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Science in the News
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Science in the News engages your students in the ever-changing world of science. Each issue features compelling news articles for kids written at three reading levels to allow for differentiated instruction. Science in the News provides opportunities to teach critical thinking, inquiry, and the genre-specific, life-long literacy skill of reading the news.

Articles address current events in multiple areas of science, as well as technology and engineering. Activities in each issue ask students to respond to the reading and to demonstrate what they learned.

Past editions from the Science in the News archive provide additional reading resources for whole-group instruction or independent practice.

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2014



  • Racetrack Rocks Caught on the Move, Sharpshooting Fish Hits the Mark, Dandelion Weed Fills a Need, and What's That? Plants Listen for Danger
    November 2014

    Racetrack Playa in Death Valley got its name from long tracks left behind by rocks, some as big as boulders, that inexplicably move across the valley floor. This decades-old mystery was solved by scientists who caught the rocks in action. In other news, archerfish spit super accurate water jets to capture prey; rubber from dandelion roots will soon be used to make tires; and plants that hear the chewing of hungry caterpillars produce a chemical that keeps the herbivores from eating so much.

  • Grizzly Bears May be Reintroduced into Historic Range, Fit Kids Have More Brainpower, High-Tech Umbrella Measures Rain, and Supernova Leaves Behind Zombie Star
    October 2014

    Grizzly bears once roamed much of the western United States. Now, these big, brown bears live only in small parts of just four of the lower 48 states. A conservation group wants to change this by reintroducing grizzlies into suitable habitat in several western states. In other news, exercise strengthens the brain by improving memory and concentration; a new high-tech umbrella sensor allows citizen scientists to measure rainfall; and a weak supernova leaves behind a zombie star that appears to rise from the dead.

  • Fist Bumps Spread Fewer Germs, Tracking Animals from Space, NASA's New Space Suit, and Mysterious Craters Spark Theories
    September 2014

    From keyboards to doorknobs to phones, our hands are in constant contact with the world around us, which transfers bacteria and viruses to and from our hands. New research shows that fist-bumping spreads fewer germs than handshakes and may be the healthier way to say hello. In other news, satellite cameras are now powerful enough to photograph animals from space; NASA has created a new space suit that is both functional and fashionable; and mysterious craters in Russia were most likely caused by methane gas exploding from the ground.

  • Kangaroos Make Earth-Friendly Gas, A World-Class Soccer Ball Takes the Field, Plant Reflects Sound to Attract Bats, Fluid Recycling on Trip to Mars, and Gigantic Dino Discovered
    July 2014

    Large grazing animals, such as cattle, produce and release large amounts of methane gas as part of the digestive process. Methane is a greenhouse gas that causes climate change. Interestingly, the Australian version of a large grazing animal--the kangaroo--produces very little methane. The kangaroo's Earth-friendly gas may help scientists make "greener" cows! In other news, the new World Cup soccer ball gets put to the test; satellite-dish shaped leaves help a plant attract bats; trips to Mars are made possible by recycling urine; and the largest known species of dinosaur has recently been discovered in Argentina.

    Enjoy this special six-page summer edition!

  • Tree Snakes Change Shape to Get Air, Ants Battle for Territory, Google Glass Tracks Disease, and Melting Permafrost Reveals Secrets
    May 2014

    Snakes don't seem like natural flyers. They are skinny and wingless. However, paradise tree snakes can fly from tree to tree by spreading their ribs and flattening their bodies. This new shape is similar to that of an airplane wing and generates lift, keeping the snakes aloft. In other news, crazy ants are outcompeting fire ants for territory; doctors are using Google Glass to diagnose and track disease; and an ancient virus was discovered in melting permafrost.

  • Crocs and Gators Climb Trees and Use Tools, 3-D Printing Helps Animals, Martian Mystery Solved, and Get Involved in Earth Day
    April 2014

    Tool use is considered a mark of intelligence. Crocodiles and alligators have joined the ranks of animals that demonstrate this special ability. They place sticks on their head to lure birds close to their mouth. As another sign of intelligence, crocs and gators can climb trees to spot prey and bask in the sun. In other news, 3-D printing technology is helping injured animals; the mystery of the martian "doughnut" rock was solved; and April 22 is Earth day. Get involved!

