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Access lessons, webinars, articles and other free resources from NSTA.
Wolves in the Wild - A High School Lesson
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As teachers, one of our most important responsibilities is to help students develop dynamic and useful views of science. Using current issues to create learning experiences can help generate student interest in science and help students appreciate its significance in both personal and societal contexts. This article presents a lesson based on news headlines related to the controversy of the reintroduction of gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park. In this jigsaw-style lesson plan, students grapple with important ecological content and learn to appreciate the diverse perspectives framing this debate.
Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12
Resource: Web Resource
NSTA's list of outstanding science trade books for K-12.
Students for Sustainable Energy - A High School Lesson
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At Montpelier High School (MHS) in Vermont, students are accustomed to making changes in their school and community. Over the last six years, MHS students have participated in the Annual Winooski River Cleanup Project, the construction of a solar-powered greenhouse that provides produce for the school’s cafeteria, and a thriving composting program used to fertilize the produce and plants grown inside the greenhouse. This article describes the sustainable energy projects that students designed during the spring semester of 2008. An overview of the project is followed by a description of the planning and implementation processes, examples of specific student energy projects, and a discussion of outcomes and lessons learned.
EQuIP Rubric
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The Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) Rubric for science provides criteria by which to measure the alignment and overall quality of lessons and units with respect to the NGSS. The purpose of the rubric and review process is to: (1) provide constructive criterion-based feedback to developers; (2) review existing instructional materials to determine what revisions are needed; and (3) identify exemplars/models for teachers’ use within and across states.
Earth From Above - A High School Lesson
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Using free software called Google Earth, students can view Earth by hovering over features and locations they preselect or by serendipitously exploring locations that catch their fascination. This article presents a lesson in which students use Google Earth to learn basic navigation skills to effectively view images; determine distance measurements, elevations, and coordinate locations; locate and analyze images based on personal research choices; and share findings from their research with the class.
Measuring Up - A High School Lesson
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Students compare arm spans by measuring, graphing, and practicing important science skills. This lesson helps to incorporate mathematical standards from the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and scientific practices from the new Framework for Science Education.
Cheep, Chirp, Twitter, & Whistle - An Elementary School Lesson
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In this article, we describe an interdisciplinary, activity-based lesson plan implemented in a third/fourth-grade classroom. During these activities, students use musical concepts to think about, illustrate, and discuss animal behavior, and they use scientific concepts to motivate musical composition and performance.
Inquiry, Argumentation, and the Phases of the Moon - A Middle School Lesson
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An important goal of the current reform movement in science education is to promote scientific literacy in the United States, and scientific inquiry is at its heart. However, the National Science Education Standards clearly indicate that to promote inquiry, more emphasis should be placed on “science as argument and explanation” rather than on science as “explanation and argument.” They also call for scientific argumentation to play a more central role in the teaching and learning of science (NRC 1996). To that end, this article describes a multiple-day, inquiry-based lesson about the phases of the Moon that engages students in scientific research and argumentation.
Interdependence of Life: Organisms and Their Environments (first in series)
Resource: Web Resource
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the first of four Science Objects in the Interdependence of Life in Ecosystems SciPack. It explores organisms and their environments. All organisms, including human beings, live within and depend on the resources in their environment. These resources include both living (biotic) factors such as food and nonliving (abiotic) factors such as air and water. The size and rate of growth of the population of any species, including humans, are affected by these environmental factors. In turn, these environmental factors are affected by the size and rate of growth of a population. Populations are limited in growth to the carrying capacity of the ecosystem, which is the amount of life any environmental system can support with its available space, energy, water, and food. Learning Outcomes: Identify and describe biotic and abiotic factors that influence the size and growth rate of a specific population in a particular environment. Describe possible immediate and long-term effects on an individual population that exceeds the carrying capacity of its environment. Given a line graph displaying an individual population size and its rate of growth, infer the carrying capacity of the environment for that population.
Heredity and Variation: Inheritance (first in series)
Resource: Web Resource
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the first of three Science Objects in the Heredity and Variation SciPack. It explores the historical perspective and experiments of Mendel. Sexual reproduction results in the continuity of species accompanied with a great deal of variation in physical traits. One familiar observation is that offspring are very much like their parents but still show some variation— differing somewhat from their parents and from one another. People have long been curious about heredity, using even the most primitive understanding of inheritance to cultivate desirable traits in domesticated species. In the 1800s, Gregor Mendel took his observations of heredity and variation to new heights through carefully designed and executed breeding experiments that generated repeatable inheritance patterns. Mendel developed a model for explaining the patterns he observed, describing discrete units or “particles,” which both segregate and assort independently of one another during inheritance. This model offered a foundational explanation for how variation is generated through sexual reproduction. Although Mendel’s model over-simplified how traits are inherited and expressed, it set the stage for the discoveries of chromosomes and genes from which contemporary genetics grew. Learning Outcomes: Explain how domestication of plants and animals produced an early understanding of inheritance. Use Mendel’s model to explain patterns of inheritance represented in graphic form (for example, data tables, histograms, etc.). Identify the conditions required for an inheritance pattern to be explained correctly by Mendel’s model. Use data representing patterns of inheritance to support the idea that some observable traits are defined by discrete units of inheritance that segregate and assort independently of one another during inheritance.

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