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Joseph Krajcik, 2020 Prize Winner

Pre-K-12 Education
Lappan-Phillips Professor of Science Education at Michigan State University
Founder and Director of the CREATE for STEM Institute

Starting his career as a high school chemistry and physical science teacher and working with teachers for over three decades, Joe Krajcik knows classrooms, teachers, and students. He is passionate about developing environments that best support student engagement and learning. Krajcik’s research and work in classrooms has transformed the teaching and learning of STEM in elementary and secondary schools, nationwide and around the world. Because of his knowledge of how students learn and of science, Krajcik led the writing of the disciplinary ideas for physical science for the Framework for K-12 Science Education, developed by the National Academy of Science. Krajcik also led the development of the physical science standards for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), often called the most important advancement in science education in decades. Throughout his career, Krajcik has explored and advanced the use of project-based learning (PBL), a teaching and learning approach that aligns with the vision of the Framework and the NGSS. The author of a fifth edition book on PBL, Krajcik has pioneered this approach for K-12 science teaching and learning that has inspired hundreds of science teachers and thousands of students. Krajcik has led the development of several project-based learning curriculum efforts at the elementary, middle, and high school level that have been adopted by school districts throughout the country. Krajcik has collaborated with teachers from Los Angeles to New York, as well as internationally, including China, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Israel, Turkey, and Finland.

Krajcik’s collaborations with Detroit public school teachers and leaders has been ongoing for decades. These collaborations have allowed him to lead the development of project-based learning environments in which students use scientific and engineering practices with the big ideas of science to make sense of the world in which they live and to inspire a sense of wonderment about the physical world. Krajcik realizes that when students engage in making sense of phenomena, they come to see themselves as knowledgeable participants in an increasingly STEM-influenced society. Krajcik uses his own experiences as a teacher and his work with teachers to drive his development of project-based science environments to support all students in learning. He continues his work to transform teaching and learning of STEM as director of CREATE for STEM Institute which stands for Collaborative Research in Education, Assessment, and Teaching Environments at Michigan State University. CREATE’s mission is to improve the teaching and learning of STEM through innovation and research.

Krajcik is a past president of NARST, formally known as the National Association of Research in Science Teaching, a global organization to improve science teaching, and has served as editor for the Journal of Research in Science Teaching. A member of the National Academy of Education, he has authored over 170 publications and attracted over $30 million in grants. He spent 21 years at the University of Michigan before moving to Michigan State University in 2011 to direct the CREATE Institute. One MSU colleague said that Krajcik “has done about as much as one person can conceivably do to transform K-12 education outcomes in science for students in his home state, across the nation, and around the world."