Course Description

Writing in the present tense, succinctly describe the content of the course in two or three paragraphs; this is a summarization of the academic content of the course. This description is on permanent record for release to an inquiring institution as needed. (If a student, school district, college, or university requests information about this course, this description is the only information provided. Therefore, the description must address the academic content presented in the course (not what the students will do, who the course is for, where it is held, or when it is offered).

Certified elementary teachers will participate in activities to help them learn life science (evolution and genetics) as well as gain a deeper appreciation of the scientific practices and cross-cutting ideas as laid out by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). In addition, teachers will work through activities that they can take back and use with their students in their classroom. All activities will be aligned with NGSS disciplinary core ideas LS3 (Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits) or LS4 (Biological Evolution Unity and Diversity). 

Course Outline

What will students know and be able to do as a result of this course? What knowledge and skills will they develop and how will they use their learning from this course?

  1. Teachers will know how to use conceptual flow planning to design/organize a unit.
  2. Teachers will gain a better understanding of when life science (evolution and genetics) is taught in K-6 classrooms.
  3. Teachers will increase their understanding of life science.
  4. Teachers will become more comfortable running inquiry activities in the classroom.

Learner Outcomes

Teachers will be prepared to teach NGSS disciplinary core ideas LS3 and LS4.  In addition, the teachers will know what students should have been taught about these subjects in previous grades as well as what they need to prepare students for in upcoming grades. Teachers will also develop a better understanding of the scientific practices and crosscutting ideas as well as how to incorporate them into science activities.  


Multiple subject teaching credentials. Elementary teachers grade levels K-6


All of the activities will be facilitated by Darby Feldwinn or a teacher leader. Teachers will carry out activities in small groups. Once the activity is completed teachers will reflect on the activity as well as work with content experts to clarify content misconceptions.

Summer Science Institute, August 2 – August 6, 2021

Day 1-3:   Overview of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Discuss the evolution (LS4) including grade-level specific activities for TK, K, 2nd, and 4th grades. The topic covered includes: how plants and animals can change the environment, the advantages of diverse habitats, and what happens to plants and animal when the environment changes.

Day 3-5:    Discuss genetics (LS3) including grade level-specific activities for 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 6th grade. The topics covered include influences of heredity and the environment on traits, how sexual and asexual reproduction affects offspring’s traits, and DNA. 

No text is required. All activities and handouts will be found on the South Coast Science Project Website (http://www.chem.ucsb.edu/scsp/home), SciTrek Website (http://www.chem.ucsb.edu/scitrek/), or on a google document that will be set up for the class.

The institute is a collaborative professional development opportunity funded by the South Coast Science Project (SCSP) one of the California Subject Matter Projects.

Contact Person

Darby Feldwinn, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California

Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9510; Phone: 805 893-2127


Classes are offered according to the schedule on the respective Certificate or Program Page. Please click on the Request Information below to be promptly notified when enrollment opens.