What’s New in Mi-STAR for Fall 2022

Posted on 21st Jun 2022 17:44:16

The Mi-STAR curriculum was officially completed in fall 2020, but we’ve never stopped working to make it even more engaging and effective for students and teachers. Here are some of the new features Mi-STAR subscribers can expect this fall.

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Assessment Team Building Best Practices into Updated Units

Posted on 29th Mar 2022 22:09:42

​As Mi-STAR updates its units, the assessment team has been in high gear, adapting to the changes and striving to reflect the highest standards of an evolving pedagogy.

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Mi-STAR teacher named Middle School Teacher of the Year

Posted on 7th Mar 2022 01:53:23

Mi-STAR teacher Jennifer Pera has been honored with the 2022 Middle School Science Teacher of the Year Award by the Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA).

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Mi-STAR Presentations Featured at 2022 MSTA Conference

Posted on 24th Feb 2022 19:46:31

Mi-STAR professionals will lead three talks at the 69th MSTA Conference, providing an opportunity for teachers to dig deeper into the curriculum and network with Mi-STAR staff. In addition, several Mi-STAR educators will be giving presentations independently at the conference.

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Mi-STAR Expands Offerings, Updates Units

Posted on 9th Feb 2022 16:11:46

Learn about what is new with Mi-STAR's latest unit updates, and do not miss your chance to get involved.

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Professional Learning Program Now Available Remotely

Posted on 19th Nov 2021 21:09:26

Meet Mi-STAR's new PL coordinator Christine Geerer, and learn about what is new with Mi-STAR's Professional Learning Program.

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Teach Wonder podcast: These Moments Arise from Working With Teachers: A Conversation about Mi-STAR

Posted on 21st Oct 2021 16:42:08

Mi-STAR’s own Doug Oppliger was featured on the Teach Wonder podcast, “These Moments Arise from Working With Teachers: A Conversation about Mi-STAR.”

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How Do We Know if Units are Designed for NGSS?

Posted on 7th Jun 2021 16:42:26

How Do We Know if Units are Designed for NGSS? One way to find out is to submit a unit for review using the EQuIP Rubric.

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Master Teacher Fellows Reach Master’s Milestone, Look Forward to Leadership

Posted on 28th May 2021 22:19:40

This past winter eight teachers enrolled in the Michigan Master Teacher Fellows Program completed their Master's degree. Learn more about their achievement and the Master Teacher Program here.

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Teacher Appreciation Week (May 3-7, 2021)

Posted on 5th May 2021 13:18:53

We want to take this opportunity to say “THANK YOU!” to all the teachers we know.

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Mi-STAR Featured at MSTA Conference

Posted on 9th Feb 2021 16:27:52

Learn more about Mi-STAR at the 2021 MSTA annual conference, held virtually February 27 and March 6.

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Modeling Instruction in Michigan Teams Up with Mi-STAR

Posted on 7th Jan 2021 18:27:34

Modeling with Mi-STAR, a meld of Mi-STAR and Modeling Instruction, is an offshoot of the Modeling Instruction in Michigan project. Seven Mi-STAR units have been “modelized,” i.e., have had modeling instruction incorporated into the lesson plans.

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Career Connections Open a World of Possibilities for Mi-STAR Students

Posted on 24th Sep 2020 17:23:54

Fortunate are the kids who know what they want to be when they grow up. The universe of career possibilities can be overwhelming. Sometimes aptitude tests can help. Sometimes not.

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Science Teachers Getting Ready for Fall

Posted on 24th Aug 2020 14:19:13

Michigan Tech’s Mi-STAR middle school STEM education curriculum and professional learning program hosted the inaugural event in the new Mi-STAR Learning Series on August 19, 2020.

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Mi-STAR Unit Lauded by NGSS

Posted on 10th Aug 2020 18:14:07

Mi-STAR’s Unit 6.4 was featured in the July 2020 issue of NGSS News, the newsletter of the Next Generation Science Standards.

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Mi-STAR Unit Receives Distinction as a High Quality NGSS Resource

Posted on 8th Jun 2020 20:34:02

Mi-STAR Unit 6.4 is now recognized on the NextGenScience (formerly Achieve) website,, as an example of a high quality unit designed for the NGSS.

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Free Remote Lessons Available to Mi-STAR Teachers

Posted on 2nd Jun 2020 15:21:03

Mi-STAR has developed a series of eight remote-learning lessons that will be available to teachers who have a Mi-STAR subscription. In addition, Mi-STAR is making two of those lessons available to science teachers who do not have a Mi-STAR subscription.

