Professional Development

VISTA » Professional Development » Elementary Teachers

Elementary Teachers

×Note: The VCU site is full but accepting waiting-list teams.

VISTA is aiming to improve student learning by offering teachers free professional learning opportunities, hundreds of dollars of resources and materials for the classroom, and a diverse community of practice to support them throughout the school year. Elementary teachers will work in teams in a summer camp environment for children as they learn about problem-based learning and receive feedback as they try inquiry-based science teaching. Follow-up professional development will help them implement these science-based approaches in traditional classroom settings.

Exciting Learning Opportunities for Elementary Science
Teachers (Grades 4-6)

The one-year VISTA program for elementary teachers focuses on both the teaching of science and student achievement. Teams of 4th-6th grade teachers attend a four-week summer institute to receive professional development on:

  • Enhancing science content knowledge
  • Improving science teaching by applying the principles of hands-on science, student-centered inquiry, the nature of science, and problem-based learning

Teachers practice the new techniques with students during two-week science camps embedded in the institute. They then return to their classrooms to implement the new teaching methods during the subsequent school year. 

Treatment Group Support

Teams of teachers randomly assigned to the treatment group will receive:

  • Four-week summer institute plus follow-up sessions with meals, travel, and lodging paid if out-of-town
  • $3,000 stipend per teacher
  • Up to $1,000 in teaching resources, science materials, and web content for their classroom

Implementation sites include George Mason University, the College of William & Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech.


  • Completion of all data collection instruments including surveys, videotaping, etc. (see consent form when you apply).
  • Attendance in the summer institute instruction and support.
  • Active, eager participation.
  • School division science coordinator (or instructional specialist if there is no science coordinator) should attend the summer institute for two days.
  • The school principal should attend the summer institute for one day.


George Mason University Virginia Commonwealth University Virginia Tech The College of William
and Mary
June 24 – July 1,
July 6 – July 23,
8am – 4pm
June 23 – June 30,
July 6 – July 23,
8am – 4pm
June 19 – July 2,
July 6 – July 16,
8am – 4pm
June 24 – July 1,
July 6 – July 23,
8am – 4pm

*NOTE: Each team will be assigned to a site based on distance and space availability on a first-come, first-served basis. Team applications and all team member applications must be completed for the overall application to be considered. If there is an issue with the placement, please contact us.