VAST Center Support for Local Districts

The Grant Wood AEA Van Allen Science Teaching Center (VAST) is committed to providing opportunities to learn in a hands-on, minds-on oriented classroom using research-based, comprehensive curriculum for ALL students. VAST seeks to provide structure to experience science with the integration of reading, writing and mathematics. Implicit in the vision is the belief that the way children learn science affects the degree to which they are able to understand and use its principles as adults.

Districts and educators receive assistance with curriculum, instruction, assessment and professional learning.

We envision a community where people understand and use basic scientific principles to:

  • Experience the richness and excitement of knowing about and understanding the natural world.
  • Use appropriate scientific processes and principles in making personal decisions.
  • Engage intelligently in public discourse and debate about matters of scientific and technological concern.
  • Increase their economic productivity through the use of the knowledge, understanding, and skills of the scientifically literate person in their careers.

Center Name

The center was named the Van Allen Science Teaching Center, in honor of
Dr. James Van Allen, based on several factors:

  • His prominence as a scientist in the field of astrophysics.
  • He was an Iowan by birth.
  • He was a lifelong learner.
  • His life and career embodied many of the values of the center.


Grant Wood AEA VAST curriculum embraces best practice and is aligned with local district standards and benchmarks, the K-8 Iowa Core Science Standards, and the Next Generation Science Standards. Literacy links (writing to learn and informational text opportunities) are embedded in the units.


Research-based high quality instructional materials are continuously updated to current versions. Classroom materials are provided to every student so they can experience hands-on, minds-on science learning opportunities. Grade-to-grade learning progressions builds on each other to offer every student the opportunity to learn the key concepts that lead to science literacy.


Classroom summative and formative assessments are included in the curriculum units.

Professional Learning

Grant Wood AEA provides access to high quality professional development classes that are directly relevant to teachers’ classroom science teaching responsibility, with some opportunities targeting new teachers.

Grant Wood AEA science consultants are also available to support educators leading professional learning opportunities.

Professional Learning Resources

VAST Resources

Grant Wood AEA Toolkits