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Dow Foundation Renews Support for Mi-STAR

Posted on 12th May 2020 21:30:25

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation has renewed its partnership with Mi-STAR with a $1.5 million gift.

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Mi-STAR Wants to Help: Share Your Needs and Ideas on the Community Forums

Posted on 17th Apr 2020 16:55:57

Mi-STAR's COVID-19 response

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Mi-STAR at the 2020 MSTA Conference: Hear from the Experts, Learn the Latest

Posted on 14th Feb 2020 16:32:18

A wide variety of presentations by Mi-STAR staff and teachers will be featured at the 2020 Michigan Science Teachers Association Conference, set for March 6-7 in Lansing.

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Mi-STAR Selected to Receive MiSTEM Grant

Posted on 21st Jan 2020 03:05:24

Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform (Mi-STAR) is among 16 regional organizations selected by the MiSTEM Advisory Council to receive a total of $3.05 million in grant support this year. Each of the organizations has been recognized by STEMworks as one of the leading STEM education programs in Michigan.

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Unit 8.3: A High-Energy Exploration of Sound and Light

Posted on 3rd Jan 2020 15:40:43

What would it take to get Penelope’s Orpheum back in business and the school band on the stage? That’s the challenge students face in Mi-STAR’s Unit 8.3, Sound and Light Waves.

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Eighth-Graders Rise to Weather Challenge: Don’t Mess with Our Snow Days!

Posted on 17th Oct 2019 13:53:56

The unit focuses model​on three different drivers of weather: topography, or the orographic effect; the interaction of air masses; and the effects of large bodies of water, or lake effect

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Mi-STAR Teacher Featured in Science Scope

Posted on 15th Aug 2019 17:01:36

Mi-STAR Teacher Featured in Science Scope

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Making Genetics Fun with Snap Blocks and Popsicles

Posted on 29th Jul 2019 15:51:10

​The seventh-grade science teachers piloting Mi-STAR’s Unit 7.6, Inheritance of Traits in Humans, say it has a lot going for it: popsicles, microscopes and a brother-sister spat. But the most intriguing part of all may be that it’s about us.

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Mi-STAR Receives Accomplished Rating from STEMworks

Posted on 21st Jun 2019 01:58:34

​The Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform (Mi-STAR) project has been admitted to STEMworks as an Accomplished program.

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Mi-STAR PLF Highlighted in School News Network

Posted on 20th Jun 2019 21:57:48

​Greg Busse, who teaches sixth and seventh grade science in the Sparta Area Schools, is featured in the article “More Fun to Figure it Out: Hands-on Science Makes for STAR Scientists,” published June 11 by the School News Network.

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Geo Travel with a Volcanic Twist

Posted on 12th Jun 2019 04:27:45

The travel agents at VolcaKNOW were desperate. They’d thought they had a winning formula: sending travelers on once-in-a-lifetime vacations to some of the most exciting places on earth. But it wasn’t turning out that way. “They were getting all kinds of one-star reviews on TripAdvisor,” said Monica Wyrwicz, a science teacher at Hart Middle School, in Rochester Hills. What was going wrong? the agency wondered. What should they do to fix it?

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Mi-STAR in the News: Sixth Graders Battle Garlic Mustard

Posted on 30th May 2019 18:58:34

Sixth-grade Mi-STAR science teacher Kari Keith is featured in the May 23 Township View article, “White Pine Students to Remove Invasive Species at Imerman Park.”

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Applications are now open for the Mi-STAR Facilitator Pathway for summer 2019

Posted on 24th Apr 2019 18:26:18

Applications are now open for the Mi-STAR Facilitator Pathway for summer 2019. The Facilitator Pathway is for individuals with the appropriate STEM background and previous experience who will support teachers to implement the Mi-STAR Curriculum.

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Battle of the Bed Bugs: You Can’t Beat the Heat

Posted on 15th Apr 2019 13:14:59

“When you are 14, acting grossed out is a rite of passage,” says Katie Bryant, a middle school science teacher who knows whereof she speaks. So if you want to engage—or even entrance—a room full of eighth graders, there are few better ways than to delve deeply into the private lives of something icky. Like bed bugs.

