Share it! Science : August 2016

10 Back-to-School Science Teaching Resources

It's back to school time! There is nothing like the excitement and chaos of the first few days of a new school year for a teacher. I was always excited to begin the year with a few new ideas to add into my old favorites. Here are 10 resources and teaching ideas to add to your toolbox for this school year!

Mystery Science
Is this your first time teaching science? Or, have you taught science, but want some new lesson or unit ideas? Mystery Science is an "open and go" science curriculum for elementary aged students. Each lesson includes videos, discussions and an activity. You might even be eligible to get a FREE trial membership for the year. These are available to teachers and homeschool families.

Learn more by watching the guided tour of a lesson here. 
How to Smile is a fabulous website to have at your fingertips when searching for a new, engaging activity. Search through a collection of the best science and math activities from museums, universities and other educational organizations. How to Smile is a project of the National Science Foundation and the University of California Berkley's Lawrence Hall of Science.

I have used this site frequently and highly recommend it, the lessons and activities have been vetted for you through a reputable education program. It's much more productive than a Google search in terms of finding what you want quickly!
Ask Dr. Universe 
Have a burning science question you need answered? Visit the Washington State University's Ask Dr. Universe page. Dr. Universe is a very scientific cat that answers questions submitted by you in an understandable way. Use this page to find the answers to interesting questions, have students learn new facts and as a place to ask things you aren't 100% sure about.

With Dr. Universe it's easy to create a classroom culture where researching and asking questions is the best way to find out what you need to know.


NSTA Forums
Becoming a member of the National Science Teacher's Association (NSTA) has essentially an infinity of benefits. In my opinion, one of the most beneficial perks of an NSTA membership is the ability to take part in the community forums. This is a place where teachers can present challenges they are having, ask for resources, share resources and pose thought-provoking questions.

In your school, or homeschool, you may not have a wide range of people who specialize in science education to bounce ideas off of, or to ask questions. The forums are great because these are educators just like you, sharing the collective intelligence of a huge community of like minded people.

I'm certainly not being compensated by NSTA to refer new members, but I would highly recommend you look into this as a resource. You might even be able to convince your school to provide you with professional development funds to do so. You won't regret it!
Letters to a Pre-Scientist
Introduce your students to real-world science through the Letters to a Pre-Scientist program. Through this program, classrooms are connected with professional scientists. Students and scientists exchange letters throughout the year. This is an awesome way to introduce your kids to what a scientist actually does. Science goes beyond beakers and lab coats!

This is a growing program, and they are working to accommodate as many classrooms as possible.  If Letters to a Pre-Scientist is not available to you, consider contacting your local college or university to see if there are professors, researchers, or graduate students who might be willing to exchange letters with your students.

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Picture-Perfect Science
If you teach elementary science, this is a must-have book series. Standards linked lessons use children's books as a focal point. The hands-on inquiry based activities are great, and the lessons are laid out in a way that accommodates veteran teachers and rookies alike. To read a review and get a sense of a sample lesson, check out my post: "Flight of the Pollinators: A Picture-Perfect Science Lesson"

Twitter for STEM Educators 
You might be a Twitter fanatic, or you might be avoiding the social media craze. If you know the right places to look, Twitter can be an excellent resource for science teachers. Scientists, researchers, astronauts and writers share all sorts of interesting and current information on their feeds.

You can skip the pop culture and celebrity gossip and stack your twitter feed with science! Explore this list of 50 Essential Twitter Feeds for STEM Educators to get you started.
DOGOnews Science
DOGOnews is a kid's news website. Used by schools internationally, it offers current events in a kid-friendly way. Articles are written with classrooms in mind, from highlighted vocabulary to comprehension and discussion questions.

I strongly believe that to really engage students in science you need to provide some real-world context for them. Integrating current science news into the curriculum is one way to do that. Peruse current science news on DOGO here.
Looking for some enrichment, or a way to fill in those moments when your highest achievers are looking for something extra to do? Get involved with citizen science on Zooniverse.

From identifying penguins to looking for objects in space, there are dozens of projects that a student can participate in, just a few minutes at a time. Set up a computer or tablet with Zooniverse and have kids who need a little something extra lend a hand to science.
Here are some other posts that you might find inspiring as you plan your school year:

Exploring Catapults with Groovy Lab in a Box

You've probably heard me mention the awesome STEM and STEAM activity subscription service from Groovy Lab in a Box before, but did you know that you can also purchase these fun kits by individual box as well as subscription?

This post contains affiliate links, see disclosures for more information. 

The latest single box available is "Out to Launch" and is a chance for some catapult engineering and experimenting fun. Inside the box your kiddo will find the following engineering challenge and the supplies necessary to complete it:

Engineering Design Challenge: The Maker Faire is coming to a town near you! Can you design and build the grooviest looking catapult that launches a projectile the farthest distance?

As always, the "Out to Launch" box will have a groovy Lab Notebook where your kids can read about the investigations and Engineering Design Challenge. Plus, all subscribers get access to the a Box web portal for additional groovy learning and STEM fun.

Single boxes from Groovy Lab in a Box sell out very quickly, so if your kids are nuts about catapults, be sure to act fast!

For even more catapult fun, check out the catapult painting activity I've included in my Family STEAM Night post!  

STEAM science activities

The Perseids: The Best Meteor Shower to View with Kids

It's that time of the summer again! Each August Earth passes through a field of debris that causes what we call the Perseid meteor shower. This is one of the best to try and experience with children as the weather is generally more pleasant for stargazing.

In 2016, the peak viewing nights for the shower are August 11th and 12th, with the potential of up to 200 meteors per hour! 

Read more about the Perseid meteor shower, find resources for stargazing with children and more in my post from last summer: Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower. 

You'll also find more details about the shower at

Happy Stargazing! 


Let the Games Begin! Olympic and Sport Science

We love the Olympics! In honor of the start of the summer games, here are some ways to investigate the science of sports! Will power, perseverance and hard work make an athlete, but behind each sport and even the clothing worn to compete, there is a lot of science. Dig into these lessons and activities to experience the games at home, camp or school.

This post contains affiliate links, see disclosure for more details. 

Science Netlinks is always a great resource for excellent science activities, web resources and lesson plans. Check out the plethora of Olympic resources here: Science Netlinks- Reaching for Olympic Glory

You'll find two easy science experiments here from Home Training Tools- the science of spinning and reaction time.

NBC teamed up with the National Science Foundation to produce an excellent series of videos about Olympic sport science. I've used them in my science classes and students really enjoy them- I always learn something too! Check the videos out here.

For a few more science experiments, visit science guru Steve Spangler's website for "How Science Changed the Olympics". 

More Steve Spangler Olympic Science in this video clip:

Save 40% Off Your First Box at Steve Spangler Science

Amazon has a collection of Olympic Science books available for various summer Olympic sports.

For a ton of other great science activities and lessons about the Olympics and Sports, follow my Sport Science board on Pinterest!

Nocturnal Animals and Light Pollution from Growing With Science Blog

We are wrapping up the Spectacular Summer Science Series this week with another great post from Growing with Science. Check out some great activities for kids here: "Spectacular Summer Science: Nocturnal Animals and Light Pollution". With the warmer weather, summer is a wonderful time to explore night-time science!

For other great summer science ideas, check out the other posts in this series and follow my Pinterest board- Summer Science!

Excited to do more science this summer? This is just one post in the Spectacular Summer Science Series! Sign up to get Share it! Science News posts by e-mail so you don't miss out on any science news or learning activities!

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