Senior Scientist

Sara  Lacy

Program/Areas of Interest

  • Science Education
  • Engineering
  • Teacher Professional Learning
  • Curriculum Development


Sara Lacy is a Senior Scientist at TERC and is currently Principal Investigator of the NSF-funded project, Focus on Energy: Preparing Elementary Teachers to Meet the NGSS Challenge. The project is a collaboration between TERC, Seattle Pacific University, Tufts University, and Boston College to develop resources that support teaching and learning about energy in grades 3-5. Previously, she led Rethinking How to Teach Energy: Laying the Foundations in Elementary School, an exploratory research project to investigate students’ ideas about energy and to develop a theoretical learning progression for energy in Grades 3-5.

Sara has worked at TERC since 2001, developing science curriculum for K-12 students (The Inquiry Project, Physics That Works) and material to boost the science and pedagogical content knowledge of in service K-8 teachers (The Fulcrum Institute, TERC/Lesley Masters in Science Education, Talk Science). She has developed material for environmental action groups in the Statistics for Action project and has taught web-delivered science courses to in-service K-8 teachers as an adjunct faculty member at Lesley University.


  • A.B. in Anthropology, Harvard University
  • B.S. in Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Columbia University
  • M.S. in Civil Engineering, Columbia University
  • Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, Princeton University


  • National Science Teachers Association
  • International Society for Design and Development in Education

Honors & Awards

  • NSTA Research Worth Reading initiative selection: Tobin, R.G, Lacy, S., Crissman, S. and Haddad, N. (2018). Model-Based Reasoning About Energy: A Fourth-Grade Case Study, J. Res. Sci. Teach 55 1134-1161.
  • American Association of University Women Dissertation Fellowship.
  • Lady Davis Fellowship for Post-Doctoral Research.

Highlighted Publications

Tobin, R., Lacy, S., Crissman, S., and Haddad, N. (2018). Model-Based Reasoning About Energy: A Fourth-Grade Case Study. J Res Sci Teach. 55:8,1134-1161, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Crissman, S., Lacy, S., Nordine, J., and Tobin, R. (2015). Looking Through the Energy Lens: A strategy helps students develop a fuller view of energy’s role in a variety of phenomena, Science and Children, 52(6), 26-31.

Lacy, S., Tobin, R., Wiser, M., & Crissman, S. (2014). Looking Through the Energy Lens: A Proposed Learning Progression for Energy in Grades 3-5. Published in: Chen, R. F., Eisenkraft, A., Fortus, F., Krajcik, J., Neumann, K., Nordine, J. C. & Scheff, A. (2014). Teaching and Learning of Energy in K-12 Education. New York: Springer.