About Us

About Washington State LASER

Washington State Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) is a public/private partnership launched in 1999 using a science education reform model developed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center (formerly the National Science Resources Center). The Washington State LASER partnership is led by the Science and Education Division of Pacific Science Center in Seattle and the Office of STEM Education at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Pacific Science Center serves as the fiscal agent for the partnership and manages LASER’s statewide technical assistance efforts.

Other key members of the Washington State LASER partnership are the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), Washington’s Educational Service Districts and lead school districts from around the state. Funding for Washington State LASER is provided through OSPI and the Washington State Legislature, Battelle, and the Boeing Company.

Washington State LASER helps school districts:

  • Build their knowledge of current research and best practices.
  • Develop a shared vision and set of common goals.
  • Design and implement a school district infrastructure for support.
  • Emphasize improving instructional practice.
  • Focus on increasing student learning and achievement.

To enhance its efforts, LASER has connected with National Science Foundation (NSF) Implementation and Dissemination Center efforts (e.g., Biological Sciences Curriculum Studies (BSCS) Center for Professional Development – National Academy for Curriculum Leadership), NSF and Department of Education Math and Science Partnership projects, NSF Local Systemic Change initiatives and support from federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Aeronautical and Space Administration to help improve science education in Washington State.

Made possible with major support from:


Washington State LASER Partners

Washington State LASER’s vibrant network brings critical stakeholders together to create and implement a shared vision for science education excellence:

  • Educational Service District 101
  • Educational Service District 105
  • Educational Service District 112
  • Educational Service District 113
  • Educational Service District 114
  • Educational Service District 121
  • Educational Service District 123
  • Educational Service District 171
  • Educational Service District 189
  • Evergreen School District
  • Institute for Systems Biology
  • Kennewick School District
  • North Cascades and Olympic Science Partnership
  • North Thurston Public Schools
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Pacific Science Center
  • Puyallup School District
  • Smithsonian / The National Academies National Science Resources Center
  • Tacoma School District
  • Walla Walla School District
  • Washington Science Teachers Association
  • Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction
Washington State LASER Advisory Committee
Phil Bell – University of Washington


Terry Bergeson – Pacific Lutheran University

Andy Boyd- Washington Science Teacher Association

 Jessica Vavrus- Washington State School Directors Association

Jennifer Chase – Central Valley School District

James Dorsey – Washington State MESA at U of W

Ellen Ebert – Washington OSPI

Ed Geary – Western Washington University

John Henry – Port Angeles School District

Tamara  Nelson – WSU – Vancouver

Scott Seaman – Association of Washington School Principals

Mechelle LaLanne – North Central ESD 171

Ann McMahon – University of Washington-Bothell

Helene Paroff – Washington Association of School Administrators

Dana Riley Black – Everett School District

Blakely Tsurusaki – University of Washington – Bothell

Evangelina Shreeve- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Keni Sturgeon- Pacific Science Center

Katherine Kurtz- Pacific Education Institute

Kim Klinke- Logan Center

Armand Shahbazian- Seattle City Light

Kyle Roffler- Tacoma STEM Network Director

Organizational Documents

Six Elements Of Reform

1. Strategies for building and sustaining administrative and community support for science education reform:

Planning and implementing a research-based science program requires the support of a broad range of stakeholders who share a vision of what is needed to create an effective science program for students in their school district. It is likewise important to establish an infrastructure that will support this shared vision.

Key players in science education reform at the district level include both individuals and organizations. The endorsement of school district leaders is essential. Equally important is the involvement of community organizations, including museums, universities, and local corporations and businesses. Scientists and engineers, as well as parents, can help leverage support for science education reform.

An applied scientist, for example, may team with a teacher to lead a professional development program; parents may volunteer to help replenish science kits in the district’s materials center; a corporate leader may serve as a spokesperson for science education reform with the business community.

Working together, these individuals can form partnerships that will ensure a sustained commitment to science education reform.

2. Assessment methods consistent with the goals of a research-based science program:

Research-based science calls for new assessment strategies. Student assessments that are interwoven, or embedded, into science learning experiences are particularly useful. Because such assessments aim at assessing what students know and are able to do as a result of their inquiry, they are sometimes called “authentic” assessment.

