Resources for Educators - NSF & NIST

Nov 10, 2015

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…" With an annual budget of about $5.5 billion, the NSF is the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Commerce Department's Technology Administration. NIST's mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

Below is a compilation of sites from both agencies we hope you will find useful in your classroom!

Some general sites to get you started:

Receive an Expert Reply! Ask an expert a question about a subject of your choice that you were unable to locate in the vast NSDL resources. 

Digital Library Projects at OSU
The NSDL Middle School Portal provides access to selected online resources for instruction and professional development from the National Science Digital Library.

Kinetic City
"Kinetic City" is a fun, Web-based after-school science club for kids, ages 8 through 11. It combines exciting online animations and activities with boxes of hands-on science experiments. Children earn "Kinetic City" power points and collect stickers as they complete missions and learn standards-based science content.

MathDL is an online resource published by the Mathematical Association of America.  The site provides online math resources for both teachers and students.  Highlighted resources include Convergence Magazine; the Journal of Online Mathematics and its Applications (JOMA), and Osslets (open source, sharable math applets). 

Metric Pyramid
A sample worksheet/activity available for download.

National Science Digital Library (NSDL)
NSDL was created by the National Science Foundation to provide organized access to high quality resources and tools that support innovations in teaching and learning at all levels of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.

NIST in Your Home & NIST in Your City
Check out these two interactive, virtual environments to better understand the importance of standards to us all!

NIST Virtual Museum
Online exhibits that demonstrate everything from the standardization of women’s clothing to information on the NIST Stone Test Wall, a wall with over 2,352 individual stones used for weathering tests.

NSF Multimedia Resources
The NSF supports a wide variety of educational and informational projects for the general public, especially our nation’s classrooms. The Now Showing database contains a variety of resources, including film, museum exhibits, television programs, and radio shows.

Pathway Project
NSDL Pathways are NSDL projects that provides audience-specific views of selected NSDL resources (these specialized views are also known as portals). Pathway audiences may be grouped by grade level, discipline, resource or data type, or some other designation.  Pathway projects are meant to further simplify your search for pertinent classroom resources.  

Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching
Administered by the National Science Foundation, these awards are the nation's highest honor for teachers of mathematics and science. The Awards recognize exemplary K-12 teachers for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession. Nominate an outstanding math or science teacher today for this prestigious award.

Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring
The PAESMEM program, administered by the White House and the NSF, seeks to identify outstanding mentoring efforts/programs designed to enhance the participation of groups underrepresented in science, mathematics and engineering. You can nominate both individuals and institutions for the competition of these annual awards!
Since 2002 all of the science resources provided by the government are provided through a single point of access! is an interagency initiative of 17 U.S. government science organizations within 12 Federal agencies.          

Teacher’s Domain
Teachers' Domain is a multimedia digital library for the classroom that provides learning experiences in ways no textbook can.

The Metric System
NIST has created a kid’s reference page for the metric system with resources that will help them better apply the metric system to their lives.


Arctic & Antarctic Classroom Resources:

Antarctica Field Trip Teacher's Resources
Designed as an electronic tour, this guides the user through different Antarctic websites and outlines teaching objectives, concepts covered and new vocabulary.

Pop Goes Antarctica? Activities for Classroom Use
Follow a team of scientists from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) as they study the presence of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the Antarctic.

Teachers Experiencing Antarctica and the Arctic
The Teachers Experiencing Antarctica and the Arctic program pairs classroom teachers with scientists in the field and requires them to share their experience as broadly as possible when they return to the classroom.


Astronomy & Space Classroom Resources:

Amazing Space
Contains educational materials and activities about the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

Eyes on the Sky and Feet on the Ground Everyday Classroom Tools
Provides hands-on astronomy activities for students in grades 2-6, promotes an understanding of the scientific process and includes suggestions for discussions before and after explorations.

University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy
Resource materials at this Web site were collected and developed as a result of an astronomical educational workshop for top high school teacher-student pairs.


Biology Classroom Resources :
This educational resource from the American Institute of Biological Sciences that promotes bioscience literacy by presenting lots of topics to choose and learn: biodiversity, environment, genomics, biotechnology and more.

BBC: Walking with Beasts
This BBC Web site comes loaded with interactive multimedia features on evolution and the animal kingdom. Users can view 3-D images as well as video and audio clips of prehistoric creatures, play an interactive evolution game and much more.

