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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers From the Field, June 14, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers From the Field, June 14, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–12

Water Footprint Calculator 

This website seeks to raise awareness about how people in the United States use water throughout the day. Featuring lesson plans, fact sheets, news articles, videos, and other water-related resources for K–12 audiences, the site illustrates how everyday actions—from washing dishes to watering the lawn to buying groceries—impact water use. The site contains lesson plans for middle and high school levels, as well as reference material appropriate for teachers and families about water use and the connections among water, food, energy, and consumer products. The lesson plans explore how middle and high school students’ food choices and shopping habits impact daily water consumption in surprising ways. 

For the elementary level, a Kids Corner section features an animated video for grades K–4 highlighting ways for families to conserve water and save money when their reservoir runs low. Additional materials to accompany the video (available in English and Spanish) include coloring pages, comic books, and posters with water conservation tips and messages. 

NIH K–12 STEM Education Materials

These K–12 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education materials are provided by the institutes and centers within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NIH grantees, including Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) recipients. Educators can find links and annotated descriptions of vetted curriculum and other educational resources on topics such as Being a Scientist, The Brain and Mental Health, Diseases and Conditions, Drug Use and Addiction, The Environment and Human Health, Genetics, Healthy Living, The Human Body, Molecules and Cells, and Scientific Tools and Methods. Highlights for elementary learners include Space Chef, an app from the University of California Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science that teaches students how to create healthy nutritious meals to fuel their bodies, and BiblioTech CityHacks: In Search of Sleep, an interactive reading experience for grades 4–6 that introduces students to the connections among sleep, circadian rhythms, and health. 

Middle and high school students can learn about careers in biomedical science and research in the curriculum unit Pathways: Basic Science Careers. Another resource for high school learners is the collection of lesson plans on Climate Change and Human Health produced by the National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences. These lessons challenge students to consider the complex interactions between environmental health and human health while also encouraging students to take action to improve their communities and design interventions to enhance climate resilience.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary

States of Matter Model Project

Looking for a project to introduce or review the states of matter and scientific methods with second graders? Why not let students make models of a solid, liquid, and a gas and describe their models using scientific language? The activity lesson plan presents each step of the process in easy-to-understand language for primary learners. The article also suggests dialogue for teachers to say throughout the lesson.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

DIY Human Body App

Most appropriate for elementary and middle levels, Lawrence Hall of Science’s DIY Human Body app encourages families and educators to learn about the human body at home, at school, or anywhere. The app presents 13 hands-on activities, videos, and more. Each activity includes material lists, step-by-step instructions, and detailed explanations. Through the activities—which use readily available materials found commonly at home—students investigate questions such as these: How does eating “bad” food damage your circulatory system? What makes up human blood and how is it analyzed? What makes you pass gas? What makes our bones stiff but flexible at the same time? What’s the best way to wash hands? How is air we breathe in different from air we breathe out?

The app is available for download on various iOS devices; however, users of devices with other operating systems can access complete PDFs of the app’s activities at the Lawrence Hall of Science website. 

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

Innovation Generation Virtual Field Trip

Targeted for grades 6–10, this Discovery Education and Stanley Black and Decker Virtual Field Trip (VFT) takes viewers along as two student teams work with Stanley Black and Decker employees in the company’s Makerspace in a Challenge, Concept, and Create competition. Student teams and employees brainstorm, design, and build a crash test car from a limited set of materials. The cars must be designed to go as fast as possible while safely carrying a hard-boiled egg as a passenger. As the teams build their cars using the engineering design process, viewers are introduced to various tools and technologies available in the Makerspace (e.g., woodworking, metalworking, 3D printing, welding, and Computer Numerically Controlled machines such as a laser engraver, plasma cutter, and vinyl cutter) and learn how the employees use the Makerspace in their jobs. 

The competition allows students to see firsthand how math, science, technology, creativity, and teamwork can lead to technological advancements in everyday lives. At the end of the VFT, the teams test their model cars in a race on-site in the Makerspace. The approximately 30-minute VFT can be viewed in a single setting or watched in shorter, chapter segments. An accompanying Educator Guide presents classroom activities for students to complete before and after viewing the VFT.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School

Using Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning (CER) With Primary Source Analysis

An activity described in the blog Teaching With the Library Congress (LOC) shows high school teachers and students how to use the LOC’s primary source analysis tool to examine an historical item and combine the process with the claim, evidence, and reasoning (CER) writing framework, a common framework used in many STEM learning environments to develop students’ analytical thinking and argumentative writing skills. Typically, after a lab or other STEM learning experience, students use the CER framework to make a claim that answers a question, support their claim with evidence from data, and incorporate scientific reasoning that describes why the evidence supports the claim. In this activity, however, teachers introduce the CER framework as students use the LOC’s primary source analysis tool to examine a theatrical poster from 1895, “Explosion in rock formation with people running, man diving into water, and woman in water, H.A. Thomas and Wylie,” and record their observations on adhesive notes. The analysis tool helps students think more deeply about the image and sort ideas into categories: Observe, Reflect, and Question. 

