Rise Above the Uncertainty

March 31, 2020

The uncertainty of the Coronavirus and the required social distancing is making us think outside the box as educators. You are committed to your students' education just as you always have been, but now the daily routine has been thrown out the window. Online learning is what is happening across our country and figuring out the best way to ensure your students are learning what they need to is top priority. As a science teacher, it may be a little tougher to achieve the 3-D learning of hands-on activities that you achieve in your classroom, but thanks to some great websites with science videos, virtual field trips, or just great ideas in general, you and your students will feel like you are in a classroom. I ran across a few of these a couple weeks before the outbreak of the coronavirus and was planning to share them with you as a great resource. Little did I know at the time what would happen.

The website I would like to share is Mystery Science. Normally, you would subscribe to their website for a fee, but due to coronavirus, here are their own words to let you know what they are doing: "To help educators during this time of coronavirus, we have pulled our most popular science lessons and are offering them for anyone to use for free. No account or login is needed."  These free lesson plans are designed for grades K-5, and not only are they easy for teachers to use, they also engage students while achieving learning outcomes. All of the activities are designed to use simple supplies a parent will likely already have at home. If you need more lesson plans than what they have listed, all you have to do is sign up for a FREE account.

As far as virtual field trips, these are fun for students and allow them a trip to a social environment without leaving the house. Here are some zoos who offer live webcams: San Diego Zoo, Smithsonian's National Zoo, Reid Park Zoo Lion Cam in Tuscon, AZ, Ouwehand Park Polar Bear Cubs Rhenen, Netherland, St. Louis Zoo Penguin Cam, or you can learn about lots of different animals by clicking on their pictures at the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans.

I also ran across the Edvocate website and found their list of 13 must-have science lab apps, tools and resources that allow students to conduct science experiments and investigations virtually. These are for all different age levels and could be a big help to students while learning from home. These include:

  1. Project Noah Provides teachers with hands-on experiments for their students to conduct.
  2. Prepmagic– Provides students with science simulations that promote learning.
  3. Mystery Science– I talked about this one above. Well thought out science curriculum and experiments.
  4. Science Buddies– Provides help for students conducting science experiments.
  5. Exploratorium– A comprehensive resource for people looking for help with science projects and experiments.
  6. Codecademy– The site contains a large cache of science simulations.
  7. Frog Dissection– Frog dissecting app. Features step-by-step instructions, there is plenty of in-depth information on each of the frog’s organs including anatomical comparisons to human organs.
  8. Stephen Hawking’s Snapshots of the UniverseThis app includes 10 interactive experiments and video segments to help students study our universe.
  9. iCell App– Studying the cell became easier with this 3-D cell app. Students can view the cell structures and dynamics for plants, animals, and bacteria.
  10. EdheadsAwe inspiring simulations deliver superb science content.
  11. PhET Interactive Simulations– Large repository of science and math simulations.
  12. Happy Little Farmer– Helps students learn the life cycle of plants by allowing them to grow their own plants.
  13. Frog Dissection– Allows students to participate in a virtual dissection of a frog.

There are many websites, apps, and tools out there to help educate students of all ages while at home. Virtual lab activity websites for biology, chemistry, physics, etc., are also available for the higher grade levels. These can be found by searching with your browser; some may require subscriptions but are free while others may require a fee.

And last, but not least, here is a handy little tool for iPhone users that I saw on the Help A Teacher Facebook page. Need to scan a document, but you don't have a scanner at home? Go to "Notes" and hit the little camera button.

It will ask you if you want to scan, and it will save it as a PDF file! This little feature may come in very handy over the next weeks teaching from home.

If you have helpful websites, tools or tricks that would help others in this time of need, please share them with us, so we can share with others. With a little help from one another, we will make it through this and come out stronger than before! Stay safe, friends!

Stephanie Miller

With over 25 years experience, Stephanie serves as a senior copywriter, social media director, and senior editor for Science Scene. Stephanie is always on the lookout for new educational and STEM-related opportunities and technology.