An online reference filled with resource materials that supplement a secondary biology program called "Biology: The Web of Life."

Developed for researchers, teachers and students to provide information about a variety of topics in biotechnology.

National Biological Information Infrastructure’s Teacher’s Resources
Developed by USGS Center for Biological Informatics for resource managers, scientists, educators and the general public, to provide access to data and information and to answer all types of questions about the nation's biological resources.

After researching many physical aspects of this dinosaur, students explain their views on the topic of whether or not the T-Rex was a scavenger or a predator. Includes objectives, materials, procedures, discussion questions, evaluation ideas, suggested readings and vocabulary.

Whales Online
Whales Online is an information site dedicated to the conservation of whales, dolphins and porpoises in the Southern Hemisphere and comes complete with a Teacher’s Resources Section.


Chemistry and Materials Classroom Resources:

General Chemistry (with Unit Converter)
This site provides the user with a tool for converting from a particular unit of measurement to another. The user may write a numerical value and permissible unit in the free form field.

Strange Matter Stuff for Teachers
The Strange Matter traveling exhibit, developed by the Ontario Science Centre, teaches kids about the amazing world of modern materials and materials science.

The Open Door Web Site
Access reference material for teachers and students in grades 3 through 12 on topics in biology, chemistry, physics, history and technology.


Earth & Environment Classroom Resources:

Avalanche! Slip Sliding Away
This activity will help students in their understanding of the complexities of snowpack formation and use this data to make predictions about how particular slopes might behave.

Chemicals, the Environment, and You
Online learning module for grades 7-8 that helps students learn how chemicals in the environment affect human health and how scientists can understand that relationship.

Exploring Earth: Explore the World of Earth Science
Provides investigations and visualizations of earth science topics, with sections focused on careers, data and local resources. Students can interact with the investigations and visualizations through features such as clickable animations and images.

Both kids and adults explore Scripps' voyages that bring the human side of oceanography to life.

The EnviroLink Network
This site provides access to thousands of online environmental resources including comprehensive, up-to-date environmental information and news.

Triumph of Life Resources
Maintained by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), the Web companion to a six-part miniseries that examines how evolution has shaped the existence on our planet.

Web Weather for Kids Teacher's Tips
Learn what makes weather wet and wild, do cool activities and become hot at forecasting the weather.


Education Classroom Resources:

Education World
Founded in 1996, an online "everything education" site dedicated to teachers. Besides having a search engine devoted to education sites, the science page categorizes lesson plans organized by grade level and subject.

LoLa Exchange (Learning Objects, Learning Activities)
LoLa is a exchange for facilitating the sharing of high-quality learning objects. It contains materials for use across the curriculum, with a particular focus on modules for Informal Literacy.

NREL Education Programs: Teaching Resources
Information about student programs and competitions, undergraduate programs, teacher programs and university partnerships provided through NREL's Office of Education Programs.

Ology: Resources for Learning
Investigate many cool "ologies" (disciplines) at this American Museum of of Natural History site.


Engineering Classroom Resources:

PreK-12 Engineering Activities
This pre-engineering index of activities is a free resource for teachers, teacher educators and administrators seeking to integrate engineering concepts and activities into the classroom.

ROBOLAB at CEEO, K-12 Activities
The Center for Engineering Educational Outreach (CEEO) at Tufts University is dedicated to bringing engineering into the K-12 classroom by coordinating engineering and education experts with teachers to design curricula based on engineering standards.

The ASEE Engineering K-12 Center for Educators
Developed by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), the site provides resources for grade school students, parents and teachers that promote the engineering discipline.

USGS Earthquakes Hazards Program
For grades K-12, contains information about past, present and future earthquake activity, as well as educational activities about earthquakes.


Mathematics Classroom Resources:

MathMovesU Teacher’s Resources
Raytheon Company has announced a new program aimed at improving math and science education among middle school-aged students. Investigate for yourself how this Web site shows math plays a role in "cool" careers.

Mathematical Moments
The American Mathematical Society's Mathematical Moments shows how math affects us all, with examples that range from origami to robotics to fractals.

Project Mathematics: Modules for High School & Community College Math
Funded mostly by grants from NSF, these videotape and workbook modules explore basic topics in high school mathematics in ways that cannot be done on the chalkboard or in a textbook.


