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ABOUT US

general issues

 

Background on SEPUP

SEPUP Logo

SEPUP (Science Education for Public Understanding Program) began in 1987 as a not-for-profit project to develop hands-on materials about chemicals and their use for schools and community groups. It was initially called CEPUP (Chemical Education for Public Understanding Program). As the mission of the project expanded to include other scientific disciplines, the name changed to SEPUP.

Part of UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science, SEPUP continues to be a not-for-profit project that is primarily supported by grants. However, most of our curriculum is now intended for schools. We have commercially available curricular materials that are used in school districts from Los Angeles to New York. For information on purchasing these materials, please visit Lab-Aids, the sole producer and distributor of SEPUP materials.

We continue to work with school districts around the country on our current projects. Please click on the “News” tab above to find out more about current SEPUP projects.

 

What is Issue Oriented Science?

Should you throw your old computer into the trash?
What can you do to reduce the risk of getting food poisoning?
How can releasing your unwanted pet into the wild affect the environment?

These are the types of personal and societal issues that SEPUP uses to engage students in the study of science. Students are provided with some evidence about the issue at hand, but they often realize that they have more questions than answers. These new questions are addressed in a series of science activities that introduce and teach relevant science concepts. Eventually, students apply their new science knowledge to reconsidering the issue.

The goals of issue-oriented science are:

  • to engage students in the process of learning science
  • to encourage students to use scientific evidence to make decisions
  • to help educate tomorrow's citizens about the application of science to everyday life.

SEPUP curriculum does not advocate a particular position on issues, but encourages students to support their views with relevant evidence. SEPUP selects issues that:

  • require an understanding of important scientific concepts and processes
  • require an application of evidence
  • are interesting and accessible to diverse groups of students
  • are complex enough to foster discussion and debate

Looking for a specific example? Check out our Curricular Materials.

 

Our Team 

 

Ben Koo, Director

Ben was named the director of SEPUP in December of 2019. Ben earned his Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from UCLA and a PhD in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University. Ben began his career in science education teaching middle and high school students in Oakland, California and subsequently worked for 11 years at the UCSF Science and Health Education Partnership to develop, implement and support research of a variety of science education programming in both formal and informal settings. Throughout his career, Ben has been passionate about developing and implementing creative, engaging and culturally relevant science education programming and curriculum to empower students and their communities.

Barbara Nagle, Director Emerita

Barbara Nagle has a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in cell biology from the University of Pennsylvania. She conducted postdoctoral research on cell division and cell motility at UC Berkeley. Before joining SEPUP, Barbara taught high school chemistry in Oakland, California and college level biology courses at the University of Pennsylvania and UC Berkeley. Her published products, developed in collaboration with the SEPUP team, include a complete middle school science series that includes Issues and Earth Science, Issues and Life Science, and Issues and Physical Science, and two high school courses titled Science and Sustainability and Science and Global Issues: Biology. She is currently Co-PI of the NSF-funded DRK-12 project Moving Next Generation Science Standards into Practice: A Middle School Ecology Unit and Teacher Professional Development Model, a collaboration between the American Museum of Natural History, the University of Connecticut, and the Lawrence Hall of Science. She is also PI of a grant funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to develop summative assessments for the middle school Next Generation Science Standards.

Janet Bellantoni, Curriculum and Professional Development Specialist

Janet has been the lead designer for over twenty SEPUP curricula units in physical science, physics, earth science, space science, and engineering. She contributed to the initial creation of SEPUP’s middle school course, Issues and Earth Science, as the Project Coordinator, Field Test Coordinator, and first author. She led the development or revision for half of SEPUP’s middle school course, Issues and Physical Science, Second Edition, and developed several high school units as part of the Science and Global Issues project. Most recently, Janet was the Project Coordinator and a lead author for the redesign of SEPUP’s three-year Issues and Science middle school sequence that incorporated the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Before joining SEPUP, Janet served for seven years as a high school physics teacher and as a Dean of Students in public and private schools in Massachusetts, New York, and California. She has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Rochester, a Master’s Degree in Science Education from the University of Massachusetts- Amherst, and completed graduate study in Education of the Deaf at Gallaudet University.

Maia Binding, Curriculum and Professional Development Specialist

Maia began her career in education teaching high school biology and other science and literacy skills courses in San Francisco, California. She also served as Department Chair before moving on to work at the district level, developing and executing professional development workshops for all of the district’s middle and high school science teachers. Maia joined the SEPUP team in 2007. Her published products include several units in middle school science series Issues and Life Science and Issues and Physical Science, and the high school course Science and Global Issues: Biology. She is currently Director of the San Francisco/Bay Area Center for the Amgen Biotech Experience, a program that provides professional development, curriculum, and materials for Bay Area teachers to teach biotechnology. She is also project manager for the NSF-funded DRK-12 project Moving Next Generation Science Standards into Practice: A Middle School Ecology Unit and Teacher Professional Development Model, and for a grant funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to develop summative assessments for the middle school Next Generation Science Standards. Additionally, she is in her ninth year of directing a series of projects to develop hands-on, informal science programs for middle and high school students in Saudi Arabia, including delivering professional development for teachers from Saudi Arabia delivered both at the Hall and in Saudi Arabia. Maia holds a bachelor’s degree in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Animal Sciences from the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

