Project Information

Bay Area Science Education Collaboratory Overview:
A story of hope about students enthusiastically learning science

©2003 - 2008 by DesignWorlds for Learning, Inc.

Potential Energy

Middle school science teachers in California have push-button access to over a billion dollars worth of web learning resources offered by local science/technology museums.

But which of the thousands of buttons should 6th grade science teachers push when they need a lesson plan on plate tectonics? Which buttons lead to the best genetics projects for 7th graders? Where do you find astronomy-related activities that fire the imaginations of 8th graders?

Searching through the museums’ wealth of information is fascinating—if you have the time.

Few middle school teachers have the time to click through even a fraction of the available web pages. So a billion dollars worth of educational resources goes largely unused by the people who could use it most. Meanwhile, California middle and high school students rank near the bottom of the national rankings in science achievement.

Electrifying Science Education

The solution looks like this—a window on the available resources that shows exactly what Bay Area teachers need for every part of their California standards-based science curriculum. To find the plate tectonics lesson plan, click“plate tectonics.”

On the next page, click “Volcanoes and Earthquakes”—and then either “Lesson Plans,”  “Demos/Activities,” or one of the other resource buttons. In a couple of clicks, you have exactly what you need:

One resource might be this web page from the Exploratorium in San Francisco…

© 1999, 2003 The Exploratorium

…or another might be this web page from the Tech Museum in San Jose:

Implementing the Bay Area Science Collaboratory

To make this system work, someone has to identify the right resources. DesignWorlds for Learning proposes to have a team of exemplary science teachers choose the best museum and web resources—lesson plans, hands-on activities, homework resources, student projects and other material that the teachers themselves find most useful. The expert teachers will draw from a variety of local science museums and select specific standards-based  learning content.

Learning-technology experts—scientists and science educators—and web developers can then collaborate with the science teachers to develop web pages like the ones shown here. Every button connects to the two current best choices selected by expert science teachers. And these pages are not just for teachers. Students, parents, mentors and others can use these links to find trustworthy resources.

Ready access to these resources makes it much more likely that teachers can help their students exceed the learning goals of state and national science content standards. The Collaboratory provides a direct way to influence measurable academic achievement in science.

As a result:

  • Bay Area middle school science teachers get just what they need, just when they need it.
  • Parents and tutors get information they can trust.
  • Students get the best available science education.
  • Museums get feedback that helps them refine their resources to suit educational needs.
  • The Bay Area gets a better opportunity to bring science education up to the top ranks nationally, where it should be.

Bay Area Science Education Collaboratory: California Sixth Grade Standards Matrix and  Museum/Web Resource Database:  ©  2003 - 2008 by DesignWorlds for Learning, Inc.

We Have Taken the First Steps

DesignWorlds for Learning, in collaboration with Rockman, et cetera (a 501(c)-3 non-profit corporation) has implemented some of the Collaboratory steps described here with the help of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, whose generous support has enabled the initial development and testing of the Bay Area Science Education Collaboratory sixth grade prototype.

The progress we have made so far hints at the Collaboratory’s remarkable potential. Teachers are using our initial web pages and telling other teachers about them. With modest resources, we can deliver the bounty of learning resources of Bay Area and other California science-technology & youth museums, zoos, and aquariums exactly where it can do the most good.

Much remains to be done. We have the opportunity to inspire a new generation with the astonishments of science. We invite you to help us help us achieve this goal.

For more information, see:

Project Overview

The Bay Area Science Education Collaboratory was conceived in 2001-2002 by Dr. Ted Kahn and John (Jack) Gottsman of DesignWorlds for Learning, Inc. and Saul Rockman, CEO of Rockman, et al and President of Rockman, et cetera. Following an initial exploratory needs assessment project, funding for the initial design and prototyping of the Collaboratory was provided by a grant to Rockman, et cetera and DesignWorlds from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 2002-2003.

This was one of the earliest grants from the Hewlett Foundation for a collaborative, teacher co-designed open education science teaching and learning resource. Since 2003, the Hewlett Foundation has been the major private foundation promoting the growth of what has become its international "Open Educational Resources (OER)" funding program in education.

From 2003- 2007, the major funding support for the continued development of the Collaboratory has come from multiple grants from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

The Collaboratory's initial design in 2002-03 was a collaborative partnership with 10 Bay Area 6th grade (science) teachers. Thanks to the active participation of over 160 Bay Area science teachers, Foothill faculty, museum educators, curriculum specialists, principals, consultants and parents, the Collaboratory has since grown to aggregate over 1,000 exemplary free web-based science teaching and learning resources for grades 4-8, all aligned with California Science Content Standards.

