Hands on – becoming part of the investigation!

One of the best parts about planning science as a coach is when I am able to bring in projects and activities to the students that allow them to become part of the investigation.  Over the years I have stumbled upon or participated in a couple of great opportunities that really connect the classroom to the read world and give students the chance to become part of the investigation.  And the best part – it all free!!!  (well almost)


The Mastodon Matrix Project

This project, which is in conjunction with the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, NY allows classrooms to be part of the investigation by sending your classroom Mastodon matrix filled with pieces of bone, hair, rock, etc that is at least 9,000 years old.  Students are instructed to search through all the different elements in the dirt, identify them, catalog them, and then send everything back to the museum with copies of their findings.  The research is added to the growing collection from schools around the country.

Now I am sure that some people are wondering if anyone finds anything worth looking at in the project.  The answer is yes, yes, and yes.  Just check out this article from Livesicence which describes the 4th grade class that found a piece of 11,500 year old Mastodon hair.

For more information about the project email – mastodon@museumoftheearth.org


This international project is one that incorporates earth science and space by providing classrooms with seeds that have been exposed to conditions similar to those on Mars.  The project which is funded by a bunch of different organizations in Canada allows US schools to participate.  Classrooms are sent two different kinds of Heinz (yes Heinz as in the ketchup) tomato seeds and asks the students to do a blind study on which plants grow better.   The data is then collected and added to data from some 13, 000 other classrooms for analysis.

The classrooms do get to keep the tomato plants and the tomatoes that grow so it is a bonus for kids to watch the plants grow and produce food.


So I said in the beginning of the post that the projects were free (almost)  Well this is the almost free one.  I have scoured the net looking for a free site that lets you report the weather but to no avail (if someone knows one – please share!)

The program, which is all over the country provides you (at a cost) with everything and I mean everything that you need to report the weather from your school.  With over 1000 cameras at many of their host schools, the students truly become part of the science of meteorology.

Now even though the program is not free, it does give students the chance to engage daily in the real life science behind weather and often times put the students at the heart of predicting the often unpredictable weather.


Now, I am sure that there are more projects out there, and if you know any of them, please feel free to share them here.  The more we are able to expose our students to real work investigations, the better we are able to educate them.  As the Chinese proverb says –












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