Teacher's Guide
Project Description
Assessment and Rubric
Learning Objectives
Project Components
National Standards Correlations
Lesson Planning Suggestions
Cross-Curricular Extensions

Project Description
Scholastic presents seven interactive Web sites from MSBNC that take students on a journey of science, from the inner structure of a single strand of DNA to the planetary systems of distant stars only recently discovered by astronomers.

Each interactive features concise, informative text supported by easy-to-navigate maps, diagrams, and animated models that visualize for students what might otherwise be obscure scientific theory. Incorporated into your class studies, these interactives are certain to provide students with a greater knowledge and understanding of a variety of subjects in the science curriculum.

The Science Interactives homepage is divided into two areas:
  • Space
  • Science and Technology
Sites listed in the Space area of the page focus on astronomical phenomena, while those listed under Science and Technology concentrate on advances in science and the effects they have on both our lives and the world in which we live.

This project is suitable for students in grades 6–12. See Lesson Planning Suggestions below for a prescribed plan on using Science Interactives with your students.

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Several assessment components are embedded in this lesson plan. Targeted skills are listed in the Learning Objectives. An assessment Rubric assesses student proficiency with the Science Interactives project.

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Scholastic's Science Interactives are designed to support the teaching of standards-based skills. Depending on how much time students spend in the course of participating in Science Interactives, students will:
  • Evaluate information and draw conclusions.
  • Compare scientific methods and consider how each method produces its result.
  • Trace the path of scientific inquiry that leads to and from a hypothesis.
  • Analyze the definition of asteroids and extrasolar planets, and understand the science behind their movement and origins in space.
  • Compare science to popular myth in a discussion of how both have influenced our understanding of the planet Mars.
  • Use Web technology and informational resources to expand knowledge and understanding of science.
  • Conduct research by gathering information from a variety of Web-based materials.
  • Consider how technology affects our world and our daily lives by studying specific examples of wireless technology uses in the home.
  • Evaluate different regions of the globe to discover which is most likely to experience an earthquake and why.
  • Investigate the methods scientists use to map out a genetic code.

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Below the Belt: Close Encounters of the Asteroid Kind
Grades 6–8
Before starting a unit on space, hook your students with the possibility of a huge asteroid in space colliding with the earth. Is it the stuff of science fiction, or do scientists actually consider this threat likely? Students learn what scientists know about asteroids — where they come from, how they move across space, and how very close they sometimes come to our own planet. What other possible dangers, if any, threaten us from outer space?

The Search for Extrasolar Planets
Grades 9–11
When studying the solar system and planets, enhance your curriculum with this interactive in which students evaluate the most recent findings from scientists in search for planets outside our own solar system. A virtual planetarium allows students to navigate across Earth's nighttime skies and compare the location of recently discovered extrasolar planets with the positions of familiar star constellations.

Explore Planet Mars
Grades 6–9
Capture your students' imagination with life on Mars. Ask them: what is the relation of science to popular myth? For hundreds of years, the question of the possibility of life on Mars is one that has produced answers from both sides. Students join this debate as they look though historic maps and illustrations to trace how advancements in space technology and exploration have dramatically shifted our perceptions of our nearest planetary neighbor.

Solar Eclipse
Grades 6–9
When studying the sun and the moon, ask your students if they have ever seen a solar eclipse. How would the same eclipse look from two different regions of the globe? Students find answers to this question and others as they collect facts about the earth's orbit and its relation to the moon and the sun. Animated diagrams depict different types of lunar shadows and allow students to compare multiple perspectives of the same solar eclipse from varying points on the earth's surface.

Science and Technology

A Wireless Home of the Future
Grades 6–10
When starting a unit on technology, have students think about how technology has improved in their lifetime or their parents' lifetimes. This interactive features a tour of the high-tech home of the future where computers, appliances, and communication devices are all linked on the same wireless network. Students analyze how advances in technology affect our daily lives as they are introduced to Bluetooth and satellite technologies and how either will work in the home. Are the effects of such advances always for the better? Students can decide for themselves.

Anatomy of an Earthquake
Grades 6–9
Start your unit on earthquakes by introducing your students to the causes of these earth-shattering events. This interactive allows students to investigate the geologic causes and effects of earthquakes. An interactive map details the specific regions of our planet where earthquakes are most likely to occur. And what does an earthquake look like? Students can study an animated cross-section of the earth's interior to see how shifting plates and other geologic events can set off earthquakes on land and at sea.

What's in Your DNA?
Grades 10–12
When studying human biology, nothing gets more basic than human DNA. Students take part in the scientific study of a single strand of DNA. What are the basic components of human DNA? And how are those components passed from one generation to the next? In this interactive, students follow the process used by scientists to decipher a cell's genetic code. Students learn how scientists identify chromosome "markers" and then compare the methods used in tracing those markers through maternal and paternal ancestry.

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This project aids students in meeting national standards in several curriculum areas.


National Academies of Science
  • Students should develop abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry.
  • Students should develop understandings about scientific inquiry.
Students should also develop an understanding of each of the following:
  • Molecular basis of heredity
  • Energy in the earth system
  • Geochemical cycles
  • Origin and evolution of the earth and planetary system
  • Abilities of technological design
  • Understandings about science and technology
  • Natural and human-induced hazards
  • Science and technology in local, national, and global challenges
  • Science as a human endeavor
  • Nature of scientific knowledge
  • Historical perspectives

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
  • Students demonstrate a sound understanding of the nature and operation of technology systems.
  • Students are proficient in the use of technology.
  • Students practice responsible use of technology systems, information, and software.
  • Students develop positive attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity.
  • Students use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity.
  • Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
  • Students use technology tools to process data and report results.
  • Students evaluate and select new information resources and technological innovations based on the appropriateness for specific tasks.
Reading/Language Arts

National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

  • Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and to acquire new information to meet the needs and demands of society.
  • Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions.
  • Students use a variety of technological and informational resources (libraries, databases, computer networks) to gather and synthesize information in order to create and communicate knowledge.