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Mi-STAR Featured in Michigan Tech Research Magazine

Posted on 26th Mar 2019 14:14:40

“Education Ecosystem for STEM,” an article in Michigan Tech’s 2019 Research Magazine, features Mi-STAR as one of three University initiatives designed to improve education in science, technology, engineering and math. One goal: to meet the growing demand for STEM professionals state- and nationwide.

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Michigan Science Teachers Association Honors Huntoon with Its Premier Award

Posted on 14th Mar 2019 02:19:22

The Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA) awarded Mi-STAR project lead and principal investigator Jackie Huntoon its highest honor March 1 at its 66th annual conference, in Grand Rapids.

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Grosse Pointe News Covers Mi-STAR Students’ Visit with State Legislator

Posted on 1st Mar 2019 14:07:26

Chris Geerer’s sixth graders had a chance to advise State Rep. Tenisha Yancey on the danger of invasive species

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Mi-STAR at MSTA 2019

Posted on 21st Feb 2019 15:21:21

Mi-STAR sessions schedule for MSTA 2019

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Mi-STAR Awarded $385K by MiSTEM Council

Posted on 18th Feb 2019 15:16:57

Mi-STAR Awarded $385K by MiSTEM Council

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Mi-STAR Professional Learning Facilitator Jean Buller attends State of the Union with her Congresswoman

Posted on 14th Feb 2019 19:08:24

Jean Buller, who was trained as a Mi-STAR Professional Learning Facilitator (PLF) in 2017 and taught Mi-STAR in her last year of teaching, attended the State of the Union address last Tuesday night with her Congresswoman Haley Stevens.

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Beyond Grades: Assessment and Mi-STAR

Posted on 3rd Feb 2019 21:34:05

By Barb McIntyre, retired science teacher Editor’s note: Barb McIntyre is a member of the Mi-STAR Assessment Team, which also includes Brian Gane, a faculty member in the University of Illinois–Chicago’s Learning Sciences Research Institute and a national expert on NGSS assessment; and team chair Chris Wojick, the Mi-STAR project director. Teachers who are new […]

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New Units and Unit Primers are coming in September 2019!

Posted on 28th Dec 2018 20:26:01

Five new units and their related unit primers are tentatively scheduled for release by September 2019. Units Pilot Tested this fall 7.2 “Volcanoes” 8.1 “Night, Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite!” Units starting Pilot Testing in Feb 2019 7.6 “Inheritance of Traits in Humans” 8.3 “Sound and Light” 8.5 “Weather and Climate” Please […]

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Choosing Mi-STAR

Posted on 30th Oct 2018 09:38:43

By Jaime Ratliff, middle school science teacher and co-department chair, Lapeer Community Schools When our district started transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards, we knew right away how important it was to move forward with purpose. Our district supported all staff through NGSS training, but it gave us pause: how do we actually do […]

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Six New Mi-STAR Units Up and Running for Fall 2018

Posted on 27th Sep 2018 10:57:56

Mi-STAR has added six new units to its curriculum this fall, doubling the number of units available and completing the entire sixth-grade series. “We’re so excited to be rolling out these new units,” said Chris Wojick, Mi-STAR project director. “With the sixth grade complete, we’re poised to provide Michigan’s middle schools a full, NGSS-aligned curriculum […]

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The Chicken Dance Case: Mi-STAR Students Solve a Mystery

Posted on 3rd Jul 2018 08:03:32

A mysterious affliction hits a Michigan public school. Many of the teachers are inexplicably breaking out in show tunes and irritating 1980s novelty dances, and to cope with the crisis, the building is placed under quarantine. Enter the plague sleuths: students piloting Mi-STAR’s Unit 6.2: Investigating and Modeling Body Systems. “They are looking for a […]

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Six New Mi-STAR Units Available for 2018-19

Posted on 11th Jun 2018 11:46:40

Michigan middle-school science teachers can access six new, classroom-tested Mi-STAR units starting in September 2018, increasing the number of available units to 12. The new units complete Mi-STAR’s sixth-grade curriculum and provide an additional seventh-grade offering. This sets the stage for next year’s sixth graders to experience three years of Mi-STAR curriculum, since Mi-STAR expects t...

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Michigan Tech’s Mi-STAR kits to be supplied by Nasco

Posted on 24th May 2018 13:38:20

Michigan Tech’s Mi-STAR program recently signed an agreement with Nasco that will allow Nasco to prepare and sell kits for use with the Mi-STAR curriculum in middle school science classes. Mi-STAR’s curriculum and its associated professional learning program were designed and developed in full alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Michigan Science Standards. T...

