News Archive

  • Congratulations Dr. Caroline Hardin for being awarded a National Science Foundation grant!

    Computer Science (CS) education is not just an enjoyable pursuit; it has become increasingly essential for individuals to fully engage in society, industry, and education. However, despite widespread acknowledgment of the significance of Computer Science education, a shortage of qualified CS teachers has resulted in limited access, particularly for underserved schools. This grant aims to address this issue through a collaborative effort involving seven universities across the Pacific Northwest. The primary goal is to establish and nurture an equitable and justice-focused ecosystem for secondary-level CS teaching. This initiative will encompass various activities, such as data collection, highlighting educational pathways, fostering community engagement, and providing support to current and future CS educators. Dr. Hardin, who holds dual appointments at Western Washington University (Science, Math and Technology Education and Computer Science), leads this project, alongside a Master's student from the Index in Bounds research lab, in collaboration with Amy Ko at the University of Washington.

  • Science Education for Equity in K-6

    Emily Borda, Shannon Warren and Tracy Coskie recently awarded nearly $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant: 

    Science Education for Equity in K-6

    The project aims to serve the national need of developing highly qualified science teacher leaders in elementary schools. The quality of elementary science instruction varies significantly between districts and schools. Yet, equitable science instruction, centered in students’ experiences and communities, must start at an early age for all students to see themselves as participants in science and to see science as relevant to their lives. This project will support 16 Master Teacher Fellows in four high-needs districts in Northwest Washington to lead change toward equitable, high quality science instruction in elementary schools, while working with teacher educators at Western Washington University to align curriculum and practices in teacher preparation courses. In addition, two environmental education-focused community organizations will work with the teacher leaders to integrate place-based education into their science curricula.

    This project at Western Washington University includes partnerships with high needs schools in four Northwest Washington districts:  Bellingham, Mount Vernon, Nooksack, and Sedro-Woolley, as well as with the Skagit Conservation Education Alliance, Whatcom Coalition for Environmental Education, and the Northwest Educational Service District. Project goals include: (1) Building a teacher leadership model that will enact a shared vision of equitable, effective science education in participating schools; (2) Developing sustainable partnerships between elementary schools, higher education, and community organizations based on reciprocal learning that builds coherence between K-6 science education and teacher preparation; and (3) Generating knowledge about essential elements and outcomes of equity-focused teacher leader development. We will use research-based processes and tools to enact a model of teacher leadership that uses networked improvement communities to enable rapid testing and evaluation of innovations targeting the schools’ vision for science education. Teachers and principals at high-needs schools will take leadership in creating the conditions to enact truly equitable, high-quality science education at the elementary level. This Track 3: Master Teaching Fellowships project is supported through the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program (Noyce). The Noyce program supports talented STEM undergraduate majors and professionals to become effective K-12 STEM teachers and experienced, exemplary K-12 teachers to become STEM master teachers in high-need school districts. It also supports research on the effectiveness and retention of K-12 STEM teachers in high-need school districts.

  • NSF Awards "Using Learning Assistants to Make Physics Teaching More Effective, Equitable, and Engaging"


    SMATE's Tra Huynh is a contributor to the National Science Foundation grant: Using Learning Assistants to Make Physics Teaching More Effective, Equitable, and Engaging.   This project, aimed at enhancing teaching and learning in large introductory physics courses for the betterment of STEM education, is a collaborative effort involving investigators from Seattle Pacific University, the University of Washington Bothell, and Western Washington University. The project recognizes the significance of active, student-centered instruction in improving learning outcomes, especially in large class settings. Learning Assistants (LAs) play a pivotal role in making courses more engaging and student-centered, provided they are equipped to address diverse science ideas from students. To achieve this, the project focuses on three key objectives: investigating the teaching and learning approaches of LAs, developing and testing effective pedagogical materials, and promoting diversity among LAs. This transformative approach to LA training, known as "TRELLIS: Training to Elicit and Leverage Ideas about Science," seeks to create a trellis of knowledge, skills, and perspectives to support fruitful ideas in physics education. The project's outcomes are poised to have a nationwide impact on LA programs and potentially extend to other disciplines, aligning perfectly with the NSF's mission to enhance STEM education for all students. This award reflects the project's intellectual merit and broader impact in advancing STEM education.

  • Advancing Equitable Science Education: New Research Project Explores Culturally Responsive Curriculum Adaptation 

    The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.7 million to Western Washington University for a 3-year project that aims to advance equitable science education in the elementary years. CREST: Culturally Responsive Elementary Science Teaching is a collaboration between faculty in Science, Math, and Technology Education (SMATE) at Western Washington University, local school districts, tribal nations, and community partners. The project will provide high-quality practicum-based professional development for elementary teachers to prepare them to implement the Explore the Salish Sea (ESS) curriculum, a place- and project-based science curriculum grounded in both Western science and traditional ecological knowledge from Indigenous communities. Over three years, the project will work with a cohort of 30 elementary teachers, 30 preservice teachers, and approximately 1700 students. 

