Science for Life

  • Sep 21, 2016

Decoding Cancer

It’s entirely possible that the next big breakthrough in the fight against cancer will be made by someone who is currently sitting in a high-school classroom, enthralled by science and wondering what their role will be in the world of tomorrow.

Our friends at Discovery Education may well have been thinking that very thought when they teamed-up with a group of recognized experts and college educators to create Decoding Cancer, a set of standards-aligned classroom resources designed to facilitate meaningful discussion among students and teachers in grades 9 through 12.

The resources—which include interactive lessons and teacher guides; a section on careers; and (coming soon) a virtual lab!—are available free to any school or educator who’d like to use them in the classroom.

Joining Discovery in this effort are the Val Skinner Foundation, and the LIFE Center at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in collaboration with the Rutgers School of Public Health. The group’s mission statement describes Decoding Cancer as “an innovative and interactive high school biology and genetics education program featuring the BioCONECT (Biology of Cancer, Online Education Connecting Teens) curriculum,” adding that the program “enhances science literacy and increases cancer education and awareness among youth.”

Check it out for yourself. Visit the Decoding Cancer website today.

And to help us keep you informed about other free resources and educational programs, please be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


A Great Opportunity for Student Filmmakers

  • Jun 23, 2016


Hey, students and teachers, are you looking for a cool way to kick-off your summer break? Why not make a film?

Following on the success of last year’s CineSpace short film competition, NASA and the Houston Cinema Arts Society are once again inviting filmmakers of all ages to vie for cash prizes by creating a movie of any genre that incorporates content from NASA’s library of historic images and video!

If you enter, you’ll be competing for $26,000 in prizes with cash awards going to the top three submissions as well as the two films that best demonstrate the themes “Benefits of Space to Humanity” and “Future Space Exploration.”

But you’ll have to act fast. Deadline for submission is July 31st.

This year’s contest, which is open to all professional and aspiring filmmakers, will be judged by acclaimed director Richard Linklater (School of Rock). Participants under the age of 18 will need the permission of a parent or guardian to enter.

Check out last year’s 1st Place winner below, then head over to CineSpace for more info.

Good luck, and here’s hoping it’s your film being featured here next time!

To help us keep you informed about other great free educational opportunities and resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


Image and video: NASA/Houston Cinema Arts Festival

Generation STEM

  • May 26, 2016

Obama Science

Earlier this month, President Obama invited students across the country to share their thoughts on science, technology, and innovation. What’s noteworthy about this is that the idea itself was born in April at the 6th White House Science Fair, when 9-year-old inventor Jacob Leggette told the President that he should have a kid science advisor.

Kudos to Jacob for knowing how to make the most of an opportunity, and congratulations to students everywhere who, as a result of Jacob’s initiative, will now have an opportunity to make their voices heard at the highest levels of the STEM frontier.

Watch the video below for more on this great story, and please encourage your students to take part. The deadline for submissions is Friday, June 17, 2016 at 11:59 pm ET.

Learn more at

And to help us keep you informed about great free educational programs and resources, bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


Image and video: The White House


  • May 04, 2016


With all the emphasis lately on STEM-related fields as viable career paths it’s worth noting that, with regard to preparing young people for the future, the United States military is among the most effective training grounds, turning out large numbers of disciplined, well-trained professionals each and every year.

With that in mind, we’re happy to report that Discovery Education has teamed-up with the United States Navy to offer Navy Stem, a collection of free, online-based interactive lesson plans specifically designed for grades 9 through 12. From the physics of flight to the engineering of future ships, it’s an engaging and valuable resource with an emphasis on careers.

Lesson plans are geared to Common Core Math, Next Generations Science, and ISTE Standards.

Check it out for yourself on the official Navy STEM website.

And to help us keep you informed about other great free educational programs and resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


Image: Discovery Education

Summer Learning for Teachers

  • Mar 30, 2016

Discovery Education

Teachers, have you got any plans for this summer? I sure hope so, because you deserve it. And as you make those plans you might want to consider spending some time between excursions connecting with other teachers, and being inspired, by taking advantage of Discovery Education in Action‘s free Webinar series—a great way to recharge your batteries and transform your teaching.

From Discovery’s catalogue: “Join us as we step into Discovery Educators’ classrooms from around globe. In this series you’ll hear practical tips and see strategies for integrating Discovery Education into your teaching. Listen, connect, and be inspired as our Community shares ways they are transforming teaching and learning.”

You’ll find more information about these Discovery Education in Action Webinars on the Discovery website, but in order to give you some idea of what’s available, here’s a breakdown:

  • May 31  STEM
  • June 21  Collaborative Projects
  • July 26  Top 10 Takeaways from DEN Summer Institute 2016 (DEN Summer Institute is a weeklong residential-style event, being held this July in Chicago, focused on professional learning, leadership, and networking. For info on attending, visit DEN online).
  • August 30  Back-to-School

There will also be a series of live Day of Discovery events held in various cities throughout the summer. Visit Discovery online for more information on those opportunities.

So, have a great summer! And to help us keep you informed about great free educational programs and resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Space-Based STEM Education for the Scientists of Tomorrow

  • Mar 09, 2016


Of all students, elementary-schoolers are probably the best equipped to respond to STEM education that is presented in the context of space exploration and adventure. I say that because younger kids are still firmly in-touch with their innate sense of wonder, and more importantly, still open enough to believe that if they dream big and work hard, they can achieve amazing things.

It’s their universe as much as it is ours, after all, and the good folks at NASA Education have come up with a cool new way to help them take hold of it—via a thoroughly engaging collection of science, technology, engineering, and math resources.

