NWESD Services Menu

Science Materials Center

Science Materials Center

About the Science Materials Center (SMC)

The Science Materials Center (SMC) is a NWESD cooperative that provides cost-effective science kit refurbishment services to member districts. The SMC currently supports Foss and STC kits in Earth, Physical and Life Science Strands, totaling 52 different kit titles from three different publishers. Member districts can easily join the cooperative at any time, allowing them to have “hands-on” science materials delivered right to their classroom.

SMC Vision

The NWESD Science Materials Center (SMC) Cooperative supports the use of materials that align to the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the NGSS. It is the vision of the SMC that by the school year 2023/24 all teachers in member Districts will have at least 6 hours of professional learning per set of materials and they will all be using the same aligned curriculum.  This will streamline operations, create cost savings and allow for ongoing professional learning efficiencies.

The kits currently in rotation support class sizes of up to 30 students per usage. Typically, a science kit will be used for 8 to 10 weeks and then be returned to the Center for refurbishment.

What is a refurbishment? Refurbishment consists of removing and inspecting all kit components and replacing consumables and any permanent parts that were broken during use. The kits are restocked, inspected, and noted as “ready to ship.”

Typical consumable refurbishment components:

  • masking tape
  • cloth pieces
  • plastic cups
  • straws (several sizes)
  • string and paper clips
  • cardboard shapes
  • liquids – soaps, corn syrup, water, cooking oil, etc.
  • solids – corn meal, flour, rice, pinto beans, mung beans etc.
  • student booklets

Initialization Fee, K-5 Kits – $110

This is charged when the center receives a kit for the first time. This is the cost of bringing the kit to Science Materials Center standards.

Refurbishment Fee, K-5 Kits – $185

This is charged each time a kit comes back to the Center for consumables restocking, repairs, replacements, and reorganization to prepare the kit to go to the next class/teacher.

K-5 Rental by Non- Cooperative Member – $240

Middle School Kits

Please check with the SMC Manager for middle school kit fees.

Please contact the Director for additional information about joining our cooperative. An Interlocal agreement between NWESD and the school district is required to become a part of the cooperative.

Next Meeting Date:


Summer 2019


Deliver to SMC

Pick Up from SMC

Burlington-Edison June 11 TBD
Coupeville June 11 August 20
Ferndale July 25 August 1
Lake Stevens July 9 July 16
Lakewood June 12 August 21
Lummi Tribal Nation June 17 TBD
Meridian June 6 August 19
Mount Vernon June 27 July 8
Orcas Island TBD TBD
Sedro-Woolley June 14 August 26
Snohomish Julyl 17 July 24
Stanwood June 21 August 23
Sultan June 18 August 28

For middle school order forms, please contact Kelly Spears. We are in the process of designing a new database.

All FOSSWeb users must now register and create a password at FOSSWeb.com.

The following information is available after registering:

  • Teacher Preparation Video
  • Investigation Masters
  • Material Safety Data Sheets
  • Module Updates
  • Vocabulary Lists
  • Recommended Books
  • Websites
  • Assessment Masters
  • Module Teaching Notes
  • And so much more!

After registering, teachers are able to customize their FOSSWeb so that students have their own access to the site, this will prevent students from seeing teacher assessment masters.

FOSSWeb Instructions

“Premium” content is only available to those districts that have purchased the option of having the eReaders and the on-line teacher guides.


For additional questions, please contact FOSSWeb at: 510-643-6997 between 9:30 am and 5:30 pm PST.

FOSS Support

The NWESD Science Materials Center (SMC) cooperative launched its effort to bring our materials up to NGSS standards in the fall of 2015/16. At that time teachers from across SMC member districts worked in teams to provide “interim transition documents” to support the use of current materials, as NGSS professional learning was brought to teachers all across Washington State.  Our next step was to try and create some materials of our own design that incorporated NGSS practices and cross-cutting concepts. In the fall of 2016/17, a group of intrepid teachers worked on writing lessons.  By spring of 2016/17 we could see we did not have the capacity as a group, to re-write all the lessons currently being used by SMC districts. That same spring we brought teachers together and chose storylines for K-5 science. Using those storylines to guide us, in the fall of 2017/18 we formed an SMC Materials Team and that Team is currently involved in looking at possible materials for adoption by the SMC.

Below are links to the documents that chronicle this journey.  As more documents are generated they will be added.

If you have any questions about this process, do not hesitate to contact Amy Colburn, Technology & Science Coordinator.

How do I contact the SMC?

Phone:  360-965-2168
Email:  kspears@nwesd.org
Located:  Marysville-Pilchuck High School, 5611 108th Street NE, North Building, Marysville, WA  98271

When will I receive a science kit?

View the kit delivery schedule for each school district.

Very General Dates:

Kits Arrive at School Kits Return to SMC
1st rotation: Before school starts December/January
2nd rotation: Mid-December – January March/April
3rd rotation: April June

When do critters arrive?

A delivery schedule is in your kit – inside a yellow envelope that is labeled “Live Material Information”.  Critters are only delivered on a Wednesday or Thursday.  All the information you need for setting up their habitat can be found inside the Live Material Information packet.

Can I keep the critters?

The schedule indicates which critters may be kept and which ones are picked up by the SMC.  If you would like to keep your critters longer than the scheduled time, please contact the SMC to make arrangements.

What if kit parts get broken or critters die?

There is a bag in the kit for broken parts.  Broken parts should always be returned in the kit so that they can be accounted for. If a part comes broken or a critter arrives dead, contact us for a replacement.  Critters that die are both a problem and a learning opportunity; we hope you use the learning opportunity.

Do I really have to inventory all the parts in each kit?

Yes.  Students or parent helpers can make this task easier.  Doing the inventory is the only way to insure that everything gets returned with the kit.  Many items do not need to be counted, but rather a check that it is being returned.  The SMC staff inventory every kit for each rotation which means checking about half a million parts in 4 weeks and there isn’t always enough stock to replace missing materials.  The more organized the kits are upon return, the more likely you will receive a complete and organized kit in the next rotation.

Why is there only enough material in the kit for 8 groups?

FOSS and STC science kits are sold with the intention of having students collaborate in groups of 4.  Hands-on science is explorative and noisy as students work together to learn.