As students sort ideas and discuss any questions that arise—such as What caused the explosion? and Why is the man diving in the water?—teachers introduce the CER writing framework and help students make a claim about the image. Students can use their notes from the primary source analysis tool’s Observe category as evidence to support their claim about the photograph. For more suggestions on combining CER framework with the LOC’s primary analysis tool, read the blog post.

Opportunities From the Field: Grades PreK–College

Little Seeds Pollinator Pals Grant

This grant from Little Seeds and KidsGardening will award 20 programs $500 each to develop new or expand existing pollinator gardens. Any school district, nonprofit organization, university, government entity, or tax-exempt organization (like religious organizations and Tribal governments), in the United States and U.S. Territories that serve at least 15 youth may apply. Programs must be planning a new or expanding an existing youth garden designed to teach about the importance of pollinators. Apply by July 15.

National Geographic Society’s Free Online Courses 

Enhance your skills and knowledge this summer by taking a free professional learning course for educators from the National Geographic Society. The next session of cohort-based courses begins on June 22, with enrollment closing on June 26. Covering topics like the Geo-Inquiry Process, climate change, and plastic pollution, these paced courses provide valuable resources, connections, and concrete implementation ideas.

Sustainable Earth Educator Awards

Sustainable Earth, a collaboration between Arizona State University and Wells Fargo, has launched the Sustainable Earth Educator Awards (SEEAs) to celebrate the impact U.S. educators and administrators are making in sustainable education. The program will award $20,000 in prize money, with individual award amounts up to $500. The SEEAs are open to any educator or administrator in the United States who is integrating sustainability concepts in their classroom or school at large. This includes, but is not limited to, lesson plans, programs, and projects that are related, but not limited to, science, mathematics, social studies, arts, English language arts, and physical education. And plans and projects may be in development, currently in practice, or already concluded. 

U.S.-based educators and administrators who are integrating sustainability concepts in their school or classroom can submit a nomination to one of two categories: sustainable lesson plans or sustainable project guides. Nominations are open through July 20.

Teaching Climate Change: Summer Workshop

Taking place on August 18–19, the workshop will address how teaching climate change satisfies NGSS/New York State Science Learning Standards expectations in a range of ways, and is not limited to the Earth and space sciences. The agenda will draw from the Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change. Resources include an extensive collection of short videos with associated activities, the Changing Climate: Our Future, Our Choice museum exhibit and its virtual counterpart, resources related to Cornell University’s Deep Geothermal Heat Research project that is a central part of the university’s decarbonization efforts, and more. Apply by August 10.

Opportunities From the Field: Elementary

Fermilab Teacher Workshops

Fermilab’s Education and Public Engagement Office is offering two online workshops for elementary school teachers. Both workshops support the NGSS and connect teachers to the science of Fermilab. Teachers in Illinois receive professional development hours, and graduate credit is offered through the University of St. Francis.  

  • Science and Engineering in the K–2 Classroom, July 18–19. Learn how to integrate science and engineering into your K–2 classroom by incorporating scientific methods and the engineering design process through your literacy instruction. Teach your students how to ask good questions and to think like a scientist and engineer. Register directly here
  • Phriendly Physics for Grades 3–5, July 20–22. Topics covered are Force and Motion, Light and Color, Structure and Properties of Matter, and Electricity and Magnetism. Register directly here

Opportunities From the Field: High School

2023 Knowles Teaching Fellowship Webinar 

The Knowles Teaching Fellows Program is a five-year program that supports early-career, high school mathematics and science teachers in their efforts to become great teachers who lead from the classroom. Knowles Teaching Fellows receive resources that help transform new teachers into teachers who make a difference in their students’ lives in their classroom, their school, and beyond. Preservice math, chemistry, physics, or biology teachers are invited to register for this webinar about the program, taking place on June 15 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

Biology Careers Climate Change Curriculum Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Engineering English Language Learners Environmental Science General Science Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans Life Science News Physical Science Physics Preservice Science Education Professional Learning Science and Engineering Practices STEM Teacher Preparation Teaching Strategies Technology Middle School Elementary High School Postsecondary Pre-service Teachers Preschool

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