The Department of Education has many different roles but it's primary roles for science education is to help support instruction and curriculum and assessment work across the state and that of course brings us into partnership with folks like the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
I remember very clearly the first big project that we had, that we worked on and it was around "Ready, Set, SCIENCE". That document, after "Taking Science to School," was released by the National Research Council and I was sharing information about it and Sarah Kirn and Sarah Morrisseau got really excited about what it could mean for the professional development work that they were doing and they began to frame and increasingly framed the work they were doing with teachers around the ideas in "Ready, Set, SCIENCE" which made it a natural progression to the "Framework" and then obviously to the Next Generation Science Standards.
The Next Generation Science Standards is a state led initiative to create new science education standards. The intent is for them to become commonly held throughout the country. There are already 26 states participating in the work and they are really important to us because they will, I think, finally get us to that point where we are not teaching content separate from practices separate from cross cutting concepts but they really force us to put them together weaving the teaching of concepts about science with knowing how to use models and asking kids to use models to explain and predict ideas asking them to incorporate ideas about mathematics, English language arts into teaching and learning. It's going to be really critical.
GMRI is involved in various committees like the STEM Collaborative and other big work like that, committee level work in the state. Most significantly for me is the Gulf of Maine Research Institute's vision because that vision incorporates all kids in the state of Maine. It's to create a scientifically literate community and there aren't very many organizations in the state of Maine or in the country that really wrap their arms around all kids and that makes GMRI a very important partner for the Department of Education.