Inquiring Minds: Science Magic
By Linda C. Joseph Columbus Public Schools
Library of Congress
[Editor's note: URLs mentioned in this article appear
in the chart below.]
Capture the gas. Build a roller coaster. Experiment
with gooey recipes. Inquiring minds can learn about
science through a variety of hands-on and minds-on
techniques. Structured inquiry relies on an outline
of procedures with activities designed for discovering
relationships and making generalizations about the
data. Guided inquiry allows students to develop procedures
and methods for examining concepts about a specific
problem. Open inquiry challenges students to create
and solve science principles, interpret data, and draw
conclusions. Resources on the Web can supplement the
inquiry lessons in your classroom. Explore these sites
for ideas and activities.
Adventures of Echo the Bat
Echo the bat helps students learn about the electromagnetic
spectrum and remote sensing. The site uses photos,
sketches and imagery to illustrate echolocation and
electromagnetic waves. Follow Echo the bat through
Arizona and do not miss the teacher's area for a multitude
of lesson plans.
Amusement Park Physics
Go to Amusement Park Physics and design a roller
coaster while simultaneously learning about science
principles involved in creating a thrilling yet safe
ride. Select the height of the first hill, the shape
of the hill, the exit path, the height of the second
hill, and if you should include a loop. After making
your selections, test your coaster for safety and fun.
Beetle Science (Cornell University)
Enter a virtual lab filled with multimedia activities.
View images of 3-D beetle specimens, examine biodiversity,
and read an interactive timeline that chronicles efforts
to control these invasive pests. In addition, there
are wonderful illustrations and videos about beetles.
This Web site is part of Explore Cornell, a magazine
dedicated to Cornell University research, instruction
projects, and facilities.
Cool Science for Curious Kids
Create a chrysalis and watch a butterfly hatch. Classify
critters through an interactive quiz, create a 1-inch
window of the world, or mix up some science you can
eat. All of these cool activities and more can be found
on the Howard Hughes Medical Institute site.
Droodles and Memory at Exploratorium
Test your memory by trying to remember the droodles
named with made up words. On a virtual white board,
draw what your remember. Then compare your drawings
with the originals. This activity is only one segment
of a larger exhibit on memory. How does a sheep's brain
compare to a human brain? What is your earliest memory?
Listen to recordings of those who tell stories about
their earliest memories. Look at paintings an artist
has drawn from memory and compare them to the photograph
of the scene. Have your students ponder the secrets
of memory at this engaging site.
EdheadsSimple Machines Activities
Engage your students in hard-to-teach applications
using an interactive Web site. The site encourages
the identification of over 50 different machines, from
very simple to complex. Exploration begins in a typical
cartoon house, where you find examples of simple machines
in each room, such as a lever on a light switch. Discover
complex machines in the tool shed. All of the activities
are connected to national and state standards and promote
critical-thinking skills. These are teacher-tested
and student-approved by schools in central Ohio.
Move your mouse over the pictures to walk through
the base of Mars. See how technology can create a base
station that allows us to explore this neighboring
planet. Take a tour of the base, including the bunks,
galley, and wardroom, to see how scientists and astronauts
would live on Mars. Visit the greenhouse and ride the
robot rover. Review the mission overview and learn
facts about Mars. Would you like to become part of
Fuel Cells and Energy (General Motors)
How might the automobile look if it were driven with
hydrogen power? Would it have any impact on the environment?
GM's technical fusion group explains how fuel cells
impact a vehicle's design. Take an interactive tour
of a hydrogen-powered car, tour a gallery of ideas,
and play an interactive game.
Funderstanding Roller Coaster
Design a roller coaster using the simulator. Decide
on the size for the two hills and determine the speed,
mass, gravity, and friction required to construct a
roller coaster that is safe. The simulator shows the
results and allows for immediate revisions. Pop-up
windows describe science concepts such as acceleration,
centripetal force, energy, g-force, inertia, momentum,
velocity, weight, work, and weightlessness, as well
as information about Sir Isaac Newton. Students can
see how these concepts apply to roller coaster construction.
This is an award-winning science site.
K-8 Aeronautics Internet Textbook
Integrating science with literature is one of the
features on this site that also includes history, atmosphere,
fundamentals, and vehicles of flight. Enjoy the myths
and learn the science principles around aeronautics.
