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K-12 STEM Open Conference 2021

Teaching Coding and Doing Research Projects in the Classroom

What is an open conference? An open conference is one that is completely free, without registration, and you can go through sessions at your leisure. 


Goals of the conference:

  • Help teachers integrate coding and computer science into their curriculum.
  • Help teachers to be successful in having students do authentic research projects that mimic real science. 
  • Provide resources to help students succeed in submitting authentic research projects at the GLOBE+ Virtual Student Symposium (April 30 - May 1, 2021). 

Conference Strands:

For Educators: (jump to section)

Meet some STEM professionals: (jump to section)

  For Students:  (jump to section)

Professional Growth Points can be earned and certificates issued by going through the sessions and submitting reflections to conference organizers


2021 GLOBE+ Virtual Student Symposium

Looking for an opportunity where students can present their STEM research projects?

The 2021 GLOBE+ Virtual Student Symposium is an opportunity for all students (grades 3-12) to present their research to scientists and peers. This is NOT a science fair, but a science symposium. Projects will NOT be scored or ranked. Instead, this is an opportunity for students to listen and discuss the work of their own and other student teams that will be presenting. 

2/16/21: Registration link opens for 2021 GLOBE+ Virtual Student Symposium 

4/19/21: Registration deadline for students to submit projects 

4/21/21: Deadline for all projects to be uploaded

Friday 4/30 - Saturday 5/1: 2021 GLOBE+ Virtual Student Symposium

  Free Arduino Kit

Are you doing a research project that includes coding with Arduino? If so, you may be able to receive a free kit that includes an Arduino and supplies. These kits are supplied through funding from the Halliburton Foundation. Fill out this form to request a kit . Kits available to qualifying students while supplies last.


For Educators:

Strand: Teaching Computer Science/ Coding in the Classroom


Introduction to teaching coding (Phil Sands) 

Are you new to teaching coding, or just thinking about starting to teach it? In this session, Phil Sands takes us through how to get started and offers advice that he has learned. 

YouTube video

The code and walkthrough for this lesson

Making an Ultrasonic range finder using an Arduino  (Phil Sands)

In this session, Phil takes us, step by step in making an Ultrasonic range finder using an Arduino. He uses an online platform to write and test the code. 

YouTube video

The code and walkthrough for this lesson


Programing Visual Art and Simulations  (Phil Sands) 

OpenProcessing can be used to create visual art, simulations, and animations. Phil shows us how to use it to make a simple simulation of a ball dropping at the rate of gravity. 

YouTube video

The code and walkthrough for this lesson


Programming with Python for Teachers  (Phil Sands) 

Phil is back to take us through some sites that help us with Python Programming. He shows us how to do some programming for math, writing to files, and counting DNA Nucleotides. This is a number of short sessions that have been combined into one video.   

YouTube video   

The code and walkthrough for this lesson


Using Scratch to teach Machine Learning  (Phil Sands) 

In this session, Phil walks us through programming to understand Machine Learning. Using a web site, we can have our students go through Scratch programming to do various actions that will help them understand machine learning. 

YouTube video

The code and walkthrough for this lesson


Free computer science resources for teaching coding to elementary and middle school students  (Ryan Bean) 

This is an introduction to Scratch and Tinkercad. Ryan begins by showing us how to set up a free teacher account and an online classroom with Scratch. This session also shows us how to build 3D models with Tinkercad. The models that you build on Tinkercad can be 3D printed if you have access to a 3D printer. 

YouTube video  


How Nearpod and Gimkit can be used to offer direct instruction with students ( Greg Smith) 

This session will show how Nearpod can be used to help meet the needs of teachers offering direct instruction with a computer. PowerPoint presentations that teachers already use can be dragged into Nearpod, then slides can be added into the Nearpod file to make the presentation interactive with students. Teachers can see how many of the activities in the Nearpod presentation that students complete and grades can be assigned accordingly. Greg also provides a review of Gimkit, a game-based platform for students to review vocabulary sets. Gimkit rewards students for the speed of their comprehension and memory. 

YouTube video 


Introduction to teaching coding in the classroom and a solution for timely student feedback  (Dana Calfee)  Dana Calfee discusses steps she and her colleagues have taken to incorporate computer science standards in their junior high science classes. Even remotely, students can participate in coding activities through the Microsoft MakeCode platform. MakeCode has ready-made PDF tutorials for the emulators on the Circuit Playground Express. Learn how to use a hyperlinked Google Doc, Google Forms, and Autocrat (Google Sheets Add-on). 