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From Seed to Harvest to Seed: Understanding the Cycle of Life

Posted on 17th May 2018 09:15:45

If humans do establish a colony on Mars, the students of Mi-STAR will be ready to help solve the food problem. After all, if you can figure out the best way to grow cabbage in the Arizona desert, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Antarctica and the International Space Station, you can probably figure out how to grow […]

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Closing the Achievement Gap: Mi-STAR Sending At-Risk Students to the Front of the Class

Posted on 3rd May 2018 12:18:16

Education is supposed to be the great equalizer, but too often it primarily “equalizes” the sons and daughters of the already successful. “The traditional setup of schoolwork does not always work for low-income kids,” said Monica Wyrwicz, a veteran science teacher at Hart Middle School in Rochester Hills. “When everything was about memorization, a lot […]

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Midland Teachers Add Pizzazz to Mi-STAR with New Team-Building Exercises

Posted on 20th Mar 2018 13:55:48

Mi-STAR is getting kids all over the state enthused about science, and now a couple of Midland Public Schools science teachers are ratcheting up the excitement. Their team-building exercises quite literally have students begging for more. Robin Allen and Denise Bujalski work in adjoining classrooms at Northeast Middle School. When they began teaching Mi-STAR to […]

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“It Gets Easier”: A Teacher’s Notes from the Trenches

Posted on 15th Feb 2018 08:30:42

It gets easier. Even after two summers of writing with the MiSTAR team, I found my first pilot experience teaching a MiSTAR unit last year to be exhausting. My kids were thriving, and I was excited. It was science teaching like you’ve always known it’s meant to be.  And it was exhausting. Like first-year-teacher exhausting. […]

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Learn More about Mi-STAR at MSTA’s Annual Conference March 2–3

Posted on 9th Feb 2018 16:07:23

Middle school educators will have a chance to learn more about Mi-STAR and pick up some ready-to-use lessons at the Michigan Science Teachers Association’s annual conference, set for Friday and Saturday, March 2-3, in Lansing. On Saturday morning, Mi-STAR is holding an information session that will introduce its Professional Learning Program to those interested in […]

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Midland Daily News Features Mi-STAR

Posted on 25th Jan 2018 14:26:14

Mi-STAR was featured in a Jan. 17 article by Roger Bryant appearing in the Midland Daily News, “MPS Board Approves New STEM Curriculum.” The MPS Board of Education approved following the Mi-STAR course sequence at both MPS middle schools. The article cites three Mi-STAR educators, Carmen Kessler, Jennifer Lenon and Robin Allen, who praised the […]

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Mi-STAR Pilot Testing Two New Units on Force, Motion and Energy Transfer

Posted on 17th Jan 2018 10:58:03

The Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform project (Mi-STAR) designed six new units during the summer of 2017 and began piloting two of them this fall in Michigan classrooms. The sixth-grade unit, 6.4, introduces students to force and motion through the story of a boy who totals his cell phone. In unit 7.4, seventh graders […]

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Mi-STAR Launches First Wave of Trainers into Michigan Schools

Posted on 5th Jan 2018 09:50:52

The Mi-STAR staff have always known they wouldn’t be able to provide one-on-one support to all the science teachers who want the new curriculum, which is  based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). After all, there are over 600 middle schools in Michigan. Most teachers are unfamiliar with the NGSS approach to science education, […]

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Google Slides Give a Boost to Mi-STAR Unit on Michigan Ecosystems

Posted on 13th Nov 2017 14:55:56

While piloting the Mi-STAR unit on Michigan ecosystems last spring, Midland science teacher Denise Bujalski found a perfect opportunity to introduce her sixth graders to a powerful tool from Google. During the unit, teams of students are assigned to study one of several ecosystems that are threatened by an invasive species, including wetlands, dunes, urban […]

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Teachers Train to Bring Mi-STAR to the Classroom

Posted on 3rd Nov 2017 11:28:30

Fifteen teachers from across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula went back to school one day last month, gathering at the Copper Country Intermediate School District office in Hancock. When the final bell had figuratively rung, they piled into their cars and dispersed to districts scattered across hundreds of miles. In the coming months, these teachers from South […]

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Mi-STAR’s Logo Redesigned with Core Mission in Mind

