The Science Teacher

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

Articles from Vol. 79, No. 9, December

Be Your Own Groundhog: By Analyzing Data Collected at Citizen-Science Websites, Students Can Test Predictions about the Arrival of Spring
Each year during my childhood in the Pennsylvania hills, we anxiously awaited Punxsutawney Phil to emerge from his burrow on February 2, Ground-hog Day. If the weather was cloudy, according to folklore, spring would come early. If it was sunny out,...
Career of the Month
Work overview. When detectives find skeletal materials, they consult a forensic anthropologist. Sometimes they'll use a local anthropologist; other times they send the material to the FBI lab, where I examine it. I start by doing a gross morphological...
Citizen Science in the National Parks
Citizen science is coming to the national parks. The National Science Foundation has awarded $250,000 to the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (MDIBL), the National Park Service (NPS), and the Schoodic Education and Research Center Institute...
Citizen Science in Your Own Backyard: Building a Generation of Scientists through Entomology
When does a scientific mentality begin, and why? Vertebrate paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope (1840-1897), known for Cope's Rule-that organisms of a species tend to get larger over time-recorded observations of Ichthyosaurus, an extinct marine reptile,...
Communities, Cameras, and Conservation: A Citizen Science Project in Colorado Collects Data on Mountain Lions
Communities, Cameras, and Conservation (CCC) is the most exciting and valuable program I've seen in my 30 years of teaching field science courses. In this citizen science project, students and community volunteers collect data on mountain lions (Puma...
Dangers in a Dish
"Okay, students, today's assignment is to survey our school for microorganisms. Take these nutrient agar petri plates and gather samples in the restroom stalls, cafeteria tables, corridor floors, and gym locker room. We will culture the plates in an...
Dark Energy Camera to Capture 100,000 Galaxies
Eight billion years ago, rays of light from distant galaxies began their long journey to Earth. That ancient starlight has now found its way to a mountaintop in Chile, where the newly constructed Dark Energy Camera, the most powerful sky-mapping machine...
Defining Your Homework Stance (Part 1)
This past summer some colleagues and I visited China to set up an exchange program for our school. One highlight was a discussion with high school teachers in the city of Xi'an about the differences and similarities between our schools. We covered...
Exploring the Science Framework: Making Connections in Math with the Common Core State Standards
The vision for science education set forth in A Frame-work for K-12 Science Education (NRC 2012) makes it clear that for today's students to become the scientifically literate citizens of tomorrow their educational experiences must help them become...
Flying into Inquiry: Investigating Local Bird Species through Citizen Science
What bird species live in your area? Which migrate and which stay year-round? How do bird populations change over time? Citizen science provides the essential tools to address these questions and more. With ever-growing databases such as Project Feeder...
Healing Fukushima's Nuclear Scar
Cosmic rays from space may help clean up a nuclear disaster. Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory have devised a method to use cosmic rays to gather detailed information from inside the damaged cores of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear...
Investigating Science in the Community: Providing Meaningful Contexts for Students to Engage in the Processes of Science
Citizen science programs are becoming increasingly popular among teachers, students, and families. The term citizen scientist has various definitions. It can refer to those who gather information for a particular science research study or to people...
Project Citizen: Promoting Action-Oriented Citizen Science in the Classroom
Students may know about efforts to address environmental problems in their communities--but do they use the science they learn in school to help solve these problems? In recent years, citizen science projects have emerged as a means to involve students...
Science for All Citizens
Commonly called "citizen science," public participation in scientific research has a long history. In an interesting recent article, Abraham Miller-Rushing and his coauthors point out that citizens in China have been tracking outbreaks of locusts for...
Simulations in the Classroom
In February, we wrote about using simulation software to engage students in the "Developing and Using Models" science and engineering practice (NRC 2012, p. ES-3). That column focused on engineering-related simulations. This time we look at how simulation...
Tar Sands and the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline
Fossil fuels--coal, oil, and natural gas--account for about 90% of global energy use (Botkin and Keller 2011). Crude oil--a complex mixture of hydrocarbons--is refined into gasoline, heating oil, asphalt, plastics, kerosene, and other products. Some...
The Stress Response: The Good and the Bad
Exams, concerts, and sports can increase student stress levels this time of year. Sometimes that's good. The body's stress response--also known as the "fight-or-flight" response--can help a student focus on taking a test, get ready to perform on stage,...
To Save Sumatra's Orangutans
The orangutans in Sumatra are in danger of extinction. Anthropologists from the University of Zurich have noted a drastic decrease in the population while studying the genetic makeup and migratory behavior of these animals. Among their findings: The...
"Touch" Gestures on Any Surface
People can let their fingers--and hands--do the talking with a new touch-activated system that projects onto walls and other surfaces. The system identifies the fingers of a person's hand while touching any plain surface. It also recognizes hand posture...