Science education bookmarks
13:35 PDT, 8 August 2014
Abe has participated in Science Fairs since 4th grade.
Here are the reports he has written:
We started a Robotics Club at Abe's high school in 2011. The first
project was an remotely-operated underwater vehicle for the MATE
Bay Regional underwater ROV competition.
The second project was to hook up an Arduino microcontroller board to
an Arduino motor
We started a Tech Club at Abe's school for 4th, 5th, and
6th graders in Jan 2007, which continues under another parent even
after we finished with the school.
Family Science Night
I volunteered to run a committee to organize a Family Science Night at
Spring Hill School.
I have put together notes for the committee, with lots of pointers,
I gave a little talk and demonstration of pressure to Abe's
kindergarten class. I had several small activities, but the most
impressive is a soda-bottle water rocket. Here are some plans I wrote
up for the launcher. (PDF format)
(Now available in Spanish).
I started with an in-class circle talking about pressure. I had each
student feel the air pressure against their fingers from a bike pump,
then showed them water shooting out small holes in the side of a
bottle, then had them get in a circle holding hands (the bottle), and
had some of them play the role of water molecules bumping against each
other and the "bottle". After that we went outside to launch the
rockets. During the next week the kids decorated their own rockets
with stickers and markers, and we had another launching where each
child launched his or her own rocket. It was great fun, and the
activities could easily be adapted to older students (by having them
do so actual experiments).
For Fiesta de los Artes at Bay View Elementary School (5 April 2003),
I set up a rocket-decorating table with 5 rocket launchers---it was a
very popular activity. Using colored (and black) vinyl electrical
tape proved to be the most popular decorations, though shiny metallic
paper with adhesive backing was also popular. Lick-and-stick stickers
were not very popular, but 1-cent Kestrel stamps were moderately popular.
I did this project again for Abe's 5th grade class (not including
decorating the rockets), where it was very popular. We spent some
time before the launching discussing Newton's laws and how rockets
worked, and some time afterwards discussing what one could measure
on the rocket launches and how to test various ideas about increasing
the height rockets went to.
For more information about experiments to do with rockets see
Science curricula and standards
- The California Dept of Education Science Framework for
California Public Schools (320 pages).
There is a much shorter overview at http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/scmain.asp.
South Carolina Kindergarten Science Curriculum Standards
- Inquiry-based curriculum supplements from the National Institutes of Health.
As of 11 Aprill 2005 there were six for high-school,
five for middle school, and one for elementary school.
(By July 2007, the middle school list was up to 9, the
others were still 6 and 1.)
- Vail, AZ Science Curriculum
San Marino, CA, First Grade Curriculum
- Troy, MI First Grade Curriculum
- Forest Hills School District - First Grade Curriculum
- Palo Alto Unified School District First Grade Curriculum Summary
- Topic List for Kindergarten Science Curriculum
Books, magazines, and book reviews
- Free Digital Textbook Initiative
- Free digital texts (mainly in science and math), with notes about how
well they allign to the california content standards.
- My current favorite middle-school science book is
Force, Motion, and Energy
published by Science
We've gone through a few chapters of the book together, and
the experiments seem well designed and supportive of learning
the basics of Newtonian mechanics.
Their other text, Introductory
Physical Science, is also supposed to be pretty good.
I have recently gotten a copy of the 8th edition and was a bit disappointed.
The chemistry emphasis is a reasonable complement to the
physics emphasis of F, M, and E, but the writing is poorer. The
investigations have the kids guessing what will happen with no
theory to base the guesses on. There are irrelevant questions
mixed into the first chapter, and the book makes the common
error of "inquiry-based" books of focusing so hard on "what
happens" that they forget to discuss why. For example, in the
first chapter the kids heat up baking soda to get a gas, but
there is no discussion of what the gas is or why heating
baking soda makes it release a gas.
- The William and Mary curriculum is intended for gifted students.
Unfortunately, it is not a stand-alone curriculum: "Our science
curriculum is not really intended to be core science curriculum and is
more of a supplementary program. It is frequently used for enrichment
and extension rather than as a central emphasis."
- Larry Gonick has written several "Cartoon Guide to ..." science
books. They are generally fun to read covering the basic principles,
but not including experiments, questions, ... .
The low-quality paper and binding mean that the books
would have to be replaced frequently. At about $12 a piece, it might be
best to regard them like workbooks, with the students getting their
own copy to keep each year.
- Larry Gonick and Craig Criddle The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry
- Larry Gonick and Art Huffman The Cartoon Guide to Physics.
