In 2009, Time Warner Cable (TWC) launched Connect a Million Minds as a challenge for "parents, mentors and others to connect over one million students to afterschool STEM activities" to address the declining interest in STEM fields among young people. Visitors to the site can search the "Connectory" for STEM-related events in their area and watch a variety of inspirational videos, including the "STEM in Sports" series and the "It Ain't Rocket Science" web TV show. Information for non-profits that deliver informal STEM programming about applying for mini-grants and in-kind support can also be found on this web site.
The Curiosity Machine, overseen by Iridescent, a science education non-profit, is an online learning portal that connects kids with volunteer mentors from various engineering fields. The web site presents a series of challenges, such as designing a skyscraper to withstand wind or building a gravity well, that kids can undertake while learning about the engineering design process. As they work through the challenges, they can take pictures or shoot video of the process and send it to a mentor for feedback. All of the challenges use easy-to-obtain and low-cost materials and take about 90 minutes to complete.
Based on topics covered in PBS' successful show Design Squad Nation, this web site includes hands-on experiments and design challenges, video profiles of engineers, animations that explain engineering concepts, and clips from episodes of the show. Formal and informal educators and parents can use these resources to get young people excited about engineering.
This web site is maintained by DiscoverE, formerly known as The National Engineers Week Foundation, whose mission is "to sustain and grow a dynamic engineering profession through outreach, education, celebration, and volunteerism." The engineering-focused educational resources include hands-on activities, videos, field trip ideas, and games.
Howtosmile.org is a portal of science and math activities that are freely available, but are specifically geared towards informal STEM educators. Maintained by a group of museum professionals, site users can create an account to add new resources and/or add comments to existing resources; all added resources are vetted before being made visible to others.
The major educational goals of NASA are: "strengthening NASA and the Nation's future workforce; attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, disciplines; and engaging Americans in NASA's mission." NASA's web site offers a wealth of educational resources including: traditional lessons plans, citizen science projects, free e-books, apps, web chats with NASA scientists, regional events, robotics competitions, and homework topic FAQs.
The National Science Digital Library (NSDL) is an extensive database of STEM educational materials for all ages that can be used in both formal and informal settings. Resources include lesson plans, labs, simulations, videos, images, and assessment tools. The site has an advanced search option, and resources can be filtered by education level, subject, and resource type.
Plum Landing is an online environmental science program, targeted at kids aged six to nine, developed by WBGH Boston, a public media provider. In addition to the online videos, games, and activities for kids, they also have various curriculum pathways that can be used by informal educators at afterschool centers, libraries, zoos, and camps. The activities in the curriculum pathways incorporate videos, hands-on activities, and ideas for delving more deeply into the topic. They can be used as stand-alone activities or weaved together for a multi-day program.
These easy-to-do, preschool-based science activities are found in the parents' section of the companion web site to the PBS show Sid the Science Kid. Each activity includes a materials list, step-by-step instructions, a video clip of the associated episode, and ideas to further extend the experience.
This web site provides a collection of lesson plans for grades K-12 that incorporate Smithsonian exhibits and collections, but do not require a visit to any of the museums or zoo. Topics include archaeology, space, botany, and podcasting, among others.
From experiments that explore unusual phenomena to things you can build to places to volunteer, this companion site to the PBS show ZOOM has a plethora of activity ideas for 6 to 13 year-olds, which were submitted by kids from across the U.S.