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LASER - Washington State Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform Partnership

LASER logo

PNNL partners with Washington State LASER to help school districts initiate, implement and sustain a standards-based, inquiry-centered science education program in grades K-12.

Washington State LASER began in 1999, modeled after work developed originally by the National Science Resources Center (NSRC) at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

LASER is a catalyst for sustainable innovation and improvement in K-12 science education.  With the vision that science is an essential part of the education of today's students for tomorrow's world, Washington State LASER accomplishes its mission by

  • fostering a shared vision of effective teaching and learning
  • stewarding a public/private partnership network of committed individuals and organizations
  • delivering leadership development programs and experiences
  • partnering with regional support networks
  • aligning work with the National Research Council's K-12 Framework for Science Education and the Washington State science standards.

How does LASER use its time, talent and treasure?


LASER chooses inputs that will benefit students, educators, and the schools and communities.


Those inputs yield outputs (e.g., increased knowledge, advanced skills, improved problem solving strategies, more cohesive working groups that develop shared ideas, etc.) for the targeted audiences.


Those outputs help to get the desired outcomes (e.g., student achievement/learning improves, educator knowledge/practice is enhanced, and communities of practice that benefit a broad set of learners are developed).


These outcomes have impacts that we should all care about (e.g., increasing science literacy, preparing students to better take advantage of science courses in secondary and post-secondary settings, enabling students to pursue 21st century career paths and obtain family wage jobs, etc.).

LASER is a national K-12 science education reform project initially undertaken by the former National Science Resources Center, which is now the the Smithsonian Science Education Center. To learn more about LASER, view the Smithsonian Science Education Center's Transforming Science Education infographic which describes the elements of science education reform and the case for why school districts should engage with LASER .

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has taken a decided focus on playing a strong role in LASER both at the state and regional level.  , manager of PNNL Science and Engineering Education (SEE), is the co-director of Washington State LASER, and both he and , SEE consultant, sit on the Washington state LASER Steering Committee, as well as serve in an advisory capacity to the LASER Leadership Team.  


PNNL engages educators, all across the education system, in leadership professional development through projects such as Teachers as Researchers: Understanding Student Thinking (TRUST); STEM Leadership Development for principals and administrators with the Association of Washington School Principals; the STEM Education Leadership Institute for schools, districts and regions to develop plans of action for STEM education reform; the co-directorship of the Southeast LASER Alliance; co-facilitation of the STEM Leadership Network in southeast Washington; and co-facilitation of two Math/Science Partnership Grants, called STEM-IT, which focus content of science professional development for elementary teachers in partnership with scientists and engineers.