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From the Field: Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, August 2, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

From the Field: Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, August 2, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–College

NASA James Webb Space Telescope Education Materials

Formal and informal educators who want to incorporate the JWST in their lessons will find activities, programs, and lesson plans to help them at this website. Formal educators of high school students can use the book High School Experiments in Infrared Astronomy to help students explore infrared light and how astronomers use it to investigate objects. In Build-It-Yourself: Satellite!, an educational game, high school and college students act as scientists by building their own satellite. In Detecting the Most Distant Supernova in the Universe, middle level students use a graph to compare the brightness of supernova produced by three different masses of stars, and predict whether the Webb Space Telescope can see them. And Build the Webb’s Mirror is an activity in which elementary students learn about how the Webb’s mirror is segmented.

Informal educators can use the hands-on activity Seeing Starlight With the James Webb Space Telescope to teach elementary and middle level students about the life cycles of stars. For informal educators of middle level and high school students, the educational game Scope It Out! compares a simple telescope to both the James Webb Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope. Lesson plans are available to accompany the game.

Plastic Pollution and You

Produced by the New York Sea Grant, the curriculum Plastic Pollution and You focuses on a human-made threat to the quality of New York’s marine and freshwater aquatic ecosystems. Targeted for educators in grades 3–12, the 126-page curriculum presents lessons and activities to enable students to investigate the consequences of plastic pollution in the environment. Though the material focuses on New York waterways and ecosystems, the curriculum content is also applicable to other locations. Through 15 lessons, students learn about different types of plastics, the impact of plastics on marine and freshwater ecosystems, the recycling process, and trash capture technology.

Read a press release and watch an introductory video to learn more about the program, then select the Request Curriculum link to download a copy (e-mail registration is required). 

Green STEM Guidebook

The National Wildlife Federation’s Green STEM Guidebook contains information and lesson plans to motivate the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) innovators in urban ecology. Through detailed case studies, the 116-page guidebook highlights how K–12 students can put STEM skills to work when solving real-world environmental issues in urban communities. The case studies represent various K–12 learning environments, and the lessons address topics such as solar-powered rescue hovercrafts (elementary), hydroponic agriculture (high school), keystone species restoration (middle level), energy conservation (elementary), and schoolwide sustainability (high school). Through the examples, students can gain a richer understanding of Green STEM as they discover nature in urban settings. In addition, the section Best Practices in Green STEM: Fostering Student Engagement offers support for teachers in transforming their current curriculum to a Green STEM focus.

Citizen Science @NASA

Citizen science projects are collaborations between scientists and the public that provide valuable opportunities for learners of all ages—including K–college students and teachers—to contribute to authentic science research. At NASA’s Citizen Science website, educators can browse nearly 30 research projects exploring topics relating to the universe, solar system, Sun, Earth, and space experiments. Many projects can be done by anyone, anywhere, with just a smartphone or laptop. Projects include Cloudspotting on Mars, in which participants analyze data from Mars Reconnaissance in search of exotic clouds in the Martian atmosphere, and NASA Globe Cloud Gaze, which has participants interpret clouds to help scientists better understand our changing climate. 

NEMO-Net, another notable project, engages participants in assessing the health of coral reefs worldwide through an online game. Participants classify coral reefs by “painting” coral observed on images of the ocean floor scanned with a high-tech instrument that produces images at extremely high resolution. Participants’ painted coral classifications are then sent to NASA scientists and used to enable a supercomputer to better classify coral reefs on a global scale. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Preschool and Elementary

Biodiversity Detective 

Excite young learners (grades preK–2) about studying nature and science discovery with Biodiversity Detective, a short activity from KidsGardening. In the activity, students explore a garden (or other available green space) to find signs of life at four height levels: tall plants and flying organisms, eye level, ground level, and beneath the soil. Students record tally marks or draw pictures of the different organisms they see. The activity includes questions to prompt student discussion, on everything from determining characteristics of that make something alive and analyzing the roles of the organisms found in the green space to defining ecosystem and developing understandings about the relationships living things have with one another and how needs are met.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Middle Level

Light & Matter: Vernier Supplement to OpenSciEd Unit 6.1

Vernier Software & Technology has produced an e-book that incorporates data-collection technology into the first lesson in OpenSciEd Unit 6.1, which supports the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), to help students gain a deeper understanding of the initial scientific concepts being taught and to motivate their learning as they complete the unit. Teachers also can use the e-book to encourage students to collect and analyze data as they explore how light interacts with matter. The unit asks students to answer this question: How can something act like a mirror and a window at the same time?

