Category Archives: Science in the News

Science News for Kids

Science News for Kids logoScience News for Kids is a:

“Web site devoted to science news for children of ages 9 to 13. [Their] goal is to offer timely items of interest to kids, accompanied by suggestions for hands-on activities, books, articles, Web resources, and other useful materials.”

This week, the site features articles on topics as diverse as mosquitoes and how monkey’s perceive color. You can search the article archives by topic using the links on the left of the screen (or by using the search window in the top right hand corner of the screen) or by week.

Check out the PuzzleZone, GameZone and LabZone for weekly science-themed puzzles, games and activities. The SciFiZone offers recommendations for Science Fiction. Check out the ScienceFairZone for “science fair tips, topics, news, student profiles, winning projects, and more.” There is even a TeacherZone with “science materials and resources for teachers and parents.”

(discovered via Ms. Frizzle’s blog)

LABRats June 2004 Update

I have posted the most recent update from LABRats below. LABRats is a national program that is being developed by the Society for Amateur Scientists. For more information, check out my original post or go directly to the LABRats website:

Dear LABRats enthusiast,

LABRats held its first program development meeting recently. The proceedings are now posted on the new LABRats Development web page at

We are thrilled that so many world STEM education experts have joined the LABRats Program Content Committee. Among the members are representatives from Museum of Science in Boston, Harvard, Tufts, Northeastern, and UMass Boston. Everyone was exremely enthusiastic and supportive of the LABRats concept. In fact, one of the only concerns raised was that college may be disappointing to LABRRats participants after such a rich and
rewarding experience with the program in middle and high school. For more details, I invite you to review the meeting summary and presentations on the web page.

Many thanks for your continued support.

Best regards,

Heather Smith
Society for Amateur Scientists
Director of Program Development

This message is from the LABRats News Group. For information, archives, or to subscribe, please see

Giant African snails seized from schools

Giant African SnailsCNN reports that giant land snails have been seized from Wisconsin classrooms by federal health officials.

The snails are illegal in the U.S. because they reproduce quickly, eat native plants (as many as 500 different varieties), and can transmit meningitis via their mucous trails.

“In 1966, a Miami boy smuggled three Giant African Land Snails into the country. His grandmother eventually released them into a garden, and in seven years there were more than 18,000 of them. The eradication program took 10 years, according to the USDA.”

Yikes! This is a good example of an “invasive species.” The article also notes that “people who have the snails without knowing they are illegal will not face punishment.”

Charles Best, the founder of Donors Choose, was on the Today show this morning to talk about the success of his charitable organization during the four years that it has been in existence. You may remember that I featured this organization in an earlier posting to this website. Donors Choose is celebrating the fact that over $1 million dollars has been donated by citizen philanthropists to help NYC schools. And now the organization is going national…they are currently up and running in North Carolina and hope to eventually expand to all 50 states.

The Debate Continues…

Georgia’s lawmakers have proposed a bill that would require the state-wide curriculum to correspond to the national standards. Check out the following articles that were published in the Athens Banner-Herald over the last couple of days:

  • Concern over evolution prompts curriculum bill (February 10, 2004)
  • Evolution flap prompts curriculum bill (February 9. 2004 )
  • Note: Read more about the National Science Education Standards here.

    Revisiting Evolution in Georgia

    A number of other weblogs (e.g., “So you want to be a science teacher” and “Pharyngula“) have already posted about the fact that putting the word “evolution” back into Georgia’s K-12 science curriculum doesn’t solve the problem with the proposed life sciences curriculum. However, since I feel very strongly about this topic and I wanted to post about this topic on “Citizen Scientist” as well.

    For those of you who haven’t already read it, I recommend that you read An Analysis of Georgia’s Proposed Standards for Life Science, written by Reed Cartwright, a doctoral student in Genetics at the University of Georgia. This article highlights how Georgia’s proposed standards for the life sciences differ from those recommended by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

    You should also check out the following websites which Reed has linked to off his own website:

  • Georgia Science Education Petition
  • Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science Education
  • I would also like to refer you to a recent post on Jeff Hellman’s blog So you want to be a science teacher about why evolution should be taught in school.

    Science is Child’s Play

    via Alan Boyle’s Cosmic Log:

    “Turn science into child’s play: Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space, has had her share of somber duties as a member of the investigative boards for the Challenger explosion as well as the Columbia tragedy. But she also is involved in happier chores, such as helping with the second annual TOYchallenge.”

    TOYchallenge gives students in grades five through eight the opportunity to exercise their skills in science, engineering and design by coming up with new ideas for games and toys. Ride created the contest, along with Hasbro Inc. and Domenico Grasso, director of Smith College’s Picker Engineering Program. The idea is to inspire young people

    LABRats December 2003 Update

    I wanted to give you an update to a recent post about LABRats, a national program that is being developed by the Society for Amateur Scientists. The LABRats program “will teach science, self-esteem, and community service to America’s young people.” I have posted the text of a recent e-mail that I received from the LABRats newsgroup below:

    Dear LABRats enthusiast,

    As 2003 draws to a close, we are working hard on several fronts to make LABRats a reality, and we’d like to share some exciting news with you on partnership developments.

    We have an agreement with a local Boys and Girls Club that will share their space, members, and programming expertise during LABRats development and testing. We have also met with a world renowned science-technology center that is potentially interested in being a full development partner and may function as a regional office where mentors and adult volunteer leaders can be trained to deliver LABRats through various community organizations. Through these and other conversations, a model for a pilot program and subsequent dissemination is beginning to emerge.

    I look forward to continuing to share exciting LABRats development news with all of you throughout 2004. Thank you for your time, enthusiasm, and support. You are an important charter member of a growing national LABRats community, which, we believe, will one day change they way science is taught across the country. Your perspectives and experiences are valuable as we embark on program development, and I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

    Please email feedback to me at

    If you have a posting that is appropriate for the whole group, please email to Postings are moderated.

    Best regards,

    Heather Smith
    Society for Amateur Scientists
    Director of Program Development

    Subscribe to the LABRats newsgroup to get periodic updates on program developments.


    The Society for Amateur Scientists is working to develop a “national program that will teach science, self-esteem, and community service to America’s young people.” The LABRats program is described as a scout-like program that will teach science and reasoning skills, rather than camping, etc.

    From the LABRats Web site: “LABRats will be open to all young men and women, grades 6 through 12. Every young person who goes through the LABRats program will receive a broad-ranging inquiry-based introduction to all of the major fields of science. Each member who stays the course will advance through a series of ranks. To do so, each member will have to demonstrate an ever-increasing level of competence in basic science skills, as well as show an increasing awareness of how science serves humanity. Along with the core studies, the members will be able to tailor the program to their own interest by earning elective science badges in whatever field intrigues them. What