February 2011

Online resources that make science fun for all ages

Interactive lessons

Today’s technology also offers students the opportunity to learn science in ways previous generations could not. Instead of being confined to textbooks and blackboards, students can experience science through interactive, illustrated, online lessons. The lessons often are paired with exercises, problem sets and quizzes, allowing students to challenge their newly acquired knowledge.

The Biology Project at the University of Arizona offers online lessons in Spanish and Italian.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Cool Science for Curious Kids site is geared toward younger scientists, such as those in primary school. Lessons here include “Classifying Critters,” which explains taxonomy and asks viewers to group animals in the correct categories, and “Plant Parts Salad,” in which kids learn about edible plant parts.

The Interactive Concepts in Biochemistry website is an interactive multimedia companion to Rodney Boyer’s “Concepts in Biochemistry” textbook. This resource, aimed at high school and college students, offers everything from interactive animations of the Citric Acid Cycle to links to cutting edge articles highlighting recent developments in biochemistry.

Impressively, online lessons are not limited to English-speaking students. The Biology Project at the University of Arizona website offers problem sets and tutorials on cell and human biology in Spanish and Italian.

Science put to music

Alternatively, if students are not visual learners or if they have difficulty remembering concepts, they may benefit from an array of online science music videos. YouTube features a host of videos that have taken science and put it to music. Using melodies from popular songs, graduate students and professors introduce concepts like apoptosis, the polymerase chain reaction, glycolysis and gene regulation. (Some of these videos were featured in the June issue of ASBMB Today.) In addition to being entertaining, each song, paired with illustrations, helps make the concepts easy to understand and even easier to remember.

While not everyone will gravitate toward science explained via catchy songs, most will enjoy Science Songs for Teaching. This website features science songs, such as “Ana and the Telophase” by The Trigs, “The Mitosis Square Dance” by Robin Walling and “The Senses Boogie” by Mark and Morgan Kasmer. Much like the videos, the songs offer students a means of easily remembering concepts about a particular subject. The site also offers printable lyrics and teaching tips.

By creatively weaving science concepts with today’s technology, educators have developed these informative yet entertaining resources to make science fun and easier to learn. With the ability to access the internet from smart phones and laptops, the resources can be used anywhere. So whether you’re a teacher with students working on a science fair project or a parent with children looking for a way to entertain themselves, these engaging resources are sure to captivate their interest.

Lola Olufemi (olufemi_lola@yahoo.com) is a doctoral candidate/NSF BRIDGE fellow at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

Do you have a favorite educational science website? Post it in the comment section below.


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