By: Dr. Dana Sackett
As we all face a global pandemic together, we can each do our part in these uncertain times by following the guidance of our amazing scientists at the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control (I strongly encourage everyone to read over their guidelines). Their guidance includes telling everyone that can, to shelter in place and socially distance themselves to help stop the spread of this virus and ultimately reduce the number of people that will get severely ill (especially all at once). For many, such as myself, with school-aged children, we also find ourselves taking a more direct role in our children’s education as schools take the necessary steps to prevent the spread of this virus; canceling classes for the foreseeable future. Therefore, in this week’s The Fisheries Blog I wanted to share some of the amazing scientific resources I have found particularly fun and useful to explore with my children and help them to gain a better understanding of science in general and our natural world.
1. Biology4kids: There are a series of links for younger kids to learn about all of the interesting aspects of science called: Biology4kids, Chem4kids, Geography4kids (this is for physical geography, which is more atmosphere, hydrosphere, how elements cycle, not where countries are located), and more. These are great if you have elementary or middle school aged kiddos in the household. Even more, under the vertebrate link on this site is a cameo of our very good friend, and a frequent contributor to The Fisheries Blog, Dr. Tobey Curtis, discussing his research on shark conservation.
2. The Amoeba Sisters have a plethora of short online videos that are fun, funny, and super informative for nearly all ages. They focus on different aspects of general biology and can be found on youtube. I absolutely adore their content and as a biologist, find myself watching their videos just for kicks. It is only recently that I have started watching them with my children. This has resulted in them begging to watch Amoeba Sisters videos (they are that good). Below is a link to the Amoeba Sisters playlist with an explanation of who they are and what they do.
3. NOAA (or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has an amazing assortment of interactive programs tailored to various educational levels that allow you to follow marine animals as they move across the ocean, estimate fish in an ecosystem, examine how tides change, find out how an El Nino works, understand ocean acidification, learn the importance of estuaries, and figure out how to determine water quality. They even have virtual dives to some of the most beautiful marine sanctuaries in the world. Some of my favorite options from this vast collection of resources can be found in the links below.
4. The Globe Program is another phenomenal resource that is very well organized and provides excellent educational resources on environmental science by grade level and specific topics. For example, in the ‘lower primary grade level’, which spans kindergarten to second grade, you can choose hydrosphere activities. This link leads to an activity where students learn how to model water movement through a catchment basin and how that water will change as a result of what is in the basin (for example, farm land, city, or forest).
5. Kids Environment by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is another amazing resource for kids educational material. At the top right-hand corner of this page are links to various ‘Topics’, ‘Games’, ‘Activities’, and ‘Lessons’. Just a quick glance through the list of lessons will help you realize the goldmine of educational information that is available on this site. There is even a lesson on epidemiology where the students work together to investigate an outbreak using real data (a lesson that may help some students better understand the current world crisis a little better).
This list includes only a few of my personal favorites (some others are the Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network or CLEAN, Science Education Resource Center or SERC, and NOVA Planet Earth led by pbs.org). However, there are many others I have yet to discover. As a result, I am asking our readers a favor: please comment below with some of your favorite environmental science / ecological / fishy-related resources that others may enjoy to help keep us all indoors learning cool new information about the world we live in together.