FREE Resources in the Sciences

from Educators' eZine

More than 30 Federal agencies formed a working group in 1997 to make hundreds of federally supported teaching and learning resources easier to find. The result of that work is the FREE web site. FREE stands for Federal Resources for Educational Excellence. The web sites listed below are excerpted with permission from the FREE web site. This month, we highlight web sites for various sciences; in other months, we feature other subject areas. You can search our site for the word FREE to find them.

introduces students to life science careers. It is set in a virtual university and uses games, experiments, and simulations to show jobs at a range of locations—a nurse's station, ambulance bay, diagnostic lab, pathology lab, radiology department, pharmacy, physical therapy room, dentist's office, and more. Watch videos of professionals describing what they do. Play the ambulance maze game. (IPIC, Department of Labor)

Computing Life
looks at ways physicists, biologists, and even artists are harnessing the power of computers to advance our understanding of biology and human health. Learn how computers are used to simulate the spread of flu through a school, the movement of cells in our bodies, and the beating of a heart. Find out how computers help in the search for gene variations that could lead to disease. (National Institutes of Health)

K-12 Energy Lesson Plans and Activities
offers 350 lessons on energy efficiency and renewable energy. They're organized by grade level and topic—biomass, geothermal, fuel cells, ocean energy, solar power, transportation fuels, wind energy, and energy efficiency and conservation. Learn about passive solar buildings, advanced photovoltaics, or basic wind turbines. Take an energy awareness quiz. Estimate your carbon footprint; find ways to reduce it. (Department of Energy)

Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure Movie provides photos and video clips from this movie about creatures that roamed the seas 82 million years ago. Discover sea monsters of the past and present using the interactive time line. Excavate fossils on a "virtual dig." See a video on how to survive a shark attack. (National Geographic, National Science Foundation)

Space Food and Nutrition Educator Guide
looks at the history of preparing and packaging foods that taste good, provide necessary nutrients, and travel well in space. The guide includes math and science activities in which students (K-8) classify space food, ripen fruits and vegetables using a chemical inhibitive, measure food packaging, determine the percentage of water reduction by dehydrating fresh food items, and plan a nutritionally balanced 5-day menu for astronauts. (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Suited for Spacewalking Educator Guide
examines the technology behind space suits. Students learn about the environment of space, the history of spacewalking, NASA's current space suit, future space suits, and work that astronauts do during spacewalks. Students (grades 5-12) are challenged to design and build a protective garment that will permit future space travelers to explore the surface of Mars. (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Voyages Through Time
is a year-long integrated science curriculum for 9th or 10th grade based on the theme of evolution. It is presented in six modules: cosmic evolution, planetary evolution, origin of life, evolution of Life, hominid evolution, and evolution of technology. Individual modules can be used in discipline-based science courses such as biology, earth science, geology, or astronomy. (Learning in Motion, National Science Foundation)

Planetary Photojournal
is a photo album of the universe. See images of the planets. Look through the Hubble telescope at nebulae far beyond our galaxy. Watch a video of the Mars rovers, or catch up on news about space surveillance technology. Use the solar system simulator to view celestial bodies from various perspectives: from above or below, from an orbiting spacecraft, or from another planet. (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Understanding Alcohol: Investigations into Biology and Behavior
provides simulations, videos, and lessons on the pharmacokinetics of alcohol, the biological and behavioral effects of alcohol, youth and alcohol, the consequences of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Lessons focus on body type and a person's response to alcohol, factors that influence alcohol use and abuse, calculation of blood alcohol concentrations, and more. Discover how different doses affect the activity of mice. Experience a simulation of driving while intoxicated. (National Institutes of Health)

Brain: Our Sense of Self
helps middle school students understand basic scientific principles related to the brain and nervous system. Five lessons examine the structure and specialized regions of the brain, its diverse functions, how the body receives and delivers information through the nervous system, factors that affect learning, and our sense of self. Interactive web activities are included. (National Institutes of Health)

Materials World Modules Program
presents interdisciplinary modules on topics in materials science—composites, ceramics, concrete, biosensors, biodegradable materials, smart sensors, polymers, food packaging, and sports materials. Modules are inquiry based and hands-on. They incorporate concepts from chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics. (Northwestern University, National Science Foundation)