A "bioblitz" is a 24-hour species inventory-- like a treasure hunt where you find as many species as you can. It's a great way to get kids interested in biodiversity and wildlife in general.


The biggest bioblitz is the annual National Geographic Society/ National Park Service BioBlitz, which this year is being held in Saguaro National Park, in Tucson, Arizona. I'm there right now, and I'll be posting videos that I hope you can use with your students.


The first is a kick off video, explaining what the BioBlitz is all about.





BioBlitz Videos coming up!

Posted by bobh Oct 20, 2011



I'll be posting some video blogs LIVE from the National Geographic/National Park Service BioBlitz in Saguaro National Park this weekend. A "bioblitz" is a 24-hour species inventory, so I'll have a lot on biodiversity and species adaptations. Some of the videos will be designed for classroom use, including some two-part videos, where the first is intended to be shown to students at the start of a class and will pose a discussion/research question, and the second video will be the "pay-off"-- an interview on the topic with a leading science professional. Students can compare their ideas and insights with those of the scientist.




Spooky Science

Posted by SIngraffea Oct 17, 2011



Celebrate the science behind the scare this Halloween! Your class can uncover the science of mummies, take a closer look at skeletons, or hear about the legend of glowing wounds.  Students can create monster bugs and hear about a special species of jumping spiders.  Find out about a giant snake from the past and some hungry pythons causing problems today.  Discover a new development in forensics or hear how the old technique of leeching is still being used.  Also, learn how one teacher’s Halloween-inspired reading of Stella Luna led to non-traditional, interdisciplinary teaching methods. 


Looking for more?  Check out Thinkfinity’s Halloween-related resources here.


National Chemistry Week

Posted by SIngraffea Oct 11, 2011




Did you know that 2011 is the International Year of Chemistry? If you haven’t had a chance to celebrate yet, National Chemistry Week is the perfect time. Dedicate October 16–22 to “Chemistry—Our Health, Our Future!” which focuses on the positive impacts of chemistry in nutrition, hygiene, and medicine. Get your classroom involved using this collection of chemistry resources. Students can become a detective in a food poisoning case, learn about the chemistry of hair care, hear how cell phones could be used to detect dangerous airborne toxins, and more!

5th annual Spirit of Innovation Challenge continues its quest to transform STEM education


Recently, Nancy Conrad, founder and chairman of the Conrad Foundation, officially launched the 2011-2012 Spirit of Innovation Challenge to encourage students to create technologies and products that solve global issues. For the past four years, the Innovation competition has helped transform the way science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is being embraced by high school students.


“If we are to ignite passion for STEM education, we must embrace an academic plan to focus on the relevance of the knowledge we share with our students,” said Conrad. “Memorizing facts to pass a test just won’t do the job. The hallmark of America’s culture is innovation and entrepreneurship. It’s how we got to the moon. It’s how companies like Apple, Facebook and Google were formed. It is how our country will continue to explore the universe, discover cures for disease and become good stewards of the world we share with our global neighbors.”


Hosted by the Conrad Foundation, the Spirit of Innovation Challenge invites high school teams to use STEM skills in developing commercially viable, technology-based products. It is the only competition of its kind to combine education, innovation and entrepreneurship, giving students the tools they need to succeed and sustain a knowledge-based economy.


“Using a network of world-renowned scientists, engineers, academics and business leaders, the competition connects teams with mentors to assist in making their ideas a reality,” said Jennifer Fotherby, executive director, Spirit of Innovation Challenge. “We are thrilled by the support and collaboration from global industry leaders in this year’s program.”


The 2011-2012 Spirit of Innovation Challenge is supported by Lockheed Martin and PepsiCo and in partnership with U.S. Department of State and NASA. Additional corporate and organizational involvement from, Kraft Foods and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute is allowing for rapid program growth. This year’s Challenge Partners who provide experts, mentors and judges for the student entries include: the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Foundation (Aerospace Exploration), The William James Foundation (Clean Energy) and the American Society for Nutrition (Health and Nutrition).


Interested student teams draft an online abstract that addresses five questions about their innovative idea for first-round judging. From there, selected semi-finalists in each challenge category – Aerospace Exploration, Clean Energy, and Health and Nutrition – develop a business plan, technical plan and graphical representation of the team’s product or innovation. The top five teams from each category will travel to the annual Innovation Summit, hosted at NASA-Ames Research Center (Moffitt Field, CA), March 29-31, 2012, where they present their innovations and vie for awards and commercialization opportunities.


