As teachers, we are locked into a cycle of learning… teaching… more learning… more teaching. Have you ever noticed how very often the typical, boring professional development doesn’t match the unique, inspiring, and motivating lessons that we are expected to crank out? I say, that’s just not right. But here’s the question: what are we going to do about it? Are you just taking whatever professional development that crosses your path, or are you going out of your way to find exciting and stimulating types of learning for your own educational experiences: ones that will actually shift and positively change your classroom? We may just be passing the halfway mark of the school year, but NOW is the time that incredible summer opportunities are being planned and filled. Don’t settle for boring PD that satisfies your quota! Step out of your comfort zone… step out of your classroom (and maybe even right out of your state)! Quite a few of the opportunities I’ve identified will actually pay a stipend and cover the cost of your travel, food, and lodging.


Most of these applications have just opened in January 2020, and close between February and March. With so much to offer, these summer institutes are highly sought after, and competitive. So don’t just throw an application together: research the funding and purpose of each one and add in a little of what you’ve learned into your application essay.  Don’t do it alone. Invite a teacher friend. Many of the institutes love teacher teams. Not only will you have more fun, but you are more likely to plan classroom ideas that will be implemented because you will have each other- and they know that!  Before you know it, these cold winter days will turn to warm, spring days with summer quickly approaching. Now… roll your sleeves up and start planning an incredible learning adventure (or two!) for your summer that can get you the sun and fun that you deserve! Good luck!


Summer institute: Exploratorium Summer Institute for teachers 2020

  • Location: California
  • Participants: middle and high school Science teachers
  • Cost:  free, daily breakfast included,  with $2,500 stipend after completion
  • Details: “Join us for three weeks of nonstop science exploration. Our institutes support the content and pedagogy described in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Six graduate-level semester units of continuing education credits may be purchased from us at the end of the Summer Institute.” The Exploratorium operates in partnership with the University of the Pacific, California.
  • Applications: due by March 15
  • Dates: June 16-July 2
  • Website: Apply now!


Summer institute: WOW Summer Workshop 2020

Location: Missoula, MT

Participants: middle and high school Science teachers

Cost:  free-, includes lodging, meals, travel expenses AND $250 stipend

Details: Teachers become osprey experts during a week-long, interactive, and field-based summer institute at the University of Montana. Experience real, interactive field work as you collect data, band Osprey chicks, see flight physics in action, visit ecologically important sites, and more.

Applications: due by April 17

Dates: June 22-26




Summer Institute: Teaching Scholar Program: Biodiversity Field Methods 2020

  • Location: New Jersey School of Conservation campus in Stokes State Forest, New Jersey.
  • Participants: middle school Science teachers
  • Cost: free, with meals and onsite  lodging included
  • Details: As a participant, you will work with researchers and naturalists to complete a “Bioblitz,” identifying organisms and learning the roles that these organisms play in our local ecosystems, and the conservation concerns for protecting NJ biodiversity. You will become familiar with the iNaturalist app to identify and explore organisms, and then collaborate with fellow educators to create a field guide. You will be given an opportunity to bring Bioblitz back to your own school’s surrounding area with resources developed and shared by National Geographic. You will be awarded with 45 professional development hours and 1-3 graduate credits from Montclair State University (fee applies).
  • Applications: due by April 1
  • Dates: June 28-July 2
  • Website:



Summer Institute:  Nanoscience Summer Institute 2020 

  • Location: Stanford University in California
  • Participants: middle school Science teachers
  • Cost: free, includes $800 stipend
  • Details: Bring nanoscience to your classroom! Teachers will learn about the physical concepts underlying nanotechnology and nanoscience in simple terms, and gain hands-on experience that will translate to their classrooms.
  • Applications: accepted on a rolling basis through May 29, until filled
  • Dates: June 29-July 2
  • Website and application: SIMST Flyer



