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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, November 22, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, November 22, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–12

STEM Resources at National Museum of the American Indian 
The multimedia educational resources from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NAMI) offer a variety of interdisciplinary, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)–related resources and lessons for all ages. "Inka Engineering and the Q'eswachaka Bridge" (grades 5–8) is an informational poster (available in both English and Spanish-language versions) that introduces students to the Inka Empire and the Great Inka Road system. Accompanying classroom activities emphasize the cultural significance of Q’eswachaka while teaching students about engineering concepts of tension and compression and providing hands-on experience in testing the load capacity of two bridge designs: plank and suspension.

Another resource, Maya Skies: Calendars, Seasons, and Time (grades 4–8), presents games and a bilingual (English-Spanish) website featuring text and videos about Mayan culture and people, their mathematics, calendars, and astronomy. And K–12 students can participate in the Learning to Look and Object Investigation. In this activity, which includes an accompanying student worksheet, students carefully examine a Native American artifact from the NAMI’s online collection using a four-step approach. Students first “Look” at the object and create a sketch. Second, students “Notice” the object by recording details about it, such as its color, shape, size, materials, weight, texture, and scent. Third, students “Wonder” about the object, recording what else they want to know about it. Last, students “Connect” to the object by recording the ways in which the object relates to their own life. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

Deep Space Communication Educator Guide

Introduce students in grades 5–8 to fundamental concepts of communication technology with NASA’s Deep Space Communication Educator Guide. Part of the Next Gen STEM Moon series, the guide features four communication-related activities, each of which includes background information, student handouts, and links to explore the lesson topic and complete a hands-on activity to apply what was learned. For example, in Communications, students first learn how NASA communicates with astronauts, satellites, rovers, and other spacecraft. For the hands-on component, students demonstrate how communications work in the Deep Space Network by encoding and decoding messages using binary or hexadecimal notation. The second activity, Latency, introduces students to the relationships among frequency, wavelength, and speed. Students then apply what they learned to calculate the latency between Earth and other locations and construct a model to demonstrate the ongoing change in distance that occurs between Earth and Mars. 

In Performance, the third activity, students learn how data packets may become degraded during deep space communication, then develop a protocol that will diminish this degradation as the hands-on component to the lesson. Networks, the guide’s final activity, helps students understand how computers solve networking problems using minimum spanning trees, which determine the shortest and most efficient route to each destination within a network. Students are then challenged to create minimum spanning trees as a hands-on culmination to their learning. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School

ChemTalk’s Interactive Periodic Table 

ChemTalk, a nonprofit education organization, is dedicated to creating resources to make chemistry fun and understandable for high school chemistry teachers and the public. The group’s latest resource is an interactive online periodic table that can be displayed and viewed in various ways. Teachers can use the interactive periodic table to consider and compare chemical elements by their chemical groups, properties, electrons, periods trends, or discovery date. The site also includes information about the history of the periodic table, along with details about how to read the periodic table and period trends. (Bonus: The site and its contents are entirely free of ads!)

Opportunities for Grades PreK–College

Fund for Teachers Grants  
Fund for Teachers, a national nonprofit, invites preK–12 teachers who have taught for at least three years to propose their ideal learning experience through an online application. Also eligible are curriculum specialists or heads, special education coordinators, media specialists, and librarians who spend at least 50% of their time teaching students; they may apply as individuals or as teams. Those chosen receive funds to put their plans into action. (Individuals receive up to $5,000, and teams receive up to $10,000.) All fellowships awarded are self-designed. (Deadline January 19, 2023)

On November 30, Fund for Teachers will hold a free information webinar at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. Attendees will learn about Fund for Teachers and the application process, and time will be allowed for applicants to ask questions. Register in advance at

Walmart Local Community Grants

These grants are awarded through an open application process and provide funding directly from Walmart and Sam’s Club facilities to local organizations in the United States. Local Community grants range from $250 to $5,000. For education grants, K–12 public or nonprofit private schools, charter schools, community/junior colleges, state/private colleges, and universities may apply. Education grants are awarded for providing afterschool enrichment, tutoring, or vocational training for low-income individuals and families in the local service area. (Deadline December 31)

Opportunity for Elementary and Middle Level

Edward C. Roy Jr. Award for Excellence in K–8 Earth Science Teaching

This annual award is designed to recognize one teacher of grades K–8 (or Key Stages 1–3 in the United Kingdom) for their leadership and innovation in Earth science education. The award features a $2,500 prize for the winning teacher and a grant of up to $1,500 to enable the recipient to attend the NSTA National Conference in Atlanta in March 2023. The winning teacher and their school each will receive a plaque of recognition. (Deadline January 20, 2023

Astronomy Chemistry Computer Science Earth & Space Science Engineering English Language Learners General Science Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans Mathematics Multicultural Multilingual Learners News Physical Science Physics Science and Engineering Practices STEM Three-Dimensional Learning Middle School Elementary High School Informal Education Postsecondary Preschool

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