Posted on 27th Oct 2017 13:01:58

Recent visitors to Mi-STAR’s website or social media accounts might notice something a little different about our logo. After looking at the old logo for a long time, the Mi-STAR team finally noticed a big problem: the logo illustrates what Mi-STAR is not, rather than what Mi-STAR is. Curriculum Development Coordinator Doug Oppliger explains: “The […]

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Beyond Middle School: Bringing Mi-STAR to the ESA

Posted on 19th Sep 2017 12:10:35

by Tony Matthys, Mi-STAR curriculum developer A few weeks before the Ecological Society of America (ESA) 2017 Annual Meeting in August, I wasn’t sure I’d be going. Along with Mi-STAR teacher Kendall Grazul, I was scheduled to lead a couple of workshops, but frankly, I was worried. Sign-ups for our workshops were trickling in, and […]

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Mi-STAR Teacher Cited by CNN

Posted on 31st Jul 2017 12:15:40

CNN tapped Mi-STAR teacher Chris Geerer for its June 14 article “Climate Change in Schools Where It’s Fake News.” While many teachers receive little education in climate change, Geerer, who teaches science at Parcells Middle School in Grosse Pointe Woods, noted that she had been able to take a professional development course on the subject […]

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Mi-STAR Gains State, National Recognition for Excellence

Posted on 28th Jul 2017 15:28:42

Mi-STAR has been recognized as a strategic STEM education program that promises to ensure a good return on investment. Governor Rick Snyder’s MiSTEM Advisory Council, made up of business, education and philanthropy leaders, partnered with Change the Equation to identify programs that meet “rigorous design principles for effectiveness” and will improve STEM education in Michigan. […]

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Updated Mi-STAR Website to Give Teachers Access to New Curriculum

Posted on 20th Jul 2017 11:30:18

Welcome to the new Mi-STAR website (!  We hope our visitors will find it more useful and easier to navigate than our old site.  But, the big news is that we now have a custom curriculum portal that will provide teachers online access to the Mi-STAR curriculum! In mid August, we will have six units […]

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Preview of New M-STEP Science Test Reveals a Good Fit with Mi-STAR

Posted on 21st Jun 2017 10:38:16

From all reports, Michigan middle schoolers and their science teachers are enthusiastic about Mi-STAR. Not only are the units fun and interesting, but the students also emerge with a deep understanding of the subject matter. But how well will Mi-STAR prepare students for the upcoming NGSS-aligned standardized tests, which serve as yardsticks, not only of […]

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Breaking Barriers for All Students

Posted on 25th May 2017 14:43:38

When Carman Kessler had a chance to pilot a Mi-STAR unit, she hoped for good results. What she got was a transformation. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said. Kessler, who teaches science at Northeast Middle School in Midland, recently completed the eighth-grade unit on natural hazards. She works with both general education students […]

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Keeping It Local: Engaging Students with a Michigan-Centric Unit Challenge

Posted on 25th May 2017 12:08:34

By Jayme Swanson, sixth grade teacher, Northeast Middle School, Midland Five or six years ago, my science department decided we needed to redo our curriculum, and we did. We created a lot of good hands-on lessons, and when I tell other teachers that I haven’t used textbooks for four or five years, some of them […]

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Teachers Represent Mi-STAR at National Science Education Conference

Posted on 5th May 2017 13:07:41

Teachers Dawn Kahler, of Kalamazoo Public Schools, and Robin Allen, of Midland Public Schools, presented on behalf of Mi-STAR at the 2017 National Conference of the National Science Teachers Association, held March 29-April 2, 2017 in Los Angeles. The conference attracts educators from around the country who want to stay on the cutting edge of […]

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Mi-STAR Teacher Honored for Teaching Excellence

Posted on 27th Jan 2017 13:43:59

Dawn Kahler, a key contributor to the Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform Project (Mi-STAR) has received a Catalyst Education Award for exceptional teaching. Kahler teaches eighth grade science at Milwood Magnet School for Math, Science and Technology. She joined the Kalamazoo Public Schools in 1993, first teaching fifth and sixth grade and then, in […]

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Teaching Engineering and Teamwork to Sixth Graders with a Simple Hands-on Exercise

Posted on 25th Jan 2017 10:52:02

Watching a video of the ill-fated Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsing in high winds might seem like a bang-up way to teach fundamental engineering concepts to sixth graders. That’s why curriculum developers used it to introduce key engineering concepts  in the first unit of the Mi-STAR middle school curriculum. Sixth grade teachers had some concerns, however. […]

