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Freebies for Science Teachers, February 2, 2021

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies for Science Teachers, February 2, 2021

Grades PreK–12

Coronavirus Teaching Materials and More

BioEdOnline, a website showcasing K–12 science teaching materials from the Baylor College of Medicine, has a collection focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources range from basic facts about COVID-19 and its prevention to information about the science of infectious diseases, vaccines and immunology, and social and emotional wellness during a pandemic. In addition, the site’s STEM@Home section offers hands-on activities for grades K–12, grouped by grade level, that students can complete at home or in distance-learning settings. Lessons such as What Kind of Paper Makes the Best Boat (grades K–2), The Variety and Roles of Microbes (grades 3–5), Energy for Life (grades 6–8), and The Varied Paths of Health Professionals (grades 9–12) provide high-quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) content without the need for specialized training, equipment, or materials.

National Geographic Education’s Resource Library

The Resource Library features a database of content exploring Earth science, biology, geography, and social studies. Resources for grades preK–12 include lessons, activities, videos, photographs, and maps, focused on broadening perspectives and increasing global awareness. Of particular interest are the library’s curated resource collections: Learn At Home collections for distance learners (grades K–2, 3–5, and 6–12), as well as collections centered on key areas such as Climate Change (grades 5–8) and scientific research (e.g., Learn from Our Explorers, grades 5–12). Educators can also access digital copies of Explorer magazine, a differentiated reading resource—available in English and Spanish editions—featuring nonfiction articles on themes like Women in Science and Make the World a Better Place, versioned for grades K–5/6.

At-Home STEM Learning Resources

The nonprofit Learning Undefeated aims to bring STEM resources and experiences to under-resourced communities. The group has several resources appropriate for K–12 distance-learning environments, including Anywhere Labs (digital STEM labs for grades 6–12); STEM Careers resources (grades 6–12), featuring video profiles highlighting relatable role models representing diverse ethnic backgrounds and a variety of STEM positions; and a Video Gallery of simple hands-on experiments for students in grades K–12 to do at home using everyday materials (Paper Strength Engineering Design Challenge, Wash Your Hands Water Experiments, and others). The gallery also has videos of relevant STEM news stories and interviews with STEM professionals.

Your Voice Is Power Curriculum and Competition

Do you teach computer science to students in grades 5–12? Pharrell Williams, Georgia Tech, and Amazon offer a free five-module curriculum to engage your students in a learning experience that explores the ways computer science, music, and entrepreneurship can be tools to advance racial equity. Students will learn how to write code using Georgia Tech’s EarSketch platform to create a musical remix of beats from Pharrell's song "Entrepreneur." Each hour-long module includes a lesson plan, slides, student notes, and exit ticket. Information on free teacher training can be found here.

Though not required, students who submit their remixes to the competition (deadline June 4) will be judged based on quality of music, code, and messaging. Five students will win a $5,000 grand prize for college or to start their own business. Five teachers will receive $1,000.

Elementary and Middle Level

NIEHS Science Games

Help young scientists stay engaged with topics like health and the environment with educational games from the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS). The website's games, brainteasers, puzzles, riddles, and songs can inspire future scientists and encourage critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Introduce elementary learners to basic science terms and topics through click and drag Emoji matching games, or challenge students of all ages to sharpen their observation skills with visual One or the Other puzzles or optical illusions. Each game or activity page includes a section called Other Stuff You Might Like, featuring related articles and experiments students can read or do to extend learning and discovery. 

Middle Level

How Do Snowflakes Form?

Most people know that no two snowflakes are alike, but do your students know how they're created? They form slowly inside of clouds, and all are symmetrical. Combine a science and geometry lesson with this short article from, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) weather education website. The article explains the dynamic process of snowflake formation to help students understand the science behind why no two snowflakes are alike. 

Middle Level and High School

Ocean School

Developed collaboratively by Canada’s Dalhousie University, the Ocean Frontier Institute, and the National Film Board of Canada, Ocean School is an innovative online educational experience to help students and teachers and lifelong learners of all ages better understand our impact on the ocean and its impact on us. Through immersive videos and interactive experiences, students explore marine ecosystems and habitats, drive an underwater robot, dive in a kelp forest, dissect a virtual cod, pose with a life-sized augmented reality whale, and more—all without leaving the classroom or their distance-learning setting. Each unique media experience is linked to a customizable inquiry-based learning activity to deepen understanding of the topic. The site also includes materials to assist teachers in navigating the site and using Ocean School’s tools and resources.

Understanding the COVID-19 Vaccine, Cartoon Style

Check out Real Miss Frizzle’s cartoon-style illustrations and accompanying Google Slides lesson for grades 6–10 for a quick introduction to understanding the COVID-19 vaccine and how it works. Created by middle level educator Skipper Coates—also known as Real Ms. Frizzle on social media—the illustrations explain in everyday language what the COVID-19 vaccine is and how it uses mRNA to create antibodies. The 10-image series (on her Facebook page) gives students (and teachers) a simplified introduction to the immunology process as it relates to the COVID-19 vaccine. While immunology involves more than these comics capture, the series is a useful starting point for understanding. 

The accompanying Google Slides lesson includes an interactive graphic organizer with each illustration. Students are asked to click and drag graphic symbols to annotate points of interest and questions for further study in each caption.

High School

Physics With Phones

Physics With Phones is a series of digital learning presentations developed by scientists and education specialists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. The presentations highlight high school physics experiments supporting the Next Generation Science Standards and cover a range of physics topics—motion, acceleration, friction and mechanics, inertia, momentum, waves, magnetic fields, collision science, and more. Through the experiments, students engage in science and engineering practices as they make measurements using the high-quality sensors embedded in their smartphones The presentations were originally designed for in-class use, but many of the experiments can be conducted at home/in distance-learning settings. Each presentation includes an explanatory PowerPoint and supporting materials, such as student worksheets, if needed.

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