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Freebies for Science Teachers/From the Field, March 22, 2022

By Debra Shapiro

Freebies for Science Teachers/From the Field, March 22, 2022

From the Field: Grades K–12

Ecosystem Interactions: Finding the Balance, Part 2

This in-person field course is targeted to teachers of grades K–12 and their friends and family members. Spend three days in the Gunnison River Canyon as you float westward from near Delta Colorado, accompanied by a teacher-trainer and naturalist from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Explore the interactions occurring every day in nature, and see how humans continuously affect these interactions. Use your experience to connect your students to their environment in a way that promotes both cognitive development and responsible citizenship. Gain introductory background knowledge about topics in your science and social studies curricula, such as resource management, ecology, geology, western history, and astronomy.

A pre-trip information session will be held via Zoom on July 19. The River Field Course (from Delta Colorado) will take place on July 22–24. The course costs $450, which includes graduate-level credits, meals, dry bags, canoes, programming and activity materials. (Family members and friends must be at least 12 years old.) Graduate-level re-licensure credits are available through the Colorado School of Mines.
Teach Climate Network Workshop: Green Careers as Solutions to Climate Change

Looking for ways to get your students and communities excited about climate change solutions? Join Marie Fargo, Climate Generation's Instructional Resources Coordinator, as she shares resources and tips to engage students in seeing green careers as effective solutions to climate change impacts. This virtual session will take place on March 23 at 12 p.m. Central Time.

I’m a Scientist Chats

I’m a Scientist connects students in grades 4–12 with working scientists through online, text-only chats that are free for U.S. public schools. In this STEM enrichment activity, students can converse with scientists from their school or their homes during a 40-minute live chat. The I’m a Scientist website contains profiles of scientists in different careers that students can read to find out which scientist they would like to chat with. Teachers can register their classes and choose a date and time for the chat.

From now until April 15, students can learn how science keeps our minds, bodies, and communities well by participating in the Healthy World Zone. Learn more at

From the Field: Elementary Level

Connecting Science and Literacy in the Elementary Classroom

Educators of grades 3–5, want to enhance your teaching strategies for integrating science and literacy in ways that foster critical thinking and sensemaking? Join the Wade Institute for Science Education and the EcoTarium for a virtual learning opportunity to explore using picture and trade books, as well as other tools for integrating science and literacy skills in the classroom. Discover how to shift your practice to teach your standards-aligned, grade-specific science content by using literature to spark minds-on, hands-on investigations that engage students in the Science and Engineering Practices. These sessions will help you identify ways to use books, discussion, and science writing to teach science. You’ll participate in inquiry- and phenomena-based investigations that explore engineering and life science topics through the lens of animal behavior. See how to connect your reading to real life, and refine your scientific observation skills by examining the uniqueness of squirrels and other backyard animals. Get ideas and insights from peers.

Take home a toolkit of four books and hands-on materials to use with your students. Earn 10 Professional Development Points. Virtual sessions will be held on April 28 and May 5, 12, and 19. Attendees pay $350 per person; $300 per person if attending with at least one other teacher from your school district. Partial scholarships are available.

Demystifying STEM: An Introduction to Practical and Fun Approaches to STEM 

Discover how teaching STEM can accompany teaching literacy, and how inquiry-based lessons can help your students develop 21st-century skills. This in-person hybrid course from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science for teachers of grades K–5, held in collaboration with the University of Colorado Boulder’s TeachEngineering, can serve as an entry point into engaging, ready-to-implement STEM teaching practices tailored specifically for the elementary school classroom. 
Demystifying STEM will take place on June 21–23, and asynchronously online in September and October. The course will cost $300, which includes graduate-level credits and all materials. Attendees can earn 2.0 graduate-level re-licensure credits. 

From the Field: High School Level


SPINWIP is an outreach opportunity for high school girls interested in physics and coding. The program is run through Stanford University. Students will learn how to code in Python and a variety of physics concepts. This three-week program is free to participants and will be held through video chat on July 11–29. 

Students from countries outside the United States are welcome to apply. Preference will be given to first-generation students and students from underrepresented backgrounds in physics, as well as rising juniors. While this program is geared toward women in physics, students of all genders and gender identities may apply. Apply at by May 9. 

From the Field: High School and College Levels

2022 NOW Youth Leadership Award

The Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) invites you to submit a nomination for this award, which honors a young person who has demonstrated exceptional children’s environmental health leadership through efforts to protect human health, especially of our most vulnerable populations. Such actions can include raising awareness of, advocacy for, and outreach around safer, healthier environments across places. Award winners are honored at CEHN’s annual Children’s Environmental Health Day reception and panel discussion. (Deadline March 31)

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: Grades K–12

Building a Particulate Matter Sensor

As part of their educational outreach to schools, museums, and other locations to teach children about air quality and climate change research, Environmental Protection Agency researchers have developed hands-on activities for teachers, including instructions for building a particulate matter (PM) sensor. Students in grades 5–12 can work together in groups to build the sensor and code it (with provided Arduino code at so it is ready for use. Once the sensor is completed, students can conduct activities to generate varied amounts of particulate matter to measure, such as walking on carpet, rubbing hands together, sweeping up dust, tearing paper/napkins, breathing on the sensor, clapping chalk and erasers together, rubbing clothing, and so on. 

