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From the Field: Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, August 9, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

From the Field: Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, August 9, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–12

Breaking the Glass Ceiling Early On: How to Empower Girls in STEM

On this website from Georgia Tech Professional Education, STEM educators and parents will find a gold mine of resources for encouraging girls to study science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and pursue careers in STEM fields. The site examines the factors contributing to the STEM talent gap girls face early on, offers solutions to overcome these barriers, and presents resources to boost girls’ confidence and engage them in local programs. Solutions include suggesting that girls practice healthy social media habits that foster their confidence and curiosity about STEM; exposing girls to STEM-related resources starting as early as the toddler years; using language that helps girls maintain a growth mindset; doing indoor and outdoor activities with girls that promote STEM education; and finding STEM mentors for girls. Resources listed on the site include books for students and parents, suggestions for STEM projects, a list of STEM organizations for girls, sources for STEM mentorship, and examples of STEM careers.

AMNH Curriculum Collections

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) has curated collections of online activities, videos, articles, and other resources on a single topic to engage learners of all ages—including K–12 teachers, students, and families—in teaching or learning about science. Explore the cosmos and other astronomical wonders through collections such as Cosmic Horizons; SunScapes: Our Magnetic Star; Discovering the Universe; and Field Trip to the Moon. Expand your climate change knowledge through collections such as Polar Climate Change Lesson Plans or Data Visualizations Google+ Hangouts, which features recordings of online seminars with scientists discussing data visualizations about global change. Some collections highlight content from museum exhibits; for example, Dinosaurs and More contains several activities exploring dental adaptations among dinosaurs and what can be learned from them inspired by robotic dinosaur skulls from the museum’s Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs. Each collection contains multiple resources as well as a More from the Museum section highlighting relevant news articles or further research on the topic.  

What NOT to Do in the Chemistry Lab!
Lab safety lessons gone stale? Invigorate the material—and your teaching—with this activity from the American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT). Suitable for all levels from elementary to high school, What NOT to Do in the Chemistry Lab introduces laboratory safety and safe laboratory practices in a unique way. Students examine a cartoon of a chaotic chemistry laboratory and note the specific behaviors that are dangerous and unsafe in a chemistry laboratory setting. Examining the cartoon for safety infractions actively engages students in the topic of laboratory safety and provides a perfect opportunity for teachers to introduce correct laboratory safety procedures and best practices and discuss them with students. A downloadable Teacher Guide and a Student Activity sheet accompany the cartoon image.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

Make a Cloud Mobile!

Introduce K–8 students to different types of clouds and have them create a fun craft with this activity from NASA’s Space Place website. Available in both Spanish and English, the activity features kid-friendly explanatory text describing various cloud types (e.g., cumulonimbus, cirrus, cumulus, and nimbostratus) and what they tell you about the weather alongside written step-by-step instructions, cloud pattern templates, and a how-to video guide for creating the mobile.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Middle Level

Sustainable Futures Virtual Field Trip

In this virtual field trip (VFT) from Discovery Education and industrial manufacturing company Trane Technologies, students will visit Trane Technologies’ campuses and meet employees who will share real-life examples of sustainable innovation, including individual actions, green career pathways, and global initiatives. Accompanying the VFT are classroom conversation starters that enable students to think more deeply about climate change, food waste, engineering sustainability, and do-it-yourself solutions. In addition, teachers can access an Educator Guide with three optional activities to enhance their use of the VFT in the classroom. And teachers in the United States can request a virtual or in-person classroom visit from a Trane Technologies professional.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Middle Level Through College

Free Trial of Pivot Interactives

Pivot Interactives has tools to engage students in exploring scientific phenomena while developing their skills in science practices. With this free one-month trial, teachers can explore more than 550 phenomena-based lessons in biology, Earth and space science, chemistry, environmental science, and physics. Activities have been designed to be used with students from fifth grade through higher education.

Opportunities From the Field: Grades K–12

Mentoring Opportunity for K–12 STEM Teachers

During the 2022–23 academic year, the Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR) Biology Division will provide a free mentoring opportunity for K–12 STEM teachers as part of its Mentoring the Integration of Research Into the Classroom (MIRIC) online mentoring program. This community of practice offers the chance for both individuals established in incorporating research into their curriculum and faculty at all career stages interested in the development of course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) to network, expand their skills, and discuss key issues in CURE development, implementation, and sustainability with peers from across the undergraduate research community. MIRIC’s work involves group mentoring sessions on the many issues surrounding CURE development and implementation, CUREs for the K–12 arena, journal clubs on seminal and new publications involving CURE development, and affinity group discussions on such topics as culturally-responsive CUREs, and introducing research fundamentals to novice students.

MIRIC provides a means for current and future instructors to receive long-term mentorship opportunities in developing and implementing authentic research experiences into the undergraduate classroom. CUREs focus on the integration of authentic research activity into undergraduate coursework in an equitable manner. Although CUREs are an outstanding approach for providing the educational benefits of undergraduate research to a maximum number of students, they are difficult for instructors to implement and execute without a significant level of training. The CUR Biology Division features several established faculty with extensive experience in bringing their research work into their coursework. Thus, the division is well-positioned to provide leadership in the STEM education community in training instructors to meaningfully integrate authentic research work into undergraduate coursework in an equitable manner.

