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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, October 3, 2023

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, October 3, 2023

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary

The Secret Life of Denim
Students in grades 2–4 will explore how denim “grows” from the cotton plant with this Young Minds Inspired program developed with the research and marketing company Cotton Incorporated. A whimsical cotton boll named Baxter will guide your students as they learn about

  • the life cycle of cotton;
  • the many ways cotton is used; and
  • the Blue Jeans Go Green™ denim recycling program, which transforms old cotton denim into new products. 

These standards-based lessons support science, math, and English language arts skills, and each one includes a follow-up activity that families can do together at home.

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

I Was a Kid in the Classroom

The I Was a Kid (IWAK) website—which contains career profiles of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) professionals who represent minorities in race, religion, background, gender, sexuality, and mental and physical ability—now has a teachers’ page featuring various ways that teachers have used IWAK in their classrooms. (The multimedia profiles include a downloadable, comic-style poster featuring biographical information about the scientists, as well as their personal quotes and text describing their work.)

For example, an eighth-grade science teacher asked students to use IWAK’s career profiles as inspiration for creating profiles of people in their lives who work in STEAM fields. An informal educator in an after-school program used an IWAK science comic profiling Darin Gray, an African American engineer; the educator arranged for students to meet and speak with Gray during a videoconference.

The IWAK site is continuing to add more career profiles: By the end of the year, the site will house 40 different profiles. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School

Skin Science
The American Academy of Dermatology Association and Young Minds Inspired have created Skin Science, a free high school health and science program that invites students to examine the role of dermatologists: specialist physicians who diagnose and treat more than 3,000 conditions affecting the skin, hair, and nails. The program includes three standards-based activities focused on skin health. A career guide introduces students to what is needed to become a dermatologist, as well as various roles in dermatology—from seeing patients to surgery to research and more.

Opportunities for Grades K–12

Audience With an Astronaut, Free Virtual Educational Series

To celebrate World Space Week 2023, the nonprofit Space Foundation will hold a free virtual educational series called Audience With an Astronaut beginning on October 4. The five-part series, co-sponsored by the United States Air Force Academy Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Outreach Program, features STEM hands-on activity lessons, Q&A segments, and audience engagement via polls and videos. The first three sessions are

  • October 4—Retired USAF Lt. Col. Duane “Digger” Carey, discussing the topic Back to the Moon. (grades 3–5)
  • November 14—Kathryn Thornton, addressing the topic Space Technologies: Past, Present, and Future. (grades 6–12)
  • February 27, 2024—Kjell Lindgren, speaking on the topic What’s It Like to Live in Space? (grades 6–12)

2024 Budding Botanist Grant

This grant aims to help students learn about plants and explore their world, and inspire them to take care of the life they discover in their local ecosystems. In 2024, 20 high-need schools nationwide will be awarded $500 each in grant funding. Public, private, or charter schools that are planning a new or expanding an existing school garden program designed to teach students about environmental sustainability and the importance of biodiversity are eligible. Schools must support, work with, or serve communities and a majority of individuals that are under-resourced (systematically denied resources and opportunities based on race, gender, ethnicity, income level, abilities, geographic location, etc., or currently experiencing hardship such as a natural disaster, etc.). Apply by October 20.

American Meteorological Society (AMS) Project Ice Summer Program 
The AMS is accepting applications from K–12 teachers to participate in its summer 2024 Project Ice teacher professional development course, offered as part of the National Science Foundation/Oregon State University (OSU)-led Center for Oldest Ice Exploration (COLDEX). Teachers will be selected competitively from across the country, with priority given to those impacting underserved students. Participants will take a graduate-level, multi-week hybrid course in paleoclimatology and ice core science that includes a workshop at OSU in Corvallis, Oregon, where they will engage with COLDEX scientists and visit the OSU ice core lab and Marine Geology Repository. 

Travel, lodging, meals, and tuition will be provided for about 22 selected teachers. The online portion of the course runs from May 28 to June 22, 2024, with the on-site residence experience taking place June 23–29. Apply by November 30.

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