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From the Field: Events and Opportunities, February 23, 2021

By Debra Shapiro

From the Field: Events and Opportunities, February 23, 2021

Grades K–College

Serve on National Selection Committee for Presidential Awards

The 2021 National Selection Committee (NSC) for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) will meet virtually during May and June. The National Science Foundation (NSF) seeks a wide range of panelists, including K–12 teachers and administrators; science, mathematics, and STEM education researchers; university professors; and others with the expertise to serve on the NSC. This year’s panelists will review applications from grades 7–12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and/or computer science teachers. Panelists will complete independent reviews beginning in mid-May, with panels tentatively taking place on one of these dates: 

  • Monday and Tuesday, June 7–8
  • Thursday and Friday, June 10–11
  • Monday and Tuesday, June 14–15
  • Thursday and Friday, June 17–18

Panelists selected will be trained via webinar and a panelist handbook. Panelists will then participate in one or two days of panels, in which, as a committee, they will discuss and provide comments and scores on each application. A panel day can last from one to eight hours. Panelists will receive a flat fee ($200) for each day of panel meetings in which they are in panel for at least four hours. As in prior years, no compensation will be provided for the independent review completed by panelists before the panel dates. (Deadline: February 28)

Webinar: Putting the Science of Persuasion to Good Use

How are social influence strategies used in the fields of environmental conservation, health, and communications? How might they be applied to the context of education during the pandemic and beyond? Explore these questions and more as an expert panel discusses the many ways you can use persuasion to positively influence education and learning. Those attending this American Psychological Association webinar, taking place on March 2 at 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Eastern Time, will learn

  • three ways to use powerful persuasion tools used by advertisers and researchers in health and environmental sustainability to solve problems in your school resulting from the pandemic;
  • how to use the science of persuasion to encourage behavior change, foster empowerment, and open new opportunities for learners; and
  • how to mitigate automatic reactions to student behavior and apply scientific principles to enhance your teaching.


  • David Yeager, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Texas, Austin
  • Neil Lewis, Jr., PhD, Department of Communication, Cornell University
  • Paul Ferraro, PhD, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
  • Chethana Achar, PhD, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University


  • Tonya Dodge, PhD, Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences, George Washington University
  • Rochelle Michel, PhD, Bids and Proposals, Curriculum Associates

Brain Awareness Week, March 15–21
The Society for Neuroscience hosts Brain Awareness Week (BAW), a global campaign that unites those interested in elevating public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain and nervous system research, including schools, families, and communities, in a worldwide celebration of the brain. BAW focuses international attention on the field of neuroscience and offers opportunities for teachers and students to engage in fun educational activities. See this website for educator resources and this website for high school teachers

Grades K–12

Physics of Atomic Nuclei—Classroom Activities and Knowledge for Educators 
PAN-CAKE is a free online masterclass for science teachers taking place March 13–14 at 12:30–4 p.m. Eastern Time. Participants will learn about world-class scientific research in nuclear astrophysics at Michigan State University’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. Meet scientists and other educators, take a “virtual tour” of a leading rare isotope laboratory, collect tools and demos for your curriculum, and discover the future of research. 

2021 Virtual Aviation Day for Educators

During this event on March 26, K–12 teachers and guidance counselors can learn about aviation and experience activities to share with students/teachers; discover STEM connections and apply STEM skills related to aviation; learn about aviation-related careers; engage with professionals from aviation-related organizations; and acquire aviation curricula and outreach resources. Registrants can attend any session live or watch a recorded presentation (available for a limited time after the event). Educators attending live sessions in their entirety can earn 1 Continuing Professional Development Unit (CPDU) per session (5 CPDUs maximum).

Whole Kids Foundation Garden Grant Program   
Whole Kids Foundation will provide a $3,000 monetary grant to support a new or existing edible educational garden at either a K–12 school; a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working in partnership with a K–12 school; or a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Garden projects may be at any stage of development (planning, construction, or operation). The foundation will only consider applications in the United States (including territories) and Canada. (Deadline: March 31)

Elementary and Middle Levels

Smithsonian Science How Video Webinar: What Mars Reveals About Life in Our Universe

On March 3 at 1–2 p.m. Eastern Time, join educators and experts from the Smithsonian to explore Mars, Earth, and more in this live, interactive webinar for students in grades 3–8. The scientists will discuss the meteorites, atmosphere, and planets they study; how they study them; and what some of these far-flung objects from Earth’s solar system reveal about life in our Universe. You and your students will be able to respond to polls and submit questions to be answered live by the featured scientists. This webinar aims to help students find value in studying the natural world, build interest and personal connections to science, and explore science careers. The event supports Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and is accompanied by free supplementary teaching resources. 

Grades 4–12

Scientists in Action: Landing on Mars

Spacecraft engineers and Mars scientists will take you behind the scenes for a live look at how the Perseverance team prepared for “seven-minutes of terror,” the high-powered process of landing a spacecraft on Mars. You and your students will be able to ask questions as the speakers explore the future of space science and Mars’ mysteries. Watch this live broadcast on February 25 at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m. Mountain Time.

Webinar: STEAM-Based Learning—Building Renewable Energy Technologies  
What are renewable energy technologies and why is it important to teach students about them? This one-hour webinar on March 10 at 7:30 p.m. ET will answer these questions and provide practical tools, ideas, and resources for incorporating hands-on learning about renewable energy technologies in your classrooms. Hear how schools and classrooms across Canada are preparing students for their energy future using GreenLearning’s Re-Energy Program, which employs STEAM-Based learning.          

High School

BioGraph: Teaching Biology Through Systems, Models, and Argumentation 
Join this free online summer course for science educators, co-taught by a teaching team from MIT and the University of Pennsylvania and offered online through the edX platform. The course is a six-week, interactive, collaborative, professional development (PD) that you can access anywhere, anytime. Learn how to use online simulations to develop core biology content and practices, supporting the NGSS. For example, learn about how simulations are used to model the spread of epidemics. 

You’ll be part of an ongoing community of interested expert and novice teachers. The course provides a cutting-edge curriculum that is ready to implement and has been proven to increase student learning and engagement in biology. The online simulations include optional entry-level coding, and the course provides support for learning to teach this with students. This year, upon completion of the course, participants will receive an edX Verified Certificate at no charge (a $29 value).
Though the course will be open all summer, three scheduled sessions will run with extended support from the BioGraph Team and experienced BioGraph teachers. The PD activities in the course normally take between 30 and 40 hours to complete, but this is spread across six weeks (approximately six hours per week). Choose which session works best for you:

  • Session 1: May 12–June 26
  • Session 2: June 2–July 17
  • Session 3: July 7–August 21

High School and College

Improving the Teaching of Physics: Online Graduate Courses       

Graduate courses offered by Improving the Teaching of Physics (ITOP) are a collaborative effort by the Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Boston University’s Department of Physics. Project ITOP was created to give teachers the opportunity to become more proficient in physics concepts and teaching strategies. In spring 2021, these courses will be offered: NS 543: Concepts in Physics IV: Electrostatics (March 4–April 22) and NS 544: Concepts in Physics V: Oscillatory Motion and Waves (April 29–June 17). These courses are intended for teachers who are working toward physics licensure and teachers who need graduate credit including for professional licensure.

Find more events and opportunities at     

Aerospace Biology Careers Curriculum Earth & Space Science Environmental Science General Science Instructional Materials Life Science Mathematics News NGSS Physics Professional Learning old Science and Engineering Practices STEM Teaching Strategies Middle School Elementary High School Postsecondary

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