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Professional Development Workshops

for Grades 8-12 Science Teachers

blonde female teacher observes petri dish wearing lab coat, nitrile gloves and goggles. Male instructor stands in background and watches.

Sponsored by the College of Science and the Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech 

Earn professional development points with FREE workshops!

Workshops will focus on ways to integrate science and engineering practices into classroom activities and ways to encourage students to develop a deeper knowledge of science and problem solving. Several additional SOLs will be covered in each workshop.

Sign up for one or many of the workshops and we will provide resources and supplies to help you use what you’ve learned in your classrooms! 

Please note:

  • Limited money is available to reimburse teachers’ overnight lodging and travel.
  • Lunch and morning/afternoon snacks are provided each day.
  • All workshops will be held on the Virginia Tech Blacksburg campus.

Capacity is limited. Sessions for some workshops are currently filled. You will be added to a waitlist upon registration.

Cost: FREE (lunch, coffee, snacks included)


Monday, June 27, 2022

8:00am - 9:00 am Registration-coffee and snacks provided; We will  hand out parking permits at this time. Please allow time to go back to your car with the permit!

9:00am - 12:00 pm Morning sessions – pick one of two options

Morning Session A: 
Sense-making and identity in physics & physical sciences—workshop for physics and physical science teachers.

Do you want your students to see connections between physics and the real word? In this workshop, we'll discuss strategies (founded in physics education research) to help your students go beyond the skills of a novice learner, such as plug and chug, and engage in authentic and effective sense-making strategies. We'll then introduce the STEP UP program to help build your student's physics identity and encourage more women to pursue physics in college. 

Facilitators: Alma Robinson and Travis Merritt

Capacity: 30 teachers

Morning Session B: 
The physics and chemistry of drying-- for all science teachers.

In this interdisciplinary workshop, teachers will run both simulations and experiments demonstrating the drying process of various solutions. We will cover the scientific concept of evaporation and how drying can be used to make materials via self-assembly. The concepts that will be discussed include solutions, fluid flow, phase transitions, wetting, contact angles, surface tension, nonequilibrium processes, evaporative cooling, thermal motion, and soft matter science as a discipline concerning a wide range of materials and processes important to our everyday lives from kitchen to bathroom. 

Facilitator: Shengfeng Cheng, Assistant Professor

Capacity = 30 teachers
Sessions for this workshop are currently filled. You will be added to a waitlist upon registration.

12:00pm - 1:00 pm Lunch (included in workshop)

1:00pm - 4:00 pm Afternoon  session
Science Teaching for Understanding-- An interactive workshop for all science teachers.

We will discuss evidence-based strategies to help your students build a robust conceptual understanding of science and increase their learning gains. Working through a series of activities, we’ll model these evidence-based strategies, such as peer instruction, whiteboarding, and collaborative learning groups, and help participants incorporate these techniques into their classroom.  

Facilitators: Alma Robinson and Travis Merritt

Capacity = 50 teachers

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Choose between an all-day option or morning/afternoon sessions

Option 1 All-Day : 9:00 am- 12:00 pm, 1:00pm - 4:00pm (with breaks for lunch and snacks)
Integration of Statistics into Science Classrooms – for all science, math, and statistics teachers

This workshop provides teachers an opportunity to discuss and apply the data and statistical concepts embodied in the American Statistical Association’s (ASA) Pre-K-12 Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education II (GAISE II) Framework, the NCTM’s Catalyzing Change: Initiating Critical Conversations for High School Mathematics, and the VA School Level Statistics Standards. Teachers will work collaboratively to examine scientific data from a statistical point of view, study ways to assess student understanding of statistical concepts and explore problems that require them to formulate statistical investigative questions, collect/consider data, analyze data, and interpret data. Investigations from the Pre-K-12 GAISE II will be explored along with other ASA and NCTM resources. This statistics and data science program highlights the necessity for our students to become data savvy and how the ultimate goal of statistical literacy for all must be developed at the school level. 

Facilitator: Christine (Chris) Franklin 

Capacity = 40 teachers


Option 2 Morning Session: 9:00am – 12:00pm
Computational thinking in physics and chemistry

The purpose of this workshop for physics and chemistry teachers is to demonstrate how to integrate “computational thinking” into chemistry and physics education and use computers and programs to solve problems in physics and chemistry. Participants will engage in interactive activities to learn how to construct module-style problems in physics and chemistry that help students learn scientific concepts and basic programming skills simultaneously. 

