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Freebies for Science Teachers, March 16, 2021

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies for Science Teachers, March 16, 2021

Grades K–12

BSCS Videoverse

BSCS Videoverse is BSCS Science Learning’s new platform for K–12 teachers, teacher educators, district coaches, and researchers interested in informing their instructional practices with research-driven methods and guidance. The platform features a growing collection of classroom video clips ranging from 2 to 20 minutes in length that can be filtered by science discipline, science topic, grade band and level, activity focus, science and engineering practice, and crosscutting concept. For example, you’ll find exemplar videos for revealing student ideas, communicating in scientific ways, using models and representations, sharing explanations and arguments, using and applying science ideas, and bringing coherence to a lesson. Most videos have associated resources like transcripts with context for the video, classroom-ready interactives, lesson plans, and student handouts. 

The videos showcase real-world classroom environments and provide opportunities for educators to observe student thinking, analyze teaching strategies, and develop deeper understanding of complex classroom inquiry practices. In addition, the How to Use Video Resources section features tools and norms for basic video analysis and provides a protocol for lesson analysis.

Space Science Resources

Fuel K–12 students’ enthusiasm for space science and exploration with the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) educational web page, featuring activities, experiments, games, podcasts, and career information to excite students about space science, mathematics, and technology. Discover what living and working on the International Space Station is like in the game Mission: Astronaut, or model how scientists get clues about asteroids from scientific instruments with Asteroid Mystery Box (elementary and middle levels). Moving and Working in Space, a classroom-based activity for middle and high school levels, lets students simulate what working in a space suit is like as they complete four manual tasks while wearing garden or rubber gloves. High school students can explore dynamic careers in the space sector through video profiles of leaders working in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) roles at the CSA, such as operations engineer, systems engineer, mission scientist, astronaut, laboratory manager, and data manager.

STEM Mentoring Resources

Whether you’re a K–12 teacher looking for STEM mentors for your students or a STEM professional interested in serving as a role model or mentor for students, you'll appreciate a new web page from the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity that provides a comprehensive source for mentoring information. The web page features links to numerous mentoring programs and websites to connect educators with potential STEM role models (e.g., FabFems, Spark101, MentorNet, and others), as well as tools and resources to guide mentors in creating and sustaining successful mentoring programs. In addition, the page has links to STEM activities and curriculum from leading programs and initiatives, such as PBS Design Squad, Museum of Science Boston’s Engineering Is Elementary, and TeachEngineering. Educators can also find connections to national STEM education networks like the National Girls Collaborative and STEMconnector.

Celebrating Science History

The Science History Institute has several public programs, now online, to engage K–12 educators and others in exploring the role of history in scientific and technological culture. Try This @ Home, a video series featuring family-friendly science and baking activities with connections to history, features videos on topics like making Revolutionary War-style invisible ink or apple meringue pie from the 1880s. Historical Biographies presents short biographical descriptions of the people behind important milestones in chemistry, chemical engineering, and the life sciences. Pandemic Perspectives presents historical stories alongside interviews with science experts, providing historical context to help frame our current crisis. 

Honoring Women of Science

To celebrate Women’s History Month, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science NetLinks project has a collection of resources for K–12 audiences honoring the work and achievements of women in science. The collection includes lessons, tools (websites, interactives, videos), and resources showcasing notable contributions from scientists and researchers in STEM fields. Of particular interest is 4,000 Years of Women in Science (grades 6–12), a website featuring an annotated list of more than 120 women in science history and their contributions to their fields. The list can be viewed in three ways: in alphabetical order (by scientist), in chronological order (by century), or by field of study (discipline). 

Also for grades 6–12 is a series of online booklets produced by Science magazine and the L’Oreal Corporate Foundation: Women in Science: Forging New Pathways in Biology; Women in Science: Forging New Pathways in Green Science; and Young Women in Science: Forging New Pathways. These booklets provide students a real-world glimpse of life as a science researcher in different fields and include suggestions for using the booklets in the classroom. And audiences of all ages (K–12) can appreciate the contributions of women in science through the video The Women Who Saved the U.S. Space Race (And Other Unsung Scientists). Produced by the American Chemical Society, this six-minute video focuses on three pioneering chemists—Mary Sherman Morgan (rocket science), Alice Ball (leprosy treatment for leprosy), and Rachel Lloyd (sugar beet agriculture)—each of whom made impactful contributions to chemistry but whose work is not widely known.