The Conrad Foundation is also currently in discussion with the Department of State about sending the winners of the 2011-2012 Spirit of Innovation Challenge to Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Winning teams would present their work in conjunction with the official U.S. delegation led by the Department of State. This event will allow Spirit of Innovation winning teams a lifetime experience of joining diplomats, scientists, sustainability experts and other leaders to take a forward look on pressing global needs and opportunities for creative problem-solving.    


This year’s Innovation competition features a new online community that facilitates student, teacher and mentor collaboration across multiple platforms, from sharing videos to uploading documents and communicating in forums. The Portal for the Spirit of Innovation Challenge is also being expanded to assist teams in acquiring patents and funding for further development and commercialization of their products.


To learn more, visit www.conradawards.org.


About The Conrad Foundation

The Conrad Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fundamentally shifting how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are taught in K-12 schools. The program reaches all socioeconomic levels, is free to all who participate and is the only organization of its kind to combine education, innovation and entrepreneurship to spark student interest in STEM careers and sustain a knowledge-based economy. For more information, visit www.conradawards.org.


# # #


Carrie Taylor

Griffin Communications Group

(832) 864-7226 – office; (281) 642-6981 – mobile



Health Literacy Month

Posted by SIngraffea Oct 6, 2011




Discuss the importance of health with your class this October during Health Literacy Month. This collection of resources from Science NetLinks and AAAS provides information ranging from basic personal health and safety to mental health awareness and medicine. Students can play a game to test their knowledge of body systems, learn the science behind how alcohol affects their bodies, and investigate the factors that lead to obesity.


Looking for more? Check out our collections on Nutrition and Exercise and The Skin Deep Project.


Earth Science Week

Posted by SIngraffea Oct 5, 2011




Explore “Our Ever-Changing Earth” October 9–15 during Earth Science Week. This event is dedicated to helping students discover the natural processes that shape our planet and foster curiosity about the natural world. National Fossil Day, October 12, lands mid-week to spotlight the unique ways in which fossils are clues to the world’s history.  Celebrate in your class with this collection of resources. Students can see how earth’s landscape changes through forces including volcanism, learn about the role air masses play in weather, and hear how diseases can travel long distances in clouds of dust.

Do you know about the International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge? Science Magazine and the National Science Foundation co-sponsor this annual competition promoting "cutting-edge efforts to visualize scientific data, principles, and ideas."  The challenge spotlights ways people have translated scientific information into formats that can be better understood by broader audiences, especially students and the general public.  Entries are submitted in five categories: photography, illustrations, informational posters and graphics, interactive games and videos.


View the 2010 slideshow and get more information about the most recent winners and honorable mentions, including the following:


  • The video TrashTrack (slide #11) follows 3000 peices of garbage from homes in Seattle for two months to see where they end up. 
  • The animation Visualization of the Whole Brain Catalog (slide # 15) provides a journey through the brain of a mouse.
  • The illustration Human Immunodeficiency Virus 3D (slide #2) details a 100-nanometer HIV particle.
  • The photograph Trichomes (Hairs) on the Seed of the Common Tomato (slide #9) reveals  the view from a polarizing microscope.


You can also view winners from previous years.  The Epigenetics of Identical Twins video (slide #7) from 2009, explains why identical twins develop physical differences as they age.  Also from that year, Follow the Money: Human Mobility and Effective Communities (slide #8) tracks dollar bills as they move around the country.  The 2008 video Smarter Than the Worm (slide #17) explores how computer software fights off viruses using animated pests.


New Astronomy Resources

Posted by maria_sosa Sep 29, 2011

Andrew Franknoi, of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, brought the following resources to our attention and we wanted to share them with you.


As the fall semester or quarter begins, here are

a few new educational resources from the nonprofit

Astronomical Society of the Pacific that may help

you if you are teaching or explaining astronomy:


1. Frank Drake Tells How He Came Up with the Drake Equation:


2. A New  Classroom Activity: How High Up is Space:


3. An "Astronomy Behind the Headlines" podcast on "Science

from the Moon" (on current and future Moon missions, with

guest Dr. Jack Burns, University of Colorado):


4. An Astronomer Looks at Astrology (an information sheet for

both students and instructors):



5. A new issue of "The Universe in the Classroom" with

information and activities for the 2012 Transit of Venus:


6. The Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0

(a DVD-ROM with 133 hands-on classroom activities,

and lots of articles, resources, images, and how-to videos

for teaching astronomy at many levels and in many settings):



World Heart Day

Posted by SIngraffea Sep 19, 2011


Created by the World Heart Federation, World Heart Day aims to raise awareness for global heart health. Heart disease and strokes are the leading cause of death around the world and at least 80% of the premature deaths are avoidable. This September 29, celebrate “One World, One Home, One Heart” by taking responsibility of your own heart health, and spreading the message to others.


