September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

High-Quality Science Resources from Public Media: America’s Largest Classroom

Posted: Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Andrea Aust

If you use multimedia resources in your classroom you already know how they can help engage students in science, strengthen the impact of hands-on activities, and serve as valuable learning tools that can explain and demonstrate difficult concepts.  Incorporating different forms of media into lessons reinforces both science and media literacy skills in students. But with the multitude of science media resources available on the Web, where can you find trusted content?  Where can you be sure the science is actual, fact-checked science?

Let public media come to the rescue! Public media stations—both PBS and NPR affiliates–have missions to create content that educates and informs.  They have strong editorial integrity, where accuracy is paramount.  Here are seven resources for grades 6-12 that you should know about.  Some on the list may be old favorites.  Others may become your new go-to sites for exploring science in California or for introducing your students to STEM careers.  In no particular order, here are some top science programs made available thanks to viewers and listeners like you.

QUEST

From Newton’s Laws of Motion to giant redwoods, QUEST offers hundreds of media resources that cover science and sustainability.  Short, digestible video and audio segments lend themselves to easy classroom integration. Originally a KQED property, the majority of the stories are from the San Francisco Bay Area and California. Now, a collaboration of six public media stations, QUEST highlights science stories across the country. These resources are excellent for showing students real-world application of the science concepts they are learning about in class.

It’s Okay to Be Smart

Want to know about the science of kissing, what wind is or why time exists? Joe Hanson explores these topics and more with his entertaining series for PBS Digital Studios. Infused with humor and some “wow” facts, these are not your run-of the-mill science videos. Hanson demonstrates that science is for everyone; that it intersects with art, history and the world in which we live. Use this series to inspire students’ curiosity about everyday occurrences and scientific phenomena.

NOVA, etc.

This nearly 40-year-old series needs no introduction.  But, did you know that besides being able to access content from NOVA and NOVA Science Now online, there are actually five additional NOVA-branded sites? One to note is NOVA Labs, where citizen scientists of all ages can participate in the scientific process. Research challenges include investigating the solar cycle and renewable energy systems.  NOVA Education provides another portal to search NOVA media and includes and education blog.  NOVA Next contains articles about big news in science and technology, embedded with media, written by renowned scientists and science journalists. The Nature of Reality is a blog that covers the “physics of nothing, everything and all the things in between.”

The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

Hear from an impressive list of scientists and engineers as they describe what they do in 30 seconds, share what excites them about their work and divulge their secret talents.  This video series (part of the suite of NOVA goodies above) is a delightful peek into scientists’ lives and lets their personalities shine.

Science Friday

You may already be a fan of Science Friday’s radio program with host Ira Flatow, but if you haven’t visited the website, you’re missing out. Short videos reveal everything from the fluid mechanics of sneezes to cuttlefish camouflage. In addition, NGSS-aligned lesson plans combine background media pieces with fun hands-on science experiments and activities.

iBooks Textbooks from KQED

Not technically a program, but still a great resource, KQED’s collection of free e-books brings science to life at the touch of a fingertip. The books explore topics including energy, biotechnology. and earthquakes through a blend of high-quality media, interactive elements. and informative text. Throughout the books, career spotlight videos highlight scientists and engineers working in a variety of STEM-related jobs.

And lastly, to take full advantage of what public media has to offer, make sure to search, save and share your way through PBS LearningMedia. This catchall digital learning library contains thousands of resources—many of them science.  A free subscription allows you to access videos, audio segments, interactives, lesson plans, and articles from PBS stations and partners from around the country.

With this amazing wealth of free, quality, and trusted public media resources available to you, there are now literally thousands of ways to add excitement to your curriculum this year. Overwhelmed by the choices? Pick one and dive in, you can’t go wrong!

Andrea Aust is the Science Education Manager at KQED, a public media station in San Francisco, and is a member of CSTA.

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you, Andrea. I’m a veteran science teacher but hadn’t heard of some of those sites and also didn’t realize NOVA had expanded to include so many other useful links!

  2. I’m glad you found these resources useful, Dawn! Enjoy exploring the sites!

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