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Implementing FOSS

Staff Development
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    K-6 Case Studies
        Case Study 1
        Case Study 2
        Case Study 3
        Case Study 4
        Case Study 5
    Middle School Case Studies
        Case Study 6
        Case Study 7

FOSS in Multiple Classrooms

  Using FOSS Technology
      Schools Using FOSS


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Info for Teachers and Parents

Elementary School: Case Study 1Case Study 2Case Study 3Case Study 4Case Study 5
Middle School: Case Study 6Case Study 7

FOSS Implementation Case Study 3

74 elementary schools
32,079 students K–6
1,150 teachers K–6
7-year plan


  1. The district relied on two documents for guidance in curriculum evaluation: The state science framework called State Science Essential Skills, and the district science framework, the District Science Curriculum. Teachers contributed to the development of both documents.
  2. A curriculum selection committee was formed, comprising a cross section of teachers, administrators, and parents from throughout the district. The committee examined and scored all curriculum materials sent by publishers. Teachers were given release time to complete the job.
  3. The committee presented the recommended (highest rated) curricula to the district central administration and the school board. FOSS was approved by the administration and adopted by the board.


The district goal for FOSS was that after 3 years every teacher would use at least two FOSS modules a year, with a third module optional (FOSS or GEMS). Phase II of the district plan was to prepare every teacher to meet this minimum criterion. This phase started by expanding the science implementation leadership in the district.

A. Initiating Staff Development

  1. The district had one full-time elementary science curriculum coordinator. Two new positions were established for elementary science curriculum specialists.
  2. During the first year both specialists attended FOSS Leadership Institutes with FOSS developers. Both spent days learning the FOSS modules in detail and adding curriculum integration, literature connections, and extensions appropriate for the Tucson area.
  3. The elementary science specialists started a bimonthly newsletter. This would become an important communication tool throughout the implementation process.

B. Summer and Fall Workshops Year 2 (Phase I modules)

  1. Each of the 74 elementary schools selected a science facilitator to represent the school during the science implementation. These 74 facilitators and interested principals attended 5 days of in-service in summer 1993. A large amount of time during the 5 days was devoted to in-depth workshops on the Phase I modules (one per grade level K–6).

    The first 2 days were in June with the FOSS developers. The next 2 days were in July with a FOSS leadership consultant from within the state and lead teachers from an NSF project who had taught the FOSS modules in classrooms. The science facilitators were introduced to all seven of the Phase I modules during these first 4 days. At this point each facilitator dedicated his or her life to one of the Phase I modules, vowing to teach it to students, become expert in its content, and skilled at presenting it to others.

    The last day featured two activities. The FOSS leadership consultant and the elementary science specialist planned seven community-based field trips, one that related to each of the Phase I modules. For example, third-grade teachers using Ideas and Inventions went to the local police station to see fingerprinting in action; fifth-grade teachers using Landforms went with a geologist on a canyon field trip. In the afternoon teachers distributed themselves in their module groups for in-depth planning for classroom piloting they would be doing in a few weeks.
  2. Each facilitator was given a set of seven Phase I FOSS teacher guides and other materials (such as GEMS guides) for the professional resource library at each school.
  3. Facilitators were encouraged to teach their modules in their classrooms with on-site assistance from the elementary science curriculum specialist.
  4. Site meetings were held by facilitators to introduce the new plan and new curriculum materials to the staffs at their schools. Curriculum specialists also introduced the new curriculum to school sites.
  5. In the second semester FOSS was implemented in four schools. Interested teachers at other schools were also encouraged to try a kit. Site facilitators were given release time to in-service and assist colleagues.
  6. Parent nights were hosted by facilitators and elementary science curriculum specialists. Science specialists shared the new curriculum and encouraged parents to try the activities. Many questions were fielded concerning an adoption without textbooks.

C. Summer before Year 3 (Phase II modules)

  1. Professional development: Training was held for facilitators from each school. Phase II kits (one per grade level K–6) were introduced by FOSS developers.
  2. Staff development: Curriculum specialists gave workshops on Phase I kits for all interested teachers. Eisenhower funds were used for staff development. These were full-day in-services with lunch provided. The days were fun and inviting for the teachers.
  3. In the fall of year 3 the rotation of kits began. Each classroom received a kit for 21 teaching days. (This has been determined to be too short a time.) All 74 sites were included.
  4. Workshops by the district curriculum specialists continued. Over two-thirds of the district’s teachers were in-serviced to use the Phase I modules by June in year 3.

