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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, November 8, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, November 8, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–College

The Smithsonian Learning Lab

The Smithsonian Learning Lab puts the treasures of Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum, education, and research complex, within reach. K–12 educators and others can search the interactive platform to view authentic digital resources from the Smithsonian’s various holdings, including images, recordings, texts, and videos in the sciences, history, art, and culture. Teachers can also visit the Lab to create custom lessons for the classroom or edit ready-to-use model lesson collections put together by Smithsonian educators. Tutorials are available to guide teachers in creating and sharing their own custom lessons. 

NASA CONNECTS! for Educators

Want to connect with other educators and NASA team members? Join NASA CONNECTS community of practice (no-cost account required) and stay updated on the latest NASA resources, collaborate with educators, and gain access to exclusive events. NASA CONNECTS members can also be part of the Museum and Informal Education (MIE) Alliance as K–12 or higher education educators, gaining access to even more high-quality education resources to support their teaching. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Middle Level

Exploring Substrates Activity

Targeted for grade six, this activity from New Jersey environmental educator Jill Law helps students develop a basic understanding of runoff. Students use shallow containers and plastic wrap, paper towels, and a cloth towel to simulate three different ground cover types. Then, using black pepper as the contaminant, students pour water over the “substrates” to simulate precipitation. Next, students compare the amount of water that ends up in each container. They then look into the water to see if there is a visible difference in the amount of pepper that can be observed in each. Allowing the water to evaporate as a final step provides an opportunity for students to observe part of the water cycle in action and reinforces the idea that contaminants do not evaporate with water.

Afterward, students can answer questions designed to get them thinking about the connections they can make, the limitations of the activity, and how the activity relates to water flow around their homes. Learn more about the lesson at

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

On the Farm STEM

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s On the Farm STEM is a multifaceted curriculum program for middle and high school educators to bring science to life in the classroom through the lens of agriculture. The program presents Next Generation Science Standards–supported lessons, activities, online learning tools, and professional development support to empower today’s students and teachers to use agriculture to improve society. At the high school level, students explore genetics and heredity concepts through 15 lessons focused on this question: How can we design cattle to better meet human needs? The 17-lesson unit for the middle level explores ecosystem dynamics and interactions centered on this question: What do prairie chickens need to survive in today’s prairie? Both units include a teacher’s guide, lesson presentation, student handouts, and links for additional resources for every lesson.

In addition to the curriculum units, teachers can access self-guided professional development courses to facilitate implementation of the units in the classroom, such as Introduction to Storylines and Creating Culture That Makes It Work.

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

Data Science Textbooks, Tools, and Certifications

This resource collection was developed for community college educators interested in building data programs at their institutions, and for high school educators teaching data science components. In addition, educators can join the Data Pathways Community of Practice group. The resources, which were compiled as part of the Oceans of Data Institute’s Mentoring New Data Pathways in Community College Community of Practice initiative, include textbooks for teaching data analysis and data visualization, as well as various open-source resources to learn specific data science programs (e.g., R and Python), and more. In addition, the collection features links to various certification opportunities for educators in data science and analytics. 

Opportunities for Grades K–College

American Association of University Women’s Community Action Grants

American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) Community Action Grants of $3,000–$10,000 provide funding to individuals, community-based nonprofits, AAUW branches, and AAUW state organizations for innovative programs that promote education and equity for women and girls. Nonprofit organizations and universities must be based in the United States or its territories, and organizations (including universities) must have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. (Deadline December 1

Youth Garden Grant

The nonprofit Kids Gardening’s Youth Garden Grant supports school and youth educational garden projects that enhance the quality of life for youth and their communities. Any organization in the United States or U.S. Territories planning a new or improving an existing garden program that serves at least 15 youth between the ages of 0 and 18 may apply. In early 2023, 50 organizations will be awarded $500 in funding and a collection of gardening supplies for their youth garden program. (Deadline December 2)

National 3-D Pin Design Challenge to Celebrate Veterans
The “We (Heart) Veterans Pin Design” challenge invites students in grades 4–12 to use their 3-D design skills to show their appreciation for U.S. veterans. The Army Educational Outreach Program will again sponsor the STEM challenge in partnership with Future Engineers, an organization that administers free, online STEM competitions for students. This year, the challenge will be judged in two grade categories, 4–8 and 9–12. To enter, students will create a digital 3-D model of a wearable pin that celebrates their unique appreciation for veterans. The challenge is free to enter, and the landing page features no-cost resources and tools for students and teachers alike. 

All entries will be reviewed by judges, including U.S. service members and veterans. Ten finalists will be selected from the two grade bands (20 finalists total), and their designs will be 3-D printed and distributed to the veterans who visit the National Veterans Memorial Museum. Finalists will also each receive five prints of their design and a $100 gift card toward a professional 3D print. The challenge winners (two grand-prize winners total) will receive a trip for two to Columbus, Ohio, to attend a special event at the National Veterans Memorial Museum. Each winner will also receive a 3-D printer to be donated to the school, library, or organization of their choice. (Deadline December 14)

Opportunity for Elementary

The Every Kid Outdoors Small Grants Program 
The program will award grants of up to $5,000 to schools and nonprofits looking for resources and funding needed to connect kids in their community to local public parks, lands, and waters. Applications are being accepted from U.S.–based 501c3 nonprofit organizations and schools that serve elementary school-aged students. (Deadline November 21)

Opportunities for Elementary and Middle Level

WWF Conservation in the Classroom Events

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) will hold two upcoming events for grades 4–8.

  • Wolakota: The Return of Buffalo to the Lands and Lifeways of the Sicangu Lakota People, November 9 at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time (ET). Sage Fast Dog Sr., a member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation, lives on the land now known as the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. As the founder and director of the Wakanyeja Tokeyahci Wounspe Tipi (Children First Learning Center), Sage incorporates important cultural values into everyday teachings so that Lakota students will learn the history, skills, and traditions of their people. In this presentation, Sage will explain the significance of the Lakota Nation’s recent efforts to return their relatives, the buffalo, to Lakota lands and the lifeways of their people.
  • The Connection Between Forests and Climate Change, December 8 at 1:30 p.m. ET. In this livestream event with Josefina Braña Varela, WWF's vice president and deputy lead of forests, students will learn about the connections between forests and climate change and what she and her team are working on to protect forests.

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

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