In addition to student assessments, program assessments are required to determine whether the science program is meeting its goals and to guide curriculum selection, professional development, and other activities.

3. Research-Based science instructional materials produced through a review process:

Comprehensive, research-based instructional materials lies at the heart of an effective science education program. The instructional materials must be research-based. Materials should be developed collaboratively by educators and scientists, field-tested, and evaluated before being published. Each unit must provide developmentally appropriate opportunities for children to expand their understanding of science concepts, to acquire skills, and to develop positive attitudes toward science. Lessons must address the variety of learning styles that students bring to their learning, must challenge all students, and must give students opportunities to apply what they have learned to real life situations. The lessons must offer opportunities for teachers to integrate science learning with other areas of the curriculum. Finally, the instructional materials must be consistent with the National Science Education Standards of the National Research Council and with state learning frameworks.

4. Cost effective materials support systems for supplying materials and apparatus to classrooms:

Students who engage in inquiry-centered science require a variety of science materials from hand lenses, to magnets, to plastic droppers. A materials support system is needed to ensure that science kits are ready for classroom use. Materials support staff take charge of ordering new supplies, refurbishing science kits, and ensuring that kits are delivered to teachers when needed. Centralizing the materials support function makes materials support activities more efficient and cost-effective. Centralization is most commonly done at the district level; small school districts may consolidate the materials support function by forming consortia.

5. Professional development programs that prepare teachers to support students in research-based, inquiry-centered science:

Professional development is the process through which a school district prepares its teachers to teach research-based science. Professional development programs focus initially on helping teachers learn how to use science materials and on classroom management techniques. Later, attention turns to helping teachers learn how to facilitate an inquiry-centered approach to learning, how to develop appropriate methods for student assessment, and how to integrate science with other subject areas.

6. Teaching strategies that link science with literacy – reading, writing, and speaking: Research has shown that inquiry-centered learning increases student performance in language arts. Inquiry provides students with regular practice in linking metacognition to language arts skills of reading, writing, and speaking. Teaching strategies such as note-booking do much more than document steps of an investigation. These strategies also provide a channel for students to describe their thought process and the evidence that supports their reasoning.

National Science Resources Center

The National Science Resources Center (NSRC) is operated by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Academies, comprising the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council. The NSRC’s goal is to improve the teaching of science in the nation’s schools. The NSRC collects and disseminates information about exemplary science teaching resources, develops innovative science instructional materials, and offers an outreach program of leadership enhancement and technical assistance to help school districts implement and sustain research-based science programs.

15th Anniversary Slideshow

To mark fifteen years of improving science education, Washington State LASER has created a slideshow of notable achievements. Download it in PDF form.

Washington State LASER Alliances

Ten Washington State LASER Alliances are generously supported by Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. The LASER Alliances provide training, guidance and technical support to districts that are considering participation in LASER, as well as to districts that are already in various stages of implementing the program. Each alliance comprises members from a myriad of educational and scientific institutions (e.g., school districts, ESDs, and universities).

Mountain To Harbor Alliance

Scott Killough
LASER Alliance Co-Director/ Regional Science Coordinator
Capital Region ESD 113
6005 Tyee Drive SW
Tumwater, Washington 98512
Voice: 360-464-6703

Kristy Vetter
LASER Alliance Co-director/Director of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
Centralia School District
2320 Borst Avenue
Centralia, Washington 98531
Voice: 360-330-7600

The Mountain to Harbor (M2H) LASER Alliance region coincides with the boundaries of ESD 113, running from White Pass in Lewis County to the Pacific Ocean, taking in Thurston, Mason, Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties. The alliance was inaugurated in the summer of 2007 with 11 member districts. M2H has recently expanded to 13 districts. Within these member districts over 2,300 teachers stand to benefit directly or indirectly from LASER support. Our focus places an emphasis on the K-8 teachers of science, but also provides professional development opportunities for secondary science teachers.