Facilitator: Shengfeng Cheng 

Capacity = 24 teachers
Sessions for this workshop are currently filled. You will be added to a waitlist upon registration.


Option 2 Afternoon Sessions:

Session A: 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Quantum World  for physics and chemistry teachers

Quantum Information Science and Engineering (QISE) is an exciting new field that is making great strides toward realizing revolutionary technologies related to computing, information security, and sensing. By leveraging the power of quantum mechanics, it is possible to accomplish tasks that are far beyond the reach of today’s best supercomputers. This event will introduce the key concepts of QISE at a high-school level without assuming any prior knowledge of quantum mechanics or advanced math. Through a series of hands-on activities and games, participants will get to explore the basic principles that underlie quantum technologies and gain an appreciation for what novel capabilities are unlocked by quantum mechanics. These activities will make use of a friendly pictorial formalism that allows participants to design and analyze real quantum algorithms without using any math beyond arithmetic. Participants will test their designs using actual prototype quantum computers made available by IBM on the cloud.

Facilitators: Ed Barnes, Sophia Economou, and Jamie Sikora

Capacity = 24 teachers

Session B: 1:00-4:30 pm 
Soil: Web-of-life – investigations of the ecology of soil – for biology and environmental science teachers

Soils host an extraordinary level of biodiversity and ecological complexity. The biological communities and ecosystem processes that soils support are a vital part of the biosphere. In this event participants will perform two soil experiments demonstrating the vast diversity of soils and their role in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide. In the first activity participants will isolate living micro-invertebrates (e.g., nematodes, tardigrades, mites, springtails) out of soil using a sugar extraction procedure that is easy to replicate in high school laboratories. This activity will demonstrate the vast unseen diversity in soils everywhere. In the second activity participants will measure carbon dioxide evolution from local soils exposed to different amendments and management in order to identify best practices for managing soil carbon. Together these activities will show how understanding soil ecology is essential to maintaining the sustainability of our agricultural systems and to regulating greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

Facilitator: Jeb (John) Barrett

Capacity = 24 teachers
Sessions for this workshop are currently filled. You will be added to a waitlist upon registration.

Wednesday, June 29, 2020

9:00am - 12:00pm Morning session
Harnessing the Power of the Sun - Donut Solar Cells – workshop for all science teachers

In this interdisciplinary exercise, participants will make a dye-sensitized solar cell and watch it conduct electricity in the presence/absence of light. Along the way, we will cover the concepts of light energy, electricity, electron transfer (redox reactions), photosynthesis, chemical solubility, and even food science. 

Facilitator: Amanda Morris

Capacity = 24 teachers
Sessions for this workshop are currently filled. You will be added to a waitlist upon registration.

12:00- 1:00 pm Lunch (provided)

1:00pm -4:00 pm Afternoon sessions – pick one

Afternoon Session A: 
Model-based teaching and learning techniques for earth and environmental sciences 

The purpose of the workshop is to provide teachers with model-based teaching and learning techniques for teaching earth and environmental science content as identified by the Science Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools. Participants will engage in collaborative activities to develop model-based activities for their classrooms, share past experiences, and discuss available resources to help improve their teaching effectiveness. By the end of the workshop, participants will: 

  • Be able to describe how scientists use models in research.
  • Be familiar with common types of models (e.g., physical/concrete, mathematical, images/drawings).
  • Develop a model-based learning progression for their students.
  • Become familiar with ways to incorporate models in active learning strategies.
  • Identify and use analogies in model-based teaching and learning.

Facilitator: Gary Glesener

Capacity = 30 teachers

Afternoon Session B: 
Battle of the Bacteria: Using Simulations to Teach Evolution & Ecology—workshop for biology teachers

Our goal is to explore the fundamentals of  adaptation by experimenting with real-time simulations of bacteria competing in a changing environment. Participants will learn the software, run through some teaching examples, and work together to design and test their own ideas for short, simple digital lab exercises for their classrooms. We’ll look at how we can make abstract concepts like the ecological niche tangible, and use the software to engage with real-world issues like biodiversity loss and the rise of antibiotic resistance. After the workshop, the facilitator will work with any interested teachers to make the software freely available for their classroom and to develop lesson plans aimed at state standards and the specific needs of your own classroom. 

Facilitator: Jeremy Draghi

Capacity = 30 teachers

4:00pm -4:45pm Wrap up
What we learned and what is next? – for all teachers 

Facilitator: Anne Petersen


Contact Victoria Corbin, Assistant Dean of Outreach and Student Engagement

Phone: 540-232-8705