YouTube video 


Virtual lessons for Project-Based Learning and data literacy from NASA GPM mission   (Dorian Janney) 

Looking for a way to incorporate Project Based Learning and data literacy virtually for your students this fall? Dorian Janney, NASA Education and Outreach Specialist shares lessons she taught virtually to middle school students.  Using GPM data teachers and students can create a line graph of exactly how much precipitation fell in your backyard for any time period over the last 20 years. 

YouTube video 


K-12 computer science teacher professional development opportunities and teaching resources  (Brandy Hicks) 

This session will highlight computer resources available to all teachers from the Indiana Department of Education. Find FREE, year-round, professional development for computer science for teachers on the Indiana Department of Education website. Hicks points out some free, vetted computer science resources for K-12 teachers: (free) has an entire K-12 spectrum complete with a course catalog that can be completed virtually or in the classroom; (both free and paid options available) has a self-directed curriculum for many courses that incorporate asynchronous learning with videos and quizzes available for grades 6-12; (free) available for grades K-6 with a lesson library that teachers can use to assign lessons to students to be completed both at home and at school.   YouTube video  


Introduction to Programming and Animation with Alice (Susan Rodger)

This is not a session but an introductory programming course that combines programming. The free virtual course is 8 weeks on how to program in Alice. Each week is packed with a lot of material. It could take you 8-16 weeks to finish the course.

Coursera: Introduction to Programming and Animation with Alice  


Adventures in Alice Programming (Duke University)

Not a session or presentation. However, this is a guide on how to navigate the Alice pages on the Duke website. It is filled with tutorials, lessons, and resources to help you learn and teach Alice programming.

Duke University: Adventures in Alice Programming  


Programming with Arduino Professional Development series (Jill Rubacha)

This is a series of videos complete with step-by-step videos, Tinkercad classroom, activity guides. It is designed for the teacher with little or no experience in teaching coding. Link to series


Strand: Using Research Projects in the Classroom

Getting Started With Research Projects in the Classroom (Mike Jabot, Sarah Nern, Steven Smith) Mike shares hints and encouragement with Sarah and Steven about how he helps teachers start using research projects in the classroom.

YouTube video  


Developing a Quality STEM Research Project: Using Sentence Starters (Sarah Nern and Steven Smith)

This session goes through the GLOBE Mission Earth’s poster template that includes sentence starters for sections. These templates are set up to help walk the student through both creating a poster for their project and helps students outline their project. 

YouTube video  


Ways of helping students in Constructing Explanations from Evidence and to Communicate Conclusions. (Bill Bayley, Sarah Nern, Steven Smith) 

Why and how do we help students to construct explanations from evidence and communicate conclusions. Looking at Gardner’s multiple intelligences, VARK learning styles, and essential features in inquiry learning we showcase some ways we help students constructing and communicating.

YouTube video 

Learning to ask questions in the science classroom ( Sarah Nern, Steven Smith) 

How do we get students to come up with a good question for a research project? This session explains the Question Formulation Technique, from the Right Question Institute, to help students become better at thinking about questions. We show a Google Tour as an example of a question focus.

YouTube video 


How to Teach the Nature of Science and ‘the’ Scientific Method  (Sarah Nern, Steven Smith)

We discuss the question, “What is the Nature of Science” and go through the process of doing science. We discuss how science actually works with a clip from Dr. Granger about how he does research in the real world. We go through the GLOBE Program’s graphic on the Science Processes. 

YouTube video


Discussions and examples of science fair rubrics and timelines (Bill Bayley, Sarah Nern, Steven Smith)

Purdue College of Science K-12 Outreach team wraps up our month-long Nature of Science series with a discussion about Science Fairs and Science Symposia. We have share links to timelines, rubrics, and other resources.

