J. F. Trey Smith

J. F. Trey Smith

J. F. Trey Smith

J. F. Trey Smith

Graduate Student and Research Assistant, Learning Sciences
Fellow, Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences

Annenberg Hall
2120 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208-0001


A science teacher in Philadelphia and PhD student in the learning sciences at Northwestern University, John F. "Trey" Smith is interested in K-12 science learning that pushes beyond traditional science education boundaries to include social, cultural, historical, political, and community contexts and questions. Smith has worked with Dr. Brian Reiser on the Next Generation Science Storylines ​project​ and Dr. Shirin Vossoughi on the Learning Through Youth Community Tinkering project. Smith has also been a fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences (MPES) at Northwestern funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education.

Smith served as a 2014-15 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. As a legislative fellow in the Senate, he helped secure bipartisan amendments to the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2016 related to engineering and computer science education, career and technical education, and teacher professional development. Smith maintains an interest in studying and supporting teachers' engagement in education policy. As a teacher advisor with the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), he has helped design and study programs that support science teacher leadership in policy.

Following his year on the Hill as an Einstein Fellow, the Library of Congress selected Smith to be its first-ever Science Teacher-in-Residence. In his role at the Library he explored teaching and learning with historical primary sources in science and engineering classrooms. Based on his work on teaching with primary sources across disciplines, has facilitated workshops sponsored by the National Center for History Education and hosted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, and Astronauts Memorial Foundation at the Kennedy Space Center.

Smith has taught science, social studies, and engineering in Philadelphia public schools for eight years. In addition, he has taught secondary science education methods and foundations in education courses at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in the Urban Teacher Master's & Certification Program and the Independent School Teaching Residency Program. Smith also serves as a teacher consultant and advisory board member with the Philadelphia Writing Project. He recently co-led a $20,000 grant from the Library of Congress to build capacity within the Philadelphia Writing Project to support student writing, inquiry, and reflection across disciplines through teaching with primary sources.

Smith has a BA in communication studies and a BA in political science from Louisiana State University, and an MSEd in secondary science education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Twitter: @jftrey @jftrey

Curriculum Vitae

Adobe Acrobat PDF View J. F. Trey Smith's CV.


  • 2017 - IES Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences (MPES) Fellow, Northwestern University
  • 2016 - Emerging Leader, ASCD
  • 2015 - Science Teacher in Residence, Library of Congress
  • 2014 - Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow, US Department of Energy
  • 2014 - Teacher as Hero Award, National Liberty Museum
  • 2014 - Philadelphia Social Innovations Lab Fellow, Fels Institute of Government, University of Pennsylvania
  • 2007 - June Martin and Walter Rudd Outstanding Undergraduate Honors Thesis Award, LSU Honors College



Year Degree Institution
2009 MSEd, Secondary Science Education University of Pennsylvania
2006 BA, Political Science Louisiana State University
2006 BA, Communication Studies Louisiana State University

Selected Publications

Davis, N., Vossoughi, S., & Smith, J. F. (2020). Learning from below: A micro-ethnographic account of children's self-determination as sociopolitical and intellectual action. Learning, Culture, and Social Interaction, 24.

Bundy, B., Dahl, J., Guiñals-Kupperman, S., Hengesbach, J., Martino, K., Metzler, J., Smith, J. F., Spencer, N., Vargas, M., Vieyra, R., Whitehurst, A. (2019). Aspiring to lead: Physics teacher leaders influencing science education policy. The Physics Teacher, 57(3): 210-213.

Teisan, J., & Smith, J. F. (2018). Building community partnerships and integrating arts and social studies to strengthen STEM learning. in T. Spuck, L. Jenkins, T. Rust, & R. Dou (Eds.), Best Practices in STEM Education: Innovative Approaches from Einstein Fellow Alumni (pp. 421-444). New York: Peter Lang.

Zivic, A., Smith, J. F., Reiser, B. J., Edwards, K. D., Novak, M., & McGill, T. A. W. (2018). Negotiating epistemic agency and target learning goals: Supporting coherence from the students' perspective. Proceedings of 11th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2018), Vol 1, London, UK: 25-32.
( Adobe Acrobat PDF Logo Download )

Selected Presentations

Ballenger, C., Waff, D., Cruice, P., Nguyen, A., Richmond, M., & Smith, J. F. (February, 2020). Sharing practitioner inquiry in community: The promise and possibility. 41st Annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum


. Philadelphia, PA.

Smith, J. F., & Reiser, B. J. (2019). "So, I've done a lot of talking with them...": Supporting student talk and agency in science classrooms. Paper presented at the American Education Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting. Toronto, Canada.

Davis, N. R., & Smith, J. F. (2019). Children's self-determination as intellectually and socially transformative in a making/tinkering program. Paper presented at the American Education Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting. Toronto, Canada.

