Destinations in Science Education

From: Education Here
To: Experience Everywhere

Science Education Coordinator, Introduction

Welcome! Below you’ll find a summary of my curriculum production, program coordination, and research development experience. 

Curriculum Development & Production

Adventures at Rice University and Accelerate Learning, Inc.

Picture1My adventures with Rice University’s STEMscopes team began in 2010 in a whirlwind of pioneering to build the first ever K-12 comprehensive online science curriculum for Texas, and then another one of these revolutionary products for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). We grew so big so fast, we created our own company called Accelerate Learning, Inc. and soared from 5 to 65 employees during my five amazing years with the team. That’s not even counting the five years of experience building education programs before that. Here is how my story came full circle.


Team Lead, 2011

As an inaugural Team Lead contractor overseeing a dozen other contractors, I developed the first middle school and high school STEMscopes curriculum programs for Texas. The units, called Scopes, were submitted for the Texas Education Agency’s supplemental bid for secondary science materials. Rice University was the first online science curriculum provider to do so, a major feat at that time for our small in-house team of five people.

Project Manager, 2012

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 7.31.23 PMWithout skipping a beat or a gasp air between projects, we jumped into rebuilding the entire STEMscopes K-12 program for the real bid for TEA’s Proclamation 2014. As the first ever and sole secondary Project Manager with over 60 contractors, I oversaw the re-development of six grades of secondary online science curriculum. We designed and created a new “2.0” web platform, completely revamped the Scopes’ hands-on activities, assessments and literacy components to comply with the bid, and built the beginnings of a development vs. production branch. The bid included requirements for 100% alignment to the Texas Education Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) statements and the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS). Of my humble contributions for hands-on, literacy and interactive components in the 5E model, rebuilding the secondary Next Step Inquiry scientific investigations under Elaborate, with pedagogical improvements including additional graphing practice, and other inquiry-based methods was my favorite.

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By the way, that entire project was due and done in exactly one year. The April 19, 2013 deadline is still engrained in my brain. You can read about it on my Deadline Safari if you’re interested. I remember when we began the project and I gave everyone in the office (at that point about 15 people now) bags of nuts with a message; “Here we go! It’s gonna be a zoo!” It was. I created teams and sub-teams to oversee the writing, curriculum testing, formatting, publishing, and accountability procedures for the middle school and high school science curriculum. I barely managed to stay healthy amidst the blur of that year, especially as a primary caregiver for geriatric family members. It really was nuts. I’ve had some major coordination projects before, but this was by far my biggest contribution, ever. That is, until the next week started.

Senior Project Manager, 2013

Rice STEMscopesMeanwhile at the exact same time, our team managed the review process for the TEA Proclamation process. That summer, we would work with NGSS writing teams during the day and facilitate the Texas review process at night. The secondary program had zero errors in accountability, and the Biology Scopes proceeded through 100%, the first of all of the subjects. As I was only Project Manager over Biology, ever, at that point, the accomplishment was humbling. STEMscopes: Texas was officially adopted as a comprehensive science curriculum provider in the state in November, 2013 and quickly became the #1 most adopted science curriculum in Texas that year. I tell the story of the nail-biting night it was adopted by the State Board of Education in Austin through The Vote Safari, if you’re interested.

Curriculum Production Manager, 2014

image-3As soon as the first NGSS product was complete in the summer of 2014, we reorganized and I became the Maintenance Director for K-12 Texas and K-12 NGSS. Even after building the middle school STEMscopes: NGSS curriculum the following year, I feel my newer roles in maintaining all 12 grades of our existing curricula and editions, since then, have presented the biggest challenges and rewards. Since over a million students use this curriculum, every day my work to upkeep our tremendous programs makes a difference.



Team Lead, 2015

unnamedEmbarking on a sabbatical for travel and media production, I was fortunate to resume as a Team Lead on the first ever digitizing team for Accelerate Learning, Inc. through the rest of the year. In that time, I managed a small team of well-trained publishers and digitizers to bring the magic of the student PDFs to fillable fields onsite for the entire Texas and NGSS curriculum. I also designed the fields’ part types with our production team. I got to take my experience in leadership and delegation to a whole new level, just like when I got started five years ago. What an incredible adventure this has been.

Download completed samples here: rowell-completed-samples

Professional Development

Adventures in Leadership Experience, Teaching and Learning

combustion show kaboom2For one magical year, I got to teach at Space Center Houston as an Education Lead Instructor. I met astronauts, taught international space schools and toured Johnson Space Center and the Neutral Buoyancy Lab. My favorite duties were running Distance Learning events to international students as well as conducting Combustion Shows. Not only was I an educator on staff, but I got to help lead teams of educators for scout camp-ins and school visits. Adjusting to a Texas-sized venue compared to my Montana groups prior, like the hundreds of people in “small groups,” was a hoot and an honor.

IMG_0692Over the years, I’ve had a mixture of opportunities in leadership and professional development development. Although I’m relatively new to these experiences, I thrive in that creative area where coordination and professional development meet. Once, I gave a presentation on the use of the IDEA model with NGSS Earth and Space standards at the Space Exploration Educators’ Conference at Space Center Houston. It felt akin to that brilliant overlap of the magic between Rice University and NASA in Houston, only it was me with a group of science teachers in a portable classroom at Space Center, ha! You can read about that in my SEEC Safari, if you’re interested.

Adventures in Education & Outreach Coordination Experience

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-5-17-35-pmEver manage events with over 10,000 filmgoers and hundreds of international filmmakers in one small town for a major annual tradition? Thousands of elementary school students’ filing in for award-winning wildlife films and hundreds of hours of continuous event planning? That’s just part of the job that the Education, Outreach and Volunteer coordinator does for the International Wildlife Film Festival & Media. I got to do it three years in a row (a record at that time). My favorite part of that job, other than working at the gorgeous historic Roxy movie theater in downtown Missoula, Montana was working with dozens of volunteers and interns. My leadership skills were still in development, but I feel like I had a natural knack for it because we were all doing the job together. It paid off during the many events I helped managed those few years at IWFF.

Looking back, my time as an Administrative Assistant and Volunteer & Outreach coordinator at the Montana Natural History Center put me on the leadership and event planning track. This is particularly true in planning and running an entire RiverFest event, attended by over 400 people, in 2006.

Research & Cross-curricular Resource Development

Adventures in producing

Through completing a Master of Science in Science Education at Montana State University, I learned about the valuable process of objective and active research to improve science instruction with my peers. The program offers a great opportunity to complete an individual capstone thesis on a chosen topic, and I developed a program based on my passion of international travel and media production, current science research, literacy, engineering education, and citizen science. With the opportunity to create an original concept around interactive reading passages, multimedia formative assessments, and inquiry-based data analysis practice sets called Journeys, I created, where science and education meet.

Here is my thesis in a nutshell, and