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Seeing faces everywhere

Ever seen a face in the moon? Or a slice of toast? What about the front of a car (and not just the characters in the movie Cars)? If so, you’re in good company. Many people see faces in commonplace objects. After learning about face pareidolia, the phenomenon of seeing faces in everyday objects, students will collect images of faces they find in nature and inanimate objects and then poll classmates on the perceived gender of the faces. Students will compare their results to results from a study reported in Science News and then design their own follow-up research on face pareidolia.

Dating dino doomsday

Students will answer claim, evidence and reasoning questions about the online Science News article “The Age of Dinosaurs may have ended in springtime.” The article describes how scientists used fossilized fish to determine what season it was when an asteroid wiped out nonavian dinosaurs. A version of the article, “Dinosaur killer may have hit in spring,” appears in the March 26, 2022 issue of Science News.

Dig into bones

Students will discuss the physical properties of human bones and how bones can offer evidence to support scientific claims. Then students can search Science News for examples of how bones have been used as evidence.

Examining bias through fossils

Students will learn about early evidence for human evolution, discuss how interpretations of data can be influenced by scientists’ biases and develop a framework for analyzing the physical features of hominin fossils.

Creating a vascular plant’s ecological niche

Students will learn about the ecological niche concept, conduct online surveys of vascular plants found in a biodiverse region of South Africa, conduct field surveys of vascular plants found in a local ecosystem and present a poster describing the ecological niche for a vascular plant of their choice.

Sizing up a dinosaur

Students will answer questions about the Science News article “This ancient dinosaur was no bigger than a hummingbird,” which reports on a fossil of a many-toothed, Mesozoic predator.

The truth about bats and viruses

Students will answer questions about the Science News article “Why bat viruses are so dangerous,” which explores how the animals’ immune defenses might lead to killer human pathogens.

Cats and Punnett squares

Scientists would like to breed cats that don’t trigger allergies in people. By constructing and analyzing a Punnett square for two low-allergen cats, students will review key concepts including patterns and probabilities of inheritance, genotype, phenotype, genes, alleles, chromosomes and mutations.

Ten top science stories from 2019

Students will answer questions about one of Science News’ Top 10 stories of 2019.

The great gene-editing debate

Students will research and debate a contentious issue, arguing an assigned viewpoint based on scientific evidence. This debate is focused on gene editing for the creation of human babies, but can be easily adapted for other topics.

Explore genetic engineering’s legacy

These discussion prompts explore how genetic engineering has been used in medicine, agriculture and basic research.

Getting source savvy

Students will explore similarities and differences in how scientific research is reported in a journalistic article versus a primary research paper.