    Research conducted by the project team will examine how teachers leverage the ESS curriculum materials and customize instructional approaches to meet standards and the needs of diverse student populations. How teachers use and adapt curriculum materials has a significant impact on learning, and can have a considerable effect on curriculum-driven efforts to promote equity in education. Yet, most current studies provide only a snapshot of teachers' curriculum adaptation--often during their first-time implementing curriculum materials. Because research indicates teachers need at least two iterations with curriculum materials to use them purposefully and skillfully, a three-year study by the CREST project will contribute valuable knowledge about how teachers' capacity to make culturally responsive adaptations changes over time as they gain experience using curriculum materials.  

    For more information about the project, please visit or contact the Investigators: Dr. Debi Hanuscin at and Dr. Josie Melton at  


  • Welcome to the new Facilities, Collections and Technology Manager of SMATE, Whitney Morrison

    Whitney Morrison (right) is an educator that has dedicated the last 15 years to public schools and preparing preservice teachers for the workforce.  She is excited to support the students, staff and faculty of SMATE.  In her new role, Whitney hopes to develop the Learning Resource Center into a more inclusive space and draw in more k-12 partnerships!

    Need help thinking about science lessons, checking out curriculum and materials, or finding a children's book that is connected to science content? 

    Whitney is in the Learning Resource Center, ready to help!


    In January, a group of six Western Washington University students and two professors embarked on a seven-week study abroad trip to Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico. The main objective of the trip was to deepen students' understanding of multilingual education practices. They returned to Bellingham in March with valuable lessons and cherished memories. The trip was organized through the Woodring College of Education's MLE 437 course, which included two weeks of online courses on multilingual education policies and practices. Professor Don Burgess, highlighted how living and working in the community helped the group understand the local experiences, language, and indigenous knowledge. During their free time, the group enjoyed camping, exploring the area, and immersing themselves in the socially-oriented Mexican culture. This experience taught them the importance of being personable, friendly, and caring in their future roles as bilingual specialists or teachers. The impact of the trip on both the students and faculty members reaffirmed the joy of learning and the significance of cultural relevance in education.

  • The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) stands as the largest and most influential professional organization dedicated to advancing science education on a global scale. With a mission to transform science education for the benefit of all, NSTA strives to promote excellence and innovation in teaching through various means. Through extensive professional learning opportunities, strategic partnerships, and effective advocacy efforts, NSTA empowers educators, researchers, and administrators to provide engaging and impactful science education experiences for students of all backgrounds. By fostering collaboration, sharing best practices, and staying at the forefront of emerging trends and advancements, NSTA continues to shape the future of science education and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and critical thinkers.

    Congratulations to SMATE's very own, Dr. Debi Hanuscin, for being a newly elected NSTA board member!

  • Dr. Stephenson is Awarded an SJEC Grant

    Dr. Norda Stephenson, assistant professor in chemistry and SMATE, has been awarded a Social Justice and Equity Committee (SJEC) grant for the 2023-24 academic year. The title of her project is, Exploring the Participation and Persistence of Underrepresented Women in Chemistry.

  • Irwin L. Slesnick Interactive Symposium 2023

    Please join us for the Annual Irwin L. Slesnick Interactive Symposium. This year, we are excited to welcome our guests to Western's campus and a couple sessions are virtual for those unable to make it to campus. We hope you will join us! The detailed schedule of Symposium events is available online.

  • Former SMATE Students receive National NSTA New Teacher Award

    Hillary Hunsaker and Natalie Reeder, both former Elementary education/General Science BAE students and current teachers in Western Washington, each received the 2023 Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award for New Teachers from the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA)!  The NSTA Teacher Awards program recognizes extraordinary K–12 teachers, professors, principals, and science educators for their outstanding achievements in science education. Congratulations Hillary and Natalie!!

  • Student Spencer Green Brings Home Award

    Undergrad Spencer Green receives ASTE Award for Implications of Research for Educational Practice!!  WOW!!!

  • Math Education's Katie Rupe has just been awarded a Mathematics Education Trust (MET) Early Career Research Grant.  Way to go Katie!!

  • Looking for helpful insights into the potential role of evaluation in current STEM education research projects.  Listen as Data Dan Hanley talks about the Role of Evaluation in Research Projects for the NSF CADRE (Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education).

  • SMATE's Hanuscin and undergraduate Spencer Green win ASTE Outstanding paper award

    Debi Hanuscin is a professor jointly appointed between Elementary Education and SMATE.  Spencer Green is an undergraduate student in the early childhood education program.  Together they co-authored a paper, (Re)Learning to Teach Science with a Hearing Impairment: An Autoethnographic Study and presented it at the 2022 ASTE conference. In recognition of the implications of their research for educational practice, they have been awarded ASTE’s Outstanding Paper Award for the conference. Based on their own experiences with hearing loss, their study examines possibilities for rethinking ‘inclusion’ in science teacher education. Congratulations Debi and Spencer!!   

  • Give a shout out to our 2022 summer research scholarship awardees:

    Willa Rowan, Conor Naughton, Christopher O'Dell, Rachael Goodwin, Spencer Green, Emma Leeds, and Andrew Kivlighn.

    Way to go!!!

