Online Student Book



general issues



Science Buddies: Boosting Biotechnology Learning in Local Schools

SEPUP workshop materials available for download

NARST Annual International Conference

April 14 - 17, 2016

Baltimore, MD

“Building Responsible NGSS-Aligned Curriculum and Assessments in an Era of Accountability”
Presentation Slides
Paper: Developing an NGSS-aligned Educative Middle School Ecosystems Curriculum Unit
Paper: Measuring students’ understanding of science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts through an embedded assessment system

NSTA National Conference

March 31 - April 3, 2016

Nashville, TN

“Developing Science Practices: Constructing Explanations and Engaging in Argumentation”
Presentation Slides
Argument Tool
Explanation Tool
River Ecology Website

“Using Issues as a Context to Enhance Students’ Three Dimensional Learning”
Presentation Slides
Argument Tool
River Ecology Website

“Bioengineering Challenges and Middle School Life Science”
Presentation Slides
Activity 104, “Designing Artificial Heart Valves,” - Student Book
Activity 104, “Designing Artificial Heart Valves,” - Teacher's Edition

“Modeling and the Three Dimensions of the NGSS in Middle School Genetics”
Presentation Slides
Activity 58, “Creature Features,” - Student Book
Activity 58, “Creature Features,” - Teacher's Edition

NSTA National Conference

March 12 - 15, 2015

Chicago, IL

“Bioengineering Challenges and Middle School Life Science”
Presentation Slides
Activity 104, “Designing Artificial Heart Valves,” - Student Book
Activity 104, “Designing Artificial Heart Valves,” - Teacher's Edition

“Assessing Three-Dimensional Learning in the Next Generation Science Standards”
Presentation Slides
Activity 84, “Clam Catch,” - Student Book
Activity 84, “Clam Catch,” - Teacher's Edition

“Assessing Three Dimensions of the NGSS in Middle School Genetics”
Presentation Slides
Activity 58, “Creature Features,”

Revision of Middle School Science Courses

SEPUP has revised all three middle school science curricula: Issues and Earth Science, Issues and Life Science, and Issues and Physical Science. The second edition of these courses have been revised to include updated data and information regarding recent events. Specific changes for each course include:

Issues and Earth Science

  • Updated data from NASA’s Kepler Mission
  • Activity 32, “Modeling Erosion,” has been revised as an Engineering Design activity, consistent with the recommendations of the Next Generation Science Framework
  • Additional information on recent events, such as the 2011 earthquake in Japan, the Fukushima nuclear accident, Yucca Mountain, and global climate change

Issues and Life Science

  • Updated data throughout the course
  • Additional set of geologic event cards to help students understand mass extinctions and the role of geologic events in determining the changes used to define geologic time periods
  • Additional sections on How cells Work Together (Activity 42) and Defining Life (Activity 45)

Issues and Physical Science

  • An entire new unit consisting of eleven activities, titled Waves
  • Added engineering aspects to three activities, consistent with the recommendations of the Next Generation Science Framework
  • Two new laboratory activities in Unit D (Energy) on electric motors and generators, magnetic fields, and electromagnetism

Congratulations to Donna Markey


Donna Markey, a science teacher at Vista Magnet Middle School in Vista, California, is one of two middle level recipients of the 2012 PASCO STEM Educator Award, sponsored by PASCO scientific that honors K–12 STEM educators who implement innovative, inquiry-based, technology-infused STEM programs. Donna has been a long time user, contributor, and developer of many SEPUP curricula. Everyone at SEPUP and LAB-AIDS would like to congratulate Donna on this magnificent achievement.

To read the full article announcing this award and many others, please click here.

New Hydrogen & Fuel Cells Module Available


The Hydrogen Technology and Energy Curriculum (HyTEC) project has developed and field-tested a high school chemistry module titled, Investigating Alternative Energy: Hydrogen & Fuel Cells. This module is currently available and was developed by SEPUP in collaboration with the Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC) at Humboldt State University, and is published by LAB-AIDS, Inc. The new curriculum is based on SEPUP's issue-oriented and inquiry-based approaches to science teaching and learning. In a sequence of six high school classroom activities, students are introduced to hydrogen and fuel cells in the context of energy for transportation. This sequence of activities addresses National Science Education Standards and state science standards related to topics such as energy transformations, energy efficiency, chemical reactions, oxidation-reduction, stoichiometry, and societal perspectives on energy issues. We would like to thank the U.S. Department of Energy and the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District for their support of this project. Click here for more info.

What's New with Science & Global Issues?


What’s new in SEPUP’s latest high school course? Science and Global Issues: Biology includes all of the support for students and teachers found in the SEPUP middle school programs, plus some new features appropriate for high school science. Key features of the program are outlined below.

