2017 in Review: Top Resources

Photo Credit: Clipart.com.

2017 is nearing its end. See what lessons, tools, Science Update podcasts, afterschool activities, videos, and collections were most popular on Science NetLinks this year and find out which resources our staff recommend:


  • Growth Stages 1: Infancy and Early Childhood (3-5): This lesson introduces students to the stages of human growth and development that take place during infancy and early childhood.
  • Exploring Pendulums (6-8): This lesson helps students understand concepts related to how gravitational forces act on objects by exploring the motion of pendulums.
  • Sink or Float (K-2): In this activity, students determine whether various objects sink or float in water.
  • The History of the Atom 1: The Ancient Greeks (9-12): This lesson introduces students to the ancient theories of matter that led to the work of John Dalton.
  • Systems of the Human Body (3-5): This lesson explores the different systems within the body and how they work independently and together to form a functioning human body.

We checked in with Science NetLinks staff on which lessons they really liked, and they recommended three lessons for students in grades 6-8: Crow Smarts, which helps students explore what a tool is and if people are the only tool makers; Death-Defying Cockroaches, which invites students to explore the ways in which scientists apply research on how cockroaches fit into tiny spaces for practical human uses; and Ricky's Atlas, which helps students understand the role of fire, weather, climate, etc., and their effects on ecosystems through student involvement in environmental monitoring, data collection, journaling, and map production.

Other favorite lessons include Changing Cicada (K-2), which provides students with an opportunity to consider the concept of heredity in the context of the periodical cicadas; The Science of Hurricanes (3-5), which introduces students to the science of hurricanes in an effort to highlight how forces change the speed and direction of motion; and the Mozart Effect (9-12), in which students develop an understanding of why skepticism is important in science by looking at actual scientific studies regarding the effect of playing Mozart's music to infants.


  • 3D Brain App (9-12): This app allows you to rotate and zoom around 29 interactive structures in the brain.
  • Shape It Up! (3-8): This interactive from Kinetic City provides students with the opportunity to experience how mountains, rivers, and canyons were formed.
  • All Systems Are Go! (3-8): In this online activity, a fictional character named Arnold is missing a number of body parts. It's your job to complete each body system so Arnold can function.
  • Cell Size and Scale (6-12): This simple interactive from the University of Utah's Genetic Science Learning Center gives you the opportunity to see how various small things compare to one another.
  • MARE's Build a Fish (3-8): In this interactive activity, you must build a fish whose adaptations make it suited to its ocean environment.

Science NetLinks staff listed three tools amongst their favorites: David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef (6-12), in which students join the legendary broadcaster and naturalist to explore the beautiful but endangered world of the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef. The Thousand-Year Graveyard (9-12) interactive resource from Science Magazine looks at how scientists uncover a tortured history of disease and death from the Middle Ages onward. The Inventioneers App (K-5) from Filimundus challenges kids to solve problems using the objects provided.


  • Big Heads: If somebody is really smart, other people might say: "She's got a really big brain." But when it comes to brains, does size really matter? In this Science Update, you'll hear the complicated answer to that simple question.
  • Fever Chill: This Science Update answers the question, "Why do fevers give you chills?"
  • Tilted Earth: In this Science Update, learn how the earth got tilted on its axis.
  • Modern Leeching: Learn why, in this Science Update, leeches are still used in hospitals today.
  • Body Temperature: Even a 90-degree summer day is cooler than your body temperature. So why does it feel so warm? You'll find out in this Science Update.

Science NetLinks staff recommend checking out these three Science Updates: Raven Planning, which explores how ravens, like great apes, are capable of planning ahead; Poisoned Pollen, which discusses how the wide variety of pollen bees consume exposes them to harmful pesticides; and Bird Migration and Climate Change, which focuses on how climate change could be leading to food shortages for migrating birds.

Afterschool Resources

  • All Systems Go! (3-5): Through this online interactive activity, kids learn about the concept of separate body parts working together to build a body system. Help your kids explore the inside of the human body with this activity.
  • Falling for Gravity (3-5): Your group will watch various objects (pens, pennies, erasers, etc.) fall from the same height to see if they reach the ground at the same time. They also will roll marbles down an inclined plane to see if they reach the bottom at the same time.
  • Fun with Forces (3-5): Almost any place can become a “lab” for exploring forces. Your group is going to experiment with the force they feel when pressed against the side of a car that is going around a curve really fast. They’ll explore a similar situation, an object that stays in a mini-bucket as it is swung overhead.
  • Gravity Launch (5-7): There are a lot of challenges with space flight. One is simply getting the rocket off the ground. This is because the thrust to launch a rocket has to work against the force of gravity. So, there are two forces at play in this game: earth’s gravitational pull and thrust. Your kids will play with a computer interactive that demonstrates these two forces in action.
  • Size Wise (3-5): Kids start learning about their own bodies almost right away in school. This activity provides a fun way to measure and consider different body proportions by having the kids record the distances between different parts of their bodies.

Science NetLinks suggests checking out Geyser Riser, in which your group will create pressure in a bottle to model one of the special conditions under which a geyser erupts, and Dances with Bees, in which your group will reenact some of the dances honeybees use to communicate the location of nectar and pollen to learn about bees and how they communicate with each other.


Animal videos remain some of our staff favorites: Watch Parrot, Check; Goggles, Check (6-12), in which Science takes a brief look at scientists studying how a parrot flies, and What Makes Dogs So Friendly?, in which it is theorized that childlike affinity toward humans may have been a first step in domestication.


  • Science Apps: Science NetLinks reviews STEM-related apps for both iOS and Android.
  • Black History Month: Science NetLinks and AAAS have developed a number of resources that will help you honor the achievements and scientific work of African Americans.
  • The Science of Weather: This collection focuses on different types of weather and the natural forces that cause them.
  • The Skin Deep Project: The Skin Deep Project takes a closer look at our largest organ, skin, and examines how we can keep it healthy in this collection of resources.
  • Videos for Grades 6-8: Here you'll find all the videos in the Science NetLinks collection aimed at middle-school students.

Science NetLinks created the Inventing Green collection this year and filled it with brand new lessons, videos, tools, and blog posts. We're quite proud of it.


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