We have now validated the model of rhe Collaboratory as one that can scale, as well as be easily adpatable to any community that has teachers seeking free or low-cost exemplary science teaching and learning resources from informal science learning institutions/projects, such as museums, zoos, aquariums, nature preserves, government and private research centers and other web-based resources. At this time, when there continues to be a disturbingly low lever of student achievement in science here in California, many K-8 teachers still lacking formal academic degrees or backgrounds in science and engineering, and a substantial drop in the number of students going on to major and receive degrees in science. math and engineering in college, the Collaboratory provides a dynamic and free resource for both teacher professional development and for parents seeking out alternative, but well credentialed science learning resources for their children to complement or augment science learning in schools.

For more information, see:

Ted M. Kahn (2007), "Science Learning Collaboratories: Helping to Bridge the Gap Between Museums' Informal Learning Resources and Science Education in K-12 Schools"

or contact: Dr. Ted M. Kahn, CEO, DesignWorlds for Learning, Inc. & Founding Director of the Bay Area Science Education Collaboratory:

phone: 408.252.2285

Our special thanks and appreciation to: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation; AcrossWorld Communications; Saul Rockman (Rockman, et cetera); Alan Bernard, Bill Daul, Eileen Clegg, Jack Gottsman, Bob Kahn, Dr. Loretta Kelley, Jack Park, and Dr. Sherman Rosenfeld; Barbara Glynn, Bob Peterson, and Bob Grimm;  Jerry Kay ( and Earth News Radio/;  the members of our Educational Advisory Board; the six participating Bay Area science-technology and children’s museums, and the 10 dedicated Bay Area science teachers who are have been our design partners and first users.


Useful Links


The Bay Area Science Education Collaboratory has been developed with the generous support of grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation , through collaboration with our non-profit educational partner organizations:

Rockman, et cetera

San Jose Education Foundation, San Jose Unified School District

A Schmahl Science Workshop

Krause Center for Innovation, Foothill College, Los Altos Hills, which has supported and provided the online professional courses taught by Collaboratory founding director, Dr. Ted Kahn, about the use and development of the Collaboratory for over 160 Bay Area science teachers, Foothill faculty, parents, and museum educators.


DesignWorlds for Learning wishes to acknowledge and thank the following San Francisco Bay Area museums for their wealth of science exhibits and educational programs educational programs that have inspired the creation and continued growth of the Bay Area Science Education Collaboratory:

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland

Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose, San Jose

The Exporatorium, San Francisco

Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley

The Tech Museum of Innovation, San Jose

University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley


We wish to thank and acknowledge the wonderful contributions of the following people who have worked on and also volunteered a great deal of their time, knowledge, and creativity:

Dr. Ted M. Kahn, Founder and Project Director and CEO, DesignWorlds for Learning, Inc.

Rick Berg, Webmaster, DesignWorlds for Learning, Inc and Digital Media Developer, Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

Eileen Clegg, Visual Insight, who designed all of the beautiful graphical user interface screens for the Collaboratory for each of the standards in grades 4-8

Susanne Commisso, M.A., computer scientist, usability specialist, teacher and curriculum developer for gifted students and specialist in the use of science simulations for elementary and middle school grades, DesignWorlds for College

Bill Daul, NextNow Collaboratory; original web designer for Collaboratory's initial grant from the Hewlett Foundation.

Jack Gottsman, board member, DesignWorlds for Learning, Inc. & DesignWorlds for College & Careers; Chairman, World Future Society and head of the Silicon Valley node of the Millenium Project

Bob Kahn, Robert A. Kahn and Associates, and Stanford/NASA Gravity Probe-B Project and Alan Bernard: Digital video production for Collaboratory museum virtual tour segments

Dr. Loretta Kelley, Collaboratory project evaluator (2002-2005); education program evaluator and researcher.

Dr. Valerie Landau, Round World Media: Web & multimedia design and visual interface expert and consultant.

Steve Mayer, advisor, DesignWorlds for Learning, Inc. and consultant and board member of several museums and informal science centers (Chabot Space & Science Center, Aquarium of the Pacific, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Tech Museum, etc.)

Jack Park, Senior Consultant, Artificial Intelligence Center. SRI International; architect and designer of open source Nexist wiki and the topic maps of the Collaboratory; future co-designer of the Collaboratory's next generation architecture (TopicSpaces)

Sherman Rosenfeld, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science & Davidson Institute of Science Education, Israel; key Collaboratory science education consultant and internationally known researcher in informal science learning, learning styles, visual literacy for young children, and project-based learning

Linda Ullah, School Development Coach, New Technology Foundation; cosultant to DesignWorlds; first Teacher-in-Residence at the Krause Center for Innovation, Foothill College and now with Napa New Tech.

