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image of a letter written by Marie Antoinette with a blacked out section next to an image of the same letter where the blacked out section is visible

Marie Antoinette’s Letters Are Uncensored by X-rays

In this guide, students will learn how scientists used chemistry to unravel a historical mystery and discuss the uses and limitations of spectroscopy.

Solving a French Revolution mystery with chemistry

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “Ink analysis reveals Marie Antoinette’s letters’ hidden words and who censored them,” which details how scientists used chemistry to unravel a mystery from the French Revolution. A version of the article, “Marie Antoinette’s letters are uncensored by X-rays,” appears in the November 6, 2021 issue of Science News.

Revealing secrets with spectroscopy

Students will discuss how spectroscopy relates to atomic structure, how the technology can help solve historical mysteries and the limitations and ethics of such work.

Reimagining plastics recycling

Students will evaluate experimental methods for recycling plastics, gather data about the types of plastics they use at home, research plastics recycling in their community and write a letter to local officials that advocates for improving plastics recycling.

Dig into atomic models

Students will research how knowledge of the atom has changed over time, visually represent a historic atomic model and present that model to the class. Students can also explore the standard model of particle physics and discuss ways it could be depicted.
clouds of Jupiter

Physics Helps Alien Rain Stay In Shape

In this guide, students will learn how the laws of physics shape rain on other planets and explore how molecules interact within alien raindrops.

Sizing up alien rain

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “How the laws of physics constrain the size of alien raindrops,” which explores a new model for rain on planets across the Milky Way. A version of the story, “Physics helps alien rain stay in shape,” appears in the May 8, 2021 & May 22, 2021 issue of Science News.

Modeling molecules in alien rain

Students will compare and contrast rain on Earth with rain on other planets and practice drawing molecular structures of various rain substances to examine the substances' physical and chemical properties. Students will use that information, along with the planetary conditions needed to form rain, to create a short weather forecast for one planet.
sea ice

Earth’s Oceans Broke Heat Records in 2020

In this guide, students will learn about how the amount of heat energy that Earth’s upper oceans have absorbed has increased over time. Then, students will discuss strategies for interpreting, understanding and communicating data.

Communicating data

Students will discuss how graphs and quantitative analogies are useful for interpreting and understanding data. Then, students will analyze and compare how effective each strategy is at communicating a scientific claim. As an extension, students may propose an alternative method of displaying or explaining given data.
fluorine atoms bonded to hydrogen atom

Chemical Bond Acts Like a Mash-Up

In this guide, students will learn about recent research findings that challenge long-held ideas about chemical bonding and discuss how to incorporate exceptions to general chemistry concepts into their learning.

Bonds in limbo

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “This weird chemical bond acts like a mash-up of hydrogen and covalent bonds,” which explores new research that suggests chemical bonds exist on a continuum. A version of the story, “Chemical bond acts like a mash-up,” can be found in the January 30, 2021 issue of Science News.