News & Perspectives

The Smithsonian Science Education Center and Public Consulting Group Partner to Offer Professional Learning Courses on The Science of Teaching Science


Boston, October 9, 2018 – The Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) and Public Consulting Group (PCG), a leading national provider of web-based tools for educators, have partnered to provide online and blended professional learning to support teachers and students in science education. This marks the SSEC’s first partnership with a private company to develop online professional development programs.

Based on the award-winning Good Thinking! video series, the new science workshops focus on The Science of Teaching Science, providing tools and strategies for teachers to engage their students in thinking and learning about science and the world in which they live. Teachers reflect on the ideas presented in the video, review related research on student misconceptions, and develop lesson plans to apply what they have learned directly to their own classroom practice.

The first bundled set of four workshops are currently available to all educators through PCG’s online professional learning platform: Pepper™, which is built on the powerful edX platform, the education partnership founded by Harvard University and M.I.T.

Each workshop is designed to be completed in three hours and includes updated research, activities, and lesson plan templates focused on the content. The current workshops in the series include:

  • Conceptual Change: How New Ideas Take Root
  • That’s So Meta(cognitive)!
  • Science as a Work in Progress
  • Fired Up About Energy

Participants are all enrolled in an online virtual learning community, where they can ask and respond to questions, and share resources and lessons learned. Individuals completing all four workshops are eligible to apply for one recertification or continuing education credit.

“We are excited to partner with the SSEC and provide teachers of all abilities with access to high-quality professional learning,” said Dr. Richard Vineyard, science program manager at PCG. “The SSEC shares our commitment to improving lives through innovative education, and we are proud to arm teachers with access to the enhanced content and strategies they need to increase student engagement and achievement in science and beyond.”

“The interactive nature of these courses is a reflection of the SSEC’s continued effort to create engaging, high-quality, research-based products and services to help support the teaching and learning of science,” according to Dr. Carol O’Donnell, Director of the SSEC. “We are thankful for PCG’s digital expertise in improving online education and advancing the teaching profession.”

About the SSEC
The Smithsonian Science Education Center was established in 1985 as the National Science Resources Center (NSRC) under the sponsorship of two prestigious institutions: the Smithsonian Institution and the National Academy of Sciences. In 2012, our name changed to the Smithsonian Science Education Center to better reflect our mission: to transform and improve the learning and teaching of science for all students across the world.

By bringing Smithsonian science into the science classroom, we can unlock the mysteries of science and clearly demonstrate how one principle leads to another. We can teach students that their facility with science can change over time, expanding and improving as they grasp new concepts.

Contact Amy D’Amico, Division Director of Professional Services
Smithsonian Science Education Center

About Public Consulting Group and the Pepper Next Gen Teaching & Learning Network
Public Consulting Group, Inc. (PCG) is a leading public sector solutions implementation and operations improvement firm that partners with health, education, and human services agencies to improve lives. Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, PCG has over 2,000 professionals in more than 50 offices around the US, in Canada and in Europe. PCG’s Education practice offers consulting services and technology solutions that help schools, school districts, and state education agencies/ministries of education to promote student success, improve programs and processes, and optimize financial resources. To learn more, visit

Pepper is a vibrant, online learning community where educators engage with high-quality, interactive content while collaborating with coaches and peers. Pepper is built on the powerful edX platform, the Cambridge-based education partnership founded by Harvard University and M.I.T. to support two important missions: improving online education, and advancing teaching and learning through research. (

Contact Public Consulting Group (Pepper)
Dr. Jack McLaughlin, Manager
(775) 313-3121