Offering K-12 educators a variety of STEM-related curriculum for the classroom

There is a wealth of STEM curricula and classroom resources available to assist educators in developing in students thinking, reasoning, teamwork, investigative and creative skills that they can use in all areas of their lives. The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) is committed to providing relevant and complete materials to assist educators in engaging students in STEM subjects. Below you will find activities and lessons that support the U.S. Department of Energy's Harnessed Atom middle school curriculum, as well as K-12 lesson plans, and STEM videos that complement classroom learning.

Harnessed Atom

The Harnessed Atom middle school STEM curriculum provides teachers with non-biased information on energy science and nuclear energy for classroom instruction. Developed under a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, the curriculum has been updated with current information and aligned with the latest national science standards. The curriculum covers the essential principles of energy and matter and provide teachers with an engaging platform to excite students’ learning about these topics.

Harnessed Atom coverThe Harnessed Atom Activities

Build an Atom: Desktop version | Accessible and Smartphone version

Power It Up: Desktop version | Accessible and Smartphone version

Fermi Feud: PowerPoint version

The Harnessed Atom Lessons

The Harnessed Atom - Student edition (7.7 MB PDF)

The Harnessed Atom - Teachers' edition (19.3 MB PDF)

The Harnessed Atom Teacher Presentations

K-12 Lesson Plans and Other Resources

Lesson Plan: What Does an Animal Eat?

Subject: Second Grade Science

Students will be able to sort animals by the types of food they eat and develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of the ecosystem.

Lesson Plan: Sports Collisions: What Makes a Player Great?

Subject: Fourth Grade Science

Students will use various sports equipment to investigate the transfer of energy and the transfer is impacted by different types of materials.

Lesson Plan: The Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017

Subject: Fifth Grade Science

This lesson includes links to many resources for teaching about solar eclipses including videos and web articles. Students will create a model to illustrate the motion of the moon and Earth around the sun and use the model to illustrate solar and lunar eclipses. Students will create a pinhole camera to calculate the diameter of the sun and use powers of 10 to compare the size of the sun and Earth.

Lesson Plan: Rainbow Science

Subject: Middle and High School Optics and Geometry

Students will conduct a series of activities which illustrate how scientists investigate natural phenomena by using appropriate models. Students will be prompted to think about ways the models used in this lesson serve as good representations for rainbow production, and what the limitations of the models might be.

Lesson Plan: Shedding Light on Solar Energy

Subject: Eighth - Twelfth Grade Physical Science

Following instruction on solar energy, students will construct a moving Solar Cockroach using a 2V Solar Cell and construct a solar oven that can be used to cook s’mores. Data on the internal temperature of the solar oven can be collected and graphed.

Lesson Plan: Macromolecule Manipulative Review

Subject: High School Biology

Students will arrange manipulative cut outs to test their knowledge of the four macromolecules: lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, and nucleic acids. This activity can be done individually, in pairs, or in groups.

Lesson Plan: Nuclear Chemistry Card Sort

Subject: High School Chemistry

Students will complete a Venn diagram using manipulative cards to compare and contrast Fission, Fusion, and Nuclear Decay.

Lesson Plan: Utilizing X-ray Diffraction and Computer Simulation to Determine the Structure of the Protein Lysozyme

Subject: High School Chemistry

Students will follow a lab procedure to create crystals of the protein lysozyme and then complete a web quest to learn how Molecular Dynamics Researchers would use their crystals to learn more about the structure of lysozyme.

Lesson Plan: Building Materials to Study Heat Transfer

Subject: High School Environmental Science or Chemistry

Students will conduct a series of three experiments to investigate heat transfer in a variety of materials. Experiments include examining how the temperature of water affects the movement of food coloring in water; exploring the effect of cup type on the temperature of the liquid inside over time; and investigating the temperature and light intensity on opposite sides of different types of panes of glass.

Lesson Plan: Superconductivity
Presentation: Superconductivity

Subject: High School Physics

Following a presentation based on the work of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, students will write an article that explores the construction and benefits of superconductors.

Lesson Plan: How to Power your Smartphone for a Week
Presentation: How to Power Your Smartphone for a Week

Subject: High School Physics

Students will construct fruit batteries, use multimeters to measure the current and voltage of their batteries, and calculate the power.

Resource: STEM Resource Book for Teachers

This document contains links to hundreds of websites with a variety of resources for educators. Websites are hyperlinked, annotated, and listed by subject and grade. The document includes a table of contents to help you quickly find what you are looking for whether it is an academic competition for your students, professional development opportunities, or an amazing E-Resource that can be used in your classroom.

STEM Videos for the Classroom

Emotional Gaps Affect Achievement Gaps

Dr. Kenneth Wesson, education consultant for Delta Education, discusses the Emotional Gap in education. This clip could be used to start a discussion among educators at an in-service about how to promote student buy-in and hold student interest in their classes.

Connecting Students to STEM

Jeff Martin, senior vice president and Creative Director of GMMB, discusses the rebranding of the STEM initiative to reach students—connecting STEM to life.

Readiness Stats for High School Seniors/Incoming Freshman

Dr. Kenneth Wesson, education consultant for Delta Education, shares survey results comparing high school teacher’s perception of their student’s preparation to actual college student performance. This fascinating clip is a springboard to spur teacher discussions on improving the college readiness of their students.

Engineering on a Dime

Tad Douce, professional development instructor for META Solutions, discusses realistic ways to integrate the Educational Design Process into your classroom. His discussion includes using balloon-powered cars and paper rockets.

Using Fairy Tales to Teach Math and Engineering in Lower Elementary School

Kimberly O’Dell, a teacher at Clinton City Schools, gives descriptions of three classroom-ready hands-on activities for K-2 teachers to integrate literature, math, and engineering using the stories of the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and the Gingerbread Man.

How to Develop an Upper Elementary STEM Lesson

Kimberly O’Dell, a teacher at Clinton City Schools, describes a STEM lesson she uses in her fifth grade classroom that asks students to improve the design of a fountain. All four aspects of STEM are integrated. 

Teaching is the Most Important Paid Work

Angus McBeath, superintendent with the Edmonton Public School Board, explains why teaching is important in preparing young minds for the world ahead.

Bring Your Own Device

Anthony Smith, technology curriculum coordinator for Athens City Schools, describes the difficulties in setting up a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) atmosphere in a classroom and gives the solutions that were used in his school district.

Things That Impact Memory

Dr. Kenneth Wesson, education consultant for Delta Education, discusses things that impact memory and uses a fun activity to demonstrate how difficult multitasking is for students.

Differences Between Diamond and Graphite

Dr. Ian Anderson, director of Graduate Education and University Partnerships at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, explains the differences between diamond and graphite with students at a Science Saturday program. The main point is that the location of the atoms affects the material’s properties. He demonstrates a simple activity that can be used in a classroom using a pencil and a synthetic diamond.

Introduction to Probeware in the Classroom (Venier)

An introduction to Vernier products and probeware by Terry Bunde, Vernier consultant and Professor Emertis of Chemistry at Maryville College. If you are considering adding probeware to your classroom, check this out! This video describes many types of experiments that can be done using Venier probeware.