By Debra Shapiro
AMNH Curriculum Connections
Visit the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)’s Curriculum Connections web page to browse curated collections of resources for K–12 audiences addressing topics in biology, astronomy, Earth science, paleontology, and other disciplines. Each collection contains a rich selection of classroom activities, articles, and other materials to deepen knowledge of the topic.
For example, Online Field Journal (for elementary level) engages students in activities such as creating an ecosystem diorama and conducting simple nature challenges and recording observations in a field journal. Deep Sea Vents, a collection suitable for middle and high school levels, features informational articles explaining topics relevant to deep sea vents (e.g., weather conditions over the deep seas; global ocean circulation and deep sea temperatures; the chemistry of deep sea vents; and more) and classroom activities to develop understandings about science concepts related to deep sea vents (e.g., water pressure [Under Pressure], water density [Sinking Water], how submarines work [Simple Submarines]; and how geysers form [Underwater Plume]). The collection also includes a list of additional web resources to learn more about deep sea vents.
Explore NASA STEM
Looking for high-quality, vetted STEM resources for grades K–12, colleges and universities, and informal education audiences? Explore NASA STEM presents NASA’s myriad STEM education resources—including lessons for classroom and home, posters, professional development opportunities, and websites—in a single location, grouped by theme or audience. Browse collections of interest and register for NASA Express, a weekly electronic newsletter featuring activities and updates on noteworthy NASA STEM resources and programs.
Of particular interest is the website STEM on Station, which brings the excitement of space exploration to K–12 classrooms with access to activities, videos, and life footage from life aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Through the website, formal and informal education teachers and students can connect with ISS astronauts in live question-and-answer sessions; Get to Know the Space Station in a video tour; and watch astronaut-led STEMonstrations (STEM demonstrations on the ISS) on topics such as Newton’s Laws of Motion, Moon phases, solar energy, sleep science, nutrition, water filtration, and exercise.
The Deep Ocean Education Project
Three leading organizations in ocean exploration and research—NOAA Ocean Exploration, Schmidt Ocean Institute, and Ocean Exploration Trust—have created an online resource hub for K–12 deep sea ocean education materials. Known as the Deep Ocean Education Project, the website presents standards-supported student activities, high-resolution images and videos, stories from the field, and information about current deep-sea research expeditions. Dive into topics such as seafloor mapping, careers in ocean research, bioluminescence, cold seeps, deep sea canyons, and underwater robots, or analyze live data gathered from ocean exploration vessels. Interested teachers can create a free account to search the hub’s resources more easily and save selected materials of interest for later use.
STEM ED Magazine
STEM ED Magazine, a bimonthly publication by and for K–12 educators, focuses on using science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts and tools for teaching. Each issue contains more than 80 pages of articles, insights, and resource reviews from STEM educators worldwide. The most recent issue (June 2021) features articles on innovation mindset, First LEGO League, maker camps, and AR in Art. Selected topics covered in previous issues include empathy-based robotics and the digital divide (February 2021) and literacy in STEM and STEM education for sustainable development goals (April 2021). Download copies of the publications in pdf format or read the issues online.
Activity Book: Become a NASA Space Place Universe Explorer!
Share this printable publication from NASA’s Space Place website in the classroom to introduce upper-elementary students to our amazing universe. Packed with puzzles, brainteasers, vocabulary, fun facts, and other information, the 16-page publication presents simple, age-appropriate information on topics including the origins of the universe, galaxies, black holes, nebulae, exoplanets, dark matter, light energy, how scientists study the universe, and life on other planets.
STEAM Daydream With National Children's Museum
In this monthly podcast series developed by the National Children’s Museum, curious kids interview STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) innovators from across the country to find answers to their biggest questions. Most appropriate for elementary and middle levels, the approximately 20- to 30-minute episodes explore important topics such as climate change, health science heroes, the wonder of animation, the science of sports, art as a form of activism, and more. The podcast aims to inspire young listeners to care about and change the world.
National Geographic Virtual Field Trips
Help middle level students make connections among science, history, nature, and geography through Virtual Field Trips (VFTs) from the National Geographic Society. The approximately 30-minute VFTs address themes such as the Ocean, Wild Washington, and Black History Month, and invite students to travel along with National Geo Explorers—a varied mix of dedicated scientists, historians, wildlife photographers, conservationists, and other professionals—as they share expertise and point out notable discoveries in their respective fields. In addition to striking footage of the natural world and accompanying narration, the VFTs feature student-centered Q&A interviews with the highlighted Explorers and built-in quiz questions to reinforce the field trips’ content.
For example, in the Ocean VFT, underwater wildlife photographer/diver Brian Skerry describes what humans can learn from whale history and culture; marine biologist Salomé Buglass explains how remotely operated vehicles are being used to investigate never-before-explored seamounts in the Galápagos Islands; and ocean conservationist/magazine founder Sruthi Gurudev demonstrates how eco-journalism can be a tool to inspire change. Highlights from the Explorers’ Q&A interviews include answers to questions such as these: How did you get started as an underwater photographer? How can students be advocates for the oceans?
Exploring Engineering Design Through Pop-Up Books
Exploring the construction of pop-up books is a simple activity to engage middle and high school students in the steps of the engineering design process. A recent post in the Teaching With the Library of Congress blog describes how teachers can build on the Observe-Reflect-Question protocol that can guide primary source analysis to conduct an engineering-based activity in the classroom using materials from the Library of Congress (LOC) collection.
In the activity, students examine still images taken from two LOC videos about pop up books: an image from a video about a pop-up version of Little Red Riding Hood published in 1855, and an image from a video presentation at the 2008 National Book Festival in which “paper engineers” and authors Robert Sabuda and Matthew Rinehart describe their experiences designing and creating intricate pop-up books. After observing the images and reflecting on how the pop-ups are constructed, students try their hands at pop-up construction themselves, noting what does and does not work with their models and revising them accordingly. This activity provides students the opportunity to experiment on their own, to make mistakes, and to learn from their experiences—all essential components of the engineering design process.
Carbon City Zero: World Edition
Carbon City Zero: World Edition, a collaborative deck-building card/board game, focuses on climate action. Most appropriate for high school and college levels (with modified versions for middle level students), the game challenges players to work together to create a city with “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions: a city in which the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere is no more than the amount removed. In successive rounds, players must balance the needs of stakeholders in three categories (Domestic, Industry, and Government) while addressing potential “Snags” as they arise from the deck. The game promotes discussions around the issues involved in developing net-zero cities and helps players discover options to mitigate and adapt to the consequences of global warming. Read (and print) the game's Design Notes for information and guidance on using the game in a classroom setting, then visit the PNPArcade website to download and print the required game components, including cards, game board, and rules.
The Amoeba Sisters’ YouTube Channel
Photosynthesis, DNA replication, protein synthesis, cellular respiration, mitosis, meiosis, osmosis…there’s no shortage of intricate processes to study and learn in high school and introductory college biology courses. With help from the Amoeba Sisters—a former high school biology teacher (Pinky) and her sister, a self-taught cartoonist and budding scientist (Petunia)—however, the task is much easier. The pair creates humorous biology-focused videos, animations, handouts, resources, and comics and posts them on the Amoeba Sisters YouTube Channel. Watch a trailer about the Amoeba Sisters, then select from a series of embedded links to learn more, access materials, and subscribe to the channel.
Astronomy Biology Careers Climate Change Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Engineering General Science Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans Life Science News Physics STEM Teaching Strategies Middle School Elementary High School Informal Education Postsecondary