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Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers/From the Field, June 7, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers/From the Field, June 7, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–College

Caterpillars Count! Community Science Project

Not sure where to start when trying to engage students of all ages from upper-elementary to college in community science? Start small—like as a caterpillar! The University of North Carolina is studying the seasonal changes of arthropods (e.g., caterpillars, beetles, and spiders) and is seeking data from across the nation. Caterpillars Count! can get students thinking about environmental action and allow you to incorporate scientific practices. At the project website, educators can access tips and information on how to participate, as well as materials and quizzes to help teachers and students learn to identify arthropods. The data that students contribute can help scientists relate trends in arthropod populations to bird populations in the same area and better understand how changes in climate and land use impact plants and animals.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Preschool/Elementary

Preschool Data Toolbox

Start building data literacy skills in grades preK–K with this app and digital teaching guide developed by the Education Development Center’s Oceans of Data Institute. The app—available for computers and for iPad and Android devices—allows teachers and students to easily create graphs and tally charts. After creating a graph, teachers can use the app’s tools to draw on the screen with their finger, sort data, view questions about the data (i.e., data talk), and transform the way data is represented from pictures to stacked blocks or solid bars. 

The digital teacher’s guide presents lessons that introduce graphs and why they are helpful. Lesson titles include What Do We Wear, in which students sort, graph, and discuss what they are wearing; Animal Data Shuffle, in which students use their bodies to categorize animals and make pictographs; Our Feelings Freeze, in which students graph their feelings at the start and end of the day, and when striking a silly pose, and compare the graphs; and Measure With Me, in which students practice sorting, classifying, counting, and comparing skills as they measure and graph the same distance in the classroom using different units of measurement (e.g., wide arms, narrow arms, and shoes). The teacher’s guide features videos and text to guide educators through each step of the classroom activities.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

Smithsonian Science Education Center Curriculum Resources

Smithsonian Science Education Center offers a variety of free curriculum and educational resources for K–8 science instruction. The resources include videos, online games, apps, lesson plans, webcasts, and more, exploring topics in Engineering Design, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Chemistry, and Physical Science. Notable highlights for primary learners include the engineering design–based game Tami’s Tower and Virtual Stargazing, an activity in which young learners use 360-degree photographs to view the Sun’s apparent daily pattern of motion across the sky. Upper-elementary students can engross themselves in the world of insects through Expedition Insects, an animated e-book that takes readers around the globe to experience six different types of insects in their natural habitat. And middle level students can find career inspiration and motivation in the e-book Stories of Women in STEM at the Smithsonian, which features biographies of trailblazing women who made history through their scientific discoveries and innovation.

Slime in Space: A Virtual Field Trip 

What happens when you send Nickelodeon slime to the International Space Station? That’s what a group of NASA astronauts set out to answer, and now students can see it for themselves without leaving the classroom. Most appropriate for elementary and middle levels, the 15-minute virtual field trip takes students 250 miles above Earth to see how slime and water react in a microgravity environment. An accompanying Teacher’s Guide and other resources—including Slime in Space BINGO, activity sheets, and hands-on activities for the classroom—can extend learning from the virtual field trip. The materials can easily be adapted for older or younger audiences.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School

Online Lab: Determining and Measuring Earth's Layered Interior  

The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) has created an online version of its popular lab activity Determining and Measuring Earth’s Layered Interior. The lab shows students how to use evidence—in the form of earthquake data—to better understand the Earth’s interior layers. Most appropriate for the high school level, the lab supports the Next Generation Science Standards, emphasizes the use of models, and demonstrates how empirical evidence can be used to make discoveries in Earth science. Through various lab activities, students learn to analyze seismic data and use the information to make connections and answer questions about how the Earth’s systems interact and why scientists use models. The guided lab includes detailed instructions, embedded instructional videos, and a downloadable certificate upon completion.

Thomas Edison’s Favorite Invention: The Phonograph

Engage students in grades 9–12 in learning about Thomas Edison and his favorite invention—the phonograph—with primary source documents from the Library of Congress (LOC) and an activity from Teaching With the LOC. In the activity, students examine a photograph of Edison’s phonograph and record their observations. As students reflect on the image, challenge students to consider questions such as these: How does a phonograph work? How might sound be related to this experiment? Is music an important part of the phonograph experiment? 

To extend learning, have students examine an illustration of the 19th-century laboratory where Edison invented the phonograph. This image lends itself to a unique game of Hide and Seek using a primary source document. In this activity, which supports the development of observation and inferencing skills, students take turns giving clues as to where they “are” in the picture and see if the rest of the class can guess their location based on the descriptions of the resources around them. 