This site comes complete with lesson plans for beginner,
intermediate, and advanced, as well as for Spanish
Play games, solve mysteries, and make decisions to
see if magic really exists. Read the online stories,
create slimy potions, and cast science spells. This
is a great site for problem solving. Children ages
6-12 will be spellbound.
Collect clues from the kitchen to better understand
acids and bases. Then, test various liquids with cabbage
juice to determine whether or not that liquid is an
acid or a base. Add baking soda to launch rockets.
Younger students will enjoy the discovery process as
they explore the nooks and crannies of the kitchen.
Making Sense of Science
Create a chemical reaction by making Martian jelly,
manufacture sticky icky to learn about polymers, use
markers to understand chromatography, and watch mold
grow through a magnifying glass. Don't miss Mr. Molecule
Man and his Amazing Cyber-rific Periodic Table of the
Elements, a great resource for your elementary and
middle school chemistry classes. Rounding out this
site is an extensive science library with news releases
from 2000 to the present.
Science 4 Kids
This USDA government site is a series of stories
for students ages 8-13. Learn how satellites determine
where cows Moo-ve (roam) and why that is important,
how food might be grown in space, why we study frozen
carbon dioxide, and what exactly a SEM photo is. Explore
the concept of GPS (Global Positioning Software) by
answering these questions: Can you really lose a beehive?
Would GPS help find it? How potent is vinegar? Read
all about organic farming and why you might want to
keep vinegar on hand. Create a photo box of a mite,
learn about lichens, and taste some insect delicacies.
This is just a sampling of the myriad of information
on Science 4 Kids.
Science Glop Gloop
This site includes recipes for physics-defying goop
that students can safely produce. Create flubber, glarch,
and slime. Then, let the learning begin with a slime
Olympics. Students will be intrigued with the names
and properties of these interesting glops of gloop.
The Science Spot
For lesson plans, worksheets, daily science trivia,
a puzzle corner, reference desk, ideas on favorite
teaching tips, the nature center, and the power of
technology, the Science Spot is the place to go. Visit
the Earth Day resource page for tips on saving energy,
composting ideas, ecological tips, and much more.
Science Vocabulary Hangman
Select a letter and name the word before Atom Man
decays. Although there is a wealth of science terms
included on this site, teachers can add their own vocabulary
words. The clues are scientific in nature and help
to reinforce knowledge. This site is for all ages.
Two interactive tools are currently available at
Sodaplay, which is a creative study of man vs. machine.
The sodarace robots, created by both humans and artificial
intelligences, race against each other over a variety
of simulated terrains. The idea is to determine how
human creativity measures up against the best machine
intelligence. And then there's sodaconstructor, with
its two modes of operation: construction and simulation.
During the construction mode you create "muscles" with
variables like gravity on or off. During the simulation
phase, you observe how the "creature" moves based on
your decisions during construction.
Web Weather for Kids
Want to become a weather forecaster? Enter the contest
and predict the weather for a day. Among the activities
at this site are making fog in a jar, creating a portable
cloud, observing conduction, producing convection currents,
and simulating a tornado. Learn the ingredients for
weather. Play storm safety, cloud concentration, and
cloud matching. Finally, read severe storm stories
from around the world.
Science Processes of Inquiry
Once you have introduced your students to inquiry-based
learning, you will want them to understand the processes
of science inquiry. Create a packet of cards with the
process on the front and the description or definition
on the back. As students work through the various inquiry
activities, they will be able to identify what science
processes they used.
See these examples from school districts in South
Carolina and Georgia:
Basic Science Process Skills
Science Process Skills
Be sure to visit the MultiMedia Schools home
page [http://www.infotoday.com/MMSchools] with active
links to all of the Web sites mentioned in this article.
Then fly over to CyberBee [http://www.cyberbee.com] for more curriculum ideas, research tools, and activities
to use with your students and staff.
Linda Joseph is the author of Net Curriculum: An Educator's Guide
to Using the Internet, published by CyberAge Books. The recipient of numerous
awards, in addition to her work in the Columbus Public Schools and the Library
of Congress, Linda is a part-time instructor for Ohio State University. Communications
to the author may be addressed to her at Columbus Public Schools, 737 East Hudson
Street, Columbus, OH 43211; 614/365-5277; firstname.lastname@example.org.