  • New Uses for Robots and Drones, Bacteria Candy Helps Teeth, Bad Breath Scares Spiders, and Spacewalkers Repair Space Station
    March 2014

    While they may seem like something from the future, robots and drones are becoming part of everyday life. From robots herding cattle to drones delivering pizza, new technology is making life easier for people. Some robots may even help save lives! In other news, a candy made of bacteria may prevent tooth decay; caterpillars with bad breath scare away hungry predators; and brave astronauts on the International Space Station donned spacesuits to make repairs.

  • Student Invents New Sandbag, Whale Earwax Indicates Ocean Pollution, and Gears Help Insect Jump
    February 2014

    Flooding causes severe damage to buildings and can be deadly. A clever 6th-grade student invented a new kind of sandbag to protect people and their houses. This sandbag is lightweight and, when wet, forms a waterproof barrier. In other news, whale earwax collects samples of seawater, providing a record of the ocean pollution the whale encounters. Working gears on some insects help them jump to great heights!

  • Top Science Stories of 2013
    January 2014

    This special 6-page edition covers some of the biggest science stories of 2013: Voyager 1 left the Solar System and is now traveling in the uncharted territory of interstellar space; scientists discovered several new and fascinating species of plants and animals; a 7.7 magnitude earthquake caused a new island to form off the coast of Pakistan; a meteor exploded over Russia; and the most powerful land-based telescope became operational in Chile.

    BONUS VIDEO: In this exciting video, astronomers describe the evidence that proves Voyager 1 is in interstellar space.

2013



  • Owlets Sleep Like Babies, The Sun is Flipping Out, Smart Glass Makes Instant Shade, and Sleepy People Eat More Junk Food
    November 2013

    People aren't the only animals that have REM sleep. Barn owls also have REM sleep and, as with people, the babies spend more time in REM sleep than adults do. In other news, the Sun is in the middle of a solar maximum and its magnetic poles are reversing; smart glass can control the amount of light and heat coming through windows; and sleepy people favor junk food over healthy foods.

  • Mini-Habitats on Ocean Trash, a Super Suit, Dolphins Remember Names, and Ice-Covered Canyon Discovered
    October 2013

    Tons of plastic trash is building up in Earth's oceans. Tiny microorganisms are taking advantage of this plastic by turning it into a new, unique habitat dubbed the plastisphere. In other news, the newly invented exosuit makes muscles stronger; dolphins can recognize the whistles of their old friends even after 20 years; and a grand canyon was found hiding under the ice in Greenland.

    BONUS VIDEO: Show students a 3-D view of Greenland's hidden canyon with this fun animation!


  • Cheetahs: Built for Speed and Agility, Doughnuts in Space, A Better Bandage, and Citizen Science
    September 2013

    The cheetah is the fastest land animal on Earth. But it turns out that their ability to change speed and direction in a flash may be more important to hunting than their speed. In other news, the Hubble Space Telescope reveals the Ring Nebula's true shape; copper bandages can prevent infection; and citizen science projects allow everyone to participate in learning about our world.

  • Dark Lightning, Moving Continents, Hungry Plants, and Zero-Fuel Airplane
    August 2013

    Scientists recently discovered that storm clouds can produce gamma radiation alongside bright lightning. We can't see or feel this dark lightning, but exposure to it could cause health problems. In other news, there is new evidence of Earth's continents being on the move; carnivorous plants detect their next meal by way of chemical signals; and Solar Impulse completes its record-breaking flight across the U.S.

  • FlipperBot, Breath Prints, Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite, and Lighter Than Air
    July 2013

    A robot inspired by sea turtles is helping scientists learn how animals with flippers move so efficiently on sand. In other news, breath prints are as unique as fingerprints; a model leaf may help catch bedbugs before they bite; and ultra-light carbon aerogel may be useful for cleaning up oil spills.

    BONUS VIDEO: Show students FlipperBot in action with this exciting video!


  • Handedness in Marsupials, Mind-Controlled Headphones, Baby Planet, and Tadpole Tails
    June 2013

    People and other primates show handedness but animals that crawl also have a preference for one paw over the other! In other news, high-tech headphones select songs based on your mood, astronomers spy a still-developing baby planet, and stress causes tadpoles to grow bigger tails.