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Updated Mi-STAR Academy Included in Free NGSS Workshops for Michigan Science Teachers

Posted on 12th Jan 2017 10:51:24

Science teachers from across Michigan can now enroll in an updated version of the online Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform (Mi-STAR) Academy. The academy is a self-paced, online course that helps teachers deepen their understanding of the new Michigan Science Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. Modules address topics such as the structure of […]

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A Model for Bundling and Sequencing the 59 Middle School Performance Expectations of NGSS

Posted on 23rd Dec 2016 09:01:57

There are 26 bones in the human foot, all of them critical, but unless they are connected properly, you aren’t going to walk very far. The same is true of the Next Generation Science Standards’ performance expectations, only there are nearly five dozen of them for grades 6–8 alone. That’s why the educational community is […]

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How I Learned to Engage Fourth-Graders with a Simple Anchoring Phenomenon

Posted on 16th Nov 2016 11:52:08

Back in October, I was roped in to holding an activity station for the Lake Superior Water Festival on the Michigan Tech campus. The organizer, Joan Chadde, managed to convince me that I could do something with kids regarding water consumption and product life cycles, but frankly, I had my doubts. I put off thinking […]

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Getting Their Feet Wet: Sixth Graders Learn About the Water Cycle in Mi-STAR Pilot

Posted on 7th Nov 2016 12:34:56

Imagine you are 11 years old. Now imagine you are called upon to develop a management strategy for a once well-behaved river that’s started flooding in spring and drying up in summer. In a half dozen sixth-grade classrooms across Michigan, students are doing just that. They are the first cohort to pilot the first unit […]

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Summer Workshops Put Mi-STAR on Track to Launch Six New Science Units This Year

Posted on 6th Oct 2016 10:25:22

Good news for middle-schools looking for a curriculum that meets the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): the Mi-STAR (Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform) team is on track to pilot six classroom-ready units in the 2016/2017 school year. Twenty-two teachers from 14 districts throughout the state worked with curriculum developers, scientists, and engineers this summer […]

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Summer Course For Teachers Aims to Fire Kids Up About Engineering

Posted on 14th Sep 2016 10:01:42

Firefighters and doctors, teachers and veterinarians. That’s what children want to be when they grow up. Who ever heard a kid say they wanted to be an engineer? That’s probably because most youngsters (and, sadly, most adults) don’t actually know what an engineer does. And why should they? Nobody goes to the engineer’s office for […]

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Maybe We Can Get Along: A More Civil Society with Argumentation

Posted on 8th Aug 2016 13:18:43

I don’t remember my junior high science class as a temple of civilized discourse. I do remember my best friend, Jan, and I hurling our wittiest insults at the boy who sat right behind us. This did not seem to bother him. He gave as good as he got, and I hear he ended up […]

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A Curriculum by the Teachers, for the Teachers

Posted on 8th Aug 2016 13:06:56

One of my neighbors has a T-shirt that says, “Those who can, teach. Those who can’t, pass laws about teaching.” Lawmakers aren’t the only ones who spend a lot of time telling teachers what to do. Plenty of people who haven’t set foot in a classroom since high school feel qualified to share their opinions […]

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A Roadmap for Teachers, a Revolution in the Classroom

Posted on 8th Aug 2016 12:15:26

Back in the 1960s, I had an amazing seventh grade science teacher. He was so good that parts of my college biology class felt like reruns of what I learned in junior high. In looking back, however, it’s clear I wasn’t learning a lot about the process of discovery, which is the bone and blood […]

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Mi-STAR Modeling: Socratic Reasoning Meets Middle School Science

Posted on 18th Jul 2016 13:06:51

Socrates would feel right a home here. True, we’re not gathered on a grassy knoll probing the secrets of life; we’re watching a video in a Michigan Tech classroom. Nevertheless, the eight science teachers at this June workshop are part of a new pedagogy that would seem familiar to the old philosopher. And they are […]

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Mi-STAR Trek: A Journey of Discovery for a Challenging Seventh-Grade Class

Posted on 27th Jun 2016 12:52:13

This year, I was having a lot of trouble getting my students interested in their lessons, and I needed to adjust my teaching often to keep them moving forward.  So, as I started our Mi-STAR pilot, I had some concerns. The unit was Building Materials: How We Use Our Natural Resources, and it focused on […]

