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Kansas Science Blogs

Blog disclaimer: Though this is within a KSDE site, the nature of blogs is less formal than a typical State Department of Education site. This the nature of entries here will often be reflections on science education that do not necessarily represent policy. The effort here is to engage in reflections on what science education is and in how we can prepare a new science literate generation as well as to provide updates about what is happening in Kansas Science Eduaction without filling your email boxes.

Monday Science Minute- Weekly Updates
Author: Created: 3/29/2011 2:13 PM RssIcon
This blog is one of the ways that I will attempt to facilitate communication with teachers of science across the state of Kansas. Expect commentary on both science and science education news.
By mrichard on 8/25/2021 8:19 AM
By mrichard on 10/26/2020 10:26 AM

Good morning,

This morning is cold and snowy in Kansas; but, on the Moon? NASA is reporting more water than previously thought: I can't help but be excited as I think about what this discovery may mean for the students sitting in your classrooms that may be part of future space missions. I found myself listening to the live NASA broadcast and my heart swelled as I heard the curiosity in the reporter's voices; "Glass beads" "melting part of the lunar surface" "SOFIA- Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy". They asked questions, talked about future investigations, argued from evidence- it was like listening to a 3 dimensional party! I hope you have the opportunity to share this excitement and continue the party in your classrooms as we all need moments of joy right now and whether it's celebrating Mole Day (Link) or Mass of the Earth Day (Link) join me in taking a moment to remember all the reasons our content is so special.

There are a lot of upcoming events in the next several weeks; check them out here:

  • KSDE DEI in STEM Series TODAY, (Registration Link)
  • Kansas Science Teacher Meet-up, TOMORROW 10/27, (Registration Link)
  • Kansas and Missouri Environmental Education Virtual Conference, November 2-7 (Registration Link)
  • American Association of Physics Teachers, FREE Regional Meeting / Virtual Conference, November 7 (Registration Link)
  • MINKS&CO Webinar on "Asking Questions and Defining Problems; Obtaining, Evaluating and Communication Information", November 12 (Registration Link)

I continue to say it; but please know I mean it with all sincerity- I am so thankful for the work you are doing for Kansas students. Please let me know what I can do to support you and stay warm and healthy.



By mrichard on 10/20/2020 2:29 PM

 Good morning,

Why the powers that be put Earth Science and Chemistry week back to back is beyond me; but, I hope regardless of your content and your space you are finding opportunities for joy this week. 

Things have been quiet as we feel classrooms coming back together. One thing to share this week is the Kansas Department of Health and Envionment's 22nd annial "Keep It Clean Kansas Calendar Contest"! Winners will be chosen from every grade level K-12, and their artwork will be showcased in a calendar distributed to over 17,000 Kansans! Due to Covid-19, each student will receive a gift card and prize basket and a poster-sized version of their artwork signed by Governor Laura Kelly and KDHE Secretary Dr. Lee A. Norman in lieu of an in-person celebration.


This calendar aims to increase awareness of the importance of reducing waste, recycling, and composting in the state of Kansas. We hope this competition encourages conversations on environmental topics among your students.


This year’s theme is: “Trash to Treasure”

Trash to Treasure can mean many things to different people. Thrifting is a way to reduce waste and give old items a new life. Recycling can turn a water bottle into a park bench, and food scraps can be made into compost to provide nutrients to a garden. Once was old can be made new again. It’s up to the artist on what this means to them.



The Rules: 

  1. Only artwork submitted on 8.5x11 inch paper in landscape orientation will be accepted.
  2. Copyrighted materials such as cartoon characters or team mascots (Wildcats, Jayhawks, Royals, etc.) cannot be published.
  3. 1st Place Winners from the previous two years are not eligible to win.
  4. Artwork must be postmarked by October 23, 2020 (Deadline extended from October 16)



How to Enter: 

Make sure on the back of the artwork in legible writing is:

Students Name



Name of Teacher

Teacher’s Email



Mail Artwork To:


1000 SW Jackson St.

Suite 320

Topeka, KS 66612


For more information, visit:


Have a great week friends and please let me know if I can be doing anything to support you!



