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Lake scavenger hunt

Lakes can vary in color based on levels of sediment, organic matter and algae. Sometimes though, a lake will stand out – not matching the other lakes in an area. Look for these anomalies by participating in a virtual lake scavenger hunt, and help figure out why these lakes don’t fit in! In this activity, students will learn how climate change influences lake color and will investigate lakes with irregular colors that have been impacted by natural or human-made forces.

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.
A swarm of locusts flies over a field.

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.

The Black Death’s genetic legacy

Students will read and answer questions about the online Science News article “Black Death immunity came at a cost to modern-day health.” A version of the article, “Plague immunity left a lasting mark,” appears in the November 19, 2022 issue of Science News.

Let population genetics be your guide to evolution

Population genetics bridges the basic concepts of genes and inheritance, often studied at the individual level, with the larger concept of how a species evolves. In this discussion, students will review basic genetics concepts and investigate an example of evolution within the human population.
a close-up photo of a jumping spider

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.
underwater photo of an octopus garden on the sea floor

Deep-sea ‘Octomoms’ Seek the Heat

In this guide, students will answer questions about how scientists discovered that octopuses laying eggs in warm waters near geothermal springs are speeding up hatching. Students will then define rates and their units of measurement for biological and chemical processes and discuss factors that affect rates.

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.