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Freebies for Science Teachers, Week of August 14, 2020

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies for Science Teachers, Week of August 14, 2020

Beyond Wright and Bell: Exploring Math, Science, and Technology Primary Sources at the LOC

This post from the Teaching With the Library of Congress (LOC) blog discusses the LOC’s Manuscript Division, which houses primary sources to support lesson plans for middle level and high school science, technology, and math instruction. In addition to papers and documents from aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright; inventors Samuel B. Morse (telegraph) and Alexander Graham Bell (telephone); and astronomer Carl Sagan—which naturally lend themselves to science and math lessons—the collection also contains documents in less likely locations that can be used effectively in science and technology learning. For example, Thomas Jefferson’s papers contain numerous examples of his interest in technology and scientific observation, including his drawing of a macaroni machine and instructions for making pasta. Similarly, illustrations of “penny-farthing bicycles” from Charles Wellington Reed, a Civil War era-artist and avid post-war cyclist, can be used to prompt scientific and technological questions about the physics of a bicycle. Read the post to find more ideas on using these and other unexpected primary source documents from the LOC’s Manuscript Division.

K–12 Kitchen Chemistry Resource Lists
The American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT) has a set of resources to support K–12 students and teachers in conducting kitchen chemistry projects in distance learning environments. The resources include a kitchen chemistry equipment list, a measurement conversion chart, and three targeted lists (for elementary, middle level, and high school levels) featuring hands-on physical science and chemistry activities using tools and materials from a kitchen. The equipment list describes the tools needed for measuring length, volume, mass, and temperature, as well as other objects commonly used in kitchen-chemistry projects (e.g., balloons, coffee filters, funnel, measuring cup, paper clips, scissors). The conversion chart provides metric equivalents for several U.S. customary measures (e.g., cups, inches, pounds, tablespoons, ounces) and includes a formula for converting Celsius degrees to Fahrenheit degrees. 

Organized by topic—e.g., Acids and Bases (all levels), Atomic Structure (middle and high school), Chemistry Basics (all levels), Equilibrium (high school), Gases (all levels), Kinetics (all levels), Quantitative Chemistry (middle and high school), Reactions and Stoichiometry (all levels), and Solutions (all levels)—the lists identify many possible opportunities for hands-on learning. (Note: Teachers must be AACT members to access activity content beyond the lists, such as lesson plans and student handouts.)

Webinar: Maintaining Rigorous Remote Science Learning 

Want to engage K–8 students more deeply in remote science learning? Watch How to Maintain a Rigorous and Student-Centered Remote Science Learning Environment, from The 45-minute webinar presents field-tested strategies to keep learners engaged in reading remotely; spark student curiosity and skill in generating testable questions in science; and support students in conducting science experiments successfully at home. (Note: e-mail registration required).

Environmental Sensory Activities for Preschoolers

Project Learning Tree has gathered nature-themed activities and resources to help young learners (grades preK–K) use their senses to explore the environment, indoors and out. The sensory-based activities can be used in the classroom or at home and include experiences such as themed scavenger hunts (e.g., Sound, Textures, Sensory Motor) and nature-inspired art projects (e.g., Forest Faces and Mud Monsters and Bark Owls). Ideas for indoor sensory experiences include making nature-inspired or scent-based sensory bottles; exploring texture, size, and shape using seashells and Ocean Moon Dough; and designing a forest-themed sensory bin for imaginative play. 

NAAEE’s eeGuidance for Reopening Schools 

eeGuidance for Reopening Schools, from the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), offers practical advice for schools and districts on incorporating environmental and outdoor education programs and experiences as part of the process of safely and equitably reopening schools this fall. The seven-page document, available in PDF format with live links to additional resources, provides suggestions and guidance on extending learning spaces into the community, using school grounds for learning, creating healthier learning environments, maximizing virtual teaching and learning opportunities, and supporting students in at-home learning. 

Physics and Engineering Short Courses

Ansys—a global software developer focused on producing engineering simulation software designed to predict how product designs will behave in real-world environments—offers no-cost physics instruction through Ansys Innovation Courses, self-paced, simulation-based resources exploring physics fundamentals. Targeted for students and instructors at the high school and college levels, as well as engineering professionals, the courses address physics concepts relating to fluids, structures, electronics, and STEM, and include online materials such as videos, handouts, practice or homework problem sets, and short quizzes. The courses can be used as a stand-alone experience to focus on a specific concept (e.g., fluid statics, physics of flight) or assigned in a specific sequence (learning track) to explore a particular topic in more depth. 


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