Science Education - Resources

K-12 Teaching Resources

Trash for Teaching (Los Angeles): Provide donated and recycled materials for teachers to use for engineering projects. In one example project, students used recycled materials to design their own Mars Rover, and were asked to explain why their design would be appropriate for the Martian surface.

Edutopia: Foundation that showcases teaching strategies based on the latest educational research. You can create your own profile and bookmark resources you like.

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD): "The association provides expert and innovative solutions in professional development, capacity building, and educational leadership essential to the way educators learn, teach, and lead."

Science Education Resource Center (Carleton): Exhaustive list of teaching strategies, materials, and assessments for instructors at any and all levels.

CK12: Provides interactive modules and aids in the creation of e-textbooks for a variety of STEM fields.

General Teaching Resources

Think-Pair-Share Questions

Think Pair Share (TPS) questions can be any multiple choice question posed to the entire class. In general, the format of a TPS question is the following:

  1. Pose the question and ask students to think about their answers individually.
  2. Students vote on their answer using clickers, or an equivalent anonymous voting system.
  3. Students are asked to "convince" the person next to them that their answer is correct.
  4. Students are asked to vote individually again (it's OK if their answers have changed).
  5. If most students now have the correct answer, move on. If not, ask if you can clarify the question.

Ranking Tasks

These short worksheets allow students to exhibit conceptual understanding of a particular subject by applying "rules" to a set of information and/or data. The students may work independently or in groups. The important step is for students to justify their work, so that the instructor can be sure that the students are applying a true understanding of the material to the problem at hand. Read more about ranking tasks by clicking here.

Library of Model-Eliciting Activities (MEAs)

Model Eliciting Activities (MEAs) are problem-solving activities for small groups that are designed to reveal the students' thought process to the instructor. They also serve to reveal misconceptions in the students' understanding of the material, and to train students to approach problems like a real scientist would. Read more about MEAs by clicking here.

Context-rich problems:

Context-rich problems are short realistic scenarios giving the students a plausible motivation for solving the problem. The problem is a short story (beginning with "you") in which the major character is the student. Context-rich problems are more complex than traditional problems, reflecting the real world, and may include excess information, or require the student to recall important background information. (from

Anonymous Voting Systems

During a lecture, you may wish to collect data from the students by posing a multiple choice question. If you want their answers to be anonymous, you may want to use one of the following:

  1. Clickers: These come at a cost to the students, but have the advantage of being completely anonymous, and give the instructor instant digital feedback. The results of the quiz/question can then be displayed to the entire class. They can also be used to help the instructor take attendance digitally. Clickers can be borrowed (at a cost) from the Office of Instructional Development (OID; UCLA) or from the Center for Education Innovation in the Life Sciences (CEILS; UCLA)
  2. Plickers: These are similar to clickers, except that they allow the students to use printed response cards as clickers, saving them (and the instructor) money. The instructor uses a cell phone app to read the response cards, thus returning digital data to the instructor in real-time.
  3. A-B-C-D voting cards: Instead of using expensive clickers, distribute color-coded A-B-C-D voting cards to the students. You distribute them in paper form (and have the students fold them appropriately) or laminate them as separate cards and have the students hold on to them for the duration of the course. The downside is that the students can see each others' answers if they wish. Also, the instructor can evaluate the responses visually, but does not receive any data digitally.

Lecture Support

Most people use PowerPoint or KeyNote to write slides for their classes, but you might consider using one of the following:

  1. Nearpod: You can edit slides similarly to PowerPoint, but with this app, the instructor's computer is synced to the students' devices (students can use computers, tablets, or smartphones). The instructor therefore controls the pacing of the presentation. The benefit of this app is that it includes an interactive quizzing capability build in to the presentation.
  2. VoiceThread: Create slides with audio clips integrated into the lecture. Once the lecture is made available to the students online, they can add their own audio comments/questions to the lecture.
  3. iBook Authors: This is a Mac app (available for free from the App Store) which allows instructors to use beautiful book-like templates to create content for their students. It helps you display and organize your class notes into a book-like format that will be easier for students to read.

Evaluating Your Class

Evaluation is a crucial step in the teaching process, yet most people don't think about it until the last day of class. Here are some ways that you can evaluate yourself (or invite evaluations from your peers or students):

  1. Peer Evaluation: This is a traditional evaluation form used by peer teachers (fellow TAs or faculty members). While this one was taken from UC Berkeley, it is similar to peer review forms at other institutions.
  2. COPUS (Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM): This is an observation protocol that would be used by a peer teacher in order to evaluate your teaching practices. The evaluation forms can be filled out on paper or online via the GORP app. The benefit of using COPUS is that the evaluator simply reports on the actions of the teacher and the students every 2 minutes in order to paint a picture of the class dynamic as a whole. There are no value judgements made in the process, so the instructor can evaluate whether they are meeting their own personal goals.
  3. Student Evaluation: Your university likely has an end-of-course student evaluation process in place, but you may wish to write your own to use at the end of the course or sometime during the quarter/semester. Some classes use "exit tickets" that require students to provide feedback after each class before departing. This can give instructors immediate feedback on individual teaching techniques, and gives them time to adapt their class as needed.
  4. Self Evaluation: Sometimes it might be necessary to evaluate your own class. This can help instructors make sure that they are meeting the goals that they set for themselves. These goals may be different from the things that traditional evaluation forms test for. The important thing in teaching is to be intentional; chose to use teaching techniques because you believe that they fit your teaching style and the needs of the class. Use "backward design" to start your lesson planning process by thinking about the end goals.