The targets this year for the M2H, aside from assuring a solid beginning, is to:

  • Support schools in the use of instructional materials identified by LASER as effective, including a focus on standards, the big ideas and formative assessment.
  • Creating teachers as science instructional leaders.
  • Facilitating a regional network of teachers in support of science education reform.
  • Deepen regional awareness and understanding of A K-12 Framework for Education and the Next Generation Science Standards.
  • The M2H Alliance is affiliated with the Math and Science Kit center (MASK) at ESD 113 and will be supporting participating member districts with their curriculum materials through MASK.

The M2H Alliance is affiliated with the Math and Science Kit center (MASK) at ESD 113 and will be supporting participating member districts with their curriculum materials through MASK.

North Central Alliance

Mechelle LaLanne
Alliance Director
North Central ESD
PO Box 1847
430 Olds Station Road
Wenatchee, WA 98801
Voice: 509-667-7102
Fax: 509-662-9027

Kris Johnson
Administrative Assistant
North Central ESD
PO Box 1847
430 Olds Station Road
Wenatchee, WA 98801
Voice: 509-665-2653

Darlene Robbins
Refurbishment Center Specialist
North Central ESD Refurbishment Center
3306 5th Ave. S.E.
Wenatchee, WA 98801
Voice: 509-888-1912

North Central Washington is a region comprised of twenty-nine school districts ranging geographically from Oroville on the Canadian Border to Wilson Creek in the center of the state, from the Bavarian mountains of Leavenworth on the western edge to the high desert of Grand Coulee Dam to the East. Nineteen of those districts have come together to form the North Central Washington LASER Alliance. We have little doubt about our numbers growing soon as interest is already high. North Central Washington is highly diverse with districts as small as Stehekin (8 students) and as large as Moses Lake (7,000). But, we have many special concerns in common. A large percentage of our students are highly mobile, ESL/ELL, and most of our schools have a majority of FARM students. These challenges and our geographic disparity have brought us together to accomplish what would be difficult to do individually.

The vision of the Alliance/Consortium is simple:
Member districts, in league with the NCESD, working together to ensure success in science education for all students.
Working together is defined as collaborative pooling of resources including time, energy, ideas, personnel, expertise and funds.

Success is defined as:
Science literate students understand and can articulate and apply science concepts according to state and national standards.
Students use science as the context for learning and excelling in math, reading, writing and other disciplines.
Students become life-long learners who enjoy and are excited by the study of science.
Students become citizens who can apply science knowledge and skills in real life to solve problems and make informed decisions.

Toward this vision, the Alliance has established short and long term goals to include:
Adoption of a regionally-standardized K-8 curriculum supported by collectively purchased standards and inquiry-based materials, refurbished at a regionally centralized location.
Development of a teacher leadership network across the region for use in professional development and the development of excellent support materials, assessments and teaching strategies.
Excellent grade level, and materials specific professional development that includes strong elements of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), literacy, and alignment to state strandards and initiatives.
Development of regionally standardized classroom based assessments, rubrics, and the sharing of the data from those assessments to inform strategies and teacher practices which lead to student success.

Northeast Alliance

Tammie Schrader
Alliance Director Co-Director/ESD Science Coordinator
Northeast Washington Educational Service District 101
4202 South Regal St.
Spokane, WA 99223
Voice: 509-323-2725

Beth Worthy
Science Kit Program Manager
Northeast Washington Educational Service District 101
4202 South Regal
Spokane, WA 99223
Fax: 509-323-2785

North East Washington Science Education Resource Center (NEWSERC) is housed at NEWESD 101 in Spokane.

NEWESD 101 is the largest, geographically, of the nine ESD regions in Washington. There is vast diversity in size and geographic isolation among districts. The main goal of NEWSERC is to provide high quality materials and professional development science education resources to all schools in the NEWESD region both large and small.

Northeast Washington Educational Service District 101 and 29 school districts have formed the Northeast Washington LASER Alliance to support K-12 science education in the NEWESD 101 region. Those same districts formed a materials refurbishment cooperative housed at NEWESD 101. Although NEWSERC started with nine districts, we are now up to 25. It is hoped that many more will join as their circumstances permit.

