Introducing: Science Friday Summer Institute

From August 3-6, join Science Friday Education, STEM researchers, and STEM educators from around the country for a virtual conference and co-creation institute.

Introducing: Science Friday Summer Institute

August 3-6, 2020

4 Days Of Scientist + Educator Collaboration Sessions

Sessions Facilitated By Active STEM Educators + STEM Researchers

Collaboratively Generate Resources With Educators To Share On

Earn A Certificate For Each 2.5-hour Session

Science Friday Summer Institute is a virtual conference for K-12 educators aimed at connecting their classroom practice with the stories of scientists. During this four-day conference, educators will:

  • Learn about an amazing STEM research directly from amazing STEM experts
  • Make connections with fellow educators, scientists, and engineers
  • Participate in round table discussions on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in STEM education
  • Learn and share strategies for engaging STEM learners in a variety settings (i.e. remote, in-person)

Did we mention: You will co-author classroom resources with other educators that may be published on Science Friday’s website!

A full conference schedule and tickets are now available. Space is limited and popular sessions will fill up quickly!

The conference is $40, and attendees can choose any available session on all 4 days.

Are you a K-12 educator who needs financial assistance to attend this conference? Email Xochitl Garcia at for more information.

Registration for the conference is now closed!

Check out the conference schedule and an FAQ below for more information!

Conference Schedule

Monday, August 3rd

  • 8:45-11:00am ET – “Size Matters—Long Term Ecology of Megafauna” with Paleobiologist Advait Jukar + Educator Amy Cataldo
  • 11:30am-1:45pm ET – “Shrinking Science To Fit In A CubeSat” with Mechanical Engineer Allison Evans + Educator Stacy George
  • 2:15-4:30pm ET – “Justice By Design, From Park Benches To AI” with Sociologist Ruha Benjamin + Educator Joy Barnes-Johnson
  • 4:30-6:00pm ET – Networking & Expo Space Open

Tuesday, August 4th

  • 8:45-11:00am ET – “Seals From Space—Monitoring Polar Wildlife and Climate Change” with Polar Explorer Prem Gill + Educator Michael Hirsch
  • 11:30am-1:45pm ET – “How To Grab A Spider’s Attention” with Spider Researcher Sebastian Echeverri + Educator Megan Sorensen
  • 2:15-4:30pm ET – “Who Ate This Bone?” with Paleoanthropologist Briana Pobiner PhD + Educator Stacy George
  • 4:30-6:00pm ET – Networking & Expo Space Open

Wednesday, August 5th

  • 8:45-11:00am ET – “Galactic Archeology And The Search For Habitable Zones” with Astrophysicist Moiya McTier + Educator Joy Barnes-Johnson
  • 11:30am-1:45pm ET – “How Veggies Grow (And Make NASA Astronauts Feel) In Space!” with Plant Scientist Gioia Massa + Educator Sergio Estrada
  • 2:15-4:30pm ET – “Clear Air, Clean Water: Taking The Fight for Environmental Justice Into The Classroom” with Environmental Health Researcher Charlotte Smith PhD + Educator Laura Diaz
  • 4:30-6:00pm ET – Networking & Expo Space Open

Thursday, August 6th

  • 8:30-11:00am ET – Open Networking & Science Friday Media
  • 11:30am-1:45pm ET – Roundtable Discussion: “Justice, Equity, Diversity And Inclusion In The STEM Classroom” with Teaching Professor and Director of Organic Chemistry Labs Maria Gallardo-Williams + Educator Joy Barnes-Johnson
  • 2:15-4:30pm ET – Working Groups: “Approaches to Teaching During COVID-19” with Science Friday’s Xochitl Garcia
  • 4:30-6:00pm ET – Networking & Expo Space Open

Science Friday Summer Institute FAQ

How and when will the Summer Institute meet virtually?
The conference will run from August 3-6, 2020. The main sessions will run from August 3-5, with additional facilitated sessions on August 6.