- Larry Gonick and Mark Wheelis The Cartoon Guide to Genetics
- Larry Gonick and Alice Outwater The Cartoon Guide to the Environment
- Larry Gonick The Cartoon Guide to the Computer
- A href="http://larrygonick.com/html/pub/books/sci6.html">http://larrygonick.com/html/pub/books/sci6.html
- Larry Gonick and Christine DeVault The Cartoon Guide to Sex
- Paul Hewitt's books are published by Addison-Wesley and include
Like most Addison Wesley books, these are rather pricey. (The trade
book is the only one that seems reasonably priced.)
There is also a DVD set, but it is $1200.
- Conceptual Physics 9th edition $106 highschool/college
- Conceptual Physical Science 3rd edition $108 9th grade
- Touch This---Conceptual Physics for Everyone $14.95 (trade)
I've not looked at Hewitt's books yet, but I've seen recommendations
for them in a few places.
- Mahlon Hoagland, Bert Dodson, Judy Hauck. Exploring the Way
Life Works: The Science of Biology is intended as a college-level
biology book for non-majors or high school general biology (not AP).
The language *may* be a bit too difficult for 7th graders---I'll have
to look at it. The cost is $62, but an instructor can request a
review copy. There are instructor's manuals and CD-ROM toolkits.
The book has been getting stellar reviews on Amazon.
- ChemCom® is a chemistry curriculum developed by the American
Chemical Society in the 1980s (first published in 1988).
The text is Chemistry in the Community and is in its fifth ediction.
It is a high-school-level chem course with a somewhat different
coverage than most chem courses (less mathematical theory and more
- an inquiry-based series
- an inquiry-based series
- Event-based Science.
- The magazine Science News now has some of its articles
simplified and presented on the web in a fairly kid-friendly format.
- The weekly e-mail digest ScienceWeek has archives of its
news available for free. One can also subscribe to the newsletter, or
(for free) to a reduced student version. To subscribe to the free
ScienceWeek Student's Edition, send an Email message with "SWSE" as
the subject header to email@example.com
- Looks like a nice set of on-line tutorials on a varity of science
topics. Aimed at 13-year-olds and up, but fairly basic.
- FASEB has a well-written series of articles for the general
public in their "Breakthroughs in Bioscience" series.
- I've not checked this site, but it supposedly has a full AP
- I've not checked this site, but it supposedly has both Physics B
and Physics C AP courses as free online courses. (Calculus AB and BC also.)
- Book review for Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to
Fraud by Robert Park (Oxford University Press, 2000) and
Quantum Leaps in the Wrong Direction by Charles Wynn and Aurthur
Wiggins (Joseph Henry Press, 2001). A detailed review that
explains why everyone should study science---the books look
quite interesting also.
- Reviews by John Hubisz of middle school physical science texts and videos.
- A review of middle-school science texts, by John L. Hubisz.
This detailed review (in 1998) pans all the widely-distributed
middle-school science books.
Web sites for kid's science education
In this section I'll try to collect on-line education material for science.
I'll mainly be looking for 4th grade and up (given when I started
doing the collection), and will be looking for substance, rather than flash.
- Various world almanac-like information displayed by distorting
world maps so that areas of countried matches the relative sizes of
- Movies of bacteria swimming (several different sorts)
"is a resource for students (ages 8-18), their parents, their
teachers and their school counselors."
In addition to various career-guidance sorts of things, there are
a bunch of lesson plans, but I have not looked at them to see whether
they are any good. I looked at the summaries of a few of them, and
they look like good ideas for fun projects, but they would need to be
integrated into a coherent curriculum.
- Haven't looked at this one yet.
- NIH has a bunch of curriculum supplements (mainly at middle-school
level on health issues):
- The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has a number
of free publications. I've looked at "The Structures of Life" and it
seems fairly good (about middle-school level, maybe early high school).
(Older site for ordering paper copies instead of e-pubs:
images and videos, and
- A nanotechnology web site (video) recommended on the TAGPDQ
- Intro to nanotechnology including an applet for playing with nanotubes.
- Another nanotech web site recommended on TAGPDQ. Supposedly has
plenty of pictures and no complicated terminology.
- A collection of science stories in 7 or 8 categories of science.
The stories are "news" stories, and so lack depth, but can
provide interesting factoids.
- This site has lesson plans for physics instruction in the
elementary grades, with suggested grade levels (though the
grade ranges are sometime quite large, like K-12).
We have not tried any of them yet.
- Animations of virtual cells, done in Windows Media. When I tried
to use it (18 Dec 2005), the audio had been compressed with a codec not supported by
Media Player, and the animations were not downloadable, so the overall
value of having the animations on the web was questionable. The
animations themselves looked promising, so if they can fix their
technical problems, this could be a good reasource for learning some
- Howard Huges Medical Institute has put together a web site to
introduce young kids to biology. Simple pages suitable for K-3,
adapted from various childrens' museums.
- This site has some cool biology animations (suitable for
grades 6-12, I think) as well as virtual labs and other stuff.
- Not looked at yet, but supposedly has good info about how various
products are made.