Early Childhood

STEMI2E2 Center

The STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education (STEMI2E2) Center at the University of North Carolina has developed resources to increase the number of high-quality STEM learning opportunities available for young children with disabilities and facilitate their implementation in the classroom. The resources are a mix of handouts, blog posts, webinars, research briefs, video clips, and more. Read the blog STEM 4EC to connect with early childhood inclusion stakeholders and share personal stories and questions about including young children with disabilities in STEM; learn research-based information on how children think and learn about STEM topics—learning trajectories—and how to use them; and find play-based STEM activities for young children with disabilities, such as Coding With LEGOs, Engineering Inventor Box, and Playing With a Ball. Other resources include tip sheets with specific question prompts, activities, and adaptations to support young children with disabilities that are based on popular storybooks like The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle (1977) and Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins (1970).

Elementary Level

Marine Study Units 

Explore marine and coastal topics with second graders using A World of Water and Plant and Animal Habitats, two weeklong, marine-themed units developed collaboratively by the Cape Cod Regional STEM Network and elementary educator Michael Irving, Woods Hole Sea Grant. The units—which support the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Ocean Literacy Standards and include both in-person and remote learning lessons and activities—are also notable because they incorporate information and clips from more than a dozen NOAA Live! Webinars, providing students with a real-world glimpse of STEM researchers in action. In A World of Water, students investigate the different bodies of water found on the Earth’s surface. By the unit’s end, students are able to identify characteristics of each body of water, including size, salt or freshwater, and liquid or solid. In Plant and Animal Habitats, students discover how plants and animals rely on each other to survive and reproduce. The units include supporting materials for teachers, such as lesson plans, activity sheets/handouts, learning standards, and resource lists.

Middle Level

Light and Matter Unit

OpenSciEd, a nonprofit organization that creates and implements phenomenon-based science instructional materials for educators worldwide, has released a new unit on Light and Matter for sixth graders. The unit supports the NGSS and helps students develop understandings about the use of scientific models through the phenomenon of a one-way mirror. After watching a video clip of a one-way mirror, students record their initial ideas about how it works and build a scaled box model of what they saw in the video to test out their ideas. Using two boxes combined with a one-way mirror between the two, students vary the presence of light in the two boxes to figure out how a one-way mirror works and improve their initial models. In this way, students are able to discover and explain how light is reflected and transmitted through materials and the basics of how these behaviors of light result in the images we see.

The downloadable unit includes six lesson plans, student videos, and additional unit information regarding learning standards and practices. (Note: Free registration is required to obtain full access to the complete unit materials.)

Middle Level and High School

Invitations to Inquiry With FieldScope

These one- to three-day learning experiences engage students with authentic data sets from community and citizen science projects hosted on BSCS’s FieldScope platform. The projects address topics from water quality issues in the Chesapeake Bay watershed (Asking and Answering Questions With Data) and the timing of the fall and spring seasons (Project BudBurst) to the relationship among human activity, light pollution, and the night sky (Global Night Sky Comparison) and the natural and invasive range of the American bullfrog (Frog Eat Frog World). The projects support the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices and provide students with opportunities to practice collecting, visualizing, and analyzing environmental data. Supporting materials include teacher guides, slides, and handouts. The lessons are written for use in classroom settings with computer access; however, many materials can also be used in at-home or distance learning environments.

Pathways: Microscopes and Imaging

Pathways is a series of digital curriculum modules for grades 6–12 produced by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences and Scholastic. The modules address basic science and its importance to health while also introducing students to careers in science research. Each module includes a student magazine, teaching guide, vocabulary list, imaging resource sheet, and online quiz. The latest learning module—Pathways: Microscopes and Imaging—examines the imaging tools scientists use to unlock the mysteries of cells and molecules and presents activities for students such as creating scientific illustrations and conducting online research about imaging technologies. Visit the website to access the digital learning module, view videos about careers in science research, or order free print copies of the magazines and teaching guides from the Pathways learning modules series. (The print materials for the current module, Microscopes and Imaging, will be available for order shortly.)

Middle Level Through College

Biographies of Women Scientists

The Biography Channel has several online articles about well-known women scientists, some accompanied by videos. Suitable for audiences from middle level to adult, the articles highlight scientists from various disciplines (e.g., Marie Curie, physics; Alice Ball, chemistry, Jane Goodall, biology; Katherine Johnson, math) and include photographs of the women at work and embedded links with additional information. Through articles such as "Marie Curie: Seven Facts About the Groundbreaking Scientist"; "Five Female Inventors Who Changed Life as We Know It"; and "Alice Ball and Seven Female Scientists Whose Discoveries Were Credited to Men," teachers and students can discover facts and newfound appreciation for the dynamic nature of science and the hard work of these pioneering, persevering individuals.

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