FIELDSTEM:

  • Takes students and teachers outside to become aware of and connected to the natural systems at the core of life on Earth.
  • Exposes students and teachers to the career opportunities driving the economy in their community by collaborating with local organizations, agencies, and industry.
  • Works to create a classroom culture that welcomes and includes diverse perspectives and values and discusses pros and cons of solutions with civil discourse.
  • Integrates core subject standards around authentic, locally relevant projects to engage students and teachers in how learning can be applied to the real questions, problems and issues of their communities.
  • Aligns the efforts of formal educators and nonformal community collaborators to improve student learning.
  • And works toward a day when all students in their role as learners have voice and are active productive scientists and citizens in their communities.

Our professional development model demonstrates and embeds research-based instructional practices that encourage educators toward continual improvement in FieldSTEM delivery. Our FieldSTEM Implementation Continuums, at the classroom, school and district level, identify components of FieldSTEM implementation and provide indicators for three levels of implementation: 1. Exploring, 2. Emerging, and 3. School of Excellence. To learn about upcoming professional development opportunities, please see our events calendar.

More About PEI

We are leading the FieldSTEM movement in Washington by connecting the natural resource, agriculture, and environmental sectors to education and providing businesses with tools to effectively engage students in career connected learning that will help them attain employment and thrive in future jobs. By collaborating with marginalized communities including rural, low-income, and Tribal communities, we promote diverse and inclusive models of learning that lead to equity, one of our core values. At the same time, we are helping to bridge the gap between major workforce needs that go unmet in the natural resource, agriculture, and environment sectors, and student perception that there are no jobs available in their communities. 

Our resources and tools include customizable, integrated curriculum guides and performance tasks that are designed by education experts and aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). As we serve more educators, schools, and districts throughout the state, we are continually developing and refining our tools and resources to meet teacher needs.

To learn more about implementing FieldSTEM in your classroom, school, or district, please contact our Program Director, Denise Buck: [email protected] 

If you would like to support our work, please contact our Development Director, Lauren Rodriguez, at [email protected] 

What Educational Leaders are Saying About FieldSTEM

Dr. Kala Lougheed

Kalama School District
2018 FieldSTEM Leadership Institute | 07/03/2018

Julie Price

Chewelah School District
FieldSTEM Leadership Institute | 07/03/2018

Equity

PEI is committed to inclusivity and to modeling inclusive practices in our work. This includes actively expanding the diversity of our staff and board and inviting others to participate with us as we work to build a more equitable landscape for learning so that all of Washington’s students see themselves as part of the solution to building sustainable communities.

PEI operates on the deeply-felt principle that high-quality K-12 education is a right for all students, not a privilege for a few. We believe that locally relevant, career connected, environmental and sustainability education leads to equality and social justice. To that end, we focus our efforts on public school districts and schools, and we often work with resource-strapped schools with high populations of marginalized and underrepresented students. We work with some of the smallest and most remote school districts such as Cape Flattery, Colfax and Naselle-Grays River. We also work with several of our state’s Tribal Nations, collaborating with educators at Tribal schools to develop and embed Indigenous values and traditions in natural resource management education.

To ensure accessibility to FieldSTEM, we seek funds to support our work so that our workshops are low-cost to educators, and so we can compensate educators for their time, travel and other expenses they may incur while attending our workshops. Furthermore, we offer our FieldSTEM guides, frameworks and units for free on our website, and when we do print and bind our guides, we don’t charge educators beyond our direct cost.

Integrated Learning

To effectively build sustainable communities in Seattle, Longview or Colton, Washington, students today need to understand and participate in conversations that incorporate the dynamic global exchange of knowledge and information. Students who are literate in multiple disciplines and comfortable balancing the pros and cons of decisions among them will be highly valued community members and employees.

FieldSTEM fosters knowledge, skills and abilities beginning in the pre-kindergarten classroom by integrating study around meaningful topics. Integration is an effective approach to learning as it helps students develop expertise in the important role interrelationships play in the real world. 

