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Freebies for Science Teachers, November 17, 2020

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies for Science Teachers, November 17, 2020

Grades K–12

Kids Against Climate Change Website

Hosted by climate change educator and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Planet Steward Kottie Christie-Blick, the student-created website provides a place for students worldwide to express their concerns about climate change, share mitigation ideas, and post climate-related illustrations and videos. Students can also contribute to discussion boards on three climate change topics: What do kids know? What can kids do? What should adults do? In addition, the site features student-friendly articles and videos, as well as ready-to-use lesson plans to help teachers and students learn more about climate change, in or out of the classroom.

Safety Resources for 3-D Printers

Find guidance and learn best practices for the safe location and operation of 3-D printers in school settings and other venues with these online resources from Chemical Insights, a nonprofit environmental health and safety organization. The materials—versioned for both school and general audiences—present a brief overview of the 3-D printing process; address human health and environmental concerns relating to 3-D printing; offer strategies to reduce exposure to 3-D printer emissions; and include a Mitigation Strategy Checklist that highlights the key points for the safe purchase, location, and operation of a 3-D printer in a single page.

Out of My Mind E-Book
This e-book from the nonprofit educational organization the Laboratory Safety Institute features editorials, thoughts, and tips collected over LSI Vice President of Education Jim Kaufman’s 40 years of teaching lab safety. The e-book can be used for improving your own safety program. Articles cover such topics as “Safe Science at Home,” “Leadership in Safety,” and “Three C’s of Safety.” Free copies will be available until December 17, 2020. To obtain a copy, e-mail  


Kids Gardening’s Lessons to Grow By

This four-month program of weekly garden-themed lessons and activities was created for teachers instructing via distance learning and for parents teaching at home. Lessons are grouped around a monthly theme, featuring three hands-on activities for kids each week with supplemental suggested reading, videos, and more. While aimed at learners in grades 3–5, the activities can easily be adapted for younger or older audiences. You can sign up at any time to see materials from the past weeks or months. Month 1 featured Pollinators; Month 2 focuses on Plant Parts.

Elementary and Middle Level

Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention Resources

K–8 educators can introduce a new generation of students to Smokey Bear and his message of wildfire prevention with this website from USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Ad Council. Classroom materials for grades K–2 include the Smokey Bear Activity Book and the video A Day in the Forest With Smokey Bear. The Smokey Patrol Book (for upper-elementary level) explores how to prevent wildfires and conserve the forest. Resources for the middle level (grades 6–8) focus on developing students’ skills as Smokey’s Wildfire Prevention Detectives. In these activities, students learn to analyze data to determine a fire’s point of origin; interpret evidence to determine if a fire was caused by arson or accident; understand the science of prescribed fire; and create and share a wildfire prevention message.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s 2021 Marine Debris Calendar

Available as a downloadable PDF, this colorful calendar features winning artwork from the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s 2020 “Keep the Sea Free of Debris!” Art Contest for K–8 students. In the contest, students submitted illustrations and ideas in response to these questions: How does marine debris impact the ocean and Great Lakes environment? What will you do to help? The illustrations highlight the ways plastics and other marine debris are harmful to the ocean environment and promote recycling and reducing waste as solutions to help lessen the problem. The calendar also includes a coloring activity about the impact of marine debris on ocean animals, and links to additional resources to learn more about the problem of marine debris and what to do about it.

Middle Level and High School

Changing Climate: Our Future, Our Choice

The Paleontological Research Institution’s (PRI) Museum of the Earth online exhibit teaches visitors about climate change and suggests action steps to help protect our environment. The exhibit provides students and teachers with information and resources to be able to discuss climate change effectively and accurately and to communicate this information beyond their immediate circles. The exhibit has an interactive timeline examining Temperature and Carbon Dioxide Through Time; images of climate proxies (records of Earth’s climate history as seen through tree rings, fossils, sediment, rocks, glaciers, and ice sheets); text, animations, and videos explaining the greenhouse effect; visual examples and text describing the impacts of climate change on the environment; and suggested solutions for individuals and communities to lessen the impacts of climate change. A Learn More section offers additional resources for teachers, such as PRI’s Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change and the Teach Climate Science toolkit, both of which can be used to supplement climate change and energy instruction. 

High School

The STEM Organization of America (TSOA)

Created by three high school students, this national organization offers the opportunity for students nationwide to get involved in STEM. The organization is completely digital, at-home, and free to join, so students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can still develop and showcase their STEM skills. TSOA also gives students access to resources; at-home competitions judged by students at Harvard, Stanford, and Yale; webinars; tutoring; and other opportunities within the STEM field, including opportunities to digitally network with other students interested in STEM.

High School and College Levels

Jim Allison: Breakthrough Educator Toolkit

Jim Allison: Breakthrough is a documentary about scientist and Nobel Laureate Jim Allison’s decades-long journey to find a cure for cancer. The film follows Allison as he navigates the challenging journey of science research from breakthrough discovery to rollout and celebrates the power of perseverance. An accompanying Educators Toolkit can help educators address the movie’s content and themes in the science classroom. The guide supports the Next Generation Science Standards and includes lessons, discussion questions, and lab activities exploring topics such as how cancer works, the immune system and cell communication, and what’s involved in getting a breakthrough discovery to patients. The guide also includes an activity for students to learn about the careers featured in the film and in cancer science. 

Biology Climate Change Earth & Space Science Environmental Science General Science Instructional Materials Lesson Plans Life Science News Professional Learning old Safety STEM Teaching Strategies Technology Middle School Elementary High School Postsecondary

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