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Freebies for Science Teachers, December 7, 2021

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies for Science Teachers, December 7, 2021

Grades K–College

Who, When, Wow Podcast Episode—North Pole 

Tinkercast (producer of educational audio programs for kids) has released a Who, When, Wow podcast about the discovery of the North Pole for the holiday season. This episode follows one of the world's greatest and most unknown explorers, Matthew Henson, the African American explorer who was the co-discoverer of the North Pole with Robert Edwin Peary in 1909. This self-educated pioneer persevered through discrimination to become one of the first people to reach the North Pole. The episode can be found on all podcast platforms.

Understanding Evolution Website

This updated and expanded website from the University of California Berkeley’s Museum of Paleontology is a one-stop source for teaching and learning about evolution. The site has evolution teaching resources for educators of every level along the K–college spectrum, whether you are looking for lessons to build foundational understandings at the elementary level or videos and online labs to address specific evolutionary concepts at the middle and high school levels. Highlights include the following:

  • Lessons are vetted by experienced teachers and searchable by Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Disciplinary Core Ideas.
  • Student-friendly news stories connect evolutionary concepts to current events.
  • Evolution 101, a multi-part online course (available in Spanish and English), reviews evolutionary theory and addresses concepts such as natural selection, genetic drift, and mutations. Embedded within are Digging Data activities that provide opportunities for high school and college students to work with authentic data from diverse scientists and learn what evolutionary biologists do in their careers. 
  • A trilingual, printable comic book connects paleontology, mass extinction, and climate change.

Ocean Sound and Impact of Noise Resource Collection

Explore the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) collection of lesson plans, webinars, videos, and web stories to learn about noise in the ocean and NOAA’s efforts to monitor and understand underwater sound in the National Marine Sanctuary System. Lesson plans for elementary and middle level students feature interactive activities and provide links to various marine animal sounds. Titles include Bioacoustics (grades K–6), How Increased Ocean Noise Affects Whales (grades 3–5), and Sanctuary Splash: Acoustics of Cetaceans (grade 5). 

The collection’s webinars, videos, and web stories can be used with older students (grades 7–12) to explore the topic, as well as introduce students to careers in marine biology and ocean research. Watch videos (with accompanying transcripts) to discover how scientists use acoustic monitoring to identify the location of animals living in the National Marine Sanctuary System. Notable videos include Studying Sanctuary Soundscapes; Acoustic Monitoring in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary; and Tagging Humpback Whales.  

STEM Resource Finder

Engage students’ inner scientists with scientifically accurate online models and interactive science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities from the Concord Consortium. Educators of all levels, elementary to college, can use the STEM Resource Finder to locate resources of interest, applying filters (e.g., keyword, featured collections, grade level, or subject) to narrow results to meet specific instructional needs. Read annotated descriptions of each resource, then select the Preview tab for additional details. 

For example, elementary students explore the idea that all living organisms must compete for food in the interactive module Evolution: A Virtual Ecosystem. Middle and high school students examine matter from a molecular viewpoint through interactive modules highlighting a Particle View of a Gas, a Particle View of a Solid, and a Particle View of a Liquid. And high school and college students learn about the growing field of data science in the module A Tool for Doing Data Science: CODAP, which explains how to work with the Common Online Data Analysis Program. 

World Climate Simulation Role Play 

World Climate Simulation is a role-playing exercise of United Nations climate change negotiations. Teachers can conduct simulation events with students of all ages from elementary to college level. Through the simulation, participants explore the necessary speed and level of action that nations must take to address global climate change. The simulation relies on the use of C-ROADS, an interactive computer model that rapidly analyzes the results of the game play and helps participants understand the long-term climate impacts of greenhouse gas emission reductions at the national and global levels. 

During a simulation event—which can be completed in as little as 45 minutes or as long as three hours—participants address climate science, engage in the drama and tensions of global politics, work with a climate-modeling tool used by actual climate negotiators, and reflect on how the experience challenges their assumptions about climate action. Supporting materials—including facilitator guide with sample scripts, presentation slides, and C-ROADS Simulator—can help teachers facilitate a climate simulation event with their students. The Additional Materials section has handouts and other resources for conducting climate simulation events with younger audiences (e.g., elementary and middle levels), as well as homework worksheets to give students practice in working with the C-ROADS Simulator. 

Wonder of Science NGSS Printables

The Wonder of Science website was created to support science teachers in implementing the NGSS. The site presents a large assortment of graphics featuring inquiry cards, posters, screening tools, and graphic organizers for all the Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs) and Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). Of particular interest are the NGSS Three-Dimensional Planning Cards, which feature straightforward explanations and simple illustrations for each of the SEPs and CCCs. 

Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) for Educators

Discover learning tools to integrate more compassion into your life and work, developed at Stanford University and taught worldwide by Certified Facilitators. Learn more about CCT. This eight-week training opportunity is open to all educators and school mental health providers and will be held on Zoom on January 11–March 1, 2022, at 4–6pm Mountain Standard Time.

Early Childhood

Inclusive Preschool Through the Seasons 

Inclusive Preschool Through the Seasons: Lessons and Stories From 10 Years of Nature-Based Preschool is a nature-based curriculum book for early childhood learners of all developmental abilities. Developed by Seattle Children’s PlayGarden, the curriculum features monthly lesson plans with songs, books, art explorations, special topics, newsletters, and more to engage young learners of all abilities in nature-based learning throughout the school year from August to June. Activities include experiences such as building worm bins, making red twig wreaths, creating polar bear masks, and measuring earthworms. In addition, the book’s appendix contains useful documents for establishing an inclusive, nature-based preschool learning environment, including a glossary of common vocabulary terms for talking about inclusion; a Monthly Planning Example; and seasonal Book/Theme and Song lists. 

Elementary and Middle Level

Generation Genius

Generation Genius, a K–8 teaching resource, brings school science standards to life through engaging educational videos paired with lesson plans, activities, quiz games, reading material, and more. The videos are produced in partnership with NSTA and support science and math learning standards in all 50 states. The resources are grouped by grade band (K–2, 3–5, 6–8) and address topics in various disciplines. For example, science lessons for primary learners address topics such as patterns in the sky, simple machines, pushes and pulls, and conditions for plant growth. Intermediate learners (grades 3–5) explore topics such as natural disasters, human body systems, animal group behavior, and magnets and static electricity. At the middle level (grades 6–8), science resources address the engineering design process, gravitational force between objects, natural selection, and chemical reactions, among other topics. 

All of the lessons include discussion questions to support the video content, a vocabulary list, “chunkable” online content with background information about the topic that can be read or listened to, a hands-on activity, teacher guide, and assessment. The teacher’s guide includes information about common student misconceptions on the topic. 

Code Your Communication Activity

Code Your Communication teaches students in grades 3–8 about binary code communication using pony or seed beads and beading cord or elastic to create bracelets, necklaces, and keychains that spell out names or abbreviated messages. 4-H and HughesNet created this STEM-focused activity that teachers can use during Computer Science Week (December 6–12) to teach students about binary code, a computer programming component of satellite communications.

Middle Level

A GOES-R Series Weather Satellite Gets Launched

Share this short video to show students how a Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) launches into outer space! Available from SciJinks, NOAA’s weather education website for middle level teachers and students, the approximately three-minute animated video follows the journey of a GOES-R Series from initial development to launch. An accompanying transcript is available for the video; teachers can also download a colorful PDF illustrating key steps of the satellite’s journey.

Middle Level and High School

Raising Bread and Curiosity

In this activity described in the blog Teaching With the Library of Congress, students analyze an historical (1875) trademark registration by Rumford Chemical Works for the product Horsford’s Self-Raising Bread Preparation. Most appropriate for middle and high school levels, the article provides questions to spur research and conversation across subject areas, from initial questions upon examining the image (e.g., What is in this “bread-raising material”? Why are some of the sections of the registration printed sideways?) to questions exploring volume and ratio (e.g., How much would be used for one pound of flour?), the chemistry of baking powder (e.g., What are the different ingredients in baking powder, and in what amounts? How does double-acting baking powder work?), and sociological impacts (e.g., What effects, if any, did the invention of baking powder have on industry at that time?). As students observe, reflect, and wonder about the image to develop questions of their own, they develop critical-thinking skills and begin to see how different subject areas are inherently connected.

Viruses, Vaccines, and COVID-19

Though the American Museum of Natural History’s online hub on the topic is designed to inform a public audience, the website has several videos, articles, and interactives appropriate for use in middle and high school science classrooms. For example, The Virus Behind COVID-19 is a four-part animation produced by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) exploring the biology of SARS-Cov-2, while Virus Explorer, another HHMI-produced resource, presents 3-D models and descriptions of viruses from adenovirus to Zika. Finally, the video series Teen SciCafe gives students a real-world glimpse of careers in science research as they explore Virulent Viruses With Kishana Taylor (microbiology) and analyze what happens When a Pandemic Strikes With Jay Varma (epidemiology). 

