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Freebies for Science Teachers, July 20, 2021

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies for Science Teachers, July 20, 2021

Grades K–12

Promote Equity in Learning With Stimulus Funds

Have questions about stimulus funds and how to use them? Check out this guide from STEMScopes, a provider of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education resources and professional development. The guide examines three major federal funding sources—the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 133), and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) 2021—and provides answers to common questions about each bill. The guide is designed to support district administrators and other education stakeholders in navigating the often-challenging process of allocating funds for equitable learning programs that impact K–12 students now and in the future. Register (free) to receive a downloadable copy. 

Updated Science Safety Manuals

The Council of State Science Supervisors and Flinn Scientific, a science lab materials and science safety expertise provider for K–16 audiences, have updated three key science safety manuals: Elementary Science Safety K–8; Elementary STEM and Tool Safety K–8; and High School Science Safety. The updated manuals are available as digital downloads and provide concise safety guidance on topics such as safe operating procedures, accident prevention, chemical waste management, and personal protective equipment.

In addition, the manuals for grades K–8 include a list of Things That Should Not Be Found in Your STEM/Science Classroom; a downloadable poster for the classroom, “Eight Tips for a Safer STEM Lab”; and tips on How to Incorporate STEM Into Your Lessons/Student Activity Remotely. The high school science safety manual includes updated information about post-pandemic protocols and best practices for the sanitation of surfaces and equipment in the lab, as well as suggestions for addressing the need for physical distancing in a science laboratory setting. 

Data Literacy Resources

SAS Institute, a data analytics and software company, has a collection of K–12 education resources for improving data literacy skills among teachers and students. The resources include a course for educators, as well as classroom tools that enable students and teachers to collect and explore data in real time, whether together in person or virtually. (Note: Teachers must register online at no charge to access the materials.)

  • Data Literacy Essentials is a self-paced, multi-module online course for educators. The course teaches strategies for seeing the usefulness in data, discovering meaning, making decisions, and communicating data. In addition, the course addresses the ethical challenges of working with data and covers how biases influence the ways we interact with and communicate data. 
  • With DataFly, a data visualization tool for the classroom, students actively participate in data collection and communication. Students respond to teacher-created polls and instantly see their responses populate a data visualization, such as a bar chart, histogram, or scatterplot. In this way, students gain a deeper understanding of data concepts and the insights that can be learned from data.

Agency by Design Makerspace Frameworks

Agency by Design (AbD) is a multiyear education initiative from Harvard University School of Education that explores the practices and pedagogies of maker-centered learning. AbD’s efforts established a framework for maker-centered learning that includes three core maker capacities: looking closely, exploring complexity, and finding opportunity. AbD has developed a set of resources to support these core capacities and help educators facilitate maker-centered learning in various teaching and learning environments. Resources on the AbD website include thinking routines such as playing around with roles to examine systems in different way and tools such as documentation templates to uncover, record, and assess student thinking. 

Webinar: Misconceptions and Conceptual Change

Many adults and students retain incorrect ideas that prevent deep understanding of key Earth and space concepts essential for understanding climate science. This 50-minute presentation by Peg Steffen, education coordinator for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Ocean Service, as part of NOAA’s Planet Stewards Webinar Program, addresses common misconceptions that hinder understanding of climate science and explores current research on misconceptions, useful resources and sites, and potential classroom strategies and assessments to increase K–12 students’ understanding of science concepts.


But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids

Produced by Vermont Public Radio, this podcast series for kids ages 5–9 (and adults!) tackles a variety of subjects, fielding students’ questions about nature, human behaviors, language, and more. Each approximately 30-minute episode addresses topics such as How Is Paper Made?, Why Do Baby Teeth Fall Out?, Why Do Whales Sing?, What Is Electricity?, What Do Mosquitoes Do in Winter?, How Does Slime Work?, What Happens to the Forest After a Fire?, How Do We Fall Asleep?, and What Are Robots Doing on Mars? Learning guides for grades K–3 and episode transcripts are provided for each podcast. Students can use the learning guides, which support the Common Core learning standards and are available in PDF format (printable) or as Google Slides, to focus and record their thoughts while listening to the podcasts.

Elementary and Middle Level

EV STEM Education Grades K–6

Looking for a fun, interactive way to teach your students about electric vehicles (EVs)? Picture your Future EV educational materials, lessons, and games will help you integrate EVs into your lesson plans and raise awareness, as well as help families learn about EV benefits. Register all teachers in your entire school via the website. Once registered, you will receive print materials and a link to the website for free lessons and an e-learning game. You’ll also gain access to a teacher survey that will enter you in a drawing for a Poraxy 5-in-1 STEM Kit.

Feathers in the Forest Virtual Field Trip
In this 20-minute virtual field trip (most suited for elementary and middle levels), students watch as educators at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site use a simplified forest assessment tool to assess the characteristics of two forest habitats to determine which forest meets the habitat requirements of the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW), a keystone species for the survival of many forest animals. The characteristics identified on the assessment tool include the presence of longleaf pine, distance between trees, evidence of grassy/shrubby understory with a midstory above 10 ft. high, amount of visible canopy, evidence of fire, numbers of insects or other organisms spotted, and diversity of plants found within a transect. The video discusses the ideal habitat for RCW, the U.S. Forest Service’s conservation measures at the Savannah River Site to preserve the RCW’s home (e.g., artificial insert cavities, prescribed burns), and what makes the RCW a keystone species. An accompanying Student Activity Sheet (and Teacher Key) presents questions reinforcing video content (e.g., Which forest is a better habitat for the RCW? Give at least one reason why the forest you chose is a better home for the RCW) and defines key vocabulary words (e.g., transect, cavity, and canopy cover). 

