Skip to main content

Freebies for Science Teachers, Week of June 15, 2020

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies for Science Teachers, Week of June 15, 2020

"I Am a Scientist" Toolkits. Looking for real-life examples to inspire the next generation of leaders—i.e., the middle and high school students currently in your classrooms—to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (STEAM)? The digital toolkits from “I Am a Scientist,” a Boston-based STEAM-education initiative, feature compelling multimedia profiles of more than 20 scientists with various interests and backgrounds, from underrepresented groups, and working in differing STEAM fields (e.g., astrophysics, biophysics, cellular biology, computer science, data science, economics, energy science, epidemiology, genetics, medical engineering, materials science, neuroscience, ornithology, psychology, robotics, and technology). Each profile contains an introductory Story about the scientist; a Science Spotlight describing their field of study; a poster and a declarative quote about their job; and a set of presentation slides highlighting their personal passions, research topics, path to their current career, and advice for students. 

Science Content on Disney Plus. The Disney Plus network includes film classics like Cinderella, Pinocchio, Bambi, and The Little Mermaid in their streaming library, but did you know the library also contains more than 40 educational documentaries and other programs of interest to science educators and animal lovers of all ages? In addition to nonfiction films on animal life produced by Disneynature (e.g., Bears, Born in China, Wings of Life, Chimpanzee, Monkey Kingdom), the network offers educational content from National Geographic. For example, viewers can explore the social world of whales and dolphins in the film Giants of the Deep Blue (all ages); virtually experience the country's breathtaking landscapes and majestic animals through the series America’s National Parks (all ages); and learn about animals surviving in harshest jungle, desert, polar, grassland, and ocean environments in the docuseries Hostile Planet (middle level and up). Other programs, such as Disney’s competition-based television series Shop Class and National Geographic's series Brain Games (both middle level and up), spark innovative thinking among budding engineers and biologists alike. 

Science Content on Netflix. Netflix has “streamable” educational content to help instructors of students of all ages and levels teach core subjects, including science. However, with Netflix's thousands of available programs, it can be difficult to locate content to meet your students’ specific needs. has made the task easier by listing more than 250 educational programs currently available on Netflix. The list is organized by category (e.g., preschool; animals; Earth and nature; space; science; history; documentaries; food, nutrition, and health; and more) and includes viewer ratings from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) for each program. Programs for science educators include Ask the StoryBots, an animated series for young learners that investigates kid-friendly questions, such as Why is the sky blue? and How do people catch a cold?; Bill Nye: Science Guy, a behind-the-scenes documentary portrait of the popular children’s science educator and lifelong science advocate; and The Universe, a long-running television series for all ages examining cosmic phenomena of all kinds. Although the list does not include links to directly access any of the programs, the website has an instructional video describing how to set up a “school profile” in Netflix and how to search and save selected programs there. 

MOSART assessments. The Science Education Department of the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard and Smithsonian, has developed a suite of free, psychometrically valid, state-of-the-art assessment questions for life sciences, Earth and space sciences, and physical sciences content, spanning all grade bands (elementary, middle, and high school). They are based on the National Research Council's A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards and easy to administer. 

COVID-19! How can I protect myself and others? This learning module produced collaboratively by the Smithsonian Science Education Center, the World Health Organization, and the InterAcademy Partnership can help students ages 8–18 understand the science and social science of COVID-19, as well as take actions to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe. The downloadable module, available in 15 languages and based upon the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, consists of seven lesson “tasks” exploring key questions such as How can keeping distance from others help? How can covering our noses and mouths help protect us? How can washing our hands help protect us? The tasks involve discussion and personal reflection and are structured so that students “Discover” the answers to the question in their own environment; “Understand” the science that underlies the question; and “Act” based on their new scientific knowledge. 

Assessment Astronomy Biology Careers Chemistry Crosscutting Concepts Curriculum Disciplinary Core Ideas Earth & Space Science Engineering Multilingual Learners Environmental Science General Science Inclusion Inquiry Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Is Lesson Plan Labs Lesson Plans Life Science Mathematics Multicultural News Performance Expectations Phenomena Physical Science Physics Research Science and Engineering Practices STEM Teaching Strategies Technology Three-Dimensional Learning Middle School Early Childhood Elementary High School Postsecondary Preschool Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grades 6-8 Grades 9-12

Asset 2