In year one of operation, NEWSERC supported 100 teachers in grades K-6 Foss physical science kits implementation through providing professional development, purchasing and refurbishment services, and teacher leader development. Year two served 200 teachers and provided support for implementation of earth science and physical science kits. We now offer support for over 650 teachers and provide support for implementation of earth, physical and life science kits in both elementary and middle school levels.

For the latest information on training dates and locations, please check www.esd101.net/csi

North Sound Alliance

Dana Riley Black
Alliance Co-Director
Institute for Systems Biology
401 Terry Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109
Voice: 206-732-1394

Kim Klinke
Alliance Co-Director
Institute for Systems Biology
401 Terry Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109
Voice: 206-732-1456

The Institute for Systems Biology’s Logan Center for Education coordinates the North Sound LASER Alliance (NSLA). The NSLA formally encompasses school districts in King County but is welcoming to other districts across the greater Puget Sound region. The districts that comprise the NSLA are large and small, urban and rural, and comprise a significant percentage of the State’s student population. While each NSLA district is at a different stage in the process, each is working to transition to full implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). NSLA activities support districts in identifying and addressing system-wide components of a strategic transition plan such as the science professional learning needed by teachers and administrators or adaptation strategies to move current curriculum to a NGSS framework.

The NSLA region is home to districts with diverse contexts. Therefore, rather than providing common, regional professional development for educators, the NSLA supports job-alike networks to address the contemporary issues in science education. Specifically, the NSLA facilitates a network of school district science coaches (or TOSAs – teachers on special assignment). The Science TOSA Network meets quarterly to work on common problems of practice and to share resources coaches can employ in support of classroom science teachers. Additionally, the NSLA periodically hosts cross-district events, known as Networking Forums. These forums convene school district teams (comprised of administrators, teachers and community members) to develop/enhance district-wide strategic plans related to science and STEM education.

Please contact the NSLA Co-Directors for a calendar of upcoming events or general information about the Alliance.

For additional information visit http://logancenter.systemsbiology.net

Northwest Alliance

Joanne Johnson
NWESD Program Coordinator
NW LASER Alliance Director
Northwest ESD
1601 R Avenue
Anacortes, WA 98221
Voice: 360-299-4046

Kelly Spears
Science Materials Center Manager
Voice: 360-965-2168

Brian MacNevin
NWESD Science Coordinator
Voice: 360-299-4716

Nancy Menard
Science Team Administrative Assistant
Voice: 360-299-4020

The Northwest WA LASER Regional Alliance is an integral part of science education reform in the northwest corner of Washington State. We serve the NWESD region, which includes the 5 most northwestern counties in the state: Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties, along with the Island and San Juan counties, made up of the San Juan Island group and Whidbey and Camano Islands in the north Puget Sound.

Our current membership is comprised of NWESD and the following school districts:
Granite Falls
Lake Stevens
Lummi Tribal School
Mount Baker
Mount Vernon
South Whidbey
In addition to staff development, our Alliance supports the NWESD Science Materials Center Cooperative housed at Marysville-Pilchuck High School (5611 108th NE Street, North Building, Marysville, WA 98271) in the Marysville School District.

For more information, including directions, fees and materials lists, please visit our Northwest Science Materials Center webpage at https://www.nwesd.org/smc

Olympic Alliance

Jeff Ryan
Alliance Co-Director
Science Education Coordinator
Olympic ESD 114
105 National Avenue North
Bremerton, WA 98312
Office: 360-782-5014
Cell: 360-775-6110

Sarah Freitas
Instructional Resources Program Manager
Olympic ESD 114
Office: 360-405-5832

Olympic Science Alliance website: http:www.oesd.wednet.edu/page/350

The Olympic Peninsula Washington LASER Alliance is a cooperative organization of regional school districts. Its purpose is to provide a cost-effective curriculum support system along with an appropriate level of professional development support in order to foster the development of science education systems within school districts and throughout the region.

Member benefits include acces to the curriculum support system (Science Kit Center), as well as Teaching and Learning support (Professional Development).

