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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.
International Space Station

Bacteria Can Survive for Years in Space

In this guide, students will learn about research conducted aboard the International Space Station and develop their own research question that could be explored on the space station.

Space for research

Students will learn about the International Space Station and research done by astronauts aboard the space station, and come up with their own research question that could be explored in space.

Spacefaring bacteria in the spotlight

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “If bacteria band together, they can survive for years in space,” which describes an experiment on the International Space Station that suggests microbes are capable of surviving interplanetary travel. A version of the story, “Bacteria can survive for years in space,” can be found in the September 26, 2020 issue of Science News.
dozens of locusts flying around in the desert

Chemical Coaxes Locusts to Swarm

In this guide, students will learn how a newly identified pheromone may influence species behavior, research a pheromone that interests them and discuss why scientists are interested in studying such chemicals.

Chemicals cue behavior

Students will explore the chemical makeup of pheromones, how the chemicals may cue species behavior and why it’s important for scientists to study such information. Students will answer questions related to the pheromone discussed in the Science News article before applying the same questions to a pheromone of their choice.

The science of locust swarms

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “A single molecule may entice normally solitary locusts to form massive swarms,” which describes a compound used in locust congregation that might also be used to control the pests. A version of the story, “Chemical coaxes locusts to swarm,” can be found in the September 12, 2020 issue of Science News.
Two yellow labs

Calculating a Dog’s Age Requires a Bit More Math

In this guide, students will learn how scientists used molecular biology to rethink a popular mathematical formula for finding a dog’s age in human years. Students will then analyze and discuss mathematical models.

Mathematical models of a dog’s age

Students will define, apply and analyze a new mathematical model for determining dog age in human years before comparing it to an old version of the model. Then, students will give examples of mathematical models in other fields and think about models’ benefits and limitations.

Old dog, new math

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “Calculating a dog’s age in human years is harder than you think,” which explores how scientists used molecular biology to more accurately compare canine aging with human aging. A version of the story, “Calculating a dog’s age requires a bit more math,” can be found in the August 15, 2020 issue of Science News.

Starting small to curb climate change

When it comes to fighting global warming, it’s hard to know where to start. How can individuals make meaningful contributions to this effort? This activity, designed for in-class or at-home learning, encourages students to find ways they can reduce their own carbon footprints, as well as help others work toward the same goal.
Tongue-dwelling bacteria

Where Bacteria Live On Our Tongues

In this guide, students will learn about bacterial communities on the human tongue and use existing knowledge of interspecific interactions to create metaphors about relationships in the students’ own communities. In an activity, students will practice note-taking and summarizing skills.