The activities, which can be completed individually or collaboratively, incorporate computer literacy, mathematics, writing, science, and research, and require students to locate, manipulate, organize, and analyze data. Generally, students use the word processor, database, spreadsheet, or draw/paint program to complete each activity. They are also encouraged to consult research sources such as the Internet, CD-ROM encyclopedias, books, and periodicals.
As they go through the program, students research dinosaurs and input the data into a database; then they use the database to create spreadsheets, graphs, stories, illustrations, and a time line. They research plans for space stations and use a paint program to create their own space station plan. They write a story about what life is like on an imaginary planet. Students also view a short video of the Lunar Rover and then describe it; they interpret an infrared satellite image of the weather, which is on the CD-ROM; and they create a time line of important inventions.
Video clips and clip art illustrations are included on the CD-ROM for students to use as they create documents or reports. A list of relevant Web sites is also provided. The activities are designed to be adapted to different grade levels; thus, they will require varying amounts of time, depending on the level of detail teachers assign.
The CD-ROM uses either Claris-Works (for Macintosh) or Microsoft Works for Windows. Students must know how to use these applications before they can complete the activities. The CD-ROM comes with a teacher's guide that summarizes the goals, skills, and research requirements for each activity.
Price: Unit, $99. Publisher/supplier: Educational Activities. Materials: Available locally, from commercial suppliers, or in unit.
LaMotte Co. Chestertown, Md.: LaMotte Co., 1993.
Recommended grade level: 7-8. The 7 activities in The Topsoil Tour —a soil test unit—allow students to examine, discover, and compare the physical and chemical properties of soil samples they gather. During the unit, students also learn about the role of different plant nutrients. Among the activities, they first collect soil samples, and they observe and record information about the soil's texture and appearance on data sheets. Then they make a soil nutrient extract using soda bottle filter funnels; they test the extract for pH, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous levels. Students also complete several word games or puzzles that reinforce concepts presented.
The procedures used in The Topsoil Tour are simpler versions of procedures used by soil scientists throughout the world. The unit includes a 3-ring binder with information for the teacher, reproducible student data sheets and handouts, and testing reagents in single-unit foil packages.
Prices: Complete kit, $51. Replacement kit, $39. Publisher/supplier: LaMotte Co. Materials: Available locally, from commercial suppliers, or in kit.
Andrew Fraknoi, ed. Developed by Project ASTRO, Astronomical Society of the Pacific. San Francisco, Calif.: Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 1995.
Recommended grade level: 3-8+. The Universe at Your Fingertips is an activity and resource guide on astronomy. It contains 87 hands-on classroom activities selected from various sources by a team of teachers and astronomers. The activities are presented in 13 sections, on topics such as moon phases and eclipses, the sun and seasons, planets, the solar system, comets and meteors, and stars and galaxies, as well as less conventional topics such as space exploration, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, pseudoscience (that is, astrology), and astronomy in different cultures. Ideas for interdisciplinary teaching are given. For example, students use Styrofoam balls to model lunar and solar eclipses; they make a star chart to find constellations in the night sky at any time of year; they construct simple refracting telescopes; and they create lists of songs and other pieces of music that relate in some way to astronomy.
Although activities are arranged within sections by topic and grade level, they can be done in any order. Each section of activities is followed by one or more lists of resources.
This 3-ring binder also contains comprehensive resource lists and bibliographies on topics such as astronomy organizations and suppliers, women in astronomy, the work and lives of astronomers, and astronomy and space software. Background material on astronomical topics and teaching ideas from experienced astronomy educators are also provided.
Price: $29.95 (ISBN 1-886733-00-7). Publisher/supplier: Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Materials: Available locally, or from commercial suppliers.