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Freebies for Science Teachers, Week of July 20, 2020

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies for Science Teachers, Week of July 20, 2020

COVID-19 ExplaVideos. Two animated videos from the ABC News Medical Unit—Herd Immunity: Can We Stop the Virus? and Convalescent Plasma—help middle and high school audiences understand the science behind these timely topics. Featuring simple language and cartoon graphics, the short (less than five minutes each) videos explain how herd immunity “works” in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and address the idea of whether or not convalescent plasma (antibodies from people who’ve recovered from the virus) can be used to effectively treat people currently battling the virus and also provide immunity to keep individuals from contracting it. “Automatically generated” (e.g., not corrected for typos) transcripts of each video are available. 

Understanding Unconscious Bias in TeachingThis episode of Rethinking Education—Education Dive’s podcast series exploring the impacts of changing technology and social norms on education—tackles unconscious bias in teaching. Unconscious biases are stereotypes about gender, race, and other factors formed without conscious awareness. Applicable for educators of all ages and levels, K-college, the 15-minute podcast discusses what unconscious bias is and how it impacts the assumptions we make. In addition, the program suggests conscious actions for educators and others to help overcome biases and further empathy, such as approaching decisions with an open mindset; being willing to step out of your comfort zone and speak up about an issue; listening mindfully to varying viewpoints; and thinking of problem solving as a holistic process, one which involves building upon the expertise of many to reach group consensus.  

PlantSnap Plant Identification AppIdentify plants, trees, and more instantly with this easy-to-use app for smartphones and tablets. Available for both Android and iOS platforms, and suitable for teachers all levels, registered users (e-mail login required) can snap a photo and find the name of the plant in seconds. Great for use in outdoor education lessons, the app features a worldwide database of more than 625,000 species of plants, flowers, trees, and mushrooms. An Augmented Reality (AR) component provides instant access to information from the database about any plant detected in the device's viewfinder. Users can also view AR technology-enabled animations to learn more about photosynthesis and other topics. An introductory video about the app’s features is included.

STEAM Projects at HomeEducation nonprofits Two Bit Circus Foundation and Annenberg Learner have produced more than 150 STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) learning projects for K–12 audiences. The projects support learning standards, require only common household items, and follow a simple format to use in distance and at-home learning. Organized by grade span (K–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12), and grouped as lesson collections (Brick Playbook; Engineering Tower;, NASA’s BEST Students; Project Playbook; Eighth-Grade Chemistry; Middle School Forces: Scrambler Car; Electricity: House Project; Forces: Glider; and so on), the activities offer experiences from engineering design tasks like Design a Lunar Buggy (K–8) and Paper Airplane Cargo Race (K–5) to physical science explorations like Collision Safety experiments (grades 6–8) and a model House Project (grades 9–12), complete with working lights and switches. In all the activities, students are driving their own learning as they ask questions, work with materials, make observations, and communicate findings.  

Webinars: Strategies to Support Students with Remote Learning. Three recorded webinars highlight evidence-based practices to promote effective learning and address equity during school closures. Presented by researchers from the U.S. Department of Education’s Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic, the webinars offer timely, practical advice for educators and other stakeholders and include access to the slides, transcripts, handouts, and reference lists from each program.

  • Refining Your Remote Learning Strategies Using a Data-Driven Approach: The Evidence to Insights Coach (1 hour, all K–12 stakeholders) guides viewers in using a free tool for districts and schools to identify—in real time—the online learning approaches that work best for their students.
  • Learning Remotely in the Age of COVID-19: Lessons from Evidence and Concerns for Equity (1.5 hours, all K–12 stakeholders) presents evidence-based practices to support effective remote learning; highlights ways to address equity concerns arising from school closures; and provides a framework to help inform decision making by states, districts, and schools regarding remote learning.
  • Teaching Young Learners in a Pandemic: Supporting Children Pre-K–Grade 3 and Their Learning Partners at Home (1 hour, primary level teachers and parents) offers research-based strategies and guidance on remotely teaching young children and tips for parents to support their children with at-home learning lessons.


Biology Chemistry Engineering Equity General Science Inclusion Interdisciplinary Life Science Physical Science Physics STEM Teaching Strategies Technology Middle School Elementary High School Postsecondary Preschool

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