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Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers/From the Field, April 19, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers/From the Field, April 19, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–College

Leading the Implementation of Equitable 3-D Science Learning 

This science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) Teaching Tool from the University of Washington’s Institute for Science and Math Education describes steps that districts and/or individual principals can take to effectively lead the implementation of three-dimensional (3-D) science learning in their schools. “Practice Brief 85: Principals! Here’s What You Can Do to Foster Equitable Three-Dimensional Science Learning” provides links and resources to help principals identify what 3-D science looks and sounds like in the classroom and how it differs from traditional science learning. One key recommendation is for principals to participate in 3-D science learning activities themselves (as professional development), so they can have direct experience with 3-D science learning. The hands-on experience can provide a foundation for what to look for as principals conduct “science learning walks” throughout the school and develop an action plan to support all science teachers’ professional learning. 

Science Near Me

ScienceNearMe is a National Science Foundation–funded project that aims to get K–college learners more involved in community science. The project website features a database of community science projects, science conferences, speakers, competitions, and other happenings, including virtual events, occurring nationwide. Teachers can search for projects within an area of interest (e.g., Explore Earth and Space; Create and Build; Make a Difference; Celebrate Science; Listen, Learn, Discuss, and Inform; and For Kids), or scroll down to search “Find and Do Science” by Activity Type. With thousands of opportunities in the database, ScienceNearMe can be helpful whether you are looking to engage students in long-term projects studying data over time or short-term activities, such as those for day camps and classrooms.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

Wonderful Wetlands

Just in time for Earth Day, HughesNet and 4-H have an environmental science activity that teaches students in grades 3–5 about the importance of wetlands. With this hands-on experiment that uses materials easily found in the home, young scientists can make their own model coastline. The activity runs about 45–90 minutes and features reflection questions for students.

Science Connections: The Podcast

With Science Connections, a podcast for K–8 educators produced by Amplify Education, listeners will meet innovating educators and scientists passionate about inspiring kids to love learning science. Podcast guests will share their advice from the classroom for the classroom to help teachers prepare today’s students to be the next generation of 21st-century scientists. Hosted by Eric Cross—a middle level science/technology teacher and digital learning innovator for Albert Einstein Academies, International Baccalaureate schools, and adjunct professor of learning and technology at the University of San Diego—each approximately 45-minute episode features a conversation with an educator or scientist discussing ways to best support K–8 students in science classrooms. 

In the first episode, listeners meet supply chain engineer Juan Vivas of SpaceX, who shares his experiences growing up as a Latino in STEM and what led him to a successful career in science. Other episodes explore key topics in science education, such as Integrating Literacy Skills in K–8 Science Classroom, featuring Lawrence Hall of Science education expert Rebecca Abbott. 

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

Pathways: Vaccine Science

The Spring 2022 issue of Pathways is now available to educators. The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences has produced Pathways, a series of virtual curriculum modules that aim to teach students about basic science and its importance to health while inspiring careers in research. Designed for grades 6–12, the latest unit explores the science behind vaccines. The materials highlight how COVID-19 vaccines work in the body and how researchers were equipped to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also included are shared insights from Vice President Kamala Harris on the importance of scientific collaboration. 

The digital unit contains a student magazine, teaching guide, vocabulary list, and online quiz. Free print copies of the magazine and teaching guide are available to order

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School

Fostering Close Observations Through Scientific Illustrations of Bats

Looking for an activity to bolster high school learners’ close observation skills and spark interesting science discussion? Examining scientific illustrations of bats can get the conversation started. In this activity, which was published in the blog Teaching With the Library of Congress (LOC)—students work in groups examining cropped images from Ernest Haeckel’s series of illustrations on bat anatomy. Haeckel (1834–1919) was a German zoologist and embryologist who believed the study of the development of an organism was the key to understanding Darwinism and evolution. 

Initially, students do not know the species they are examining and are encouraged to discuss the similarities and differences they observe to predict what species they are seeing. After their initial observation, show students the full bat images and encourage students to make a scientific illustration of their own. To extend learning, students can compare Haeckel’s illustrations of bat anatomy to bat illustrations from Georges Cuvier (1769–1832), a scientific illustrator from an earlier point in history. Using drawings from both illustrators and their own observation skills, students can discuss attributes such as wings, hair, and large ears to determine where bats should fall on the phylogenetic tree and which species they are more closely related to. Students can also investigate how bat ear size relates to their navigation technique, echolocation.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School and College

Multimedia Learning Objects

This collection of interactive multimedia learning objects (MLO)s and animations can be used to enhance courses and bring abstractions to life. Most appropriate for advanced high school and university settings, the learning objects have been developed in collaboration with faculty on campus at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and can be shared across multiple disciplines and institutions. The multimedia learning objects explore various topics and disciplines. Science-related MLOs explore topics such as Building Lattices (crystallography); Cellular Signaling; Atomic Electron Configurations; Thin Layer Chromatography; Periodic Table of Elements; and other themes, while engineering-related MLOs address concepts such as Differential Leveling and Constructing Mohr’s Circles. MLOs of interest from the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences include a simulation exploring Equinoxes and Solstices, as well as a simulation exploring the relationships among altitude, temperature, dewpoint, relative humidity, and precipitation in the orographic process.

