Spice up Your Science!

by Maria

Right now, the world is a bit upside from how we usually experience it, and many families are currently learning from home as schools are closed. If you’re looking for some extra activities to spice up your learning experience (or you’re just a fabulous nerd – which is the best), here are some great resources to spice up your science plans!

Skype a Scientist
Founded by squid biologist Dr. Sarah McAnulty at the University of Connecticut, Skype a Scientist is a free way to introduce scientists from around the world to your classroom (or a group in your living room!) The scientists share their work with students, answer questions, and generally share what it’s like to be a researcher in that area of study. To bring a scientist to your classroom, simply sign up through their website indicating such details as your time zone, grade level, and field of scientist you are interested in, and Skype a Scientist will sort the rest!

Science Tots
This is a Pittsburgh organization that provides STEAM-focused activities for young ones. Their website includes free online programming plus sign-ups for their classes and events. They also have an informative newsletter for parents and educators.

Wildlife Tracking
There are a number of websites that allow students to actively follow various wildlife through the use of telemetry. The trick here is that students will learn about biology and the technology behind tracking these animals!
Track Sea Turtles
Wolf Tracking Sample Data Kit
Bonus – Listen for Orcas

NASA Kids’ Clubs
A great bank of space-related activities, videos, and games. Perfect for any budding astronaut or anyone who is curious about what make’s up a comet’s tail or what the Mars rovers have learned!

The Brain Scoop with the Field Museum
All things behind the scenes from a fantastic museum, this video series has everything. From exploring the “whale warehouse” to checking out mammoths and bot flies, Chief Curiosity Correspondent Emilie Graslie shares the insider’s view from the world of a natural history museum.

California Academy of Sciences – Academy @ Home
Right now, CAS has concentrated their online materials into an accessible online space. You can search through their videos, educational activities, articles, and games.

Science Buddies
Look projects you all can do together as a family with Science Buddies. With hundreds (thousands?) of science project ideas to choose from, this website lets you sort through grade level and topic to find a science experiment that’s right for you.

Khan Academy
Struggling with high school physics and chemistry? The Khan Academy’s online classes are honestly quite helpful. And once you get past the essentials, jump into the wild stuff like Disney’s Imagineering or Pixar’s storytelling!

#bioPGH Blog
A little self-serving here, but this is my weekly nature blog. Each post focuses on a different species or seasonal phenomenon from here in Western Pennsylvania, and I usually include activities for families to get further involved in that week’s topic. I also am very careful to use solid, trustworthy sources in an effort to model for students what a good reference list includes.

Shake Up Inquiry-Based Learning with Real Data
There are so many freely available databases out there that it can be overwhelming, but try to narrow in on your student’s interest. Do they like volcanoes? Add real volcanic activity data from the USGS to your lesson about graphing! Are they interested in bird migration? Incorporate flyways and migratory adventures into their narrative storytelling lesson! Below are just a teeny few open databases, but keep in mind that many museums have their collections online and most government agencies post some sort of data online.
North America Breeding Bird Survey
National Weather Service weather data
NOAA Climate at a Glance Data
Smithsonian Collections Online
Movebank – Animal Migration Data
Budburst Plant Phenology Data

The Outdoors
This isn’t closed even with all that is going on right now. Stay socially distant from others and avoid playgrounds, but enjoy the sound of wind blowing through the trees or the energy of running down a trail. That can be more inspiring than even the best classroom experiment!

Well – that’s all for now, but that’s not even the tip of the iceberg of science available for free online. It’s a few crystals inside a tiny bit of ice that sit on the tip of the iceberg!

maria in steam

Happy exploring!


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