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From the Field: Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, July 19, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

From the Field: Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, July 19, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–College

NASA Roman Space Observer Game

Wondering about NASA’s Roman Space Telescope and its mission? For an engaging introduction to cosmic objects in our universe and what NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Telescope intends to explore, play a few rounds of this game. Suitable for astronomy enthusiasts of all ages, the retro-style computer game challenges players to collect as many cosmic objects (e.g., galaxies, black holes, exoplanets, rogue exoplanets, supernovae, and dark matter) as possible in a single minute. The game information page features a glossary of cosmic objects, a short summary of the Roman space mission, and links to websites with more information about the telescope.

The Virtual Farm Curriculum

Middle Tennessee State University’s Virtual Farm curriculum is a set of online learning tools designed to excite students of all ages, from kindergarten through early college, about the connections between science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and agriculture. Through 12 learning modules (51 individual units), students learn about food preservation, backyard produce cultivation, farm animals, the importance of bees, and more. Each learning module features engaging videos and hands-on activities that connect to National Agriculture Literacy Outcomes and support the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Module titles include Fast Food at Home; Dairy in the Kitchen; Chicken Coop, Chicken Soup; Feed the Bees; and What’s in the Barn? Register for a free account to download the complete module materials. 

Sea to Sky Resource Database
This database contains a multitude of educational resources from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its partners and has materials for audiences of all ages and levels, K–college and adult. Users will find lesson plans, activities, background information, career profiles, videos, and more, addressing topics in core subjects such as Earth science, life science, engineering and technology, and social science. Search for resources of interest by audience, subject, research type, NGSS standards, and other parameters. 

A quick search of Activities (resource type)/Climate (topic) turned up more than 20 resources for elementary level to adult, including multimedia learning modules developed through NOAA programs exploring topics such as Changes in Ocean Chemistry (Teacher at Sea, grades 3–5, 6–8), Ocean Acidification and Kelp Forest Ecosystems (National Marine Sanctuaries Resource Collection, grades K–12), and Monitoring Estuarine Water Quality (Data in the Classroom, grades 6–8, 9–12). Climate resources for college and adult audiences include JetStream, NOAA’s online school for weather, and materials for teaching climate and energy from the Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN).

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Preschool and Elementary

Early Science with Nico & Nor 

Early Science with Nico & Nor® is an early STEM program co-designed by Digital Promise, Education Development Center, WGBH’s First 8 Studios and partner preschool programs in California, New York, and Massachusetts, with funding from the National Science Foundation. The program aims to provide young children with playful, meaningful opportunities to learn science across home and school. It includes a teacher’s guide with curricular activities for preschool classrooms, a family guide with sample everyday activities that can be done at home or in the community, and 11 apps to strengthen hands-on science learning.  

Early Science with Nico & Nor supports current preschool and elementary science frameworks. The program invites children to learn about science core ideas by doing science or engaging in science practices. The program also links science to mathematics and engineering and includes Spanish resources for multilingual, Latinx learners. 

The program is organized around three units (each focused on a core idea): plant growth, force and motion, and light and shadow. In each unit, children develop understanding of science phenomena by engaging in practices such as observing, comparing, and sorting; posing questions; making predictions; experimenting; recording and analyzing data; and constructing explanations. Each unit contains whole-group, small-group, learning center, and outdoor activities that can be implemented across multiple weeks. Each unit also includes a digital journal (Plants Journal, Shadows Journal, and Ramp Journal) to support investigation and apps with simulation components to provide children with efficient opportunities for repeated practice (Plant Apps: Wonder Farm, Farmers Market, Berry Garden; Shadows Apps: Shadow Play, Puppy Park, Shadow Cave; and Ramps Apps: Coconut Star, Coconut Canyon). 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

Celebrating Native Pollinators

Engage elementary and middle levels in studying native plants and pollinators with resources developed by KidsGardening and Wyman’s. Berry Good Friends: A Guide to Native-Plant Pollinator Relationships features activities and information to learn pollination basics and actions for students to support and protect native plant and pollinator populations. Two additional guides—Family Guide to Native Berries and Family Guide to Native Pollinators—offer tips on planting an edible garden and a breakdown of native pollinators in the United States (e.g., bees, butterflies, beetles, moths and bats, flies, and hummingbirds) and their preferred native fruit or plant to eat. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School

Solar Decathlon Pathways

Solar Decathlon Pathways (SD Pathways)—the latest expansion of Solar Decathlon, a U.S. Department of Energy collegiate competition in which student teams design and build high-performance, low-carbon buildings powered by renewables—brings the excitement of renewable energy to grades 9–12. The program connects high school students and teachers nationwide with Solar Decathlon alumni to learn about career opportunities in clean energy. Interested high school academic groups, including clubs and classrooms, are matched with Solar Decathlon alumni for a one-time visit, which can take place in person or virtually. During the visit, alumni share their personal pathways to careers in the buildings industry and/or renewable energy to inspire students to join the clean energy workforce.