D. Sustaining Staff Development and Implementation

  1. In the summer before year 4 the district conducted a users conference for facilitators, principals, and all other interested teachers. The day was planned and facilitated by the district science specialists and the district science curriculum coordinators. We shared experiences with FOSS, brainstormed ways to improve the system, and had workshops on local resources that expand and enhance the FOSS activities. Facilitators got to know each other better and celebrated their successes.
  2. During year 4 the curriculum specialists and facilitators presented workshops (12 days) covering Phase II modules.
  3. Staff development on Phase I and II modules, presented by the district science specialists, continued throughout the year. Principals, parents, and instructional aides were invited.
  4. Half-day principals workshops were conducted. Specialists gave principals data on teachers' participation in FOSS workshops. We discussed classroom management issues during hands-on science. Also principals were encouraged to do teacher evaluations during FOSS science.
  5. Working with school librarians, we developed extensive bibliographies to go along with each module and distributed these to each school.
  6. We started workshops on mathematics integration.

E. Comment

We invested a lot of resources in staff development. We know the investment is justified. If teachers didn’t get an in-service on a module, they didn’t use it. The teachers need to know that the program is based on real science and good pedagogy, and they start to gain confidence in the program when they participate in an in-service workshop.


The district decided to use a centralized materials warehouse system to manage and maintain the module kits. Kits are delivered to teachers when they are needed and picked up and returned to the warehouse for refurbishing before being delivered to the next teacher. The warehouse is a 2700-square-foot section of the district instructional resource center now called the Science Resource Center (SRC). An additional 1500-square-feet of warehouse storage is near the center and accessible by truck.

A. Housing the Materials

  1. The SRC is staffed by an office manager, materials center coordinator, and materials manager.
  2. The SRC had to be outfitted with plenty of four-tiered adjustable metal shelving and office space for the K–12 science staff development personnel. We also installed a commercial-grade four-bin stainless-steel sink (cold water only) for cleaning items during refurbishment.
  3. Staging areas (docks) for loading and unloading and temporary holding are shared with other programs housed in this center (i.e. library, fine arts, technology, and property control).
  4. All 74 elementary schools have access to the kits on an assigned rotating basis. Some sixth-grade kits and optional parts of some fourth- and fifth-grade kits are available for teacher checkout on request.

B. Managing the Materials

The materials center coordinator is responsible for materials procurement and management. His job description also includes elementary science program documentation and evaluation, personnel and physical facilities management, troubleshooting, coordination of schedules, and administrative and community liaison. The day-to-day ordering and accounting for materials and kit management is conducted by a retired high school science teacher (half-time salary). Adoption money from state funding supports this salary.

C. Inventory and Consumable Replacement

  1. The SRC conducts inventory and replaces items in kits after each use. Consumable items are purchased in bulk and stored at SRC until needed.
  2. SRC allocated 3 days for refurbishing kits before sending them back out.
  3. Three half-time student workers (high school cooperative education program) are mainly responsible for replacing both consumable and permanent items in kits, supervised by SRC personnel. Consumable replacement items are purchased out of state adoption funds, approximately $20,000 a year in 2000.
  4. There is still a concern as to the most economical and efficient way to provide the live organisms for our kits. We are in the first or second year of operation for these modules, so we need more experience. State adoption funds pay for the organisms.

    Year 1: Local pet stores or biological supply company monthly shipments to SRC
    Year 2: Coupons through Delta to be redeemed by teachers

    Year 1: Cultures at SRC, local pet stores

    Milkweed bugs
    Year 1: Cultures at SRC, eggs from biological supply company, limited quantities supplied by local university until we develop reliable bulk sources

D. Checkout (rotation) System

  1. Each school site received FOSS kits two times during the year, once in the fall and once in the spring. The district has designed two units for each grade level. Each classroom teacher at the site received his or her own kit. All classrooms at the site receive delivery on the same date.
  2. Kits remain for 21 school days and are picked up and returned to SRC. Teachers are strongly recommending that this time period be extended (and the FOSS developers concur). This will require finding additional funds to increase the pool of kits. Since SRC is responsible for both delivery and pickup of the kits at 74 sites, all kits are returned at one time. This eliminates most "overdue" kits. Overdue or missing items are sometimes returned in regular school mail or by teacher delivery, depending on size of item and urgency of need.

