Early Learning and Educational Technology Policy Brief

Produced by ED’s Office of Education Technology, the brief presents four guiding principles for early educators and families on using technology with young children: technology—when used appropriately—can be a tool for learning; technology should be used to increase access to learning opportunities for all children; technology may be used to strengthen relationships among parents, families, early educators, and young children; and technology is more effective for learning when adults and peers interact or watch along with young children. The brief also includes a call to action for researchers and media and app developers, suggesting topic areas for further research and encouraging the development of research-based products.

Full Link: https://tech.ed.gov/earlylearning/



27 Ideas for Teaching With Topographic Maps

The USGS publishes approximately 57,000 different topographic maps covering the United States. Topographic maps show contour lines (elevation and landforms), hydrography (rivers, lakes, marshes), transportation (roads, trails, railroads, airports), vegetation, boundaries, survey markers, urban areas, buildings, and other features. Teachers from elementary to college levels can use topographic maps to enhance instruction in their science, math, geography, and history curricula. The USGS has an annotated list of 27 suggested classroom activities incorporating topographic maps. The annotations include each activity’s targeted grade level, time required, materials needed, and a description. Activities range from basic exercises teaching students how to read and work with topographic maps (e.g., Analyzing Physical Features of Topographic Maps, Looking at Streams and Rivers on Topographical Maps) to more complex activities exploring geography concepts (e.g., Geographic Coordinate Systems—Convergence, Absolute vs. Relative Location, Site vs. Situation). Other activities provide opportunities for students to make their own maps (e.g., Creating Maps From Aerial Photographs, Construct 3D Models, Create Aspect Maps).

Full Link: https://education.usgs.gov/lessons/teachingtopomaps.html

Jefferson Lab’s Science Education Resources

Jefferson Lab, a world-class nuclear research facility, offers STEM resources for middle to college-level teachers and students. Organized by user (Teacher or Student) and by resource type (Games and Puzzles, Science Cinema, and Programs and Events), the web page has something for everyone interested in physics, whether you’re a new teacher looking to strengthen understanding of physics topics; a veteran educator seeking games, hands-on activities, and videos to energize classroom science instruction; or a student searching for homework help or internship opportunities. Notable resources include Physics Out Loud, a video glossary of common words and terms used in nuclear physics research, explained by Jefferson Lab scientists and other experts; and Frostbite Theater, a collection of short, fun video experiments and demonstrations exploring liquid nitrogen, radioactivity, electricity, and the Jefferson Lab.

Full Link: http://education.jlab.org/

Science Journal App

Turn your phone into a pocket science lab. Targeted for students in grades 6–12, this Google app allows students to measure sound, light, and motion data in real time using the sensors in an Android phone or tablet. The sensors can record ambient light (lux), intensity of sound in decibels (dB), and acceleration of the phone moving in three planes (m/s2). The app includes several short “Getting Started” activities, including an experiment in which students build and test Wind Spinners to familiarize themselves with how the tool works. Once comfortable, students can design their own experiments and use the app to collect and annotate data.

Full Link: https://makingscience.withgoogle.com/science-journal/features?lang=en


Visionlearning STEM modules

These peer-reviewed online learning modules explore STEM topics from a process perspective. The NGSS–supported modules—targeted for high school and introductory college learners—address topics in biology, chemistry, Earth science, general science, inside science, math in science, physics, and the process of science. Each module embeds online assessments and has an interactive animation associated with it to provide background information and help convey core concepts on the topic. Registered teachers (free registration) can also customize the modules to create courses to meet their students’ needs.


Full Link: http://www.visionlearning.com/en/

UL Xplorlabs

This module-based online learning platform encourages middle level students to find solutions to real-world engineering challenges in science safety. Designed to complement existing science, engineering, and technology curricula, the first module, Portable Electrical Power, explores the science of lithium-ion batteries and the safety challenge of potentially “exploding” batteries. The module begins with an interactive video that introduces the phenomenon of thermal runaway, presents tests scientists conduct to evaluate the safety and durability of batteries, and requires students to complete virtual safety tests to see how a battery in a hovercraft performs under adverse conditions. Students then do hands-on activities in the classroom, investigating questions pertinent to battery safety: Can the heat energy in a battery be seen? What is the best material to protect a battery pack from the outside world and the battery’s own heat? Can you design a hoverboard that’s not too hot to touch? The module concludes with synthesizing challenges for the entire class—Design and Sell a Personal Transportation Device to the World and Design a Hoverboard Safety Public Service Announcement for the World—the results of which students can share online with the Xplorelab community. See http://ulxplorlabs.org.

Full Link: http://ulxplorlabs.org/

Progressive Science Initiative (PSI) Materials

The New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning provides editable course materials for K–12 science and math instruction. The materials are based on the Progressive Science Initiative (PSI) and the Progressive Math Initiative (PMI), integrated learning approaches that incorporate the use of collaborative problem-solving activities as a way to develop science and math understandings and present science courses in a new sequence at the high school level. PSI uses the physics-chemistry-biology sequence, with the rationale that to understand modern biology, students need to understand chemistry, and to understand chemistry, students must understand physics. In addition to providing science course materials for every grade level from kindergarten to high school (including Advanced Placement courses), the PSI curriculum also includes methods courses to help educators facilitate the implementation of the curriculum.

Full Link: https://njctl.org/courses/


Host a Real-Time Conversation With Astronauts Aboard the International Space Station

ARISS-US is accepting proposals from U.S. schools, museums, science centers and community youth organizations (working individually or together) to host an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, or ARISS, radio contact with an orbiting space station crew member between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2018. Proposals are due April 15, 2017.


ARISS is looking for organizations that will draw large numbers of participants and integrate the contact into a well-developed education plan. Students can learn about satellite communications, wireless technology, science research conducted on the space station, working conditions in space, radio science, and any related STEM subject. Students learn to use amateur radio to talk directly to an astronaut to ask their STEM-related questions. ARISS will help educational organizations locate amateur radio groups who can assist with equipment for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students. Exact dates for the 10-minute radio contact are determined by crew scheduling and space station orbits.

Informational Sessions

To help organizations learn about ARISS radio contacts and the proposal process, ARISS offers one-hour online information sessions and welcomes all questions. Attending an online session is not required but strongly encouraged.

Informational sessions will be offered March 6, 2017, at 7 p.m. EST and March 16, 2017, at 4 p.m. EDT.

Advance registration is necessary. Email ARISS (ariss@arrl.org) to sign up for an information session.

For proposal information and more details such as expectations, proposal guidelines and proposal forms, visithttp://www.arrl.org/hosting-an-ariss-contact.

Please email questions about this opportunity toariss@arrl.org.

ARISS-US is offered through a partnership between NASA, the American Radio Relay League, and the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation. ARISS was created and is managed by an international working group.

Biodiversity Course

Produced collaboratively by the California Academy of Sciences and Khan Academy, this online course for high school (and adult) learners takes students on a virtual expedition investigating the diversity of life on Earth. Through more than 30 tutorials, students explore all aspects of biodiversity: what it is, why it’s important, where it’s found, how it comes into existence, how it can be studied, why it’s threatened, and how it can be protected. Each tutorial includes videos, articles, a glossary, quiz questions, activities, and an annotated list of references to delve deeper into the content.

Full Link: http://www.calacademy.org/biodiversity-course