VSI Science and Engineering Academy


The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) call for engaging students in science and engineering practices to help students learn core ideas and crosscutting concepts. In order to meet the depth of understanding required by the NGSS, teachers will need to structure learning opportunities for students to make their thinking public, reason about complex ideas, and engage in modeling in order to develop arguments and evidence based explanations. Additionally, teachers will need to use engineering opportunities to help students apply their science understanding to real world problems. But how can we support students to learn in this way?

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

Audience:   Teams of teachers of science in grades K-10

Dates: Summer institute:  August 6-11, 2017.   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, model based reasoning, 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, 4 graduate credits, meals, and optional lodging.


  • Summer Institute, August 6-11.  Lyndon State College, 8:30-4:00 and three required evening sessions.
  • 3 follow-up days during the school year
  • Targeted Science Content through completion of 3 SciObjects 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:  2017-2018 content will be physical science and will address the questions:  What is matter and what is its role in the world? and How can we use our understanding of matter to explain forces and motion in the world around us? The summer institute will begin with an engineering challenge and an anchoring phenomena. After developing some intial explanations, we will explore several phenomena to build the conceptual understanding needed to more fully explain the anchoring phenomena and achieve a design to solve the engineering problem.  

Cost:  $1240

Program Description:  This year long program, targeted for teachers in grades K-10, will begin with a summer institute that will focus on model based reasoining 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. 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 model based reasoning, 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 SciObjects.  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 science content TBD and engineering content, Science and Engineering Academy teachers, as adult learners, will come to understand fundamental science concepts related to the big ideas science 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 life science and place-based environment 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 (SciObjects) related to life 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