In the lessons Heart 1: Transplant and Heart 2: Changing Lifestyles and Heart Health, students learn about the anatomy of the heart, how modern medicine helps people live longer, and how heart disease is affected by changes in lifestyle.  Obesity: The Science Inside explores health problems associated with being overweight, including risks to the heart. The tool High Blood Pressure: The Science Inside, helps students understand how high blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stokes. Hear how a heartless worm may help scientists figure out why some potentially useful drugs cause a mysterious and deadly heart reaction in Hearts and Worms. The Science Update Gum and Heart Disease investigates the connection between gum disease and heart disease.


Celebrate Ozone Day!

Posted by SIngraffea Sep 7, 2011



September 16th marks the United Nations’ International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, or “Ozone Day.” This event is designed to highlight the problems facing the ozone layer, its relationship with climate change, and what individuals and industries can do to protect the ozone layer from further damage. Help your students understand the science behind the issues by discussing them in your class. 


In Ozone Fill-up, hear how many countries are phasing out the use of ozone-destroying chemicals called CFCs to give the ozone hole a chance to heal itself. While carbon emissions may be dominating the headlines, some think human sources of nitrogen may be just as environmentally costly. Learn more in the podcast, Nitrogen Pollution. Would you ever think that one way to remove ozone from indoor air is through dead skin flakes in dust? The Science Update Ozone-Scrubbing Skin explores how. Speaking of skin, learn how harmful UV rays that travel through the ozone layer cause damaging effects and how to provide protection from them in Sun & Skin, part of the Skin Deep Project.


Through the lesson, How We Know What We Know about Our Changing Climate, students get an introduction to the scientific research into climate change and the role of citizen scientists in helping professional scientists generate data to track the problem and devise solutions. Power Up! combines a lesson with an interactive to examine the trade-offs between cost and the environmental impact of each choice. Student also can learn how we use different energy sources and how they affect not only our environment but also our budget using the interactive, Your Carbon Diet.



Celebrate “Literacy for Peace” with UNESCO on September 8, International Literacy Day. This day serves as a reminder that literacy rates around the world remain a problem, with about 793 million adults lacking minimum literacy skills and 67.4 million children out-of-school. Improve your students’ literacy skills and develop their love of reading using Science NetLinks’ collection of resources created from award-winning books. For more suggestions on great science reading, check out SB&F Recommended Books for the Science Classroom. Or find inspiring ways to combine poetry and science in your class with Thinkfinity’s feature on STEM Poetry.

The State of Minorities and Women in Science

This week's ScienceLive Chat at AAAS is focused on the intersections of race, gender and science. Tune in at 3pm EDT on Thursday, August 25th for the live chat with experts on this topic. AAAS will also take questions until the show begins.


If you're reading this after August 25th...you can find a transcript of the chat here.




For more science posts and discussions, visit and join the All About Science group.


NIH K–12 LAB Challenge

Posted by ric Aug 23, 2011

The NIH K–12 LAB Challenge is a call to the nation to help us bring engaging hands-on science into the classroom — so everyone can enjoy doing science! We're asking people to send us their best experiments for kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms. We'll collect these written procedures  and make them available to everyone for free. Your experiment can be original or modified from another source. (If modified, we'll need to know the source.)

Your experiments should

  • be geared toward grades K–12
  • use safe, easily available, inexpensive materials
  • take 90 minutes (or less) of in-class time
  • have at least one clear learning objective
  • be related to the mission of NIH

Submit one or more ideas that work well in a classroom to help us get the collection started!





In 2009, Science created the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) “to encourage innovation and excellence in education, as well as to encourage the use of high-quality on-line resources by students, teachers, and the public.”  Winners of the SPORE are recognized for their exceptional science education resources, resources that are completely free to the public.


The most recent winner of the prize is Bugscope, a project that allows students to examine bug samples under an electron microscope.  Read more about the project here.


Previous SPORE winners include:


The Periodic Table of Videos – This website features entertaining videos of each element of the periodic table. Videos include chemical reactions, anecdotes, and lots of humor.  Learn more here.


Ask a Biologist – This website is home to Dr. Biology, a character who answers questions submitted by students. Explanations are really provided by a volunteer force of more than 150 experts.  Learn more here.


Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears – This website explores the science of polar regions while improving literacy skills.  Learn more here.


PlantingScience.org – This website partners students with plant biologists to conduct classroom experiments.  Learn more here.


Science Buddies – This website guides students to science and engineering topics through a series of questions and helps them find science projects that will appeal to their interests.  Learn more here.  Find the Science NetLinks’ tool for this resource here.

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