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Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers/From the Field, May 3, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers/From the Field, May 3, 2022

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades PreK–College

NIGMS STEM Teaching Resources Website

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), along with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has created an online clearinghouse of K–12 STEM resources. The website features links to NIH-funded educational content useful for engaging students in health science. Topics include the brain and mental health, climate change, scientific tools and methods, molecules and cells, a virtual Charles Darwin Q&A, DNA extraction, health literacy, and science careers.

NSTA Web Seminar Archive

Did you know that NSTA Web Seminar recordings (Science Update, Teacher Tip Tuesday, and Book Beat Live!) are all free for guest users and members to register for and attend? NSTA Web Seminars are professional learning experiences that use online learning technologies to allow participants to interact with nationally acclaimed experts, NSTA Press authors, and scientists, engineers, and education specialists from NSTA partner organizations. Web seminars cover a range of topics: teacher preparation, science and literacy, science updates, student discussions in science, citizen science, lab safety, and many more. (Editor’s Note: The Transforming Science Learning web seminars are only free to NSTA members.)

Museums for Digital Learning

The Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Museums for Digital Learning (MDL) is a learning platform that provides K–12 educators with authentic, curated Resource Kits from museum collections. The digital kits were developed collaboratively by museum education and curatorial professionals working with classroom educators and technology consultants. The digital kits address core subjects and contain multiple activities within each one. For example, science Resource Kits include Engineer It! at Home (grades K–5), a series of engineering design challenges presented by ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, in Vermont. This kit features challenges to teach students about the Engineering Design Process, such as Launch, Fling, Fly, which asks students to design a contraption to launch a pom-pom across a room, and Mighty Tower, which asks students to design a tower from newspaper that can keep a basketball off the ground for at least 10 seconds. All About Fossils (grades 6–12), from the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, contains digital activities for students to explore fossil excavation, formation, types, and more. 

Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Online Nature Courses 

Check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s collection of interactive online courses for students in grades preK–12. The courses, available in English and Spanish, introduce science concepts while encouraging a sense of wonder and connection to the natural world. Young learners (grades preK–2) can explore the world of sea otters and kelp forest habitats in Otter Spotter or find out what’s it like as a Tide Pool Scientist, while students in grades 3–6 can investigate Fin-tastic Sharks and Birds on the Brain. Middle level students (grades 6–8) can discover how computer science impacts deep ocean exploration in Exploring the Deep Bit by Bit, while middle and high school students (grades 7–12) can learn more about life in the deepest part of the ocean in the course Extreme Sea. In the course #Teens Can Make a Difference (grades 6–12), middle and high school students can discover how to use their passion for the planet to take action to help protect it.  

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Elementary and Middle Level

The Guardian Frogs of Borneo Lesson Plan

This lesson from Galactic Polymath for grades 5–8 illustrates why exceptions matter in biology and everyday life and targets standards in science, math, English Language Arts, and social studies. Students collect and analyze data to explore answers to these driving questions: Across animal species, is it true that males are “competitive,” while females are “caring,” or is this an oversimplification? Are the smooth guardian frogs of Borneo the first known species of frog with “competitive females” and “caring males”? The lesson features opportunities for student movement, collaboration, creativity, and active engagement. Suggestions for further reading and listening and a related scientific paper are provided.

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

Science at Home Experiments

Keep science learning alive at home or at school with these lively video experiments conducted by 3M scientists. Designed for students ages 6–12, and suitable for virtual or in-person learning environments, the experiments use common household items and reinforce core scientific principles. For example, Build a Paper Rocket to engage students in engineering design and physical science explorations; Dissect a Flower to explore structure and function in plants; separate marker ink using capillary action in Chromatography; or make Liquid Fireworks without using fire. The site has a total of 30 scientist-led experiments. Each experiment features an eight-minute video presentation along with written instructions and standards information for teachers and caregivers. 

From the Field: Grades K–College

Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants

This Canadian organization holds free live online science events for teachers and students. Any number of classrooms can watch the events live on the event’s lesson page or on the organization’s YouTube channel. Events begin automatically when the host starts the livestream, and you can send in questions via the live chat.

Ready for the next level? Request a camera spot so your class can appear on screen and interact with the speaker. Four to six classrooms typically have camera spots during each event. Every live event is recorded directly to the YouTube channel. In addition, a huge library of past events can be used by educators and students at any time. 

Upcoming events include 

  • For the Love of Turtles, May 4, 11 a.m. Eastern Time (ET)
  • The Case of the Missing Kokanee Salmon, May 4, 1 p.m. ET
  • Journey to Sable Island With Nell den Heyer, May 5, 10 a.m. ET
  • Fishy Fieldwork and Diversity in STEM With Sandra Klemet-N’Guessan, May 6, 11 a.m. ET

Lt. Governors’ STEM Scholarship Program

The National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) has established the first annual Lt. Governors’ STEM Scholarship Program, sponsored by education and career readiness nonprofit ACT, to award up to $1,000 to 12 schools nationally to support STEM-related activities for youth. All public, private, and tribal schools in the 50 states and five U.S. territories may apply. NLGA will award three scholarships to states and territories in each of the four NLGA regions in 2022, for a total of 12 scholarships worth $10,000 total.

Additional information on the STEM Scholarship Program, including instructions for applying, can be found at Applications will be accepted until May 31.

Therapeutic Garden Grant

National Garden Bureau (NGB) promotes the health and healing powers of human interaction with plants through a grant program for therapeutic gardens. Each year, NGB selects three established (meaning at least one year of programming experience) therapeutic gardens to receive a grant that will help expand or perpetuate that therapeutic garden. Those gardens will then compete via social media, for a first-, second-, and third-place prize for a financial contribution to their garden. Those three gardens will also receive a set of Corona Gardening Tools. 

Schools, nonprofits, day camps, hospitals, retirement centers, rehabilitation facilities, veterans’ facilities, community centers, treatment facilities, and intergenerational groups throughout the United States and Canada are eligible. Apply by July 1.

Sony Grants for Education

In the United States, Sony focuses most of its charitable giving on technology, the environment, art, and culture, with an emphasis on education in each of those areas. While support in other areas may also be considered, Sony aims to apply its resources to support the technical, scientific, creative, and artistic skills required of the future workforce. Applications are accepted year-round.

From the Field: Middle Level and High School

Toshiba America Foundation Grant

Teachers of grades 6–12 who have innovative ideas for improving STEM learning in their classrooms can apply for a Toshiba America Foundation grant of less than $5,000. The company seeks to encourage teachers who want to innovate, try a new idea, or explore a different approach. Applications must be for project-based learning with measurable outcomes; requests for computers, laptops, or tablets will not be considered. Apply by June 1.

Earth Day Remix Event

Teach Rock wants to see and hear your students’ Earth Day remixes with the unifying theme of protecting our planet. Your classroom could win prizes from TeachRock and its environmental education partner Leaving A Positive Legacy. The TeachRock lesson Greta Thunberg, Music, and the Climate Crisis asks students to consider how musicians helped spread climate activist Greta Thunberg’s message. Students read or listen to Thunberg’s 2019 U.N. speech, then check out three recordings that have used Thunberg’s speech in some way. They then meet a host of young activists such as Isra Hirsi, Xiye Bastida, Kevin J. Patel, Quannah Chasinghorse, and Alexandria Villaseñor, and are asked to respond with their own remix. 

Students and teachers can submit student music or visual art projects that sample, remix, or use a famous speech made in support of our planet. Select participating classrooms will receive prizes. (Deadline May 13)

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