- Gale Rhodes has written some great educational material (his
"Crystallography made Crystal-clear" text is a classic). I have not
looked carefully at this web site, but this tutorial, based on human
opsins seems to be well designed and uses reasonable tools.
- The Society for Amateur Scientists is trying to start a
children's education/social program called LABRats.
Their web site is now in pretty good shape and their founder is
the last author for the famous "Amateur Scientist" column in
Scientific American (which the journal unwisely axed).
They are offering a CD-ROM of the entire run of "Amateur
Scientist" which seems like a pretty good deal.
- This site is dedicated to helping kids win (or, at least,
participate in) science fairs. Lots of project ideas and some hints
on how to do things right. This site is sponsored by the Society for
- self-described as "over 500 fully searchable and well categorized science fair
project ideas, with full instructions and explanations. Currently, over
500,000 students across the USA and Canada are using this totally free
educational resource to search for science fair project ideas."
- Collection of interactive web-based science education
sites, collected by Central Bucks School District in suburbs
of Philadelphia. I've not looked at them yet.
- "Here you will find instructions showing you how to build
scientific equipments from relatively cheap materials."
The instructions for making a working version of Leeuwenhoek's
microscope look pretty good.
- Videos of manufacturing processes. A little heavy on the
advertising info, as would be expected of videos produced by manufacturers.
From the Stanford alumni newsletter:
Ever wonder how jelly beans are made? Or how plastic
food containers get made? Then visit the new Stanford Web site
that shows kids and adults how more than 40 products are
made. The online videos are geared toward both engineers and
non-engineers. Click on ``How Everyday Things Are Made.''
Some very nice microphotographs of fun things (like mosquitos).
- Cool optical illusions
- Web-based games based on identifying chemical elements. Rather boring
and useful only for drill work in elements.
- This on-line one-page tutorial in "what is the human genome
project?" and "what is bioinformatics?" is a nice pointer for someone
who just wants cocktail-party level information, with a few pointers
to other sources. This is more an advertising blurb than anything else.
There are a few assignments that could be used to scare kids, since
they ask questions with large vocabular that is not explained
elsewhere on the site (for example, the first question of assignment 1
asks " What do you think is the most probable inheritance pattern for
the deafness allele in this family?
without having previously defined any of those terms.
It is not clear who (if anyone) is the target audience for this site.
- A. Autosomal dominant allele
- B. Autosomal recessive allele
- C. X-linked allele
- D. Y-linked allele "
Stores and suppliers
I get no kickback from these stores, but I have found their catalogs
to be fun to read and have ordered successfully from all of them.
The paper catalogs tend to be better resources for browsing than the
http://www.scientificsonline.com Edmund Scientific
- I grew up drooling over the Edmund Scientific's catalogs and
they are still good (though it seems to me they have less
labware and small items, and more big-ticket stuff than they used to).
Still it is a good place to get a variety of different things,
much of it useful for science education.
- Forget the consumerist lego web sites and catalogs---this one is the branch
of Pitsco and Lego that has their classroom sets and
educational stuff. The prices for the Lego products are still
very high, but they have a much better selection of things to
build with here (rather than the throwaway builds-one-thing
kits that the commercial lego has devolved to). They also
have lego parts that are difficult to find elsewhere (like
shock absorbers or the air tank for their pneumatic system).
Pitsco also has a great line of "engineering" toys and projects:
mousetrap cars, solar cars, matchstick bridges, ... .
- I was very sad many years ago when Heathkit went out of
business---how would future generations of electrical engineers
get their start? Ramsey Electronics seems to have filled the void very nicely.
I have bought two of their projects for my almost 8-year-old son
(an "entry-level" electric bell kit and a 130-in-1 electronic lab).
The electric bell kit was not well made or designed. The hole
in the lug for the adjusting screw was too small and had to be
drilled larger, and the various parts are not firmly held in place
when the bell is assembled so the bell will fall apart if shaken
too hard or turned upside down. The parts are so loosely held in
place that the hammer needs constant readjustment for the bell to
ring at all. It was ok for a $7 kit, but I'd have preferred to pay
$9 and get something that worked more reliably with less adult
The $35 130-in-1 Electronics Lab, on the other hand, seems to
be quite a good design, and the book of instructions that comes
with it is well written, suggesting several ways that a child (or
adult) can try modifying each circuit. The spring terminals are
easy for a child to use and hold wires securely. My son has no
trouble following the wiring instructions in each experiment by
himself (he did the first one with me, and the next two by
himself). The selection of components on the board is a good one,
with several standard analog parts (resistors, capacitors, diodes,
transistors, loud speaker, transformer, ...) and a few digitial
ones. This is not the best kit for learning digital electronics,
but it looks like value for money for analog circuit play.
(Target age of the text and circuits seems to be 12-18-year-olds.)
