By Debra Shapiro
At the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s web page for climate change resources, K–12 educators and students can access vetted resources to boost knowledge about the science of climate change and its impacts. The resources are culled from the EPA as well as from other federal agencies and organizations focused on the environment, including National Geographic Society, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and NASA. Of particular interest is the EPA’s Climate Change Indicators website, where teachers can build a foundation for understanding the causes and effects of climate change by examining authentic data collected over time relating to greenhouse gas emissions, air and ocean temperature data, snow and rainfall patterns, and other environmental indicators. Analyzing these data patterns can help teachers and others understand what climate change “looks like.”
NOAA’s Data in the Classroom, another notable resource, presents guided lessons and learning modules that teach middle and high school students how to analyze and interpret authentic climate change data. For more student-centered information on climate change, see NASA’s Climate Kids website, which presents kid-friendly information about climate science, as well as games, videos, and hands-on activities to extend learning about the topic.
Committees and individuals from the Council of State Science Supervisors (CSSS) hold webinars to support all aspects of science teaching and learning (for example, instruction, assessment, administration) that educators can view on the CSSS website. The website also has abstracts of the nearly two dozen available webinars.
Recent webinars have addressed themes such as Science Professional Learning Standards and Online Learning Strategies; Bringing Earth and Space PHENOMENA Into K–12 Classrooms Through Digital Media with NASA and WGBH/PBS LearningMedia; Supporting Productive Discourse in the Classroom; and Supporting Indigenous Communities as Partners in Implementation.
Argonne National Laboratory’s STEAMVILLE is an online community where students in grades 3–12 can discover, develop, and showcase their science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) interests and identities with support and guidance from participating teachers, parents, and mentors. STEAMVILLE features more than 40 virtual learning communities focused on STEAM-related themes, such as coding, digital making, engineering design, and cooking. Each virtual learning community contains several related activities or a multistep online challenge for students to complete. Completing the activities in each community helps students grow their interests and learn to solve problems, collaborate with others, and work in an online environment.
Now you can share mission highlights and discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope—NASA’s high-tech orbiting infrared observatory—with K–12 students. The powerful space telescope is designed to detect the universe’s first galaxies, as well as look inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are forming today. The online toolkit features resources including these:
A child’s progression of learning—or how their STEM knowledge develops—is cultivated through their experiences, observations, guidance from or interactions with people in their environments. Crosscutting concepts are a set of overarching big ideas that look and behave similarly across all STEM domain areas. A Guide to Crosscutting Concepts, a PDF document from the STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Childhood Education (STEMIE), provides straightforward information about how the group defines and describes crosscutting concepts in STEM learning for all young children (ages 0–5), including children with disabilities. The seven-page publication presents definitions, examples, and learning progression steps of each crosscutting concept, including cause and effect, change and stability, compare and contrast, patterns, structure and function, and systems and their interactions.
The Federal Reserve Board's U.S. Currency Education Program has developed a collection of resources to help students in grades 2–5 better understand the paper currency in their pockets. The materials offer a novel approach to learning about the unique features of U.S. paper currency by likening the features of paper currency to the special features of some animals in nature. For example, in the video You’d Be Surprised: Special Features, students learn how the raised texture of currency is similar to the textured coat of an armadillo (i.e., rough to the touch and with raised bumps) and how color-changing ink enables currency to appear either copper or green depending on the angle at which it is seen, much like the green jewel bug can appear either green or copper depending on the light it is in.
The program’s Currency Academy is an online learning interactive that takes students through paper currency’s design (Art Studio), denomination type (School Store), and special features (Science Lab). Accompanying worksheets for grades 2–3 and 4–5 are available to guide students through the Academy content.
Kahoot! EDU Site License
To help elementary teachers worldwide keep students connected and engaged during ongoing learning disruptions caused by the pandemic, Kahoot! is offering a free 60-day site license to the learning platform. A Kahoot! license gives teachers access to ready-to-use content created by Kahoot-verified educators and partners, which can be useful in creating lessons for both in-person and virtual settings. Other benefits include providing an online workspace for teachers to share content libraries and lesson plans and offering teachers opportunities to connect with Kahoot! experts during weekly live office hours. To participate, school administrators must register their school.
CDC Museum Public Health Academy STEM Lessons
Educators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Public Health Academy have developed 20 hands-on public health lessons for grades 6–1). The lessons support the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and address STEM topics like clean air, climate change, disaster preparedness, and infectious diseases. The lessons challenge students to solve public health problems using one of three lesson models—an engineering design process, in which students design and build a solution to the problem; a public health approach, in which students use epidemiologic principles to investigate a problem; or a scientific method, in which students conduct an experiment to evaluate a hypothesis. Whatever the model, each lesson includes a lesson plan, a slide set for educators, an instruction sheet for students, and a student data collection sheet.
Public health practice involves professionals from all STEM disciplines, including statisticians, biologists, epidemiologists, informaticians, data scientists, microbiologists, and economists, as well as the liberal arts and the humanities. These lessons feature a wide variety of topics and approaches to help students develop skills like problem solving, critical thinking, communication, innovation, and collaboration.
An interdisciplinary activity involving studying the Pemberton Mill building collapse in 1860 provides opportunities for high school students to examine how engineering design mistakes led to disaster and what can be learned from the disaster to avoid design mistakes. In the activity, described in the blog Teaching With the Library of Congress (LOC), students examine a photograph of the rebuilt Pemberton Mill, which was constructed on the same site later in 1860, as well as the blueprint of the structure, to look for evidence that the new building is structurally sound. The initial activity helps develop students’ engineering academic vocabulary (e.g., What structural characteristics are visible in this building? What details in this photo suggest that this new building is structurally sound?), then extends learning to include an interdisciplinary social studies connection as students work in pairs to review historical newspaper articles and firsthand accounts from construction members to determine who or what they think is responsible for the building collapse.
Once students form their own opinions, you can share the actual verdict from the “Jury of Inquest of the Pemberton Mill” calamity with students and discuss it. Some students may be inspired to use the LOC’s resources to learn more about the Pemberton Mill disaster or investigate other structural engineering disasters of interest.
The Knowles Teacher Initiative’s Teach KELP is a collection of lessons focusing on the Galápagos ecosystem for grades 9–12. The resources address topics in biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science, Earth science, and mathematics. For example, students explore the evolutionary history of the Galápagos iguanas in the lesson Iguana Speciation and learn about the impact of citizen science on local communities in Citizen Science in the Galápagos. In another activity, Coral Reef Resilience in the Galápagos, students work cooperatively to analyze data, become experts, and jigsaw their learning with peers. Each Google-formatted lesson includes an Educators Guide featuring a lesson overview, background information, and teaching tips, as well as any student worksheets, reading materials, slides, or other items needed for the lesson.
Undergraduate and graduate students studying to become teachers or scientists in the Earth sciences can join the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) for two years at no cost. In addition to joining a group of likeminded educators and scientists advocating for the advancement of Earth science education and research, members receive access to current and archived issues of the association’s flagship journal, The Earth Scientist. Members can also participate in professional development opportunities available through the group, including webinars and workshops.
Administration Biology Careers Chemistry Citizen Science Climate Change Crosscutting Concepts Disabilities Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Engineering English Language Learners Environmental Science Evolution General Science Inclusion Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Learning Progression Lesson Plans Life Science Mathematics Multilingual Learners News Phenomena Physical Science Physics Preservice Science Education Professional Learning Science and Engineering Practices STEM Teaching Strategies Middle School Early Childhood Elementary High School Postsecondary Pre-service Teachers