Skip to main content

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, August 22, 2023

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, August 22, 2023

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–12

Updated TeachEngineering Website
Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), TeachEngineering now has more than 1,800 K–12 STEM lessons and activities in its digital library. Teachers can use the site’s Popular Topics page to access free activities on topics such as magnetism, electricity, mixtures and solutions, and natural disasters. The Engineering Design Process (EDP) page describes the various EDP steps and provides hands-on activities and classroom posters. TeachEngineering also has a NGSS Network Explorer that allows users to graphically explore the Next Generation Science Standards. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Early Childhood Through Elementary

Black Innovators in STEM Booklist and ReadAlouds
Compiled by educators from University of North Carolina’s STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education (STEMIE) Center, this booklist with linked read-alouds celebrates Black innovators in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The books are grouped by intended audience: babies and toddlers, 0–2 years; older toddlers, ages 3 and older; preschool, ages 4 and older; and kindergarten, ages 5 and older. Each annotation indicates Black representation (author, STEM innovator, character); the STEM domain it addresses; and whether the book includes accurate and age-appropriate STEM concepts. 

In addition, each cover is linked to a video read-aloud of the story. Selected titles include The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (science, Black character, 0–2 years); Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building by Christy Hale (engineering, Black character, ages 3 and older); Freight Train by Donald Crews (technology and math, Black author, ages 4 and older); and Seeds of Change: Wangari’s Gift to the World by Jen Cullerton Johnson (science and math, Black innovator, ages 5 and older).

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

SunWise Toolkit

Targeted for K–8 audiences, and available in English and Spanish versions, National Environmental Education Foundation’s SunWise Toolkit presents more than 50 cross-curricular, standards-based activities to teach sun safety, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and stratospheric ozone. The activities address K–2, 3–5, and 6–8 grade levels and include hands-on components that promote active learning. 

Watch Your Shadow (grades K–2) shows students how shadows change from morning to afternoon and helps students understand how the length of their shadows can tell them what times of day are best to seek protection from the Sun’s harmful UV rays. Sun Science (grades 3–5) engages students in experiments that provide visual evidence of the damaging effects from the Sun on various objects, as well as evidence of how protecting objects—and their own skin—can help prevent sun damage. Detecting UV Light Using Tonic Water (grades 6–8) teaches students about fluorescence and reinforces the concept that UV light is always present in sunlight, even if it’s invisible to the naked eye. Download the 171-page toolkit (e-mail registration required) or browse a selection of sample activities to get started.

Opportunities for Middle Level and High School

The New York Academy of Sciences' Junior Academy

Virtual student opportunities with the Junior Academy are now available. The Junior Academy is part of the New York Academy of Sciences' education initiative that introduces exceptional students to an online community in which they gain access to best-in-class STEM resources and work together to solve real-world problems. STEM professionals mentor student teams during 8- to 10-week virtual innovation challenges, with multiple challenges a year for participants to choose from.

Applications for the 2023–2024 school year—both the Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 Innovation Challenge Semesters—are open until August 27. Review of applications and notification of students’ status in the Junior Academy will happen in late August/early September 2023. To be eligible, students must

  • Be ages 13–17 at the time of the program;
  • Have a keen interest in STEM;
  • Be interested in meeting students from around the world;
  • Be able to participate in English;
  • Be team players looking to solve real-world challenges on an international team of peers; and
  • Participate in a team in either the Fall 2023 semester or the Spring 2024 semester

NASA TechRise Student Challenge 
NASA is seeking student teams in grades 6–12 to design experiments that, if chosen, will be tested on a high-altitude balloon or rocket-powered lander next summer. The TechRise Student Challenge, in its third year, provides an opportunity for students nationwide to get hands-on insight into the payload design and flight test process, with the goal of inspiring a deeper understanding of space exploration, Earth observation, coding, electronics, and the value of test data. The high-altitude balloon will provide approximately four hours of flight time at 70,000 feet with exposure to Earth’s atmosphere, high-altitude radiation, and perspective views of Earth, while the rocket-powered lander will fly for approximately two minutes at an altitude of approximately 80 feet over a test field designed to look like the Moon’s surface.

Working in teams of four or more under the guidance of an educator, students will design science and technology experiments for suborbital flight. A variety of resources are available to support teams through the submission process, including two upcoming virtual educator workshops and a virtual field trip.

  • August 31: Virtual Educator Workshop #1 RSVP HERE 
  • September 14: Virtual Educator Workshop #2 RSVP HERE 
  • September 29: Virtual student field trip RSVP HERE 

Sixty winning teams will be selected to turn their proposed experiment ideas into reality. Winners will receive $1,500 to build their experiments, a 3-D printed flight box in which to build it, and an assigned spot for their payload on a NASA-sponsored flight test. (Deadline October 20)

Opportunity for Middle Level Through College

Collaborate With Polar Researchers on Educational Resources

The NSF-funded Polar STEAM project is recruiting educators for 2024–2025 collaborations with polar researchers to create educational resources about polar regions and science. Applications are open for Arctic and Antarctic field deployments as well as virtual collaborations in both regions. This opportunity is open to middle and high school educators, community college and minority serving institution faculty, and informal educators. (Deadline September 24) Educators will receive the following additional support:

  • a $500 stipend after successfully completing the virtual program; 
  • a $1,000 stipend after successfully completing the field-based program; 
  • substitute teacher costs during the educator’s absence from the classroom (if applicable); and
  • funding for domestic program-related travel, such as visiting the collaborating researcher’s lab or attending relevant conferences to share their work. 

Learn more by visiting the Polar STEAM website and watching the recording of the project’s informational webinar. If you have any questions, e-mail  

Careers Chemistry Curriculum Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Engineering English Language Learners Environmental Science Equity General Science Inclusion Instructional Materials Lesson Plans Life Science Multilingual Learners News NGSS Physical Science Physics Professional Learning STEM Teaching Strategies Kindergarten Pre-K Preschool Early Childhood Elementary Middle School High School Postsecondary Informal Education

Asset 2