Sessions on August 6 will focus on justice and equity in STEM education, designing for access and engagement in a variety of settings (i.e., remote, in-person), and a Share-A-Thon.

We will be using an online conference tool called Hopin. All registrants will be sent detailed instructions on the platform and how to participate, so you can arrive on the day of the conference ready to collaborate!

What will the conference look and feel like?
Each day will have three scheduled collaborative sessions. At the start of each session, a STEM expert will tell educators the story of their work, including a Q&A section. Then, educators will move into breakout rooms by grade band to collaborate on the development of a learning experience for students, led by a SciFri Educator Facilitator.

After the conference, the resources created throughout the week will be made available to each attendee. Select resources will be published on the Science Friday website, open access for all, with all collaborators—scientists, educators and facilitators—credited for their work.

Sounds great, I’m in! How can I purchase a ticket?
You can purchase your ticket and sign up for sessions on Eventbrite. The conference is $40, and attendees can choose any available session on all 4 days.

Do you need financial assistance to attend this conference? Email Xochitl Garcia at for more information.

We will sent you a link in advance of the conference to sign up for Hopin and confirm your session selection.

I’m a scientist, engineer, or researcher and I’d like to participate!
We would love to have you for this or future conferences! Please email with the subject line “Summer Institute – Scientist Interest” and we will schedule a time to chat about your participation.

How can I stay up-to-date about the conference?
Sign up for our Summer Institute email newsletter—you’ll be the first to hear about updates.

About The Researchers

Ruha Benjamin (she/her) is Associate Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, author of the award-winning book Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code, and founder of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab, which brings together students, activists, artists, and educators to develop a critical and creative approach to data justice. For more info visit

Sebastian Alejandro Echeverri (he/him) is a spider scientist, wildlife photographer, and educator. Born in Colombia, he grew up in NYC and did his PhD at the University of Pittsburgh. He studies why and how jumping spiders get their audience’s attention before throwing down their impressive dance moves.

Allison Evans (she/her) is a mechanical engineer in the Components and Hardware branch at Goddard Space Flight Center. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from West Virginia University and her Masters Degree in Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech. She has been working at Goddard for almost nine years now on various missions including WFIRST (now Roman Space Telescope), spacecraft refueling missions, balloon and sounding rocket missions, and small satellites called CubeSats. 

Maria Gallardo-Williams (she/her) is a Teaching Professor and Director of the Organic Chemistry Teaching Labs in the Chemistry Department at North Carolina State University and a SoTL Fellow in the NC State Office of Faculty Development. She received BS and MS degrees from Universidad Simon Bolivar in her native Venezuela and a PhD from the University of South Florida. Her current duties involve teaching organic chemistry lectures and labs, managing many teaching assistants, and helping other faculty develop their SoTL research. In her spare time she does research in chemical education, with an interest in technology and student-generated teaching and learning materials.

Prem Gill (he/him) is a polar scientist leading the “Seals from Space” priority conservation project with the University of Cambridge – Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). For this research Prem monitors Antarctic seals and their sea ice habitat using very high-resolution satellite data. As the founder of the Minorities in Polar Research network and the Early Career Researcher Diversity Champion for the British Antarctic Survey, he has used his research to spearhead multiple projects aiming to attract and retain talent from non-traditional backgrounds within polar and conservation science. This work spans a range of audiences and formats, from hosting week-long citizen science events at the British Antarctic Survey to creating art installations using the sounds and satellite data of Antarctic seals to produce Grime music and an immersive VR experience.

Advait M. Jukar (he/him) is a Gaylord Donnelley Postdotoral Associate in Environmental Science at the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies at Yale University and a Research Associate at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. His research focusses on the ecology and paleobiology of large vertebrates (animals with backbones). His current work focuses on the extinction of large animals, like mammoths and sabertooth cats, in less well studied parts of the world like the Indian Subcontinent. In addition to being a researcher, Advait is a science communicator and educator.