E. Safety

So far there have been only a few safety questions from FOSS users. Some teachers had questions about citric acid (Mixtures and Solutions Module). They wanted to know about precautions for use (Should students wear goggles? How do you clean up spills? etc.). We have also had inquiries about the use of diatomaceous earth around people wearing contact lenses.

F. Special Notes on Refurbishing Kits

  1. As kits are brought into SRC, they are sorted by grade. When a module has two drawers, the two drawers from the same teacher are stacked together to facilitate inspection of the drawers, because sometimes the contents of the drawers are mixed.
  2. The drawer or drawers are placed on a work table. The packing list is located. (If the teacher didn’t return the packing list, a new one is obtained.)
  3. If the teacher has filled in the packing list, a quick inspection with a few spot checks is made to determine the accuracy of the inventory. If the teacher did not fill in the packing list, the person refurbishing the kit does a complete inventory to determine shortages.
  4. The difference between the number of items sent out and the number returned is noted on the list.
  5. The replacement items are located on the shelves in the same alphabetical order as on the packing list. The replacement items for each module are lined up along a set of shelves, and each item is labeled as to what it is and which kit it goes into. The labels for each module are on different-colored paper to speed up recognition.
  6. The person restocking the kit takes the packing list with the shortages noted, moves down the appropriate aisle with a cart, and collects the needed items.
  7. The kit is repacked and placed in the area with the rest of the kits ready to be shipped out to schools.
  8. The sand trays from the Landforms Module are inspected. If the sand mixture is wet and caked, the sand is dumped into a box with slightly moist sand mixture, mixed with the materials in the box, and measured out into the trays again. If the sand mixture is sufficiently dry, additional sand mixture is added to bring the tray up to the amount needed. The trays are packaged in sets of eight in large plastic garbage bags.
  9. A database keeps track of items missing from kits. The office manager contacts the schools and requests the missing items be returned as soon as possible. If missing items are not recovered, the school is charged with replacement costs.
  10. A database also records materials on hand and materials used. This inventory is used to order replacement supplies.

G. Special Notes on Preparation of Kits for Delivery

  1. The office manager prepares delivery destination tickets with
    Delivery Date
    Pick-up Date
    Each school set is printed on different-colored paper to help eliminate mix-ups.
  2. These tickets are placed in vinyl pockets on all of the drawers and support kits (including bus trays, basin sets, and food bags). Food bags are picked up from Food Services according to previous arrangements for bag contents and delivery schedule.
  3. As kits accumulate in the shipping area and tickets are inserted, a delivery ticket is filled out noting the kit numbers for each drawer, the numbers on the support kits (if any), and the number of bus trays and trays of sand that accompany certain modules.
  4. If the module has laser discs as part of its presentation, these laser discs are brought from the A-V room. The laser discs are stored in labeled bags along with the appropriate software to be delivered to the school librarian. The numbers on the laser discs are noted on the delivery ticket.
  5. The officer manager prepares a letter of instructions to be included for all first-time users. That letter is stapled to a packing list that is included in each kit. This packing list is an inventory of the kit contents. The teacher is expected to fill in the list prior to returning the kit, indicating the materials used. This enables the SRC to replenish the kit in the shortest time possible and have it ready to ship out to another school.
  6. The completed delivery ticket is duplicated so the delivery person will have a signed copy to check against when returning to pick up the kits. The duplicate is left with the school contact person so the pickup will be complete and correct when the delivery person arrives to pick up the kits.
  7. A letter of information for the school principal and a letter of information for the school librarian are prepared to be delivered with the kits.
  8. Any additional information sheets appropriate to any kit are inserted in the kit along with the packing list.


A. Administrators

  1. Science has been placed in the spotlight many times during curriculum nights at board meetings. The science curriculum is featured in all district informational pamphlets.
  2. We offer special half-day workshops for principals to get them involved in the science activities. We can then communicate more effectively with them about the participation of their teachers in workshops and in their classrooms.

B. Parents

  1. Parents are mainly informed through meetings and science nights at the schools.
  2. Teachers are encouraged to send the FOSS letter home to parents.

C. General

  1. Financial support has been primarily district and Eisenhower funds. A few merchants have donated textiles for Fabric. A local surgeon donates unused tubs for the kits (a great way to recycle!).
  2. Technology hardware and some software were purchased with part of a bond.
  3. We are currently seeking corporate sponsorship.
  4. We are developing an advisory board.


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