By Debra Shapiro
Shodor’s Computational Science Online Interactives
Looking for online interactives to enhance students’ computational thinking skills? Check out the educational resources from Shodor Educational Foundation, a nonprofit that provides computational science materials and instruction for teachers and students of all levels from elementary to undergraduate. Shodor’s Interactivate collection features 100 interactive online experiences for students in grades 3–12 to develop computational thinking skills. For example, students can investigate number patterns and mathematical relationships in Coloring Remainders in Pascal’s Triangle (grades 3–6), or learn to measure angles, distances, and areas in various images (e.g., maps, aerial photos) using an online Image Tool (grades 4–8). In Advance Fire (grades 9–12), students run a simulation of how a fire spreads through a stand of trees, learning about probability and chaos as well as how to track the results of multiple burns and use the data to draw conclusions.
Highlights for advanced high school and undergraduate audiences include Master Tools, a collection of simulation and scientific modeling tools—and accompanying instructional materials—that give students an authentic scientific experience and a deeper understanding of the use and importance of scientific modeling. The site also includes a section of interactive online activities for students with visual and hearing impairments.
Kapwing for Education
Kapwing—a browser-based video editing software that works on all platforms, including Chromebooks—is offering no-cost subscriptions to students and teachers in K–12 and higher education institutions. Teachers and students can create all types of multimedia content in Kapwing; no editing experience required. Tools and tutorials are available to guide users to record presentations, complete group projects, edit videos, design worksheets, and more. (Note: To access the free subscription, teachers need to register with an official school e-mail address.)
Young Scientists Lab
Bring the science of everyday life to K–8 classrooms with resources from 3M and Discovery Education’s Young Scientists Lab. The resources include online interactives and lesson plans to engage students in science learning and problem solving. Highlights from the online interactives include Getting Connected, which challenges middle level students to fix a broken circuit in time for a town Halloween contest, and Wind Turbine, which engages middle level students in designing a wind turbine to supply 400 homes with electricity for a year with the highest efficiency.
While the interactives are most appropriate for middle level, the lesson plans include resources for all levels. For example, Light and Shadow (grades K–2) develops a foundational understanding of light as students explore how light and shadow interact with different objects. In Fun with Adhesives, young students (grades K–2) work together as engineering teams to create a formula for homemade glue. How Strong Is It? (grades 3–5) engages student groups in investigating the properties of adhesive notes and determining the amount of force required to pull them across a plane, while Drive It Green (grades 6–8) challenges students to imagine and design greener transportation solutions for their families.
Switch Classroom Energy Curriculum
Switch Energy Alliance’s Switch Classroom, a video-based online learning platform, provides data-driven energy curriculum to teachers and students. The curriculum is based on Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science standards, but it supports the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and can be adapted for middle level, high school, and postsecondary levels. Learning modules include Energy Fundamentals, Hydrocarbons and Nuclear, Renewable Resources, Energy Decisions, Sustainability and Conservation, and Advanced Learning.
Educators must create a free account to access the curriculum. Once logged in, teachers can browse the curriculum content and the online Teacher Guide, which features video tutorials to help users learn to navigate the learning platform. In addition, the Switch Classroom blog presents posts and commentary from teachers of all grade levels currently using the curriculum in the classroom.
Virtual Rock Box
Ohio State University’s Byrd Climate and Polar Research Center has developed a virtual rock box appropriate for middle level and older students that features photographic 3-D models of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, and fossils. Students can click and hold a cursor on the selected image to maneuver the virtual rock to see all sides of the sample. Featured rocks include granite, pumice, basalt, obsidian, and others (igneous); limestone, sandstone, shale, and conglomerate (sedimentary); and quartzite, mylonite, schist, marble, gneiss, and slate (metamorphic). Fossil images include crinoid stems, clams, brachiopods, horn coral, snails, petrified wood, and more.
Northwest Association for Biomedical Research Teacher Center
Northwest Association for Biomedical Research (NWABR)’s Teacher Center has a collection of high school lesson plans, rubrics, and guidelines, as well as various professional development programs for teachers to promote understanding of biomedical research. Of particular interest are the Ethics Primer and Bioethics 101 lessons, which offer classroom-friendly lessons for integrating ethical issues in high school science courses. The Ethics Primer presents basic background on ethics as a discipline alongside decision-making frameworks to guide students in applying reasoned analysis to ethical issues, while Bioethics 101 incorporates the use of case studies, ethical principles, decision-making frameworks, and stakeholder role-play to guide students in learning how to justify an answer to an ethical question.
