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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, May 14, 2024

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, May 14, 2024

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–12

Project Learning Tree Activities

Looking for ways to engage K–12 learners in exploring nature and studying the environment? This collection of sample learning activities from Project Learning Tree (PLT) is a great place to start. The activities address various grade levels and topics and are drawn from educational materials published by PLT, including activity guides, e-learning units, and other resources. 

For example, Backyard Safari (grades K–2) takes young learners outside to look for signs of animal life in the schoolyard, while Web of Life (grades 3–5), explores the topic of food chains in the classroom. The activity Field, Forest, and Stream (grades 6–8) engages middle level learners in investigating how living and nonliving components (e.g., sunlight, soil moisture, temperature, wind, and water flow) affect ecosystems, while Monitoring Forest Health (grades 9–12) teaches high school students how to conduct a health checkup of a local wooded area, take forestry measurements, and evaluate the ecological services provided by trees and forests. (Note: E-mail registration is required to download the sample activities.)

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

Make and Color a Paper Airplane

This simple activity for grades K–8 from NASA’s Space Crafts Activities Series lets students color, fold, and fly a paper airplane model designed by NASA. The activity includes two printable templates (one color and one black and white), an accompanying instructional video, and links to additional coloring pages and resources. The instructional video not only shows students how to fold the paper to create the plane, but it also features fun facts about NASA.  

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Middle Level Through College

“Gikinoo’wizhiwe Onji Waaban” (Guiding for Tomorrow) Curriculum

Gikinoo’wizhiwe Onji Waaban (Guiding for Tomorrow)—GWOW, Changing Climate, Changing Culture—is an online service-learning curriculum that weaves together Indigenous Ecological Knowledge of the Ojibwe with data-driven science to help students understand climate change impacts. Developed collaboratively in 2015 by Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with continuing support from various partners (e.g., Great Lakes Restoration, NASA, National Park Foundation and other groups), the customizable curriculum for middle level to adult audiences has five components: Ojibwe Lifeways, Investigate the Science, What Can We Do?, Talking Circle, and Additional Resources. The components provide a structured learning sequence for students and teachers to investigate and reflect on the impacts of climate change in their environment. Each component builds upon knowledge gained in prior components. 

For example, after working through one or more of the seasonal units presented in Ojibwe lifeways (e.g., maple sugaring and birch bark harvesting, spring; fishing, summer; wild rice harvesting, fall; and respecting our culture, winter), learners move to activities in Investigate the Science, in which they integrate the place-based knowledge they’ve gained with scientific climate change research. After exploring data relationships in Investigate the Science, learners reflect on what they’ve learned and apply that knowledge to action at a community level in the What Can We Do? and Talking Circle components. The Additional Resources component provides supporting climate change resources, project tips, and tools to guide teachers and students through the investigations.

Opportunity for Grades K–College

Churchill Polar Bear Scholarship Grant

Natural Habitat Adventures, World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) travel partner, is offering this grant, for which two passionate educators will be selected to join them on their Tundra Lodge & Churchill Highlights tour to Churchill, Canada, to observe polar bears in the wild. During October 7–13, scholarship winners will travel to the tundra to look for bears, with expert interpretation from Nat Hab Expedition Leaders. These guides have in-depth training as naturalists and access to resources from WWF scientists, and they will share their knowledge of this regal apex predator that is a bellwether species for tracking the impacts of climate change. Learn more about the trip here:

The grant is open to legal U.S. residents age 18 and older (residents of Puerto Rico and U.S. territories are not eligible). Applicants must be environmental educators, including but not limited to preschool, elementary, middle level, and high school teachers; college professors or faculty; outdoor educators; museum curators; nonprofit outreach specialists; and anyone working in the field of environmental education. (Deadline June 1)

Opportunity for Grades 5–12

University of Connecticut College of Engineering’s daVinci Program

This summer professional development program connects science, math, and technology to engineering. Teachers have a choice of five workshops. Come learn engineered solutions to complex problems using the science and math taught in your classroom. This summer, 17 fellowships are available.  

The program will be held during July 8–12 on UCONN’s main campus in Storrs, Connecticut. This year’s application can be found on the program’s website. Register by June 3.

Opportunity for High School

ASM’s Kishor M. Kulkarni Distinguished High School Teacher Award

Presented by the ASM Materials Education Foundation, the award recognizes the accomplishments of a high school science teacher who has demonstrated a significant and sustained impact on pre-college–age students. Candidates must be full- or part-time actively employed high school teachers in the United States or Canada. The award includes a $2,000 cash grant and the recipient’s travel cost of up to $500 to receive the award at the ASM Awards Luncheon. (Deadline June 30)

Climate Change Curriculum Earth & Space Science Engineering Environmental Science General Science Inclusion Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans Life Science Mathematics Multicultural News Physical Science Professional Learning Science and Engineering Practices STEM Teaching Strategies Kindergarten Elementary Middle School High School Postsecondary Informal Education

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