Career Connected Learning

Sustainable communities are built on strong social and economic systems that steward the environmental systems that support them. Career connected learning (CCL) is an initiative developed through partnerships between educators, workforce development professionals and employers seeking articulated pathways describing  how the knowledge, skills, and abilities a student gains in pre-K-12 schooling articulates with the needs to successfully become employed or move into post-secondary programs (certifications, Associate, Bachelor, Masters, and Doctoral degrees).

Our work has always connected students to actual questions, problems, issues, and opportunities that employed people in their community are facing – we engage students in the real work of the community. CCL at PEI is the intentional support we provide educators to ensure that the work students do in the classroom is meaningful in the community outside the classroom.

  • At younger grade levels, students visit local organizations and businesses to learn about the work in their communities and gain exposure to the variety of work that relates to the natural resources, agriculture, and environmental sectors.
  • In intermediate grades, they continue to be exposed to more professionals in their community and begin to explore the skills needed to succeed in those professions.
  • In middle and high school, students take their career exploration to a new level with work-integrated learning wherein they actively investigate questions, design solutions, or build consensus in the classroom to make contributions to local organizations or businesses actual work. Students at these grade levels may also be involved in work-based learning, where they work at a job site, or even internships and apprenticeships.

At all levels, engaging students in the work of their community gives them a “seat at the table” by strengthening their knowledge and skills and empowering their voice in their communities. Our FieldSTEM Model, when implemented with high-impact field experiences at every grade level, builds the knowledge, skills and abilities of students pre-K-12 toward jobs in the natural resource, agriculture, environmental, and outdoor recreation sectors.

To download our Career Connected Learning Teaching Materials and Resources, go here.

For Career Connected Learning Research and Reports, go here.

Locally Relevant

Just as no two individuals are the same, no school, school district or community is the same as any other. We celebrate this diversity at PEI. Our FieldSTEM Model is designed to be a framework for research-based inclusive educational practices. When PEI works with educators, there is always space to make sure that the product or practice is locally relevant, designed to connect to the individuals and the community – the place – where it will be implemented.

The places in which we live, the history of the land and people, influence the communities of today. PEI encourages students to learn about the land, the reasons that people settled, how that settlement led to past and current practices and to ask, “Are these current practices culturally, economically and ecologically sustainable?” PEI encourages students to explore the economic engines in their communities, the organizations, agencies, and industries that drive the employment, to learn how the local economy is interrelated to the ecosystem and the diverse perspectives and cultures of the citizens. When students are engaged in answering real questions, solving real problems and issues and capitalizing on real opportunities, they are more likely to meet the standards that our educational systems use to measure success.

 

Field-Based Learning

Why take students outdoors to learn? The reasons are many and varied. In the 1970s children spent twice as much time outdoors as they do today. How this affects us is increasingly understood as medical professionals see the impacts on human health of increased sedentary time indoors. We incorporated field-based time as one of the critical components of our FieldSTEM Model for two reasons:

  1. In order for teachers and students to care about the health of the ecosystem, they need the capacity and confidence to spend time outside, paying attention to the lessons that come from other living organisms and making observations that they can use to increase their understanding and make sense of the world around them.
  2. Some students come with a complex understanding of the natural world and excel in outdoor learning environments. If they are only taught indoors, they may never be seen as community contributors or as knowledgeable and with gifts to share.

If our education system does not work to build an understanding of and appreciation for natural systems and how they are impacted by and sustain our social and economic systems, our communities will not be sustainable.

For research related to the importance of field-based learning, go here.

