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From the Field: Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, August 30, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

From the Field: Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, August 30, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–12

Report on Pandemic Experiences of Blind and Low-Vision Students 

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) recently published a new research report detailing the experiences of blind and low-vision students during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the final report in AFB’s Access and Engagement series, and it specifically addressed access to accessible educational technology, social and emotional impacts, and the experiences of Spanish-speaking families. AFB is also preparing brief resources that can be shared with educators, administrators, families, and ed tech companies who might benefit from tips for supporting blind and low-vision students as the new school year begins. With so many science and STEM resources available online, it is important to consider how students with disabilities can access them, too.

The Paleontological Research Institution’s (PRI) Earth Science Back-to-School Resources 

In this blog post, teachers of Earth science will find links to PRI’s Earth@Home resources like the Digital Encyclopedia of Earth Science; Geologic Time Scale, an overview of important Earth and life history events from each time interval on the geologic time scale; Interactive 3D models of fossils, minerals, and rocks; a collection of Virtual Fieldwork Experiences; Climate Change Activities, Experiments, and Exercises; and more. Earth@Home is PRI’s free website to help anyone learn about the Earth and its history.

Carolina’s Young Innovators Program

Carolina Biological Supply Company’s Young Innovators program celebrates the accomplishments of young scientists to inspire all students to take action when they have a question to answer or a problem to solve. The program aims to nurture every student’s potential to be a future leader in STEM by promoting diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in schools and communities. Each month, Carolina highlights a new Young Innovator with links to their Profile pages. These pages provide background about each student and their inventions through a short video and downloadable Profile Cards. The cards are available in elementary and secondary reading levels, and in English and Spanish. Teachers are encouraged to invite students to think about and share their ideas about the invention or how they might relate to the inventor. 

Users can join the Young Innovators mailing list to receive monthly emails and be the first to hear about our contests and giveaways:

Do you know a K–12 student who has made an interesting invention or discovery? Recommend them for recognition in the Young Innovators program. Tell Carolina what makes their innovation unique and different from a typical science fair project: What problem does it solve? What question does it answer? How can we help the Young Innovator succeed? Carolina will thank you with a free Young Innovators poster (while supplies last).

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary

NatGeo Resource Library: Videos and Interactives 

From crittercams attached to sharks and seals to glowing reef creatures, this collection of videos and interactive quizzes from the National Geographic Resource Library engages young learners in the wonders of the Earth and its oceans. (Some videos and quizzes in this collection are also appropriate for older students.) The short (less than three minutes each) videos captivate audiences by featuring animals in their native habitats, providing students glimpses of animals and environments they do not ordinarily see. The interactive quizzes (via Kahoot) highlight several of Earth’s Oceans, with separate quizzes addressing the Atlantic, Arctic, Indian, and Pacific oceans.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Middle Level Through College

NeMO-NET Coral Classification App

What if you and your students could help NASA create a map of the ocean floor using just a fingertip? You can with NeMO-Net, a computer game and app most appropriate for middle level and up, in which players can help NASA scientists classify coral reefs by painting coral observed on images of the ocean floor scanned by high-powered cameras that capture views beneath the waves at an extremely high resolution. The classifications students “paint” in the app are sent to NASA scientists at home base and used to teach a supercomputer to classify coral reefs on a global scale. The game engages students in authentic science research and provides opportunities to learn more about the various organisms found in coral reef ecosystems at the same time. An introductory video about the project accompanies the game.

Generate: The Game of Energy Choices

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Generate is a cooperative board game in which students work in teams to explore energy choices and learn about the considerations and costs in determining what type of energy generation to build. Adaptable for use with middle through college levels, the game supports the Next Generation Science Standards and encourages a deeper examination of energy issues among students. Game materials include an introductory PowerPoint presentation, Instructor’s Guide, printable game board and pieces, scorecard, and instructions for playing the game virtually. 

Opportunities From the Field: Grades K–12

STEM Innovations and Global Competence
This free course from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will focus on the intersection of STEM subjects and global competence and will feature a variety of resources, reflection activities, and testimonials from teachers nationwide. This open-registration, self-paced course has three modules, and each module is projected to take 1.5 hours to complete. The course is available until September 30.

Contest: What’s the Coolest Thing About Science?

Tell Carolina Biological Supply Company what your students say is the coolest thing about science! Enter the contest, and you could win one of three $100 Carolina gift certificates to use toward the purchase of science materials for your classroom. The contest starts on September 5 and ends on September 29. Three winners will be chosen at random and announced on Facebook on September 30.

STEAM Song Teacher Competition

Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) wants you to create a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) song. This song must contain original lyrics and be connected to at least one state or national education standard. Teachers of any grade level or subject are invited to submit a music video with lyrics. The three highest-scoring teachers will win a reMarkable 2 tablet bundle and a pair of Raycon wireless earbuds. (Deadline September 30)

Whole Kids Foundation’s Traditional Bee Grants

These grants enable schools and nonprofit organizations to receive support for educational beehives and bee programming so students can observe bees up close and learn about the vital role these pollinators play in our food system. Grants can be used to start a new or enhance an existing bee program hosting live bees. The grants are open to schools or nonprofit organizations that serve any grades K–12 in the United States and Canada. 

Apply by October 15. Grant options are

  • Monetary Grant: $1,500 
  • Equipment Grant: Indoor Observation Hive
  • Equipment Grant: Traditional Langstroth Hive

Opportunities From the Field: Elementary

Pilot a Family Engineering Activity
Are you hosting a STEM event at your site between October 15 and December 16, or would you like to plan one? The Museum of Science Boston’s Engineering is Elementary (EiE) program is seeking sites to pilot a new hands-on family engineering activity for learners ages 4–11. The activity encourages families to discover their inner engineer and collaborate to solve a problem. If your site is selected, you’ll receive all the materials you’ll need to run the activity at your STEM event and a $200 stipend for your participation. 

Apply online by September 15. EiE will notify you if you’ve been selected by September 22. 

Opportunities From the Field: Middle Level and High School

Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Nominate outstanding grades 7–12 science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) teachers by January 9, 2023, for a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the highest honor bestowed by the United States government specifically for STEM teaching—or apply for one yourself by February 6, 2023. Awards are given to teachers from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity schools, or the U.S. territories as a group (American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands).

Awardees receive the following:
•    A certificate signed by the President of the United States;
•    A paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities;
•    A $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation; and
•    An opportunity to build lasting partnerships with colleagues nationwide.

Administration Citizen Science Climate Change Disabilities Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Engineering English Language Learners Environmental Science Equity General Science Inclusion Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Life Science Multilingual Learners News Professional Learning STEM Teaching Strategies Middle School Elementary High School Informal Education Postsecondary Preschool

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