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.
Racetrack Rocks Caught on the Move, Sharpshooting Fish Hits the Mark, Dandelion Weed Fills a Need, and What's That? Plants Listen for Danger
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
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
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
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.
Tree Snakes Change Shape to Get Air, Ants Battle for Territory, Google Glass Tracks Disease, and Melting Permafrost Reveals Secrets
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
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
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
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!
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.
Owlets Sleep Like Babies, The Sun is Flipping Out, Smart Glass Makes Instant Shade, and Sleepy People Eat More Junk Food
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.