The Science Teacher

The monthly magazine of the National Science Teachers Association. Articles cover innovations in science and science teaching methods.

Articles from Vol. 76, No. 9, December

Aerial Surveillance Technology
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Maple tree seeds (or samara fruit) and the spiraling pattern in which they glide to the ground have delighted children for ages and perplexed engineers for decades. Now aerospace engineering graduate students at the University...
Career of the Month: Based on Interviews with Professionals Using Science in the Workplace
Patent Attorney From money-making inventions we think of in the middle of the night to scientific breakthroughs discovered in labs, patents help us protect our original ideas from copycats. With our ideas--legally dubbed intellectual property (IP)--safeguarded,...
Central Limit Theorem
Statistics have been an important part of science since Gregor Mendel used pea plants to study heredity in the 19th century, if not before. Everyday life is filled with statistics--about sports, the stock market, weather, and so on. Understanding rudimentary...
Designer Glowing Molecule
A small molecule designed to detect cyanide in water samples works quickly, is easy to use, and glows under ultraviolet or "black" light. Although the fluorescent molecule is not yet ready for market, its Indiana University Bloomington (IU Bloomington)...
ExploraVision: Extracurricular Research and Development
For the past 13 years, I have used the Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) ExploraVision Awards to structure my school's Extracurricular Research and Development (R&D) teams. The ExploraVision model encourages students to use their...
Fossil Animals
The fossil remains of some of the first animals with shells--ocean-dwelling creatures that measure a few centimeters in length and date to about 520 million years ago--provide a window on evolution at this time, according to scientists. Their research...
Grow Your Own Copper Deposit: Creating and Identifying Copper Crystals in the Classroom
Crystals are beautiful structures--yet they occur naturally in dirty and remote places. In many geology and Earth science classes, students grow crystals from carefully prepared solutions, such as alum and rock candy, but I have found these difficult...
Health Wise: Helping Students Make Healthy Choices
Q I teach biology and anatomy, and the most frequently asked health questions I get deal with sleep deprivation. Could you provide some information on this topic? A Many of us think of sleep as a time when our bodies and minds shut down to rest....
Our Polar Past: Using the History of Polar Exploration in the Science Classroom
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] After spending the winter in frigid Antarctica, expedition leader Douglas Mawson and explorers Belgrave Ninnis and Xavier Mertz set off with dog teams to map the continent's far eastern coastline. Mawson (1915) recalled that...
Science and Engineering
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] The following scenarios describe lab activities commonly performed in high school science classes: * Scenario A: Students studying gravity determine the value of the gravitational constant (g) by dropping balls from various...
Sensory Cell Phones
Your smart phone may soon be able to know not only that you are at the mall, but whether you are in the jewelry store or the shoe store. Duke University computer engineers have made use of standard cell phone features--accelerometers, cameras, and...
Solar Radiation: Harnessing the Power: Using NASA Data to Study Alternative Energy Sources
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Finding real-world scientific data for use in the science classroom can be a challenge. Oftentimes, this data is too complex for students to really use. Although lab exercises do have a place in the classroom, the use of appropriate,...
STEM beyond the Classroom
One of our most important tasks as science educators is to encourage students to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Both our nation and world face increasingly complex and challenging problems that require...
Taking Responsibility for Safety
When studying cell biology, students may do a series of experiments on pH, acids, bases, and buffers from a laboratory manual. One of these labs might deal with the titration of acetic acid and sodium chloride, and have students gently swirl the solution...
Teaching with Laptops: How One Denver School Uses Technology in Physics Classes
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] The declining cost of computers and wireless networks has made laptop programs more affordable than ever. At the same time, the internet resources available to teachers and students have grown exponentially in the 15 years...
Terrapin Turtles
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) researchers who are exploring strategies for conserving the Diamondback terrapin along Alabama's Dauphin Island coastline are working to keep the once-celebrated turtle off the endangered species list. The...
Time-Keeping Brain Neurons
Groups of neurons that precisely keep time have been discovered in the primate brain by a team of researchers that includes Dezhe Jin, assistant professor of physics at Pennsylvania State University and two neuroscientists from the RIKEN Brain Science...
Working Model Hearts: Building Artificial Hearts to Learn about Circulatory System Physiology
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Vertebrate anatomy and physiology--as guides to the structure and function of the human body--seem to capture student interest like no other topic in the life sciences. In my experience, students are fascinated by the circulatory...
Working with Elementary and Middle School Science Teachers
Have you ever seen a fellow high school science teacher throw up his or her hands and say, "What are they teaching kids in elementary- and middle-level science?" Perhaps rather than pointing fingers, we should be working together with these teachers...