YouTube video


STEM Field Investigations: Bridging the natural curiosity of the learner with the disciplinary pursuits of STEM (Pat Otto)

Originally recorded in 2015. If you are new to field investigations, this one hour webinar will be just the information you need to get started with your classroom. For those more experienced but wanting to revisit Field Investigations with the Next Generation Science Standards in mind this will provide great information for discussion. The webinar goes from categorizing questions to constructing arguments/explanations of data. (Presentation begins at 8:05)

YouTube video 


Webinar on Writing Research Questions (Kevin Czajkowski)

Originally recorded in 2015. Often, students attempt to solve the world’s problems with a complex question that cannot be answered within the time constraints of a typical school day. During this webinar, Dr. Kevin Czajkowski will help participants develop grade-appropriate research questions and discuss ways to incorporate narrower but more frequent field investigations throughout the school year. (Presentation begins at 8:00)

YouTube video 

Choosing Appropriate Graph Types and Other Data Visualization Skills (Jacquelyn Wilson)

Originally recorded in 2016. Jackie Wilson from the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation describes the basic types of graphs, good graphing basics, using the research question as your guide in deciding what graph to make, and building these visualization skills in students. (Presentation begins at 25:23)

YouTube video 

Writing Conclusions Using the CER Framework (Rebecca Katsch-Singer)

Originally recorded in 2016. Once students analyze their data, it is time for them to use those data to write an experimental conclusion. While this can be a daunting task, many teachers have found the Claims-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) Framework can help students write a succinct, clear, and accurate conclusion to their investigation. In this Framework, students answer their investigational question (claim), support their answer with data from their investigations (evidence), and utilize key science ideas to explain the link between the evidence and claim (reasoning). This webinar will focus on strategies for using the CER Framework with middle and high school students as they write conclusions, and on additional applications of this Framework as students discuss and critique each other’s conclusions. ( Presentation begins at 9:53)

YouTube video 


Strand: Connecting Your Curriculum to STEM Careers

How do we teach the careers component when we are busy teaching the content?   (Sarah Nern & Steven Smith)

This session demonstrates one way of integrating careers in the science classroom. With a full curriculum, it can be tough to fit in the careers connection. We provide a way to use podcasts to introduce students to various careers. 

YouTube video


Mathematics in cultures around the world, what mathematicians look like, and careers using math (Jill Newton interview by Sarah Nern and Steven Smith)

Jill Newton, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at Purdue University joins us to discuss the career path that led her to become a professor at Purdue University. She also discusses some of the mathematical patterns in cultures that she has visited. Jill challenges the common perception of what mathematicians look like and presents a number of career possibilities in the math sciences.

YouTube video


Coding in the Fight Against Cancer (Nadia Lanman)

This presentation explains computational biology, cancer, tumor types,  and how coding is used in cancer research.

YouTube video


Meet some STEM professionals:


Lisa Welp, Marissa Tremblay and Kelly Witter


Kathleen Vander Kaaden, Brian Hanford and Nadya Ortiz

Nikita Prabhakar


For Students:

Strand: Resources on learning how to code

Making an Ultrasonic range finder using an Arduino

In this session, Phil Sands takes us, step by step in making an Ultrasonic range finder using an Arduino. He uses an online platform to write and test the code.


Programing Visual Art and Simulations

OpenProcessing can be used to create visual art, simulations, and animations. Phil Sands shows us how to use it to make a simple simulation of a ball dropping at the rate of gravity.


Strand: How to develop a quality STEM research project

GLOBE Science Process poster

This is the GLOBE Science Processes research poster. It is a great resource for outlining and understanding how to make a project for a science fair or science symposium. 


Worksheet to evaluate possible research questions

A good research question is a question that is worth answering and poses a problem worth solving. This worksheet provides a checklist to help you decide the quality of a research question.


Purdue Online Writing Lab Research and Citation Resources

This site offers amazing resources on all types of writing. It offers free resources including Writing and Teaching Writing, Research, Grammar and Mechanics, Style Guides, ESL (English as a Second Language), and Job Search and Professional Writing.


Ten Secrets to Giving a Good Scientific Talk

The scientific talk is part of the scientific communication process. A scientist must be able to deliver a well organized, well-delivered scientific talk. This page offers suggestions to thing to keep in mind when preparing your presentation.


Free Arduino Kit  Are you doing a research project that includes coding with Arduino? If so, you may be able to receive a free kit that includes an Arduino and supplies. These kits are supplied through funding from the Halliburton Foundation. Fill out this form to request a kit . Kits available to qualifying students while supplies last.


We would like to thank the following organizations for collaborating to create this open conference for you. 


Funders :


Conference Organizers: 

  • Steven Smith (mrsmith ), K-12 Outreach Coordinator in Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University
  • Sarah Nern (snern ), K-12 Outreach Coordinator in Department of Chemistry at Purdue University


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