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Insulation Inspiration

Posted on 1st Jun 2016 21:12:02

When I started teaching twenty years ago, I never imagined my middle school students would learn to make educated choices about building materials, but that’s exactly what has happened with Mi-STAR. The unit “What’s In Your Walls” encompasses much more than just information about a simple home improvement. Mi-STAR uses wall insulation to tie together […]

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Being the Bug: Mi-STAR Lessons Immerse Students in the Drama of Nature

Posted on 17th May 2016 11:36:54

Kids—and some of us adults—love role play, from acting out their favorite Star Wars characters to The Incredible Hulk. But who among us ever wanted to be a mayfly? Well, as it turns out, being the mayfly can be pretty cool. If you are one of the teachers piloting the latest Mi-STAR science classes, you […]

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Thank you Mi-STAR Teachers!

Posted on 4th May 2016 11:18:59

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, which is the perfect excuse for us at Mi-STAR to tell everyone about the amazing teachers who are helping to develop and pilot test the new Mi-STAR curricula. Their enthusiasm and heart for their work has been inspiring for us all. Over 50 teachers from 18 districts have been an integral part of […]

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“New Science for Researchers of Tomorrow”

Posted on 13th Apr 2016 09:21:47

Read about the origins, goals, and experiences of Mi-STAR in the recent article “New Science for Researchers of Tomorrow” (p.8-10, Research magazine Spring 2016).  Teachers who have pilot tested Mi-STAR curriculum offer insights from their experiences. “I think it’s going to be a great model for classrooms nationwide,” says Robin Allen, a sixth-grade teacher at […]

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Bangor Township Middle School Students Give Two Thumbs Up to Science and Engineering

Posted on 5th Apr 2016 10:02:07

Ralph Waldo Emerson famously wrote that life is a journey, not a destination. You might think that’s an adage for adults to ponder. But seventh graders at Christa McAuliffe Middle School (Bangor Township Schools) in Bay City, Michigan are discovering that—like life—science and engineering can be as much about the journey as the destination. Starting […]

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Michigan teachers explored NGSS and Mi-STAR units at MSTA conference

Posted on 25th Mar 2016 14:51:45

Michigan teachers explored NGSS and Mi-STAR units through three Mi-STAR sessions at the Michigan Science Teacher Association conference earlier this month: “Three-Dimensional Learning in Your Classroom: Applying NGSS through Michigan Themes,” “Stability and Change in Michigan Ecosystems: An Example Mi-STAR Unit,” and “What’s in Your Walls? Teaching Sustainability through NGSS.” T...

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Mi-STAR Global Climate Unit meets success with Michigan 8th graders

Posted on 2nd Mar 2016 04:35:45

Over the past year, the Mi-STAR team has been working to develop curriculum based on salient topics in science and aligned to the Michigan Science Standards. Michigan science teachers played a crucial role in the development and refinement of the units. A unit on Global Climate recently completed pilot testing in Kalamazoo and Houghton Michigan […]

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Mi-STAR team members will present at MSTA

Posted on 22nd Feb 2016 15:34:22

Please join us at the Michigan Science Teachers Association Annual Conference! The conference takes place from March 3-5 in Lansing, MI. The Mi-STAR team is excited to be presenting the following sessions of interest to teachers, coaches, and administrators. Middle School Educators, the first three sessions are designed to support you in implementing the new […]

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Mi-STAR in the news

Posted on 15th Feb 2016 16:57:04

Through Mi-STAR, teachers make powerful contributions to education both in the classroom and out! An article, “Curriculum Development as Professional Development:  Creating Teacher Leaders Through the Mi-STAR Initiative,”  in the Winter 2016 newsletter of the Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA) highlights benefits of engaging science teachers in the process of curriculum dev...

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Welcome to the Mi-STAR blog!

Posted on 1st Feb 2016 16:11:57

The goal of this blog is to provide regular updates on Mi-STAR progress, and useful information at the leading edge of science education.  We are excited for this journey of developing and implementing an integrated, problem-based curriculum with students and educators across Michigan at the dawn of the new Michigan Science Standards. We’d love to […]

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Mi-STAR presents at the Geophysical Information for Teachers (GIFT) workshop at the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting

Posted on 23rd Dec 2015 16:04:53

The Mi-STAR project was one of a handful of proposals selected to deliver a 90-minute presentation to more than 50 teachers from around the United States at the annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco, CA. AGU partners with the National Earth Science Teachers’ Association (NESTA) to sponsor a day-long workshop […]