(Note: Although the sensor kit instructions and introductory PM vocabulary activity sheet are free, some of the kit’s components may need to be purchased, depending on the availability of supplies at your school or laboratory. Be sure to review the materials list before assigning the activity or consider building one or two sensors to share among classmates to limit cost.

Y4Y K–12 Computer Science Resource Compendium 

With computers everywhere these days—in our pockets, on our wrists, in our cars, in our homes, and in our schools—developing students’ computational thinking skills is more important than ever. At the Y4Y (You for Youth) portal—a compendium of research-based computer science resources for K–12 audiences put together by Synergy Enterprises with grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education—teachers, students, and families can find activities, curricula, fact sheets, and more to strengthen computer science understandings at all levels. Available resources include everything from ready-to-use materials for building foundational skills, such as pattern recognition and simple coding lessons at the elementary level, to more advanced skills, such as making animated projects and creating computer games apps, and websites at the middle level and high school levels. The portal includes resources to encourage students to explore careers in computer science. Of particular interest for educators is the document Computational Thinking: Why It Matters, which addresses potential challenges students may encounter when developing computational thinking (e.g., the student can’t easily identify the problem; a student struggles to put together a process for solving a problem; a student is frustrated when the solution doesn’t work) and offers suggestions for how to address the issues. 

STEM Resources@ Northrop Grumman

Aerospace and defense technology company Northrop Grumman has gathered a collection of online STEM resources for K–12 teachers, students, and the public. The resources have been pulled from vetted sources, such as NSTA, NASA, Discovery Engineering,, NOAA, and Smithsonian Science Education Center, and include a robust mix of lessons, books, videos, websites, hands-on activities, games, experiments, and more. In addition, one section contains links to more than 50 STEM Virtual Field Trips, providing opportunities for students to visit and experience many national parks, zoos, museums, geographic wonders, space, and other vistas, all without leaving the classroom.

How to Be a Scientist: Smithsonian Women as Career Role Models

This Smithsonian series of teacher-focused interactive lessons feature the research and contributions of Smithsonian women scientists. The lessons connect students to women making important discoveries and contributions to the field of science.

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School

Global Systems Science (GSS)
GSS is a set of free online curriculum materials (books and software) for high school science courses focusing on crucial societal issues that require science for full understanding. The issues include climate change, biodiversity loss, ecosystem change, and societal energy use. Each book features readings; experiments; investigations; recent scientific work; historical background; consideration of economic, political, and ethical issues; and a Teacher’s Guide. The course materials are updated weekly through e-mails and website posts with excerpts from and links to current news and magazine articles that are relevant to specific chapters of the GSS books.

The Staying-Up-To-Date section of the website is at You'll find a GSS FAQ page at The GSS materials are all available free online at (There is a separate GSS teacher’s site that is publicly available, but the link is given out only by request from teachers.)

Freebies for Science and STEM Teachers: High School and College Levels

Climate Science Concepts Fit Your Classroom: A Workbook for Teachers

This climate science workbook is aimed at undergraduate college and high school science teachers and has a chemistry emphasis. As Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, chemistry professor and director of the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy, states in the Foreword, “This workbook enables us to enrich our existing curricula by incorporating and by linking the science of climate change to the content of our current courses and in conversations in our communities.” Created by Jerry Bell of the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy, the workbook contains hands-on activities that incorporate traditional classroom concepts within the context of climate science. Activities cover topics like heat capacity and fate of Earth’s energy imbalance; light energy: absorption, emission, and planetary temperature; and carbon dioxide’s ocean energy. Activities will be added in the future.

Each activity has two parts: a suggested student Worksheet and Instructor/Presenter Notes. The Worksheet features brief background information, instructions for carrying out the activity, and questions to guide analysis of the results obtained. The Notes provide a more extensive background (which could be helpful for teaching assistants), descriptions of the results expected from the activity, possible responses to the Worksheet questions (including explicit solutions to those requiring calculations), and material that could enhance classroom discussions of the climate science connections. Though the activities are not entirely independent of one another, teachers can assign them in just about any order or choose only those that fit best with their course. 

Astronomy Biology Careers Chemistry Climate Change Computer Science Distance Learning Earth & Space Science Environmental Science Equity General Science Inclusion Inquiry Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans Life Science Literacy News Physical Science Physics Professional Learning Science and Engineering Practices Sensemaking STEM Teaching Strategies Middle School Elementary High School Postsecondary

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