Transforming ALL Students into Scientists

This program’s “learning-by-doing” pedagogical approach engages students as active learners and makes science come alive in ways that research has shown best support the broad range of learners found in every classroom. Students investigate questions relevant to their own daily lives by conducting investigations, collecting and analyzing data, developing and using models to explain phenomena, and engaging in healthy debate from evidence.

IQWST® Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology has the flexibility to meet all unique state standards, while also aligning with Next Generation Science Standards.

Available as a package or
for individual purchase



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On the Activate Learning Digital Platform



Materials & Supplies


Professional Learning


Storyline Approach

Referencing real-world science with which students from all backgrounds are familiar allows students to value science learning, and apply what they are learning to their everyday lives.


Students Learn Like Scientists and Engineers

Students pursue their own original questions in units that integrate the fundamentals of Physical Sciences, Life Science, and Earth & Space Science.

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Total Support
for Teachers

In person and online teacher support, educational webinars, lesson modeling, and much more is provided by our Professional Learning Team. 

Need more info to decide if this the right curriculum for your district or school?

Curriculum Details

IQWST engages all students with shared phenomena, investigations, and opportunities to draw upon and connect their everyday life experiences with science content. Students experience phenomena firsthand through hands-on investigations manipulating science materials whenever possible to understand and explain the phenomena.

Additional Versions Available:

Student-Driven Learning

Curricular Coherence
IQWST utilizes Circular Coherence - revising and building on ideas across time. This provides students with opportunities to develop, reinforce, and apply their understandings on an ongoing basis throughout their middle school years.

Driving Question Board (DQB)
A powerful visual tool that puts students at the center of their learning experience! The Driving Question Board is a large poster board prominently displaying the driving question in each unit for exploring phenomena at its center, surrounded by sub-questions that represent the main learning goals. It’s a collaborative creation, jointly constructed by both students and the teacher at the start of the unit, and it evolves throughout the learning process.

Instructional Design with Teachers in Mind

Classroom Implementation
IQWST Teacher Edition includes lesson plans, discussion questions, differentiation strategies, and background information for each unit, and Video Tutorials on activity set ups are also available.

Remote Learning Options
The Remote Learning Lesson Plans condense what is taught in each activity with specific teaching recommendations and identify the digital resources, print resources, and materials needed to teach and learn outside of the classroom.

Claim, Evidence, & Reasoning (CER) 
The CER Framework was born and developed in IQWST as a result of teachers’ desire to better support their students as scientific thinkers and writers.

IQWST 3.0 Units

IQWST units are arranged in a recommended sequence to optimize coherence and build content understanding over time. However, many districts have successfully developed additional sequences to meet the needs of their students and districts.

Lessons are organized into thematic units such as Can I Believe My Eyes? (Physical Science) and What's Going on Inside Me? (Life Science), that support students as they build an understanding of core ideas in science as well as understanding and use of scientific practices.


The Activate Learning Digital Platform (ALDP) hosts the interactive digital edition of the IQWST teacher and student curriculum materials.

The platform is designed for student accessibility and inclusion and offers embedded translation for over 130 languages and text-to-speech with read-along highlighting in 35 languages.

Featuring an intuitive user experience, teachers have everything they need to Plan, Teach, Assign, and Assess lessons in a platform that is integrated with leading SIS rostering and Learning Management Systems such as Google Classroom, Schoology, and Canvas.

And with Lesson Launch, teachers can quickly view slides, handouts, student edition, and materials in one place!

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IQWST Middle School Assessments

ONPAR Digital Assessments to Effectively Gauge Student Learning

ONPAR digital assessments are aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards for Middle School. They challenge students to think deeply about science ideas while engaging in science and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts. These three-dimensional assessments integrate perfectly with the IQWST program.

In addition, ONPAR assessments have been found to be beneficial by many districts in providing student experience with the format and content of state tests.

Activate Learning Insight™ Supplemental Assessments

Built on the Activate Learning Digital Platform, Activate Learning Insight™ offers hundreds of pre-made assessments aligned to IQWST designed to help teachers evaluate student understanding across NGSS Performance Expectations and Disciplinary Core Ideas.

