Friday, February 18, 2011

Curriculum Resource: Kid's Science Challenge

The deadline is fast approaching for entering the third year of the Kid's Science Challenge sponsored by Pulse of the Planet, an environmental educational radio program.  US students in grades 3-6 have until February 28, 2011 to submit their ideas for innovative experiments in three different categories:  Sensational Sounds (invent a musical instrument with a completely different sound), Super Stuff for Sports (invent a new material to improve your favorite sport), and Magical Microbes (find a new use for microscopic organisms).  The grand winner in each category gets to travel (most expenses paid) to somewhere like New York City, New Orleans, or Point Reyes, CA to working with a working scientist in the field actually trying to make that idea work.  (While not as flashy as winning a iPad or something like that, this could be a life-changing prize; working with a real science mentor could really cement a student's interest in a science career.)  Finalists can win a variety of science-related tools and toys.  For more information on the contest, see the website at this link.

Even if you aren't going to enter the contest, the site is worth checking out.  They have background information on each of the contest topics, along with some videos to watch, experiments to do, and games to play.  There are also lesson plans available on the sponsor site; click here to register to receive them.

This is a good site because it allows students to use their imaginations and potentially create their own experiments or new science activities, rather than treating science as a static field where the teaching is just trying to convey all that is known to the student.  But there is enough solid science content to keep it from just being a bunch of bells and whistle to get students excited about science without really teaching them anything.  For some hands-on learning, check out their Activities Page where they have instructions for making a battery from mud, growing a fungus garden, or creating some of everyone's favorite material--Oobleck!

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