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If you have one day:

The Science Interactives are intended to enhance your science curriculum. You can therefore follow the same general lesson plan for each of the interactives featured:

Introduce the subject of your lesson and explain to students that they will be exploring a certain interactive that is related to your lesson.

Direct students through the interactive with guided questions. A few examples:

Below the Belt: Close Encounters of the Asteroid Kind
  • Is it possible that an asteroid will hit the Earth? Explain why or why not.
The Search for Extrasolar Planets
  • How do scientists study and hypothesize about planets outside of our solar system?
Explore Planet Mars
  • Make a list of the myths and the realities of life on Mars.
Solar Eclipse
  • How would a solar eclipse look like if you were in another hemisphere?
A Wireless Home of the Future
  • As you go through the interactive, think about past inventions and how they changed our homes.
Anatomy of an Earthquake
  • What are the geological processes that need to happen for an earthquake to exist?
What Is Your DNA?
  • What are the basic components of DNA? Why is DNA important?
Once the students have completed the interactive, regroup as a class and have a discussion on what they learned. Have students present their answers to their guided questions. Continue the discussion by asking students for examples of how scientists make observations and draw conclusions as they seek to prove or disprove scientific theories. What discoveries have scientists made about our world and the universe? How do those affect us in our daily lives? Encourage students to examine the technology at use in modern scientific inquiry.

If you have one to three days:

To extend this lesson, assign students different interactives either as individuals or in small groups. Direct them with guided questions and have them discuss the results within their small groups. Then return to the larger class and have each group present the interactive and their findings to the entire class.

If you have one to five days:

Introduce the interactive in the format above for the first day. To extend the project, use the interactive as the basis for a research assignment or oral report.

Either assign, or have students select, a particular facet or detail featured in an interactive — for example, a recently discovered extrasolar planetary system, or what geologic phenomenon occurs to set off an earthquake at sea.

Scholastic.com's The Moon and the Sun Research Starter can help as a resource for the space interactives. Students can then use the library and the Internet to collect additional information on their subject, which they then write up in essay form.

If students are presenting an oral report to the class, have them use presentation software like PowerPoint to create their own models or diagrams based on the interactive.

You can use both written and oral presentations as the basis for a class debate — for example, one question you might address is: Do the many advances in technology that we see today improve or diminish our lives?

If you have longer:

If you have more time, have students go through all of the Science Interactives using the lesson plan above. As students complete each interactive, encourage them to look for common themes on scientific observation and deduction. Have them analyze and discuss how scientists use many subjects like math, physics, and chemistry, whether their focus is on space, earth sciences, or biology.

As a final project, students can present a book of their research papers on each of the interactive subjects.

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From Jules Verne to Ray Bradbury and beyond, science fiction has always been as much about human perceptions and foibles in the present day as it has been about the future. Assign students to read a science fiction story or novel. Encourage them to look for examples of scientific theory or uses of fanciful technology. Then have them research either the theory or the technology to discover just how much of the science fiction is grounded in science fact. They can write their findings in a brief essay or present them orally to the class.

Design/Patent Law
No matter how simple or complicated, mechanical inventions for use in the home require a U.S. Patent. Guide students through the patent process by visiting the Web site of the United State Patent and Trademark Office (http://www.uspto.gov). Have students examine the diagrams and text of recently granted patents (http://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/patog/week10/OG/ GMUtility.htm). Then encourage them to come up with a patent of their own. What is the function of their potential patent, and how will it serve our daily lives? How practical is their potential patent? How useful? Have students create their own diagrams, along with accompanying text. Once finished, they will have to successfully present them to a jury of their classmates in order for their patent to be awarded.

From the destruction of ancient Pompeii to recent earthquakes in California, history is full of examples of destruction brought on by dramatic geologic events. Have students choose a particular event to research for either a written or oral presentation. What happened and how did the population of the time survive the event? Encourage students to consider what was understood by scientists at the time of the event and how, if at all, that understanding was used in a practical way to save lives or thwart complete destruction. Were buildings earthquake proof? Were builders even aware of fault lines?

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Science Collection
Includes these books:

  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Earthquakes and Volcanoes
  • The First Woman Doctor
  • Incredible Inventions
  • Inventors From da Vinci to Biro
  • Life in the Deserts
  • Life in the Rainforests
  • Mysteries
  • Marvels of Insect Life
  • Tornadoes!
  • The Universe

Grades 4–6
Paperback collections
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by Tom Conklin
Students can learn about earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the Johnstown Flood, hurricanes, and other real-life disasters with this complete resource.

Includes background information, read-aloud plays, mapping activities, writing prompts, and more.
Grades 4–8
Paperback, 80 pp.
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by Seymour Simon
From dip slips to tsunamis, from seismographs to sand boils, award-winning science writer Seymour Simon examines the myriad mysteries surrounding earthquakes. Why do they happen? Why are they more frequent in certain areas? What can people do to protect themselves and their property? Simon combines a detailed, clear text with astounding photographs to provide some surprising answers. "A visually outstanding book." —School Library Journal.
Grades K–3
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The Solar System: An A–Z Guide
by Christina Wilson
Filled with more than 120 photographs and NASA illustrations, this survey of the solar system will help students understand the rich diversity of space. Organized in and A–Z format, a departure from other books on this subject, the 100-plus entries range from the Apollo missions to John Glenn to lunar eclipses to solar nebulae.
Grades 4–6
Paperback, 96 pp.
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For more science resources for all grades and topics, shop the Teacher Store.

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