Gioia Massa (she/her) is a NASA scientist at Kennedy Space Center working on space crop production for the International Space Station and future exploration endeavors. She led the science team for the Veggie hardware validation on the Space Station and she heads an interdisciplinary group to study fertilizer and light impacts on nutrition and flavor of Veggie-grown crops. She has a BS in Plant Science from Cornell, a PhD in Plant Biology from Penn State, and postdoctoral research from Purdue and Kennedy Space Center. 

Moiya McTier (she/her) is a New York-based astrophysicist who studies planets outside of our solar system. She’s also a folklorist who specializes in using science and logic to build fictional worlds. You can hear all about the worlds she’s built on her podcast, Exolore, where she invites experts to help her imagine life on a different alien planet in every episode.

Briana Pobiner (she/her) is a paleoanthropologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History who studies the evolution of human diet. She undertakes experiments, fieldwork, and collections-based research to study modern and fossil animal bones to determine who ate those animals. Her research has taken her to Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America.

Charlotte Smith, PhD (she/her) is a faculty member of the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, and a Visiting Professor at the Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara – Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO). Her research interests include the microbial ecology and control of waterborne pathogens, and using geospatial statistics to explore the pathway from environmental exposures, including contaminated water, to acute and chronic diseases. Dr. Smith holds a BS in Microbiology from the University of Michigan, an MA in Community Health from the City University of New York, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley.

About The Educator Co-Facilitators

Laura Diaz (she/her) is an innovative High School Science Teacher at New Roads School in California. She is the founder of the non-profit, the Educator Collective for Environmental Justice. Laura particularly enjoys bringing real-world, action-based projects to the classroom, and plays a proactive role in elevating the conversation around what teachers have to offer not only to students but also to the movement of social progression. Laura is particularly interested in the cross-section between educators, students and the community and how those three groups can work together to address environmental justice issues.

Dr. Joy Barnes-Johnson (she/her) currently works in secondary education and consults for several racial literacy, STEM Education and training projects she calls EqSTrEAM educational responses exploring equitable science teaching and learning. She has published several articles that address teacher preparation, policy and curriculum design. In 2018, she  co-edited a research volume entitled STEM-21: Equity in Teaching and Learning to Meet Global Challenges of Standards, Engagement and Transformation. She was recently honored by the NJ Education Association with the 2019 MLK Jr. Human & Civil Rights Award.

Megan Sorensen (she/her) teaches middle school science in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. She believes in the power of experience and implements lessons that allow students to explore STEAM in their everyday lives.

Stacy George (she/her) is a former STEM teacher and elementary teacher. She taught for 25 years prior to moving to the University of Hawaii to teach science and math in the College of Education Institute for Teacher Education. Stacy was part of the 2017 Science Friday Educator Collaborator Cohort.

Amy Cataldo (she/her) is a middle school life science teacher at Edmund Burke School in Washington, D.C. With over 20 years of classroom experience, she believes in practical, “show don’t tell” education, and constantly designs and implements lab and classroom activities that allow students to put critical scientific principles in action for themselves. Amy was part of 2018 Science Friday Educator Collaborator Cohort.

Michael L. Hirsch (he/him) is a biologist and science teacher who specializes in curriculum design and crafting hands-on scientific experiences for students. When not championing progressive education, he can be found playing music and building with Legos.

Sergio Estrada (he/him) is a physics teacher at Riverside High School in El Paso, TX. He strives to create a dynamic atmosphere in his classroom by using real world phenomena, live demonstrations, songs, hands-on activities, and his own comedic stylings in an effort to inspire his students into loving a difficult subject.

Meet the Writer

About Xochitl Garcia

Xochitl Garcia was Science Friday’s K-12 education program manager. She is a former teacher who spends her time cooking, playing board games, and designing science investigations from odds and ends she’s stockpiled in the office (and in various drawers at home).

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