By mrichard on 10/12/2020 3:49 PM

Good morning,

Happy Earth Science Week! There are a lot of things coming up to help us celebrate this wonderful world we live in! One option would be to visit the Earth Science Week Website: (Link) another would be to register the Kansas and Missouri Environmental Education Virtual Conference taking place virtually November 2-7, 2020 (Registration Link). Also, last but not least... Wendell G Mohling Foundation is extending the deadline for Award Applications to be postmarked by October 25, 2020. Or via email by 10-25-2020 This is an AMAZING opportunity to receiving funding for national conferences, please consider applying (Application Link)

Have a great week!




By mrichard on 10/7/2020 1:38 PM

Good morning,

I hope this finds you and yours well! The most recent updates were shared this week in our October KSDE Science Newsletter here: (Link) If you are not recieving these, please be sure to sign up- we'd love to connect!

Opportunities for Connection and Collaboration:

Curriculum Leaders (Third Tuesday of the Month): October 20, 2020 4:00 PM: (Registration Link)   or 7:00 PM (Registration Link) 

Teachers (Fourth Tuesday of the Month):
October 27, 2020 4:00 PM: (Registration Link)  or 7:00 PM  (Registration Link)


Also In This Newsletter:

- Information about MINKS & CO, an annual webinar series geared at sharing best practices in science education across state lines. 

  Join us for a conversation around: Mathematical and Computational Thinking: October 8 (Link) Or, Join all the sessions and stay in the
  loop by signing up here: (Link)

- Wendell G Mohling Foundation Award: (Link)

- And important opportunities to connect with great science teachers around the state!

Have a great week!



By mrichard on 9/21/2020 1:55 PM

Good morning,

This week we finally get into fall; astronomical fall that is, with the equinox on 9/22. I'm hoping that with the balance of light and dark, we also start to find more balance within ourselves. I am seeing such amazing work coming out of Kansas Science Classrooms and sincerely hope you all are taking equally as great care of yourselves. 

Things from the week:

  • I had the pleasure of attending STEMIE Fest which promoted inclusive STEM practices from Birth - Age 5. I learned a lot about the ways our earliest learners interact with the world and would encourage you to browse their site for ideas: (Link)
  • Today I attended a workshop on neurodiversity in STEM classrooms. Here is a link to the original event posting - as well as some resources for connection they shared; The Connectory (Link) and FabFems (Link)

I am REALLY looking forward to our educators collaborative session TOMORROW- Please feel free to sign up and join us 4 pm (Link)  or 7 pm (Link).

Have a great week!


By mrichard on 9/14/2020 9:30 AM

Good morning Kansas Educators!

I apologize, I'm going to be a little late with updates this morning as I am listening to this presentation: (Link) from the Royal Astronomical Society presentation about potentional levels of phosphine on Venus. I'm feeling skeptical and embracing all the nature of science vibes this morning and it is wonderful! Here is a link to an article in the New York Times regarding the same events: (Link)

Also today is the launch of the STEMIE fest- STEMIE fest seeks to promote innovation for Inclusion in Early Education (Link). Their data bases and resources are components I wish I access to when I was in the classroom and I would HIGHLY reccomend one taking a look.

This week's professional Development Opportunities:


By mrichard on 9/8/2020 7:50 AM

Good morning,

I hope you had a wonderful and relaxing Labor day weekend and I am SO excited that many of you are heading back to school this week! I am also so excited for all the opportunity that this year holds- I know a lot of things feel different this year but there is still an undeniable positive buzz in the air and I am so happy that this season is finally upon us. Pumpkin spice, freshly sharpened pencils and hopefully welcoming smiles are greeting you all.

Last week marked the first of the month and the KSDE Science Newsletter was sent out via our Science listserv. You can find a copy of it here (Link) and if you are not receiving them, please be sure to sign up for them here (Link)

Next week we are very pleased to offer several sessions:

Can't make any of those dates? Please check out our Professional Development / Collaboration Calendar to find a time that might work: (Calendar Link)

I know that this with the start of the school year this may seem overwhelming but promise you these will be very low key. My goal is support you in whatever ways you need.

