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Freebies for Science Teachers, October 6, 2020

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies for Science Teachers, October 6, 2020

Elementary & Middle Level

Science Island

This science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)–based game challenges players to fix Science Island, an abandoned 100-year-old theme park. Developed by design students and researchers at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, with input from Ugandan middle school students and scientists worldwide, the game explores STEM content through more than 120 learning quests in 10 themes (dinosaurs, medicine, math, physics, inventions, animals, environment, weather, evolution, and space). Each quest features animations, quizzes, and experiments on a different STEM topic. As students complete the tasks in each quest, they earn coins to fix and unlock park rides. 

Bird Activities

Whether you’re a teacher looking to find easy-to-implement content for students during distance learning, or a parent striving to engage your child in learning at home, these nature-based science explorations from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology can help. The activities include both indoor and outdoor experiences on themes such as bird diversity and adaptation, courtship behaviors, nest building, growth and development, bird identification techniques, flight and migration habits, and surprising bird behaviors. Online teacher’s guides feature several activities on the topic (one each for grades K–2, 3–5, and 6–8) and ideas for students’ independent exploration.

High School

COVID-19 Curriculum Materials

Educators from the University of North Carolina’s EPIC Learning project (Epistemic Practices Embedded in Issue-Centered Science Education) are developing a coronavirus-centered learning module for grades 9–12. Four activities are now available for distance and classroom instruction: Model of Viral Spread, Infection Curve Simulation, Considering COVID from Multiple Perspectives, and Media and Information Literacy. The activities focus on scientific modeling practices and systems thinking as a way to build understandings about COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, how they spread, and what societies can do to limit or stem their spread. Relevant links (student handouts, articles, extension ideas, and more) are included with each activity. The Media and Information Literacy activity offers a suite of online tools to help students learn to critically evaluate scientific information.

Zoom In! Data Literacy Learning Modules

Teach core topics in high school biology and Earth science—and build students’ data literacy skills—with these blended online learning modules from the Center for Children and Technology at Education Development Center. Each standard-based (Next Generation Science Standards) learning module offers a multi-day “deep dive” into a real-world science problem using authentic data sets and the Zoom In online learning platform. Six units investigate topics from tracking the effects of wolves in Yellowstone to the search for Earth-like exoplanets and beyond. In each module, students develop data literacy skills as they analyze data to answer a scientific question, debate interpretations, take notes, and write a culminating argument supported by evidence. Digital Teacher Guides support educators in implementing each step of the instructional sequence. 
Module titles include How Is Climate Really Changing? (climate change); Where Will the Next Big Earthquake Hit? (tectonics); Where Will We Find the Next Earth? (exoplanets); How Are Island Lizards Changing in the Skyros Archipelago? (population divergence); What Happened When Wolves Were Reintroduced to Yellowstone? (trophic cascades); and How Will Snowshoe Hares Survive a Changing Climate? (polymorphism).


Mystery Science Lessons for Distance Learners has curated a starter set of their most popular mini science lessons and activities for K–5 remote instruction or to share with families. Requiring no login or account, the lessons address kid-friendly topics from various science disciplines and include both short (15- to 30-minute) video-based, all-digital mini lessons as well as longer (45- to 90-minute) lessons accompanied by a hands-on activity. For example, students can view mini video explanations that answer questions such as these: How do germs get inside your body? How does hand sanitizer kill germs? How are toys invented? Can you make lava? 

Middle Level

Virtual Orientation to Group Work Unit

To help virtual educators address group work practices with students, educators from the STEMAZing Project have developed a virtual Middle School Science Groupwork Unit. The virtual unit is an adapted version of Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE)’s Grade Six Orientation to Groupwork curriculum unit. The unit is ready to use in Google Classrooms and contains everything needed to teach group work skills virtually, including digital student notebook, teacher slide deck, Google Docs and Google Slides files to assign to students, and a recorded video webinar “walkthrough” for teachers that provides an overview of the unit components.

New Remote Learning Lessons for Chemistry

The American Chemical Society has produced new remote lessons featuring videos of experiments, animations, and questions that teachers can use to create lessons students can do at home. Each Remote Learning Assignment is a Google Form that teachers can give to students to complete asynchronously, or use during a synchronous virtual class. The forms may be used alone, or teachers can choose to cover specific chapters or sections that support their existing curriculum. 


ASU's Research for Inclusive STEM Education Center Virtual Events       

The Research for Inclusive STEM Education Center (@ASU_RISE_Center), a newly launched Arizona State University (ASU) initiative, is striving to make higher education more inclusive through innovative research, ongoing events, and campus-wide interventions. One of the center's early initiatives has been the development of virtual events focusing on anti-racism and racial justice. Created in response to the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, protests against the killing of George Floyd, and other national issues, A Call to Action: RISE Up for Racial Justice events range from discussions and workshops to student listening sessions and seminars. Upcoming RISE Up for Racial Justice events are 

  • Discussion: Language Matters: Considering Racial Microaggressions in Science, October 8 at 1:30 p.m. Central Time (CT). Speakers: Colin Harrison, Georgia Tech, and Kimberly Tanner, San Francisco State University. Zoom link 
  • Seminar: But Is It Really “Just” Science? Engaging Critical Race Theory to Unpack Racial Oppression With Implications for Black Student Science Engagement, October 21 at 11 a.m. CT. Speaker: Terrell Morton, University of Missouri. Zoom link 
  • Seminar: Black Women and Belongingness: An Interrogation of STEM Education as a White, Patriarchal Space, November 19 at 2 p.m. CT. Speakers: Luis Leyva, Vanderbilt University, and Nicole Joseph, Vanderbilt University. Zoom link 
  • Seminar: An Exploratory Investigation of the Experiences of Black Immigrant Women in Undergraduate STEM, December 1 at 2 p.m. CT. Speakers: Meseret Hailu, Arizona State University, and Brooke Coley, Arizona State University. Zoom link 

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