From the Field: Grades K–12

American Association of Physics Teachers PD

Come to Grand Rapids, Michigan, on July 13–15 for three days of professional development led by Physics Teaching Resource Experts. The event will feature two strands of sessions—one for grades 3–8 and one for grades 8–12—for current teachers, preservice teachers, or professional development providers. Select one strand, or mix and match. Registration is free, but is required to be able to order supplies (for you to take back to the classroom) and ensure safe distancing. 

Each session includes topics from kinematics to black holes and climate change. Questions? E-mail Tommi Holsenbeck.

2022–2023 Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Short-Term Program 

Through this program, expert K–12 educators from the United States travel to participating countries and territories to carry out short-term assignments abroad. Educators support and work in schools, teacher training colleges, government ministries, or educational non-governmental organizations, as identified by U.S. Embassies and Fulbright Commissions. Fields for these assignments include STEM, project-based learning, family and consumer science, assessment, curriculum development, elementary education, education for those with visual impairments, and academic remediation. STEM projects will take place in Peru, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Project dates run from January to August 2023. Apply by July 18.

Create a Virtual Field Trip 

Learn how to use Infiniscope’s free Virtual Field Trip (VFT) builder, Tour It, to create interactive VFTs anchored in place-based pedagogy. With Tour It, you can embed images, videos, and websites into interactive hotspots to deepen and extend learning. This workshop series will take place on July 7, 12, 14, and 21 at 5–7 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). Each day will focus on a particular aspect and include a task to help you prepare for the next session. Up to 14 re-certification hours will be available for completion of this training, the creation of a VFT, and participation in the final showcase.

Global Teaching Dialogue

The U.S. Department of State invites K–12 teachers and global education leaders to this free virtual event on July 19–20. Alumni of the State Department’s Teacher Exchange Programs and other global education leaders will conduct workshops on incorporating global perspectives into lesson plans and on adapting educational strategies and useful pedagogical practices from other countries across the K–12 curriculum. Fulbright Teachers will lead sessions focused on global issues such as climate change, human rights, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Attendees will also hear from State Department officials about opportunities for students and educators of diverse backgrounds to participate in exchanges abroad, and have the opportunity to connect with educators worldwide. 

From the Field: Middle Level and High School

Earth Science Data Use and Understanding in Grades 7 to 14: ESIP Teacher Summer Workshop 

The Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) Education Committee will hold an in-person workshop with local educators from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area, combined with an online workshop via Zoom on July 20 and 21 (1:30–5 p.m. ET both days). Registration is free. ESIP members will share a resource and lead teachers through an activity using Earth science data to explore phenomena via different types of data. Tools and resources include the NOAA Climate Explorer, UNAVCO Velocity Viewer, NOAA CIMSS satellite data activities, NASA SEDAC Hazards Mapper and HazPop App, En-ROADS Climate Decision Model, and the Concord Consortium Flood Risk and Impact module. Participants will also be directed to the Out 2 Lunch archive of Earth science webinar demos of data tools and resources.

In-person attendees will receive $200 to defray fuel and hotel costs; some meals will be provided. They’ll also be eligible to apply and compete for a FUNding Friday project of up to $3,000. Both in-person and online participants may apply for implementation grants the following school year.

Changing Arctic Ecosystem Workshop 

This free interactive online workshop allows teachers to engage with the MOSAiC Expedition–inspired A Changing Arctic Ecosystem storyline curriculum connected to NGSS life science standards. Participants will hear from MOSAiC scientists and the curriculum developers about the unit, in which students trace the flow of carbon through the Arctic food web to predict how declining sea ice might impact Arctic organisms. Teachers will engage with ArcGIS Storymaps, hands-on investigations, authentic Arctic datasets, and more. The workshop will be held on July 27–28 at 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Mountain Time.

Participants are expected to complete about 2 hours of asynchronous work. Teachers will receive a certificate for 10 professional development hours and the option to purchase 1 credit ($80) from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Assessment Careers Chemistry Citizen Science Climate Change Curriculum Disabilities Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Engineering Environmental Science Equity General Science Inclusion Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Labs Lesson Plans Life Science Mathematics New Science Teachers News NGSS Phenomena Physical Science Physics Preservice Science Education Professional Learning Science and Engineering Practices STEM Teacher Preparation Teaching Strategies Middle School Elementary High School Postsecondary Pre-service Teachers Preschool

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