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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, January 30, 2024

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, January 30, 2024

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary

Prepare for Cold Air: SnowSchool
Designed by staff from the National Park Service’s Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, this activity engages upper-elementary students in a study of insulation, an important animal adaptation for winter survival. Students conduct experiments with empty soup cans, water, and other materials to investigate this question: What is insulation and how does it factor into an animal's ability to survive during the winter? The experiments—which can be completed in the classroom with student groups or presented as a teacher demonstration (for younger audiences)—let students observe differences in insulation values for various materials (e.g., polar fleece, denim) and graph and compare heat loss values between a well-insulated object and a poorly-insulated object. 

A Teacher Guide and lesson plan feature the lesson objective, background information, preparation, materials, procedure, enrichment activities, and a vocabulary list. A downloadable Student Worksheet provides student directions, data recording sheets, graphs, and discussion questions to reflect on the experiment data. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

Owl Pellet Bone ID Chart
Dissecting owl pellets is a classic activity for many upper-elementary and middle level students, but it can be hard to decipher what exactly is inside the pellet. Is it a mole, a vole, or a shrew? Downloadable resources from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology—including a detailed bone identification chart and a rodent skeleton diagram—may be just the tools students need to solve the mystery of their owl pellet contents. (Note: E-mail registration is required to download the bone identification chart.)

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

Alcohol and Your Brain Video/Virtual Reality Experience

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) will take place during March 18–24. To help teachers and parents celebrate this event with students, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has created a virtual reality (VR) experience and a video, each with an interactive activity for youth ages 13 and older. The activity takes users on a virtual rollercoaster ride through the brain, with stops to describe alcohol’s harmful effects on the prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, amygdala, hippocampus, and cerebellum. The video and VR versions share age-appropriate messages through engaging visuals, informative billboards, and narration. An accessible version of the video provides audio description of the visuals for students with visual disabilities.

For lesson plans and other activities to use during NDAFW, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse website at

Opportunities for Grades K–12

Innovators for Impact Virtual Field Trip With Olympian Katie Ledecky and Panasonic 
You and your students can take a trip overseas with Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky as she visits a future-forward region of Japan where sustainable science is being used to transform everyday life. Students will explore ways that innovations in robotics, smart mobility solutions, and renewable energy are being used by STEM experts at Panasonic to help make sustainable smart towns a reality. The virtual field trip will take place on February 15 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time. Register at Access a downloadable Educator’s Guide at

DIG Field School Teacher Summer Learning

K–12 teachers can get hands-on experience in paleontology, geology, and evolution by participating in active field research sites located in Montana or Arizona. The DIG Field School provides teachers with hands-on, immersive practice in STEM subjects, along with skills to engage their students in authentic scientific research. Investigate the rise of dinosaurs in Arizona or the extinction of dinosaurs and the rise of mammals in Montana, then take what you learn with you with a DIG Burke Box you can use in your classroom.

  • DIG Field School Petrified Forest (DIG PEFO) will take place June 2–6 at Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona.
  • DIG Field School Hell Creek (DIG Hell Creek) will take place July 21–25 at Hell Creek Recreation Area near Jordan, Montana.

Apply by February 15.

Opportunity for Middle Level and High School

Society for Science Advocate Program

Society for Science, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of science, invites educators and mentors working with students in grades 6–12 to apply for this program, which provides a $3,000 stipend and training to an individual (teacher, scientist, counselor, or mentor) who agrees to serve as an advocate for a minimum of three additional students from traditionally underrepresented groups to transition them from conducting scientific or engineering research (science fair–type) projects to completing applications to STEM research competitions. There are four different types of Advocates, allowing both beginners and more advanced applicants to further expand their capabilities to support student research competition participation.

Advocates must already have a formal role with students completing research projects. For more information and to apply, click here. You can download a program flier here, to share this opportunity with your networks. Apply by March 3.

Opportunity for Elementary Through College

Children’s Environmental Health Network’s 2024 Nsedu Obot Witherspoon Youth Leadership Awards

Do you know an outstanding youth who has displayed exceptional leadership on behalf of children's environmental health, equity, or climate justice? Nominees must be between the ages of 10 and 21 (inclusive) and demonstrate exceptional environmental health leadership, protecting human health, especially of our most vulnerable populations. Winners will be honored at the annual Children's Environmental Health Day awards on October 10 in Washington, D.C. The nomination deadline is February 29.   

Climate Change Disabilities Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Environmental Science Equity Evolution General Science Inclusion Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans Life Science News Professional Learning Robotics Science and Engineering Practices STEM Teaching Strategies Kindergarten Elementary Middle School High School Informal Education

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