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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, November 15, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, November 15, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–12

Pathfinders Online Institute

Established by the nonprofit Infosys Foundation USA, Pathfinders Online Institute presents an array of computer science and maker education resources for K–12 audiences. After creating a free account (e-mail registration), teachers can access the online platform’s collection of on-demand content, including computer science courses for elementary learners; virtual lessons exploring design thinking for grades K–5, 6–8, and 9–12; and resources for families (in English and Spanish) to explore computer science concepts and coding at home. The platform also features professional development resources (e.g., webinars, courses for educators) to support districts interested in establishing a specific computer science learning pathway for their schools. 

Chemical Safety Resources

Check out the American Association of Chemistry Teachers safety web page for safety guidelines, documents, videos, and links for K–12 chemistry educators. The resources are culled from leading safety and education organizations such as the American Chemical Society (ACS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. Notable resources include a PDF of the ACS’s Guidelines for Chemical Laboratory Safety in Secondary Schools and the EPA’s web-based Toolkit for Safe Chemical Management in K–12 Schools, which provides detailed guidance for districts and administrators for removing inappropriate, outdated, unknown, and unnecessary chemicals from schools; preventing future chemical mismanagement issues in schools through training, curriculum, and policy change; and raising awareness of chemical issues in schools and promoting sustainable solutions.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

Smithsonian Science Education Center Game Center

At the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) Game Center, K–8 teachers can find a collection of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) games and simulations online or for download. Vetted by SSEC’s curriculum experts, the games address topics in disciplines such as engineering design, life science, Earth science, and physical science. Play Shutterbugs to help kindergarteners describe movement and motion, or try Showbiz Safari to introduce students in grades 1–3 to the diversity of plants and animals in different habitats. Mini-Golf Motion develops K–5 students’ understandings of physics and collisions as they solve mini golf puzzles by building walls and bouncing mini golf balls in different directions to get a hole in one. In Disaster Detector, students in grades 6–8 analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and learn how to implement tools to mitigate the effects of those disasters. 

The simulations also address a range of grade levels and topics. For example, the Storm Smart simulation (kindergarten) shows the hazards associated with different types of storms and provides options for how to prepare for each storm, while the Glider Guide simulation lets second graders soar above five real-world terrains in the United States while learning about different types of land and water features (e.g., mountains, plains, lakes, oceans, and mesas). In the Weather Lab simulation, students in grades 6–8 role-play as meteorologists who model the complex interactions between air masses and ocean currents to make predictions about spring weather.

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

Innovation Generation Educator Resources
Innovation Generation, an engineering and creativity-inspired initiative from Stanley Black and Decker and Discovery Education, aims to empower the maker in every student. Targeted for students and teachers in grades 6–10, the program features a website, classroom activities, video career profiles, and a 45-minute Innovation Generation webinar for teachers that explains the program and how it supports a maker classroom. Introduce students to STEAM careers such as automation engineer, data scientist, mechanical engineer, materials engineering manager, and technical innovation leader. Engage students in real-world challenges involving robotics and sustainability, such as Kid-Start a Small Business, in which students investigate how different products can be made more efficiently with the help of advanced manufacturing equipment and streamlined processes, and Unexpectedly Upcycled, in which students learn about the biodegradability of the materials used in common household goods, then create their own upcycled project. Robotic Helpers, another activity highlight, challenges students to investigate how assistive technology robots work, then design a model and an algorithm enabling a robot to complete their chosen task. 

Opportunities for Grades K–College

AFA Educator Grants
Every year, the Air and Space Forces Association (AFA) awards $500 grants to 40 K–12 educators who propose innovative, aerospace-themed projects. The grant process is competitive. A committee of aerospace education experts reviews and scores all qualified applications. AFA selects projects that significantly influence student learning and support its mission. (Deadline December 15)

The Robert F. Tinker Fellows Program
Named in honor of the Concord Consortium’s founder, the fellowship program seeks to promote innovation, creativity, and cross-disciplinary conversations in educational technology for STEM teaching and learning. The fellowship was designed to bring individuals to the Concord Consortium (or connect them virtually with Concord Consortium) to spark new ideas, tinker with novel technologies, cultivate outside perspectives, and provide opportunities for reflection on its work. This year’s theme focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM education.

The fellowship includes a total honorarium of $5,000. Apply by December 15.

Opportunity for Middle Level and High School

The American Rocketry Challenge’s STEM Innovation Grants
The American Rocketry Challenge gives middle and high school students the opportunity to design, build, and launch model rockets and hands-on experience solving engineering problems. This year, 25 STEM Innovation Grants are available for eligible teams. Previously known as Title I grants, these grants are created for teams from school-wide designated Title I schools who are interested in competing in the American Rocketry Challenge for the first time. STEM Innovation grantees receive

  • Free registration for the first year. (Your team will also be eligible to compete in Presentation and Marketing Competitions.);
  • A $2,000 grant, with additional funding available if your team qualifies for the National Finals in Washington, D.C.; and
  • A rocketry starter kit, with information on everything your team needs to know about how to create a rocketry team. 

Your team will be paired with mentors from the National Association of Rocketry and one of the challenge’s education partners. These mentors will make a commitment to help your team with rocketry and provide a deeper understanding of the career options in the aerospace industry. Applications will close on December 1 or when all the scholarships have been distributed, whichever comes first.

Opportunity for Middle Level Through College

PlantingScience Student-Centered Plant Investigations   
In a free online PlantingScience session, you’ll hear about open education resources for student-centered plant investigations that integrate scientific practices and big ideas in biology that support Next Generation Science Standards guidelines. PlantingScience provides volunteer scientists, resources, and activities to support innovation in teaching, learning, and mentoring. The program is aimed at high school science classes, but it also works well in middle school classes. PlantingScience also supports 4H, science clubs, and other after-school groups with an appropriate adult support structure. For college students, Planting Science promotes inter-collegial peer-to-peer interactions by pairing sister schools, college-high school pairs, or virtual science presentations. 

The Spring 2023 session runs from February 13 to April 30, 2023. Apply before January 15, 2023.

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