Nanoscience Classroom Resources:

National Nanotechnology Initiative Teacher's Resources
NNI is a federal R&D program established to coordinate the multiagency efforts in nanoscale science, engineering and technology. This site contains information about the program and links to educational resources associated with nanotechnology.


People & Society Classroom Resources:

Environmental Explorer
A lesson plan in which students use observation skills to analyze changes that people have made to the natural environment.

PBS TeacherSource
By teachers, for teachers, the PBS TeacherSource invites you to explore a vast array of resources including PBS television programs, tools for teaching, and resources by curricular subject, topic and grade level.

Regions: A Hands-on Approach
A lesson plan created by National Geographic for grades 5-8, in which students look at various regions, define what a region is (giving examples) and learn to understand the subjective nature of determining regional boundaries.

School Space: An Analysis of Map Perceptions
A lesson plan created by National Geographic to teach students to understand that perception influences the mental maps and attitudes of people about places.

Space Age Tech Comes to Earth
A lesson plan created by the Utah Education Network in which students identify numerous applications of technology in agriculture, thereby becoming more familiar with agricultural practices as a result of these activities.


Physics Classroom Resources:

Activity Based Physics
Aims to sustain and enhance efforts to render introductory physics courses more effective and exciting at both the secondary and college level; and uses the outcomes of physics education research along with flexible computer tools to promote activity-based models of physics instruction.

American comPadre
A set of communities of teachers and students in physics and astronomy and Web-based collections of resources to support their needs.

ASPIRE: Astrophysics Science Project Integrating Research & Education
More about physics than astronomy, this web site, created by teachers for teachers, employs a powerful combination of inquiry-based content, along with interactive, hands-on labs.

IPPEX! (The International Plasma Physics Education Experience)
This site contains interactive plasma physics topics ranging from electricity, magnetism, energy and fusion.


NSF Research Summaries :

Arctic & Antarctic
Earth's polar regions may seem like mirror images. But each is a unique environment with features we are still trying to understand, and each affects the rest of the globe.

Astronomy & Space
Astronomy may well be the oldest science of all, seeking answers to questions such as: "Where did it all come from?" and "Are we alone?"

A bat, a mushroom, a blade of grass -- they're easy to identify as "life." But what about a cold virus or mold? Biologists are life's detectives, discovering what “alive” really means.

Chemistry & Materials
Most of what you touch, taste, hear or smell every day in the modern world is the direct or indirect result of research in chemistry or materials science – an effort that never ends.

The Internet, Google, and web browsers show how past progress in computing affects our daily lives. The cutting-edge systems under design now will have an enormous impact on society--and science.

Earth & Environment
Our planet gives up its secrets slowly. But every year we learn more about its oceans and air, its restless continents, its myriad ecosystems, and the way living things interact with their environments.

Learning how people learn, while also supporting the very best ideas and students in U.S. science, engineering and mathematics are essential goals in today's changing world.

Engineers bridge the gap between what the mind can imagine and what the laws of nature allow. They work at the outermost frontiers of electronics, manufacturing, bioengineering, structural design and more.

Mathematics is the natural language of science and engineering. It is about numbers, shapes, symmetry, chance, change and much more. Mathematics is deeply interwoven into all of modern life.

Nanoscience is the ability to manipulate atoms and molecules. This fast-moving field is transforming our ability to custom-design objects and processes at sizes smaller than 1/1000th the width of a hair.

People & Society
Out of fascination and need, people have always studied people. When curiosity is backed by scientific methods, we get fascinating insights into human behavior, origins, societies and economies.

Physics is the science of matter, energy, space and time. It looks both inward and outward, from the smallest subatomic particle to the vastness of the universe--and yet it is also intensely practical.


Research Opportunities

NIST Postdoctoral Research Associateships Program
The NIST/NRC Postdoctoral Research Associateships Program provides two-year temporary appointments for outstanding scientists and engineers chosen through a national competition administered by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.

Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL) Collaborations
A variety of programs through which researchers, scholars and postdoctoral students can collaborate with the BFRL.

NSF Specialized Information: Undergraduates
An extensive list of funding from NSF and related institutions for undergraduate students.

NSF Specialized Information: Graduates
An extensive list of funding from NSF and related institutions for graduate students.

NSF Specialized Information: Postdoctoral Fellows
An extensive list of funding from NSF and related institutions for postdoctoral fellows.

NSF & NIST Resources for Students Page