Current member districts include:

Cape Flattery
North Mason
Port Angeles
Port Townsend

South Central Alliance

Mike Brown
Alliance Director
Science Education Coordinator
ESD 105
111 South 2nd Avenue
Yakima, WA 98902
Voice: 509-454-2852
Fax: 509-575-2918

Gayle Ames
Teaching & Learning – Science Dept
ESD 105
111 South 2nd Avenue
Yakima, WA 98902
Voice: 509-454-2485
Fax: 509-575-2918

The South Central Washington LASER Alliance partners, 24 school districts and 2 private schools, support the ESD 105 Science Education Cooperative in implementing a regional K-6 inquiry-based curriculum program.
The Alliance utilizes a cadre of Master Trainers to deliver foundational professional development on 19 STC units in physical science, earth science/technology, and life science. The Alliance partners with the Yakima School District Science Resource Center to provide materials support and refurbishment services.
A total of 3,300 science kits are implemented in regional classrooms.

The participating LASER/Science Education Cooperative Districts include:
Bickleton School District
CleElum-Roslyn School District
East Valley School District
Easton School District
Ellensburg School District
Grandview School District
Granger School District
Highland School District
Kittitas School District
Mabton School District
Mt. Adams School District
Naches School District
Prosser School District
Royal School District
Selah School District
Sunnyside School District
Thorp School District
Toppenish School District
Union Gap School District
Wahluke School District
Wapato School District
West Valley School District
Yakima School District
Zillah School District
St. Joseph/Marquette School
St. Paul Cathedral School

Efforts of the Alliance Supported by LASER Funding
Kindergarten through sixth grade teachers receive 12 hours of initial use kit training in each of the physical science, earth science/technology, and life science strands. Content (concepts-deepening) workshops in all three strands have been offered since spring of 2005. These workshops are presented by experts from Eastern Washington University , Central Washington University , Seattle Pacific University, Yakima Valley Community College , Washington State University, and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.

STILL NEEDS Curriculum Matrix TABLE

Southeast Alliance

Peggy Harris Willcuts
Co-Director Southeast Washington LASER Alliance
STEM Education Consultant
Office of STEM Education
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
902 Battelle Boulevard
P.O. Box 999, MSIN K1-01
Richland, WA 99352 USA
Voice: 509-375-6797
Fax: 509-375-2576

Kathy Fisk
Co-Director Southeast Washington LASER Alliance
Math /Science Curriculum Coordinator
Kennewick School District
Voice: 509-222-6284
Fax: 509-222-5050

Holly C. Hollis
Program Manager
Battelle Science Resource Center
201 S. Garfield
Kennewick, WA 99336
Voice: 509-222-6888
Fax: 509-222-5064

Michele McMillan
SRC Secretary
Kennewick School District
Voice: 509-222-6465
Fax: 509-222-5064

The Battelle Science Resource Center (SRC) is the regional support center for southeastern Washington. It is located at 1000 W. Fourth Avenue in Kennewick, Washington.

We serve the K-8 classrooms in eighteen area school districts and three private schools.

This LASER supported regional science center works in conjunction with WSU/Tri-Cities, , Kennewick School District, the seventeen other vested school districts in our Alliance and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Battelle).

In July 2009 the SRC moved into a new facility that was remodeled by the Kennewick School District without using any of the grant monies. This new space allows the SRC staff to be more efficient as they deal with the 2234 elementary kits and 1300 middle school refurbishment packages they handle each year.

The goal of the Battelle Science Resource Center is to deliver quality inquiry-based science kits to classrooms, provide ongoing in-service training for teachers, and refurbish each kit in a timely manner.

Vision: To provide opportunities for all K-8 students to participate in a developmentally appropriate, inquiry-based science program that uses a teaching/learning model that parallels the way scientists and engineers uncover knowledge and solve problems.

View the Southeast LASER Alliance Scope and Sequence document (PDF).

In May of 2014, the Mid-Columbia STEM Education Collaboratory was officially launched. Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, Delta High School, the Southeast LASER Alliance and MESA are all working together to increase STEM education opportunities in southeast Washington. To learn more about the Collaboratory, including current projects and how to get involved, visit www.midcolumbiastem.org.