An accompanying lesson plan introduces students to career options from these paths: Architecture and Construction, Information Technology, Manufacturing, and STEM fields. Teachers interested in connecting with SD Alumni and coordinating a visit can complete the SD Pathways Interest Form online to get started. Also of interest are the site’s career profile videos of SD Alumni, which provide students with real-world insights into careers such as architectural engineer, energy engineer, architect, and project engineer. 

Opportunities From the Field: Grades PreK–College

Amazing Monarchs Webinar

The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration will hold this free 45-minute presentation featuring content provided by Canada’s Royal Botanical Gardens on July 20 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time. K–12 students will learn about the life cycle of these iconic insects and their multigenerational migration. Advance registration is required.

Webinar: Explore Moon to Mars: Habitation With Gateway!

The NASA Educator Professional Development Collaborative at Texas State University will hold a one-hour webinar for K–12 educators on July 20 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. The Gateway will be an outpost orbiting the Moon that will provide vital support for a sustainable, long-term human return to the lunar surface, as well as a staging point for deep space exploration. Discover hands-on/minds-on NASA STEM resources that encourage 21st-century skills like communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. Educators will receive instructional PowerPoints, videos, and links to more standards-aligned resources ready to use in the classroom or at home.

KidsGardening’s Summer Photo Contest

The contest has five categories:

  • Garden lessons. Show garden-based learning in action: garden art, science, caring for a peer, service projects, and more.
  • Garden creatures. Pollinators, worms, insects, and pets in the garden!
  • Kids in the garden.
  • Family, friends, community. Photos of kids with the adults who make the garden possible.
  • My garden. Kids, take a photo of your garden! 

(Deadline August 8) Thirty winners will be chosen. Two photographs will be selected from each of the five categories, for a total of 10 category winners. Twenty honorable mentions will also be chosen. Category winners will receive a $50 gift card to Gardener's Supply Company and a seed collection. Honorable mention winners will receive a seed collection.

ORISE August Social Media Contest

Starting on August 1, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) wants K–12 educators to reflect on your teaching experience and submit a response to this question: If you could go back and talk to yourself at the beginning of your teaching career, what advice would you give yourself? Three randomly selected winners will receive a laminator with laminating supplies. Teachers must teach in the United States, a U.S. Territory, or a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school to be eligible to win. (Deadline August 31)

Opportunities From the Field: High School

AVS Science Educators’ Workshop

The American Vacuum Society (AVS) will hold its next Science Educators’ Workshop on November 6–8 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This inservice workshop on low-pressure experiments and modeling is for high school science teachers from the United States and Canada. The workshop has two parts: lectures on the underlying science and the mathematical calculations and hands-on experience in which a group of teachers do experiments and develop models, guided by an instructor team. Those who complete the workshop will receive 1.5 nationally certified Continuing Education Units or 150 sixty-minute clock hours from the University of Dayton; a vacuum system for their school identical to ones used in the workshop; and a certificate of completion.

The workshop is aligned with national science and mathematics standards. Teachers should apply before August 8 for financial assistance (sponsorship) to attend this workshop.

National Society of High School Scholars Grants
The deadline for applying for the following NSHSS grants is August 15.

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Teaching Grant. Five $1,500 awards will be presented to educators who serve in rural areas, diverse student populations, or are “actively promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives in their school or greater community.” Funds may be used for supplies, materials, field trips, or other resources.
  • STEAM Educator Grant. Five $1,000 awards will be presented to high school STEAM teachers currently employed at a public or private high school in the United States or internationally. Funds may be used for supplies, materials, field trips, or other resources. 
  • My Virtual Learning Success Story. Five $500 awards will go to high school teachers currently employed at a public or private high school in the United States or internationally. Funds may be used for supplies, materials, field trips, or other resources. 
  • School Club Cash. Five $500 awards will go to club sponsors currently employed at a public or private high school in the United States or internationally to provide additional opportunities to students in their clubs. 
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Educator Grant. Five $1,000 awards will go to secondary school educators teaching an IB Diploma course in any field for supplies, materials, field trips, or other resources.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Educator Grant. Five $1,000 awards will go to educators teaching an AP course to use for supplies, materials, field trips, or other supplemental aids.

Astronomy Biology Careers Climate Change Curriculum Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Engineering English Language Learners Equity General Science Inclusion Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans Life Science Multilingual Learners News NGSS Phenomena Physical Science Physics Professional Learning Science and Engineering Practices STEM Teaching Strategies Technology Middle School Elementary High School Informal Education Postsecondary Preschool

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