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From the Field: Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, July 26, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

From the Field: Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, July 26, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades PreK–12

STEM for Diverse Learners

Looking for new educational tools to enhance STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teaching and learning for diverse learners? Check out GBH Education’s STEM for Diverse Learners website to access digital resources and projects to engage K–12 teachers and students in dynamic STEM pursuits. Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms provides digital resources exploring Earth, space, and physical science for K–12 audiences, developed collaboratively by PBL Learning Media and NASA. The collection contains videos, satellite images, data visualizations, interactives, and support materials (e.g., lesson plans, background essays, teaching tips, student handouts), many of which are available in both Spanish and English. 

The site also features resources from GBH’s DesignSquad initiatives, which focus on the engineering design process and engineering careers. Developed for afterschool or club environments, DesignSquad Latinix can spark middle level students’ interest in engineering design and engineering as a career through hands-on activities that solve a real-world problem in the community. DesignSquad Inventing Green, another club-based program for the middle level, showcases careers in sustainability and addresses the engineering design process, invention, and environmental sustainability through a series of high-energy, hands-on activities. DesignSquad Maker brings the engineering design process to elementary students through an online engineering design toolkit and app that allows learners and families to experience the engineering design process at home. 

American Museum of Natural History Resources

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) has engaging resources for K–12 educators, families, and students interested in learning about science. The collection includes lesson plans, curriculum, hands-on activities, articles, games and interactives, and videos for learners of all ages. Develop young students’ observation skills with the game Go Birdwatching With Theodore Roosevelt (grades preK–2); have students take an interactive quiz to test What Do You Know About Climate Change? (grades K–8); or help students discover their inner paleontologist with an online guide to Finding Fossils (grades 3–12). Video highlights include Astronomy Online: Earth, a 40-minute field-trip presentation giving viewers in grades 6–12 a new perspective on the planet, from natural wonders such as the Amazon rainforest, Sahara Desert, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Himalayas to the outer reaches of our atmosphere. 

In these resources, teachers can access lesson plans for all age levels. Elementary and middle level learners can explore dinosaurs and more through lessons such as What Teeth Tell Us (grades K–4), Relative Speed of Dinosaurs (grades 5–8), and Pixel This! (grades K–8), in which students decode a simple digital image from a string of numbers that represent pixels. High school students can explore the mechanics of a telescope in the lesson Focal Point. 

Using NOAA’s Weather Portal

An important tool developed by the Education Development Center’s WeatherX project is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather portal, which gives K–12 educators (and anyone with a web browser) access to large-scale weather data from NOAA. The portal allows users to select and download hourly, daily, and monthly weather measurements from 1,783 weather stations in the United States, with records dating as far back as the mid-1800s. A blog post from the Concord Consortium, a partner in the WeatherX project, provides instructions for accessing the portal, as well as sample weather questions students can investigate with the data. For example, students can investigate data from their own local weather stations and make claims about whether specific weather events are extreme by comparing event data with 30-year climate averages. Teachers can also create their own questions about weather for students to explore using the data.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary

Make Handprint Art Using UV Light

Targeted for grades K–4, and available in both English and Spanish, this hands-on activity from NASA’s Space Place teaches students where ultraviolet (UV) light comes from and how sunscreen works to protect you from UV light. The activity has students use simple materials (sunscreen, construction paper, rocks, and their hands) and the power of the Sun to make a personalized piece of artwork. Accompanying the activity are an explanatory video and photographs of each step of the activity.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Middle Level

Internet of Things Virtual Field Trip

The Internet of Things refers to a collection of computing devices—such as smartphones, speakers, thermostats, and sensors—that are connected to a network to send and receive data to improve our daily lives. In this virtual field trip, produced collaboratively by technology company Itron and Discovery Education, middle level students get an inside look at how the Internet of Things is used at Itron to connect utilities with real-time data to better manage two critical resources to humanity: energy and water. The approximately 30-minute program shows students how the internet is being used to conserve natural resources, protect ecosystems, and create safer, more sustainable communities. Through the field trip, students learn about dynamic STEM careers in that work collectively to create more efficient and insightful utilities, smarter cities, and a more resourceful world. An accompanying Educator’s Guide provides pre-, during-, and post-viewing activities as well as relevant student handouts to extend learning from the virtual field trip to the classroom.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School

Using Primary Source Documents to Explore Freezing Point Depression 
Engage high school students in analyzing primary source documents and provide practice in reading measurements from a thermometer with this activity from the Teaching With the Library of Congress (LOC) blog. The activity centers on an image of a thermometer from the LOC’s Digitized Book Collection, "Measurement for the Household," which was published in a catalog from the Commissioner of Standards, Massachusetts, 1916. Examining the historical photograph lets students familiarize themselves with key temperatures at which phase changes occur and develop understandings for later examinations of phase change diagrams. The activity includes questions to prompt reflections about the image, as well as a second primary source image to examine: “Government scientist cools water to -6 degrees without freezing it. Washington, D.C., Aug. 9., 1938, Harris and Ewing, photographer.” Examining this image and a subsequent hands-on activity—making ice cream—extends learning and challenges students to think more deeply about freezing point depression and the factors that affect it.

