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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, April 11, 2023

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, April 11, 2023

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–12

STEM Teaching Tool: Using Crosscutting Concepts to Enhance Science Instruction

The crosscutting concepts (CCC) are key to three-dimensional instruction, but often K–12 educators struggle to incorporate them into their lessons. Developed as part of the University of Washington Institute for Science and Math Education’s STEM Teaching Tool initiative, the brief “Why and how should I use CCC to enhance my science instruction?” helps educators make learning about the CCC more explicit, expansive, and inclusive. The document defines CCC, addresses key Things to Consider, provides guidance on Attending to Equity, and recommends Actions to Take. In addition, the brief’s Reflection Questions can jumpstart teachers’ and other educational leaders’ journeys to using CCC to enhance science instruction in the classroom. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

Meadowscaping Guides

Meadowscaping is the art of transforming lawns, playgrounds, empty lots, patios, and other unused paved spaces into havens for plants and animals. K–8 teachers and students can find inspiration and tips to transform the unused spaces in their schoolyards into magnificent meadow habitats with two new publications from KidsGardening and American Meadows: Meadowscaping With Kids and Meadowscaping Makes It Better. Meadowscaping With Kids, a four-page pdf document, offers background information and a rationale for creating a meadowscape environment with students. Meadowscaping Makes It Better, a 16-page publication, presents tips and information for creating meadows plantings in any location. The guide includes meadow-themed projects to inspire young gardeners, such as Plant Smiles in Your Neighborhood, Pollinator Scavenger Hunt, Observing Nature Through Journaling, Save Our Soil, and Seed Balls to Share.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Middle Level

Cool Contrails! Simulation

Contrails form when water vapor from an airplane’s exhaust condenses and freezes, forming clouds made of ice crystals. Knowing this, can you guess what the word contrail is short for? Condensation trail! Students can create their own contrails with the Cool Contrails! simulation on SciJinks, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s weather education website for the middle level. The simulation includes instructions for using the simulation as well as additional information about contrails and how they form. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School

One Health Lesson Series
Developed by educators from the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Life Sciences Learning Center, this series of lessons for grades 9–12 introduce students to the concept of One Health, the connections among human health, the health of animals, and the health of the environment. The lessons include teacher guides and student handouts for each topic addressed. Three lessons have been adapted as virtual field trip (VFT) experiences. The VFT lessons are designed to be presented asynchronously over a period of five or six 30-minute sessions. Lesson titles include An Outbreak of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (also available as a VFT); Disappearing Bees; Mysterious Case of Brain Illness (also available as a VFT); One Health Puzzle; Mosquito Invasion; Ticks, Biodiversity, and Climate (also available as a VFT); and Can Insects Save the Planet?

Opportunity for Elementary and Middle Level

The Masked Bandits of the Prairie: Spotlighting Black-Footed Ferrets for Endangered Species Day

2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. To commemorate this landmark legislation, join Noelle Guernsey of World Wildlife Fund’s Northern Great Plains team to learn about one of the most endangered mammals of North America: the black-footed ferret. She will share stories about the work being done to protect and restore this important grassland species, and viewers will learn why people should care about saving them—and all—endangered species. Created for grades 2–6, the event will be livestreamed on May 16; register in advance on the website.

Opportunity for Elementary Through College

NOAA Planet Stewards Grants

Through federal funding opportunities of up to $5,000, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Planet Stewards grants help formal and informal educators implement hands-on, action-based projects that conserve, restore, and/or protect human communities and/or natural resources from environmental challenges monitored by NOAA. With support from NOAA Planet Stewards, educators nationwide have engaged in a variety of stewardship projects in their communities. They have made a difference by reducing marine debris; engaging in inland, coastal, and underwater habitat conservation and restoration; reducing their carbon footprints; and increasing carbon sequestration. 

Applicants must submit a formal stewardship project proposal and supporting documents by June 4, 2023. If approved, educators may use the funding to carry out their project during the following academic year.

Opportunity for High School

April Knowles Academy Free Online Short Courses
Led by experienced teachers, Knowles Academy short courses are designed to improve science and math teaching and learning. The number of participants in these courses is limited so that participants can engage in discussions with the instructors and other participants as they explore new tools and strategies to use in their classrooms to increase student engagement. The Knowles Teacher Initiative will offer these courses on Zoom (register online):

  • Project Planning Pyramid: A Framework for Rigorous Math & Science Projects, April 11, 7:30–9:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET)
  • Exploring the Science Practice of Mathematical Thinking to Deepen Physics Understanding, April 25, 7:30–9:00 p.m. ET
  • Four-Level Empowered Engineering Framework, April 27, 7:30–9:00 p.m. ET

Opportunity for High School and College

NEACT’s April ChemChat 
ChemChats are monthly open roundtable discussions on Zoom facilitated by the New England Association of Chemistry Teachers (NEACT). The April topic will be electrochemistry. ChemChats are aimed at high school and college chemistry teachers, but are open to all STEM teachers. This virtual meeting will be held on April 20, 2023, at 4–5 pm Eastern Time. RSVP at to receive the meeting link.

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