In addition to these introductory lessons, specialized units—such as The Nature of Science Research and Humans in Research—delve deeper into ethical content and challenge students to consider their roles and responsibilities as scientifically literate citizens while promoting a greater understanding of the role of science in society.
National Geographic’s Free Online Courses
National Geographic’s cohort-based courses, which begin on September 28, are open to formal and informal educators worldwide who work with K–12 students. Courses of interest to science and STEM teachers include
In many of these courses, learners can earn graduate credits through National Geographic’s university partnerships. Register by October 2.
Budding Botanist Grants
These grants help provide garden-based learning opportunities to children in high-need schools. Twenty schools across the United States will receive $1,000 in grant funding to support their youth garden programs. One winner will be selected to host a small garden celebration with the help of nonprofit KidsGardening, hair care company Klorane, and the Klorane Botanical Foundation in either May or June 2023. The school will receive an additional $500 in funding.
Any public school, charter school, or private school serving students in grades K–12 in the United States with at least 40% of their student population qualifying for free or reduced-price meals can apply. Applicants must be planning a new or expanding an existing school garden program designed to teach students about environmental sustainability and the importance of biodiversity. (Deadline October 14)
Vernier Science Education Inspiration Grants
Innovative STEM educators who engage—or want to engage—their students through creative implementation of Vernier technology may apply for this new grant program. Vernier will award 10 grants this year. Each grant will include $1,000 in Vernier technology, a one-year license for the Vernier Graphical Analysis™ Pro app, and three hours of virtual professional development. Applicants must be educators who are actively teaching in a K–college educational institution within the United States and who have never received a Vernier grant.
Grants will be awarded based on purpose and need of request. (Deadline November 30)
Helping Students Find Themselves in Nature: Half-Earth Day Educator Ambassador Institute
Help your students understand conservation of biodiversity, a field of science connected to NGSS and Common Core learning standards. Hosted by the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and the National Museum of Natural History, this free Educator Workshop is offered in celebration of Half-Earth Day. Half-Earth is a call to protect half the land and sea to manage sufficient habitat to reverse the species extinction crisis and ensure the long-term health of our planet. Participants will receive all the materials they need to do a team-based, hands-on design challenge with their students.
The workshop will be held on October 13 at 8–11:30 a.m. Eastern Time at The Coralyn W. Whitney Science Education Center in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Space is limited, and registration is required.
Miami University’s Project Dragonfly Earth Expeditions Courses
Project Dragonfly’s 2023 Earth Expeditions graduate courses offer biodiversity and community conservation experiences at global field sites in 15 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. The courses are open to preK–12 teachers, school administrators, and university faculty, as well as to leaders and naturalists from non-school settings such as zoos, environmental centers, businesses, youth programs, parks, and museums.
Earth Expeditions can build toward the Global Field Program (GFP), a master’s degree that combines summer field courses worldwide with web learning communities so that students can complete the GFP master's part-time from anywhere in the United States or abroad. Applications will be accepted until January 28, 2023. Courses begin in May 2023.
Project Dragonfly also offers the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) master’s degree that combines web instruction from Miami University with face-to-face experiential learning and field study through several AIP sites in the United States. Applications for Miami's 2023 cohorts will be accepted until February 28, 2023, with place-based experiences provided at zoos and botanical gardens in Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, New York, San Diego, Seattle, and St. Louis.
Population Education’s World of 8 Billion Contest
Population Education’s World of 8 Billion student video contest (previously the World of 7 Billion) challenges students to create a short video connecting world population growth to one of three global topics: Climate Change, Waste, and Gender Equality. Videos should include content on how population growth affects the selected topic and why it’s important, along with at least one sustainable solution. More than 80 cash prizes of up to $1,200 will be awarded, and participating teachers will receive free curriculum resources that support the NGSS. Many teachers assign the contest as a small-group project, using the provided lesson plan, background readings, and a video project organizer to optimize learning. (Deadline February 22, 2023)
Webinar on Budburst, a Community Science Project
Budburst is a nationwide community science project investigating plant and pollinator responses to climate change. Anyone can participate in Budburst by submitting their observations of plants wherever they live. A central focus of its work is educational, and this fall, high school and college educators are encouraged to use Budburst in their classrooms. Budburst offers free curriculum/activities and can be used to give students hands-on experience conducting a real-world science project. It is appropriate for semester-long studies (both remote and in-person) focused on biology or environmental studies.
To learn more, attend a free 1-hour webinar for educators on Tuesday, September 27, at 4 p.m. CDT. Register at https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/su/41nKymv/budburstwebinar.
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