2022 Smithsonian K-12 Science Education Action Planning Institute

2022 Smithsonian K-12 Science Education Action Planning Institute

Join the Smithsonian Science Education Center for our third annual Action Planning Institute! 
The Smithsonian K-12 Science Education Action Planning Institute will be held online July 25-27, 2022. This institute will bring together subject matter experts, formal and non-formal educators, school administrators, and educational researchers to dive deeply into three timely, important topics facing STEM education: 

  • What does innovation look like in K-12 STEM education in 2022? 
  • How do we meet the needs of our students and educators by elevating diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion (DEAI) in STEM education? 
  • How can STEM Education for Sustainable Development (STEM4SD) prepare our students for a changing planet?  

The Smithsonian Science Education Center will convene experts in each of these areas to explore actionable approaches, backed by research and best practices in science, engineering, and education. Through this institute, participants will engage with the Smithsonian’s action planning process, and build out a plan to take action in their own context on one or all of these topics.  
To register, click here.



To register for the 2022 institute, please click here. Due to the generous support of our sponsors, registration for this institute is free! 

Institute Agenda At-A-Glance

2022 API Agenda

Session Descriptions - Monday, July 25, 2022

Opening Session  (10:00-10:50AM )

Welcome to the Smithsonian K-12 Science Education Action Planning Institute! We affectionately call the institute “API.” In this session, participants will be welcomed to the institute, gain an understanding of the goals of the institute, and determine how they will plan to participate in the 3-day program.  

A Deep Dive into Action Planning (11:00AM-12:30PM  - 90-minute session)  

During this session, attendees will work together to define a collective vision for the future of STEM education globally and in their respective contexts. Through this discussion we’ll kick off the action planning process both independently and in groups to tease out the themes of greatest interest and inform attendees’ action plans and participation in the remainder of the institute. 

Data Equity and Decision-Making: How can data be used to make equitable changes in your educational community? (1:00-1:50 PM)

Join Danielle Boyce, Executive Director of The Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins, and the SSEC as we unpack the pivotal role data plays in creating change in your community. Whether you’re seeking funding, starting a new initiative, or trying to better understand a problem in your community, this session will be an opportunity for participants to think through their current organizational data, ask questions about it, and begin to use it to form ideas about the problem of practice they want to resolve.   

Integrating Futures-Thinking into Student Experiences (2:00-2:50 PM)

How can you help students understand the consequences of their actions? How can you teach them to critically think about implementing the changes in the world they want to see? These questions point to the importance that thinking about the future has in education. Join us for a session which will explore what it means to be a futurist and how to develop futures-thinking in students, no matter how much time you have with them.  

Strategies to engage youth in inclusive and justice-oriented action on global issues (3:00-3:50PM)

We will focus on how the Sustainable Communities!, Biodiversity!, and Environmental Justice! community research guides are aligned with the Smithsonian's commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion. This interactive session will showcase features of the guide aligned to DEAI, such as globally diverse research mentors, identity maps, inclusive language and investigations, multiple ways of knowing, Indigenous perspectives, and using a justice lens in decision-making. 

Phenomenon/Problem-driven learning (4:00-4:50PM)

Natural phenomena are observable events that have causes, occur in the universe, and that we can use our science knowledge to explain or predict. In phenomenon-driven learning the work students do is driven by explaining the phenomenon. By centering science education on phenomena that students will be motivated to explain and problems that students will be motivated to solve, the focus shifts from learning “about” to “figuring out”. This session will engage participants in this type of teaching and learning so that they can implement it in their home school, district or state. 


Session Descriptions - Tuesday, July 26, 2022

User-Centered Approaches to Designing Solutions (9:00-9:50 AM)

This session supports participants to think differently about the needs of students, educators and education systems through the lens of design. The presenters will identify: what user-centered design is, their own experiences in incorporating user-centered design approaches, and the process of making their own organization more human-centered. The session frames the challenges that students and educators face as an opportunity to integrate design, and to make the process participatory by no longer designing for students but instead designing with them.   

Understanding Potential Barriers to Diversity in STEM (10:00-10:50 AM)

Cary Funk, director of science and society research at Pew Research Center, will share insights from a nationally representative survey and a set of focus groups that offer an in-depth look at what Black and Hispanic Americans see as helping increase representation in STEM training programs, the influence of high school teachers as role models and recollections of STEM educational experiences. Discuss with fellow professionals how to apply this data to your action plan and remove some of the barriers to diversity in STEM.  Dr. Jennie Ward-Robinson, CEO of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine and former Co-Director at the Center for Studies on Africa and its Diaspora at Georgia State University, will serve as the discussant.