With Formal Educators

Our strength is in building educator capacity to get students outdoors, meeting state standards while learning and contributing to meaningful work in their own community. Our work:

  • Is aligned to state standards – PEI embraces three-dimensional NGSS instruction integrated with Common Core English language arts, math, economics, civics and environmental and sustainability standards.
  • Provides teachers with useful classroom resources and tools that can be implemented immediately.
  • Helps teachers set and meet Teacher and Principal Evaluation Project (TPEP) goals.
  • Identifies Teacher Leaders who can speak from experience at our workshops and support new teachers with FieldSTEM classroom implementation.
  • Brings community collaborators to teachers to support authentic career connected learning.
  • Provides opportunities to earn state-approved clock hours, STEM clock hours, or Career and Technical Education (CTE) hours.

We provide diverse entry points for initial workshops, tailoring the workshop to the community and then offering ongoing support to educators. We are not a “one and done” workshop model. We work with teachers, schools, and districts committed to improving instructional practices through FieldSTEM. Because our materials and frameworks encourage the integration of core subjects around locally relevant storylines, we engage educators in this process, encourage ongoing collaboration and facilitate grade-level planning efforts. This work helps teachers understand how to meet multiple standards at once in meaningful ways for students and embeds best instructional strategies to help educators improve instruction including formative and performance assessment using science notebooking, culturally responsive teaching practices, social-emotional learning (SEL) strategies, and practical measures. 

To learn about and register for our upcoming professional learning opportunities, please visit our calendar. If you’re interested in learning more about how PEI can support you or your organizational staff, please contact us.

With Nonformal Educators

PEI offers workshops specifically for nonformal educators to: 

  • Help build nonformal educators’ understanding of the needs in K-12 education, including how to effectively meet academic standards.
  • Give voice to the cultures, traditions and values of the community by identifying projects the community cares about.
  • Help local, regional, and state agencies meet outreach objectives by partnering effectively with schools.

Nonformal educators come from a broad range of organizations and agencies—from fish hatcheries to conservation districts to city governments—that have an interest in supporting environmental education. We can support nonformal educators to offer effective student learning and enhanced classroom instruction by providing meaningful learning opportunities. Our workshops are activity-based and model best practices in formal education instructional practices. We strengthen the connection between formal and nonformal education to benefit the broader field of environmental and sustainability education.

To learn more about upcoming events, workshops and institutes, visit our calendar.

If you’re interested in learning more about how PEI can support you or your organizational staff, please fill out the contact form.

With Administrators

We partner with school and district administrators to customize professional learning to meet district goals while meeting local employment needs and opportunities. We help educators, pre-K-12, embrace the power of integrating as an efficient way to meet standards and engage students in meaningful work. We are not a “one-and-done” workshop model; we work with teachers, the community, and administration to support ongoing FieldSTEM implementation.

With board representation from the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP), the Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA), and the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA), in alliance with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and regional educational service districts, and as a member of the Governor’s STEM Education Innovation Alliance and a participant in the Washington STEM Networks, we work strategically across the state to further effective educational practice. We are committed to formally aligning our state’s educational reform efforts with local ecological, economic and social systems so that all students know about and have the skills to be employed in local STEM jobs.  

We offer consulting and planning expertise to school and district teams:  

  • Instructional strategies and support for FieldSTEM projects 
  • District-wide scope and sequence curriculum work to include environmental and sustainability education (ESE)
  • Needs assessment and entry points for FieldSTEM learning
  • Community assets assessments and collaboration modeling
  • Career connected learning pathway alignment
  • Teacher leadership development
  • Ongoing professional learning, support and mentoring 
  • FieldSTEM Professional Learning Workshops

Partners from AWSP, WASA, WSSDA, and OSPI also work with PEI to understand and support the roles and responsibilities that various leaders have in the successful implementation of sustainable programming.

We invite administrators to join our professional learning network to help us understand how we can better support schools and districts in this work so that all teachers can offer all students the opportunity to learn through integrated, career connected, locally relevant field-based projects.