Summer Institute: The Real World Science Summer Teacher Seminar WWII Museum 2020

  • Location: New Orleans
  • Participants: Science teachers, grades  5-8
  • Cost: free with hotel and most meals;  reimbursed flight expenses
  • Details: Teachers will learn best practices in teaching science while being introduced to the Real World Science curriculum that uses World War II subject matter to engage students in meaningful science investigations and integrates reading, math, science, and social studies.  It includes a trip to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory in Livingston, Louisiana, and a field day performing water quality studies at New Orleans City Park and Lake Pontchartrain.
  • Applications: due by March 13
  • Dates: July 12-18
  • Website: WWIIapply



Summer Institute: 2020 Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award Summer Institute “NGSX: Science Exemplar System for PD”

  • Location: Kean University
  • Participants: Science teachers, k-12
  • Cost:  free- breakfast and lunch included
  • Details: Participants will be immersed in a web-based system designed to guide teams of K-12 science educators through the pedagogical shifts that transform “learning about” science to “figuring out” how science is practiced. Throughout the sessions, teachers will be offered opportunities to collaborate and enrich their ideas. The productive goal is to engage in modeling and constructing explanations of complex phenomena, the hallmarks of Next Generation Science. They will also learn to use questioning strategies, or “talk moves,” to create a classroom culture in which students use evidence to explain their thinking, listen to and build on the ideas of others and function as a community of critical thinkers.
  • Applications: accepted on a rolling basis through April (notices by April 15th)
  • Dates:  July 13- 17, 8:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. daily.
  • Website:


Summer institute: WWII Museum Summer Teaching Seminars 2020

  • Location: New Orleans
  • Participants: middle school/high school Social Studies  teachers, grades 5-8
  • Cost:  free with hotel and most meals-  reimbursed flight expenses
  • Details:  Get ready to dive into a variety of topics on the history of World War II!  Each seminar will give teachers access to noted WWII scholars, as well as hands-on experiences and virtual resources they can incorporate into classroom instruction.  Teachers accepted to attend the Summer Teacher Seminars will be expected to give at least one teacher professional development workshop featuring the Museum’s curriculum in the year following completion of the program.
  • Applications:  due by Feb 7
  • Dates: July 20–24, 2020: “From Liberation to V-J Day, Exploring the End of World War II”

July 27–31, 2020: “The War in the Pacific”

Summer institute: 2020 Teacher Workshops in Conservation Science

  • Location: San Diego Safari Park
  • Participants: 6-12 teachers of all subjects
  • Cost: free, with lodging/ meals included and $500 stipend
  • Details:  During the workshop, teachers work together to frame content standards in the context of wildlife conservation and explore ways to challenge students to apply textbook knowledge of life science to current biodiversity challenges. Participants engage in activities that focus on critical issues facing endangered species using a variety of advanced technical tools and techniques; all activities support the Next Generation Science Standards and can be implemented back in the classroom. Site teams of 2-3, with at least one science teacher “anchor”, and 1-2 non-science teachers interested in incorporating conservation in their subjects will be utilized.
  • Applications:  due by April 12 ZOOApply
  • Dates:  various
    • Middle school: July 13-15, August 3-5, August 10-12
    • High school July 6-8, July 20-22, July 27-29,
  • Website:



Summer institute:  National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Opportunities

  • Location: various
  • Participants: various
  • Cost: all free and come with stipends of $1200-$3300 depending on time commitment
  • Details: Check these out! They are amazing cross curricular opportunities all across America and are all FREE! There are dozens! This is a MUST check out!! Open the link! The application work is worth it- but be aware this is a highly competitive opportunity because they are amazing experiences! Put the work in on this one!  Listofsummerinstitutes
  • Applications: March 1
  • Dates:  1-4 week commitments throughout the summer
  • Website and application :



Jessica Cicalese Kurtz is a veteran middle school engineering and science teacher at Toms River Schools. She has experience as a curriculum developer, teacher trainer, and writer. . She loves to travel to learn and her experiences have brought her across the United States, Mexico, Puerto RIco,  the Caribbean, Hawaii, Iceland,  Nova Scotia, Canada,  and much of Europe.'

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