By Debra Shapiro
Digital Textbook for Earth and Space Science. Educational product company Big Kid Science is developing a series of digital science textbooks to support the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The series is part of an initiative to create a complete, coherent science curriculum for grades 6–8 that can be digitally distributed at low or no cost to teachers and students worldwide. Sample chapters from the curriculum’s first installment—Earth and Space Science: A Middle School Demo (targeted for eighth grade)—are now available. Written by astrophysicist, author, and Big Kid Science founder Jeffrey Bennett, the multimedia chapters can be used as a textbook replacement or with other resources.
Each chapter has links to the latest science developments and includes interactive, open/close features and embedded Teacher Notes that allow teachers to differentiate learning for students with different levels of background. Available chapters are “Our Place in the Universe,” “Understanding the Sky,” “How Science Discovered the Earth,” “Planet Earth,” and “Earth Through Time.” Additional chapters on climate change, atmosphere/hydrosphere, and human impacts beyond climate change will be released this fall and next year.
National Geographic Education Summer Learning Series. Liven things up during distance learning and quarantining with National Geographic Education’s curated resource collections. Presented collectively as the Summer Learning Series and targeted for grades K–12, each set of materials highlights a different topic and includes a mix of activities, videos, maps, infographics, fun facts, and quizzes to implement at home. Learn about the unique animals and environments found in locations worldwide, such as Nepal, Morocco, Amazon, Australia, Alaska, Ecuador, or the Philippines. Other collections (e.g., Learn at Home; Interpreting Data: Grades 5–12; Learn Through Play: Grades K–12) provide opportunities to develop students’ science understandings and explorer mindset through simple experiments and inquiry. Explorer Classroom—a twice-weekly live broadcast featuring National Geographic researchers—introduces high school learners to new careers in science fields and offers opportunities to interact directly with working scientists.
My NASA Data Ocean Circulation Patterns Story Map. Engage students in grades 7–12 in studying ocean circulation patterns with an immersive story map from My NASA Data. A story map tells the “story” of a science phenomenon, such as ocean circulation patterns, through an immersive combination of text, interactive maps with real NASA data, and other multimedia content presented in a 5E (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate) lesson plan model. In the Ocean Circulation Patterns story map, students work with visualizations (images, charts, and graphs) and ocean current data to learn about the forces that contribute to ocean circulation patterns, and how debris, especially plastics, travel from land to garbage patches. Students also analyze regional plastic production and waste management data to describe how humans have contributed to ocean plastic pollution.
The story map offers educators a complete lesson plan, providing learning objectives, essential questions, cross-curricular connections, background information, student prerequisites, extension ideas, and connections to careers related to the topic. Supplementary materials—such as student handouts and links to information describing how the lesson supports the NGSS and relevant NGSS disciplinary core ideas and science and engineering practices—are also included.
Oceans of Data Institute (ODI) Resources. Looking for data-centric classroom resources to help K–16 students develop data-literacy skills? This annotated list from the Education Development Center’s Oceans of Data Institute (ODI) provides links to materials developed by ODI and its collaborators, as well as links to tools developed by other organizations and teacher references, sorted by grade level. Resources for the elementary level include NASA’s Real World, Real Science learning modules (grades five and six), which use authentic NASA and NOAA data to study the effects of the Earth’s changing climate on the animals and plants of Maine’s diverse habitats, and the TERC Inquiry Project (grades 3–5), which features data-based investigations such as Volume, Heavy for Size, and Two Scales. Teachers of grades 6–12 can access activities from the Common Online Data Analysis Program (CODAP), which focus on developing students’ skills in visualizing and interpreting data and making evidence-based claims from the data. Another resource, Model My Watershed, engages students in real-world connections to data as they analyze land use and soil data from their own neighborhood and watershed. Using Data in the Classroom (grades K–16) provides resources and insight for teachers on the best teaching methods and approaches to use when working with data in the classroom.
Apple K–12 Education’s Learning from Home Website. Learning from Home is Apple’s one-stop shop for K–12 educators (and parents) to access video tutorials and other resources to maximize the use of Apple tools and features to support remote teaching and learning. The site has resources to facilitate every facet of remote instruction—from how-to project guides on embedding video, music, drawing, and photography opportunities in remote lessons to tips on using Apple apps and features to more effectively communicate, stay connected, and collaborate with students during distance learning. Educators can also schedule free one-on-one virtual coaching sessions to address specific needs.