Hey there! I’m Nicole VanTassel – mom, wife, science educator and consultant, and wanna-be green thumb. When I’m not chasing around toddlers, I’m diving into NGSS topics and resources to create the professional development programs and experiences teachers need AND the curricular materials they are searching for! Most days you can find me in front of my Mac with a huge cup of coffee (three kids, three and under will do that to you!), my NGSS guide, and a bazillion colorful pens and notebooks. Why? Because I love creating curriculum, helping teachers improve their instruction, and I like pretty notes.
In the classroom, I’m known for creative lesson planning – I love developing activities that get students actively learning, using their brains to puzzle out all of the wonders of our world, and taking ownership of their futures! It’s my WHY.
While I loved learning about our natural world as a child, somewhere between sixth and twelfth grade, I became convinced I wasn’t a “science” person. I was lucky to have amazing college professors who changed my mind and reignited that spark for science — but I don’t want the next generation of students to have to wait till college to fall in love with this wonderful system we call Earth (and the bigger system it’s a part of!) As an educator, I realized that effectively teaching NGSS-style is the way to keep that spark alive and show students what science is really about.
That’s why I created iExploreScience. I serve teachers who are struggling to put the Next Generation Science Standards* into practice and are yearning for a classroom where students are engaged and motivated to discover and learn. I consider myself so lucky to do what I love – learn and grow as an educator and curriculum developer – while giving teachers the tools they need to create amazing science experiences for their students.
As an educator, I have been honored with awards from the Pennsylvania Science Teachers Association, the National Science Teachers Association, Allegheny College, and Edinboro University. Some of these awards include the Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award for New Teachers, the William B. McIlwaine Science Teaching Award, and the Shell Science Lab Challenge District IV Winner (two years in a row)! I have been selected for a number of competitive professional development opportunities — through the San Diego Zoo, Great Lakes Sea Grant Education Program, and Exxon-Mobil Teachers Academy — and I just LOVE taking advantage of these learning experiences! Lastly, I have had the opportunity to present professional development workshops for districts in Pennsylvania, at the Pennsylvania Science Teacher Association annual conferences, and the National Science Teacher Association area conferences.
When I am not busy working on resources for teachers like you, I am stickering up my Happy Planner and Memory Keeping scrapbook, trying to make something of my mess of a garden, or just spending time with my crazy kids and pretty sweet husband. Life is busy, and it goes by fast.
If you’re still here, and you want to learn a little more about my story and how I ended up here, you can read all about it over on the blog! If you want to connect more personally, check me out on Instagram!
*Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of this product, and no endorsement has been given.