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Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Science Education Center’s The Science of Teaching Science

Smithsonian Institution via edX Professional Certificate


This online program consists of four online workshops, “Science: A Work in Progress”, “That’s So Meta(cognitive)!!”, “Fired up about Energy”, and “Conceptual Change: How New Ideas Take Root?”, supporting important ideas on the science of teaching science. Each workshop is based on ideas presented in Good Thinking! an original animated series developed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) and FableVision Studios as a professional development resource for K-12 science educators.

Good Thinking! brings viewers into the classroom of science educator Isabella Reyes as she explores “the science of teaching science.” Drawing from peer-reviewed research in science, cognition, and pedagogy, Good Thinking! distills valuable findings from hard-to-access journal articles to reveal common student misconceptions and promote effective classroom practices.

The format and organization of the workshops are designed to allow individuals to successfully complete the online learning activities independently as a self-paced class, without the need for outside input or feedback. At the same time, this format was designed to flexibly fit into PLC meetings, PD workshops, or any time that you and your colleagues can meet to absorb some new ideas and discuss your experiences as educators. While the content of the series is relevant to all levels of instruction, teachers working at the oldest and youngest ends of the K-12 range may need to include additional discussion during the post-viewing conversation that addresses the implications of the videos for their specific grade level.

Each workshop stands alone as a complete activity and can be taken in any order.


Courses under this program:
Course 1: Science: A Work in Progress

Science: A Work in Progress - shows how science isn’t produced through one linear method, but through an interconnected set of practices, and examines ways that teachers can make learning science in the classroom more authentic.

Course 2: That's So Meta(cognitive)!

That’s so Meta(cognitive)! — investigates how explicitly teaching students metacognitive strategies helps them become more effective learners, able to integrate knowledge rather than just memorize isolated science facts and definitions.

Course 3: Fired Up About Energy

Fired Up About Energy – explores common student misconceptions related to the study of energy and suggests methods for effectively representing and discussing the topic in the classroom.

Course 4: Conceptual Change: How New Ideas Take Root

Conceptual Change: How New Ideas Take Root — explores the ways students learn and develop new conceptual understandings, and shows how student misconceptions can be uncovered and addressed as a part of effective learning.


Taught by

Jean Flanagan and Smithsonian Science Education Center


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