The White-Nose Syndrome Video Game

White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is an ailment currently affecting bat populations in North America. You can educate students about the syndrome and engage them in bat conservation with a video game developed by Ravenswood Media and Arbor Interactive with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In the animated game, players serve as a conservation biologist or habitat manager of bat populations across North America. Players explore caves for bats, make decisions to protect bats in a hibernacula (e.g., shelter for hibernation), allow bats to be researched, or open bat caves and habitats up to tourism. Exploration, protection, and research diminish resources, while tourism provides resources; a good balance keeps bat populations alive longer. As students try to keep the bat populations alive in the game, they begin to understand the complexities involved in animal disease management and population ecology. 

PBS Learning Media Adaptation Resources

Targeted for middle and high school audiences (grades 6–12), this collection of resources from PBS Learning Media focuses on climate adaptation and highlights the intersection of environmental education, geography, and anthropology. The series—featuring four videos and an accompanying lesson plan—encourages students to engage in civic action in their local communities through inspiring examples of adaptation around the globe, including Floating Gardens of Bangladesh and innovative ways to manage Invasive Carp of Kentucky. These videos support lessons in geography, life science, or environmental science/studies classes, as well as innovation and engineering programs with a human-centered design approach.

The accompanying lesson plan engages students in exploring, researching, and reflecting on how climate change has affected their local communities. At the end of the lesson, students tell their own stories by creating a climate story, photo story, or other audio/video narrative. 

From College to Jobs: Pathways in STEM 

Share this U.S. Census Bureau interactive data visualization with middle and high school students to demonstrate the dynamic relationship between college major and jobs, with a special focus on STEM workers. As students answer the questions provided in the interactive, they can discover the characteristics and educational attainment level of STEM-related and non-STEM workers and make meaningful comparisons between the two.

High School Opportunities

High School Science Reviewers Needed

The nonprofit EdReports seeks to empower educators with independent, credible, evidence-rich information about instructional materials to ensure students have what they need to be college- and career-ready. EdReports is accepting applications for reviewers for inaugural high school science review beginning in early April 2022. Currently, classroom educators, district specialists, state specialists, non-formal educators, retired educators, and those pursuing advanced science education degrees participate in reviews. Expertise in the NGSS and a commitment to quality instructional materials are desired. 

EdReports plans to review five biology NGSS programs in the inaugural review. If selected, you will join a team of five reviewers who will examine one set of materials with support from EdReports’ science team. Reviewers can expect the following: 

  • New teams will begin with an in-depth training in April;
  • Each reviewer spends about 5–10 hours per week throughout the process, including attending a one-hour virtual call with their team;
  • A second event may be scheduled approximately halfway through the review to continue calibration and provide cross-review team support for the inaugural high school reviews;
  • Reviews are expected to be completed by late 2022; and
  • Reviewers receive benefits including more than 25 hours of professional development; a stipend per series reviewed ranging from $1,750 to $2,500 depending on the role you play on a review team; and opportunities to learn with national experts in the field.

Once you apply, an application task will be sent requesting demonstration of your NGSS knowledge. Following your receipt of the application task, EdReports will schedule a 30-minute interview to learn more about you and share more about the upcoming review. 

High School Students: Create a Virtual Physics Activity

The Fermilab Education and Public Engagement Office will hold a multi-day virtual event for its annual Open House, taking place February 9–13. Each day will feature virtual tours, online classroom presentations, interactive activities done at home, talks, and live-streamed demo shows. The Office of Education and Public Engagement is looking for up to 12 teams of no more than four high school students each to create a virtual, interactive activity that demonstrates a physics principle or concept for younger children. Teams selected will record their activity to be featured throughout each day of the event, to share their activities with the thousands of people worldwide who will attend the virtual Family Open House. (Submit activities by December 13.)

Activities must meet these criteria:

  1. Appropriate for an age group from preschool to middle school
  2. Interactive for the children, made with simple materials the students can find at home requiring adult supervision. If the video is done in more of a demonstration format, clear instructions about not trying this at home must be provided.
  3. All appropriate safety precautions were identified and explained in the application.
  4. Write-up of activity with appropriate explanations and identified safety hazards, to be shared with families during the event, submitted at the time of application.

Biology Careers Chemistry Climate Change Computer Science Crosscutting Concepts Curriculum Disciplinary Core Ideas Earth & Space Science Engineering English Language Learners Environmental Science Evolution General Science Inclusion Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans Life Science Mathematics Multilingual Learners News NGSS Physical Science Physics Professional Learning Science and Engineering Practices STEM Teaching Strategies Middle School Early Childhood Elementary High School Informal Education Postsecondary Preschool

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