In other exciting Professional Development news-

  • The Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education is still looking for presenters for their fall conference (Proposal Link) 
  • Kansas Association of Biology Teachers is excited to announce their schedule for their FREE fall virtual conference (Registration Link)
  • The Kansas Water Office is looking for teachers to provided feedback on current practices and who interested in working on place-based, NGSS aligned units. Please consider taking their survey and providing them this critical information (Survey Link)

One more tip; I came across this on Twitter and thought it might benefit some of you. Here is a way to monitor multiple breakput rooms simulataneously: (Video Link)

Thank you SO much for everything you do and as always, please reach out if there is anything I can do to support you!


By mrichard on 8/31/2020 9:02 AM

Good morning,
Last week's work centered around several themes for me; but, when I look at them closely, they all come together with the focus of "how do we help students and others" connect the dots? The beautiful picture of science education takes shape through connections---Too much for a Monday? Maybe.

Here is a quick summary of what was going on:

  1. The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine- hosted conversations centered around Equity, Justice and Anti-Racism in Elementary Science and Engineering (Link to showcase) and on Integrating Science  and Literacy in Elementary Education (Link to showcase). This had led to some powerful conversations in the department centered around access to and the incorporation of strong information texts and how we might work together. I would love to hear about your favorite source for informational texts if you're interested in sharing please reach out!
  2. I'm seeing more and more calls for connections! Please know that as you navigate this space there are many science industry professionals who are seeking for ways to help educators. For example, the GeoCat Workshop at K-State (Link) is eager to help. In addition to their summer workshop they are excited to host a monthly zoom for teachers to connect and discuss GeoScience and GeoScience pathways for students. Their next zoom will be September 14th at 4pm (registration link).
  3. Plan Time PD Modules- I'm very excited to share the first in an ongoing series of "Plan Time PD" Modules. "Plan Time PD" is an effort to provide educators with professional development in bite-size offerings that could be completed by a teacher on their plan period, a group of teachers during a department meeting or a group of educators during a devoted professional learning community (PLC) time. A series of Plan Time PD modules have been developed to assist educators in understand the Kansas State Science Standards and the three dimensions embedded in them. The modules are videos and handouts with a link to recieve a certificate for engagement. Check them out (Link) More coming soon!

Have a great week!

By mrichard on 8/24/2020 7:43 AM

Conversations have continued this week about what this back to school transition will/should look like. I'm finding that educators are reaching out the most for affirmationa and so, let me remind you again how much I appreciate the work you are doing. I shared a story several times last week about my son's excitement about returning to school and I know that, regardless of what it looks like, your students are so excited to be back with you!

Much of what I heard last week was a need and call for community amongst the science educators in Kansas. I am hoping to provide that for you in several ways and am happy to shift these as needed. The first piece I would like to offer is a collaborative time and space for conversation. These meetings will have no set agenda to start; however, I'm open to the idea of themes as we move forward to help foster productive conversation.  

On-Going Monthly PD / Collaboration Sessions 


Curriculum Leaders (Third Tuesday of the Month, Starting September 15): 
Register using the links provided: 4:00 PM Link or  7:00 PM: Link
Teachers (Forth Tuesday of the Month, Starting September 22): 
Register using the links provided: 4:00 PM  Link or  7:00 PM Link    
Additonal opportunities (such as the NEW KSDE STEM- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Series) will be updated on the "PD & Implementation Resources" (Link) section of the Science KSDE website and I am hoping that the calendar provided on that page will also make partcipitation easier. 
Additional Resources to share this week;



Kansas Considerations for Modifying Face to Face and Remote Science Instruction (Link)

  • 2020 Conference Presentation Proposal Form- Kansas ~ Missouri Environmental Education Virtual Conference, We’re in this Together: Choose Your Own EE Adventure! Call For Proposals: Presentation Proposal Form (Link)
Additional Tools and Supports for 2020-2021
  • Phenomena: Not Just for the Classroom: Link
  • Continuing Science at Home with Science Notebooks: Link
  • Science Talk Moves: Pass the Science Please: Link


  • The Illinois Science Teaching Association has been busy adapting their storylines for remote settings. They have made everything public and OER. While these resources have not been vetted by KSDE, they do provide a nice reference for those looking to get started in storelining or to adapt for remote learning. (Link) 


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