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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, October 17, 2023

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, October 17, 2023

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary

Watch and Do Science

The Exploratorium’s Watch and Do Science series combines videos and hands-on activities to spark student discovery and generate excitement about science in grades K–5. Students explore familiar phenomena—such as Bubbles, Shadows, Pendulums, Balance, Ramps and Rollers, and Afterimages—with a video, then delve further into the topic with a related hands-on activity using everyday materials. Each topic also includes a set of slides with instructions for scaffolding the accompanying activity (available in both Spanish and English) and grade-specific connections to the Next Generation Science Standards. In addition, a Teacher Support Guide presents a lesson timeline for leading the activities in the classroom, as well as suggestions and additional resources to extend learning.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Middle Level

Seeing a Solar Eclipse From Space

Have you ever struggled to explain the science behind solar eclipses or other weather phenomena? SciJinks, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s weather website for middle level educators and students, presents straightforward science explanations of solar eclipses and other weather and sky-related phenomena. Ideal for classroom use, the explanations feature short summaries of a topic written in kid-friendly text and supported by relevant videos, diagrams, and links for further learning from NOAA. For example, the article on solar eclipses explains the science behind partial and total solar eclipses and includes videos of solar eclipses taken from Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-16, NOAA’s high-tech weather satellite that collects images and atmospheric data about Earth, including hydrologic, oceanic, climatic, solar, and space data.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School and University

Mini-Unit: Animal Collective: How Group Behavior Can Produce Surprising Problems and Solutions
Students will draw their own social networks, ponder the meaning of complexity, and begin noticing unexpected patterns that emerge around them, unremarked. Through hands-on activities and digital experiments, students will discover how complexity research enriches our daily lives. The unit includes digital simulations of social media echo chambers and fish schooling, video about emergent phenomena, and connections to current research in complex animal behavior and human social media networks. While the unit was created for grades 11–university, lessons 1 (Draw Your Social Network) and 3 (Flock Like a Bird Movement Activity) could easily be modified for middle school and grades 9 and 10.

Opportunities for Middle Level and High School

FDA’s Professional Development Program in Food Science

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Graduate School USA are offering two asynchronous online courses for middle level and high school teachers/students: Science and Our Food Supply: Using the Nutrition Facts Label to Make Healthy Food Choices, and Science and Our Food Supply: Exploring Food and Agricultural Biotechnology. The courses are based on each of the Science and Our Food Supply publication’s curriculum topics: Nutrition, Agricultural Biotechnology, Dietary Supplements, and Food Safety. Teacher guides on which the courses are based can be found here:

Teachers who complete the training within three weeks can earn one continuing education unit for each course. Each course will take approximately 10 hours. Courses are available free of charge to teachers who meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • U.S. citizenship;
  • Full-time employment as a middle level or high school teacher in the United States;
  • Teach science, agriculture, health, or Family and Consumer Sciences in a public or private school in the United States, U.S territories, or Department of Defense school system; and
  • Have a current teaching certificate to be included with registration. (If a teaching certificate is not required by your current school, a letter of explanation will be required.)

Space is limited. Register for Science and Our Food Supply: Using the Nutrition Facts Label to Make Healthy Food Choices.  
Register for Science and Our Food Supply: Exploring Food Agriculture and Biotechnology.

National STEM Challenge
The National STEM Challenge, presented by streaming video and curriculum service EXPLR, is designed to cultivate creativity, critical thinking, and a love for STEM among middle and high school students, who will channel their inner scientist, engineer, tech guru, or math wizard to make a real difference with STEM. All U.S.-based grades 6–12 students in the challenge are asked to craft a STEM project that tackles a real-world challenge. Choose from one of the following themes and use scientific methods or the engineering design process to create projects by November 12:

  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Future Foods
  • Health and Medicine
  • Powering the Planet
  • Aerospace
  • Tech for Good

Top scoring projects will win a trip to Washington, D.C., in April 2024 to share their projects at the National STEM Festival, presented in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education. 

In addition, remote volunteers are needed to evaluate student projects. The digital review process will take place in November and December 2023, with each volunteer reviewing 10–12 projects. Apply at

Opportunity for High School

U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad Program Seeks Coaches

The U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO) is continuing its coaching program in 2024 to help high school students improve their chemistry skills and become more competitive for the USNCO. Coaching sessions will take place online in Zoom and will be coordinated by the American Chemical Society staff. Coaches are current or retired high school teachers who will be compensated for their time. 

Up to 40 coaches will be recruited, coaches will work in teams of two, and each team will work with approximately 10 high school students at once. Four coaching sessions will last for two hours on alternating Fridays in January and February, leading up to the USNCO Local Section Exam in March. Applications will be selected on a rolling basis. Apply by October 23.

Biology Chemistry Computer Science Distance Learning Earth & Space Science English Language Learners General Science Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans Life Science News Phenomena Physical Science Professional Learning Science and Engineering Practices STEM Teaching Strategies Kindergarten Elementary Middle School High School Postsecondary

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