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Michigan teachers pilot test three Mi-STAR units

Posted on 19th Dec 2015 00:31:41

Teachers and students in five Michigan schools are currently pilot testing three Mi-STAR units. Each unit is NGSS-aligned and written around a challenge that ties lessons of the unit together. Through the challenge, students employ science and engineering practices to address real-world issues and opportunities. For example, in a 7th grade unit on resource sustainability, […]

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Mi-STAR Academy: Online PD for Michigan Science Standards

Posted on 4th Dec 2015 21:07:39

Mi-STAR is approved by the Michigan Department of Education as a professional development provider through the State School Aid Act, Section 99s(5) “Professional Development (PD) Support for Teachers in STEM Instruction.” The Mi-STAR Academy is a series of online modules that provide educators with the resources and skills to develop curriculum aligned with the newly-adopted […]

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ED5540: Teaching Science in Three Dimensions: The NGSS in Theory and Practice

Posted on 11th Nov 2015 21:12:28

Online Graduate Course for Middle and High School Science Teachers: Spring 2016 Semester; Application and Online Instructions Michigan Technological University’s Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences, in partnership with the Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform (MI-STAR) project, will be offering an online graduate course during the Spring 2016 semester (January 11 to Apri...

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Michigan Board of Education voted to adopt the Michigan Science Standards

Posted on 10th Nov 2015 15:25:31

On Tuesday November 10, 2015 the Michigan Board of Education voted to adopt the Michigan Science Standards by a vote of 5 to 1. Detailed information will continue to be posted on the MDE web site:,1607,7-140-28753_38684_28760–-,00.html Michigan, one of the original lead states, is the 17th state to have adopted the Next Generation Science […]

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Media coverage of the Mi-STAR curriculum development hubs

Posted on 7th Jul 2015 03:03:47

Press release: “Teachers work on new ways to teach middle-school science this week at three universities” ; Upper Michigan’s Source “Michigan tech hosts gathering for science teachers” “Mi-STAR is truly a groundbreaking project,” says Jacqueline Huntoon, who is leading the program. “It is the first time that educational leaders from K-12, universitie...

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Update on Michigan Science Standards

Posted on 5th May 2015 03:13:03

Michigan Department of Education releases an update on the Michigan Science Standards.

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Mi-STAR Teacher Application Form is now available!

Posted on 16th Feb 2015 15:06:36

See Mi-STAR Teacher Application Form . For Priority Consideration PLEASE APPLY ON OR BEFORE APRIL 15, 2015. Mi-STAR is looking for teachers from Michigan schools who are interested in developing the new, Michigan-based, middle school integrated science curriculum. Participants are eligible to receive: • Training • Stipends ($25/hour during the school year and $1,000 per week during the sum...

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Achieve Releases Classroom Sample Assessment Tasks for the NGSS

Posted on 3rd Dec 2014 15:03:38

Achieve recently released a new resource for science educators that shows examples of how content and practices from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Common Core State Standards(CCSS) in Mathematics can be assessed together. The Classroom Sample Assessment Tasks provide nine sample tasks targeted to middle and high school levels. Each task focuses […]

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The “Get Involved” Call for Participation released

Posted on 3rd Oct 2014 15:01:37

See Get Involved Info Flyer. Mi-STAR is looking for teachers and faculty members from Michigan schools who are interested in developing the new, place-based, middle school integrated science curriculum beginning in 2015. Participants will receive training and stipends for participation and will get to create the future of STEM education in Michigan.

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Michigan Tech Board of Control to Meet Next Thursday

Posted on 31st Jul 2014 14:58:59

Michigan Tech’s Board of Control will meet at 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 in Ballroom B of the Memorial Union Building. On the agenda is a report that the University has surpassed its fundraising goal for the year and ended the fiscal year with a positive balance. The Board will also hear that five Michigan […]

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Media coverage announcing funding for Mi-STAR project

Posted on 29th Jul 2014 14:11:41

Michigan Tech Receives $5M to Help STEM in Middle Schools, Michigan Education Digest, July 29, 2014. Michigan Tech Receives $5 Million To Reform Middle School Science Education, Texas Principal, July 27, 2014.  Michigan Tech Receives $5 Million from Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow, LinkedIn, July 25, 2014. Michigan Tech Receives $5 Million To Reform […]

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MTU grant to help science education in schools

Posted on 22nd Jul 2014 03:54:19

ABC 10 News — MTU grant to help science education in schools.

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