7 Free STEM resources and challenges for 2015: that your students might actually enjoy.

The focus on developing and delivering STEM educational resources has never been higher, especially given the use of technology to deliver in-class experiences like never before.  While budgets (especially transportation budgets) get squeezed, it can be a challenge for teachers to connect their students with meaningful experiences.  Enter the growing world of virtual exploration.  These experiences come in all varieties for all age groups.  We’ve tried to highlight a few of those here.  If you know of others, let us know in the comments section below!

NASA Digital Learning Network

NASA’s Digital Learning Network provides free, interactive video and web events for educators interested in enhancing their STEM classes by connecting directly with NASA education specialists.

The learning network requires registration, but offers a variety of options for all age groups, from scheduled events (such as the Orion Flight Test on December 4 at 1:30 PM EST) to projects, competitions and lesson plans.

All Age Groups

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Making Science Make Sense

The Bayer Corporation has been developing a number of STEM education resources and partnerships.

The site includes free video and audio resources that can be used in a class setting, many of which relate to health as well as some downloadable resources (these tend to be for younger age groups). One interesting feature is the ability (for those schools in proximity to Bayer facilities) to connect to their employee volunteer network with job shadowing and class or site visits.

All Age Groups

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National Science Foundation Discoveries

The National Science Foundation is the leading federal agency in STEM education advancement and investment. Under the Discoveries section of their site, you can discover

While the site is not the easiest to navigate from the perspective of a classroom teacher, there is a lot of information that may be useful for students to review – either as part of a class topic, or to spur ideas around possible projects. Helpfully, their discoveries section is organized into useful areas like “mathematics” and “Arctic & Antarctic.”

Grades 6-12

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The DuPont Challenge

The DuPont Corporation’s Office of Education

The DuPont Challenge is a science writing program open for student submissions in K-5 and 6-12 categories. Students from the US and Canada are invited to participate by submitting a 700 – 1000 word essay on a variety of STEM subjects. The current deadline is January 31. Prizes include savings bonds, trips and digital apps and resources.

All age groups

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The Young Scientist Challenge

3M and Discovery Education

The Challenge officially opens in January, so now is a good time to start planning buy reviewing the submissions and winners from last year. This challenge was launched in 1999 for students in grades 5-8. Rather than an essay, the challenge submission incorporates a 1-2 Minute video describing a new innovation or solution. Finalists travel to 3M headquarters after receiving a summer assignment to develop an innovation under the mentorship of a 3M scientist.

Grade 5-8

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GoNorth! Adventure Learning is a non profit organization that has been sharing access to a variety of learning expeditions in and around the Arctic.

Every year since 2000, inquiry-based curricula has been shared with students and teachers across the K-12 spectrum. Actual field data from Arctic excursions is incorporated to provide a real-life and longitudinal activity that delivers an authentic scientific and cultural experience for students. The project is a collaboration with several government agencies including NASA, the National Parks Service and the National Science Foundation

All Ages

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Funded by Toshiba and the National Science Teacher’s Association

Exploravision is an annual competition that connects US and Canadian classrooms with students and classes in Japan around innovation in science. The project follows Next Generation Science Standards and has been running for 22 years. Approximately 150,000 students being each year with 15,000 submitting qualifying entries. There’s a lot to do with an initial entry deadline of January 30, but the competition is worth the time. Prizes are determined by age group and include Toshiba technology for students and the school along with potential learning trips.

All Ages

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