FREE Resources: Science

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 science; in other months, we feature other subject areas. You can search our site for the word FREE to find them.

Exploring the Moon
is a teacher's guide for learning about lunar geology, distance to the moon, Apollo landing sites, and life support systems. Lessons focus on calculating the distance between scale models of earth and the moon, designing a spacecraft for travel to and from the moon, the geology of the six Apollo landing sites, and calculating the diameter of the moon using proportions. (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Global Warming Debate
discusses global warming, policy struggles to address it, international efforts, the cap-and-trade system, and more. Interactive features show how much CO2 different cars produce and how populations around the world may have to adapt to climate changes in 100 years. (NewsHour, National Science Foundation)

Mars Exploration Rovers
tells the story of Spirit and Opportunity, two rovers that are investigating the hills and craters of Mars. See an animation of Spirit's journey from launch pad to Mars. Learn about its instruments. See a slide show of the most detailed images of Mars' surface ever captured. A lesson on the distance and relative size of other planets is included. (NewsHour, National Science Foundation)

Search for Ancestors
looks at the history of the double helix, the science behind DNA test kits for people who want to learn more about their ancestry, an interactive map of human migration over 200,000 years, DNA analysis tracing African-American lineage, and how mutations found in DNA can unlock the past. (Online NewsHour, National Science Foundation)

Biodiversity Counts
helps teachers get middle school students out into their own backyards to gather and identify plants and arthropods (spiders, insects, and more). Lesson plans, essays, and interactives focus on dozens of topics: how to capture arthropods, mount dried plants, make a net, keep a field journal, set up guest quarters for visiting arthropods, establish rules for field trips, and find local specialists. (American Museum of Natural History, National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Biodiversity: It Takes All Kinds to Make a World
invites elementary students to explore biodiversity in a city park, on an island, and in a desert. Learn about 10 species whose habitats are in danger, a conservation project in Africa, and where in the world various foods we eat come from. (American Museum of Natural History, National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Bioed Online
features lessons on the water cycle and global warming, the X chromosome, sleep and daily rhythms, muscles and bones, and food and fitness. Experts offer presentations (streaming videos) on classification, cloning, viruses, infectious diseases, animal behavior, Mendelian genetics, genomes, sleep and performance, body systems, childhood obesity, asthma, ecosystems, populations, nutrition and energy, and more. Articles discuss biology news — stem cells, bird flu, and more. (Baylor College of Medicine, Multiple Agencies)

DNA Microarray
is a "virtual lab" of a DNA microarray experiment. Compare samples of healthy tissue and cancerous tissue as a scientist would. Learn the basics about DNA and gene expression. (Genetic Science Learning Center, National Institutes of Health)

dissects a sheep brain to show us "the anatomy of memory." See works of an artist who paints entirely from memory. (Compare his paintings to photos of places.) Play interactive games that test your memory — learn ways to improve it. Discover why some things are easier to remember than others (droodles game). Which facial features help us remember a face? Which image of the penny is correct? Try a mnemonic device called "elaborative encoding." (Multiple Agencies)

Science of Healthy Behaviors
introduces middle school students to the scientific study of behavior. Lessons focus on defining "behavior," what influences it, surveys, and behavioral specialists in health care settings. In role-playing activities as behavioral therapists, students investigate the influences and consequences of behaviors. They also learn how science provides evidence that can be used to understand and treat human disease. (National Institutes of Health)

Science of Mental Illness
provides six lessons that help students understand what mental illnesses are. PET images show changes in the brain and how treatment can change activity levels and restore functioning. Case studies and other activities explore differences among illnesses, risk factors, and treatment plan goals. Students develop a brochure to inform people about mental illness. (National Institutes of Health)

USGS Publications
offers 40 online booklets on geology-related topics: acid rain, birth of mountains, building stones of our nation's capital, changing continents, collecting rocks, deserts, earth's interior, earthquakes, fossils, gemstones, geologic history of Cape Cod, geologic time, glaciers, gold, the Ice Age, San Andreas fault, and volcanoes. (U.S. Geological Survey)