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Science in Personal and Social Perspectives


This section explores environmental and health topics, with an emphasis on relevance of science to everyday life. Topics include natural resources, natural hazards, environmental quality, pollution, climate, and population issues.

Be sure to look at the different set of resources listed at the Student/Learner webpage for this topic.

Screen shot from siteAcid Rain Lesson Plans
The National Park Service provides a wonderful series of five lessons, complete with resources, forms, charts, maps and student data sheets. The focus is on acid rain, how it is measured, and its effects on the environment (specifically, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park). These lessons include experiments with the pH Scale, learning the difference between an acid and a base, and discovering how acid rain is measured and tracked in the United States. Also see the pH Factor.

Screen shot from siteThe Brain Eater
This is a guide to a NOVA program on mad-cow disease. Included in the teacher’s guide is a great public health activity that is not dependent upon watching the program. In the "Public Health Task Force activity," teams of learners are asked to research various infectious diseases. There are some resources at the website with which learners can begin their investigations.

Screen shot from siteConservation (National Geography Awareness Week, National Geographic Society)
Conservation was the theme of National Geographic Awareness Week, 2000. As they say in the introduction, "Conservation is about balancing some of the needs of people–places to live, work, play, go to school–with the need for a planet that will be healthy for years to come." This website explores four topics related to conservation: biodiversity, fresh water, population, and oceans. There are teacher notes and learner activities for three learning levels within each of the four topics. There are numerous links to other great websites.

Screen shot from siteContemporary Issues in Science–Do Your Genes Drive You to Drink?
This is a Science Learning Network project, in which museums of science in London and Boston cooperated to develop this website. The basic topic of the website is alcoholism, and the question to investigate is how genes, upbringing, and circumstances work together to affect one’s risk of alcoholism. There are sections on science, society, history, opinions, and activities.

Dying to be Thin – Body Images
Based on the NOVA program by the same name, this set of activities asks learners to analyze current magazine articles and advertisements for data about the body types depicted. There is an excellent interactive nutrition information site, requiring the Flash plug-in.

The Environment–A Global Challenge
This ThinkQuest project describes itself as "the web's most comprehensive site on the environment", with 400 articles and 811 pages in twenty sections. There are vast resources and many suggested activities. This is a valuable resource!

Screen shot from siteEPA Environmental Education Center
This website has a wonderful assortment of resources to support environmental education. There are activity ideas on the topics of air, ecosystems, waste & recycling, water, conservation, and human health. Some activities have graphics language that indicate an intended audience of children, but the resources are still valuable, and easily modified. One can take a tour of one’s home for chemicals, learn about aquifers at the EPA Superfund webpage, and learn about radiation protection, to mention only a few of the many activities found here.

Screen shot from siteGlobal Warming Resources from the EPA
This excellent website from the Environmental Protection Agency offers a wide variety of resources on the subject of global warming. Explore sections on climate, emissions, impacts, and actions, with the aid of a good glossary. There is also an online "Visitor’s Center", targeted to such special interest groups as coastal residents, health professionals, consumers, small business owners, concerned citizens, wildlife advocates, and meteorologists.

Screen shot from siteHidden Killers-Deadly Viruses
Just in time for this season’s flu discomfort, this Thinkquest project website explores the science of virology. It includes virus basics, human defenses, virus profiles, and updates of viruses in today’s news.

Screen shot from siteJapan’s Secret Garden
(text version) This website provides an integrated look at the habitat of a rice field, with its "…unique environment that sustains a rich variety of animal, insect, plant, and human life." The Lake Biwa area of Japan is used to illustrate the interaction between humans and the environment. See

Build a Rice Paddy

Build a Paddy: non-flash version

One can also view a video of rice growing over the length of the growing season.

Screen shot from siteMayo Clinic
The Mayo Clinic website is an extension of the Mayo Clinic’s commitment to provide health education resources for patients and the general public. The mission of is to "…help people find the answers and the support they need to manage illness and stay healthy". Consequently, this website is a wonderful resource for teachers and learners as they investigate health-related topics. There is advertising at this website.

Putting DNA to Work
It was fifty years ago that scientists first described the structure of DNA. Today, DNA is used in a wide variety of applications. This website explores a few of those applications, such as in Inherited Diseases, DNA/Criminal Justice, Improving Crops, and Infectious Disease. The website contains field guides and guided study worksheets that can be used with the online exhibits. The interactive multimedia activities require the free Flash plug-in, which is linked to this website. This online exhibit is part of the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rice Web
This award-winning website provides everything you would ever want to know about rice plants, the history of rice, where and how it is grown. There are data, maps, activities, and recipes. This is a wonderful resource for many explorations about science and culture. This would be an excellent resource for the ESOL classroom. Connect this with the PBS webpage, Miracle of Rice.

Screen shot from siteSurviving AIDS
This interactive website, based on the NOVA program, takes a look at many aspects of the worldwide AIDS problem. Learn about the impact of AIDS, find out how the immune system wards off virus attacks, see HIV in action as it attacks a cell, follow the search for a vaccine, and try an interactive attack against a virus: "Fighting Back." There is an excellent teachers’ guide, Get the Scoop, in which learners are asked to do research, write articles, and make bar graphs of AIDS data.

Screen shot from siteWater in the City
The Franklin Institute and the Science Learning Network bring us this collection of activities and information: water basics, water science, Philadelphia waterways, and world water ways.

Screen shot from siteThe Why Files- Science Behind the News
The Why Files is a project of the National Institute for Science Education, funded by the National Science Foundation. It features stories that explore the science (including math, engineering, social sciences, technology) behind the news. There are news briefs, visual images from the news, an extensive archive of past features, and a good search engine. Best of all, the webpage layout features large type, lots of white space around the text, interesting graphics, and clear language. This is a wonderful resource for opportunities for critical reading activities and writing projects.

To submit ideas and resources for this section, please contact Susan Cowles.