Today is Monday
July 28, 2014

May 8, 2013


by The Science Vault — Categories: current eventsLeave a comment
Share Button

The Science Vault Blog is dedicated to providing busy teachers access to “kid-friendly” current events in science with accompanying ideas for their use in the classroom. The aim of this blog is to save teachers time, help meet a teacher’s need for engaging non-fiction reading for their students, and offer ideas for how to use the current events in class. It is my goal to create a free printable to accompany every current event.

A second purpose of this blog is to offer a place to talk about science education and technology tools that can make class interactions fun, engaging, and productive.

To get around easily on this blog, use the “categories” links in the upper part of the dark grey bar to the right of this post. The category links will filter posts to bring you what you are interested in.

Thanks for visiting! I hope that you find the materials here useful – your feedback is always welcome, so if you’ve got an idea or a comment, I would truly love to hear it :)

sig for blog

August 18, 2013

Headers and Memory Loss

by The Science Vault — Categories: biology, neurologyLeave a comment
Share Button

Soccer player hitting ball with head

In an article written by Stephen Ornes for Science News for Kids on June 20, 2013, possible memory loss from frequent “heading” of a soccer ball is discussed.

From the article:

In a recent study, players who did lots of headers performed worse on a memory test than players who didn’t head the ball as often. The same study also found that players who frequently headed the ball had more changes to their brain’s white matter.

Great topical article for the start of school; what I really like about it is that the article doesn’t go in depth about the methodology used, which allows for some really good questions. For instance, the article doesn’t discuss whether a control group was used for the memory test. Another thing that stuck out to me was that the scientists used player’s recollections for how many times they headed a ball; but the test is about memory. As it turns out, the players who recalled heading the ball more often scored worse on memory tests – but maybe they don’t actually head the ball more often – they just don’t recall heading as accurately?

I’m sure the study accounted for these things, but when short studies get summarized, I like to use all the apparent holes to get students to think critically, argue the results, and maybe even design a better study.

The article’s reading level grades out at 8.6 on the Flesch-Kinkaid scale.

Attached is the article in Word format for easy printing and editing, accompanied by a worksheet with an answer key.

Headers and Memory Loss

Headers and Memory Loss Questions

Let me know if your kids enjoy this article and if it spurs on some good critical thinking type discussions :)

sig for blog

June 22, 2013

During Cicada Boom, Birds Mysteriously Vanish

by The Science Vault — Categories: biologyLeave a comment
Share Button


Discover Magazine posted an article about the mysterious population dip in birds in areas of cicada emergence on June 18, 2013. Written by Madeline Bodin, the article goes on the explain the scientific process two researchers – one a ornithologist, the other a forest service researcher – undertook to explore the reasons for the mysterious bird population decline during a time when you would think the population would boom, given the ample food source.

Besides being interesting, I really like this article for the possibilities it holds when talking with students about creating explanations and then testing the explanations. Not only does the article describe the researchers thinking and testing, but it also explores the questions they now have based on their conclusions…the article is a perfect set-up for talking about scientific process with your students.

Following the link above will take you to the article online – I love the discussion going on in the comments too – lots of good stuff their to mine and push your students to think about possible explanations and how they could test those explanations.

This current event ties in nicely with a previous current event posted here on May 16 titled “Here Comes Swarmageddon.

Below are two links to the article in printable form along with a set of discussion questions.

I’d love to know how this works for you in your classroom! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them here :)

Printable Article: During Cicada Boom Birds Mysteriously Vanish

Discussion Questions: During Cicada Boom Birds Mysteriously Vanish

sig for blog

June 15, 2013

23 Science Books So Good They Read Like Genre Fiction

by The Science Vault — Categories: current events, science edLeave a comment
Share Button

Literacy has become a huge topic in my district and the push is to get kids reading more non-fiction. Typically, students are reading fiction in their English classes, and the non-fiction reading is usually considered to be what they read in their textbooks or in current events (like I offer on this site :) ). As every teacher knows, though, reading textbooks can be a hard sell. That’s where this post comes in.

I ran across an article last week that I wanted to share with y’all. Titled 23 Science Books That Are So Exciting They Read Like Genre Fiction, the post details 23 books that any teacher could make available to his or her students – books that kids will read!

What do you think? Have you read any of these? What are some of the ways you could incorporate some of these books into your classroom – or even excerpts from some of these books?

As always, questions and comments are appreciated and welcome!

sig for blog

May 21, 2013

Record High Readings Of Carbon Dioxide Raise Concern

by The Science Vault — Categories: current events, environmental science — Tags: , , Leave a comment
Share Button

In an article by Meera Dolasia on (link above), rising carbon dioxide levels are discussed. We hit a not-so-exciting milestone earlier in May: CO2 level reached 400 parts per million in the earth’s atmosphere.

The article explains why rising carbon dioxide is a problem, has some good graphs if you’d like to have your students dive into the data, and explains the rising CO2 levels in easy-to-understand terms.

Below you will find the article formatted in a Word document and a discussion question sheet to use with your students.

Record High Readings of Carbon Dioxide

Record High Readings of Carbon Dioxide Discussion Questions

sig for blog

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

May 16, 2013

Here Comes Swarmageddon!

by The Science Vault — Categories: biology, current events — Tags: , 2 Comments
Share Button

Two adult cicadas size each other up on a wooden railing. Credit: rbmiles/iStockphoto


This spring and summer, trillions of cicadas will emerge in the eastern US

In this May 12th post on Science  News for Kids, (linked above) author Sid Perkins discusses cicadas and the impending swarm this spring & summer. An amazing number of cicadas, as many as a trillion across a single square mile, will emerge along the eastern seaboard of the US.