Visit and fill out the appropriate interest form(s). Learn how to participate in MIRIC.

Opportunities From the Field: Middle Level and High School

Our Climate, Our Communities: Science, Systems, and Solutions

Middle level and high school educators will explore examples of best practices in climate change education with the Wade Institute for Science Education and collaborating partner Salem Sound Coastwatch through the broad phenomena-based theme “Our Climate, Our Communities: Science, Systems, and Solutions.” In a hybrid format of on-site sessions combined with online learning, educators will engage in climate and energy investigations, converse with scientists and engineers, explore their own local resources, and develop units and investigations they can use in the classroom. The course will introduce tools and resources for integrating climate change concepts into instruction and help educators engage students in active discussion, sensemaking, and problem solving around challenging and dynamic topics of climate change. Attendees will receive a materials kit for the inquiry-based, hands-on investigations they experienced during the course.
Online sessions will take place September 23–December 11; on-site Sessions on Saturdays, October 1 and 22, November 12, and December 3 at Salem Sound Coastwatch in Salem, Massachusetts. Professional development points (PDPs) and optional graduate credit will be available.
Engaging Students in the Engineering Design Process Using Sensors

Grades 6–12 educators, are you interested in incorporating digital technology and computational thinking into engineering design portions of your curriculum, but need help getting started on your own? The Wade Institute for Science Education will offer a two-day professional learning experience to explore coding and electronics through fun, engaging, hands-on projects using the Arduino Open Source Electronics Platform. This sensor workshop is designed for Arduino beginners and intermediate users. Other sensors can be used along with the products that can be created with the kits. Attendees will leave the workshop with an Arduino kit to start using these materials and investigations in their classroom. 

The workshop will take place on October 14–15 at Bristol Community College in Fall River, Massachusetts. 12 PDPs will be available.

Coleopterists Society’s Youth Incentive Award

The Coleopterists Society, an international organization of professionals and hobbyists interested in the study of beetles, recognized young people studying beetles with this award. The society has pledged to provide up to $1,200 each year for the Youth Incentive Award Program. One Junior award (grades 7–9), a $400 monetary grant, and one Senior award (grades 10–12) of $800 will be presented. In addition, awardees will each receive a one-year subscription to the society journal, The Coleopterists Bulletin. (Deadline November 1) The Youth Incentive Award aims to

  • provide encouragement and assistance to young beetle enthusiasts (grades 7–12);
  • promote the study of beetles, the most diverse group of insects, as a rewarding lifelong avocation or career;
  • provide opportunities for young people to develop important life skills such as leadership, cooperation, communication, planning and conducting a scientific study, grant writing and managing funds; and 
  • provide some financial support to enrich activities or projects.

The selection committee invites proposals for topics such as field collecting trips to conduct beetle species inventories or diversity studies, attending workshops or visiting entomology or natural history museums for special training and projects on beetles, studying aspects of beetle biology, and other activities. The proposed activities or projects will be evaluated on their degree of creativity, educational benefit to the applicant, scientific merit, feasibility, and budgetary planning. 

This award is for proposals by individuals only. Students are strongly encouraged to find an adult advisor (teacher, youth group leader, parent, etc.) to provide guidance in proposal development, but the proposal must be written by the student. The Coleopterists Society can help establish contacts between youth and professional coleopterists. 

Opportunities From the Field: High School

STEAM: Using Paint to Teach Stoichiometry and Solutions
During this American Association of Chemistry Teachers webinar on September 15, a chemistry teacher will share key components of a unit design that uses paint as a framework to learn stoichiometry and solutions. The unit uses three main checkpoints to weave the paint theme throughout before culminating in a lab experience in which students make their own paint to use in a class mural. Attendees will be introduced to the flow of this unit, as well as the format of each checkpoint activity and the final lab component. Advance registration is required.

Opportunities From the Field: High School and College

Host a Community Tree Planting Event With Students
High school students, teachers, and school clubs can host a community tree planting event that offsets their school’s annual energy consumption—and college students can host an event that offsets a local school’s annual energy consumption—with help from the nonprofit Tree-Plenish. Managed by college students, Tree-Plenish provides all the resources needed to host a tree-planting event. These events come at no cost to teachers, students, or schools, and Tree-Plenish will provide mentoring throughout the planning process.

Event planning takes place during the fall and winter, and events are held in the spring (March through May). Complete an interest form on the Tree-Plenish website to receive more information.

Astronomy Biology Careers Chemistry Climate Change Computer Science Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Engineering Environmental Science General Science Inclusion Inquiry Instructional Materials Lesson Plans Life Science News Phenomena Physics Professional Learning Safety Science and Engineering Practices Sensemaking STEM Teaching Strategies Middle School Elementary High School Postsecondary

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