Nick Wilcox, undergraduate in biology/pre-medicine at Emory University and summer intern for DesignWorlds in 2008

Advisory Board

We also wish to thank and acknowledge the contributions of our Advisory Board:

Dr. Mike Berman, CTO, Art Center College of Design

Dr. Mattanjah de Vries, Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, de Vries Group, University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB).

Jerry Kay, Bay Area television and radio media celebrity; Host of EarthNews Radio and Editor-in-Chief of Environmental News Network

Herbert Kohl, teacher, educator, award-winning author of over 40 books on education, teaching, children, and lifelong learning

Krishen Laetsch; Program Officer, East Bay Community Foundation; former project co-director of NSF-funded LITES Project (Leadership Institute in Teaching Elementary Science) at Mills College which was the inspiration and model for the Bay Area Science Education Collaboratory.

Dr. Larry Lowery, Professor Emeritus of Science Education, School of Education, University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Hall of Science; founder of award-winning Full Option Science System (FOSS) K-12 science curriculum, author, speaker, and consultant

Bonnie Marks, Executive Director, California Technology Assistance Project (CTAP), Region 4 (Bay Area).

Steve Mayer, advisor, DesignWorlds for Learning; board member and/or technology advisor, Chabot Space & Science Center, Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Silicon Valley high technology pioneer in videogames, consumer electronics, and Emmy-award winning co-developer of digital video special effects, desktop editing and post-production systems; Co-founder of Atari, Inc.; designer of first home cartridge video game system; co-designer of Atari personal computers and coin-operated games hardware; founding Chairman of Digital F/X, Inc.

Dr. Ida Oberman, former Program Associate at the Hewlett Foundation, Director of Research & Evaluation of the Springboard Schools (formerly Bay Area Schools Reform Collaborative); "godmother" of the Collaboratory.

Saul Rockman, CEO, Rockman, et al. and President, Rockman, et cetera. Internationally-known educator, researcher and program evaluator, specializing in digital media technologies and telecommunications in education. Original non-profit partner and evaluation consultant on the Collaboratory.

Belinda Lowe-Schmahl, CEO, A Schmahl Science Workshop; provider of hand-on science learning and teacher professional development for schools, districts, and mentor for independent student science research projects.

Judy Scotchmoor, Assistant Director, U.C. Museum of Paleontology; former middle school science teaacher; co-director of multiple NSF-funded informal science education and science curriculum projects.

Dr. Jim Spohrer, Director of Almaden Services Research, IBM Almaden Research Center; former Distinguished Scientist at Apple and founder of the Educational Object Economy.

Dr. Art Sussman, WestEd: Past co-director of the southwest region of the Eisenhower Regional Consortium for Math and Science

Dr. Herb Thier, Former Associate Director of the Lawrence Hall of Science and project (co)-director of many NSF-funded inquiry-based sK-12 science curriculum projects; author and consultant.

Marlene Thier, longtime science teacher, author ("The New Science Literacy"), consultant to schools and districts

Bernie Trilling, Executive Director, &, and Oracle Education Foundation

Founding Teachers

Bay Area Science Education Collaboratory: Founding Teachers (2002-2003)

Seth Bramble
Foothill Intermediate School
Mt. Pleasant School District, San Jose

Shana Covel
Westlake Middle School
Oakland USD

Richard Delwiche
Benjamin Franklin Middle School
San Francisco USD

Melissa Duran
Hoover Middle School
San Jose USD

Paul Hynds
Riverview Middle School
Mount Diablo USD (Bay Point)

Natalie Mann
Montera Middle School
Oakland USD

Sue Marvit
Presidio Hill School
San Francisco

Ann Monk
Katherine Delmar Burke School
San Francisco

Tanya Rivers
John Muir Middle School
San Jose USD

Osvaldo Rubio
Sherman Oaks Community Charter Elementary School
San Jose, Campbell Elementary USD

Special Thanks

Our special thanks and appreciation to Dr. Mike (Marshall) Smith, Education Program Director, Dr. Jorge Ruiz de Velasco (now at the Stanford Institute for Research on Education Policy & Practice), and Dr. Ida Oberman (now at the Springboard Schools), all of whom supported the initial development of the Collaboratory via the The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; Susan Harvey and Laurie Bechtel-Dachs at the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation; Saul Rockman (Rockman, et cetera); Barbara Glynn and Bob Grimm (both longtime supporters of The Tech Museum); Gay Krause, Executive Director, and Linda Ullah, former Teacher-in-Residence at the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College; Jerry Kay, Environmental News Network; Dr. Bill Erlendson and the San Jose Unified Education Foundation; Belinda Lowe-Schmahl and Meril Smith, A Schmahl Science Workshop; and all the teachers and principals who participated and contributed to this growing educational resource.