Smith, J. F., & Reiser, B. J. (2019). Teachers' reports on successes and challenges in co-constructing direction of learning using storylines curriculum materials. Paper presented at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) 2019 Annual International Conference. Baltimore, MD.

Smith, J. F., & Reiser, B. J. (2018). "Figuring it out" together: Problematizing as a core component of model-based learning. Paper presented at the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) Joint SIG 20 and SIG 26 Meeting (Adobe Acrobat PDF Logo Download). Jerusalem, Israel.

Smith, J. F. (2018). Framework for teaching with historical primary sources in science classrooms. Poster presented at the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Summer Meeting (Adobe Acrobat PDF Logo Download ). Washington, DC.

Smith, J. F., & Reiser, B. J. (2018). "I'm just saying that's the question I have": Co-constructing investigations in a fifth-grade classroom. Paper presented at National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) Annual International Conference. Atlanta, GA.

Symposia and Workshops

Year Description
2020 Technology's impact in American history: Invention and innovation. Workshop with A. Fleming & A. Mosof. National Council for History Education (NCHE)-Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program. Hosted by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington, DC, April 2020.
2019 Inquiries into teaching with historical primary sources: Resistance, resilience, and healing. Presentation with J. Freed, J. Freifelder, B. Patten, S. Primo, Rosales, A., & L. Whitfield. National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention, Baltimore, MD.
2019 Making the most of project-, problem-, place-, passion-, and partnership-based learning. Presentation with J. L. Teisan. National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) National Conference, St. Louis, MO, April 2019.
2019 Technology's impact on American history: NASA and Flight Technology. Workshop with W. B. Carlson. National Council for History Education (NCHE)-Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program. Hosted by Astronauts Memorial Foundation at Kennedy Space Center, FL, January 2019.
2018 AAPT/AIP master teacher policy fellowship. Workshop with members of AAPT Master Teacher Leader Task Force. American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and American Institute of Physics (AIP). College Park, MD, and Washington, DC, July 2018.
2018 Invitational summer institute on writing and literacy. Workshop with D. Waff, M. Mannix, L. Whitfield, and partners from Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, Poetry Inside Out, Philly School Media Network, and West Philadelphia Collaborative History Center, Philadelphia Writing Project, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, PA, July 2018.
2018 Technology's impact on American history: Technological innovations and patents. Workshop with W. B. Carlson & C. Szwajkowski. National Council for History Education (NCHE)-Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program. Hosted by US Patent and Trademark Office, Alexandria, VA, March 2018.
2017 Summer teacher institute: Teaching science, technology, and engineering with primary sources. Workshop with M. Appfeldorf & C. Lederle. Library of Congress, Washington, DC, July 2017.
2017 Teaching science and engineering with historical primary sources: Opportunities for cross-disciplinary learning. National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) area conference, Milwaukee, WI, November 2017.
2017 Unpacking power, culturally sustaining pedagogies, and primary sources. Workshop for the Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, July 2017. 
2016 Game On! Philadelphia: Engaging youth and families. Panel with S. Fecher, R. Houston, & A. Krish at the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums annual meeting, Wilmington, DE, October 2016.
2016 Sound thinking! Engineering invention and innovation with middle school youth. Workshop with A. Reimers at the Frontiers in Education conference, Erie, PA, October 2016.

Research Interests

Science education; learning within and across disciplines as acts of personal and political self-determination; teacher research, teacher education, and teacher professional learning; teachers' participatory uses of curriculum materials


Professional Service

Year Organization Position Description
2017 - 2018 Science in the Classroom Advisory Board Member Provided advice to Science in the Classroom staff on NSF-funded project that annotates research papers published in AAAS's Science magazine to support college and secondary students in learning about scientific writing
2017 National Writing Project (NWP) LRNG Grant Reviewer Reviewed and offered recommendations for funding grant proposals
2017 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Environmental Literacy Grant Review Panelist Reviewed and offered recommendations for funding grant proposals
2017 - 2019 Learning Sciences Graduate Student Conference Committee Member Co-planning second, third, and fourth annual graduate student-led conferences and co-coordinating peer review process for paper submissions (currently active)
2017 Barat Education Foundation & Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) Curriculum Reviewer Review and provide feedback on K-12 math and science curriculum units that integrate primary sources and civics education goals
2017 - 2020 American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Teacher Advisory Group Member Reviewing and providing feedback on organization's physics teacher leadership framework and programming, co-designing the AIP/AAPT Master Teacher Leader Policy Fellowship, and advising the design of the Underrepresented Teachers of Physics (UToP) mentorship program (currently active)
2016 - 2020 Philadelphia Writing Project Advisory Board Member Providing guidance on design of communication materials, programs for teacher learning (currently active)

Contact Us

Learning Sciences Program School of Education and Social Policy

2120 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208
Northwestern University

Phone: 847/491-4329