Calendar of Events

PEI welcomes participation in our expert-designed, NGSS aligned, experiential workshops and institutes. We aim to increase educators’ knowledge, skills and confidence in taking students outdoors to learn locally relevant, real-world science that is connected to careers in environmental science, natural resources and agriculture sectors.

Calendar of Events

Calendar of Events
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Eastern Washington: FieldSTEM Notebooking

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CANCELLED: East Sound: Teaching Science Content with ELA Performance Tasks

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Lower Columbia: FieldSTEM – Teaching Science Content with ELA Performance Tasks

Project Learning Tree: Connecting Elementary Science to Urban Ecosystems

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Coast: FieldSTEM Notebooking

Eastern Washington: Teaching Science Content with ELA Performance Tasks

Locally Relevant 3-D Climate Science Storylines

+ Export Events

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I see what workshops are coming up?

Thank you for your interest! Please visit our Training & Workshop Event Calendar to see offerings in your region. Questions about future workshops may be directed to [email protected].

Q. How do I register for a workshop?

Interested participants may register for workshops by following the links embedded in our promotional fliers and on our Training & Workshop Event Calendar to see offerings in your region.   

Q. How do I get a copy of your resources?

You can visit our FieldSTEM Resources page for free downloadable copies of our guides, performance tasks, curricular units, and more. To order hard copies of our resources, please contact us at 360-705-9294 or [email protected].

Q. How do I connect with someone in my area?

To connect with your local FieldSTEM Coordinator, please contact Nicole George, Program Coordinator, at 360-705-9289 or [email protected].

Q. Do you offer professional development clock hours?

We are an OSPI-approved provider for Washington State Continuing Education Clock Hours. Most of our workshops meet the criteria for STEM clock hours. If you have questions about clock hours, please contact Denise Buck, Program Director at 360-705-9286 or [email protected].

Q. Will you come to our school to meet with us?

We would be honored to meet with you at your school. Please contact Denise Buck, Program Director, at 360-705-9286 or [email protected] to schedule a meeting.

Q. How do we organize and schedule a PEI presentation?

If you would like to schedule a presentation to explore ways your organization can collaborate with us, please contact Denise Buck, Program Director, at 360-705-9286 or [email protected].

Q. Where can I find a summary of PEI's workshop evaluations?

PEI is a Washington State approved clock hour provider. A summary of the evaluations from our clock hour workshops can be found here. This document will be updated monthly. For evaluations from workshops that occurred before July 2018, please contact Nicole George, Program Coordinator, at [email protected].

Guides

PEI workshops include FieldSTEM® guides for educators providing frameworks for how to implement rigorous, integrated, outdoor field experiences with students. Our guides are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and are available for free download.

Designing High Impact Field Experiences

Designing High Impact Field Experiences are some of the most meaningful learning opportunities a student will have throughout his or her educational career. This book guides educators to consider learning goals, locations and partners, activities, adjacent lessons and logistics that will help maximize the positive impact of a field experience.

Field Investigations
with NGSS

Field Investigations helps teachers develop and implement locally relevant opportunities to engage students in core subject instruction using natural settings—a framework that increases students’ problem solving abilities and motivation to learn science.

Project-Based
Learning Model

Project-Based Learning Model provides resources and examples through an 8-step model.

Photo Point Monitoring

Photo Point Monitoring: Using Technology in Field Investigations to Monitor Change Over Time is intended to provide formal and nonformal educators a tool to bring technology into outdoor experiences and field investigations.

Sustainable Tomorrow

Sustainable Tomorrow demonstrates how to apply systems thinking and problem solving tools employed by natural resource managers using lessons from Project Learning Tree (PLT), Project WILD and Project WET. 

Landscape Investigation Guidelines

Landscape Investigation Guidelines challenges K-12 students to integrate science and social science inquiry by applying spatial thinking, which mirrors scientists’ practices as they make decisions that impact natural resources on landscapes.

