STEMtastic News - February 2021

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NC Department of Public Instruction

February 2021


Home of STEMtastic News



American Institute of Architacts

The American Institute of Architects

K-12 Initiatives


The AIA has created 11 engaging problem-based classroom activities for K-12 students that use real-world problems to spark interest in the architecture profession, explain its impact, and foster students' critical design thinking skills.

Each problem scenario includes a grade-level appropriate lesson guide and activity sheets that will help students work through the lesson. Topics range from disaster recovery and resilience to environmental stability, with scenarios such as building a homeless shelter that solve a social need with innovative design.

For all 11 classroom activities, you'll find:

  • Student activity sheet (PDF fillable)
  • Background information
  • The problem
  • Learning resources
  • Hands-on activities
  • Video inspiration from the AIA Film Challenge

It's never too young to start thinking like an architect. Visit AIA for more information.

2021 NC GreenPower Solar+ Schools

Submissions due by 5pm on Sunday, February 28, 2021

NC GreenPower has announced year seven of their Solar+ Schools grant program! The application is open now and will be available through February 28, 2021. Any North Carolina K-12 school may apply for a grant for the installation of a 5 kW educational solar array. In addition, awardees receive nearly $14,000 in related benefits, including donated SunPower solar modules. School fundraising goals will be fixed at $6,000, $9,000 or $12,000, depending on economic factors, and NC GreenPower donations provide the remaining funds needed. In addition, $2,500 is refunded following the final inspection of the project for schools to keep in a reserved fund for any unexpected operations and maintenance costs.


Each school will also receive a full curriculum package with STEM lessons, a hands-on activity kit and a 6-hour certified teacher training from for up to 5 teachers.


It's easy to get started!

STEP 1) Visit their website and learn more about the grant:

STEP 2) Sign up for a one-on-one session:

STEP 3) Submit your application for the 2021 Solar+ Schools year:


Submissions are due by 5pm on Sunday, February 28, 2021.

** If you are planning to apply for their  grant, please email and let them know! **



Applications are being accepted for virtual summer NIEHS STaRS Experience

Applicants for the 2020 STaRS program automatically will be considered for the 2021 program.

Middle and high school science teachers and community college instructors are encouraged to apply for the 2021 NIEHS Science, Teachers and Research Summer (STaRS) Experience. STaRS 2021 is a virtual one-week professional development (PD) program, designed and conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).  

The goals of the PD are:

  • To enhance participants’ understanding of basic research in environmental/biomedical sciences; and
  • To enable participants to transfer knowledge received from this program into classroom applications and better support their students, including those from underserved populations.

The 2021 virtual STaRS Experience will be held online by NIEHS and will be a one-week program. The program will contain many interactive lessons and activities with special topics relating to COVID-19. The first offering is scheduled for Monday, July 12, through Friday, July 16, from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. The second offering is scheduled from Monday, August 2, through Friday, August 6, from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Participants will be assigned to one of the two week-long program options. STaRS participants will receive a $1,000 stipend to offset costs to cover their time spent during the program.


  • Applicants must currently teach science in a North Carolina middle school, high school or community college; and
  • Applicants must be available and fully engaged for the full one-week program (July 12-16 or August 2-6).


Women and individuals of underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.

Apply Now

Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 5, 2021.

Multimodal STEM Text Sets


A multimodal STEM text set is a coherent sequence of texts and materials pertaining to a specific STEM topic or line of inquiry that supports diverse learners in building the vocabulary and background knowledge required for reading comprehension, grounded in evidence. The topic or line of inquiry of the text set is determined by an anchor text – a rich, complex grade-level text that has accompanying scaffolded instructional supports and linked science inquiry. The subsidiary scaffolding texts, multimodal materials and inquiry depend on resource availability and the needs of the students.


Linking Science and Literacy for All Students Multimodal Text Sets

Visit the Achieve The Core website



This opportunity is provided by Moore County Schools through a grant provided by the North Carolina Digital Teaching and Learning Initiative.


Building Engineers

Quick Facts:

  • All NC Educators are eligible to contribute

  • Get paid $195 for each lesson submitted & approved (up to 3 lessons)!

  • All lessons will be posted to our GoOpenNC Hub, for easy and free access throughout NC

  • Goal = 150 lessons uploaded by the end of the 20-21 school year

  • PLEASE forward this opportunity to any colleagues that may be interested- we need to spend all grant monies by June 30, 2021!

Get started now at!

Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Math Teaching (PAEMST)

Presidential Awards Nominations and Applications

It is now time to nominate outstanding 7-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teachers!


The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the highest honors bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teaching. The Awards were established by Congress in 1983. The President may recognize up to 108 exemplary teachers each year.


Awards are given to science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teachers from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity schools, or the U.S. territories as a group (American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands).


The award recognizes those teachers have both deep content knowledge of the subjects they teach and the ability to motivate and enable students to be successful in those areas. Since the program's inception, more than 5,000 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.


Awardees reflect the expertise and dedication of the Nation's teaching corps, and they demonstrate the positive impact of excellent teachers on student achievement. The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.


Nominations close on March 1, 2021 and applications are due on April 1, 2021.


For more information, to nominate teachers, or to begin an application, please visit

Nano Innovation Challenge: Using Tiny Science to Solve Wicked Problems

Middle and High School Teachers- Sign up your students for this new competition.



Learn about nanoscale science and apply that knowledge to help address one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, then create a 3-minute video featuring your ideas.


Submissions Due: April 1, 2021


Teachers must register your school by February 15, 2021. After registering your class you will receive additional information. Registration is limited to 25 North Carolina Schools.


PRIZES: Teams will win prizes that include Amazon gift cards: 1st place $100; 2nd place $50; 3rd place $25. The 1st place winners also will have an hour of scanning electron microscope time to conduct a class investigation. Teachers of winning state-level teams will receive a $50 gift card.




Who Can Participate? Middle and High School student teams of up to 5 students


Grab your lab coat and goggles and help scientists address the UN Sustainable Development Goals using nanotechnology. Your idea might be the next great solution to providing people across the globe with clean water, better medicines, or making solar energy more economical.


The Task: Create a 3-minute multimedia presentation in the format of a video to pitch your idea for using nanotechnology to address one of the Sustainable Development Goals. Presentations will be judged on these criteria: 1) Application of scientific content, 2) Creativity/Innovation, and 3) Presentation quality.


Judging: There are 2 levels of judging: 1) Each school will judge the projects and select 1 winning team to go forth to the state level. 2) At the state level competition, scientists and science educators from the Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network will judge the Nano Innovation presentations and will select the winning teams. Note: The state competition is limited to the first 25 schools to register.


Sponsored by The Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network, the Eastman Company, the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, and the College of Education at NCSU.


See the attached flyer for more information

World View

Teaching in Uncertain Times

FEBRUARY 25, 4:00 – 6:00 pm EST via Zoom


Join your peers to discuss teaching in uncertain times. UNC’s Dr. Dana Griffin, Associate Professor and the School of Education Dean’s Fellow for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will discuss the importance of resilience. Participants can share their experiences and discuss positive ways to respond to setbacks during today’s challenging times. Experts Drs. Michael Nakkula and Andy Danilchick from UPenn’s Graduate School of Education and the Project for Mental Health and Optimal Development will discuss cultivating an uncertainty mindset and introduce the newly published Planning for Uncertainty educator’s guide. This timely resource aims to build educators’ and schools’ capacity to navigate the challenging mental health landscape of the COVID-19 era. This program is open to all K-12 and community college educators. CEU/PDCH offered. #WorldView2021

Register today:


NC DPI STEM Consultant

Howard Ginsburg


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