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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, December 6, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, December 6, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–College

Teacher Resources for Using Data in the Classroom

Education Development Center’s (EDC) Oceans of Data Institute (ODI) has created a web page with data activities, data sets, lessons, and resources for K–16 classrooms, sorted by grade level. The page, Resources for Educators Using Data in the Classroom, is updated yearly. Resource highlights include National Science Foundation–funded projects such as TERC Inquiry Project (grades 3–5), which has investigations in which students work with data to explore volume, scale, and other topics, and Real World, Real Science curriculum modules (grades 5–6), in which students use authentic NASA and NOAA data to study the effects of the Earth’s changing climate on the animals and plants of Maine's diverse habitats. 

The Common Online Data Analysis Program (grades 6–12) is an online, open-source data analysis platform featuring activities to engage students in visualizing and interpreting data and making evidence-based claims from the data. EDC Earth Science (grades 9–12), a yearlong Earth science course, builds students’ critical data-using skills through data-intensive investigations set in real-world contexts. Ocean Tracks learning modules (grades 9–16) offer investigations mirroring those currently being conducted by researchers studying the effects of climate and human activities on top predators in ocean ecosystems. The website also contains a section of data resources designated specifically for Teachers’ Reference, providing resources and curricular strategies to facilitate teaching students how to work with large, complex data sets. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–8

Recycle City Teacher Guide

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Recycle City interactive website and teaching guide features games, activities, and resources to teach K–8 students about reducing waste and using less energy. The guide offers tips and suggestions for making the best use of the animation-based site. For example, one guide activity, the Zero Waste Scavenger Hunt, challenges student teams to explore the site for items such as a store with reusable containers and bags and bulk food, the school compost bin, a place where they use 100% recycled paper, an electric bus, and more. As students navigate the site, they learn about recycling along the way. 

Similarly, the site’s open-ended game Dumptown teaches students what it is like to be a city manager faced with creating programs that encourage citizens to recycle and reduce waste and tracking the results. The guide offers goals and challenges for students playing the game, such as these: How much waste can be removed from the waste stream using programs with no cost to the city? What is the optimum combination of programs for the city?

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

Industrial Hygiene Heroes

Use this video game and comic book series from the American Industrial Hygiene Association to introduce middle and high school students to the field of Industrial Hygiene (IH) and the many career opportunities within it. Industrial hygienists are scientists and engineers committed to protecting the health and safety of people in the workplace and the community. In the game, which takes about 10 minutes to play, students follow an IH Hero during an emergency call to a refinery. The game teaches students about the five core tenets of industrial hygiene and occupational health and safety science—Anticipate, Recognize, Evaluate, Control, and Confirm—and gives students opportunities to earn gear and become IH Heroes themselves along the way.

IH Heroes: Tales From the IH Experience, the accompanying comic book series, presents an inside look at careers in IH in each issue. For example, the first issue, The Human Factor, shows students what it’s like to be an epidemiologist. In the story, students follow epidemiologist Rebecca as she visits a remote island recently devastated by a tsunami to investigate a mysterious skin plague slowly spreading in a refugee camp. In another issue, On the Fly, students discover how an IH professional can use technology to save a pristine mountain wilderness area from a potentially dangerous hazardous chemical threat. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Middle Level Through College

NPS Island of the Blue Dolphins Resources
Island of the Blue Dolphins is a historical novel based on the life of a Native American woman who spent 18 years in isolation on San Nicolas Island, one of eight Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. Though the island is now closed to the public, teachers and students can experience similar island environments, plants, animals, and history by visiting Channel Islands National Park, which protects five of the eight Channel Islands. This National Park Service (NPS) website features teacher resources (including lesson plans) and research, a tour of the Channel Islands, interactive activities to accompany the novel, and highlights of the latest archeological and historical finds connected to the story. 

Opportunities for Grades PreK–College

CSX Community Service Grants   
Transportation supplier CSX provides assistance and support to nonprofit organizations—including preK–12 schools, charter schools, community/junior colleges, or college/universities—that make a strong, quantifiable impact on their greater communities. Typical grants range between $1,000 and $5,000. (Deadline December 15)

U.S. Department of Education’s School Ambassador Fellowship
Educators can apply for the 2023–2024 cohort of School Ambassadors by December 18. The Department of Education (ED) designed the program to enable outstanding teachers, administrators, and other school leaders, such as school counselors and librarians, to bring their school and classroom expertise to ED and to expand their knowledge of the national dialogue about education. The fellowship is a professional learning community designed to improve educational outcomes for students by leveraging the expertise of school-based practitioners in the creation, evaluation, and dissemination of information around national education initiatives.

Katie's Krops Youth Growers Grants
Youth selected as Katie’s Krops Growers get what they need to grow a garden in their community and relieve hunger in their cities and towns. A child, or a group of children, can apply if they are ages 7–16 and live in the United States. Applications for all types of vegetable gardens—such as a container garden near a city, or a vegetable garden located in a neighborhood or at school—will be considered. The growers decide where the garden will be grown and where they will donate their harvest based on their community’s needs. 

Growers receive supplies, funding, and support from Katie’s Krops and become part of a network of youth nationwide dedicated to improving their communities’ health and well-being. These students are also eligible for scholarships for their higher education and for future funding of their gardens. (Deadline December 30)   
Seed Library Virtual Summit
Seed Libraries Network of Berkeley, California, will hold a free virtual event, themed “Seeding the Future,” on February 11, 2023, at 8 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Sessions of interest to science teachers include Seed Libraries in School, How to Save Seeds, Seed Gardens, and three sessions on seeds and climate adaptation. This event will not only provide an opportunity to learn, but also a chance to connect with other seed savers and seed librarians to strengthen and deepen networks. 

In the School Seed Libraries session, learn how you can inspire youth through seed saving and how to create a seed library in your school. Take away some standards-based activities for your classroom. This session is co-presented by middle school science teacher Rebecca Newburn, co-founder of Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library and organizer of the Seed Library Network, and Lexi Fickenscher, who runs the seed library at Montessori School of Denver. For more information, e-mail

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