Education Technology

Engaging Students in Science: Using Crosscutting Concepts to Prompt Student Sensemaking of Phenomena

May 4, 2022


Photograph of Peter McLaren

Peter McLaren


National Science Consultant
Next Gen Education, LLC

Peter McLaren is the Director and Founder of Next Gen Education, LLC, and works as a consultant with states and districts in support of the implementation of the state science standards based on “Framework for K–12 Science Education” (NRC, 2012). In his previous work, McLaren served in a number of roles in the area of science education policy, including Director of the State and District Support for Science at Achieve, Inc., and Science and Technology Specialist at the Rhode Island Department of Education. He also served as President of the Council of State Science Supervisors (CSSS) from July 2010 until April 2013.

McLaren was a member of the national writing committee for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). He has also served on a number of committees including the National Academy of Engineering’s “Guiding Implementation of K–12 Engineering Education” committee, and the National Academy of Science’s Committee for “Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards” (NRC, 2014), and was a contributor to the NRC publication “Seeing Students Learn Science” (NRC, 2017). An award-winning educator, McLaren was a teacher of science for 13 years at both the high school and middle school level. In 2001, he was recognized with the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award and in 1995 as the Rhode Island Science Teacher of the Year by the MIT-sponsored Network of Educators of Science and Technology. He holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees in science education from the University of Rhode Island. Back to event details

Photograph of Stacey van der Veen

Stacey van der Veen


Founder and Lead Consultant, LLC
Leadership in Science

Stacey (Gruber) van der Veen has extensive experience designing and delivering professional development programs to support New Jersey school districts as they implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). She spends much of her time in schools working elbow to elbow with teams of teachers as they implement the vision behind the NGSS in their classrooms. She also works with science coaches and administrators, building their leadership skills for supporting science teachers.

Before founding Leadership in Science, van der Veen was the Manager of Education Programs for the Merck Institute for Science Education (MISE), a nationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to improving science teaching and learning in public schools. She started her career teaching science and math at high schools in Newark, New Jersey, and New York City and has over 20 years of K–12 teaching and administrative experience in both public and private schools. She co-founded the Hoboken Charter School, one of the first cohort of schools chartered in New Jersey, where she served as Co-Principal and Child Study Team Coordinator. Van der Veen earned her master’s in secondary science education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and her B.A. in biology from the University of Pennsylvania. Back to event details

Photograph of Rachael Manzer

Rachael Manzer


STEM Coach
Winchester Public Schools

A STEM Coach for Winchester Public Schools in Winchester, Connecticut, Manzer is a long-time teacher-leader in K–12 science education at the district, state and national levels. She has served as President of Connecticut Science Teachers Association, a member of Connecticut’s K–8 Science Curriculum Leadership Team, and in 2018 represented Connecticut at the State-Federal STEM Education Summit to help inform the development of the “Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education” report. Manzer brings experience in NGSS as science educator, teacher educator, curriculum designer and professional development leader. Most recently, she has collaborated with teams of teachers to write NGSS units that emphasize crosscutting concepts to deepen students’ sense-making of phenomena and make connections across areas. Manzer has received numerous state and national awards, including awards from the NASA, National Aviation Hall of Fame, Civil Air Patrol, AIAA, National 4-H Office, National Space Club, and the Connecticut Science Teachers Association. From launching real-world experiments in space, to coaching 4-H robotics teams to the world championship, to working side by side with teachers in the development and implementation of NGSS, Manzer is helping to realize the NGSS vision in today’s classrooms. She is currently completing a doctorate in curriculum and instruction at the University of Connecticut. Back to event details

Photograph of Brett Moulding

Brett Moulding


Director of Professional Development
Partnership for Effective Science Teaching and Learning

Brett Moulding taught chemistry for 20 years at Roy High School in Utah. He later served at the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) for 15 years, first as the state science education specialist and curriculum coordinator, then as director of curriculum and instruction. While working at the USOE, he served on the Triangle Coalition Board and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2009 Framework Planning Committee, NAEP Science Standing Committee, and as the president of the Council of State Science Supervisors (CSSS) from 2003 to 2006. Moulding was on the National Academies Board on Science Education (BOSE) from 2004 to 2012.

As a member of the National Research Council (NRC) committee, Moulding was deeply involved in the development of “A Framework for K–12 Science Education,” was a lead writer on the “Next Generation Science Standards,” and co-chair for NASEM BOSE committee that developed the report “Science and Engineering for Grades 6–12: Investigation and Design at the Center.”

Moulding has provided professional development across the U.S. in support of this work, he has co-authored recent books to help teachers implement “A Framework for K–12 Science Education” and “Next Generation Science Standards,” (NGSS) including “Teaching Science is Phenomenal” and “A Vision and Plan for Science Teaching and Learning.” These books provide educators with insights into classroom instructional strategies to effectively engage students in three-dimensional science learning. He was a member of the CSSS committee that developed the 2017 “Science Professional Learning Standards.” Back to event details

Photograph of Peter McLaren

Candace Penrod


Science Supervisor
Teaching and Learning
Salt Lake City School District

A true advocate for science education, Candace Penrod brings passion, insight and over 25 years of experience to the conversation. Penrod believes in science access for all and works tirelessly as the Salt Lake City School District STEM/Science Supervisor to ensure this vision. As a STEM advocate, she is the co-founder of the Utah STEM Ecosystem with a focus on cradle-to-career STEM access, opportunity and education.

Penrod began her teaching career in California and continued her teaching career in Utah as a middle school science teacher and science coach. Penrod obtained a Master of Education in teaching, learning and literacy and a Master of Science in earth science teaching from the University of Utah, completing scientific research of geochemistry at Bonneville Salt Flats. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in science education at Utah State University. Penrod enjoys working with in-service and pre-service teachers, fostering a love for and interest in improving STEM education, and in modeling research-based best practices. She was a team lead for Utah’s Earth and Space Science SEEd Standards, NGSS-like standards adopted in Utah. She currently serves on the board for the National Science Educator Leaders Association and the Utah Science Teachers Association. Penrod has a love for all things geology and enjoys spending time outdoors. She has been known to say that “Science ROCKS!” Back to event details