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CPALMS: Free digitized resources for K-12 STEM learning

The worldwide web offers an ever-increasing abundance of free digitized resources, such as simulations, video games, and lesson plans, available to science centers and schools throughout the U.S. The challenge? Finding the time and expertise to sort through all of them and identify the high-quality gems.

Now there’s an online standards-based resource system, CPALMS, that can help science centers and educators not only find peer- and expert-reviewed resources for science exhibits, summer camps, teacher professional development and other initiatives, but also share their own resources for review and distribution worldwide.

Launched in 2008 by the Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (FCR-STEM) with funding from the Florida Department of Education, CPALMS connects teachers, administrators, parents, students and the public with free, high-quality resources and tools, aligned to Florida’s K-12 standards in science and math. In 2012, The Florida Department of Education awarded FCR-STEM $10.5 million of federal Race to the Top funds to further expand and improve CPALMS (read press release).

CPALMS was developed collaboratively by multiple universities, school districts, the Florida Department of Education and curriculum and content-area specialists. By integrating three information systems on standards, courses and resources and providing specialized tools, CPALMS enables educators to:

  • Readily identify the key concepts (standards and benchmarks) that students in Florida will be expected to learn at each grade level in science and math.
  • Find the standards and benchmarks to be taught in each high school course (e.g., Algebra I, Chemistry).
  • Develop lesson plans using the multi-template lesson planning tool that offers a step-by-step and detailed guidance on creating standards-based resources.
  • Find a wide range of free, high-quality resources appropriate for each benchmark, including lesson plans, assessments, educational games, web quests, multimedia, virtual manipulatives and simulations.
  • Use interactive online tools to create their own lesson plans and other resources to share with colleagues, parents, or students.


Learn about iCPALMS, a new NSF-funded project that will build on CPALMS’ success.

One of the unique features of CPALMS is rigorous peer and expert reviews of all of the resources by practicing teachers and university faculty in the sciences, mathematics and education. The reviews ensure that the resources align with standards, have accurate content, and use evidence-based teaching strategies.

To begin recommending resources and designing standards-based lessons, register for a free account at Although the resources are tied to Florida’s K-12 content standards, the resources are accessible to users worldwide. Know of a great resource you’d like to share from an existing website or your own collection of digitized resources? Just submit it to CPALMS.

Science and mathematics are the initial focus of CPALMS, but the system can expand to all of the content areas (e.g., language arts, history/social studies) as funding becomes available.