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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, February 7, 2023

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, February 7, 2023

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–12

Five Science Lessons That Foster Students’ Social-Emotional Growth

Hands-on science activities can provide valuable opportunities for students of all ages to develop social and emotional learning (SEL) skills organically. In this eSchoolNews article, educators Jon Oosterman and Dawn McCotter of the Van Andel Institute for Education in Michigan highlight five common science activities and the SEL skills each activity fosters. For example, in the Balloon Rockets investigation, student groups design a lightweight rocket to carry the greatest payload. The cooperative nature of the activity provides opportunities to build and reflect on relationship skills. Lights Out, another highlighted activity, is an engineering inquiry that happens over the course of a few days in class, allowing students to develop SEL skills in self-management.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

Next Generation Science Assessment Task Portal

At the Next Generation Science Assessment (NGSA) task portal, teachers can access sets of assessment tasks for grades 3–5 and 6–8. The tasks were produced by the Next Generation Science Assessment NGSA Collaborative, a group of education researchers and technology developers from University of Illinois at Chicago, Michigan State University, WestEd, and the Concord Consortium, with funding from the National Science Foundation and others. The elementary level assessment tasks address performance statements regarding balanced and unbalanced forces, cycle of life, analyzing geologic forces, structure and function, gravitational forces, plant growth, and water distribution. The middle level assessment tasks focus on performance statements related to chemical reactions, temperature and thermal energy, kinetic and potential energy, force and motion, gravity, electric and magnetic forces, waves, photosynthesis, biological transformations of matter and energy, ecosystem interactions, and transfer of matter and energy in ecosystems. Teachers can preview the assessment tasks online or register for a free teacher account to create classes, assign tasks, and generate reports of student progress. 

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

Spacecraft Structures Educator Guide
NASA engineers continually strive to develop new materials and methods of structural design. In this activity—which is targeted for middle and high school levels and presented in a downloadable educator guide—students develop their engineering design skills as they design a strong but lightweight thrust structure that can withstand the launch of a bottle rocket by a wooden lever. Students use simple materials such as craft sticks, cardboard, and glue to make their structure lighter while maintaining its strength. The activity includes standards information, background information for teachers, teacher preparation steps, modification and extension ideas, and student handouts.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School

Cultivating Young Leaders: A Workbook for Growing a Youth-Led Cooperative Garden Business

A workbook from the U.S. Botanic Garden details what it takes to build and maintain a cooperative, student-led garden business. Targeted for high school audiences, the 71-page publication—which is informed by the work of nonprofit City Blossom’s Youth Entrepreneurship Cooperative (YEC) program—presents practical information about recruiting participants; forming local partnerships; designing a safe and inviting meeting space; and launching a youth-led cooperative business. The workbook includes guiding questions to help educators adapt the program to meet their specific needs, as well as templates and tools to support educators throughout the implementation process.

Opportunity for Grades K–12

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 (session dates: July 5–7; July 12–14; and July 17–19) in which teachers will learn and practice strategies for using primary sources with K–12 students. In each session, LOC education specialists will model 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 designed for educators across many disciplines, including science, social studies/history, English language arts, art, and music. The workshops are also open to librarians and curriculum/professional development specialists. (Apply by February 10.)

Opportunity for Elementary and Middle Level

Empowering K–8 Youth Through Place-Based Education
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Gulf Research Program is offering up to $2 million to support place-based learning efforts to increase the scientific and environmental literacy and problem-solving skills of children and youth in the Gulf of Mexico region. Applicants must request at least $75,000 for projects, commensurate with the scope of work, that are up to 30 months in duration. Applications are due by March 29.

Opportunity for Middle Level

National Air and Space Museum’s Teacher Innovator Institute
Middle school teachers will spend two weeks (July 10–21) 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. Teachers will participate at no charge, and most expenses will be paid by the museum. Participants will set goals for their professional development, acquire the skills to incorporate museum learning into their practice, and meet colleagues from around the country. Apply by February 28.

Opportunity for High School

Eye on the Future Teen Video Contest
The National Eye Institute (NEI) encourages teens currently living in the United States to explore careers in science through the Eye on the Future (EOTF) campaign. As part of the campaign, NEI is hosting a national contest in which teens can submit a video about one of three categories: science in their world, science in the field or lab, and/or science in their future. Winners will receive cash prizes and a chance to visit the National Institutes of Health in Maryland for a day of science, networking, and fun! (Deadline April 16)

Assessment Careers Chemistry Earth & Space Science Engineering Environmental Science General Science Inquiry Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans Life Science News NGSS Performance Expectations Physical Science Physics Professional Learning Science and Engineering Practices STEM Teaching Strategies Middle School Elementary High School

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