Cases Projects and Examples

“I touch the future.  I teach.” 
Those words spoken by teacher-astronaut Christa McAuliffe ring true to the many thousands of people who call teaching their profession. 

Preparing elementary teachers to be as excited about teaching science as Christa McAuliffe was about exploring the frontiers of space was one key goal of the CSU K-6 NGSS Science Project. The second primary goal was to equip future elementary teachers with the science content they need to be effective in science instruction. The third central goal was to enable CSU campuses to align elementary science teacher preparation with the National Research Council K-12 Science Education Framework and the Next Generation Science Standards.

Model Projects Selected and Launched

Seven CSU campuses received support to develop models of undergraduate course reforms for preparing future elementary teachers in science that conform to the Next Generation Science Standards. The models were shared with faculty across the CSU system. The model programs are:

  • CSU Bakersfield (.pdf): The project revised the upper division capstone science content course and the multiple subject science methods and assessment course, aligning content and pedagogy instruction and add an after-school practicum for future elementary and middle school teachers. The course revisions focused on incorporating inquiry-based scientific and engineering practices in both the content and methods courses. Teacher candidates developed lesson and lab activities addressing the NGSS and redesign them. In developing and refining the lesson and lab activities, the future teachers used engineering processes as a systematic iterative approach to design and redesign in order to test and revise their work. 

    For additional information regarding the science courses, contact Carl Kloock, Associate Professor of Biology, at and regarding the STEM Practicum course, contact Kathleen Knutzen, Dean of Social Sciences and Education, at
  • CSU Chico (.pdf): This project revised labs in three science courses for future K-6 teachers: Concepts in Physical Science, Concepts in Life Science and Concepts in Earth and Space Science. The goal of the revision was to better address crosscutting concepts in the K-12 Science Education Framework and present future K-8 teachers with a deeper understanding of energy, while also building capacity among our faculty. The six faculty involved in the project participated in a lesson study, in which they visited one another’s courses to observe, critique and refine revisions. Outcomes included revised labs that present energy as a truly crosscutting concept in the sciences, a better integration between courses for future teachers, and an increased understanding among faculty of the complete sequence of courses for Liberal Studies students. 

    For additional information, contact, Leslie Atkins, Associate Professor of Science Education and Physics, at or Julie Monet, Associate Professor of Science Education, at
  • CSU Fresno (.pdf):  This project developed a new 12-semester-unit STEM Concentration Area in Liberal Studies. A cross-disciplinary team collaborated to revise three existing upper-division science courses, developed a new engineering course, and provided professional development workshops for course instructors. The new Liberal Studies Concentration consists of the following four courses: Environmental, Earth, and Life Science; Physics Pedagogy and Outreach; Energy, Technology, and Society; and Exploring Engineering. The project incorporated early clinical fieldwork, including innovative experiences that increase interest and enthusiasm for science teaching and learning. The professional development workshops provided faculty in the STEM Concentration courses with an understanding of the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards, specifically their attention to scientific and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and the integration of science and engineering 

    For more information, contact Fred Nelson, Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, at or Carol Fry Bohlin, Professor of Mathematics of Education and Director of Mathematical and Science Teacher Initiative (MSTI), at
  • CSU Fullerton (.pdf)  : This project introduced a collaboration with the innovative Introduction to Engineering course for non majors offered in the College of Engineering and Computer Science and three inquiry oriented courses for future K-6 teachers: Biology, Earth/Astronomical Science, and Physical Science for Future Elementary Teachers. The courses were taught in a laboratory setting and focused on structured and collaborative group work rather than lecture. The proposed project targeted two aspects of the Next Generation Science Standards that are not part of the present courses: cross-disciplinary work and an emphasis on engineering. Cross-discipline collaborative projects were introduced into the lower division science and engineering courses to encourage collaboration among the students and cross-cutting concepts in these courses. Faculty who teach the lower division science courses and who teach the undergraduate Introduction to Engineering drew upon the successes of each course to better link science and engineering content.  

    For additional information, contact Joel K. Abraham, Assistant Professor of Biology, at or Michael Loverude, Professor of Physics and Director of the CATALYST Center, at
  • CSU Sacramento (.pdf):   The project revised the four science courses in which future elementary teaches enroll (biology, chemistry, geology, and physics) addressing both the NGSS and the CCSS-M. The revisions in each course focused on adding engineering practices, incorporating crosscutting concepts, and core disciplinary ideas from the NGSS. Special attention was given to the CCSS-M mathematical practices related to representing and interpreting data and modeling with mathematics. In addition, a new 3-unit practicum course was developed for future elementary teachers and offered concurrently with upper division capstone courses. The candidates conducted inquiry-based science and engineering activities in after school settings identified by the California STEM Learning Network Power of Discovery: STEM ² initiative.

    For additional information, contact Deidre Sessoms, Professor of Education, or Jeff Paradis, Professor of Chemistry,
  • San Diego State (.pdf): This project modified the existing science content courses taken by future elementary teachers, including the nationally recognized Physics and Everyday Thinking, to align with the Framework and the NGSS. In addition, the project developed kit-based activities and accompanying reflection activities that candidates completed at home and used with their own students. The science kits included simple materials that teachers can purchase inexpensively. Planned kit topics included electric circuits, minerals, diffusion, and density. Each kit included a set of associated reflection questions that enabled teachers to focus on what and how they themselves and their students learn, and on specific connections to the NGSS. The kits and associated reflection activities were modularized for ease use at SDSU and on other campuses.

    For additional information, contact Fred Goldberg, Professor of Physics, at or Donna Ross, Associate Professor of Science Education, at
  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (.pdf): The project created engineering modules and related NGSS course reforms that were utilized in preparing pre-service candidates and, in turn, their future students. The modules were included within six courses covering the lower division General Education sequence and two upper division capstones. The upper division courses included fieldwork in elementary classrooms and after-school programs and a practicum in the Cal Poly Learn by Doing Lab in which future teachers worked with K-8 students in inquiry-based science and engineering activities and engaged them in the process of engineering design.  Cal Poly collaborated with its local community colleges, Allan Hancock and Cuesta College, to facilitate the inclusion of the engineering modules and course reforms into their equivalent coursework.

    For additional information, contact Anne Marie Bergen, Professor of biology at or John Keller, Director of the Cal Poly Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME), at


High Hopes - Few Opportunities: The Status of Elementary Science Education in California (.pdf), The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning

The Preparation of Elementary School Teachers to Teach Science in California (.pdf), California Council on Science and Technology

A Priority for California's Future: Science for Students (.pdf), The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning

Common Core State Standards, California Department of Education.


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The Keys to Success in K-6 NGSS Implementation:

Well-Prepared Teachers, Excellent Programs

California and national experts held a webinar on developing teachers for NGSS success on November 14, 2014 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. It focused on two excellent NGSS-aligned active and engaging programs - Engineering is Elementary (EiE) and NextGenPET.

Archive: Keys to Success in K-6 NGSS Webinar

The major presentations for the Keys to Success in K-6 NGSS Implementation webinar are below:

Overview of NGSS Webinar (Nov. 14)

The CSU Undergraduate Science Education Community is led by a Faculty Work Group

Members of the Work Group are:

Engaging Practicum Experiences with Children

The project is designed to encourage engaging practicum experiences for future elementary teachers while they are at CSU that enable them to work directly with K-12 students in scientific investigation and discovery. An example is the CSU Chico Science Model Academy for Reflective Teaching (SMART) Lab. Classrooms from this Hands-on-Laboratory, and future elementary teachers work with them in the process of doing science. The factors that make the Chico Lab highly successful are described in this video