The best thing about the National Science Teachers Association annual conference – other than listening to great speakers and meeting peers – is all the free resources that are handed out by the bagful. While I can’t share the rock samples, educational picture books, and bird observation kits I picked up, I can share some of the online resources I found in almost every session and every booth.
Holiday Lectures on Science (www.holidaylectures.org): In their own words, “The Holiday Lectures on Science series brings current research into the science classroom, helping to bridge the gap between textbook curriculum and exciting new research developments. Each autumn, leading scientists come to HHMI headquarters, where they speak to an audience of high school students from around the greater Washington, D.C., region.” Check out their website to register for upcoming lectures (recent discoveries regarding the genetic causes of diseases). You can also check out recordings of 2012’s Holiday Lectures. You can also stream from the web or order free recordings of the lectures – and many other great free resources, like posters – from their resource website, www.biointeractive.org
The National Earth Science Teachers Association (www.nestanet.org) and Windows to the Universe (www.windows2universe.org): Windows to the Universe provides copious resources to help teach earth sciences, including web seminars, classroom activities, games, Members of NESTA have access to The Earth Scientist, a quarterly journal that includes both current research and articles on earth science education and activities. Anyone can access the activities and multimedia resources on NESTA’s resource page. You can also check out Earth Science Literacy resources at www.earthscienceliteracy.org.
Middle School Chemistry (www.middleschoolchemistry.com): Created by the American Chemical Society, Middle School Chemistry presents “big ideas about the very small” in free 5-E lesson plans and standards-based and safety-reviewed inquiry-based activities. Their site also features animations that can supplement the activities and explain basic chemistry concepts. They also offer online and in-person professional development for teachers. In September (2014), the ACS will roll out the American Association of Chemistry Teachers, which will provide resources and networking opportunities for K-12 chemistry and ohysical science teachers (you can sign up to receive updates at www.acs.org/aact).
Ocean Literacy (www.oceanliteracy.net) and the National Marine Educators Association (www.marine-ed.org): Ocean Literacy promotes “essential principals and fundamental concepts of ocean sciences for learners of all ages” while the NMEA “brings together those interested in the study and enjoyment of both fresh and salt water and provides a focus for marine and aquatic studies all over the world.” The NMEA provides a network of peers in regional chapters. For teaching resources, check out Ocean Literacy’s spreadsheet of existing resources (from organizations like Sea Grant and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) that promote ocean literacy.
Ocean Explorers (oceanexplorer.noaa.gov) offers a wealth of resources, from ocean science news to lesson plans, all from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which also has its own education resources page (www.education.noaa.gov). A few additional resources specific to the Pacific Northwest available here (curriculum) and here (activities for kids).
Bird Sleuth (www.birdsleuth.org), a program from Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab, provides resources to help teachers engage students in the scientific process by observing birds. On their website you can find information and resources from bird feeding kits to lesson plans and activities.