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From the Field: Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, September 6, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

From the Field: Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, September 6, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades PreK–12

Professional Learning Resource: Building on the Range of Student Thinking

ACESSE Resource F—Seeing Facets, Not Misconceptions: How to Build on the Range of Student Thinking in Instruction is the latest STEM Teaching Tool from the National Science Foundation–funded Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education project. The tool presents a fundamental way of understanding students’ knowledge refinement about science phenomena (i.e., science learning) and was developed to be broadly used with preK–12 science teachers (inservice and preservice), informal educators, and professional development providers. The tool can help users analyze cognitive formative assessment responses to learn more about the range of student thinking about science topics and concepts; guide instruction based on that diversity of student ideas; and learn to design and use classroom formative assessment tasks to support equitable three-dimensional instruction. 

Verizon Innovative Learning HQ Portal
Verizon Innovative Learning HQ is a repository of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) education tools for K–12 teachers nationwide. Curated by Columbia University, New York University, Arizona State University, and other academic institutions, the content features immersive AR and VR experiences for students paired with lesson plans. For example, in The Chemistry of Construction (grades 4–10), students assume the role of environmental engineers as they investigate the best building materials for Mars and ultimately develop a recommendation to be used in Martian construction moving forward. In Coding and Game Design (grades 3–12), students learn about algorithms and event-driven programming as they use the program Scratch and their critical thinking and creativity to complete and enhance a Hungry Mouse game they designed themselves. In addition to the lessons for students, accompanying professional learning courses provide support for teachers interested in effectively incorporating AR and VR technologies into their classroom instruction. (Teachers must create a free account to preview and access the materials.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

The End Is Nye

Science expert Bill Nye hosts a new original series about natural disasters, The End Is Nye, that streams on NBCUniversal’s Peacock. In each episode, Nye presents the worst-case scenarios that could happen, then explains how science can come to the rescue. To reinforce these concepts, the curriculum specialists at Young Minds Inspired have teamed with Peacock to create lessons and activities for students in grades 5–8 that emphasize the importance of using and understanding science as a tool to solve complex, real-world problems. The material introduces students to natural disaster scenarios like solar flares, volcano eruptions, and hurricanes, and encourages them to create action plans using science-based solutions.

Also included is a reproducible family take-home letter to encourage families to view and discuss The End Is Nye together and try their own science experiments at home. Download The End Is Nye and hear Bill Nye’s special message to teachers.

OTC Medicine Safety

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicine Safety, a multimedia educational program, informs students in grades 5–8 and their families about how to use, store, and dispose of OTC medicines safely and encourages responsible behavior when taking medicines. The program includes the following:

  • Teaching units with activity sheets and handouts that explore all facets of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Drug Facts label and review guidelines for safe medicine storage and disposal;
  • Activities to strengthen students’ skills as readers and writers of informational text; and
  • Digital teaching resources, including an interactive trivia game, a medicine safety video, a Kahoot! quiz, a storybook, family activities, and other resources to enrich students' experience with the content.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Middle Level and High School

New NIGMS Resource: Biomedical Beat Educator’s Corner

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), part of the National Institutes of Health, has launched the Educator’s Corner, a collection of carefully curated posts from its Biomedical Beat blog, designed to align with its existing STEM resources for middle and high school students. The blog is geared toward the general public and highlights basic biomedical concepts and NIGMS-funded research and scientists. This new collection offers educators additional tools and ideas to enhance lesson plans, building upon existing science education material already available free of charge.

Checkology Media and News Literacy Lessons and Resources 

Checkology®️—a free browser-based e-learning media literacy platform from the News Literacy Project (NLP), a national nonpartisan education nonprofit—covers science-related topics like climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines, medical misinformation, pseudoscience, and conspiratorial thinking. Checkology also offers three STEM-aligned lessons:

  • Evaluating Science-Based Claims, which explores how to recognize science-based claims and evaluate their credibility, as well as how to evaluate science journalism. 
  • Be Health Informed, which explores how to make sense of the health and wellness information vying for our attention. 
  • Making Sense of Data, which examines how we create, interact with, and are influenced by data in all aspects of our lives. 

