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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, August 8, 2023

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, August 8, 2023

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–College

Water Cycle Diagrams 

Learn more about where water is on Earth and how it moves using one of the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) water cycle diagrams. K–college educators can access various versions of the water cycle diagram for students of all levels from elementary to adult. The Water Cycle (most appropriate for high school to adult learners and available in English and Spanish) depicts the global water cycle as well as how human water use affects where water is stored, how it moves, and how clean it is. The Natural Water Cycle (for middle level to adult learners and available in more than 60 languages) presents the water cycle under natural conditions without including human influences on the global water cycle. The Water Cycle for Kids (for elementary and middle levels and available in more than 35 languages) provides diagrams in interactive formats for beginning, intermediate, and advanced learners.

Day of AI K–12 Curriculum

Day of AI is a K–12 curriculum for teaching what artificial Intelligence (AI) is, what it can do, how to use it responsibly, and what career options are available. Developed jointly by faculty and educators from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology RAISE (Responsible AI for Social Empowerment and Education) initiative and i2Learning, each grade-level curriculum contains about four hours of 30- to 60-minute lessons and activities exploring AI and its impacts. Visit the Day of AI website to read an overview of the available curriculum for each grade level, then register your e-mail address (select “Register”) to receive a copy of the curriculum.

Primary students (grades K–2) Design a Robot for Social Good to learn about the principles of AI and what it can do, while upper-elementary students (grades 3–5) learn about algorithms and potential pitfalls of AI through activities such as Teachable Machines and AI Blueprint Bill of Rights. Middle level students (grades 6–8) investigate how AI can be used to create art in the lesson series Can Machines Be Creative?, while Game AI, another set of lessons, teaches this age group how rule-based programming works.

High school lessons are available for students with and without computer coding experience. Those new to computer science and coding can explore topics of likely interest through lesson collections such as AI in Social Media, which teaches students how social media works to “decide” what to show and recommend on digital information feeds, and Intro to Voice AI, which explains how voice artificial intelligence (i.e., Alexa) works. High school students with computer science and coding experience delve deeper into data science and AI through lesson series such as Data Science and Decision Making, which explores how computers help us make decisions using data, and Data Science and Me, which explores what data science is and how data can be used for social change. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

Interactive Graphic Organizer and Mix and Match 
Promote active science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning among K–8 English Language Learners (ELLs) and all students with two teaching strategies from the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC). The strategies—Interactive Graphic Organizer and Mix and Match—can be incorporated into any unit of study and support the development of academic language, critical-thinking skills, and meaningful science conversation. With the Interactive Graphic Organizer strategy, students and teachers jointly create the organizer to record thinking and develop understandings on a given topic. In the Mix and Match cooperative learning strategy, students develop understanding by matching pairs of topic-related cards. After the teacher distributes cards to the class, students look for a classmate with a card to complete a pair (e.g., Find a living thing/Duck, Find a nonliving thing that living things need to survive/Water, and so on). As students search for their card match, they discuss their reasoning for what makes the pair, deepening topic understandings along the way.  

Visit the SSEC website to watch a video of a teacher modeling these strategies as part of an exploration of a Riverbank Ecosystem with elementary students. Teachers can also download the mix-and-match cards used in this lesson.

Opportunities for Grades PreK–12

ED’s Education Innovation and Research Program Seeks Peer Reviewers
The U.S. Department of Education’s Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program is looking for peer reviewers for August and September. EIR grants support 1) innovative pre-kindergarten through grade 12 education projects that have the potential to increase student achievement, particularly among high-need students; and 2) the expansion (or scaling) of education practices that have evidence of effectiveness. For the application review this summer/fall, EIR is seeking peer reviewers who have direct and significant preK–12 education experience in one or more of the following content areas: STEM, SEL, educator recruitment, evaluation, rural education, diverse educator workforce, and other innovative education practices.

Reviewers are paid $500 per application. (Individuals involved in any fiscal year 2023 EIR application may not serve as a reviewer.) 

NASA Sparking Participation and Real-world eXperiences in STEM (SPARX)

Registration is open for formal and informal K–12 educators to join NASA SPARX, a new way to engage students in STEM learning. SPARX provides educators with hands-on, standards-aligned activities, training, and resources. Throughout the program, which will run from September 2023 to March 2024, students gain real-world experience with NASA engineering design challenges, and student exposure to STEM careers is strengthened through opportunities to connect live to NASA subject-matter experts. The next SPARX 101 information webinar will take place on September 14.

Opportunity for Middle Level and High School

Coleopterists Society Youth Incentive Award Program
The Coleopterists Society, an international organization of professionals and hobbyists interested in the study of beetles, has a program to recognize young people in grades 7–12 studying beetles. The society provides up to $1,200 each year for the Youth Incentive Award Program. The Junior (grades 7–9) award is a monetary grant of $400, and the Senior (grades 10–12) award is $800. In addition, award recipients will each receive a one-year subscription to the society’s journal, The Coleopterists Bulletin. Applications are due by November 1.

The award was created to provide encouragement and assistance to young beetle enthusiasts; promote the study of beetles as a rewarding lifelong avocation or career; provide opportunities for young people to develop important life skills, such as leadership, cooperation, communication, planning and conducting a scientific study, grant writing and managing funds; and provide some financial support to enrich activities or projects.

A Youth Incentive Award Committee from the Coleopterists Society will evaluate the applications and will select up to two winners annually. The selection committee invites proposals for topics such as field collecting trips to conduct beetle species inventories or diversity studies; attending workshops or visiting entomology or natural history museums for special training and projects on beetles; studying aspects of beetle biology; and more. The proposed activities or projects will be evaluated on their degree of creativity, educational benefit to the applicant, scientific merit, feasibility, and budgetary planning. Each applicant is strongly encouraged to find an adult advisor (teacher, youth group leader, parent, etc.) to provide guidance in proposal development, but the proposal must be written by the applicant. The Coleopterists Society can also assist in establishing contacts between youth and professional coleopterists.    

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