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:
This project is suitable for students in grades 612. 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.
Below the Belt: Close Encounters of the Asteroid Kind
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
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
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.
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
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
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?
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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NATIONAL STANDARDS CORRELATIONS
This project aids students in meeting national standards in several curriculum areas.Science
National Academies of Science
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
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
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.
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.
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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