  • Dung Beetles Follow the Stars, From Wolf to Dog, Long-Lasting Bubbles, and Watering Crops Can Change the Weather
    May 2013

    African dung beetles use light from the Milky Way galaxy to navigate at night. In other news, a diet shift from meat to grains may have caused some wolves to evolve into domestic dogs, electricity can make bubbles last for hours, and irrigating farmland in California causes an increase in rainfall in nearby states.

  • Soot and Global Warming, Wrinkled Fingers, Super Slime, and Cardboard Helmets
    April 2013

    Controlling carbon dioxide emissions has proven to be difficult, but reducing the emission of soot could be a quicker, easier way to slow global warming. In other news, prune-like fingers that appear after a long swim may be a beneficial adaptation; thread made from hagfish slime is super strong; and cardboard bicycle helmets are the newest development in protective head gear.

  • Lobster Rings, Poisonous Primates, Water on Mercury, Peel-and-Stick Solar Panels
    March 2013

    Similar to tree rings, scientists have discovered growth rings in lobsters that reveal their age. In other news, a newly discovered species of Loris uses poison for defense; ice was found on blistering-hot Mercury; and peel-and-stick solar panels will offer an easy, new way to power cell phones and other devices.

  • Teaching Eggs to Sing, Rogue Planet, Magnets and Cancer, Pee Power
    February 2013

    Scientists have observed that certain birds learn a song while they are still in their eggs. In other news, some rogue planets float freely around in outer space; magnets can help kill cancer cells; and high school students in Africa designed a very unconventional generator.

  • A Look Back: Top Science Headlines of 2012
    January 2013

    The past year was an exciting one for science! This special six-page edition contains some of the most important and interesting science stories of 2012, such as the successful landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars; the discovery of Higgs boson particles; melting Arctic sea ice; and several new species.

2012



  • Elections and Science
    November 2012

    President Obama won reelection. Along with other priorities, science and technology are now more important than ever. In other election-related news: quite a few politicians were scientists first; Tuesdays may not be the best day for elections; and voters may be influenced by more than just the issues.

  • Spooky Animals
    October 2012

    Organisms often have surprising abilities that give them an edge in the survival of the fittest. From drinking blood to creating zombies to punching holes through shells, behaviors that may seem spooky or strange to people allow organisms to thrive in their natural environment.

  • Medical Technology and the Brain
    September 2012

    Together, the brain and spinal cord allow us to think, feel, write, and play. But injury to either of these can cause lifelong medical problems, including paralysis. New helmet technologies will provide more protection for the brain. Meanwhile, doctors and scientists have made significant breakthroughs that may help paralyzed patients perform daily tasks of living or even regain mobility.

  • Dinosaur Problems
    August 2012

    Dinosaurs have been extinct for 65 million years, but new and exciting research is revealing more information about their lives. Scientists now know that dinosaurs faced many problems, ranging from their small size at birth to diseases. Dinosaurs may also have contributed to global warming by producing methane gas.

  • Asteroid Mining
    July 2012

    A US company wants to mine asteroids for precious metals. These metals are rare and expensive on Earth, but common on many asteroids. Meanwhile, NASA has sent the spacecraft Dawn to the protoplanet Vesta to learn more about how Earth formed.

    BONUS VIDEO: Share this illuminating asteroid video with students!


  • London 2012: The Green Olympics
    June 2012

    London will be hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics. But gold, silver, and bronze won't be the only colors in focus at the Games. From cleaning up rivers and building an environmentally friendly Olympic Village to walkways with energy-producing tiles, the 2012 Summer Games will go "green" in a big way.


  • Summer Health and Sun Safety
    May 2012

    During summer, children often have a lot of free time. National Fitness Month is a great time to remember that being active is essential to one's health. Summer is also very sunny. Children should take precautions to avoid damage to their skin from the Sun's powerful rays.


  • Going Green on Earth Day
    April 2012

    Earth Day promotes awareness for protecting the planet throughout the year. Schools and students can do their part by "going green." On another environmental note, giant snakes called Burmese pythons are disrupting the natural Everglades food web. They consume prey animals that native predators rely on for survival. What will the future hold for this invasive species?


  • After the Tsunami: Rebuilding Japan
    March 2012

    SPECIAL 4-PAGE EDITION: One year ago this month, a massive earthquake shook Japan, and tsunami waves caused widespread destruction, including a nuclear catastrophe. But the people of Japan are rebuilding and recovering. Meanwhile, the Great Garbage Patch is carrying debris across the Pacific toward America's shores.

