expertise to improve student performance (ETS 2001).

Click here for more program information

Click here for application guidelines