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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, June 27, 2023

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, June 27, 2023

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary

The History of the Telephone Activity

What type of telephone do you and your students use most often? Explore this question and more in the History of the Telephone, an activity developed by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools program. Targeted for second grade, the activity introduces students to Alexander Graham Bell and his invention—the telephone—while also providing practice in reading a bar graph. In the activity, which can be completed in about 30 minutes, students examine images of telephones throughout history to see how the telephone evolved over time. Students also answer questions relating to a bar graph showing the use of landline telephones from 1950 to 2011.

The lesson plan is available in teacher and student versions: The student version has space for students to record answers to the questions, while the teacher version presents information about learning standards, guidance on how and what content to present at each stage of the activity, extension ideas, and possible student responses for the lesson’s questions. 

STEM Project—Solving a Problem
Looking for a lesson for grades 3–5 that involves students in groupwork, problem solving, and solution analysis? Try STEM Project—Solving a Problem, a lesson plan posted on Education World, an online resource for K–12 teachers and administrators. Written by contributing writer and educator Kimberly Greacen, the lesson challenges students to devise solutions to solve one of two problems: to soundproof a room or to safely transport cold food. Students work in groups to choose a problem to solve, cooperatively devise a potential solution to the problem (including creating illustrations as necessary to communicate ideas), and share their solution with classmates. Since groups may have chosen the same problem to solve but develop different solutions, the lesson helps students recognize the value of comparing multiple possible solutions and analyzing how well each solution addresses the problem.

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

X-STEM All Access Speaker Series
Developed by the USA Science and Engineering Festival, with funding from the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Space Force, X-STEM All Access is a web-based science speaker series designed to get middle level and high school students excited about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Each approximately 30-minute episode introduces a dynamic STEM career through a question-and-answer session with a STEM professional hosted by a knowledgeable expert in the speaker’s field. For example, learn about Captain Reed’s life as a U.S. Space Force Space Operations Officer (Protecting and Securing Space); discover what it's like for Joan Melendez Misner to be a space engineer and planetary defender at NASA (Engineering in Space); meet Airbus helicopter pilot Esther Beckett (High-Flying Role Models); and more.

Each episode is accompanied by a lesson plan that supports the Next Generation Science Standards as well Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) standards. The lessons include relevant links and are presented in a 5E (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate) format to facilitate teachers’ use of the video series in instruction.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Middle Level Through College

The Underrepresentation Curriculum 

The Underrepresentation Curriculum features three units designed to engage middle level through college students in exploring issues associated with underrepresentation and discrimination in the field of science. Funded jointly by the American Association of Physics Teachers and Learning for Justice, a project from the Southern Law Poverty Center, the curriculum contains lessons exploring the nature of science and the demographics of scientists today (Unit 1) alongside lessons exploring issues related to underrepresentation, such as implicit bias, affirmative action, and meritocracy (Unit 2). Unit 3 has activities to help students turn their knowledge into action, such as by writing letters advocating for faculty of color, organizing study groups with students from different backgrounds, or creating a poster for display in a science classroom. Read the article on the website, “Use the Tools of Science to Recognize Inequity in Science,” which was published in Learning for Justice’s online magazine, to learn more about the curriculum’s contents and find a link to access it. 

Opportunities for Grades K–12

Sally Ride EarthKAM Mission

Sally Ride EarthKAM (Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students), a free NASA educational outreach program, enables students and teachers to learn about Earth from the perspective of space. During Sally Ride EarthKAM missions (periods when the Sally Ride EarthKAM camera is operational on the International Space Station), students worldwide can request images of specific locations on Earth. The entire collection of Sally Ride EarthKAM images is available in a searchable image archive. This image collection and accompanying activities serve as resources to engage students in Earth and space science, geography, social studies, mathematics, communications, and art. 

While EarthKAM and its online curriculum target middle school students, the program can be adapted to other grade levels. The next mission will take place during July 12–15. Register in advance on the website.

American Association of Chemistry Teachers Virtual Summer Symposium 

The American Association of Chemistry Teachers will hold its free 2023 symposium webinar on July 19 at 12 to 3 p.m. Eastern Time. From creating a positive classroom culture to having easy-to-implement, targeted labs to well-written assessment, mastering the skills to have a successful school year takes time and experience. During this symposium, hear from several teachers about how they structure their school year and what they incorporate to make learning both meaningful and thorough. Register at

Green Our Planet’s Grants
Green Our Planet’s GardenConnect outdoor school garden and HydroConnect hydroponics STEM programs help teach students throughout the United States to care for our planet. Public, private, and charter schools can apply for a $3,500 GardenConnect grant, $8,000 in HydroConnect funding, or both by July 21. For this fall, 250 schools will be chosen.

Opportunity for High School and College

EPA Invites Youth to Serve on National Environmental Youth Advisory Council
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established its first-ever National Environmental Youth Advisory Council (NEYAC). The NEYAC will provide independent advice and recommendations to Administrator Michael S. Regan on how to increase EPA’s efforts to address a range of environmental issues as they relate to youth communities. The NEYAC will provide a critical perspective on how the impacts of climate change and other environmental harms affect youth communities. 

EPA seeks applications for youth to fill 16 vacancies on the NEYAC. Selected applicants will contribute to a balance of perspectives, backgrounds, and experience of the council and will be appointed by the Administrator. All NEYAC members will be between the ages of 16 and 29. As part of the agency’s commitment to centering environmental justice communities, at least 50% of the overall membership of NEYAC will come from, reside primarily in, and/or do most of their work in disadvantaged communities. 

Applications are due by August 22. EPA will host virtual application webinars during which the public can ask EPA staff questions live. The webinars will be on Zoom and will be hosted at the following times: 

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