While wandering the exhibit hall at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) last week, I found some new (as well as tried-and-true) science resources. They're worth checking out! My criteria follow:
- high quality and interestingly displayed
- easy to use
- clear of advertising
- provide online safety of school-age learners
3D Weather Globe and Atlas (not free)
Though the 3D Weather Globe and Atlas (disk based, with Web update) is not free, it is worth the cost. High bandwidth is not required. Beautiful, high-resolution NASA satellite maps are "stitched" onto a virtual, rotating Earth, allowing you to zoom down to a city or neighborhood. Satellite cloud and weather images are updated every six hours from the Web. You can plot routes, travel time zones, and study the geography of countries.
Graphic images are so detailed that you can see the clear-cutting in the Amazon rain forest and many other changes to our planet that humans have caused. This is a good companion to the Web site of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Students can see how weather changes with global influences. The 3D Weather Globe and Atlas, a favorite of teachers, is available for Mac and Windows from MacKiev for $39.95.
NASA has some of the best high-quality free resources for teachers at all levels, including lesson plans, posters, multimedia, photos, professional-development workshops, and interviews with scientists. Subjects are earth science, space, and technology. NASA also runs summer workshops.
National Science Digital Library
The National Science Digital Library is a free online library for education and research in science, math, technology, and engineering, with many resources for teachers.
GIS Day showcases real-world applications of GIS (geographic information systems) technology. GIS.com introduces you to GIS and uses technology for capturing, managing, analyzing, and imaging all forms of geographical information. The GIS software and service company ESRI has two sites, GIS for Schools and GIS for Libraries and Museums have many resources for integrating science, math, and social studies. The data is solid, and photos are beautifully done.
Teacher's Domain is a multimedia digital library for K-12 teachers and students with excellent free digital resources. I find this is especially helpful for difficult concepts in the sciences. Multimedia clips are usually from public television station WGBH's library, with series such as Zoom, Nova, and A Science Odyssey repurposed for education. It has standards-aligned lessons and allows you to have folders for students and groups so they have access to the resources you have assembled for them. They also have professional-development courses for teachers. (These do have a fee.)
The Digital Microscope and Probeware
There were exhibitors with digital microscopes, plug-in probes, and sensor equipment that are wonderful for project-based learning. These are expensive tools, so it is better to try them out or see a demo before purchasing them so you get exactly what you need. Two vendors are Pasco and Vernier.