By Debra Shapiro
MeTEOR Connect is a library of no-cost professional development videos and other resources to support teachers in their instructional practice in core subjects, including STEM. Produced by MeTEOR Education, an education consultancy, the library contains curated resource collections on various topics, organized by grade band (grades K–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12). Each grade band includes a collection of STEM Modeling-Eliciting Activities, a series of activity-based lesson plans that engage learners in the engineering design process and other STEM pursuits.
Challenges for young learners include Creating a Trap to catch a gingerbread man (grade K), Building the Tallest Rower with provided materials (grade 1), and Designing a Parachute from provided materials that executes the safest landing (grade 2). Challenges for students in grades 3–5 include Creating a Catapult, in which student teams design a catapult from craft sticks that launches a mini marshmallow the furthest distance across the room, and Designing a Successful Plan, which teaches students about engineering constraints, failure points, and reproducible results as they use the tools provided to develop a plan to save George the gummy worm from drowning. At the middle and high school levels (grades 6–8 and 9–12), the STEM activities delve deeper into the engineering design process by engaging students in conducting research and considering items such as budget and the cost of materials (e.g., Designing Sundae Containers and Building Bridges).
MakerBot Educators Guidebook
Looking for ideas for effectively integrating 3D printing in K–12 learning environments? Check out the recently updated MakerBot Educators Guidebook, MakerBot Industries’ definitive guide to 3D printing in the classroom. The easy-to-use, downloadable guide contains more than 100 pages of information about 3D printing and how to begin integrating it into the classroom. You’ll find everything from the basics of how 3D printing works and project ideas spanning robotics, engineering, math, and science, to tech tips for teachers like How to Turn a Sketch Into a 3D Print. Chapters cover How to Start 3D Printing in the Classroom, Breaking Down the 3D Printing Process, Curriculum Project Ideas, Teachers’ Tricks of the Trade, and 3D Printing Within Professional Industries. (Note: E-mail registration is required to download the publication.)
EiE Families is a website for K–5 students and families developed by Engineering Is Elementary, the curriculum division of the Museum of Science, Boston. The website features a combination of interactive read-alouds, animations, and activities to engage students in the engineering design process at-home and on-the-go. Students can design their own bug trap in Bye Bye Bug, create a system to transport peppers up several flights of stairs in Pass the Peppers!, devise a way to keep tomato plants watered while on vacation in Keep It Watered, or create a sound amplifier for a cell phone in Turn It Up! Each at-home activity includes a downloadable PDF (e-mail registration is required to download the materials) with pages and prompts to guide students and families through each step of the engineering design process. In addition, the website features information to support teachers interested in hosting a family science or STEM event at their school or in the community.
Photographing Shapes and Patterns in Nature
Photographing shapes and patterns can be a great learning and assessment tool for capturing observations, documenting experiments, and revealing student understanding. In this activity for grades 3–8, developed by educators at KidsGardening, students explore school or backyard habitats to photograph the different types of leaves found on the plants there. Students then compare photographs to classify leaves, studying leaf characteristics such as category, structure, arrangement on the stem, shape, margins, and venation. To extend the leaf study, students can do projects such as creating a photo field guide from their leaf images or using a favorite leaf image as a springboard for a descriptive writing prompt. Download the complete lesson plan in PDF format.
ACLIPSE Climate Literacy Course
University of California Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science’s ACLIPSE (Advancing Climate Literacy Through Investment in Pre-Service Educators) university course instructional materials, and associated teacher professional learning opportunities and materials for grades 6–12, engage participants in climate science activities while using data in authentic and locally relevant ways. The course uses climate science as the context for teaching about and applying current research and shows educators how to effectively use real and near-real time data in the classroom. Through 11 sessions, the course provides opportunities to develop in-depth content knowledge of climate science and climate change, specifically focused on sea-level rise, the greenhouse effect, the carbon cycle, and ocean acidification.
Flinn Scientific’s Lab Safety Courses
Flinn Scientific has released new Lab Safety courses for middle and high school science educators. Offered free of charge, these asynchronous courses can be completed in one session and are intended to help science educators create the safest learning environments possible for their students. These courses are appropriate for teachers new to the science classroom as well as experienced educators. Some states may even offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for successfully completing the courses.
Flinn’s comprehensive collection of safety courses are accessed through PAVO, Flinn’s digital solutions platform. To get started, teachers should go to https://qrco.de/newlabsafety and create an account, add the free courses to their dashboard, then complete the courses at their own pace. To explore and implement the variety of resources PAVO offers, teachers can activate a free trial at https://www.flinnsci.com/pavo/teacher-trial/.
CHS Foundation provides $500 grants each year to preK–12 teachers who have classroom projects that use agricultural concepts to teach science, reading, writing, math, social studies, and more. Eligible projects include and are not limited to classroom and schoolyard gardens, embryology projects, aquaculture projects, and agricultural literacy reading programs. Agri-science teachers may apply for the grant, but they must demonstrate how the proposed project will reach outside their agri-science classrooms to other classes in the same school or other schools, including elementary schools.
Teachers have until June 1 the following year to complete the project and submit a final report. Only state-certified classroom teachers who are employed by a school district or private school may apply. (Deadline September 15)
Dominion Energy’s Environmental Education and Stewardship Grants
Public and private K–12 schools and nonprofit organizations in areas Dominion serves (see the website for a list of states and areas served) may apply for these grants. Grants of up to $50,000 are available for short-term environmental projects with measurable results; K–12 schools will receive up to $5,000. Projects should educate students about environmental stewardship, help protect and preserve natural habitats, or improve open spaces and make nature more accessible. (Deadline September 30)
Toshiba America Foundation Science and Math Improvement Grants
K–5 teachers, do you have an innovative idea for improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning in your classroom? Does your idea involve project-based learning with measurable outcomes? What do you need to make learning STEM subjects fun for your students? Apply for these grants of up to $1,000. (Deadline October 1)
The Samull Classroom Herb Garden Grants
The Herb Society of America awards grants to public and private school teachers of grades 3–6 with classes of at least 15 students. The society will award 15 $300 grants to establish indoor or outdoor herb gardens. The funds may be used for supplies such as soil, plant trays, containers, and child or youth sized tools. (Deadline October 1)
Climate Superstars Challenge
In this online environmental competition, students do short tasks: learning activities that support Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and are related to environmental literacy and energy efficiency. Educators in middle level classrooms and after-school programs (grades 6–8) in the United States, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico can register and view all 10 tasks by October 1. Classes that complete at least 7 tasks during the month of October (1–31) will be entered into a drawing to win one of six $5,000 e-vouchers for Samsung products like tablets, laptops, and interactive displays.
Tasks require about 15–20 minutes to complete and can be done online or in person. The National Environmental Education Foundation, which administers the Climate Superstars Challenge, has an Educator Guide that details how to incorporate the tasks into your daily schedule as a fun complement to your lesson plans.
Air Force Junior ROTC Grants
The grant aims to promote aerospace education throughout classrooms in which funds currently are unavailable. Funds of up to $250 may be used for any aerospace education–related activity from purchasing textbooks or videotapes, to going on a field trip to an aerospace museum, Air Force base, or other aerospace facility. (Deadline October 10)
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