Group of about 15 people smiling with clipboards on prairie trail

Ecosystems of Kansas Summer Institute, June 4–6, 2024

You belong here

Calling all 6th- to 9th-grade science teachers! Would you like to learn more about Kansas ecosystems, interact with ecological researchers, develop curriculum that links current research to NGSS standards, and connect with other like-minded teachers? (You do not have to be a Kansas teacher to apply!)


The Ecosystems of Kansas Summer Institute is an immersive three-day program that empowers and inspires secondary science teachers with hands-on learning experiences. The program was redesigned in 2023 to meet the needs of middle school teachers, and this year we also welcome applications from 9th-grade teachers. (Teachers outside of Kansas are welcome to apply!)

The Summer Institute was developed to support and inspire educators. We value the work you do every day to teach and care for your students. Our main goal is to provide an experience that will leave you feeling appreciated, refreshed and retooled for your next academic year.

Through a variety of activities, participants will get the chance to:

  • explore outdoor spaces in a variety of ecosystems;
  • learn about Kansas ecosystems and other phenomena in science and engineering;
  • build connections with university professors;
  • strengthen their curriculum;
  • meet other like-minded teachers;
  • discuss topics including:
    • differentiated instruction;
    • equity and inclusion;
    • self-care.

When: June 4–6 (You can arrive evening of June 3 if traveling from out of town.)

Where: University of Kansas Field Station, 350 Wild Horse Road, Lawrence, KS 66044

Who should apply

All 6th- to 9th-grade science teachers from the surrounding area (in Kansas or outside Kansas) can apply. Please apply even if you are from more than an hour away from the Lawrence area, as we will work with you to provide local accommodations. We aspire to train a diverse cohort of teachers each summer and welcome all applicants. (Please note: Content will be similar to last year’s institute, and preference will be given to applicants who did not attend last year.)

What to expect

Each morning will be spent doing whole-group activities focused on a different Kansas ecosystem. You will spend each afternoon learning in small groups based upon areas of interest. University researchers and facilitators will guide you. You will have the opportunity to consider ideas for NGSS-based lessons to take back to your classrooms. Other activities include lunch-and-learns, field trips to sites representing a variety of Kansas ecosystems, and lab and campus tours. Participants are expected to work in small groups to find ways to integrate this material into their classrooms. 

Are participants paid?

Yes! Participants earn a $450 stipend for actively engaging in all three days of the institute.

Take it further

You can take opportunities to learn more and build on your enthusiasm for research. Participating in this program could lead to a chance to engage in a longer project as part of the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Teachers (NSF RET) initiative.

Join us!

Two teachers in prairie with instructor

Learn with other teachers and KU scientists

Study with direct guidance from university researchers.
Small group of teachers practice using equipment in forest
Teacher looks at small prairie plants grown in greenhouse flats

Teacher photos line 2

Teachers working together in small groups in boats on lake to practice using water quality sampling equipment

Learn in a variety of settings

Do hands-on study in prairie, forest, stream and lake environments.
Group of a dozen teachers work together in creek using seining equipment to catch fish and other creatures
Teacher wearing blue shirt that says "Science" holding jar with fish from creek

Teacher photos line 3

Small group of teachers with clipboards look at prairie remnant with instructor

Start your summer outdoors

Immerse yourself in settings that inform your teaching.
Teachers stand in stream holding seining nets; in foreground person's hand holds freshwater mussel shells
Group in native plants garden with common milkweed in foreground and numerous hackberry emporer butterflies in air and on clothing and hats