By Debra Shapiro
STEM Career Profiles
Learn about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through video profiles at the STEM Careers Coalition’s online Careers Portal. The profiles provide a real-world look at various STEM fields and offer insights about key activities, skills, knowledge, and interests students might pursue to prepare for successful futures in STEM careers. In addition to the short video presentation, each profile includes a Career Profile fact sheet with specific details about the job (job outlook, salary, education/training, and more) and a Student Activation worksheet, which provides additional information and questions to help students evaluate their interest in the position. Featured careers include a product design and analysis engineer; mechanical engineer; project manager; software engineer; artificial intelligence (AI) researcher; data scientist; welder; technician; facilities engineer; operations supervisors; design engineer; petroleum drilling engineer; environmental, health, and safety worker; geologist; public outreach/communications; and chemical engineer/chemist.
K–12 STEM Activities
The STEM Careers Coalition’s Careers Portal also offers classroom activities to help K–12 educators integrate STEM teaching and learning into instruction. The activities feature step-by-step guides that can be adapted for in-person or distance-learning settings. For example, Video Game Design (grades K–5) teaches computational thinking and diversity as students create custom video game characters and develop original code to make the characters move. In Cyber Solutions (grades 6–8), students assume the role of security employee at a technology company to learn about measures affecting cybersecurity; after their research, students create a model to explain the measures to the public in a creative way. Machine Learning (grades 9–12) challenges high school learners to investigate how artificial intelligence (AI) systems can be used to solve problems in a STEM field of their choice.
COVID-19 Solution Seekers
The STEM Careers Coalition’s collection of video profiles and companion activities highlights the work of individuals who are harnessing their STEM skills and contributing to the urgent global effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Through the videos, students learn about topics such as the development of a new medication to boost the respiratory health of the elderly (Global Clinical Team Leader); what’s involved in the creation of a new vaccine (Director of Clinical Development); virtual ways to keep manufacturing plants operational when employees must work remotely (Process Engineer); and how data science methods are being used to help track and treat the virus (Senior Researcher). While the videos are suitable for students of all ages, the companion activities seem better suited for middle level and high school students.
Shane McDonough, a seventh-grade math and science teacher in San Jose, California, has been a fellow in the Wipro Science Education Fellowship through Stanford University for the past two years. As part of her project for this fellowship, she wrote and illustrated a children’s e-book called Lucy Recycles, about a fifth grader, Lucy, who becomes interested in sustainability. “My goal in writing this book was to create a free resource to help educate elementary-aged children on topics of recycling, sustainability, and climate change. I made a website to host the book, with resources to accompany it,” says McDonough. Versions of the book in Spanish and Vietnamese are also available on the website.
Fun With Science Video Lessons
Fun With Science, a virtual program from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), can excite students about science through engaging video experiments. Performed by LLNL physicist Leland Ellison, and targeted for grade five, the experiments reinforce basic concepts about chemistry, density, air pressure, and states of matter and capture student interest through the use of attention-grabbing materials and activities (marshmallows, dry ice, levitating bricks, dry ice explorations, and more). Each video lesson is between 5 to 10 minutes long and includes the explanatory video and supporting text indicating the experiment’s key objectives, terminology, and relevant Next Generation Science Standards. A Test Your Knowledge quiz accompanying each lesson can help students synthesize understanding.
Just for Kids Learning Adventures
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge has developed distance learning packets to engage K–6 students in outdoor explorations at home, the refuge, or a neighborhood park. Just for Kids Learning Adventures online packets provide instructions and videos for completing a range of nature-related activities, organized by theme. For example, Forests Are More Than Trees (grades K–2) features activities such as making leaf rubbings and going on a forest scavenger hunt, while Nature Through the Seasons (grades K–2) includes experiences such as keeping a nature journal, measuring wind speed, and studying clouds and spring phenology. Other digital learning packets address themes such as Pond Insect Investigation (grades 2–3), Birding Basics (grades 2–6), Wetland Connections (grades 3–5), and Pond Science (grades 4–6).