Kelly Grindstaff, Research and Professional Development Specialist

Kelly joined SEPUP in 2020, bringing extensive experience in science and STEM education as a teacher (middle and high school), researcher, evaluator, teacher educator, and designer and provider of professional development for teachers and outreach programs for students. She began her teaching career in Ontario and British Columbia, earned her PhD in Curriculum, Teaching and Educational Policy from Michigan State University, and served as the Project Manager for Teacher Professional Development at the Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York. Thus Kelly brings a variety of skills and experiences from diverse contexts to enrich her work with SEPUP. Kelly is deeply committed to fostering engagement and learning in the intertwined STEM disciplines – especially for those who have had limited access and/or are from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM fields and careers. She has a career-long interest in the environment and sustainability, and in helping teachers engage students, connecting to their lives and communities through STEM, addressing real-world issues such as food production and waste, and energy sources and efficiency.

Manisha Hariani, Curriculum and Professional Development Specialist

Since first joining SEPUP in 1996, Manisha has collaborated on as well as led many projects at SEPUP. She co-authored the original Issues and Life Science middle school course, and has written units for Issues and Earth Science, Issues and Physical Science, Science and Sustainability, Science and Global Issues: Biology, the SEPUP high school modules, and Moving Next Generation Science Standards into Practice: A Middle School Ecology Unit and Teacher Professional Development Model. Her work has included managing curriculum projects, conducting teacher workshops, developing authentic assessments, and collaborating with school districts across the country. Manisha has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Philosophy from Miami University of Ohio and a master’s degree in Secondary Education from the University of Akron, Ohio. She began her career teaching middle school and high school, and has taught in Ohio, Virginia, and California. She loves working with students on science, and volunteers in local classrooms whenever she can.

Timothy Hurt, Public Education Specialist

Tim first collaborated with SEPUP curriculum developers in 2012 to develop hands-on, informal science and engineering curriculum for middle and high school students in Saudi Arabia. Since that time, Tim has worked for SEPUP on a number of projects including the development of the Issues and Science middle school units redesigned for the NGSS. Tim began his career at the Lawrence Hall of Science in 2010 while completing his undergraduate degree in physics at UC Berkeley. He has since worked for a number of different departments within the Lawrence Hall of Science, including SEPUP, and completed his Masters of Information and Data Science (MIDS) at UC Berkeley. Currently, his work focuses on how to better leverage, and improve access to, digital technologies in informal and formal science and engineering education contexts. He continues to work with SEPUP on special projects and helps maintain the SEPUP website.

Wendy Jackson, Curriculum and Professional Development Specialist

Wendy Jackson is a Curriculum Developer with SEPUP, and was a lead author on several of the Issues and Science units redesigned for the NGSS. Currently she is co-coordinating the redesign of Science and Global Issues, and is the lead developer on the Ecology and Evolution units. Wendy came to SEPUP in 2015 from DePaul University where she served as Director of the DePaul-Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Science Partnership. This partnership provided support for K-12 science teachers, as well as school and district administrators, as they implemented the NGSS. Previously she had been the Middle Grade Science Specialist for CPS, responsible for supporting the implementation of SEPUP, facilitating professional development on SEPUP curriculum, and developing a cadre of professional development leaders drawn from the ranks of outstanding middle grade science teachers. Wendy came to K-12 education through an alternative certification program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and was an NSF Noyce Scholar, before spending five years as a middle grade science teacher in CPS, where she used SEPUP in her own classroom. Wendy received a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Washington, having conducted her dissertation research in Kenya, and was a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to conducting ecological research, she directed several programs to build capacity for promoting environmental and conservation programs both abroad and in Chicago. Wendy also served as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development as the Environmental Policy Specialist for the Offices of the Science Advisor and Research.

Nicole Shea, Curriculum Development Specialist

Nicole joined SEPUP in 2020, bringing extensive experience as a science curriculum writer and educational researcher. With an MS in Molecular Genetics from Rutgers Medical School and a PhD in Education from Rutgers University, she is passionate about designing and developing effective science communication. Her research on how individuals use their knowledge of genetics to make informed decisions in their daily lives led to a career delivering professional development courses and workshops to middle and high school science teachers and writing science curriculum for middle school, high school, and college students. She has worked as a researcher at the University of Delaware on climate change education projects, as a science curriculum specialist at the Lawrence Hall of Science contributing to the Amplify Science curriculum, and as a science curriculum writer at Bio-Rad Laboratories contributing to the Bio-Rad Explorer curriculum. Nicole is also the owner and academic writing mentor at Nicole Shea Writes where she supports and mentors graduate students, post doctoral fellows, and faculty to improve their academic writing.