Perkins goes on to discuss 13 year broods and 17 year broods, explaining possible evolutionary advantages for the cicada to have the huge swarms only once every decade, discusses the life-cycle of cicadas, how they live underground, how cicadas know when it’s time to come above ground…all typical biology/entomology stuff.

Then near the end of the article, Perkins switches gears abruptly and starts talking about eating cicadas. He even includes a recipe :) I’ll be honest, it kinda grossed me out – BUT, then I thought, what a great way to determine if your students actually read the article all the way to the end! The groans and comments would be hard to miss :)

The web article has beautiful photography and includes a video of a cicada nymph emerging from underground. Here’s the video on youtube

Below is a word document for the article and a nine question discussion sheet for the article.

Here Comes Swarmegeddon Article

Here Comes Swarmageddon Discussion Questions


sig for blog



Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

May 12, 2013

Sir Ken Robinson on American Education – How to Escape Education’s Death Valley

by The Science Vault — Categories: science ed — Tags: , , Leave a comment
Share Button

I have yet to hear a Sir Ken Robinson TED talk that I haven’t loved, but this particular talk really, really hit home for me. I love the way he uses humor to keep his audience engaged – even when making very serious, important points. One of my favorite quotes from this talk,”If you sit kids down, hour after hour, doing low-grade clerical work, don’t be surprised if they start to fidget, you know?”

Watch this video and share it. What’s your favorite quote?

May 11, 2013

American Cannibals

by The Science Vault — Categories: archaeology, current eventsLeave a comment
Share Button

Artists and scientists worked together to create this sculpture that shows what Jane, a colonial American, might have looked like. A study of the teen’s remains indicates she was cannibalized after she died. Credit: StudioEIS, Don Hurlbert/Smithsonian

American Cannibals – Skull fragment suggests starving colonists may have eaten one of their own

A new article by Stephen Ornes on Science news for Kids tells a gruesome story of survival in Jamestown during the winter of 1609-1610. A particularly harsh winter was made worse by the spoilage of food on supply ships from England. Settlers did what they could to survive, including eating snakes, rats, horses, and dogs…and apparently, their fellow settlers.

This short article paints a bleak picture of what life must have been like for those early settlers. Written on a 9th grade reading level (as measured by Flesch-Kincaid), this one pager will intrigue your students. The accompanying discussion question sheet guide students through the content of the article and then asks them to write a letter to a friend back in England describing what life is like that winter of 1609.

Below is a print-friendly word doc of the article plus another word doc with discussion questions.

American Cannibals

American Cannibals Discussion

sig for blog

May 7, 2013

How to Calm a Crying Baby

by The Science Vault — Categories: current events — Tags: Leave a comment
Share Button

Carrying a Baby Calms it Down – in People and in Mice

Most parents understand that picking up and cuddling a crying infant is the quickest way to calm the infant down.

That’s not  earth-shattering news. Nor does it qualify as a “current event.”

However, in a May 1, 2013 post on Science News for Kids, author Stephen Ornes writes that researchers at Riken Brain Science Institute in Saitama, Japan have been able to identify how being carried changes vital processes in a baby’s body.

The researchers found that crying, movement, and heart rates of infants increased dramatically when infants were put in a crib. These measures decreased when the babies were picked up and held by their mother sitting in a chair and decreased further still when the mother walked around the room carrying their child.

The researchers also looked at the behavior of newborn mice – when the mice were picked up by their neck by their mother, they tucked their tail and became still. Their heart rates also slowed. You’ve probably seen similar responses in kittens  or puppies, but the researchers did an interesting test: they administered a drug to the necks of the mice that made the mouse pups unable to feel their mother’s mouse. When picked up in this conditions, the mice continued to squirm.

This current event grades out at a 6.7 grade level on the Flesch-Kinkaid and what I really like about it for a science classroom is the straight-forward description of how the researchers ran their investigation. For instance, from the article:

Kumi Kuroda, from the Riken Brain Science Institute in Saitama, Japan, led the new study. Kuroda studies how parent-infant relationships in mammals affect the brain.

Other scientists had sought effective ways to calm distressed babies. Kuroda says she’s the first, however, to study how being carried changes vital processes in a baby’s body.

For the new experiments, her team attached heart monitors to 12 healthy babies, all less than 6 months old. (A heart monitor measures how fast a heart beats.) Mothers were told to hold their babies while sitting in a chair or walking around the room, or to lay them in a crib. The scientists recorded these three actions on video. Crying, movement and heart rate all shot up when the babies were in the crib. They calmed immediately when their moms picked them up and started walking. Holding a baby while sitting in a chair calmed babies less than holding them while walking, but more than placing them in a crib.

I think this would make a great article to read when talking about experimental design: variables, control groups, and even hypothesis writing.

Some possible class discussion starters – or questions to help focus the reading for your students:

  • What do you think the researcher’s hypothesis might have been in the human baby study?
  • In the study with the human babies, what was the independent variable? What were the dependent variables?
  • What did the researchers test the effect of in the mice study? What do you think their hypothesis might have been?
  • Pretend you are the researcher of either study. Write a conclusion statement that summarizes your findings.

Below are links to the article in its entirety in Word format and a separate discussion question worksheet for your classroom use.

Perfect Pacifier





Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
© 2014 The Science Vault All rights reserved - Mobile View - Powered by WordPress and Wallow - Have fun!