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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, December 13, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, December 13, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–12

Artemis Camp Experience
Artemis Camp Experience, a set of hands-on activities, introduces NASA’s Artemis Program, which will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon. Most appropriate for use in K–12 informal education settings such as after-school programs, camps, and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) family and outreach events, the lesson modules provide an overview of essential components of the mission. 

In Design a Crew Module, participants build an Orion crew module to keep “astronauts” seated and secure through a series of drop tests, while Design Stabilizing Fins challenges participants to create fins to keep a rocket stable, an important issue for rocket engineers. In Build a Space Module Structure, participants work in teams to create a structure from spaghetti that will protect the inside cylinder and support increasing amounts of mass, emphasizing the idea that an ideal space module structure is both lightweight and strong. The activity Build a Heat Shield showcases the importance of a rocket’s heat shield as participants use common items to make heat shields able to keep payload (a candy bar) from melting under the heat of a hair dryer. Download a lesson guide from the website and watch a short introductory video explaining each activity.

Virtual Field Trip: The Future Is Now 

Discovery Education and Edge at Hudson Yards are taking students on a virtual adventure into New York City’s newest neighborhood to explore new horizons in community building. Targeted for grades 4–12, the approximately 20-minute virtual field trip gives students a behind-the-scenes look at the architecture and engineering innovations at Edge, the highest outdoor skydeck in the Western Hemisphere. An accompanying Educator’s Guide has three activities for students to explore structures and forces often taken for granted and the materials that make them happen. 

In Deconstructing Steel, students conduct a virtual scavenger hunt of one small portion of New York City to investigate the many ways steel is used in construction. Elevation, the second activity, challenges students to build a model elevator to learn forces at work behind this modern marvel. My Point of View, the final activity, asks students to explore the way glass was used in the construction of Edge, then apply their understandings to design a sustainable development with glass as a key component. Standards information and relevant student handouts are included for each activity.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

Digital Field Book Activity

This activity from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History helps K–8 students practice the skill of recording observations. The activity includes a digital field book template to use or copy, as well as additional information about the evolution of the use of field books in science and tips for maximizing students’ observation skills in the field. For example, teachers can jump start students’ thinking with the activity’s provided Guiding Questions to Encourage Observations and Discussion.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School and College

Physics Forums Website

Looking to join high-quality discussions on STEM topics? At Greg Bernhardt’s Physics Forums website, students, scientists, educators, and hobbyists can find and share science articles, homework help, and academic and career guidance. Most appropriate for high school and college audiences, the site offers articles, tutorials, guides, quizzes, and discussion forums. While the focus is mainly on physics, the site also covers other subjects including math, biochemistry, and more. Of particular interest is the site’s collection of scientist interviews, which offer real-world insight into various physics-related careers.

Opportunities for Grades K–12

2023 Teaching With Primary Sources Summer Workshops
The Library of Congress (LOC) in Washington, D.C., will hold a series of free three-day professional development workshops in which teachers will learn and practice strategies for using primary sources with K–12 students. In each session, LOC education specialists will model a variety of hands-on, inquiry-based teaching strategies for using primary sources to engage students, build critical-thinking skills, construct knowledge, and launch original research. The workshops are aimed at educators across many disciplines, including science, social studies/history, English Language Arts, art, and music. Librarians and curriculum/professional development specialists also may apply. Sessions will take place on three dates: July 5–7, July 12–14, and July 17–19. (Deadline February 10, 2023)

President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA)

Do your students have an existing environmental stewardship project or an idea for a project? If so, encourage them to apply for a PEYA and receive national recognition. Applicants from all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories, are eligible. PEYA applicants compete in two award categories—Grades K–5 and Grades 6–12—each with their own evaluation criteria. (Deadline January 11, 2023)

Opportunities for Middle Level

National STEM Scholar Program
Taking place May 28–June 3, 2023, at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the program seeks to inspire the creativity and passion of middle school science teachers. Ten teachers will be chosen to attend. Scholars will share midpoint progress with their colleagues while attending the NSTA national conference in April 2024. Mentoring will be provided throughout the year by Western Kentucky University faculty. All expenses, including travel costs, materials, mentoring, and supplies will be covered by a grant from the National Stem Cell Foundation.

Applicants must be teachers from the United States who teach science classes a majority of the day in grades 6, 7, and/or 8 and have at least two years of previous experience teaching science. (Deadline February 1, 2023)

National Air and Space Museum’s Teacher Innovator Institute
Middle school teachers, spend two weeks in Washington, D.C., working with education and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) experts to explore the connections between informal STEAM education and authentic learning as part of the museum’s Teacher Innovator Institute (TII). Set goals for your own professional development, acquire the skills to incorporate museum learning into your practice, and meet colleagues from around the country. Teachers will participate at no charge, and most expenses will be paid by the museum. (Deadline February 15, 2023)

TII will welcome up to 30 teachers from across the United States during July 10–21, 2023. Early career educators, educators of color, LGBTQ+ educators, educators with disabilities, and educators working in the public sector, particularly Title I schools, are strongly encouraged to apply. Teachers will remain with the program for two summers, returning to Washington, D.C., in July 2024 to reconnect, develop their practice, and mentor the newest class of Teacher Innovators.

Join educators from the museum and current TII teachers for an information session on January 18, 2023, to get tips for completing your application and learn more about the program.

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