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Are We Alone?

young astronaut looking for life on mars The year is 2032 and your middle-school explorers have successfully achieved a manned mission to Mars! After establishing criteria to help look for signs of life, they conduct a scientific experiment in which they evaluate three “Martian” soil samples and determine if any contains life.

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A Scientist’s Curiosity Cabinent

scientists curiosity cabinetLooking for a fun way to engage students in STEM and help them understand core concepts? Check out the Scientist’s Curiosity Cabinet, a video-laden website showcasing Boston College chemistry professor Ross Kelly’s collection of gadgets that offer “neat examples” of such scientific principles as buoyancy or “things that seem impossible but are staring one in the face.”

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Wizardly Wands

sparklersIn this activity, high school juniors and seniors learn such core chemistry concepts as reaction rates and thermodynamics by making and demonstrating their own Harry Potter-style “magic wands” (sparklers). The lab, which also can serve as a fun Advanced Placement course review, concludes with a class duel between wands of two different chemical compositions.

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MIT Videos Convey Key STEM Concepts

video screens with bookAre your students vexed by vectors or mystified by electricity? MIT’s Open Courseware offers a series of videos designed to help students learn these and other pivotal concepts in science, technology, engineering, mathematics that are the building blocks of many engineering curricula.

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MIT+ Offers K-12 STEM Videos

airplane forcesWhy do airplanes fly? What is genetic engineering? To help K-12 students and teachers understand such topics, MIT has tapped its 10,000 brilliant young scholars to create engaging, short videos to supplement classroom instruction.

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Lesson: Chemical Wonders

chemistryIn this lesson, students in grades 3-5 are introduced to chemical engineering and learn about its many different applications. They are provided with a basic introduction to matter and its different properties and states. An associated hands-on activity gives students a chance to test their knowledge of the states of matter and how to make observations.

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Engineering Lights a Spark

Max Launch Abort System (MLAS) Lifts Off from Wallops IslandClearly, Abby Ardis is an exceptional student. Still, the path taken by this senior at Snow Hill High School in Salisbury, Md. shows where an early interest in engineering and science can lead: internships at a NASA research facility and attendance at a bio-engineering conference.

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Research Collaborators Encounter Mystery

ZebrafishHigh School biology students in Valders, Wis. are raising zebra fish as part of a research project being conducted by students at the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc. Or at least they’re trying. But the grant-funded project, intended to interest high schoolers in STEM, has encountered a problem: dying fish.

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Activity: Grow A Crystal Snowflake

snowflake2Students in grades 5-8 create shimmering snowflakes using a simple chemical process. They supersaturate hot water with borax, then suspend a pipe cleaner shape in the liquid, allowing the crystals to form overnight.

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