    BONUS VIDEO: Share this captivating tsunami video with students!


  • Cloning: Return of the Woolly Mammoth
    February 2012

    Scientists are attempting to bring woolly mammoths back to life! They will implant genes extracted from mammoth bones into the eggs of an African elephant. Cloning might be able to bring a species back from extinction, but should it be done?

  • Serious Fun with Video Games
    January 2012

    Video games can be a lot of fun, but did you know that they can also be used to help people? Recently, scientists enlisted the help of gamers to tackle the AIDS virus. Gamers solved in days a problem that high-powered computers could not solve over the course of years. Click below to learn more.

2011



  • 2011: Big Year in Astronomy
    December 2011

    SPECIAL 4-PAGE EDITION: Throughout 2011, many significant events and discoveries took place in the field of astronomy. From a giant storm spinning on Saturn to the last space shuttle landing, from rovers on Mars to robots heading to an asteroid, and from solar flares to the Messenger mission to Mercury, it was an exciting year in science...just like every year!

  • Developments in 3-D Technology
    November 2011

    Can you imagine printing a bicycle from your computer? A real, working bicycle? Engineers have designed a machine that works like a computer printer to produce solid, three-dimensional (3-D) objects. Also, technology has led to a popularity boom for 3-D movies and television. Learn what makes it possible to create and see things in three dimensions.

  • New Species in 2011
    October 2011

    Every year, scientists discover new species around the world. Among the discoveries in 2011 are Darwin's bark spiders, the eternal light mushroom, the leaproach, and the Louisiana pancake batfish.

  • Medical Breakthroughs
    September 2011

    An artificial heart with no heartbeat? A gun that applies new skin cells to heal burns quickly? A possible cure for all viruses? In medicine, the pursuit of new discoveries and technologies can truly be a lifesaver.

  • Weather and Baseball
    August 2011

    Scientists have identified correlations between weather and the performance of baseball players. For example, hitters and fielders perform better on cloudy days, while sunny days tend to favor pitchers. Additional natural forces such as elevation, wind, and humidity lead to differences between ballparks.

  • Animal Die-Offs
    July 2011

    In early 2011, a series of animal die-offs in the U.S. sparked alarm, but scientists are now able to explain the cause for each of them. Some die-offs were due to natural causes, while others were human-caused.

  • Japan's Nuclear Emergency
    June 2011

    An earthquake and tsunami damaged the four reactors of a major Japanese nuclear power plant. Leaking radiation is a serious threat to people and the environment. Scientists are looking for solutions.

  • Kids Create Apps, Too!
    May 2011

    Smartphone apps have grown exponentially in popularity. Some widely used apps were designed by children! Like good scientists and engineers, they had an idea and designed solutions.

  • Space Shuttle Program Ending
    April 2011

    Over 30 years, NASA's space shuttle program has facilitated amazing accomplishments in space. The shuttle program ends this year.

  • These Species Are Extreme!
    March 2011

    Scientists continue to discover organisms that can survive in extreme conditions. Some extremophiles can live in very hot, cold, dry, or toxic environments. One species even survived in the vacuum of space!

  • Animals Are Intelligent, Too!
    February 2011

    Recent scientific research indicates that some animals have more humanlike smarts than we thought.

  • X Cars Excel in Forward-Thinking Competition
    January 2011

    In 2010, teams of experts took part in the Automotive X Prize competition. The goal was to design and build fuel-efficient vehicles that could someday be mass-produced. The "X cars" also had to be speedy, maneuverable, and safe to drive.

2010



  • Lunar Eclipse Colors the Night Sky
    December 2010

    In the evening of December 20 and the morning of December 21, 2010, Earth passed between the Sun and Moon. Earth's shadow created a total lunar eclipse on the Moon. It was visible from much of North America.

  • Chilean Miners Rescued
    October 2010

    After 68 days entombed in a collapsed mine in Chile, a group of 33 miners were finally rescued. From drilling the rescue holes to keeping the miners healthy, scientists were involved every step of the way.

  • Whale Poop Protects Planet
    October 2010

    Sperm whales dive down deep to feed. Then they swim back to the ocean's surface to excrete soupy, reddish plumes of waste that float on top of the water. But what happens next is absolutely crucial to the planet's atmosphere.