South Sound Alliance

John Leitzinger
Alliance Co-Director
Secondary Science Curriculum Specialist
Tacoma Public Schools
6501 N. 23rd St.
Tacoma, WA 98406
Voice: 253-571-3519
Fax: 253-571-3511

Kirk Robbins
Alliance Co-Director, Independent Science Education PD Provider
Voice: 253-334-3093
South Sound Alliance Web Page

The South Sound Washington LASER Alliance is a collaboration between eight Pierce County School Districts (Bethel, Clover Park, Franklin Pierce, Puyallup, Steilacoom, Sumner, Tacoma, White River)and Puget Sound ESD. The Alliance supports high quality standards based science instructional materials by providing the infrastructure for professional development of teachers and logistics and management support for Alliance districts.

The South Sound Alliance serves school districts in Pierce county, serving over 100,000 students and approximately 10% of the student population of Washington state.

Intel, Boeing and Washington State LASER are regular supporters of our programs.

Contact Staff for additional information regarding the Alliance. You can also visit our website at http://classrooms.tacoma.k12.wa.us/tps/lssla/index.php

Southwest Alliance

Vickei Hrdina
Alliance Director/Regional Science Coordinator
Educational Service District 112
2500 NE 65th Avenue
Vancouver, WA 98661

Niki Hamilton
Science and Math Education Resource Center @ ESD 112
Voice: 360-750-7500 ext. 276
Fax: 360-735-5698

Brian Goldman
Regional Science Materials Coordinator
Science Materials Center @ ESD 112
Voice: 360-750-7500 ext.344
Fax: 360-735-5698

Great Science, All Kids, Every Day
Southwest CenterThe Southwest Washington LASER Alliance is about improving science teaching and learning in six counties across Southwest Washington state. Each participating school district has participated in an extensive planning process leading to a four-year strategic plan for implementing a comprehensive science program. The program design includes the introduction of a 24- week comprehensive, balanced science program for over 50,000 students in both public and private schools. Twenty-nine school districts and four private schools now comprise this regional alliance.
The goal of the Southwest Washington LASER Alliance is for students to learn science by doing science instead of reading about it. Our strategy to achieve this goal is to provide EVERY elementary and middle school teacher with the ongoing materials support and professional development they will need to deliver consistently high quality science instruction. Building on the strengths of existing programs in each district, the project brings together practicing scientists, science educators, and teachers to explore science concepts and principles in depth and learn ways to involve K-8 students in more authentic investigations.

Southwest Washington LASER Alliance Curriculum Matrix
FOSS Wood and Paper
FOSS Animals 2 x 2
FOSS Solids & Liquids
FOSS Air and Weather
FOSS New Plants

FOSS Balance and Motion
FOSS Pebbles, Sand and Silt
FOSS Insects

FOSS Physics of Sound
FOSS Earth Materials
FOSS Human Body

FOSS Magnetism and Electricity
FOSS Water
FOSS Structures of Life

FOSS Levers and Pulleys

FOSS Environments
GEMS Stories in Stone

FOSS Landforms
FOSS Food and Nutrition
FOSS Models and Designs
STC /MS Light
FOSS Planetary Science
FOSS Diversity of Life

STC /MS Energy, Machines & Motion
FOSS Earth History
STC /MS Human Body Systems

STC /MS Properties of Matter
STC/MS Catastrophic Events
FOSS Populations & Ecosystems

K – 6 Unit Descriptions
Middle School Unit Descriptions
Science Cooperative Members:

Clark County School Districts: Battle Ground, Camas, Evergreen, Green Mountain, Hockinson, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal
Cowlitz County School Districts: Castle Rock, Kalama, Kelso, Longview, Toutle Lake, Woodland
Klickitat County School Districts: Centerville, Glenwood, Goldendale, Klickitat, Lyle, Roosevelt, Trout Lake, White Salmon Valley, Wishram
Pacific County School Districts: Naselle-Grays River Valley, Ocean Beach
Skamania County School Districts: Mill A, Mount Pleasant, Skamania
Wahkiakum County School Districts: Wahkiakum
Private Schools: Cornerstone Christian, Our Lady of Lourdes, Pacific Crest Academy, Portland Christian, St. Rose Catholic, Three Rivers Christian
State Schools: WA State School for the Deaf