  • SMATE's Dan Hanley co-authors book chapter

    Hanley. D., Miller, M., Sorensen, J., Rogan-Klyve, A. (2022). Preparing University Faculty for Clinically Oriented, Practice-Based Teacher Education in Drew Polly & Eva Garin (Eds.) Preparing Quality Teachers:  Advances in clinical practice. Charlotte, NC:  Information Age Publishing.

  • Read the article, "Growing Understanding from a SPARK" about their educational partnership with the SPARK museum in the May/June 2022 issue of NSTA's journal, Connected Science Learning

  • Following a successful model developed in 2021, SCED 490 students with Dr. Caroline Hardin are hosting a virtual science fair for Happy Valley Elementary students.

  • SMATE grad is awarded Instructional Innovation Award

    One of our General Science Elementary graduates (spring 2019) Garrett Feldtman, in his 2nd year of teaching at Lackamas Elementary in Yelm, WA was awarded the Instructional Innovation Award by his district as well as nominated for his School Bell Award.  Way to go Garrett!!!

  • WWU students present at October NSTA Conference

    WWU students and alumni presented a session titled “SPARK Discovery and Invention” with Abby Whatley from the SPARK Museum. The session showcased NGSS-aligned curriculum modules the team developed in 2019 in collaboration with SPARK, Bellingham Public Schools, and their SCED 480/490 course with Dr. Hanuscin.

  • PESB Grant Awarded to Hardin

    Caroline Hardin, Computer Science/SMATE, received a grant from PESB (Professional Educator Standards Board) to engage in-service teachers in professional development on teaching Computer Science! This grant will help SMATE build important partnerships with teachers that can help support the new CS BAE!

  • Better in STEM grant funded

    SMATE's Hanley, Borda & Warren receive a new NSF grant. The National Science Foundation has funded a study at Western Washington University, entitled Building educational theory through enacting reforms (BETTER) in STEM. BETTER in STEM is a $3 million collaborative research project across three institutions to embed the use of inclusive, research-based instructional strategies within undergraduate STEM courses and departments.

  • SMATE/Computer Science faculty Hao and Hardin, were successful in getting PESB to add a Computer Science Endorsement!!

  • May 5th and 6th saw our first Virtual Slesnick Symposium.  Dr. Bryan Dewsbury gave an exceptional keynote and workshop attended by over 100 participants.  Watch the recording of the keynote or explore Dr. Dewsbury's resource list for faculty development and improving campus practices on inclusion.

  • A team of SMATE faculty lead by Debi Hanuscin have just published a paper in the International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, Supporting the Professional Development of Science Teacher Educators Through Shadowing. 

  • Annaliese Miller, 2020 recipient of the Summer Research scholarship and SMATE student employee, has published a paper in  Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific from her summer research. Check-out the abstract for Orbital and Stellar Parameters for 2M06464003+0109157: A Double-lined Eclipsing Binary of Spotted, Sub-solar Twins.

  • SMATE's Dimitri Dounas-Fraser and Teaching Assistant Isabel Mills have just co-authored an article for the American Physical Society (APS) Forum on Education (FEd) Spring 2021 Newsletter! The article describes a virtual panel in SCED 201

  • NSF funds grant for Multi-Disciplinary Exploration of Student Engagement in Scientific Practices

    Erin Duffy (PI), Lina Dahlberg (co-PI), Dimitri Dounas-Frazer (co-PI), and Norda Stephenson (co-PI) will collaborate to study science practices in chemistry, physics, and biology labs.

  • Noyce Capacity Building Project Funded

    A project aimed at improving K-6 Science education has been funded by the NSF.  This work will be done in partnership with with high needs schools in four districts in Northwest Washington: Bellingham, Mount Vernon, Nooksack, and Sedro-Woolley.  SMATE's director, Emily Borda, with Debi Hanuscin, Shannon Warren, Dan Hanley & Alejandro Acevedo-Gutierrez all collaborated on the proposal.


  • SMATE's Dan Hanley has book chapter accepted

    The book chapter submitted by Hanley, Miller, Sorensen, and Rogan-Klyve entitled, Preparing University Faculty for Clinically-oriented, Practice-based Teacher Education, for the book, Advancing Clinical Practice in Teacher Education, by Information Age Publishing was accepted!!

  • Alejandro Acevedo-Gutierrez's research profiled in Western Today

    WWU Biologists to Study the Hunting Behavior of Local Seals From the Air

  • Debi has authored a chapter entitled "Considering the Classroom Assessment of Nature of Science " in the newly published book, Nature of Science in Science Instruction; Rationales and Strategies, edited by William McComas.

  • Thanh Le, Physics/SMATE faculty member, awarded NSF Grant

    Grant Title:

    Collaborative Research: A Study of Socio-metacognition, Emotions, and Power Dynamics When Undergraduate Physics Students Engage in Collaborative Activities that Elicit Confusion


  • C-Core Paper

    MIT student Emily Schumacher, Shannon Warren, Dan Hanley, Ed Geary, and Emily Borda have a new paper out in The International Journal of STEM Education about the work done on the Change at the Core grant.  Initial implementation of active learning strategies in large, lecture STEM courses: lessons learned from a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary STEM faculty development program