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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, March 26, 2024

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, March 26, 2024

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary

Ocean Odyssey Educators Guide

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Ocean Odyssey Educators Guide has eight lessons for grades 2–5 exploring ocean literacy and how oceans impact our lives. Based on the IMAX film Ocean Odyssey, the lessons explore animals that live in the ocean (Ocean Dwellers, The Lives of Humpback Whales, A Whale of a Migration), ocean currents (Earth’s Water Moves, Ocean Currents, Cycles in the Ocean), sustainable fishing methods (Fishing for Solutions), and fish anatomy (Food Matters). (Viewing the Ocean Odyssey film isn’t necessary to complete the lessons.) Teachers can watch an extended (eight-minute) trailer to engage students in the topic, then complete the lesson plans as presented. The lessons include all necessary components (introduction, summary, learning objective, time needed, and so on) as well as a step-by-step procedural guide to facilitate implementation and extension ideas for further learning. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Middle Level

3-2-1 Liftoff! Rocketry You Can Do

STEM in 30 is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM)’s webcast series for middle level students, available on demand on NASM’s YouTube channel. The episode “3-2-1 Liftoff! Rocketry You Can Do” closely examines the parts and uses of rockets. In the episode, students follow along with NASA rocket scientist Rosa Avalos-Warren as she shares her experiences in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and guides students through the process of building and launching a rocket model. Along the way, students learn about the engineering design process, payloads, the history of rocketry, and more. 

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

NASA Spotlite Design Challenge

Any video/recording buffs in your classroom? Students in grades 6–12 are invited to participate in NASA’s Spotlite Design Challenge. NASA Spotlites are short (90– to 120–  second) student-produced videos in which learners actively confront and disprove science misconceptions. To participate, student teams create a short video addressing a science misconception, following guidelines listed on the Spotlite Design Challenge website. Students choose a topic area for their video (e.g., Solar Eclipses, Clouds, Land Covering, Mars, Moon, and Plant Movement); select a misconception within the topic area to debunk; and identify criteria, brainstorm ideas, select a design (e.g., experiments, animation, demonstration) to capture questions and findings, and create the video. Finally, students refine their design and share the videos on the NASA eClips website. (Note: Teachers must register student teams on the Spotlite website to participate in the challenge and create and share videos.)  

Opportunity for Grades K–College

Earth Educators’ Rendezvous 2024

The Rendezvous brings together researchers and practitioners working in all aspects of undergraduate Earth education, including a mix of K–12 teachers, college faculty, and graduate students from all disciplines who are interested in improving their teaching about Earth. Participants can learn about new teaching approaches, discover opportunities to get involved in research programs, prepare for an academic career, or discuss how to approach teaching and learning challenges in their classroom. Events include workshops, oral and poster sessions, teaching demonstrations, panel discussions, plenary talks, working groups, and special sessions.

The Rendezvous will take place on July 15–19 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the Temple University campus. Travel stipend applications are due by April 17.

Opportunity for Grades 5–12

International Space Art and Poetry Contest

Astronaut John Shoffner invites students and educators worldwide to submit a drawing, painting, or written poetry showcasing what it would look like if we lived in space. Eight category representatives will receive special recognition from the International Space Station, in addition to receiving physical prints of their creation sent down from space. Entries will be categorized by age division (5–8, 9–13, 14–18, and a newly added educator category), as well as by genre (visual art and poetry). (Deadline April 5)

Opportunity for High School

Virtual STEM Career Talk for High School

High school teachers nationwide are invited to participate in a virtual science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career talk highlighting pathways to clean energy professions. Taking place on April 9 at 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Mountain Time via Zoom, the virtual talk hosted by the Department of Energy’s STEM education group, Solar Decathlon Pathways, will feature two speakers discussing different pathways to various STEM careers, such as electrician, engineer, architect, technical sales, and more. Students and teachers can join also join dedicated breakout rooms to ask each speaker specific questions. 

Register your classroom in advance for the virtual event. (Note: Classes are not required to attend the virtual conversation for the full two hours.)

Solar Decathlon Pathways connects Solar Decathlon alumni with high school classrooms and academic groups across the United States for STEM career talks exploring pathways to clean energy professions. Alumni share their personal pathways to careers in architecture, engineering, renewable energy, sustainable design, or construction industries to inspire the next generation to join the clean energy workforce. Interested educators can complete an interest form on the Solar Decathlon Pathways website.

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