From the Field: Grades K–12

Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) Webinars

Enhance your teaching about climate and energy. Learn more and register for these webinars.

  • Climate and Mental Health: Acknowledging Grief and Inspiring Hope, April 19 at 6 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). Learn how to inspire hope in yourself and your students through examples of innovation, advocacy, and community action. 
  • Exploring Hands-On, STEM-Based Energy Activities for the Classroom, April 26 at 6 p.m. ET. In addition to showcasing activities to teach about electricity generation and renewable energy, strategies for adapting and extending activities to meet instructional goals for both science and Career and Technical Education (CTE) classrooms will be presented.
  • Teaching About Climate and Energy in Communities That Might Not Want to Hear It, May 3 at 6 p.m. ET. Tailoring the classroom approach to suit your audience is an important strategy. This webinar will offer teaching ideas that are collaborative and solutions-oriented and can appeal to people from varied worldviews. 

Voya Unsung Heroes Awards Program

The program helps K–12 educators and their schools fund innovative classroom projects through awards totaling nearly $5 million. First place will receive $25,000; second place will receive $10,000; and the third place winner will receive $5,000. Full-time educators, teachers, principals, paraprofessionals, or classified staff of public or private schools located in the United States may apply if they have effective projects that improve student learning. Apply by April 30.

Liberatory STEM Pedagogy Workshops

Upper-elementary, middle level, and high school teachers and college instructors: Are you interested in integrating social learning into your STEM courses, but want to learn how? Do you want to help your students fight inequity, but not sure how your “facts-and-figures” course can support doing that? Liberatory STEM Pedagogy Workshops provide examples of how that kind of teaching can be done in STEM courses. These hour-long online workshops are being offered at no cost. Participants will receive practical examples and inspirational ideas and join a network of like-minded Liberatory Educators in STEM. 

These workshops will be held at various times in late April to late June. To register, access this public Google Spreadsheet and select your Time Zone on the bottom tab to decide when to attend. When you’ve chosen your session, put it on your calendar with the following information:
Webex Room:
Meeting number: 2620 915 3879
Password: teachfreedom

From the Field: High School

Knowles Academy’s Free Short Courses

Knowles Academy is offering the following free online short courses, held via Zoom, for science and math teachers.

  • Exploring a Physical Science Phenomenon Through the Practices of Science, April 20. Teachers will explore a physical science phenomenon to deepen their understanding of how the practices of questioning, modeling, and data analysis support students in building content knowledge. Teachers will then examine places in their curriculum in which phenomena and science practices can support students in building content knowledge.
  • Actionable Norms for Effective Group Work, May 9. This course will help teachers gain the knowledge and confidence needed to implement effective group work in their classrooms.
  • Project-Based Learning (PBL) Basics, May 19. Discover some of the basics of PBL, such as entry events, end products, checkpoints, and other core components.
  • Equitable Group Work, May 26. Teachers will learn how to leverage group work to give students access to more learning opportunities.

BRAIN Initiative Challenge: Ethical Considerations of Brain Technologies
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) BRAIN Initiative is a collective effort by NIH aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain. By accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies, researchers will be able to produce a revolutionary new dynamic picture of the brain in action. To enter the BRAIN Initiative Challenge, currently enrolled U.S. high school students from all backgrounds are invited to submit an essay or video envisioning current and/or near-future states of brain technologies and the ethical dilemmas they may bring. Total cash prizes of $20,000 will be awarded to the winners. (Deadline April 25)

From the Field: College/University

Lt Chemistry Flagship Account Sponsorship

ADInstruments has partnered with Vernier Software & Technology to create the Lt Chemistry Collection. Lt is a cloud-based, active-learning platform that integrates with Vernier’s Go Direct® Sensors to sample data directly into Lt and create engaging, hands-on chemistry experiments. It allows educators who teach introductory undergraduate chemistry courses to simplify their curriculum with inbuilt course management, analytics, and grading tools. Chemistry instructors can apply to be a Flagship Account and win a free one-year Lt subscription and up to 10 Go Direct® Chemistry Sensor Packages (valued at more than $8,000). Apply by May 1.

Administration Biology Careers Chemistry Climate Change Curriculum Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Engineering Evolution General Science Inclusion Instructional Materials Life Science Literacy News Phenomena Physical Science Professional Learning STEM Teaching Strategies Three-Dimensional Learning Middle School Elementary High School Postsecondary

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