About this Event

Advancing Science in Elementary Classrooms: A Call to Action

Children are naturally inquisitive and have a desire to explore the world around them. They ask questions and use their curiosity to inspire creative solutions. Harnessing this eagerness can enhance learning in school. Early exposure to science is essential for experiencing the joy of science, understanding phenomena, developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, fostering scientific literacy, and beginning to prepare for the STEM workforce. All students deserve opportunities to engage in science during their foundational education years.

However, the 2018 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education study revealed that teachers in grades K-3 reported spending an average of only 18 minutes per day on science; only 17% of them teach it “most days.” Teachers in 4th-6th grades reported spending an average of 27 minutes daily; only 35% of them teach it “most days.” Additionally, a recent informal survey of over 300 K-5 teachers suggests this problem may be worse in Michigan.

In support of K–5 science teaching and learning, a leadership team of representatives from Michigan Science Education Leadership Association (MSELA) and Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA), in partnership with the CREATE for STEM Institute at Michigan State University (MSU), will bring together state and national science leaders to the campus of MSU on May 29, 2024 to discuss a shared research-based vision for teaching and learning of science in the elementary grades. We hope this will result in recommendations and next steps for achieving this vision so that all children in the State of Michigan can experience the joy of learning science. We have invited educational leadership teams to the symposium, including ISD and district curriculum directors, instructional coaches, principals, teacher leaders, and other local district leadership. Participants will convene with science education researchers and work together to address:

This event is only the beginning. We hope to launch a sustained effort to ensure all of Michigan’s elementary school-aged children can experience the joy and wonder of learning science at school!

Goals and Objectives

This Call to Action aims to ensure science instruction is a common component of elementary education for all students. This means guaranteeing that all elementary students, regardless of their socio-economic status, race, gender, or learning abilities, have equitable access to quality science instruction, as evidenced by optimizing instructional minutes dedicated to science for meaningful exploration of phenomena and figuring out scientific concepts. The objectives will achieve systems change by:

  • Discovering opportunities to connect with statewide systems of support for elementary science instruction and professional learning; and
  • Preparing and supporting district leaders to engage their constituents with resources and tools needed to move science forward.


Steering Committee    
(+ Co-facilitators *Planning Committee) 

Rich Bacolor, Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA)

*Renee Bayer, CREATE for STEM Institute

*Sue Carpenter, MSU CREATE for STEM Institute, Ex-officio

Abby Cypher, Michigan Association of Administrators of Special Education (MAASE)

Betsy Davis, University of Michigan

Narissa Donald, Detroit Public Schools - Community District

+*Linnea Gibson, Michigan Science Education Leadership Association/Northern Michigan Learning Consortium (MSELA)

Tonya Harrison, Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA)

Jason Kennedy, Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators (MASA)

*Joe Krajcik, MSU CREATE for STEM Institute, Ex-officio

+*Paul Liabenow, Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA)

Kalonda Colson, Detroit Public Schools - Community District

+*Cory Miller, Michigan Science Education Leadership Association/CREATE for STEM Institute 

+*Amber Richmond, Michigan Science Education Leadership Association/Detroit Public Schools - Community District

+*Megan Schrauben, Executive Director, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity/MiSTEM 

*Shannon Vida, Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA)

+*Wendi Vogel, Michigan Science Education Leadership Association/Kent Intermediate School District

*Leanne Weber, Michigan Department of Education (MDE)

Amanda Weinert, Little Traverse Bay Band of the Odawa