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Bee Geometry

How clever! Bees use geometry tricks to make the most of their hive’s space. Learn how bees, wasps and other hive-makers accommodate changes in their colony’s needs, answer questions about evolution’s approach to problem-solving and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of analogies as literary devices.

What’s Going On in the Animal Mind?

Some scientists studying animal behavior are interested in whether nonhuman animals are intelligent and self-aware. In this activity, students will explore recent research and draw on their own experiences to consider how intelligence is defined and that definition might differ from one species to another.

The Fruit Fly Brain in Exquisite Detail

Scientists study the tiny fruit fly to understand how organisms work. In this Guide, students will learn how scientists mapped the nerve cells in a larval fruit fly brain — a task that took 12 years — and learn about those cells.

Voles Don’t Need Oxytocin to Bond

Scientists thought the “love hormone” oxytocin was required to help animals form social bonds. In this Guide, students will learn how a study using a gene-editing tool called CRISPR is questioning that perspective — at least for prairie voles.

CRISPR Explained

Students will learn how CRISPR gene-editing technology works and discuss its applications and its importance to research. Learning Outcomes: Learning about CRISPR and why it is an important technology

Prairie voles can couple up even without the ‘love hormone

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “Prairie voles can find partners just fine without the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin,” which explores how scientists upended a common understanding of the hormone by using CRISPR technology. A version of the article “Voles don’t need oxytocin to bond” appears in the February 25, 2023 issue of Science News.

Form fits function in extreme environments

From buildings to machines to household objects — and even in the natural world — the structure of something relates to its function. Sea urchin skeletons, for example, have a recurring geometric design called a Voronoi pattern that also shows up in honeycombs and dragonfly wings. The pattern probably strengthens the skeleton and could inspire the creation of strong, lightweight materials. In this activity, students will explore aspects of structure and function in everyday objects before applying the same concepts to the natural patterns found in sea urchin skeletons. Inspired by the sea urchin, students can use an engineering design process to brainstorm solutions to real-world problems.

Insect Swarms Might Electrify the Sky

Large swarms of insects could produce as much electricity as a storm cloud. In this guide, students will explore how insect-induced static electricity might affect the atmosphere, review the concepts of electric charge and electrostatic force, and apply those concepts to their own experiences and the biological phenomenon of insect swarms. In a quick activity, students will create a poem or song about serendipity in science.

Insect swarms get charged up

Students will read and answer questions about the online Science News article “Insect swarms might generate as much electric charge as storm clouds,” which explores how insect-induced static electricity might affect the atmosphere. A version of the article, “Insect swarms might electrify the sky” appears in the December 3, 2022 issue of Science News.

News Stories Give Spiders a Bum Rap

Are your students creeped out by spiders? They aren’t alone. In this guide, students will learn about how inaccurate news coverage has promoted common misconceptions about the largely harmless critters. Students can also discuss misinformation, thinking about where they’ve encountered it before, its impacts and ways to correct it.   

Spinning tales about spiders

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “News stories have caught spiders in a web of misinformation,” which describes new research looking at how spiders are portrayed by the media. A version of the article, “News stories give spiders a bum rap” appears in the September 24, 2022 issue of Science News.

Making sense of animal worlds

In this activity, students will discuss how literary devices can be used to convey scientific concepts, research how an animal of their choice senses the world and compose a piece of creative writing based on what they find.