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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, July 25, 2023

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, July 25, 2023

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

Mission: Mars Educational Game

The Museum of Science, Boston, and Filament Games recently launched Mission: Mars, an immersive 3D game experience on the global game platform Roblox. The educational game is targeted for upper-elementary and middle levels—and Mars aficionados of any age—and focuses on the engineering design process. Students design and build vehicles to navigate the various terrains and environments on Mars. An educator’s guide (grades 3–8) supports teachers in using Mission: Mars in the classroom. The guide contains lesson plans to adapt the computer game experience to whole-class, hands-on engineering design activities, as well as handouts, mission background information, and other materials to help students keep track of their engineering designs and improvements.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School

Youth-Led Citizen Science Network for Community Environmental Assessment Curriculum

The Youth-Led Citizen Science Network for Community Environmental Assessment (YCITYSCI) curriculum is classroom-tested and was designed at the STEM Center for Research, Education, and Outreach at Southern Illinois University through a National Science Foundation–funded project that explores how students develop a sense of science identity. This high school–level curriculum uses hands-on environmental citizen science research experiences to engage students in authentic science that is relevant to the place where they live. With more than 40 lesson plans divided into nine units ranging from Air Pollution to Science Communication, this program can be implemented in its entirety, or by section, in a traditional classroom or an informal learning setting. A PDF version is available at and a Microsoft Word version of the curriculum is available upon request by e-mailing

Astrophysics Lessons for High School Physics Students

This website contains the ongoing work created by high school teachers during their time at a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) in the physics department at Michigan Technological University. During their RET, teachers worked with the astrophysicists and graduate students of the Michigan Tech group of the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Gamma-Ray Observatory (HAWC) project. Their task was to create lessons and activities that make the work being done in the HAWC group accessible to students, particularly at the high school level. 

The lessons introduce students to high-energy particle astrophysics through activities ranging in complexity from introductory general science topics to more specific and advanced (astro)physics topics, all while incorporating the importance of understanding the universe around us. The discovery of the microquasar SS 433 is used to illustrate how scientific methods were employed to explain and understand the observations astronomers were making. Students learn how to work with large sets of data while determining if a high-energy gamma ray burst had happened on their birthday. Other lessons include (but are not limited to) celestial navigation and coordinate systems, multi-wavelength astronomy, star life cycles, and the photoelectric effect; more content will be added in the future. This collection of lesson plans provides teachers with materials that will add interest to existing lessons or can be used as stand-alone lessons to enhance any science curriculum, all while having students engage with authentic, relevant, real-world data from an international astrophysics research project spanning more than a decade.

Opportunities for Grades PreK–College

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Short-Term Program 

The program sends K–12 educators from the United States to participating countries and territories to carry out short-term educational projects. Educators support and work in schools, teacher training colleges, government ministries, or educational non-governmental organizations, as identified by U.S. Embassies and Fulbright Commissions. Participants receive funding that covers project activities, including international airfare, living expenses, meals, and an honorarium. Host organizations help participants find housing and transportation while on site. 

This year’s science- and STEM-related opportunities include serving as a climate change educator in Spain, enhancing the STEM teaching skills of Vietnamese elementary teachers, introducing STEAM education into a Vietnamese high school, and incorporating gamification of STEM instruction in a Filipino secondary school classroom. Apply by August 16.

Space Foundation’s International Teacher Liaison Program

Space Foundation International Teacher Liaisons are a community of more than 350 formal and informal educators worldwide who inspire the next generation of explorers. The program provides benefits that improve teaching skills, provide an encouraging community for educators, and influence space and science education at a global level. Teacher Liaisons use space-related education programs and practical resources in the classroom to act as advocates for space-based education in their schools and districts. This program is open to public, private, and homeschool teachers, as well as school administrators, principals, specialists, curriculum and instruction developers, and others who deliver education programs to preschool through college students. Applicants need only to demonstrate that they effectively integrate space education within their curriculum.

Among the benefits are complimentary registration and Exhibit Center admission for the Space Symposium; curriculum resources and other professional learning courses; networking opportunities with top educators and space industry experts; and opportunities to design learning activities in a collaborative setting. Apply by September 30.

Opportunities for High School

National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) Grants

NSHSS is awarding the following grants of interest to science and STEM teachers. Apply by August 15.

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Teaching Grant. Five $1,500 awards will be presented to educators who serve in rural areas, diverse student populations, or are “actively promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives in their school or greater community.” Funds may be used for supplies, materials, field trips, or other resources.
  • STEAM Educator Grant. Eight $1,000 awards will be presented to high school STEAM teachers currently employed at a public or private high school in the United States or internationally. Funds may be used for supplies, materials, field trips, or other resources. 
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Educator Grant. Two $1,000 awards will go to secondary school educators teaching an IB Diploma course in any field for supplies, materials, field trips, or other resources.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Educator Grant. Five $1,000 awards will go to educators teaching an AP course to use for supplies, materials, field trips, or other supplemental aids.
  • Experiential Learning Grants. Six $1,000 awards will be presented to educators who work with high school students in an academic capacity both in the United States and internationally. The funds can help them provide experiential opportunities to their students and classrooms.

Administration Astronomy Citizen Science Climate Change Curriculum Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Engineering Environmental Science Equity General Science Inclusion Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans News Physics Professional Learning Science and Engineering Practices STEM Teaching Strategies Kindergarten Pre-K Preschool Elementary Middle School High School Postsecondary Informal Education

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