  • New Species Found in 2010
    September 2010

    Even though we've been cataloging the planet's species for millennia, every year scientists find as-yet undiscovered species. Walking handfish and sea worms that drop glowing bombs recently made their debut on the world stage.

  • Lightning for My Mushrooms, Please!
    August 2010

    Scientists recently confirmed what Japanese mushroom farmers have known for centuries. Lightning's electric jolt to the soil increases mushroom crop yields. Researchers discovered how this occurs.

  • Solar-Powered Sea Slugs
    July 2010

    An amazing species of sea slug steals the genes for photosynthesis from the plants it eats! It's being called a "planimal."

  • Cleaning Up an Oil Spill
    June 2010

    The tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will have long-lasting effects on all of nature in and around the Gulf, and elsewhere. Students will learn what happened, how people are trying to clean up, and what some of the consequences may be.

  • Earthquake Moves Cities, Changes Time!
    May 2010

    Earthquakes can affect our planet on a large scale. The Chilean Earthquake moved an entire city by ten feet, and made Earth rotate slightly faster, shortening the length of a day ever so slightly. Also, a special feature explains the latest on what likely killed the dinosaurs.

  • Rubber Duckies, Glaciers, and Global Warming
    April 2010

    Why did scientists drop rubber duck toys into a glacier in Greenland? Their experiment may help us develop a better understanding of the effects of global warming.

  • The Octopus and the Coconut
    March 2010

    Can invertebrates use tools? A study found that octopuses in the waters of Indonesia transport hollow coconut shells and use them for shelter!

  • Water on the Moon?
    February 2010

    The Moon appears to be bone dry. But a recent space experiment proved that there are water molecules on its surface. What are the implications?

  • Whirlybird Seeds Fly Far
    January 2010

    Maple seeds, dubbed "whirlybirds" for their helicopter-like spinning flight, are teaching scientists a lot about the physics of staying aloft.

2009



  • Super-Strong Spider Silk
    December 2009

    Ounce for ounce, spider silk is one of the strongest natural substances on Earth. Recently, scientists have combined spider silk with metal to make it even stronger. This invention may be helpful in surgery, defense, and other applications.

  • Earth Versus Asteroids
    November 2009

    In 1908, a large asteroid exploded in Earth's atmosphere, far above Russia. Luckily, no one was hurt. But if the same thing were to happen today, it could be disastrous. Scientists are devising strategies to deal with the asteroids that periodically threaten our planet.

  • Zombie Ants
    October 2009

    Zombie people are make-believe. But zombie ants are real! A kind of fungus infects a kind of ant and controls its actions, forcing the ant to climb to a certain height and clamp down on a leaf, where the ant stays until... (Read on for the conclusion.)

  • Fixing the Hubble Space Telescope
    September 2009

    How do you fix a telescope that's flying 350 miles up in space? Call the space shuttle astronauts! Repairs to the astronomical workhorse will let scientists and the public enjoy Hubble's incredible space images for a while longer.

  • The Cloak of Invisibility
    June 2009

    How amazing would it be to become invisible at will? Scientists recently created a material that bends light around objects inside it, making them invisible. Just think what you could do with a real invisibility cloak!

  • Year of Science 2009
    May 2009

    The year 2009 was big for science. It was the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescope, with which the astronomer discovered that other planets have moons, and it was the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth. Communities around the world celebrated science's innumerable contributions to our lives.

  • Animals and Tools
    April 2009

    Scientists used to think that people were unique among animals because they made and used tools. But recent studies have shown that many other animal species-such as chimpanzees, elephants, and crows-regularly create and use their own tools.

  • New Species Found in 2009
    March 2009

    Students might think that every kind of animal has been found and named. But did they know that thousands of animal species are still undiscovered? Every year, researchers find more species new to science, from the tiniest insects to large predators.

  • Scotch Tape X-Rays
    February 2009

    Have you ever broken a bone? If so, the doctor may have used an X-ray machine to see the bone and to decide how best to fix it. X-rays are a kind of invisible light that can pass through the body. But did you know that unrolling sticky tape can also create X-rays?

  • Flying Windmills!
    January 2009

    Have you ever been told to go fly a kite? By harnessing high-altitude winds with flying windmills connected to Earth by cables, researchers hope to produce cheap, renewable energy and revolutionize the wind power industry.

2008