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Thomas J. McKenna


Dr. Thomas “TJ” McKenna is a lecturer in science education at BU Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. Dr. McKenna has spent the past 20 years as a scientist, educator (formal and informal), on-air science communicator, and faculty member focused on uncovering what works well in STEM education and how we can improve in scaling research and practice-based efforts. He is also the director of the Center for STEM Professional Learning at Scale.

Dr. McKenna works at the nexus of policy, practice, and research in ways that deepen the understanding of how to make progress on the ecological problem of supporting teachers (preservice & in-service) in their efforts to offer high-quality science learning to all our students. He is also the founder and creator of Phenomena for NGSS, an educational website designed to support teachers in learning more about phenomena-based instruction.

PhD, Science Ed Curriculum & Instruction, University of Connecticut

MS, Entomology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

BS, Biology, Central Connecticut State University


CH 300/515: Elementary Science Methods

WED SC570 OL: Secondary Science Methods I

WED SC572 OL: Secondary Science Methods II

SC 521: STEM Education Theory & Practice

ED 111: Technology in Education

ED 130/131: Exploring Professions: STEM Learning, Action & Impact

BF/BI510: IRHS Institutional Racism in Health and Science

Sinoradzki, K. McKenna, T.J., (July, 2021) What could be so phenomenal about animals: Using structure and function to figure out animal diversity. Science and Children.

Campbell, T., Lee, H., Longhurst, M. L., McKenna, T. J., & Coster, D. (January, 2021) Next generation science classrooms: The development of a survey for examining student experiences in science classrooms. School Science and Mathematics.

Vo, T., Fick, S., McKenna, T.J. (2022, October) Why and how should I use crosscutting concepts to enhance my science instruction? STEM Teaching Tools Initiative, Institute for Science + Math Education. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. Retrieved from

Wilson, S., & McKenna, T.J. (2021). Increasing the Circle of Light on Professional Development: The Case of the Next Generation of Science Exemplar Facilitator Learning.

McKenna, T.J., Schilling, V., Campbell, T., & UConn Mentor Teacher Collaborative. (2017, April) How can mentor teachers and university educators support preservice science teachers? STEM Teaching Tools Initiative, Institute for Science + Math Education. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. Retrieved from

McKenna, T.J. A model of racial equity training that empowers school nurses to promote an antiracist environment. Presentation at the 2023 National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) International Convention. Washington, DC.

McKenna, T.J. Symposium: Building an Elementary Science Teacher Education Community to Advance Equity and Justice. (2022, March) National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) International Convention. Vancouver, Canada.

McKenna, T.J. (2022, April) Asset-Based Approaches to Science Learning [Leadership Series], National Science Education Leadership Association, Virtual

McKenna, T.J. (2021, November) Can Education Change the World? [Keynote Address], Curiosity and Learning Conference, Virtual

McKenna, T.J. (2021, October) Making Science Education Meaningful [Keynote Address], Nebraska Association of Teachers of Science, Lincoln, NE