Sharing Stories of Women in STEM Professions (11:00AM – 12:30PM - 90 Minute Session)

This session will bring together women working in STEM professions to explore their STEM stories. Together they will discuss their challenges and successes in their education and careers, and explore how to inspire future generations of women in STEM.  

Strategies to Develop Culturally Meaningful STEM Lessons (1:00-1:50PM)

It’s no secret that learning is not limited to what happens in an educational setting and students bring prior knowledge, acquired from their homes and communities, when they enter a learning environment. In this session, participants will learn about culturally relevant, responsive, and sustaining practices as promising approaches that captivate student interests and allow students to identify with their learning. Then they will observe the different strategies educators use to access students’ funds of knowledge as inspiration to create a plan to support students in making relevant and meaningful connections to learning in their own STEM classrooms/planned activities. 

Hybrid AND Hands-On? Blending Strategies for STEM Instruction (2:00-2:50PM)

This session will reexamine blended and hybrid learning strategies and their innovations since the COVID-19 pandemic. Take a deep dive with a case study from “Smithsonian Science for North and South Carolina Classrooms”, a U.S. Department of Education-funded grant program. Although “new normal” may mean back to normal for some, this session will explore the strengths and opportunities of blended and hybrid learning that can be applied to more traditional educational settings. 

Exploring How the Smithsonian is Defining the “A” in “STEAM”: Making STEM Accessible to All  (3:00-3:50 PM) and Showcasing the “A” in STEAM: Smithsonian Resources Making STEM Education Accessible to All (4:00-4:50 PM)

 The past decade of focus on STEM education has promised opportunities and careers for all students, but in reality, incredible inequities still exist in STEM education and STEM careers. The Smithsonian is taking a new approach to reaching students through STEAM education, where the “A” indicates “Access.” By engaging students through the history, art, and culture of the Smithsonian, they engage with new entry points to STEM education and STEM careers. The first half of this two-part session will be an overview of the approach that Smithsonian is taking, while the second half will be the opportunity to engage with resources from several different Smithsonian museums, research facilities, and education and outreach organizations. 


Session Descriptions - Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Sustainability Mindsets: What They Are, Why They Matter, and How They can be Integrated in the Classroom (9:00-9:50AM)

This session introduces participants to the SSEC sustainability mindsets, which help build capacity for students to take action for transformative futures. After seeing how sustainability mindsets connect to current objectives in their classroom, participants will explore the mindsets from various perspectives and learn how to integrate them into an action plan/classroom activities. 

Putting the Pieces Together: Finalizing your Action Plan (10:00-10:50AM)

During this session, participants will reflect on their learning and how it has informed their draft action plan to date. With a vision and goal in place, we’ll spend time articulating indicators of success to strengthen attendees’ plans. 

Smithsonian National Education Summit Keynote Presentation (11:00AM)

More information available soon

How Can STEM Educators Support Students in Learning About Climate Change? (1:00-1:50AM)

This session examines the role of the STEM teacher in climate change education from research, practitioner, and student perspectives. Hear from students engaged in climate-change work about what they need from their STEM teachers for support, and use them as your guides in implementing evidence-driven approaches and expert-designed climate change resources into your action plan. 

Action Planning Office Hours (2:00-2:50PM)

Join the Smithsonian Science Education Center staff for one-on-one support to finalize your action plan. This is the place to ask all your burning questions, and gain additional feedback from a great resource team! 

Closing Session and Sharing Action Plans (3:00-4:30PM - 90 Minute Session) 

Thank you for attending the Smithsonian K-12 Science Education Action Planning Institute! This closing session provides participants with the opportunity to share their Action Plans, and to learn from others’ action plans. Let’s take a moment to reflect on (and celebrate!) all the great work we have done, and consider what next steps we each might take.  



Professional Development Credits

Participants of the institute will be eligible for up to 15 Professional Development credit hours based on the sessions of the institute that they attend and record, and upon successful completion of an Action Plan. 

Thank you to our Sponsors!

Thank you Johnson & Johnson for sponsoring the 2022 Smithsonian K-12 Science Education Action Planning Institute