STEM Resource Roundup: 5 free tools

Whether you're a veteran STEM educator or just getting started, you need tools and resources that engage students and provide a rigorous learning experience.

We got you covered. In this STEM Resource Roundup, we shine a spotlight on some of our favorite STEM programs. All of them approach STEM through a unique, real-world lens. Even better: they're all free--and we tell you how to access them.

The Army STEM Experience

Students participate in a mock humanitarian effort to rescue a group of trapped factory workers in the Army STEM Experience, a mobile exhibit in the Army Mission Support Battalion.

The ASE includes three trucks--two tractor trailer semis and a renovated box truck--designed to provide an immersive, interactive experience on how the Army uses STEM principles in its work. The exhibit is available at no charge to schools.

Each ASE vehicle has three rooms. Room one--the Situation Room--is where students begin the simulated experience, with fictional news stories about a terrorist attack at a chemical facility in Eastern Europe. Students join an Army rescue team that will assist with humanitarian efforts in the affected region.

In room two (the Mission Room), students are introduced to SARAH, the four-legged search and rescue autonomous hybrid robot, that they will use to find and save workers trapped in the chemical facility. In room three (the Research and Development Room), the rescue operation begins. Teams of students, working against time, use STEM skills to solve challenges and navigate SARAH through the plant, looking for survivors.

The story is fictional but the impact of the experience is real. That's intentional, according to MSB Commander Lt. Col. David Eckley. “We are trying to highlight the legacy of the Army and how technological advancement in the Army has impacted the public,” said Eckley, in a statement. “We communicate what the Army is about."

Cost: Free

How to participate: Visit your local Army Recruiter to request a visit by an Army STEM vehicle.

49ers EDU

Students look at STEAM through the lens of football, in 49ers EDU, a K-8 field trip program run by the San Francisco 49ers. The program is supported by the 49ers Foundation and available for free to schools in California's Bay Area.  

"[It's] taking the game of football and using those things as a common denominator to get young people, age kindergarten to eighth grade, to open up to STEAM concepts," said 49ers EDU director Jesse Lovejoy during an interview with Anna Kagarakis on 95.7 The Game.

The full-day field trip takes place in the Denise DeBartolo York Education Center at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. It includes museum exploration, a stadium tour, a movement lab and STEAM lessons. The programming, aligned to 21st Century Learning Skills, focuses on critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration and creativity.

A primary goal of the program is to broaden students' perspective about jobs in STEAM, according to Lovejoy. Students learn about different types of jobs--engineers, chefs, accountants and data analysts, among others--at the stadium and how they relate to STEAM.

The program has reached more than 210,000 students and educators--60,000 annually--since its launch in 2014, according to information provided by 49ers EDU. About 50% of students come from Title I Designated schools.

Cost: Free

How to participate: Educators can sign up for the program by visiting 49ers EDU online.

Major League Baseball and Discovery Education

Major League Baseball has teamed up with Discovery Education to create a set of digital resources that teach students about STEM through baseball. The resources--which include videos, activities and curriculum--are available for free to teachers who are using Discovery's Science Techbook, STEM Connect and Streaming Plus services.

The program was debuted at an event with Baltimore County Public Schools, which included Nicole Sherry, head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles. Sherry worked with students to evaluate turf samples from Baltimore's Oriole Park at Camden Yards, according to a statement from Discovery Education and MLB. The exercise underscores a goal of the program, which is to show students the myriad of careers available in baseball and how professionals in these fields apply STEM concepts to their work.

"We believe you have to see it to be it," said Coni Rechner, senior vice president of partnerships for Discovery Education, in a story reported by MLB.com. "So we want students to see people like themselves in these different careers. Whether it's the groundskeeper, the statistician or obviously the amazing players."

Cost: Free for teachers who are using Discovery's Science Techbook, STEM Connect and Streaming Plus services

How to participate: Visit Discovery Education online.

NBA Hoops

NBA Math Hoops is a community program, managed by Learn Fresh, that uses basketball to help students in grades 3-8 build math skills. The program includes a basketball board game, featuring players from the National Basketball Association and the Women's National Basketball Association, a mobile app and curriculum.

The boardgame, which includes a player draft, has students analyze player statistics through a 16-week season, ending in a championship. In the mobile app, available for iOS devices, users solve math equations against the clock in a three-point shootout.

Students in the program can be selected to compete in regional and national championship matches with other schools and organizations. Seventh-grade student Antonio Gonzalez, from Mastery Charter Cramer Hill Upper Elementary in Camden, New Jersey won this year's national NBA Math Hoops Championship, which took place in San Francisco, Calif.

NBA Math Hoops content is created to meet Common Core State Standards and 21st Century Learning Skills.

Cost: NBA Math Hoops mobile app is free and available for iOS devices. The boardgame is free to partner educators and after-school organizations.

How to participate: Visit NBA Math Hoops to register for the program.

Future Goals - Hockey Scholar

The National Hockey League has partnered with EverFi to offer Future Goals - Hockey Scholar, a free, web-based course that uses hockey to teach about STEM concepts.

The course is designed primarily for students in grade 5-7 but can differ, depending on state, province or district. Students move at their own pace through the modules, learning about rates and ratios, potential and kinetic energy during faceoff, and angles of bank passes, among other topics.

Hockey Scholar includes 12 modules--six math and six science--and takes about three hours to complete. The modules are about 25 minutes long. Students access the course through EverFi's website.

Cost: Free

How to participate: Register online at futuregoals.nnl.com.

Did we miss one of your favorite STEM or STEAM programs? Drop us a line at knamahoe@smartbrief.com and let us know. We may include it in our next STEM Resource Roundup.

Kanoe Namahoe is the director of content for SmartBrief Education and Leadership.

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