Opportunities From the Field: Grades K–College

ScIC ‘Science is Cool’ Virtual Unconference

STEM educators worldwide can learn about Open Educational Resources (OER) at this free event, taking place on August 5 at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time (PT). Speakers will also present other free to low-cost tools and resources educators can use to enhance their lesson plans, including tools, content, curriculum, and student programs. During her Championing Science session at 10 a.m. PT, NSTA Chief Learning Officer Tricia Shelton will relate how NSTA is advocating science teaching strategies focused on equity and describe new research-based professional learning opportunities being developed that advance educators’ knowledge and practice. Other speakers will address topics such as gameplay, storytelling, space science, NGSS, and teaching with phenomena. Registration is required.

KidsGardening’s Grant Funding Webinar Series

Learn the ins and outs of grantmaking by viewing one, two, or all three webinars in the series. Registrants for each webinar will be entered into a giveaway for a $50 gift card to Gardener's Supply Company and a curriculum book of the winner’s choice.

  • Session 1—Grant Basics for Youth Garden Programs, August 4. Learn the basics of grants, from how to write a grant and what makes your application attractive, to what grantmakers are looking for.
  • Session 2—Crafting Your Narrative for Grant Applications, August 11. This session will focus on the importance of making a strong case statement, showing grantmakers that your program is the perfect fit for funding.
  • Session 3—Meet the Grantmakers Funding Youth Garden Programs, August 18. Hear from KidsGardening, Whole Kids Foundation, Green Our Planet, Big Green, and others—all national youth garden grantmakers—about their upcoming grant opportunities and their thoughts on what makes a strong grant proposal.

AIAA Foundation Classroom Grants

The AIAA Foundation believes that educating and inspiring the next generation of aerospace professionals is one of the most important investments it can make. The classroom grant program aims to bridge the gap in STEM funding by awarding more than 80 educators with up to $500 for STEM programs. A clear connection to science, technology, engineering, art, or mathematics (STEAM) with an emphasis on aerospace must be included in the grant proposal. Applicants must be K–12 classroom teachers with funds that will be paid to the school. (Deadline September 30). 

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Invention-Con 2022

Do you have students who hope to be successful innovators, with ideas they dream about commercializing? Tell them about the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) free, online conference, Invention-Con 2022: Inspiring and Redefining the Innovative Mindset, taking place August 10–12 from noon to 5 p.m. Eastern Time daily. Attendees will hear from successful innovators and subject-matter experts about these topics:

  • how inventors and entrepreneurs come from every background, from scientists creating new products in labs to hobbyists having “eureka” moments at home; 
  • how intellectual property (IP) can be a potential gold mine, how to protect it, and how to use it to drive successful businesses; 
  • how to find loans, grants, and investors; and
  • how IP is vital to businesses in areas ranging from sports, to the arts, to space technology, and more.

The event will also feature interactive workshops and talks presented by USPTO leadership. Registration is required.

2023 Consumer Food Safety Education Conference: Presenters Wanted

The Consumer Food Safety Education Conference (CFSEC) is seeking abstract submissions through August 2, and presentations by K–college educators are encouraged. CFSEC is hosted by the Partnership for Food Safety Education and is the only conference in the United States dedicated to consumer food safety education. Sessions will focus on three tracks: Food Safety for the Next Generation: Innovative Tactics for Reaching People; Reducing Waste: The Intersection Between Sustainability and Food Safety; and The New Landscape of Food: Food Safety and Information Delivery in the Digital Age.

Poster sessions will focus on the theme “Food Safety Education Strategies and Successes!” Posters in this category will focus on successful and effective food safety education campaigns, lessons, and curricula, and on proven strategies for reaching consumers with information on hand hygiene and food safety handling and behaviors (posters only).

Opportunities From the Field: Middle Level Through College

PlantingScience Student-Centered Plant Investigations   

As part of this free online resource for teachers and schools, open education resources are shared for student-centered plant investigations that integrate scientific practices and big ideas in biology that support Next Generation Science Standards guidelines. The program provides volunteer scientists, resources, and activities to support innovation in teaching, learning, and mentoring. PlantingScience's primary target audience is the high school science class, but it also works well at the middle school level. PlantingScience also supports 4H, science clubs, and other after-school groups with an appropriate adult support structure. For college students, Planting Science promotes inter-collegial peer-to-peer interactions by pairing sister schools, college-high school pairs, or virtual science presentations. 

The Fall 2022 session runs from September 12 to November 23. Apply before August 12.

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