K–8 standards–based science kits and resources to create a lifelong interest in STEM.
About the STEM Materials Center
To generate excitement about STEM, it is essential to provide students with real-world, relevant learning opportunities to explore phenomenon and design solutions to problems. The STEM Materials Center provides science kits and professional development on how to use them effectively in the classroom for 27 school districts and over 2,000 teachers within the Southwest Washington region. With over 45,000 students utilizing these programs, we facilitate 4,500 science kits, as well as science and math education literature to participating schools each year.
What are Science Kits?
Elementary and middle schools served by the materials center receive “science kits” that are developed by nationally recognized leaders in science materials development which include the Lawrence Hall of Science / University of California, Berkeley and the Smithsonian Institutions amongst them. These science kits use research on how students learn best to provide a coherent set of inquiry-based investigations leading to development of core science principles and concepts. Having the science materials and teacher’s guide come in a kit make hands-on science teaching more manageable and doable for a lot of teachers. Teachers and students can now look forward to learning science together instead of reading about science. These science kits stimulate interest in science and lead to enduring science learning experiences and understanding of the natural world.
Professional development is offered to teachers in August of every year to give them experience with the core ideas, practices and crosscutting concepts of the Next Generation Science Standards in each kit, as well as experience with managing the materials. During the ESD112 STEM_tastic Summer Science Symposium, teachers receive instructional strategies that give them confidence to teach each kit at their grade level, as well as the option of choosing from multiple strands to customize their professional learning experience. The STEM Materials Center conducts an average of 150 workshops/year for about 1,500 teachers served by the center.
The STEM Materials Center delivers hands-on science kits and resources efficiently, punctually and in good condition to every classroom participating in the Partnership for Elementary Science Education of Southwest Washington. Our goal is to make science more meaningful, stimulating and interesting by providing teachers with the tools to put the process of scientific inquiry back into learning.
Science Kit Services, Schedule & Delivery
Science Kit Services
The SMC provides science kits to grades K through 8, focusing primarily on K through 6. Each grade level receives three kits per year to cover three basic science strands: physical, earth and life. Supplemental kits are available for further study of these and other disciplines, such as astronomy, the environment and technology. The SMC kits come from a variety of sources including national publishers (i.e. FOSS< STC< BBS) as well as locally developed open educational resources.
Science Kit Schedule
Science kits are distributed on a schedule so that every class in a given school is studying the same strand of science at the same time. Ideally, science kits are used three times each school year, thus maximizing utilization of investments in kits.
The kit rotation schedule is designed so that a kit spends a minimum of 9-10 weeks in classrooms and 14 working days in the SMC for replenishment. The kit replenishment schedule is staggered so that transportation and replenishment of kits do not cause production bottlenecks.
Science kit distribution and pickup for school buildings is facilitated by the SMC. Science kits are staged (prepared for delivery) by school district, school building, science strand (physical, earth, and life) and kit title. Kits are delivered / picked up by a contract carrier to each individual building. Science kits weight from 20 to 40 pounds each. The SMC has over 1,600 science kits in stock.
Science Kit Rotation Schedules
Life Science Critters
Many of the science kits in the Life Science strand suggest using critters to engage students in active inquiry. Serena Decator, our critter lady, raises many of the critters we provide for your classrooms such as Mealworms, Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches and Walking Sticks. If you are interested in using these organisms, please contact Serena directly.
Alternatively, teachers can have their students collect insects and other critters from the local environment. To do so, please carefully read this statement on Responsible Use of Live Animals in the Classroom.
CRITTERS MUST NOT BE RELEASED INTO THE WILD!
You may use the courier service to return your critters to Serena Decator at the ESD 112 Science Center when you are finished, just package them up in their original containers and mark them for ESD 112 Science Center (please do not return the critters inside the kits). Teachers wishing to keep the critters in their classroom may, but will need to provide their own habitat.
Science Kit FAQ
Q: When do science kits come to my room?
Find your school district and building delivery schedule. In general:
|Kits arrive at School||Kits return to STEM Materials Center|
|Early September – at the beginning of the school year||Early December|
|Early January – just after Winter Break||Mid March|
|Mid-April – just after Spring Break||Mid June – after school is out|
Q: What if kit parts get broken?
There is a bag for broken/worn/damaged parts. If a part comes broken contact us for a replacement.
Q: Do I really have to inventory all the parts in each kit?
Yes. Student or parent helpers can make this task easier. The STEM Materials Centerstaff inventory every kit before the next rotation which means checking close to half a million parts in a three week period. The more organized you and other teachers return kits the more likely you receive a complete and organized kit in the next rotation.
Q: When is professional development for science?
Each August, the ESD hosts the STEM-tastic Summer Science Symposium, which allows teachers to get all their science training in 3 days. Other professional development is available throughout the year, at the request of the district.
NGSS Support Guides by Grade Level
Staff Contact Information
Please don’t hesitate to ask for assistance!
STEM Materials Center News
Includes the latest on kit updates to contact information:
Easily access our high-quality instructional materials to support implementation of the NGSS standards. Open source units are available for use in your classroom!