- This company also sells a lot of kits, mainly electronic but
also mechanical (fuel cell car, robots, ...).
- A recommendation I've heard for the best chemistry sets are the
Thames and Kosmos sets. I have not had direct experience with them.
- Nasco is a school-supply company with several excellent
catalogs that include school materials that are often hard to
find. We have enjoyed the Arts and Crafts catlog and the Science
- A listing of high schools that specialize in math,
science, and technology. (No idea whether the schools are any
*good*, just that they specialize.)
- The Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University, in
conjunction with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, offers a variety of
programs for high school biology teachers and their students.
These programs are all Boston-based, not on-line.
- This site has the complete songs of a 6-LP set of science
records produced in the late 1950s to early 1960s. It includes
the original version of "Why Does the Sun Shine?" which has more
recently been made popular by "They Might Be Giants".
- IEEE has collected (and is collecting) oral histories from
- Welcome to the ASEE EngineeringK12 Center
- I have judged at the Santa Cruz County Science Fair for many years.
In recent years it has been getting bigger and the projects have
been getting better---Santa Cruz sends more projects to the state
Science Fair than would be expected based on our population.
- The Seymour Center at the Long Marine Laboratories in Santa
Cruz is the closest science museum to us (2.8 miles away).
Although small, they do have a good touch tank, knowledgeable
docents, and a good summer children's program.
- The Association of Science-Technology Centers is a group
of science and technology museums who allow each other's
members free admission. There is a long list of museums, and
if you travel much, it might be a very good idea to become a
member of one of the museums.
- Outdoor Science Exploration---a Santa Cruz County couple
that do informal science education at First Night, in one-day
"adventures", at birthday parties ($90/hour + $3/student), in classrooms, ... .
- Why ants are not super strong. Scaling laws for strength.
- National Association of Biology Teachers. They have a short
list of resources that may be useful.
- aera-k: kindergarten science ideas
- PENNlincs: Early Elementary Science
- StudyWeb: Professional Development:Teaching Resources:Collaborative Activities:Kindergarten:Science
- kindergarten science - books, links and much more
- Supposedly has some showy demonstrations.
A not-for-profit organization devoted to improvement of teaching
of math and science.
- The Green Frog News is a resource center for the
Hohokam Resource Conservation and Development Area, Inc.
The "Simon's Magic Lunchbox" section has a lot of simple experiments
to do, mainly as links to other sites. There are some formatting
problems with the tables, resulting in overly long pages, so this is
not a site to print.
- This is from the
West Genesee Teachers' Association, of West Genesee School District, Camillus, NY 13031.
There are 10 annotated lists of web sites for
astronomy, biology, chemistry, dinoaurs, Earth science,
general sciences, meteorology, physics, science education, and
science fairs. The lists seem to be pretty good, with
useful annotation, but this is a meta-list sort of place, so
you'll be clicking down a few levels before you get to web
reources with actual content.
Not visited yet
- Claimed to be "A collection of on-line games to help your
students learn about the elements and the periodic
table. Includes element flash cards, hangman, matching and
crossword puzzles. Find these, as well as other math and
- Claimed: "internet resource link for the space science studies
teacher. ... This is a neat resource you can use with your class. It allows
students to get a better understanding of satellites and their orbits.
The part most students enjoy is visually sighting satellites and
knowing what they are. Use the J-Pass feature to put in your latitude
and longitude, or just use your zip code, and it will give you a list
of satellites visible in your area. It will provide the time of when
the satellite will rise, set, azimuths for both as well as a printable
"sky map" to help your students locate them. It's very easy and the
students will know when to look, where to look and what they are
- I haven't looked at this one yet.
Claimed: "Out of This World is the Web's most comprehensive site for
middle-school science students. With over 1,000 science and space
related content pages, streaming audio and video, this award-winning
site has lab activities, quizzes, self-paced in-service, links to
resource sites, and tech support."
- example tests from Virginia's state-wide tests in math and science:
- Grade 3 Math and Science
- Grade 5 Math, Science and Technology
- Grade 8 Math, Science and Technology
- Algebra I
- Algebra II
- Earth Science
- Not visited yet.
- Basic science for kids, childrens science projects & experiments
- PENNlincs: Early Elementary Science
- CoachLab Probeware for Science, Math and Technology Educators
- Science and technology education from Flying Turtle Exploring
- A collection of anecdotes about famous mathematicians and scientists.
- A nice poster (available free as PDF or can be ordered already
printed) of the electromagnetic spectrum.
- Animal Migrations website (not visited yet)
NASA Spaceplace for kids
- (not visited yet)
Bizarre Stuff You Can Make in Your Kitchen
- Supposedly easy, fun science experiments for home or school.
(not visited yet)
Science Toys to make with Kids
(not visited yet)
Questions about page content should be directed to
University of California, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
318 Physical Sciences Building