About The

IQWST® was developed through grant funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The development team has combined expertise in science education, literacy education, and the learning sciences. The team was led by Principal Investigators Joe Krajcik, Ph.D., Brian Reiser, Ph.D., LeeAnn Sutherland, Ph.D., and David Fortus, Ph.D.

*This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. DRL 0439352 and ESI 0101780. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Hear Directly from Administrators & Teachers

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IQWST instructional materials rely heavily upon students engaging in the scientific practices of NGSS as they uncover scientific ideas and discover content through the DCIs in the context of authentic learning opportunities that are fueled by the IQWST storylines. Although IQWST technically pre-dates NGSS, it's the same people and the same ideas.

Tara Bell, Science Coordinator

Indian Prairie School District

Activate Learning was able to recommend a customized OpenSciEd/ IQWST implementation. Both curricula share the same pedagogy and even some of the same authors, providing a seamless experience to teachers and students through Activate Learning's Interactive Digital Platform. 

Activate Learning is a great support system for me, for the district, for the teachers, and for the kids. It's a one-stop-shop for everything the we need to support our science program and science instruction in our district. 

Erin Babin, Ed.D., Curriculum Specialist

Ascension Parish Schools, Louisiana

I love using IQWST online for 7th grade science!! Both me and my students use the digital platform. The storyline for 7th grade is clear and builds upon previous learning.  The labs are engaging, the digital platform makes lesson planning easy, and each lesson seems to flow into the next seamlessly.  

Lesson planning is fast and easy, allowing me to prep for labs, meet accommodations, and reserve my brain power and time for meeting the needs of my students year to year, day to day, and even hour to hour.  The students appreciate the digital platform as well, when asked, students liked the digital platform for typing their responses. 

Kristina Wing, MAT

7th Grade Science Teacher

"This was the most extensive pilot process we ever went through. In March (2019) when we concluded the pilot our decision was close. We decided to go back and pilot again to evaluate the remote learning support and Activate Learning really stepped up, delivering great professional learning support and a remote learning plan."

Hueneme Elementary School District, California

The concepts within the curricula build within each unit to ensure students have a strong foundation for each big idea. Concepts are revisited in later grades, reviewing prior knowledge and continuing to connect and grow the student knowledge. Model building is strongly emphasized.

Rebecca Ely, Middle School Science Teacher

Eaton Rapids Middle School, MI

“IQWST is based upon the development of student understanding through student-focused activities, reading and writing articles, and spirited claim, evidence, reasoning, discussions. I have not come across a text series in 25 years of education that approaches science education in this manner. ”

Indian Prairie School District, #204


This curriculum easily identifies all 3 dimensions of NGSS and suggests pathways of student thinking for teachers who are new to model-based teaching.

Jean Denver, Special Education Teacher

Oxford Community Schools

The driving question board allows students to visually track their thinking and learning. With the constant updates made to the board, students learn that changing your beliefs based upon the scientific evidence in front of you is ok, encouraged, and what scientists do.

Meg Russo, Curriculum Coordinator

Salem Public Schools, MA

It does a great job of beginning with Phenomena, using the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning format, having students create models.

Jenna Francis, Middle School Science Teacher

St. Joseph Public Schools, MI

As you see the storyline develop, you see the core concepts, and how they connect with past and future learning. My teaching of 2 grade levels also helps me with the interconnections.

Mark Yanisch, Middle School Science Teacher

Whitefish Bay School District, WI

Activate Learning supports NGSS and 3-dimensional learning by incorporating crosscutting concepts and science and engineering practices into the disciplinary core ideas through hands-on activities that promote inquiry.

Alexandra Walocha, Middle School Science Teacher

Freeport School District, IL

Students really understand what they learn, and they remember it and can connect it to other concepts in the future. Teaching 7th they remember more from 6th, and teaching 8th, the connections to 6th and 7th are huge.

IQWST Teacher

Chippewa Valley Schools, MI

Students often struggle with open-ended discussion and collaborative norms … once norms for risk-taking and making thinking visible is established, they transition to more conceptual reasoning and gain the confidence to ‘own their ideas.’ I don't know of any other resource that is a conduit for this change other than IQWST.

Science Coordinator

Indian Prairie School District, IL



Student Experiences with IQWST at Baltimore Public Schools


What is the Driving Question Board?


IQWST Student Experience: The Importance of Asking Questions in Science Class