NASA Space Place is a free educational website for elementary students, their teachers, and their parents. Loaded with educational classroom activities, videos, experiments, and games, it’s a great place to learn, play, and grow. Teachers can use the materials they find on Space Place to build lesson plans that align with the Next Generation Science Standards. In addition, many of the classroom activities featured can easily be adapted to the high school classroom.

Explore NASA Space Place for yourself.

And to learn about other great free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


Introduce Your Students to a Top Young Scientist!

  • Feb 25, 2016


Hannah Herbst was in the 7th grade, just beginning to realize her love for science and engineering, when a letter from her 9-year-old Ethiopian pen pal changed her life.

The younger girl described what it was like to live with no access to lights, a steady flow of fresh water, and other basic necessities, and Hannah was moved. As she said in a blog post, “I recognized that her situation was not unique and believed that I could use the skills I acquired to take action in an attempt to mitigate the global energy crisis.”

Inspired by a science teacher, Hannah set to work creating an energy probe prototype designed to offer a stable power source to developing countries via untapped energy from ocean currents—a brilliant accomplishment that won Hannah the title of America’s 2015 Top Young Scientist.

And seeing Hannah in action (video, below), you’ve got to believe she’s only getting started.

Do you think that meeting Hannah might change the lives of your students? Find out for yourself by signing-up for a free, live online event on Tuesday, March 8th at 1pm ET, wherein Hannah will share her unique invention, talk about her experiences in the challenge, and answer questions from students.

For more information, visit the Young Scientist Challenge website.

And to learn about other great free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Cartoon Network Announces a Major Commitment to Computer Science for All

  • Feb 18, 2016


According to the White House, more than 600,000 high-paying tech jobs across the United States went unfilled, and by 2018, 51 percent of all STEM jobs are projected to be in computer science-related fields. Moreover, computer science and data science are not only important for the tech sector, but for many industries, including transportation, healthcare, education, and financial services.

In other words, there is much to be done in regard to preparing our young people to thrive in an increasingly STEM-based future.

Recently, the White House announced a new presidential initiative called Computer Science for All, an effort to empower all American students from kindergarten through high school to learn computer science and be equipped with the computational thinking skills they need to be creators in the digital economy, not just consumers. The call has gone out to anyone and everyone who can make a difference, and to date, some 50 entities, both public and private, have committed to doing what they can.

Among them, our good friends at Cartoon Network, who have announced a $30 million commitment to engaging our kids in creative coding!

The network will collaborate with the Scratch Team at MIT’s Media Lab to create free coding tutorials which will be available to children on the Scratch platforma block-based programming language and online community where young people create their own interactive media projects at no cost (check out the video below, and share it with your students).

In addition, Cartoon Network will use its multi-platform reach to raise awareness of computer literacy and coding among kids.

“This generation of kids is incredibly creative and inventive, and we’re inspired by them every day,” said Christina Miller, president and general manager of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang. “Computer literacy and learning to code are vitally important skills that foster creativity and self-expression. With this long-term commitment, we will leverage our brands and platforms to drive awareness for coding and provide access to the necessary tools to kids everywhere. The result, we hope, is that we help inspire the next generation as much as they inspire us.”

Note: Cartoon Network East is channel 296 in your DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE channel lineup; Cartoon Network West is channel 297.

For more STEM news, and to find out about and other free educational resources, bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Scratch Overview from ScratchEd on Vimeo.

K-12 STEM Resources from PBS

  • Feb 11, 2016


If you follow education topics on social media you have no doubt come across the word “makers” quite often of  late.

It’s a handy distillation of what amounts to a growing movement toward applied sciences. That is to say, people, especially young people, making stuff—or improving stuff, or figuring out new and better ways to do stuff. And at the center of it all you find STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), an important 21st-Century emphasis in education that recognizes both where we are headed, and just how much untapped potential there is available in our classrooms to get us there.

And this is all good news, of course. So good, in fact, that more and more entities and organizations are doing what they can to help.

Which brings us to PBS Learning Media and the Makers initiative, a web-based, one-stop shop of STEM and digital making resources that focus on the problem, technology, or process behind object creation. On the Makers website you’ll find something for every student K through 12, and it’s all available free of charge!

The material is multi-media, accompanied by standards-based lesson plans, and presented in 5 categories: Arts and Crafts, Design, Engineering, How To (DIY), and Robotics.

And in keeping with the idea that Makers is really all about students doing things themselves, the collection was designed and curated by a high school student working toward a career in technology. Nice touch.

Check it out for yourself. Visit Makers today.

And to learn about other great free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Calling All Student Explorers!

  • Jan 12, 2016

Expedition 2

DIRECTV and NatGeo Mundo are sending four lucky high school students on the adventure of a lifetime this summer. Encourage eligible students to apply today for their chance to go on a National Geographic Student Expedition of their choice!

It’s a dream for adventure enthusiasts, but a dream that’s now well within reach thanks to National Geographic Student Expeditions, a unique travel program offering students the opportunity to get out into the field with NatGeo photographers, scientists, and writers.

Through the NatGeo Mundo Explorer program, four deserving high school students (two from the U.S. and two from Latin America) will experience one of these fabulous Expeditions this summer—with exciting destinations around the world to choose from!

Share the video below with your students and encourage them to apply today. They just might find themselves on the all-expense-paid adventure of a lifetime, courtesy of DIRECTV and NatGeo Mundo Explorer.

Applications will be accepted until March 1, 2016. For more information, and to apply, visit our program web site.

To find out about other great opportunities and free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio