Skip to main content

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, May 30, 2023

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, May 30, 2023

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–12

K–12 Neuroscience Resources

Introduce K–12 students to the field of neuroscience with educator resources from the Dana Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on advancing neuroscience and society. The resources include lesson plans, fact sheets, and puzzles, as well as activities and neuroscience history bits shared from like-minded neuroscience groups. Elementary learners (grades K–5) can explore basic neuroanatomy through lessons like Build a Brain, in which students use modeling clay to create a model of an imaginary animal’s brain. Middle level students (grades 6–8) can investigate the different stages of memory storage; the brain regions involved in memory formation; and short-term memory in lessons such as Now You See It, Now You Don’t. At the high school level (grades 9–12), students can explore brain science through lessons such as Your Brain on Depression, which discusses the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for teen depression, and Zombie Autopsies, which teaches learners how abnormalities in the brain affect behavior. 

Other foundation resources include fact sheets on topics such as How Does the Brain Work? (grades 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12); Human and Animal Brains: How Do They Compare? (grades 3–5); How Do Scientists Study the Brain? (grades 6–8), and Cells of the Brain (grades 9–12). 

Physics and Chemistry Resources for Grades 5–12

Looking for resources to support physics and chemistry instruction? Check out the Perimeter Institute’s collection of digital resources for teachers. The resources include materials compiled on different topics, such as Black Holes, Contemporary Physics, Evidence for Climate Change, Optics, Revolutions in Science, and Wave Model Application. Each compilation features lesson plans, hands-on activities, demonstrations, worksheets, background information for teachers, and videos to thoroughly explore each topic in the classroom. Also of interest is the Institute’s downloadable Forces of Nature poster collection, which highlights the contributions of notable scientists such as Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin, Ava Lovelace, and Williamina Fleming.

Frontiers for Young Minds 
Frontiers for Young Minds is an online science journal for students ages 8–15 that publishes material written by distinguished scientists about their cutting-edge discoveries in accessible language for young readers. The global journal boasts an online library of more than 1,100 articles on scientific research in fields such as Astronomy and Physics, Biodiversity, Chemistry and Materials, Earth and Its Resources, Human Health, Mathematics, and Neuroscience and Psychology. The articles are peer-reviewed by students (with the help of a science mentor) to provide feedback to the authors on how to best improve the articles before publication. Through the peer-review process, students not only learn about the latest science discoveries, but also about how science works by being a part of a critical step of science research—communication. And just as students learn about how science works and develop critical-thinking skills through the peer-review process, the process helps scientists learn to communicate outside their own research fields.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

Tracking Water Using NASA Satellite Data

In this activity for grades 4–8, students use real NASA satellite data to track water mass changes, learn how to read a heat map, and discuss the local and global implications of their findings. The activity, developed by educators at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, lets students work with authentic data and includes embedded videos describing the science behind NASA’s GRACE (Gravity Research And Climate Experiment), a collaborative Earth science mission study being conducted by the United States and Germany. In addition to the lesson’s overview, background information, and procedures, the plan includes classroom management tips, assessments, and suggested extensions.

Opportunities for Grades K–College

Natural History Education DemoCamps

The Natural History Education (NHE) DemoCamp is designed to provide materials and resources to K–12 formal and informal teachers, educators, and college faculty seeking easy-to-adopt educational materials that engage students with the natural world. The NHE DemoCamp format gives educators access to open education resources and provides opportunities to discuss these resources with the teachers and educators who developed them. The event is free of charge and will be held virtually. The next DemoCamp will take place June 14–15.

NOAA Teachers on the Estuary Workshops

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Estuarine Research Reserve System holds Teachers on the Estuary (TOTE) workshops: research and field-based training programs for K–12 teachers held at various research reserve sites. TOTE workshops offer a minimum of 15 contact hours, giving teachers the opportunity to

  • Explore coastal habitats and conduct field investigations;
  • Interact with local scientists and experienced coastal educators;
  • Integrate local and national monitoring data into the classroom; and
  • Learn hands-on field activities highlighting various Estuary Education Resources.

Teachers use TOTE to increase their understanding of estuary science, including climate change, and to learn how to engage students in investigating changes in their local environment using data obtained from the reserves’ monitoring programs. With TOTE, teachers and students can interact with scientists, find information about local environmental issues, and participate in field trips and community conservation projects. TOTE workshops will be held all summer, June 13 to August 11, and at other times during the school year. Some of them are free of charge and/or offer stipends upon completion. Advance registration is required.

Opportunities for Middle Level and High School

Summer Data Puzzles Workshops
Data Puzzles are two- to three-day lessons that combine classroom-friendly datasets with Ambitious Science Teaching practices to help students make sense of phenomena. Upcoming summer workshops for teachers include these:

  • The Tipping Point, June 20, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Eastern Time. Hear about this two-day resource in which students analyze ecological data to explain how rising temperatures are affecting the hearty tundra plant, moss campion, and consider what that might mean for the rest of the ecosystem. 
  • Megafires: Rare Occurrences or the New Normal? July 18, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Eastern Time. In this three-day resource, students analyze megafire frequency data to explain how and why the number of megafires has changed over time. 

Participants who complete both Data Puzzles workshops will be eligible to receive 1 graduate credit from the University of Colorado Boulder at no charge. Those who complete one of the two workshops will have the option to receive a certificate for 4 professional development hours (no charge) or purchase 0.5 graduate credit ($90) from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Create a Virtual Field Trip With Tour It!

Learn how to create your own virtual field trip with Tour It, Infiniscope's virtual tour builder. Add interactive hotspots, embed YouTube or Vimeo clips, and guide your learners through multiple locations as they engage with the environment and build curricular connections. The workshop will take place on June 27–29 at 10–11:30 a.m. Pacific Time.

Astronomy Biology Chemistry Climate Change Climate Science Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Environmental Science General Science Instructional Materials Lesson Plans Life Science Mathematics News Physical Science Physics Professional Learning Research STEM Teaching Strategies Middle School Elementary High School Informal Education Postsecondary

Asset 2