The Society for Science & the Public today announced it is providing STEM research kits to 100 middle and high school science educators from underserved communities to help their students conduct scientific research outside the classroom. The teachers, who hail from 38 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, will each choose from a selection of 13 high-quality kits amounting to $1,000.
The kits will ensure educators have what they need to encourage scientific inquiry in all settings, regardless of whether they are guiding their students remotely, in-person or through a hybrid model. The kits are distributed through the Society’s STEM Research Grants program and are funded by Regeneron.
“In the last 10 months, STEM teachers have had to completely overhaul learning. It has been particularly difficult to move hands-on research and project-based learning, such as science labs, to a virtual environment without the appropriate equipment and materials,” said Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and Publisher of Science News. “By providing teachers and students with STEM research kits and equipment, we hope to accelerate STEM learning and spark a curiosity in science and engineering topics, despite current circumstances.”
In prior years, the Society offered grants of up to $5,000 to educators through the STEM Research Grants program. Educators then used that funding to purchase resources for their classrooms. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the STEM Research Grants program was adapted to provide teachers the necessary tools for effective at-home learning. In order to better help educators adjust to their continually shifting environment and to maximize the money being spent, the Society purchased resources in bulk and developed multiple kits for educators to choose from.
Out of the 427 STEM Research Grants applicants, priority consideration was given to teachers in schools that serve low-income areas or underrepresented students.
Here are just a few examples of the 13 available research kits that will allow budding scientists to explore their distinct research interests:
- Foldscope Instruments – These paper microscopes work just like real microscopes and are perfect for students learning from home. Made with paper and lenses, the microscopes can fit right into your pocket and can give you magnifications of over 140X and 2-micron resolution.
- Arduino Starter Kits – With this open-source hardware and software platform, students can get started on learning about electronics. Available in a variety of languages and simple to use at home, teachers can lead students through projects about voltage, current, coding and also the fundamentals of programming. Students can build innovative prototypes with Arduino boards for their science fair projects with this kit.
- PocketLab Weather Sensors – Equipped with a rechargeable battery and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connection, this sensor technology allows students to easily measure data about the physical world, such as temperature, humidity, pressure, light and more. The data can be collected, visualized and analyzed in a cloud platform, enabling students to access the data in real–timeon their iPads or mobile devices.
- Neuron SpikerBox Bundles – Neuroscience isn’t often taught in middle or high school, but this take-home kit from Backyard Brains was fashioned to encourage teens to study the brain and develop future therapies to treat neurobiological disease. The bundle gives budding neuroscientists exposure to the field early, introducing them to overlapping sciences, such as biology, chemistry, computer science and medicine. The built-in bioamplifier will allow students to hear and see action potentials in real-time.
In the fall, the Society provided over 5,500 kits to educators from underserved areas who participated in one of the Society’s two virtual research teachers’ conferences and in the Society’s Advocate Program. In total, 7,544 kits were provided to teachers in all 50 states, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C., valued at more than $400,000.
See the full list of 100 STEM Research Grantees here.