Young Scientist Challenge: Encouraging Students to Share Their Passion for Science

Young Scientist Challenge for Youth Ages 10-14

Whether or not students win the challenge, the process of creating a project to submit can be a valuable learning opportunity in itself. For more information www.youngscientistchallenge.com where educators will find Teacher Tools to full student excite about science, including lesson plans and videos & interactives.

Everything that we do has some science behind it – everyday tasks as simple as boiling water for tea and riding the school bus are all powered by fascinating phenomena, and scientific principles offer us with a wide array of possibilities for further innovation and change.  Curious about how something works or interested in making a new discovery?  Research it, and make it happen!

Students in grades 5-8 are invited to do just that in order to participate in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.  The challenge – prizes for which include a mentorship with a 3M scientist, a $25,000 cash prize, and more – asks students to create a short video explaining a solution they’ve found to a problem related to how we work, play, or relax.  Students should understand the science behind the solution, whether it’s related to physics and architectural design, chemistry and food science, or biology and our own changing bodies.

The challenge presents students with an opportunity to provide scientific innovation, just as a career scientist would.  Such a project will help students to learn skills for applying their science knowledge, will encourage students to pay close attention to detail in their everyday lives, and will help them feel empowered to create and discover.

Federal Fish and Wildlife Services’ Junior Duck Stamp Program

Supplement Habitat Studies with the Junior Duck Stamp Program

The Junior Duck Stamp Program offers an educational arts and science curriculum which educators can use for incorporating science, art, math and technology into habitat conservation studies. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Western Massachusetts is home to a wide variety of duck species.  These beautiful birds make their homes in wetland areas, a habitat in need of conservation.  Students can learn about duck species and help to promote wetland conservation by participating in the Federal Fish and Wildlife Services’ Junior Duck Stamp Program!  This contest calls for students to create their own stamps, featuring a specific duck species portrayed in its habitat.  Students should learn about their species of choice, so as to make the best and most accurate depiction possible!  Their design should reflect the group’s goal in creating the stamp – to share the beauty and importance of the species of the duck depicted.

Students should learn to understand the relationship between the duck and its specific environment, and should understand why the duck has such specific habitat requirements.  Students can also study other stamp designs to learn what makes a good stamp!

Entries in the contest will be judged in four different age groups, and the winning entry will be made into a stamp and released in June.  The contest is an opportunity for students to learn about local biodiversity, and to work on their understanding of the interrelatedness of species and their habitat.  Students can also work on their art skills, working carefully to clearly portray their duck.  The contest deadline is March 15th. For more information visit www.fws.gov/juniorduck.

Online resources for educators:

3 Apps Aid Citizen Scientists & Nature Enthusiasts

3 Apps to Explore & Engage with Your Environment

While adventuring outdoors to enjoy local landscapes this summer, families can integrate their mobile devices into their trek to create environmental learning opportunities! Three applications – CreekWatch, Leafsnap, and the WildLab – are all designed to teach users about their environment and to help monitor and conserve natural resources.  All three applications provide ways for families to integrate technology into their outdoor adventures in a way that promotes learning and engagement with nature, rather than detracting from the experience. Try one (or all!) of them on your next outing.

WATERSHEDS

CreekWatch allows families to monitor the health of their local watershed by using pictures of streams and creeks (taken by users and submitted via the app) to determine water level and amount of pollution and debris present in the water.

ARBORICULTURE

Leafsnap, called an “electronic field guide,” compares pictures of tree leaves using photorecognition software, and helps users identify trees  – allowing them to learn about the biodiversity present around them while sharing information with a public database, helping to aid scientists.

ORNITHOLOGY

For bird identification, check out the WildLab – it uses GPS-tagged photos taken by users to monitor bird populations, and the user learns what bird(s) they’ve seen using information provided in the app.

Kids Spoon-Fed Marketing and Advertising for Least Healthy Breakfast Cereals

Kids Spoon-Fed Marketing and Advertising for Least Healthy Breakfast Cereals

(Photo credit: Chris James)

The least healthy breakfast cereals are those most frequently and aggressively marketed directly to children as young as age two, finds a new study from Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. The researchers’ evaluation of cereal marketing, the first such study of its kind, shows pervasive targeting of children across all media platforms and in stores. The detailed findings of this study, which was supported in part by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will be presented in Washington today at Obesity 2009, the 27th annual scientific meeting of The Obesity Society.

Researchers studied the nutrient composition and comprehensive marketing efforts of 115 cereal brands and 277 individual cereal varieties. Nineteen brands (comprised of 47 varieties) were identified as “child brands” because their cereals are marketed directly to children on television, the Internet, or through licensed characters, such as Dora the Explorer.

Cereal companies spend nearly $156 million annually marketing to children just on television. They also market extensively using the Internet, social media, packaging, and in-store promotions.

“This research demonstrates just how far cereal companies have gone to target children in almost everything they do. The total amount of breakfast cereal marketing to children on television and computer screens, and at their eye-level in stores, combined with the appalling nutrient profile of the cereals most frequently marketed, is staggering,” said lead researcher Jennifer L. Harris, Ph.D, MBA, director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center.

Key marketing exposure findings include: Read the rest of this entry »

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