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Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers/From the Field, May 10, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers/From the Field, May 10, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–12

National Math and Science Initiative Resources

On the National Math and Science Initiative’s (NMSI) website, teachers in grades 4–12 can access teacher-tested lesson plans and videos to support instruction in the classroom. For example, elementary teachers can find plans to conduct a Rover Design Challenge or teach essential interviewing techniques in the lesson Inquiring Minds Want to Know! Middle level educators can access lesson plans like Canister Conundrum, which teaches students how to determine the mass of an object using indirect methods. Highlights from the NMSI resources for the high school level include a series of video-based lessons on topics such as roller coaster physics, the physics of bungee jumping, what makes a species (and how to create one), and more.

Building Networks and Enhancing Diversity in the K–12 STEM Teaching Workforce

With funding from the National Science Foundation, Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) and Howard University collaborated on a project to promote and increase diversity within the K–12 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teaching workforce. The multifaceted project included conducting a survey to better understand the roles of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in organizational change and strategic planning to diversify the K–12 STEM teaching workforce and hosting a two-day virtual STEM Education Summit Alumni Workshop for participating K–12 teachers, administrators, university faculty members, and educators from nonprofit organizations to explore challenges, strategies, and shared vision needed to diversify the K–12 STEM teaching workforce. The shared learning that resulted from these efforts have been compiled in Building Networks and Enhancing Diversity in the K–12 STEM Teaching Workforce. Dubbed “The Sourcebook,” the 38-page publication is available for download at the SSEC website and contains the findings from the research study along with additional resources to learn more about facilitating diversity and system change within the K–12 STEM teaching workforce. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Early Childhood

My STEM Adventure App

STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education Center’s My STEM Adventure is a fully accessible app for helping early childhood educators (preK to K) and families to engage in STEM activities with young children from birth to five years old. The app provides step-by-step guidance for teachers and families to lead young children, including those with disabilities, on adventures in their homes, neighborhoods, classrooms, and schoolyards to explore STEM topics. The app provides support as young students explore topics such as Big and Small! or Make a Pattern. For each topic, students take pictures with the computer’s camera, then create a book from their photographs. 

My STEM Adventure is currently in the prototype stage. Next steps in development for the app include adding more STEM concepts for children to explore, as well as developing iOS and Android versions, which would enable teachers, students, and families to access the app on all devices.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary

Flip and Mozi’s Guide to How to Be an Earthling

This podcast from uses music, humor, animals, and aliens to interest K–5 students in conservation issues and encourage them to care for our Earth. Each approximately 30-minute episode highlights an “earthling” of note or explores a concept about animal behavior. Through humor and songs, students learn about Planet Earth as well as discover novel facts about the animals that that live there. Episode titles include Arctic Fox, Mimic Octopus, Snow Monkey, Food Is Fuel, Pangolin, Camel, Finding Love, Monarch Butterfly, Alligator, Giant Anteater, Making Scents, Earthling Superpowers (Adaptations), and the Bowhead Whale. 

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Middle Level

Meet the Lab 

This collection of educational resources for middle level science classrooms connects learners to relevant real-world issues, cutting-edge research, and the human element: people working together to research, innovate, and solve problems using science. Each lab addresses a different theme—Antibiotic Hunters, Cancer Detectives, Data Decoders, Nervous System Engineers, and Virus Investigators—and includes multiple components to make the research topic come to life. Each lab contains a video (and accompanying transcript) that discusses why the research matters; a series of Meet the Scientists trading cards to help students learn about careers relating to the featured science research; an Ask a Scientist video (and accompanying transcript) that describes the work at the featured lab and provides discussion questions for students to answer after viewing; and a Science Practices activity for students to complete in class that relates to the lab’s area of research. An Educator Guide, available for each lab, includes information to support teachers in using each element of the resource in the classroom. 

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

When Girls Didn't ‘Do’ Science: Mamie Moy

Want to inspire middle and high school students to pursue STEM careers? Listen as Mamie Wong Moy, University of Houston chemistry professor emeritus and a first generation Chinese-American college attendee, shares her story in this episode of Spellbound, a series of short videos celebrating remarkable scientists, produced by the American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT) for the 2011 International Year of Chemistry. In the five-minute video, Moy discusses the teachers who sparked her curiosity and drove her to pursue a rewarding career in chemistry—which spanned more than five decades—at a time in history “when girls didn’t ‘do’ science.”  

From the Field: Grades K–12


Throughout May, teachers can join a global nature campaign that encourages kids to get outside to learn about all the wildlife living nearby, and share what they find with classrooms worldwide. Students will find as many different species of plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds, mammals, crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, and fungi as they can. Teachers can use BackyardBio as a classroom project, or students can just spend 10 minutes looking and listening to see what they discover. Students’ photos can be shared on social media or on INaturalist/Seek Apps, or teachers can register to be partnered with an international network of teachers and their classes can participate together. Check the website for free resources to accompany BackyardBio.

