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Michael Novak

Michael Novak

  • Adjunct Faculty, Learning Sciences and MSEd Programs
  • Researcher, Center For Connected Learning


Annenberg Hall Room 224, 2120 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208

Research Interests

Instructional materials design, professional development of teachers, professional learning communities, scientific modeling, and agent-based modeling.


Michael Novak attended the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC) for his bachelor's of science and master's of science in mechanical engineering. After his master's work, he stayed in the UIUC community for another 15 years, where he continued his education at UIUC, while also gaining a variety of unique experiences as an educator, scientist, and engineer.

Michael joined the Center for Connected Learning (CCL) as a consultant in the spring of 2004. His initial work with the group included development of a high school chemistry unit (Connected Chemistry) for the Modeling Across the Curriculum project. This unit targeted high school chemistry topics related to the behavior of gases and chemical reactions while also developing students' understanding of systems, models, stability and change, and the nature of science. Later work, shifted to the development of instructional materials for the BEAGLE project, which was was a suite of NetLogo models and supporting materials designed to facilitate teaching and learning of concepts and phenomena related to evolution, adaptation, and natural and artificial selection. He also co-authored three instructional units for high school with strong NGSS alignment, for the ModelSim project on the particle nature of matter, population biology, and evolution.

His current work revolves around developing ways to help colleagues and communities design and implement tightly aligned NGSS instructional units that:

  • Are driven by student questions related to compelling phenomena Support them in deep engagement in the scientific practices
  • Build a classroom community, where all learners come to rely on and revel in figuring out new pieces of the puzzle together

In 2016 Michael accepted a position with the Next Generation Science Storylines project and the Next Generation Science Exemplar System in an effort to help achieve these goals.


  • MS, Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1994
  • BS, Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1992

Awards and Honors

  • 2015 - PAEMST Finalist for Illinois
  • 2014 - Golden Apple Fellow
  • 2013 - ISTA/ExxonMobil Outstanding Illinois Teacher of Science
  • 2010 - National Board Certification - Teaching / Mathematics
  • 1992 - Thiokol Award for Excellence in Engineering Design for Senior Design Project