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Observing and analyzing an image

Use this short bellringer to guide students through observing details of a scientific image taken from Science News or Science News Explores articles. Students will consider the scientific process or concept behind the image. Student questions are framed around the “What I See” and “What It Means” technique.

Shining light on photosynthesis

Ever wonder how soil and seeds transform into bushes and trees? And why do these plants have specific requirements for light and water? Are there conditions that push plants to the brink? Explore such questions by taking a deep dive into the chemical processes of photosynthesis. Create a series of comics to illustrate how green plants convert light energy into stored chemical energy. Then, investigate how changes to light, water and temperature can impact plants’ ability to photosynthesize and how plants can adapt when conditions aren’t ideal.

Planning a Garden Plot

Gardens have many functions ranging from vegetable and fruit production to flood mitigation and erosion control. Gardens also can be a haven for pollinators and a repository for native plants. Over the course of a year, students will design a garden for their school or a community organization using scientific concepts they learn in class.

Counting connections in a tiny brain

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “Scientists have mapped an insect brain in greater detail than ever before,” which explains how researchers approached finding more than 500,000 neural connections in the larval fruit fly brain. A version of the article, “The fruit fly brain in exquisite detail,” appears in the April 22, 2023 issue of Science News.

Studying the brain 101

Students will be introduced to neuroscience by learning about nerve anatomy and physiology, and they will research different methods of studying the brain. Learning Outcomes: Develop an understanding of how scientists approach the study of the brain.

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.

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.

Rates and what affects them

Students will define rates and their units of measurement for biological and chemical processes before discussing factors that affect rates.

Octopus moms seek the heat

Students will answer questions about the Science News article “Some deep-sea octopuses aren’t the long-haul moms scientists thought they were,” which describes how octopuses laying eggs in warm waters near geothermal springs speed up hatching. A version of the article, “Deep-sea ‘octomoms’ seek the heat,” appears in the April 9, 2022 issue of Science News.

Evaluating scientific claims with new evidence

Students will compare two Science News articles and analyze how new evidence has revised an initial claim and the reasoning behind that claim. As a bonus, students can answer chemistry questions about abiotic and biotic reactions.

Chemistry that’s out of this world

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “Organic molecules in an ancient Mars meteorite formed via geology, not alien life,” which describes new research into the origin of organic material found in a space rock. A version of the article, “Meteorite’s organics aren’t signs of life,” appears in the February 12, 2022 issue of Science News.

Cycling through an ecosystem

Students will discuss nutrient cycling and conservation of matter, and how these concepts can be observed in an ecosystem.