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From the Field: Events and Opportunities, December 1, 2020

By Debra Shapiro

From the Field: Events and Opportunities, December 1, 2020

Grades K-12

Columbia University E. I. Teach Professional Development: The Science of COVID-19 

This virtual event will focus on the science behind the COVID-19 pandemic and will take place on December 5 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The training will aim to provide K–12 educators and administrators in formal and informal learning environments with knowledge and insights into the origins of the virus, the transmission dynamics, what the future might hold, and the impacts of the pandemic on teaching and learning. Experts from Columbia University’s Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology departments, the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, and the Mailman School of Public Health will address questions that many have had since the pandemic first emerged: How did we get here? How do we learn from what we know? Where do we go from here? 

When Equity Is Optional: ESSA’s Fifth Anniversary and Early Lessons From Implementation             

Join the Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed) on December 10 at 11 am–12 pm Eastern Time for a conversation on the Every Student Succeeds Act's (ESSA) fifth birthday to reflect on early lessons of ESSA implementation and the implications for students of color and students from low-income families. Though ESSA gave states much more flexibility in designing their school accountability systems, new analyses from All4Ed show that flexibility and equity often conflict. Under ESSA, the state in which students live matters a great deal. Students in low-performing schools in different states have very different odds of receiving the support they need to improve. The variation is especially troubling given that across all states, students of color are much more likely to attend low-rated schools.

COVID-19 Safety in the Science Department

Flinn Scientific will review and provide the best practices for prevention, sanitation, disinfection, and hygiene protocols to answer these questions:

  • How should science labs be assessed, with COVID-19 safety in mind?
  • What are the proper protocols for having students in the building and operating remotely?
  • What basic needs should be considered for science prep areas?
  • What safety infrastructure items should be committed to for the science department to pass inspection for student presence and safety?

A session for district leaders will be held on December 7 at 2 p.m. Central Time. Another for K–12 educators will take place on December 9 at 7 p.m. CT.

Air Force Association Educator Grants     

The Air Force Association provides $500 grants to educators for worthy projects that significantly influence student learning. The Educator Grant program promotes aerospace education activities in K–12 classrooms. The program encourages development of innovative aerospace activities within the prescribed curriculum. One grant per teacher, maximum of two teachers per school, will be considered. Preference will be given to proposed activities that relate to aerospace science and technologies. (Deadline December 15)

National Gardening Association’s Youth Garden Grants

Grants are open to any public or private school, youth program, or nonprofit organization in the United States or U.S. Territories planning a new garden program or expanding an established one. If your program serves at least 15 youth between the ages of 3 and 18, you're eligible to apply. KidsGardening education specialists will select 30 programs based on program impact and sustainability. The top five programs will receive award packages valued at $1,700, and 25 programs will receive award packages valued at $700. Packages include cash and gardening supplies. (Deadline December 18)  

The Algae Academy’s Spring 2021 Session

The Algae Academy is a unique module that teaches the fundamentals of algae and how algae can be applied as a solution for today’s global dilemmas. The goal is to use algae as a tool to effectively meet the four disciplines of STEM in an interdisciplinary and applied approach through real-world applications. This five-day drop-in-ready curriculum fulfills the human impact education component in the Next Generation Science Standards that requires students to be able to apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.

Free to the 250 teachers accepted for the Spring 2021 session, the kit includes everything you need to complete the module: daily lesson plans for elementary, middle, and high school; lab supplies; live algae for your students to grow in the classroom; and educator training and support. In response to COVID-19, the Algae Academy is now offered in three formats: 

•    In-person with lab supplies provided  
•    Online with teacher demonstration; lab supplies provided for teacher to model experiments virtually 
•    Online-only, video-based curriculum with no lab supplies 

After being accepted and completing the curriculum, educators will continue to be provided with free algae and the additional consumables needed to complete the curriculum each year so that the Algae Academy remains a part of your annual education plan. Apply for the Spring 2021 Session. For questions, contact Marissa Nalley at Learn more about the Algae Academy

Webinar: Bring NASA Lessons Into Your Classroom With Space From a Distance

The Ohio STEM Learning Network announces a new collaboration between science nonprofit Battelle and NASA: Next Gen STEM: Space from a Distance. Explore NASA’s standards-aligned, hands-on STEM activities and  attend an informational webinar on December 9 to learn how to qualify for a free STEM crate with supplies for 30 students. Learn about the program and how to implement it into your classroom (in-person or virtual).