Science and Nature Activities for Cooped-Up Kids
Explore bird anatomy and the adaptations that help birds thrive in the latest issue of Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s online publication, Science and Nature Activities for Cooped-Up Kids. Available for three grade spans (K–2, 3–5, and 6–8), the activities explore how gizzards work and include both adult-guided explorations and opportunities for independent study. The publication also suggests Family Quests to complete together, such as going on a “bird feet hike,” sketching a bird in nature, or keeping an “I Wonder” board or list to encourage continuous science inquiry and keep track of students’ questions that arise during their outdoor nature investigations or other at home-learning activities.
The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) website has educational materials to inspire science exploration and innovation among K–6 students. The resources, which can be adapted for both classroom and distance-learning settings, are an eclectic mix of invention-themed hands-on activities, printable coloring sheets, quizzes, videos, and more. Browse the Ready, Set, STEM Handbook for open-ended activities to explore the inner workings of everyday objects; experiment with paper airplane design; investigate how composting works; or study the principles of fluid dynamics as you make a unique science gift. Other resources include a series of superhero-inspired coloring sheets highlighting various inductees and their inventions and the NIHF Inductee Stories, a collection of more than 70 short videos of scientists and others sharing what led to their award-winning inventions.
Books, Insects, and a Woman Leading the Way in Science
How would your students draw an insect? The colorful and scientifically rich paintings of Maria Sibylla Merian provide a useful way for students to reflect on the history of scientific documentation, practice their own documentation skills, and learn about a groundbreaking female scientist. In the activity—described in the blog Teaching With the Library of Congress (LOC) and suited to both in-person and distance-learning environments—students engage with both primary sources from the LOC’s collections and books, authors, and videos from the 2020 National Book Festival. After examining the scientist’s drawings and reflecting on the scientist’s choices as evidenced in the illustrations, students “go outside, observe insects, and try their hand at drawing,” applying what they gleaned from recent reflections to their own process of scientific documentation. The post includes discussion questions and links to facilitate implementation and deepen students’ understanding.
Dose of Knowledge Resources
Teach students about the importance of healthy lifestyle choices with the digital resources from Dose of Knowledge, a substance misuse education program developed by CVS Health and Discovery Education. The standards-supported resources include interactive learning modules, lessons, and accompanying educator guides and videos on topics such as Opioid Use and Misuse (grades 6–8) and Opioids and the Brain (grades 9–12). The materials focus on teaching students the facts about prescription and illicit drug misuse, and the videos provide students with real-world advice from pharmacists on the risks associated with opioids and substance misuse, as well as strategies to withstand peer pressure, refusal tactics, and ideas on how to positively impact their peers.
Inspire Educators Workshops
The Inspire Educators Workshop video series presented innovative STEM learning tools and featured discussions with STEM industry leaders. Teacher resources for all of the videos are available. The videos were produced as part of the USA Science and Engineering Festival’s STEM–focused virtual conference for educators, sponsored by AstraZeneca, Discovery Education, the U.S. Department of Defense, and participating partners Illumina, and Thermo Fisher Scientific. The videos emphasized careers in STEM innovation and offer practical strategies for teachers to incorporate real-world science applications into their STEM lessons. Titles include Inspiration Is Everywhere: Keeping Students Engaged With STEM in the Age of Distance Learning; Unlocking the Power of DNA in Your Classroom; No-Cost Digital Resources to Support STEM Learning and Career Exploration; and A Virtual Showcase: Exciting Your Students About Careers in STEM.
Technical Writing in Science Class: The Handbook
This online handbook produced as part of the Society for Technical Communication’s Technical Literacy Project presents strategies and authentic activities to support science students in developing effective communication skills. The resource covers three general topic areas: Technical Writing in K–12 environments (Part 1), Technical Writing Guidelines for Students (Part 2), and Extensions and Applications (Part 3). Of particular interest are the printable checklists for students (Good Instructions Guidelines and Guidelines for Writing Good Descriptions), which can be found in the Technical Writing Guidelines chapter.
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