Educate: Life Science
Science Friday’s lesson plans and activities are produced by our education staff and with partner organizations. Sign up for our educator newsletter here.

Jul. 10, 2015

Track a Plant's Movement

By Ariel Zych

In this activity, you’ll monitor the position of a houseplant to find out whether or not it changes position in response to a change in sunlight.

plant, behavior, tropisms, photosynthesis, adaptations, measurement,

Jun. 19, 2015

Jet-setting Cephalopods

By Ariel Zych

Can you engineer a jet propulsion system that mimics the speed of a squid?

Jun. 11, 2015

Dissect a Silkworm Cocoon

By Ariel Zych

Learn about the insect origins of silk by dissecting a cocoon and “degumming” it to reveal the protein that scientists use for constructing new materials.

metamorphosis, butterfly, larva, moth, caterpillar, silk, fiber,

May. 07, 2015


By Ariel Zych

What does the Sun do? Tell us, using the hashtag#ExplainTheSun

sun, #explainthesun, science club, space weather, heliophysics, NASA, solar power

Apr. 22, 2015

Science Friday Discussion: Negotiating the Challenges of Teaching Evolution

By Ariel Zych

Learn from experienced educators how to teach evolution in communities where evolution is controversial and browse classroom evolution resources.

evolution, hangout, discussion, panel, ethics, evolution, creationism, professional development

Apr. 09, 2015

Can You Explain The Sun?

By Ariel Zych

For this science club, we want you to explain something to us, something BIG…

sun, heliophysics, astronomy, evidence, explanation, common core, solar, wind, space, photosynthesis, skin cancer

Feb. 02, 2011

Grabbing a Bite to Eat

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will perform an experiment that replicates the dilemma that birds face in acquiring food from a confined area. Students will be given a variety of objects to use as “tools,” and will explore various ways of extracting the food ...

problem solving, tools, evolution, birds, animals, psychology

Feb. 17, 2015

How Can We Build Homes That Are Resistant to Mold?

By Ariel Zych

Test which building materials will be resistant to mold after a flood or hurricane.

mold, fungi, habitat, food, autotroph, heterotroph, engineering, disaster, FEMA, hurricane, flood

Feb. 09, 2015

Magnetic Turtle Navigators

By Ariel Zych

Create small turtle navigators and use them to detect magnetic fields in this activity and companion game.

animal behavior, magnetism, adaptation, core, fields, mapping, navigation, migration

Jan. 22, 2015

Get Ready to Hike

By National Wildlife Federation

Make your family hikes so much more fun with these hiking tips.

outdoor activities, hiking, exploration, book club, with kids

Jan. 12, 2015

Engineer a 'Filter Feeder'

By Ariel Zych

Build and test a water filter inspired by marine filter feeding organisms.

marine biology, structure, function, engineering, STEM, NGSS, design, filter, fluid, dynamics

Sep. 26, 2014

Science Club #ObserveEverything

By Science Friday Education

Go out and observe something interesting! Submit your in-depth observations with the hashtag #ObserveEverything.

observation, experimentation, watch, look, science skills, scientist, job, vocational,

Sep. 19, 2014

Jumping Spider Shake Down

By Ariel Zych

Can you match each jumping spider dance to its vibratory song?

spiders, behavior, acoustic, bioacoustic, sound, analysis, spectrogram, frequency

Aug. 07, 2014

Create a Disease Map

By Ariel Zych

Map the spread of tick and mosquito-borne illnesses in the United States using real data.


Jul. 11, 2014

Talk Like a Firefly

By Ariel Zych

Learn to speak the language of fireflies and invent your own secret flash code.

bioluminescence, communication, lightning bugs, insects, mating, reproduction, code, outdoor activities, summer, camp, flashlight

Jun. 23, 2014

How Does an Octopus Change Its Body to Blend In With Its Environment?

By Ariel Zych

Watch footage of a live octopus to model different ways that these animals can camouflage themselves by changing their body’s texture, shape, size, and color.

camouflage, description, adjectives, media, multiple sources, informational text, inference, observation, texture, color, art, STEAM, STEM

Jun. 12, 2014

Have a Cricket Tell You the Temperature!

By Science Buddies

In this activity from Science Buddies, you will investigate how the chirps of crickets can be used as a kind of thermometer.

crickets, insects, bioacoustics, sound, temperature, mathematics, behavior, stimulus, summer, camping

May. 02, 2014

Going to Extremes: Chia Seeds From Outer Space

By MAVEN Education and Public Outreach

In this activity, students will devise an experiment to find out whether chia seeds are still able to grow after exposure to extreme conditions like the ones we may find on other planets. This activity was created by MAVEN Outreach and Education to help t...

astrobiology, environment, extreme, experiment, extremophiles, botany, plants, life, organisms, characteristics of living things,

Mar. 14, 2014

Make a Wire Critter That Can Walk on Water

By Ariel Zych

Learn how insects have inspired engineers to make a robot that walks on the surface of water. Design your own water-walking critter using thin wire, and test its effectiveness: how many paperclips can it hold up using surface tension?

intermolecular forces, properties, water, molecule, cohesion, adhesion, biomimicry, robotics

Feb. 14, 2014

Test the Finger Wrinkle Hypothesis

By Ariel Zych

Perform an experiment to determine whether smooth or wrinkled fingers are better at holding wet objects. The experiment requires only a water bottle, paperclip, and plastic ruler. Downloads: Video, student data sheet, illustrated instructions

physiology, nervous system, biology, form, function, adaptation, human, evolution

