By Debra Shapiro
National Informal STEM Education (NISE) Network
K–12 educators and audiences of all ages can capitalize on STEM learning in varied settings with resources from the NISE Network. The network is a community of informal educators and scientists dedicated to strengthening STEM learning in communities nationwide through collaborative projects and the development of innovative educational resources. The NISE Network website features activities, videos, games and interactives, and citizen science opportunities.
Browse the Short Activities section to find experiences and ideas to try on family science nights and similar events, such as Exploring Fabrication—Self Assembly, in which participants play full body, interactive games to model the process of self assembly in nature and nanotechnology. The Educational Videos section offers short clips ranging from explaining the science behind nanotechnology to overviews of successful Moon landing missions and lunar landing sites. Educators can also search the site resources by theme, which includes categories such as Food Activities, Climate Change, Water, Energy, and Sustainability.
K–5 Container Gardening
With their ease of accessibility, low cost, opportunities for space maximization, and numerous potential plants to grow, container gardens are a great way for teachers to do school gardening with elementary students. The Elementary Educators’ Guide to Container Gardening—a 21-page publication produced collaboratively by KidsGardening.org and Crescent Garden, a planter and gardening supply company—presents the basics of container gardening with students, covering topics such as container-garden design, planting tips, and curriculum connections. The guide also features ideas for kid-friendly themed container gardens, including salsa garden, sensory garden, tea garden, pollinator garden, and even a prehistoric dinosaur garden with plants that originated when dinosaurs were alive!
Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants on Kahoot!
Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants, an education nonprofit, connects students and science researchers through live virtual events and guest speakers for classrooms. Most appropriate for elementary and middle levels, the virtual events showcase science researchers from dynamic fields and explore themes such as biodiversity, women in science, space exploration, ocean plastics, engineering, climate change, ecosystems, and technology. The videos and accompanying resources for teachers—such as quizzes on Kahoot!—aim to inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers and extend learning from the virtual field trips.
For example, the Kahoot quiz Wildlife in Antarctica highlights the work of Antarctic biologist Huw Griffiths and has 17 video-based questions and answers about the Antarctic environment. Protecting Orcas with Ocean Wise, another quiz, features videos and questions to teach students about killer whales and the threats they face in the wild. In the quiz Making Nature Art with Charon Henning, students meet a natural science illustrator who through engaging video clips and quiz questions shows viewers how drawing can be a valuable tool.
Engineering Lesson Plan: Design and Test a Drag Device
As NASA plans future robotic missions—and human expeditions—to Mars, it’s important for spacecraft to be able to carry heavier and larger payloads to accommodate extended stays on the Martian surface. In LDSD Low Density Supersonic Decelerator, an engineering design-based activity developed by educators at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for middle and high school levels, students are challenged to design and test a drag device that will slow down the descent of a space capsule and protect its cargo, as well as calculate the surface area and measure the mass of spacecraft. The activity lesson plan guides teachers and students through various engineering design steps (e.g., ask, imagine, plan, create, experiment, improve) and includes background information for teachers, a materials list, and student worksheets.
National WWII Museum’s Summer Seminars
This summer, the National WWII Museum will host two weeks of seminars for teachers of science and STEM on-site at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans. Both programs are free for teachers: Travel, lodging, and most meals are paid for.
The first week (July 2–8) will be open to teachers of K–8 science. Participants will learn how to use the Little Engineers and Real-World Science curriculum guides and best practices in science education. Participants will discuss activities in physical, Earth, and life sciences and engineering and learn how to integrate literacy practices and social studies into science investigations with students.
The second week (July 16–22) will be open to teachers of grades 6–12 science. Participants will learn how to use the STEM Corps and Real-World Science curriculum guides and best practices in science education. Participants will discuss activities in physics, chemistry, Earth, and life sciences and engineering and learn how to integrate literacy practices and social studies into science investigations with students.
Alexis Will is a marine biologist whose work focuses on protecting seabirds around the Arctic. Her team member, Elisabeth Kruger, works with communities and scientists to learn about Arctic marine mammals and help ensure their populations stay healthy. In honor of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, join the World Wildlife Fund on February 9 as Will and Kruger share some of their favorite experiences in the science field protecting Arctic wildlife, what science means to them, and what interesting research they look forward to working on.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science Online Event
On February 10, the Krembil Research Institute at University Health Network will host its third annual virtual event in support of International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This free event is open to the public and geared toward middle school, high school, and early university-age students of all genders and affiliations. Students will hear from trailblazing scientists who are working on discoveries that could help persons with arthritis and vision and brain diseases. The speakers have received science communication training to speak about their research in an accessible and engaging way with students of all ages.
A panel discussion will follow, in which speakers will answer pre-submitted questions from students, teachers, and community members about their path to science and their day-to-day routines, as well as questions relating to their particular area of study/research. (To submit questions, register for an “educator ticket.” Registrants will also be provided with a recorded link.)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Museum will offer two free summer programs for high school students during the summer before their junior or senior years. Disease Detective Camp, a free one-week academic day camp, will be held at CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. The CDC Museum also will hold the Online Summer Course, a web-based course with both synchronous and asynchronous components.
During both camp and course, students are immersed in the diverse field of public health, including topics such as infectious disease, chronic disease, environmental health, laboratory technology, outbreaks, scientific communication, and public health law. They will have the opportunity to interact with CDC professionals who are working in various roles within public health. Applications are due by March 31.
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