Creating, Scaling and Sustaining NGSS-Aligned, ONR-Informed Research in High School Science
2016 – 2018

Creating, Scaling and Sustaining NGSS-Aligned, ONR-Informed Research in High School Science was awarded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to UC San Diego’s Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence (CREATE) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), along with the San Diego Science Project (SDSP) in CREATE and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR).

The ONR-REAL grant provided a way to transfer local, cutting edge science research findings from the laboratory to San Diego County high school science classrooms to support Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) implementation. The three-phase grant supports high school science teachers from Escondido Union High School District, San Diego Unified School District, Sweetwater Union High School District and Vista Unified School District. Over  the three-year period, the ONR REAL grant linked 80 high school teachers with 18 researchers to create 18 research-derived science lessons that could be used by high school teachers for years to come.

The purpose of the ONR grant is to improve student understanding of science concepts by providing high-quality, NGSS-aligned professional learning opportunities for high school teachers.  ONR-funded researchers from UC San Diego and SIO present their research to the lesson study teams.   Through an extensive lesson study protocol, the teachers develop a Unit of Study focused on the research and its application to the HS NGSS.  As a team, they teach the planned lesson, debrief the lesson, re-teach the lesson with adjustments, and debrief the lesson again.

Each cohort culminated with a showcase to present the research-based lesson that was taught to the students. For more information on lesson study, contact Kathryn Schulz (

Summer Academy at Groundwork San Diego Chollas-Creek EarthLab
Summer 2017

To help bridge the elementary to middle school gap in science, the San Diego Science Project (SDSP) provided curriculum and teacher professional development for this year’s Summer Academy at Groundwork San Diego Chollas-Creek EarthLab. Sixty incoming sixth graders from San Diego Unified School District’s Lincoln Cluster schools attended the summer academy. The Summer Academy’s interdisciplinary curriculum, funded by a $91,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek and developed by a team of local educators led by the SDSP, focused on water quality and water conservation in San Diego County. EarthLab Summer Academy students benefited from a rich learning environment that strengthened literacy and critical thinking skills across science, math and language arts disciplines.

In a series of pre-academy professional development training days, Summer Academy teachers learned to integrate new California State Common Core Standards (in English Language Arts and mathematics) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into their instruction, and learned to design and implement inquiry-based, interactive activities for a variety of educational settings. Learning science by incorporating literature, mathematics and hands-on activities leads to a much deeper conceptual understanding of science!

In partnership with San Diego Unified School District and Millennial Tech Middle School, Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek developed a four-acre open space parcel into a dynamic outdoor learning lab for Chollas Creek students. Students are engaged in state-of-the-art science and technology education while making valuable contributions to the improvement of their watershed. The Earthlab serves as a hub for information sharing with nearby schools, neighborhoods and civic groups through student community service. Most importantly, the Earthlab creates knowledgeable, caring stewards of the environment who understand people and the natural world need each other to survive and thrive.