By Teachers, For Teachers
Research has repeatedly shown that one of the most powerful ways to get students excited about Science, both as a course and a career, is to connect them with the excitement of breaking research news within the field.
Prior to the Internet, learning about 'breaking news' in the field of Science was almost impossible, as learning about the latest science news entailed borrowing science journals from your local university library and decoding the arcane jargon so that it made sense to untrained adolescent minds.
However, the World Wide Web has brought an end to the wide gap between citizens and the science they pay for. Here are a few examples of great websites that you can use to transport your students to the cutting edge of scientific discovery.
By subscribing to the "Top Stories" RSS feed for this site, and I learned more about interesting scientific research from the handful of daily updates than I did during my decade-long college career. They assemble science news from every imaginable field of study, including some very weird topics. When was the last time you read about the sex life of an orchid, or how infrared imaging is being used to help wolves fight off the disease called mange? Just think how these topics will engage your students!
Even better than reading what journalists write about current science, is going straight to the source: the researchers. Blogging has provided a perfect platform for researchers to share their findings, sometimes before papers are even published. One these two sites, you'll find a wide range of topics and reading levels that should be appropriate for advanced middle schoolers on up to college-level students. There is nothing like learning about state-of-the-art research from the people actually doing it.
One of my favorite science writers is Carl Zimmer, author of Microcosm and The Tangled Bank, who specializes in parasites and evolution. These topics combined with the storytelling style that he uses in his books makes some pretty complicated ideas much simpler and easier for students to understand. On this blog, Zimmer writes with the same clarity about new research and in a shorter format. The end result is a very interesting and approachable science blog for adolescent readers.
Check these out and consider using them in your classroom. Remember that a customized RSS reader like Pageflakes or Alltop lets you put the headlines from many blogs and websites on a single page for your students.
Do you use other science news sites? Please share your suggestions in the comments.