Vernier Software & Technology offers other free downloadable teaching supplements to accompany OpenSciEd’s digital curricular units. The free units explore middle school science topics such as weather, climate, metabolic reactions, forces, and sound waves.

Opportunities From the Field: Grades K–12

Explore Moon to Mars: Deep Space Communications Performance

In this free one-hour NASA webinar on August 3 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time, educators will explore performance parameters of signals in deep space using a game while learning about communication protocol—Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) to circumvent signal degradation. This game-based activity covers standards in Physical Science (MS-PS4-2), NGSS Engineering Practice, Common Core math practice, Language Arts standards, and Technology standards. The presenter will also address how to make these resources more culturally responsive. 

Green Our Planet’s GardenConnect STEM Program

The full cost of this program is $3,500. For grant recipients, Green Our Planet will cover $2,500 of the program cost, and your school must pay the additional $1,000 needed to fully fund the program. This grant opportunity is open to public, private, and charter schools located in the United States. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until all grants are awarded.

Green Our Planet’s Hydroponics STEM Program
The full cost of this program is $10,000. If you receive a grant, Green Our Planet will cover $8,000 of the program cost; your school must pay the additional $2,000 needed to fully fund the program. This grant is open to public, private and charter schools located in the United States. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until all grants are awarded.

Opportunities From the Field: Middle Level Through College

Ecology Project International’s 2023 Teacher Fellowships
Experience EPI’s methods for teaching field science as you conduct hands-on conservation research during these eight-day fellowships. Fellowships are open to formal and informal educators worldwide who teach in any subject area. EPI’s curriculum is appropriate for middle level, high school, or university educators. EPI funds most of the fellowship costs. 

Choose from the Baja Teacher Fellowship (March 4–11, 2023), the Winter Yellowstone Fellowship (March 4–11, 2023), or the Costa Rica Teacher Fellowship (April 22–29, 2023). (Deadline September 1)

Polar Connect Event: Harmful Algal Blooms in Arctic Waters

Join teacher Rebecca Siegel from Alaska during this free, live webinar on August 4 at 9 a.m. Alaska Time (10 a.m. Pacific, 11 a.m. Mountain, 12 p.m. Central, 1 p.m. Eastern). Siegel, who teaches grades 8–12 at Brevig Mission School in Brevig Mission, Alaska, is aboard the Norseman II and working on the Harmful Algal Blooms in Arctic Waters project. She will discuss the research and fieldwork involved in the project and relate what it's like to live and work on a ship. The event will last for one hour with a Q&A session at the end. Advance registration is required.

Opportunities From the Field: High School

NSHSS School Supplies Grant

The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) will present 12 $500 awards to high school educators employed in the United States, particularly those who are also heads of clubs in their schools. As part of the application, educators must submit a 500-word answer to this question: How would this grant provide opportunities for your classroom that otherwise would be difficult to come by? (Deadline September 15)

NSHSS Educator of the Year Award

Are you an exemplary educator with an outstanding commitment to preparing students for success? If you model best practices in teaching or administration inside and outside of the classroom, are a peer role model, and demonstrate outstanding leadership and excellence in education, apply for this NSHSS award. One top award of $5,000 and nine finalist awards of $1,000 will be presented. Candidates must be educators currently working within a public or private high school in the United States or abroad. (Deadline October 1)

Administration Astronomy Citizen Science Climate Change Curriculum Earth & Space Science Engineering Environmental Science General Science Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans Life Science Literacy Mathematics News Physical Science Professional Learning Science and Engineering Practices STEM Teaching Strategies Middle School Elementary High School Informal Education Postsecondary Preschool

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