In the Student Book:

    • Key vocabulary list at the end of each activity
    • End of unit concept reviews that summarize the key content in each unit
    • Case studies highlighting real-world examples that relate to the content and the issue in the unit
    • Computer simulations of some key concepts in biology, including: population dynamics, photosynthesis and cellular respiration, the carbon cycle, the structure and function of cells (including typical plant and animal cells, and specialized human cells), mitosis and meiosis, DNA replication and protein synthesis, and natural selection
    • Front matter including descriptions of: SEPUP and global issues, the organization of SEPUP materials, and how to use SEPUP materials
    • Appendices for: literacy strategies, science skills, assessment in Science and Global Issues with a copy of each Scoring Guide, a summary of the international system of units, classifying living organisms, media literacy, a summary of what science is, and the geologic timeline
    • Glossary

In the Teacher’s Edition:

    • Hardbound, wrap-around style in color
    • Text aligned to numbers on embedded Student Book pages
    • Revisit the Challenge: a summary of key content that students should understand by the end of the activity

In the Teacher Resources:

    • On CD
    • All sections are revised and updated
    • Updated literacy section that summarizes for each strategy used in the course: what it is, how to use it, and why to use it
    • Vocabulary support including templates for supporting vocabulary development
    • Section on science notebooks

Additional Resources:

    • Exam View
    • PowerPoint presentation for each activity
    • Virtual Microscope (Vscope) microscope slides
    • Online correction system: now you can submit electronically corrections and changes that you wish to report to SEPUP. You can also view corrections that affect teaching and/or learning. Click on Submit a Correction to report a correction or change to SEPUP. Click on See a List of Corrections to view those corrections that affect teaching and/or learning.

Furthermore, the revision of the physical science units is in full swing. These units examine sustainability issues from a physical science perspective. The four units look in depth at resource and energy use and at how waves affect structures and people. The full two-year Science & Global Issues course will be available in 2012. Click here for more info.

SEPUP in Japan


In honor of their tenth anniversary, the SEPUP group in Japan invited us to visit and work with a group of their teachers and students. Barbara Nagle and Maia Willcox were delighted to travel across the Pacific and participate in the lively exchange of ideas organized by our colleagues in Japan. Barbara presented a talk to the teachers on SEPUP’s history, approach, and recent projects. Maia worked with the teachers using some of SEPUP’s new strategies, including the “walking debate,” in which participants move around the room based on their evidence-based position on an issue. The next day Maia taught a group of middle school students two activities from a SEPUP module while the teachers observed. At the end of the lesson Maia and the teachers helped the students participate in a walking debate. Several of the SEPUP Japan teachers demonstrated lessons with both students and teachers. The event concluded with a discussion of the value of and approaches to issue-oriented science in Japan and the United States.

At the closing ceremony, the SEPUP Japan teachers spoke about how SEPUP has helped them to become better teachers by increasing their understanding and use of hands-on, inquiry-based, issue-oriented science. We are grateful to our hosts in Japan for the exchange of ideas and strategies and the great science teaching we observed during our visit.

Arigato, SEPUP Japan!

News: 2006 and earlier

Spring 2006: Focus on Literacy

Strategies for supporting literacy are highlighted in this issue, with particular emphasis on their role in formative assessment. Several examples are provided including a writing frame, an anticipation guide, and concept mapping. There is an article about the use of literacy strategies to address the needs of diverse learners. In addition, details about SEPUP's new middle school course, Issues and Earth Science, are presented along with a description of SEPUP's development of materials on hydrogen fuel cells for the Department of Energy, in conjunction with the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University.

Click here to download a pdf version of the Spring 2006 SEPUP News.


Spring 2005: Focus on Issue-Oriented Science

This issue provides both conceptual background and practical information about issue-oriented science—the core of SEPUP's approach to science education. In addition to a useful overview of the issue-oriented curriculum, there is an article about the role of evidence and trade-offs, the role of issues in the SEPUP instructional model which is exemplified by a sample activity, teaching tips for the issue-oriented classroom, pointers for developing media literacy among SEPUP students, and more.

Click here to download a pdf version of the Spring 2005 SEPUP News.


Fall 2004: Focus on the Classroom Learning Environment

The broad range of articles in this issue provides teachers with guidance, resources, and suggestions for using SEPUP with their students. Featured in this issue are an overview of types of learning environments, a sample activity highlighting SEPUP's 4-2-1 approach to cooperative learning, suggestions for materials management, and an examination of questioning in the classroom.

Click here to download a pdf version of the Fall 2004 SEPUP News.


Spring 2004: Focus on Inquiry

This issue, just in time for NSTA, addresses a variety of aspects of inquiry in the science classroom including a description of the SEPUP approach to inquiry, how to use current events to promote inquiry, a sample SEPUP activity, and implementation of inquiry and the National Science Education Standards.

Click here to download a pdf version of the Spring 2004 SEPUP News.


Fall 2003: Focus on Assessment

In Fall 2003, we decided to devote each issue of the SEPUP News to a specific topic related to SEPUP instructional materials and SEPUP's approach to science education in order to build a reference library for SEPUP teachers.

This first “focused” issue provides a range of articles about the SEPUP Assessment System including classroom examples, a selected bibliography, teacher experiences, background information and useful diagrams.

Click here to download a pdf version of the Fall 2003 SEPUP News.