Thursday, July 29, 2021
For Immediate Release

Wade Institute for Science Education
Teams up with MA DESE
for the ACESSE Project’s
2021 STEM Teaching Tools Unconference 

Quincy, MA – The Wade Institute for Science Education is a nonprofit that promotes and enables hands-on, minds-on, inquiry-based STEM education and is now working alongside national educational leaders to collaboratively develop STEM Teaching Tools, open-source guidance and resources for PK-12 science educators. From July 19th – 22nd, Executive Director Sandra Ryack-Bell and Education Specialist Kathy Renfrew joined the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as part of the state’s team of representatives at the Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education (ACESSE) Project’s 2021 STEM Teaching Tools Unconference. They heard from many voices in the educational community and identified how the Wade Institute for Science Education can more effectively support Massachusetts educators in planning culturally aware lessons and delivering high quality science instruction to all elementary students.

ACESSE is a deep collaboration between the Council of State Science Supervisors (CSSS or CS³), the University of Washington, and the University of Colorado Boulder that brings together partners in education to promote equity and coherence in science education. Their unstructured conference, or Unconference, was a virtual gathering of United States education leaders in research and practice. Institutions of higher education, educational researchers, state education departments, K-12 teachers, teaching coaches, and professional learning providers discussed how to reshape issues in science education, with emphasis on the middle level grades. Topics were centered around the theme of overcoming challenges caused by competing values, such as upholding learning outcomes through disruptions, ethics and bias in data, leveraging student voices, building equity in the early grades, and modeling cultural literacy. 

The Unconference was largely focused on STEM Teaching Tool #71: How Can You Advance Equity and Justice Through Science Teaching? Attendees’ learned about current research in science education and offered their expertise to collaboratively develop resources for K-12 educators, some of which will be accessible online for free. The Wade Institute’s Executive Director Sandra Ryack-Bell contributed to a professional learning module that promotes cultural literacy in science. Once it is completed, this module may become a tool for professional development across the country. Education Specialist Kathy Renfrew helped to outline an advocacy plan for promoting equity in elementary science education. The resulting resource will broaden the scope of existing STEM Teaching Tools by incorporating ideas of how to convince school administration and other authorities of the importance of engaging early elementary grades students in science learning.

Over four days, leaders in education research and practice put their heads together to address challenges that educators must overcome to effectively promote equity in their classrooms and school communities. Outcomes of the event, which was sponsored by the ACESSE Project with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Science Foundation, may appear on the STEM Teaching Tools website. Learn more about ACESSE at


The Wade Institute for Science Education specializes in providing inquiry-based, hands-on, minds-on, science, technology and engineering professional development for K-12 teachers and informal educators.  For more information, visit or call 617-328-1515.

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