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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, January 10, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, January 10, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Preschool and Elementary

Science and Engineering in Preschool Through Elementary Grades

This comprehensive report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine offers evidence-based guidance on effective approaches to preschool through elementary science and engineering instruction. Most appropriate for preschool and elementary educators as well as education researchers and administrators, the 285-page report evaluates the state of the evidence on learning experiences before children enter school; promising instructional approaches and what is needed for implementation to include teacher professional development, curriculum, and instructional materials; and the policies and practices at all levels that constrain or facilitate efforts to enhance preschool through elementary science and engineering. The report includes a summary section with specific recommendations for teachers in key categories, such as Prioritizing Science and Engineering in Preschool Through Elementary Grades; Supporting Children’s Learning, Engagement, and Proficiency in Science and Engineering; Curriculum and Content Integration; Supporting Educators; and District and School Leadership. Read the report at no charge by downloading it in pdf format, or by reading it online. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades 3–12

Sprocket PBL Portal
The nonprofit Lucas Education Research has created Sprocket, an online portal where teachers can access full-year, project-based learning (PBL) courses that provide project-based curriculum for grades 3–8, and for high school students in enrolled in AP Physics and AP Environmental Science courses. One key feature of all courses is the active online community in which teachers share ideas to adapt the courses to their local context, allowing the course materials to meet the needs of various locations and student levels. For full access to the courses, teachers can set up a free account.

The elementary courses, for students in grades 3–5, focus on using science ideas and scientific and engineering practices, including asking questions, creating models, and collaborating with classmates, to solve problems they encounter in their daily lives. Middle level courses emphasize using science and engineering practices to answer questions such as these: How can we use science and engineering practices to explore energy, climate, body systems, and the growth and reproduction of organisms? (grade 6); How can we use science and engineering practices to explore chemical reactions, geoscience processes, ecosystems, and Earth’s natural resources? (grade 7); and How can we use science and engineering practices to explore motion, waves, evolution, and natural selection? (grade 8). 

In the AP Environmental Science curriculum, high school students engage in investigations and simulations that require them to think like scientists, policymakers, farmers, and other professionals in real-world settings. The AP Physics course engages students in many student-directed activities, requiring students to become leaders of their own learning. 

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

Examining Built Environments and Disability Considerations
In this activity described in the blog Teaching With the Library of Congress (LOC), middle and high school students analyze LOC historical images to learn about the built environment—the human-made spaces where we live, work, play, and travel—and how it can be modified to support persons with disabilities and others. First, students examine a photograph of an intersection in St. Paul, Minnesota, from around 1905, recording their observations on the LOC Primary Source Analysis Tool. Next, students examine a photograph of an intersection in Washington, D.C., from 2010, and compare the two images regarding the built environment visible in the photographs. Teachers can share images of other examples of built environments, both historical and modern, so students can consider how built environments can help expand access to public parks and other spaces. 

Next, students can observe, reflect on, and question the built environments in their daily surroundings. What elements make a space more usable for a wider range of abilities? What obstacles could limit access to persons with disabilities? Teachers can expand the activity into a lesson on disability activism and the laws that have improved accessibility in the built environment since the mid-1900s.

Opportunity for Grades K–12

ORISE Back to the Basics Lesson Plan Competition

National Cut Your Energy Costs Day is celebrated on January 10, and Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) wants to see your best lesson plan that requires little to no technology and includes saving energy in your classroom. Teachers of any grade level or subject are invited to submit an original STEM lesson plan that includes the topic of saving energy. Three winners will receive mini-grants: First place, $1,500 mini-grant; Second place, $1,000 mini-grant; Third place, $500 mini-grant. (Deadline January 31)

Opportunity for Elementary and Middle School

Edward C. Roy Jr. Award for Excellence in K–8 Earth Science Teaching
The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) invites science educators to enter its upcoming competition for the 2023 Roy Award. Presented annually, this award recognizes leadership and innovation in Earth science education and honors one teacher of students in grades K–8  in the United States or Key stages 1–3 in the United Kingdom. The awardee will receive a $2,500 monetary prize and a travel grant of up to $1,500 to attend the NSTA National Conference in Atlanta in March 2023. 

Applications must be submitted by January 20. For more information on requirements, application procedures, and deadlines, visit the website or view a brief webcast. Questions may be directed to

Opportunity for High School

Girls Who Code’s Free Summer Programs
High school students can become coders this summer in Girls Who Code’s two free virtual programs. Students will learn computer science skills, meet inspiring professionals across diverse industries, and access lifelong college and career support. The programs are open to high school girls and non-binary students; priority will be given to historically underrepresented students in technology, including students who are Black and Latinx or are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

  • In a two-week Summer Immersion Program for students in grades 9–11, participants will join live, virtual classrooms led by industry-leading companies like MetLife, Bank of America, and Accenture. They’ll participate in Girls Who Code’s new game design course to learn the fundamentals of game design, UX, the iterative design process, and more. They’ll then build a suite of short games using the p5.js library for JavaScript developed specifically for creative coding. Eligible students can apply for laptop or hotspot access and grants of up to $300 for financial support.
  • In a six-week Self-Paced Program for students in grades 9–12, participants will learn to code through independent study and real-world projects. They’ll earn beginner-level certificates of completion in HTML, CSS, or JavaScript for web development or intermediate-level certificates of completion in Python for Cybersecurity or Data Science.

For more information, visit the website, or attend a webinar. Apply at by February 15 for priority consideration or by March 24 (general application deadline).

Administration Careers Computer Science Curriculum Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Engineering Environmental Science Equity Evolution General Science Inclusion Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Learning Progression Life Science News Physical Science Physics Science and Engineering Practices STEM Teaching Strategies Middle School Elementary High School Preschool

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