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Measuring up with metric prefixes 

Students will review prefixes and their meanings, learn about the metric system’s newest prefixes and apply the definitions in metric conversions. Learning Outcomes: Proportion and scale, measurement and dimensional analysis, a deeper understanding of the metric prefixes.

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.

Sticking to static electricity with Coulomb’s law

Students will use their experiences of static electricity to learn about electric charge and electrostatic force, then apply the concepts to a biological phenomenon. Learning Outcomes: Reinforcement of Coulomb’s Law with interdisciplinary examples.

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.

NASA’s DART Mission Is a Success

Did you hear about the spacecraft that crashed into an asteroid — on purpose?! In this guide, students will learn about NASA’s DART mission and discuss the core physics principles behind it.

May the force move you

NASA’s DART mission knocked an asteroid off course. Use the mission to teach core physics principles — including force and Newton’s laws of motion. Learning outcomes: Application of forces and Newton’s laws of motion.

Bumping asteroids off course

Students will answer questions about a NASA mission to smash a spacecraft into an asteroid after reading a Science News article and watching a Science News TikTok video about the mission. A version of the article, “NASA’s DART mission is a success,” appears in the November 5, 2022 issue of Science News.

Why Spiraling Footballs Sometimes Miss the Mark

Engage your students in science using sports! In this guide, students can explore the physics of football throws and apply the scientific method to a sport of their choice.  

Flying football physics

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “Spiraling footballs wobble at one of two specific frequencies,” which describes how researchers figured out why spiraling footballs sometimes drift sideways. A version of the article, “Why spiraling footballs sometimes miss the mark,” appears in the September 10, 2022 issue of Science News.

Too hot to handle

Heat waves are becoming more frequent around the globe, and scientists are studying humans’ ability to endure the extra heat. Get students thinking about what it means to handle heat and explore basic thermodynamic concepts through diagramming. Learning Outcomes: Diagramming

Exploring materials

After reading a journalistic article about materials science and engineering over the last century, students will discuss and research why and how new materials are developed and how they transform society. Student groups will develop museum-style exhibits to communicate what they learned to the rest of the class.