Visit the website to request a link for the video field trip and the accompanying materials. (Note: Free registration is required to receive the materials, which may take up to three days to arrive.) Contact Taylor Rice ( or Kim Mitchell ( if you have questions.

K–8 At-Home STEM and Sustainability Activities
Explore the wide world of STEM and sustainability with these family-friendly, hands-on activities developed for grades K–8 by Discovery Education’s STEM Careers Coalition. Each brief activity (20- to 30-minutes long) features a primary focus question, Quick Background information, step-by-step instructions, and a Career Connection blurb. Through this varied collection of STEM- and sustainability-themed activities, students and families can travel the world without leaving home in a Virtual Adventure; build an earthquake-resistant structure from household materials and test its Structural Strength; discover how automation can make monotonous tasks more fun in Creative Chain Reactions; calculate the number of days of their lives to be spent on social media when Left to Your Own Devices; make food Grown From Groceries using kitchen scraps and water; and combine creative storytelling and computational thinking in a Playing Card Programming Design Challenge.

Middle Level and High School

EV STEM Education Grades 7–12

The rEV program teaches students about electric vehicles (EVs), natural resources, electrical generation, smart technology, economics, and history through a 30-minute interactive video. The presentation can be shown by the teacher in class on their own timetable, or students can watch independently at home. 

This free program is open to secondary students and is sponsored by Electrify America and the National Energy Foundation. After registering, you’ll have access to educational games, e-learning, energy calculators, a Spotify playlist, and more information about EVs. You can earn a $100 eGift card and have access to a national student video contest in which one student and their teacher can each win an electric bike worth up to $2,000.

Wet Wonders Virtual Field Trip 

Learn about freshwater ecosystems and pond health through a virtual field trip and activity developed by the Education Outreach team at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Savannah River Site. Targeted for middle and high school levels, the 14-minute virtual field trip teaches viewers how to determine a pond’s health by capturing and examining a sample of the macroinvertebrates living there. The video showcases the tools used to collect the specimens and demonstrates the steps of the collection process. Students also observe views of the collected specimens under the microscope and learn about the point scale assigned to each creature, which is used to determine the pond’s health. 

An accompanying Student Activity Sheet (and Teacher Key) provides questions to reinforce video content (e.g., Name one tool that scientists can use to collect or observe macroinvertebrates; Why do tadpoles and frogs have a 0 point value on the pollution tolerant scale for macroinvertebrates?). The activity sheet also defines key vocabulary words, such as macroinvertebrates, dichotomous key, biotic factors, and abiotic factors. Visit the website to request a link for the video field trip and the accompanying materials. (Note: Free registration is required to receive the materials, which may take up to three days to arrive.) Contact Taylor Rice ( or Kim Mitchell ( if you have questions.

High School

Mason Bee Edu

Introduce students in grades 9–12 to native bee biology and conservation with Mason Bee Edu, a supplemental curriculum resource for biology courses. Developed collaboratively by Mark Buckner, graduate student in entomology at Cornell University, with support from partners New York State Master Teachers Program and Museum of the Earth, the nine-module program integrates with existing biology curricula using mason bees as the focal point. The modules can be taught as stand-alone units or used throughout the year in tandem as part of studies in evolutionary biology, genetics, and ecology. 

Each module includes a background section for teachers and an activity involving hands-on data collection and observation or analysis of recently published data. Module topics include bee phylogeny and diversity; bee anatomy; life cycle, development, and reproduction of solitary bees; sex determination and allocation in mason bees; the role of mason bees as pollinators; foraging behavior in mason bees; nesting and mating behavior in mason bees; the status of global bee decline; and what you can do to help wild bees. 

High School and College

Inside a Mass Spectrometer

Mass spectrometry is an analytical technique that separates molecular and atomic species according to their mass-to-charge ratio. Often described as the world’s smallest mass scale, mass spectrometers support process decisions throughout the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) complex. Introduce high school and college students to the molecular world of mass spectrometry—and to potential careers in the field—with a Virtual Reality (VR) video journey on the topic. The six-minute VR trip follows a sample through a mass spectrometer and includes explanatory narrative throughout the journey. The VR re-creation was produced by laser mapping and modeling a mass spectrometer at the DOE’s Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL). 

An Educator Guide, written by physicists and chemists at the SRNL laboratories, provides a basic overview of mass spectrometry and describes the six major components of the mass spectrometry system. These components include the sample inlet, vacuum system, ion source, mass analyzer, ion detector, and data system. Complete a short form at the website to request the video link for this journal and its accompanying educator guide. If you have questions, contact Taylor Rice ( or Kim Mitchell (

Voices of the Earth Script

Voices of the Earth: From Sophocles to Rachel Carson and Beyond, a play from the Stanford Repertory Theater, aims to inspire high school and college students and educators to consider today’s environmental challenges from new perspectives, ancient and modern. Featuring quotes from notable environmentalists, poets, philosophers, scientists, and indigenous peoples in conversation, the play tells a human story of our planet. Teachers can use the script and production materials as a basis for environmentally related assignments, including class discussions, Zoom presentations, and writing and reflection prompts. Visit the website to watch a three-minute trailer about the play and register to receive a password-protected link to a full printed text suitable for readings or performances.

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