WISE - Web-based Inquiry Science Environment

Program Type

Curriculum/Instructional Materials
Hands on/Project-Based

Target Audience

All Students




Grades 6 - 8
Grades 9 - 12

 Accomplished link

Program Impact

Studies show that the WISE curriculum helps students learn challenging science topics, and that students strengthen their grasp of these topics even after they have completed the curriculum. Leaders of WISE believe they can nearly double the number of students worldwide who use WISE materials in the next three years--to almost 140,000 students.


Program Overview

WISE is an open-source online platform for designing, developing, and implementing science inquiry activities. WISE provides one-week-long inquiry units that address key concepts consistent with California and national standards. WISE units can be integrated into a school's existing science curriculum or specifically customized for classroom use.

WISE provides a simple user interface, cognitive hints, embedded reflection notes and assessments, and online discussions, as well as software tools for activities such as drawing, concept mapping, diagramming, and graphing. WISE can also incorporate interactive simulations and models built in a variety of modern web technologies. WISE projects aim to promote student self-monitoring through collaborative reflection activities and teacher feedback.

WISE provides teachers with a suite of integrated tools for managing and promoting student learning. Teachers are able to monitor students' real-time progress, provide immediate feedback on student work, and grade their work using automated scoring systems. WISE aims to effectively facilitate classroom management tasks, freeing teachers to focus on diverse students' learning needs by interacting with individual students and gaining insights about classroom learning as a whole.

How To Get Involved

The cost of WISE's efforts to develop content, provide professional development for teachers, provide equipment and technology and support research on instruction varies greatly depending on the scope and context of the project. Many schools serving low-income students are eager to use WISE but need financial support to provide their teachers with the required professional development and technology.

Funders and Partners

National Science Foundation, Concord Consortium, Educational Testing Service, University of Toronto, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt University, University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, National Kaohsiung Normal University


David Crowell

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Design Principles

The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.

  • Accomplished
  • Developing
  • Undeveloped

Overarching Principles

  • Need

    Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.

  • Evaluation

    Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.

  • Sustainability

    Ensure work is sustainable.

  • Replication and Scalability

    Demonstrate replicability and scalability.

  • Partnerships

    Create high impact partnerships

  • Capacity

    Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.

STEM Principles

  • Challenging and Relevant Content

    Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience

  • STEM Practices

    Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.

  • Inspiration

    Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.

  • Under-Represented Groups

    Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.