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Freebies for Science Teachers, Week of July 30

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies for Science Teachers, Week of July 30

Food Agriculture and Biotechnology GuideScience and Our Food Supply: Exploring Food Agriculture and Biotechnology (2020 Edition) is a supplementary curriculum for grades 9–12 exploring how biotechnology is used to produce food for humans and animals. Developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the 120-page, standards-supported resource features five agricultural science learning modules with teacher background information, hands-on activities, and student handouts in each. The first two modules address key agricultural methods (e.g., selective breeding and genetic engineering), while the third and fourth modules highlight some major reasons these techniques are used (e.g., to decrease pest damage, to enhance nutrient profile). The final module focuses on understanding the evaluation process for new plant varieties developed for human or animal food, as well as the new food labeling requirements. To access the modules and accompanying resources, scroll to the bottom of the page.
Rainbow SimulatorWith the rainbow simulator from SciJinks (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s middle level weather education website), students and educators can manipulate the position of the Sun and the viewpoint of the person to explore how angles and distances affect the rainbow seen by the eye. Accompanying text explains rainbow basics and describes the different types of rainbows (e.g., primary, secondary, and double rainbows). A linked article, "What Causes a Rainbow?," offers more detailed information.

Savoring Ice Cream With Primary SourcesMaking ice cream involves lots of interesting chemistry. A post from the blog Teaching With the Library of Congress suggests ways teachers can use the Library’s collection of ice cream–related images (historical photographs, recipes, newspaper advertisements) to prompt science investigation and discussion with students from upper-elementary to high school. Students can examine the collection’s images to consider the process of making ice cream, then and now, or they can compare older recipes to current recipes to identify the similarities and differences. If time allows, students might try to recreate ices or ice creams from the historical recipes.

Black Lives in Astronomy Resource Guide. Compiled by astronomer/educator Andrew Fraknoi, this eight-page guide presents links to written and video resources about and by black astronomers as well as general materials to examine the history and issues facing black members of the astronomical community. Targeted for introductory college-level astronomy courses and amateur astronomers, the guide provides examples of authentic black voices for educators to share or use in assignments rather than technical astronomical data. The resource list—drawn largely from Fraknoi’s recently updated online publication examining astronomy (and astronomers) of non-white cultures, Astronomy of Many Cultures—features both older, established scientists as well as scientists early in their careers. 

Webinar: STEM Learning From a Distance. Presented by educators from Engineering is Elementary (EiE), the curricular division of the Museum of Science, Boston, this webinar for preK to middle level audiences (teachers, librarians, STEM coaches, and school and district leaders) provides strategies for transforming hands-on engineering design process (EDP) activities typically conducted in classroom settings to a digital environment. The webinar highlights several considerations to make to facilitate successful remote instruction, including deciding which lessons or lesson elements best translate to virtual instruction; using the EDP (ask, imagine, plan, create, improve) as a lesson/problem-solving framework; having students keep an engineering notebook; being mindful of varying at-home environments when designing lessons; providing strategies for students’ to manage materials at home; creating set procedures for students to follow when accessing and submitting assignments and when participating in virtual lessons; and providing a schedule of the learning experiences within a unit for students and families.

The webinar concludes with suggestions for supporting hands-on learning for students without access to devices and a discussion on managing online learning settings with young students ages 3–5. Teachers can view the webinar on EiE’s website (e-mail address required) or join the online edWebinar community to discuss the webinar content with colleagues and take a quiz to receive continuing education credit. 


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