Schoolyard Biodiversity

Schoolyard Biodiversity is targeted to elementary and middle schools. These guidelines teach educators how to engage students in the investigation of biodiversity in their own schoolyard using field investigation methodologies.

Fostering Outdoor Observation Skills

Fostering Outdoor Observation Skills guides teachers to develop observation skills with students by observing the “book of nature.”

Technology for Field Investigations

Technology for Field Investigations provides tools for educators to engage students in designing and conducting their own field investigations mirroring the practices of professional scientists.

ELA Performance Tasks

Our performance tasks use environmental problems or issues as the context while students apply English language arts (ELA) skills of reading, writing and researching to complete the work. Performance tasks are tailored to assist educators in integrating locally relevant, complex texts with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core while providing frameworks for constructing meaningful field experiences for students. Included are examples of teacher-created locally relevant performance tasks.

Solutions Oriented Learning (SOL) Storylines

Coming soon.

More PEI Teaching Materials

Check out all of PEI’s additional thematic units of study that can be integrated into any classroom. To determine which will work best in your classroom, we encourage educators to explore the curricular units below.

Project Learning Tree (PLT), Project WILD & Project WET

Activity Guides for Teachers

PEI is an access point for three widely recognized national environmental education programs. Through hands-on interdisciplinary activities, K-12 students investigate environmental concepts, problems or issues encouraging them to make informed decisions. These activity guides are available mostly through workshops. Visit each program’s website for more information.


Using the forest as a “window to the world,” Project Learning Tree inspires and empowers students. The program easily adapts to meet local needs such as local investigations, service learning projects and partnerships with community-based resource professionals. PLT is the environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation. PEI sponsors PLT in Washington and serves as the State Coordinator.

Visit the National PLT website and the PLT Washington website.


Project WILD is based on the premise that young people and their educators have a vital interest in learning about the earth as home for people and wildlife. Activities within the guides cover topics ranging from wildlife as small as a microscopic organism to as large as a blue whale. This is a program of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA). PEI serves as the Western Washington State Coordinator. The Franklin Conservation District, the Eastern Washington Coordinator, maintains a calendar of upcoming Project Wild Workshops.

Visit the National Project WILD website.



People’s relationship to water is a major theme of Project WET. Project WET’s activity guides are a collection of innovative water-related activities that are hands-on, easy to use and fun. This is a program of the Project WET International Foundation.

Visit the National Project WET website.

Navigating the Standards

Washington State K–12 Learning Standards

These standards include Tribal Sovereignty, NGSS, Common Core and Environment and Sustainability Education (ESE). These learning standards reflect basic education defined by the Washington State Legislature (RCW 28A.150.210). As required by state law, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) develops the state’s learning standards (RCW 28A.655.070) and oversees their assessment for state and federal accountability purposes.


Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State

The 2015 legislature passed SB5433 requiring the inclusion of Tribal sovereignty curriculum be taught in all schools. The use of the curriculum has been endorsed by all 29 federally recognized Tribes and is available from OSPI’s Office of Native Education.


Environmental and Sustainability Education

The Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) program’s purpose is to support academic success and life-long learning, and to develop a responsible citizenry capable of applying knowledge of ecological, economic, and socio-cultural systems to meet current and future needs. Environmental education is a mandatory area of study in Washington, required by WAC 392-410-115.

The state’s K-12 Integrated Environmental and Sustainability Learning Standards describe what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.

OSPI and E3 Washington led the development of the Washington State Environmental and Sustainability Literacy Plan. PEI participated on the steering committee. 

Sustainable Design Project is a statewide interdisciplinary project bringing industry, business, community and higher education partners together with K-12 students to design sustainable solutions to real-world challenges. PEI participated on the steering committee.


Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

These are the national K–12 science standards. Standards set the expectations for what students are expected to know and be able to accomplish. The NGSS were developed by states to improve science education for all students. Washington State adopted NGSS in 2013. NGSS shifts classroom instruction from a traditional model of teaching content to an expectation that students meet performance expectations that weave science practices and cross-cutting concepts with content (disciplinary core ideas).