Starting on February 1, 2021, Next Gen STEM: Space From a Distance will feature standards-aligned design challenges designed for K-12 by NASA professionals. Each week will focus on a different piece of NASA’s mission: STEM on Station, Moon to Mars, Commercial Crew, and Aeronaut-X. Each week, you'll get help for guiding your students through the engineering design process, participating in hands-on-STEM activities, and learning about NASA careers from the professionals themselves.

Each day of the week is themed after a step in the design cycle, starting with #NASAMakerMonday and #NASATestItTuesday, and culminating in #NASAFeedbackFriday. Students will complete a prototype on Monday, iterate on their design, learn about careers at NASA from NASA’s own STEM Stars, then submit their designs. NASA professionals designed these activities to demonstrate out-of-this-world concepts with everyday materials.

Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest  

NASA is taking remote learning to the Moon! 2020 has been a year of working and living at a distance. Now consider what it might be like if you were living with a pod of astronauts 250,000 miles from Earth. Your challenge is to imagine leading a one-week expedition at the Moon’s South Pole. Describe the types of skills, attributes, and/or personality traits that you would want your Moon Pod crew to have and why. How many would be in your pod? And of course you’ll need high-tech gear and gadgets! In your essay, also describe one machine, robot, or technology that you would leave on the lunar surface to help future astronauts explore the Moon. (Deadline December 17)

Selected semifinalists will be invited to represent their state or territory in a series of Artemis Explorer sessions with NASA experts. Nine finalists will travel with a parent to NASA’s Johnson Space Center next summer to learn about lunar exploration, and the national winner in each grade division will win a family trip to see the first Artemis test launch to watch the most powerful rocket in the world launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Elementary and Middle Level

Using Model Aircraft to Teach STEM

Presented as a free opportunity for all educators by The Academy of Model Aeronautics, with support from the Arconic Foundation, these virtual workshops demonstrate how to use model aircraft to teach important STEM concepts and practices with hands-on activities. Activities and lessons are most suited to grades K–8. The first 400 attendees will receive a free kit of classroom materials, including aircraft and lesson plans, shipped to them following a brief post-workshop survey. The workshops will take place on December 11 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern Time and on December 12 at 11 a.m. Eastern Time.

Middle Level and High School

EPIC STEM Challenge Grant Giveaway

Electric Propulsion Innovation Challenge (EPIC) is giving away materials to help you implement EPIC's STEM Challenge with your students. In December, The Lindbergh Foundation and Starfish Education will be giving away a 30-Pack Airplane Essentials Kit. This kit provides the essential components for your students to design their EPIC airplanes.

Darwin Day Roadshow

The Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine (TriCEM) is gearing up for a "Darwin Day Roadshow" this February, and we want you to be a part of it! To celebrate Charles Darwin's birthday (February 12), scientists will hit the road to bring evolutionary science to schools and communities. TriCEM teams talk to students, teachers, and the general public about their research, career opportunities in science, and why evolutionary science is relevant to everyone. These visits are free of charge, and TriCEM even leaves behind a collection of resources to enhance the teaching of evolution in the classroom.
TriCEM works with host teachers to design an event that best serves their school and community. There is no "typical" visit; both the particular topic and format are flexible to meet specific needs. Learn more about the Roadshow. Apply here by the deadline of midnight on December 7, 2020. If you have any questions, e-mail Meredith Spence Beaulieu at 
*Note: Due to this year's unique circumstances, it's highly likely that all visits will be done virtually. For North Carolina applicants, TriCEM may be able to do in-person visits depending on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, plus relevant travel and group event policies and guidelines.

Find more events and opportunities at

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