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CREATE for STEM at Michigan State University provides research-based science curricula developed with funding from the National Science Foundation and other sources.  These high-quality project-based learning materials are designed to meet Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), have been piloted by dozens of teachers in real-world settings, and some have been rigorously tested for efficacy on large and diverse populations of students.  CREATE and MSU provides these materials as Open Education Resources, free to use and adapt by teachers and schools.  CREATE's Next Generation Project-Based Learning (NextGenPBL) team provides fee-for-service support for teachers to be highly successful in using these curricula:         

 Other science curricula being developed by MSU teams have related professional learning opportunities being planned or in development:  



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Why It Works

When enacting new curricula, research shows teachers benefit from high levels of support in their first year of teaching.  Our support team includes teachers who have taught the curriculum successfully and development leaders who are familiar with the curriculum design from the ground up.  Our professional learning experiences occur through facilitated collaborative networks within districts or regions, so that teachers can collaborate with other teachers in their area as they try the materials.  Our professional learning is also tailored to meet local needs and helps teachers adapt curricula to their students. We support teachers through their first year of enactment, including a curriculum-specific summer institute, additional workshops throughout the school year, and regular PLC (professional learning community) sessions, as well as with email, phone and teleconferencing support.

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Curriculum Features

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) establish performance expectations for students at each grade level.  Within NGSS, there are three equally important dimensions to learning science, which work together to provide students with a rich understanding of science.   Classroom education is expected to seamlessly combine the Core Ideas of each science discipline, the use of Science and Engineering Practices, and the underlying Crosscutting Concepts that are shared among all of science and engineering.

Helping students develop a 3-Dimensional way of looking at phenomena requires a major shift in teaching practice.   This is new, this is challenging for teachers, and this is also incredibly exciting!  CREATE brings the best research to bear on providing teachers with curricula that fully integrate 3-Dimensional Learning in the classroom, and our Professional Learning programs support teachers in successfully enacting the curricula in their own classrooms.

CREATE-developed curricular units use a Project-Based Learning (PBL) approach.  PBL has students experience real-world phenomena and ask questions about those phenomena.   A driving question and related questions motivate student inquiry that proceeds through designing and implementing investigations to answer the questions.

By using student design or inquiry projects to promote learning, PBL helps students engage in all 3 Dimensions of learning together.  Students make use of scientific and engineering practices like asking questions and planning and carrying out investigations; they look at phenomena through crosscutting concepts like identifying patterns or considering structure and function; and they build a rich understanding of the core ideas of each science discipline by applying ideas like energy or waves and their application to their explanations of phenomena.

CREATE curricular units were developed through funding from public and private sources to ensure the highest quality, research-based materials were available to teachers and schools. Michigan State University, as the nation's first Land Grant University has a longstanding commitment to serve the people of the state and the nation through its research and outreach work.

For that reason, all of CREATE-developed curriculum materials are made freely available to not-for-profit organizations like schools as part of the Open Education Resources (OER) movement. Teachers and schools may use the curricula without charge forever; they can copy it, modify it, and share it with others as long as they give attribution to CREATE, don't sell it commercially, and they share their own modifications and great ideas just as freely.  Together, we hope to create a community of professionals who help to maintain and improve outstanding NGSS-aligned curricula well into the future.


CREATE for STEM Institute is a research hub at Michigan State University, conducting investigations to improve learning in the STEM fields for students K-16.  All of our curricula and professional learning activities have been developed using well-researched learning principles, and then tested across diverse students and classrooms for efficacy using both classroom assessments and state standardized tests.  No other curriculum and professional learning program has a stronger research validation.

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Next Steps

If you, your school or your district are ready to implement the highest quality OER curricula for your students we are here to help! We offer several packages of support to choose from to get real Project-Based NGSS-aligned curriculum working for your students.

If there's a special need in your school or district, we also offer custom consulting to support your current STEM implementation efforts, course sequencing, and curriculum adaptation to meet local needs. Please complete the Contact form and we will respond as soon as possible. 

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