Sep. 15, 2010

Lighting Up Celery Stalks

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will conduct a series of hands-on experiments that will demonstrate how the working of these veins, known as capillary action, enables water to travel throughout the length of a plant. Students will learn how the forces of water...

water, plants, root system, leaves, biology, botany

Jan. 22, 2010

Mushroom Prints

By Austen Saltz

In this lesson, students will be amateur mycologists--collecting and analyzing various mushrooms. Through observation and discussion, students will gain knowledge of the basic anatomy of mushrooms, their life cycle, and their method of reproduction throug...

mycology, fungi, organic matter, penicillin, spore, biology

Sep. 12, 2011

Termite Symbiosis

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will sort and classify interactions between pairs of organisms under the appropriate symbiotic relationship of commensalism, parasitism, and mutualism. Then students will observe mutualism in action, as they perform a termite di...

ecosystems, symbiosis, termites, lichens

Dec. 05, 2011

Cool Craniums

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will observe three “mystery” mammal skulls and compare and contrast the features of each skull. Students will learn the anatomical terms for skull features such as orbits, nasal passages, and foramen magnum. Students will learn...

bones, vertebrate, biped, fossil, skeleton

Jan. 03, 2012

Microorganisms on the Move

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will learn how to prepare deep well slides for observing two types of microorganisms called Paramecium (a group of protozoa, or single-celled organisms, which move with cilia, so they are called “ciliates”) and Euglena (microorg...

microbes, microscope, cilia, organisms, plant

Nov. 07, 2011

Keeping a Betta

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will research general information about bettas and use that information to determine suitable habitat requirements and maintenance. Students will work collaboratively to perform weekly maintenance duties to keep their betta aliv...

aquarium, fish, genus, species

Aug. 10, 2011

Colorful Chromosomes

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students review how human physical traits, such as eye color, are determined by specific segments of genes. Students will use basic crafts materials to build a simplified model of a pair of chromosomes that represents some of their own p...

DNA, cells, genes, reproduction

Jun. 23, 2011

Brine Shrimp: Getting to Know a Salt Water Arthropod

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will assemble a small saltwater aquarium to raise and observe brine shrimp. Then students will observe and record the growth of brine shrimp through various stages of their life cycle, and examine their various anatomical featur...

Horseshoe Crab, brine shrimp, exoskeleton, invertebrate

Jun. 03, 2011

Fossil Detectives

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will learn about the two main types of fossils, body and trace fossils. Students will observe and examine a set of fossils to classify them as body fossils and trace fossils. Students also will act as paleontologists and try to ...

paleontology, dinosaurs, fossils, prehistoric organisms

Apr. 18, 2011

Glowing in the Dark

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will learn about phosphorescence and how certain materials can absorb and store energy from a light source. Students will use critical thinking skills to hypothesize which type of light -- incandescent, ultraviolet, infrared or...

phosphorescence, light, slime, electrons, chemistry

Dec. 16, 2010

Ugh, a Bug!

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will familiarize themselves with the distinguishing physical characteristics of an insect. Students will observe and maintain live crickets to learn the function of various body parts of a cricket. Further, students will have t...

insects, phobia, bed bugs, habitat, biology, senses

Nov. 16, 2010

Blood Typing

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will learn about another form of forensics: blood typing. Students conduct experiments with simulated blood to determine the blood type of each sample. Using the results of the experiment, students will determine if a blood sam...

forensics, anthropology, body, insects, forensics, blood type, human body

Nov. 11, 2010

Decaying Science

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will discuss the difference between organic and inorganic material, and how this distinction affects decomposition. The lesson will culminate with students building a composting column of soil and shredded organic material so th...

decomposition, composting, worms, organic matter, farming, conservation, biology, environment

Oct. 18, 2010

Flower Anatomy

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will discuss the various methods by which pollination can occur in flowers or plants. Students will dissect and identify the different parts of a flower, hypothesize the function of each part, and discuss the importance or rele...

pollination, fertilization, flowers, anatomical structure, biology, reproduction, plants

Oct. 13, 2010

The Color of Flowers

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will perform an experiment to find out where flower colors come from. Students will extract petal juice, use acid and base indicators, and observe chemical reactions to investigate how the amount of acid or base influences the ...

color, chemical reaction, flower petal, greenhouse, gardening, plants

Jan. 25, 2010

Cow’s Eye Dissection

By Teachers Talking Science

The human eye may be only about the size of a ping-pong ball, but it is an amazingly complex sensory organ that requires all of its components to function properly in order for a person to have optimal vision. Each part of the eye works together with th...

dissection, anatomy, eyes, brain, biology

Jan. 25, 2010

Delicious DNA

By Teachers Talking Science

In 1953, Francis Crick and James Watson discovered the structure of the DNA molecule, the double helix. Their discovery led to many developments in the fields of forensic science and biotechnology and in the understanding of heredity and genetic diseases...

DNA, double helix, forensic science, chemistry, cell structure, genetic disease

Jan. 25, 2010

Gassy Microbes

By Teachers Talking Science

Some microbes produce different types of gases as a byproduct of their metabolic processes. The microbes in this Science Friday Video released an odorless and flammable gas called methane. The type of gas or gases released by a microbe depends on the spec...

ecology, methane, permafrost, microbes, yeast, chemistry

Jan. 22, 2010

What’s On My Skin?

By Teachers Talking Science

Bacteria are one-celled organisms that can only be seen under a microscope. There are thousands of kinds of bacteria, and they are found everywhere - in the air, in the depths of the ocean, in the human body and on human skin. Under favorable conditions...

bacteria, colony, bacterial culture, skin, microscope, biology



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