Skip to main content

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, January 9, 2024

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, January 9, 2024

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–12

NASA’s Earthrise

NASA’s new Earthrise initiative focuses on Earth and climate science in the classroom. Through Earthrise, educators will receive a monthly e-newsletter featuring interactive lesson plans, mission and research highlights, and opportunities to participate in student engagement and educator professional development events from across the federal government. Register online and receive the first collection of resources in January.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

The Carbon Almanac Educator’s Guide

The Carbon Almanac has long been known as a reliable source of easily understandable information on climate change. Now, a companion guide for elementary and middle levels offers interdisciplinary lessons and activities to help teachers bring almanac and climate content into the classroom. The guide contains more than a dozen lesson plans, worksheets, and activities on climate change designed by teachers for teachers. For example, Build a Carbon Eating Machine challenges elementary students to use, paper, blocks, clay, or wood to build model of a machine that would vacuum excess carbon from the Earth’s atmosphere and return it to the soil, plants, or other carbon sinks. Students then create a commercial promoting the benefits of their carbon vacuuming machine and share their ideas with classmates. 

Schools and Solar Power, another activity, engages middle level students in researching the benefits of using solar energy. The activity concludes as students compare and analyze periods of time in their day with and without electricity, then use their analyses to enrich a discussion of the benefits and disadvantages of using solar energy.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Middle Level

Blooming Thermometers
In this lesson, middle level students learn about the Japanese festival celebrating the appearance of cherry blossoms in the spring and analyze average bloom-date data from more than 1,000 years of records to understand how the climate has changed. The lesson—which supports the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and was developed by educators at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research’s Center for Science Education—provides opportunities for students to create graphs and analyze data as well as to evaluate a scientific claim that recent cherry blossom data shows evidence of climate warming by exploring additional bloom data and articulating their reasoning. In addition to presenting learning goals and learning objectives, the lesson plan includes directions for teachers, background information, and links to related resources. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School

New Visions Biology Curriculum

High school teachers, check out this biology course designed by the New York City nonprofit New Visions for Public Schools. The full-year biology course supports the NGSS and contains six units: Marathon Runner, Humans vs. Bacteria, Evolution of Sick Humans, Saving the Mountain Lion, Food for All, and Wooly Mammoth. Each unit follows a common structure: Students engage with an anchor phenomenon and develop questions; go through sequences of learning and sensemaking to develop and iterate on answers to those questions; and complete a three-dimensional performance task. Support materials for each unit include a teacher guide with storyline and pacing information, student handouts, and resources adapted for remote or blended instruction.

Opportunities for Grades PreK–College

Virtual Becoming a Next-Gen Science Teacher (V-BNGST) Course

Next Generation Science Exemplar System (NGSX), a system of professional development designed to help educators learn about the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), will hold two cohorts of V-BNGST, which prepares teachers to engage students in the core science practices of modeling, argument, and explaining puzzling phenomena in the world around them. Participants will learn how to establish a classroom culture for sensemaking, student agency, and equitable participation. Educators will be immersed in doing science as adult learners, collaborating and exploring rich video cases, both of which will provide them with tools and resources to take back to their classrooms. In addition, a kit of science materials will be sent directly to participants. Educators will also be asked to gather some “everyday” science materials themselves. 

The course is targeted to preK–12 teachers, informal educators, coaches, and district science leaders. Cohort 1 will take place during February 20–22, plus June 26–28. Cohort 2 will take place during April 16–18, plus June 26–28. For Massachusetts educators, these sessions are free of charge, with a $450 stipend offered. The sessions are also open to educators outside Massachusetts, for a fee. View a video about V-BNGST (click on the green Virtual PD button).

Sally Ride EarthKAM Mission

Sally Ride EarthKAM is a free STEM educational program managed by the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. EarthKAM allows K–college students to take images of Earth from space using a camera aboard the International Space Station. Educators can use EarthKAM as a teaching tool to study subjects ranging from STEM to geography to meteorology. The next mission will take place during January 16–19; early registration is recommended.

Opportunity for Middle Level, High School, and Undergraduates

Physicists Inspiring the Next Generation Summer Programs for Students
Physicists Inspiring the Next Generation (PING) is a collaboration between the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in partnership with Associated Universities, Inc. Students can choose from the following two-week summer programs:

  • For high school students, a summer exposure to the field of basic and applied nuclear physics (with the option of extending into a year-long research experience) through the PING: Exploring the Nuclear Matter program at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams in East Lansing, Michigan. Participants present their work annually at the NSBP meeting and the American Physical Society Division of Nuclear Physics.
  • For eighth graders, a summer exposure to science and engineering with a focus on physics and radio-astronomy through the PING: Investigating the Cosmos program at the Green Bank Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, July 22–August 3. Participants present their work annually at the NSBP meeting, the National Astronomy Consortium meeting, and the American Astronomical Society. (Application deadline May 27)

Undergraduate students are needed to serve as PING mentors. Selected undergraduates will work with an advisor and study their own topic of interest while simultaneously training for the two-week student component.

Opportunity for Middle Level

Linking Science, Mathematics, & Literacy for ALL Learners

The LSM&L4AL program is accepting applications from teachers of grades 6–8 of Science, ELA, Mathematics, and Special Education for its second cohort. This unique professional development opportunity blends science, mathematics, and ELA content with a focus on the diverse learner in the middle school classroom. The program offers year-long professional learning that

  • provides instructional support to teachers using STEM multimodal text sets, with special attention to the needs of diverse learners in new locations and with new populations; and
  • develops sixth- to eighth-grade–level STEM multimodal text sets that address NGSS, CCSS-ELA.RST and CCSS-Math Standards, with embedded math and research-generated data.

For more information on the program, what it means for teachers and their students, commitments, benefits, and how to apply, visit Apply by January 15.

Opportunity for High School

Physics of Atomic Nuclei Summer Program

The Physics of Atomic Nuclei (PAN) free residential summer program for high school students in the United States is accepting applications for 2024. PAN participants will explore scientific research in nuclear astrophysics, conduct their own experiments, and discover applications for society. The program will run during July 21–26 at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University. Apply by March 25.

Astronomy Biology Climate Change Climate Science Curriculum Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Engineering Equity General Science Inclusion Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans Literacy Mathematics News Phenomena Physical Science Physics Professional Learning Science and Engineering Practices Sensemaking STEM Teaching Strategies Three-Dimensional Learning Kindergarten Pre-K Elementary Middle School High School Postsecondary Informal Education

Asset 2