These lessons support the development of science and engineering practices, such as analyzing and interpreting data, engaging in arguments for evidence, and using mathematics and computational thinking. (Coming soon: NGSS alignment for the lessons.) On September 28, NLP will hold a free webinar, STEM-Aligned Media and News Literacy Lessons for Your Classroom, to introduce the STEM lessons listed above. Register here.

In total, Checkology features nearly 20 expert-hosted lessons, plus dozens of supplementary activities focusing on examples from social media and the news, such as MisinfoQuest: Weather

Opportunities From the Field: Grades PreK–12

Foundations of Data Science for Students in Grades K–12: A Workshop

This workshop will explore the current landscape of work in the rapidly growing field of K–12 data science education; discuss what is currently known; and identify additional research to support student learning, curriculum and tools development, assessment, and the preparation of educators. Taking place September 13–14, the event will bring together researchers and practitioners engaged in K–12 data science education from various contexts, including formal and informal; designed and emergent; elementary and secondary; and whose efforts include stand-alone curricula as well as activities integrated within other content areas (for example, STEM disciplines and the humanities). Register by September 8 for in-person attendance; by September 13 for virtual attendance.

Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Program

Wild Ones' donor-funded program provides grants of $100 to $500 for native plant gardens and landscaping projects throughout the United States. The funds can be used for acquiring native plants and seeds for outdoor learning areas that engage preK–12 youth directly in planning, planting, and caring for native plant gardens. Applications for the 2023 planting season are due by October 15.  

Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Educator Webinars

Cornell Lab’s free interactive webinars provide background content, highlight new and relevant educational resources, and allow discussion to ensure successful implementation of the information and activities. Each webinar is about 50 minutes long, with 10 minutes devoted to questions. Educators can also receive letters of completion or Continuing Education Units for their participation. Registration is required. This year’s schedule will feature these topics.

  • September — Feeding Our Feathered Friends
  • October — Nurtured by Nature: Social Emotional Learning in Science
  • November — “eBird Explorers” Choose Your Own Adventure: K–5 and 6–12
  • December — “Students as Scientists: Nature-Based Inquiry”
  • January — Great Backyard Bird Count
  • February — Enhancing Your Schoolyard for Year-Round Nature Observations
  • March — Growing a Culturally Responsive Classroom
  • April — Inspiring Curiosity with Wildlife Cams
  • May — Creatively Build Observation Skills
  • June — Apps for Outdoor Exploration

Opportunities From the Field: Middle Level and High School

Let's Talk About STEM

As part of the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Let's Talk About STEM program, Berkeley Lab staff share their experiences in STEM with students and classrooms. Students and teachers can meet researchers, ask questions, and get an inside look at STEM professions. While the lab staff visit schools in the Bay Area in person, the program accepts virtual requests from schools nationwide. Each one-hour session will explore a specific subject or feature STEM career talks or a research facility virtual tour. (See the website for the schedule and session summaries.) 

This program is open to school groups and out-of-school organizations and is recommended for grades 6–12, with a minimum group size of 10 students. (Sessions begin on October 4.)

Opportunities From the Field: High School

National Renewable Energy Laboratory Virtual Tours
The Education Team at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) offers virtual and in-person programs for students. These activities, tours, and experiments introduce students to the latest renewable energy research and technology development, and provides an opportunity to interact with scientists, engineers, and technicians who work at the lab.

Advance registration is required. The first virtual tour happens on September 21.

Assessment Biology Careers Computer Science Curriculum Distance Learning Earth & Space Science General Science Inquiry Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans Life Science News Phenomena Preservice Science Education Professional Learning Science and Engineering Practices STEM Teaching Strategies Technology Three-Dimensional Learning Middle School Elementary High School Informal Education Pre-service Teachers Preschool

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