K-12 English Language Arts Learning Standards

Washington formally adopted the Washington State K-12 Learning Standards (Common Core State Standards) for English language arts and mathematics. Assessments for these standards are currently in place.


Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

The Smarter Balanced Assessment System is a key part of implementing the Common Core State Standards and preparing all students for success in college and career. Developed in collaboration with K-12 teachers and higher education faculty, these new assessments provide an academic check-up and are designed to give teachers better information to help students succeed.


Policy Work

To achieve our vision of scientifically literate citizens making balanced decisions for sustainable communities, we collaborate with leaders from diverse sectors to set policy that ensures all students in Washington receive integrated, locally relevant, career connected, field-based learning. 

Recent Policy Work

Climate Science Education

Collaborating with OSPI, the Association of Educational Service Districts, E3 Washington, IslandWood and Washington Green Schools, we are helping secure state support for effective implementation of the state science standards with a focus on climate science. The Climate Science Proviso passed in 2018, securing 4 million dollars to help ensure that all students receive climate science education through the public school system. In less than one year – with leadership from OSPI and the University of Washington – the educational service districts and community-based organizations such as PEI have launched the resulting state-level network, ClimeTime, which has already engaged teachers across the state to improve delivery of important climate-related learning. In the 2019 session, the Climate Science Collaborative is working to secure ongoing funding to support this work.

Educating for a Green Economy

In October 2018, with partner E3 Washington, we launched the project Educating for A Green Economy (EGE).  This project grew out of PEI’s work to pass SSB5285 which called for a workforce study to help uncover reasons why our natural resource, environmental and outdoor recreation sectors are underrepresented in the state employment data. The Workforce Study, led by the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, published Outdoor Industry Jobs report in October 2018. This report finds that the current data used to make decisions about employment prospects, especially in the agriculture, natural resource, environmental and outdoor recreation sectors are inadequate.

Our Executive Director sits on several councils and Board that help guide Washington State Policy including the Governor’s STEM Innovation Alliance, OSPI’s NEXUS team, The Department of Natural Resources Natural Areas Program Advisory Council and E3 Washington’s Board of Directors. 

 

Research Supporting the Need for FieldSTEM

Decades of academic research and studies have proven the effectiveness of PEI’s programs. Search through our bibliography of supporting publications here.

Standards

PEI provides opportunities for school districts to meet state expectations for Common Core subjects of reading, writing, and math; and the Next Generation Science Standards for science.


Student Achievement

PEI supports educators in enhancing science achievement through rigorous environmental science education.


Outdoor Learning

PEI empowers educators to provide rich learning experiences for students using the outdoors as a classroom.


Field Science Studies

Through FieldSTEM, educators provide opportunities for students to conduct local field investigations, applying reasoned judgement and problem-solving skills.


Career Connections

Working closely with environmental science, natural resource, and agricultural businesses in regions across our state, PEI encourages educators to connect what students are learning in the classroom to what’s happening in the real world.


Accountability

PEI demonstrates the effectiveness of the FieldSTEM framework through accountability and performance measures.


Partner with PEI

We build community connections between schools, local organizations, agencies and the natural resources industries of our state. These connections give students a chance to build a sense of place, explore local career opportunities and develop the critical thinking skills needed for our next generation of decision-makers who will consider ecosystems, community and economic tradeoffs.

We also empower teachers to embed career connected learning into their classroom units and create opportunities for students to engage in field-based science and engineering. When community partners work with PEI and teachers, they help create awareness of promising jobs in the community and clarify the types of skills a student needs to be hired. Career connected learning helps students plan for a successful future and it helps local businesses look forward to a skilled and inspired workforce. A win-win for communities!

Connect with Us

If you would like to talk with us about collaborating to bring locally relevant, career connected, outdoor STEM learning in your region, please contact us.

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