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Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, September 5, 2023

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies and Opportunities for Science and STEM Teachers, September 5, 2023

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary

Planet Bonehead

Teachers can use this free program to teach students in grades 3–5 about climate change. Planet Bonehead combines animation, documentaries, and songs into 30-minute episodes. This year, the entire series will focus on climate science. Each episode covers a different environmental topic directly related to climate change; supports several Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS); and features STEAM-focused design/engineering lesson plans that support NGSS. New episodes will be released during the school year.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School

Beyond Population: Using Different Types of Density to Understand Land Use
In this activity from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools program, high school students use images, Census Bureau data, and interactive maps to visualize and calculate arithmetic (population), agricultural, and physiological densities at local, regional, and national scales. Students then create a bar graph from their data and analyze the results. The Teacher Version features key vocabulary, lesson timeline, links to interactive maps, and data tables with suggested student responses; the Student Version has guided questions, blank data tables, and reflection questions.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School and College

Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions
Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions is an instructional video series and website exploring general chemistry concepts using real-life challenges in energy, materials development, biochemistry, and the environment. Produced by the Annenberg Foundation for high school and undergraduate college audiences, the series consist of 13 30-minute video units; an interactive chemistry timeline; a course guide; and two virtual labs highlighting practical applications of the chemistry concepts studied throughout the units. Each unit video features engaging demonstrations of key principles, interviews with scientists doing current research relating to the unit topic, animations, and clear explanations. The videos are hosted by chemists working in different fields, showcasing the diversity of chemistry professionals and highlighting the numerous societal challenges chemistry is helping to address today. 

Opportunity for Elementary and Middle Level

2023 Mass STEM Week: STEM Design Challenge

Join the Wade Institute for Science Education and collaborating partners, the Lloyd Center for the Environment and Buttonwood Park Zoo, for its 2023 STEM Challenge. Engineering Design Challenge: Animal Adaptations and Bioengineering will engage students in grades 5–8 in an experience that integrates science and engineering concepts in a series of inquiry-based investigations that lead up to a student-driven Challenge. Participation is free, and high schools are welcome to participate.

Students will be divided into small teams and given a scenario that asks them as a team of engineers to design a prosthetic device for an injured animal to help it survive. Teachers will choose from two scenarios: one for terrestrial wildlife and one for marine animals. 

Terrestrial Wildlife. A wildlife biologist has discovered an (animal) in the local (habitat) that has a deformation that is affecting its ability to survive. The biologist has asked your team of engineers to create a prosthetic to help (insert animal) survive in the wild. Your Challenge is to create a prototype of the prosthetic you will use to help (animal) survive. (Examples of deformations may include an eagle whose beak is damaged, an elephant with a deformed leg, an owl missing a wing, a mountain goat missing a hoof, or a squirrel with no tail.)

Marine Wildlife. A local marine biologist has discovered an (animal) that has a deformation that is affecting its ability to survive. The (animal) is currently at the local aquarium. The biologist has asked your team of engineers to create a prosthetic to help (animal) survive in the wild so that it can be released back into the wild. Your Challenge is to create a prototype of the prosthetic you will use to help (animal) survive. (Examples of deformations may include a dolphin missing a tail, a sea turtle missing a flipper or with a broken shell, a duck with a damaged beak, or a penguin missing a foot.)

The Challenge includes

  • Optional Pre-Challenge Professional Learning Workshops. Virtual Workshop: September 21 and September 28, (3–6 p.m. ET); In-person Workshop: September 30 (9 a.m.–3 p.m. ET), Buttonwood Park Zoo, New Bedford, Massachusetts
  • The Curriculum Guide, with information and materials that will assist participants in designing and creating the prototype prosthetic
  • A materials kit for implementing the challenge in your classroom (Massachusetts schools only)
  • A Student Work showcase 

Opportunity for Middle Level

Sally Ride EarthKAM Mission

Sally Ride EarthKAM (Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students) is a free STEM educational program managed by the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. During September 19–22, EarthKAM will allow students to take images of Earth from space using a camera aboard the International Space Station. Educators can use EarthKAM as a teaching tool for Earth science, space science, environmental science, geography, social studies, mathematics, communications, and art. The activities section of the website features lesson ideas. While EarthKAM is aimed at middle level students, K–12 and informal educators can participate as well.

Opportunity for Middle Level and High School

2023–2024 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Competition

Samsung has launched this nationwide educational initiative in which students in grades 6–12 consider how science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) can be used to create change in their communities. The contest encourages students to think critically, collaborate with their peers, and build a foundation for community engagement. Public and charter school teachers nationwide can apply through November 14 on their students’ behalf and compete to win up to $100,000 in prizes for their school and the chance for students to work with Samsung employees to develop their prototypes. Solve for Tomorrow has four levels of competition: State Finalists, State Winners, National Finalists, and National Winners. At the end of the competition, judges will announce one Community Choice Winner, one Employees Choice Winner, and three National Winners.

The competition has mentorship programs for both teachers and students. All teachers who enter the contest can participate in Samsung’s Teacher Academy and get free MindSpark professional development tools. At every level of the contest, teachers are eligible to win thousands of dollars in classroom resources.

Careers Chemistry Climate Change Climate Science Curriculum Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Engineering Environmental Science General Science Inquiry Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Labs Lesson Plans Life Science Mathematics News STEM Teaching Strategies Elementary Middle School High School Postsecondary Informal Education

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