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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, May 9, 2023

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, May 9, 2023

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary

Be an Animal Champion 
In the new series Jane on Apple TV+, the title character, nine-year-old Jane Garcia, is inspired by her hero, famed primatologist and conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall, to serve as a voice for animals against the threats they face resulting from human activity. Jane’s empowering actions can help encourage your students take small steps that can lead to big changes. To reinforce these concepts, the curriculum specialists at Young Minds Inspired have joined with Apple TV+ to create a program for students in grades 1–2 and 3–5 that educates them about endangered animals, the cause/effect relationships within ecosystems, and how they can help protect animals and the planet. The program also includes a take-home letter to encourage families to view and discuss Jane and take part in conservation activities together.

In addition, DIY activity videos with downloadable instructions and activity sheets are available. They teach viewers how to make a fishless (and meatless) meal to help protect animals in our oceans, like sharks, and how to create flower planters to support honeybees. The videos can be used in school or at home with an adult.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

Cotton Science and Sustainability
Farmers who grow cotton take pride in using sustainable practices to help protect the environment. In this free educational program for grades 2–4, developed by Cotton Incorporated and the curriculum specialists at Young Minds Inspired, students will learn about the cotton plant, its many uses, and how modern technology helps cotton farmers grow cotton. The standards-based activities support English language arts and STEM skills, and each includes a follow-up activity families can do together at home.

Classes can also take a virtual field trip with a suite of 360-degree videos that explores the cotton production process “from dirt to shirt.” The field trip starts on the cotton farm, where students will learn how cotton is planted and harvested, then follows cotton through the ginning and spinning processes, and ends in the Cotton Incorporated Product Development Lab, where cotton fabrics are developed that are then used to make blue jeans, leggings, bed sheets, and other products.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School

Modeling Marine Ecosystems With Virtual Reality

Modeling Marine Ecosystems With Virtual Reality is a series of high school–level learning modules exploring how scientific models work. Produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Ocean Service Education and NOAA Fisheries departments, the modules address three themes—Ocean Food Webs, Observations and Models, and Predators and Prey—and feature interactive investigations for students that support the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). In the investigations, students use authentic scientific data and models to explore human-caused changes in ocean ecosystems and the impacts these changes have on the animals in those ecosystems. Of particular interest is the Virtual Ecosystem Scenario Viewer (VES-V) Virtual Dive Tutorial, which is included in all three learning modules and teaches students about the VES-V simulation software and how to navigate it. The modules also contain supporting resources for teachers, including detailed instructions for each of the activities, student data worksheets, NGSS alignment, and presentation graphics.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: College and University

Advancing Inclusion and Anti-Racism in the College Classroom: A Rubric and Resource Guide for Instructors

Developed by the University of California at Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, this open-access tool supports instructors in developing anti-racist approaches to course design and teaching practices in the undergraduate and graduate setting. The tool is designed to be used as a self-assessment and provides guidance to support an instructor’s journey to a more inclusive and anti-racist classroom. The tool covers 10 categories (e.g., writing syllabi, designing assessments, establishing an inclusive learning environment, using student feedback to enhance teaching and learning, orienting curricular materials to social justice, making curricular materials anti-racist, including indigenous perspectives, and other topic areas) and offers guidance at two levels. Level 1 provides help for instructors just beginning to modify their course design and teaching practices, while Level 2 builds upon Level 1 modifications and presents ideas more reflective of substantial course redesign. 

Opportunity for Grades PreK–12

NOAA Ocean Guardian School Grants
Applications to the NOAA Ocean Guardian School Program are being accepted for the 2023–2024 school year. Promote ocean and watershed conservation at your school or in your local community by becoming an Ocean Guardian School. An Ocean Guardian School makes a commitment to the protection and conservation of its local watersheds, the world’s ocean, and special ocean areas, like national marine sanctuaries. The school makes this commitment by proposing and then implementing a school- or community-based conservation project.

Grant amounts range from $1,000 to $4,000 per school depending on the program region and funding year. All applications are due by June 1.

Opportunity for Grades 4–12

Scientists in Action: Visualizing Animal Acoustics 
Join the Denver Museum of Nature & Science for a free virtual program featuring a visit to Bluff Lake Nature Center to learn about ecology and how scientists use technology to survey animals in their natural habitats. Scientists studying the fauna of this local lake use technology to not only listen in on Chiropteran conversations or Avian acapellas, but also to create visual representations of what animals are saying. Students will be able to ask scientists questions in real-time and see behind the scenes of this Denver local wildlife refuge. The program will take place on May 11 at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m. Mountain Time. The event was created for grades 4–12, but all are welcome.

Opportunities for Middle Level and High School

Toshiba America Foundation Grants

Teachers of grades 6–12 can apply online for a Toshiba America Foundation grant of less than $5,000 to help bring an innovative project into their own classroom. If you have an innovative idea for improving STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning in your classroom, and if your idea involves project-based learning with measurable outcomes, apply by June 1. Grant decisions will be made by July 15.

The daVinci Project: Residential Summer Workshops at the University of Connecticut’s School of Engineering

This week-long (Monday through Friday) residential series of hands-on workshops will take place during July 10–14. Teachers live on campus and participate in one of six workshops, as well as many other seminars and tours through research labs, state of the art water reclaim and wastewater facilities, and the CoGen plant. Some fellowships are available. Register by June 5 for one of these workshops: 

  1. Virtual Reality—The Future of Science and Inspiration 
  2. Environmental (In)Justice 
  3. Understanding Pain: Sensory and Emotional Stimulus to Your Brain   
  4. Cybersecurity—Making Decisions That Keep You and Your Students Safe 
  5. Smart Films and Flexible Electronics 
  6. Image Processing and Machine Learning 

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