The Search for Life in the Universe With Your Students

The American Geophysical Union’s semi-annual astrobiology science conference, AbSciCon, will feature a free virtual event on May 17 at 7–8 p.m. Eastern Time to help teachers access information and resources to teach the search for life in the universe, astrobiology. Astrobiology is interdisciplinary, using skills and knowledge from all branches of science, math, and engineering, and connects with art and writing. This session will give you the support and resources that you can use to create exciting opportunities for students.

National Association of Rocketry (NAR) Robert L. Cannon Award

The NAR awards grants of $500 to educators who have an established model rocketry program in their classroom. Eligible educational institutions are public and private elementary, middle, and high schools. Other educational groups may be considered, but first priority will be given to schools. Activities supported by the Cannon Award must be associated with the regular classroom curriculum; after-school programs are not eligible. Apply by June 1.

Remarkable Science: Our Future With AI and Robots

On May 13, teachers, students, and families can join WBUR Boston's On Point host Meghna Chakrabarti on the Day of AI for a conversation about the future of human and animal interaction with artificial intelligence and robots. Panelists are

  • Daniela Rus—Andrew and Erna Viterbi professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of the computer science and artificial intelligence laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
  • Merritt Moore—quantum physicist and professional ballerina; and
  • Justin Werfel—senior research fellow and head of the Designing Emergence Laboratory, Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

This event will be held at CitySpace and virtually. Tickets for both are free of charge.

From the Field: Elementary and Middle Level

MOS at School Virtual Science Programs

In May and June, K–8 teachers and students can join Museum of Science, Boston, for free, live online programs on Earth and space science, life science, and computer science topics. Programs feature real-time, virtual interactions plus asynchronous experiences, and the topics support national standards. Topics include The Changing Sky (grades 3–5), Earth’s Systems (grades 6–8), Habitat Explorers (grades K–2), and Computer Vision (grades 6–8). 

From the Field: Middle Level and High School

The daVinci Project Summer Workshops

The University of Connecticut School of Engineering’s daVinci Project is a weeklong residential series of hands-on workshops for middle and high school science and math teachers who want to learn engineering fundamentals and develop practical curricula and exercises that will help them expose students to engineering. Teachers live on campus during July 11–15 and participate in one of six workshops, as well as many other seminars and tours through research labs, the university’s state of the art CoGen plant, Water Reclaim and Wastewater Facilities, and Innovation Partnership Building. Eighteen full or partial fellowships are available. Register by June 6.

FDA Summer Professional Development Program in Food Science

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Professional Development Program in Food Science is a training program for middle level and high school science, agriculture, health, and Family and Consumer Science teachers. The program gives teachers an opportunity to learn about inquiry-based lessons in food science. This ongoing program is supported and directed by the FDA and administered by Graduate School USA. The program will take place virtually during July 11–15 at 11:30 a.m.– 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

The Science and Our Food Supply curriculum guides on which the summer program is based are available at Teachers who are selected for the program are asked to implement the supplemental curriculum with their students and to hold a workshop based on the curriculum for other teachers during the 2022–2023 school year. (Apply by May 27.)

From the Field: Middle Level, High School, College

‘Blood Moon’ Livestream

Slooh, a company that offers live online telescope feeds of major celestial events along with expert commentary to individuals and school communities worldwide, will be livestreaming the upcoming Blood Moon space phenomenon on May 15 at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time as the Moon goes into a complete lunar eclipse. During the online event, participants might get the chance to witness up close the May’s Full Flower Moon turn from white to a red rose color during a total lunar eclipse being captured by Slooh’s Online Telescope. Slooh experts will delve into the phenomenon’s captivating science, explaining what is happening during the penumbral phase to the partial phase to the total phase, which lasts for 1 hour and 19 minutes. The ensuing Star Party will be led by Slooh science experts who will interview special guests and make the science and awe of a “Blood Moon” accessible to all, from the amateur astronomer to the middle school science teacher.

From the Field: High School and College

Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for High School Skilled Trades Teachers

Harbor Freight awards $1.25 million to 20 outstanding skilled trades teachers and programs in U.S. public high schools. Applicants must be public high school skilled trades teachers applying solo. Five grand-prize winners will each receive $100,000, with $70,000 awarded to the public high school skilled trades program and $30,000 to the eligible teacher. Fifteen prize winners will each be awarded $50,000, with $35,000 going to the program and $15,000 to the eligible teacher. Apply by May 20.

Advanced Science Exploratory Program 

Established by scientific researchers at major universities, the nonprofit Advanced Science Exploratory Program provides content to help students explore their interests and career options. The organization will offer these programs for students:

  • Video Games in Brain Science, led by Dr. Joaquin A. Anguera, PhD, Associate Professor at University of California, San Francisco. In this seminar on May 11 at 4–5 p.m. Pacific Time, students will explore answers to these questions: How can video games be used as a scientific research tool to study the brain? How can video games be used as a clinical intervention to strengthen or heal the brain? The seminar costs $90; scholarships are available. Register at  
  • Career Forum: Panel Q&A with scientists, doctors, and therapists who will answer high school students’ questions about their careers. This seminar on June 1 at 4–5 p.m. Pacific Time is offered free of charge. Register at

Certificates of completion are available by request for all seminars. For information about other upcoming seminars, visit

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