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Teacher Institute on Science and Sustainability

TISS Overview

The Teacher Institute on Science and Sustainability (TISS) is a California Academy of Sciences teacher professional development program designed to provide teachers with the critical tools and knowledge to inspire the next generation to protect our most precious resource: the planet Earth.

Structure of TISS

Each year, a select group of 3rd — 5th grade teachers embarks on a two-year program to become leading educators of science and sustainability. The program includes in-depth workshops at the California Academy of Sciences — the greenest museum in the world, individual and team coaching visits at school sites, and stimulating trips to scientific institutions, outdoor spaces, and more. Program topics include climate change, energy use, and food and water systems. Quality science teaching practices, reflective pedagogy, and teacher collaboration guide our efforts.

As the state moves toward the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards in K-12 classrooms, TISS is excited to continue to find ways to support teachers in enhancing their science teaching practices. Our program now infuses the NGSS scientific practices into all we do.

In each year of the program, our teachers participate in a 2-week summer session and over 25 hours of school year professional development. For more info on our program, click on 2014 Teacher Brochure under Teacher Institute Downloads to your right.

Teacher Benefits

TISS participants receive a $2000 stipend, a free membership to the Academy, and a class set of science notebooks for each year of the program. Teachers are supported with school site coaching, access to Academy educational resources, and continuing education credits (fee-based) for their participation.

TISS Teachers in Action

TISS Teachers and Alumni are constantly amazing us with all they do! As part of our program, teachers make videos that showcase what they have learned during the Summer Institute or what they plan to address in the upcoming school year.

Cohort 2 TISS teachers created 45-second public service announcements aimed at changing student behavior. Working in school teams, they identified a sustainability issue they plan to address with their students this coming year and brought these issues to life through simple filming and editing. Watch the public service announcements they created here.

TISS Staff

Ben Lavender, Manager of TISS, blavender@calacademy.org

Emily Gibson, Teacher Educator & Instructional Coach, egibson@calacademy.org

Emily Harris, Teacher Educator & Instructional Coach, eharris@calacademy.org

Briana McCarthy, Teacher Educator & Instructional Coach, bmccarthy@calacademy.org

Generously sponsored by

Union Bank


2014 - 2016 TISS Application

TISS Applications for Cohort 6 are now closed. Please check back next January for our 2015-2017 Cohort 7 application.


2014 TISS Brochure

Want to learn more about our program? Download our 2014 brochure below.

2014 TISS Brochure


Having problems with the e-application? You can also download the same application here and mail it in.


« August 2013 »


Questions about the Teacher Institute? Please contact:

Teacher Institute
  (415) 379-5217

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Teacher Generated Lessons

View and download lessons that TISS teachers developed during the Institute that integrate sustainability themes into their science curriculum.

View Projects