Participate in cutting-edge science with Citizen Science

We’re all about hands-on learning. And what better way to learn than to participate in actual, cutting-edge science inquiries?

Citizen science allows ordinary people–like you, me, and our kids–to participate in science. For example, The Lost Ladybug Project asks people to find and photograph ladybugs, in an attempt to find rare ladybug species. A 10 and 11 year-old boy and girl made the first major breakthrough in the project when they found a rare 9-spotted ladybug–the first seen in the eastern United States in 14 years!

Can you imagine the power behind citizen science? Students aren’t just learning about science, they’re participating in it! They are making science happen. Along the way, they’ll learn observational skills and apply the scientific method, as a matter of course. They’ll also learn about the topic at hand, whether it’s neutron stars or backyard birds.

Are you ready? These fantastic websites have curated lists of citizen science projects for you to participate in!

Cool Cat Teacher lists 17 citizen science projects for schools, teachers, and parents
Hack Education describes 5 apps that encourage citizen science
Wikipedia has dozens of Citizen Science Projects
SciStarter indexes hundreds of projects including Moon Zoo and a DIY Laser Harp

We’ve also made a Pinterest board tracking citizen science opportunities.

Engage Students with Creepy Crawly Hands-on Science

Launching your lessons with a hands-on activity is a great way to get kids re-engaged in your classroom after Spring Break!

Our most popular items for your students are bugs and critters. Kids of all ages love exploring the world of creepy crawly bugs. Explore metamorphosis! Or teach about the critters role in the ecosystem. Gather a variety of critters and host a bug show.

If you prefer to not have live critters, consider life cycle models for a hands-on, but not creepy crawly, way to explore the life cycle of insects.

Caterpillars and butterflies.

We also provide classroom and individual student kits
Creepy Crawly

Ants

Harvester ants are HUGE and easy to observe. Keep them contained in an Ant Farm. For more cool info on ants and their environments check out our page here.

Creepy Crawly

Ladybugs

Don’t forget a habitat!

Mealworms

We also provide a growing kit with food, burlap, mealworms, pupae, and beetles; as well as an experiment kit to explore the mealworm’s sensitivity to light.
Creepy Crawly

Praying Mantis egg

Praying Mantis are also referred to as Stick Bugs!

Pill Bugs

These harmless roly poly bugs are a great choice for those of us who might be a tad bit squeamish about other bugs.

Snails: land and pond

Did you know some snails hibernate during the winter?


Earthworms

Depending on the species an adult earthworm can grow to almost 10 feet long!

Crayfish

Also known as Crawfish, Crawdads and Mudbugs, yumm!

Water Fleas

Crickets

Believe it or not they can make a tasty treat!

Desert Millipede

Redworms

Hydra

Milkweed bugs and eggs

Planaria

Silkworms

Silkworms are the primary producer of silk.

Tenebrio Beetles

Vinegar Eels

Drosophila Fruit Flies

Brine Shrimp

Shh, here’s a secret: Sea-Monkeys are actually brine shrimp.

 

Would you like to find out where to find / buy any of these cool creepy crawly critters? Send us a message under our Contact Us page.

The Basics of the Carbon Cycle

The Carbon Cycle

The carbon cycle is the way carbon is distributed in the earth.

In the image, you can see the flow of carbon between land, atmosphere, and ocean. The numbers show, in gigatons of carbon per year, the natural fluxes of carbon (the yellow numbers), the human contributions (red numbers), and stored carbon (white numbers).

Releasing Carbon

Respiration

Humans and other mammals breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.

Waste and Decay

Carbon can be released into the environment through waste and decay. Animals produce solid waste products that go into the soil and water, while leaves, roots, wood and dead animals decay.

Burning

Burning fossil fuels and wood releases stored carbon into the atmosphere.

Using Carbon

The carbon that is released into the environment is used by many plants and animals. This is the part of the carbon cycle that removes carbon from the atmosphere.

Photosynthesis

Plants and algae take in carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.

The majority of photosynthesis  occurs in the oceans by algae and phytoplankton. Also, due to the large surface area of the oceans, carbon dioxide diffuses in and out in an attempt to equalize.

Shells and bones

Many sea creatures take in carbon when making shells and bones. When these animals die and sink to the ocean floor, this carbon is stored for some time.

Questions

What are your questions about the carbon cycle? What are your students’ hardest questions? We’ll be answering your queries as we explore the carbon cycle more in the next few articles.

Winter Wonderland With Snow

Here in Texas, we rarely get snow.

Instead, we can create a winter wonderland–indoors or out–with instant snow! This fun scientific product will not melt, no matter what the temperature is!

Snow

Science projects with instant snow

  • Create a sensory bin
  • Illustrate the difference between a physical and chemical reaction: after showing your student how the snow absorbs water, let the water evaporate for a few days. The snow powder is the same stuff you started with.
  • Teach the concept of Conservation of Mass. Weigh the snow before adding water. Add water, then let it evaporate. Weigh the snow powder again. It is the same.
  • Demonstrate the concept of absorption

Decorating with instant snow

Instant snow options

Instant SnowAmazon provides two types of instant snow: a 3pk bundle and a 2 gallon Jar of Snow. Both are a highly absorbent polymer that create realistic-looking snow when you add water.

Instant snow also makes a great stocking stuffer!

Giant Ant Farm review


We received a Giant Ant Farm and some harvester ants from Heath Scientific to try.

The Ants

Harvester ants are HUGE. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill tiny sidewalk ants. Even without a magnifying glass, you can clearly see their mandibles and other body parts.

The Farm

The Giant Ant Farm is fantastic for more than one child. The large, double-sided viewing area gives plenty of space for kids to come close and observe the ants.

The only drawback is the base: we’ve accidentally knocked it over a couple times. Then again, we have a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, so accidents are not unexpected. I’m certain that older kids wouldn’t knock it over. A large-base alternative that won’t get knocked over is the ant hill, which has a smaller viewing area but is more stable.

Taking care of the ants

Ants are low-maintenance. They just require a few squirts of water and crumbs of food. The ant farm came with a years supply of food, which makes it easy to feed them.

For all ages

My 4-year-old and a 2-year-old were absolutely fascinated when we set up the ant farm. Elementary aged kids will love the farm as well and they will be thrilled to see the tunnels the ants build.

I find it fascinating to watch the ants too. You can see how they communicate and react to events like water raining on their farm. It’s unbelievable that even though no one ant is directing them, they still manage to get communal activities done. At first they’d dig and refill each others tunnels, but now they’ve built several together.