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Lesson Plans


Science
Our original lesson plans are developed by Thirteen Ed Online Master Teachers. Starting with tried-and-true lessons that work in the classroom, our Web-savvy teachers have built Web-based activities that use the rich resources of Thirteen/WNET New York and the Internet.

Each month, we will create new lessons based upon outstanding PBS series and around outstanding Web resources.



Grades 5-8


What would it be like to swim with, and film, the biggest, fastest and most dangerous game fish in the ocean? Award-winning cinematographer and marine biologist Rick Rosenthal knows. As the featured scientist in NATURE's Superfish, this intrepid and curious undersea photographer takes viewers on a journey to observe sailfish, swordfish and marlin. Some of these fish weigh more than 1,000 pounds and can reach speeds of 60 miles per hour! Using clips from this film and other Web resources, students will study the group of ocean animals known as billfish and will learn how ocean currents influence the eating habits of various fish. Students will also have the opportunity to shoot their own video to create a nature documentary to present in the classroom.

Grades 6-8


The eastern shores of southern Africa are warmed by the Agulhas current, while the western shores are cooled by the Benguela current. This phenomenon creates a setting for some unusual occurrences, such as penguins existing on the same latitude as coral reefs, and 140 species of sharks living side by side. In this lesson, students will conduct research to learn about this unique area of the world, and create a blog to share what they have learned.

Grades 7-9


How would you feel if you went to the doctor with a simple infection and the usual antibiotics didn't work... or the stronger antibiotics didn't work... or if no antibiotic worked? PBS' innovative six-part RX FOR SURVIVAL series explores this very topic in the episode "Rise of the Superbugs." Using the Rx for Survival Web site and other Web-based resources, students will study bacteria and how they can become resistant to different anti-bacterial soaps and cleansers. Students can choose one of three culminating assessments: write a story based on the life of one bacterial cell's journey through this lesson's experiments; write a "dispatch from the field" as a health care worker (modeled after the Rx for Survival dispatches); or write a 2-page research paper on one disease that's prevalent in a developing country.

Grades 9-12


In this lesson, students explore the environment and wildlife of Ireland to find out how they were formed, and how they in turn helped to form Irish culture. Students will watch the program, NATURE, and collect data about Ireland's land and culture from various websites. In small groups they will create a large graphical timeline display, an oral presentation and a written report."

Grades 9-12


Programs from Thirteen/WNET New York's INNOVATION series portray amazing breakthroughs in medical technology involving the replacement of tissues and organs damaged by injury or degenerative diseases. "The Human Body Shop" shows progress being made in the development of technologically advanced prosthetics. How close are we to the development of replacement organs which are as good as the original, if not even better? In this lesson, students divide into groups and use a project-based learning approach to develop a model for an artificial replacement organ or limb that may possibly be developed in the not-too-distant future. In the course of designing and creating this model, students use math, science, technology, and mechanics skills.

Grades 6-8


"Building to Extremes" portrays the complex and multifaceted undertaking of designing and constructing a skyscraper. Architectural aesthetics, protection from natural and man-made disasters, political and cultural considerations, mass appeal, and the vision and even whimsy of the designers all play significant roles in the development of the world's tallest buildings. In this lesson, students will undertake a project to design the world's tallest building. In the process, they will learn to think critically about the elements that go into the design of a skyscraper, as well as learning to problem-solve using technology, math, and art skills. They will build models of their designs, and then create a "skyline" that incorporates these buildings.

Grades 9-12


"Hi-Tech War," from Thirteen's INNOVATION series, shows the extreme importance of remote sensing and Global Positioning System (GPS) to modern warfare. Yet these new technologies sometimes carry a new set of problems into the theater of battle. Do "hi-tech" solutions like sensing and GPS locate objects better than traditional methods? How can areas be mapped using new technologies? In this lesson, students will use new technologies to create a 3-dimensional terrain model of their community.

Grades 4-8


The "Bloody Suckers" episode of NATURE is an exploration of organisms that live off the blood of others, from mosquitoes to leeches to vampire bats! In this lesson plan, students use what they learn from the program and Web-based research to stage a trial: Their teacher has been accused of being a Bloody Sucker, and the students must play the roles of prosecutor, defense, expert witnesses, and jurors.

Grades 9-12


After students watch the "Living Edens - Big Sur" episode of NATURE, they use a problem-based approach to study the question of whether there is one ecosystem in Big Sur that is more important than all the others, one on which the others all depend. Acting as advocacy groups for each ecosystem, student teams perform research and then make the case that one ecosystem deserves more protection than the others in the final project -- a preliminary script and storyboard for a short film that will make the case for greater assistance.

Grades 5-8


This lesson, designed as an extension of the RED GOLD: THE EPIC STORY OF BLOOD program, will demonstrate the composition of whole blood. Students will research the components of blood. They will use their math skills to recreate a model of whole blood using commonly found food items.

Grades 5-8


Students use the Internet to find and compare illnesses that they have had or that they have heard about in the media. Students explore the mechanisms behind catching and transmitting bacterial and viral diseases.

Grades 6-8


Students conduct inquiry-based research for basic information about microbes, infections, and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. They then publish what they have learned on a class Web site or magazine.

Grades 5-8


Using resources from Thirteen Online's Web companion piece to MOYERS ON ADDICTION: CLOSE TO HOME, students will conduct research on alcohol addiction and its effect on the liver. The goal of the lesson is to create a classroom environment where students may discuss how alcohol affects individuals, their bodies, and their behavior.

Grades 6-8


This lesson uses mysterious online images to help develop students' deduction skills and inspire their curiosity.

Grades 6-8


The WHAT'S UP IN THE ENVIRONMENT? Web site engages classes in long-term projects that use the scientific method. A crucial part of this method is designing an effective experiment that really tests the hypothesis. In this lesson, students learn concepts that enable them to design and conduct sound scientific experiments. First, students critique a faulty experiment, and in doing so, become familiar with some of the criteria of a good experiment. Then, students use what they've learned to conduct experiments of their own. Finally, students communicate what they’ve learned with another class by creating a Web page with information and activities or creating a presentation for another class.

Grades K-8


Students are introduced to the nature of earthquakes and volcanoes. Students learn about the effects of earthquakes from eyewitnesses to the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. They learn about how earthquake intensity is measured, where earthquakes occur (by studying real-time data), and what global patterns exist. Students will then compare earthquake patterns to volcano patterns.

Grades 7-12


Students review the basics of Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution. They use the World Wide Web to explore the various stages of evolution, over geological time, and learn how each organism fits into the evolutionary story.

Grades 9-12


Using online resources from the INNOVATION Web piece on Thirteen Online, students investigate how dominant traits, genes, and DNA determine the physical characteristics of a subject. Students chart the traits of two sets of parents and make predictions about the potential genetic makeup of their children. In addition to researching the INNOVATION piece, students explore related sites and test their findings.

Grades 7-12


Students research real-time and historic temperature data of U.S. and world locations, and analyze the data using mean, median, and mode. Students graph the data, and draw conclusions by analyzing the data.

Grades 5-8


Students generate questions about grizzly bears and use the Internet to research the answers. As a culminating activity, students create a life-size mural of a grizzly that is annotated with the information they've learned.

Grades K-4


Using online resources related to the NATURE episode TOOTHWALKERS: GIANTS OF THE ARCTIC ICE, students learn about the walrus, a fascinating Arctic mammal. The lesson encourages students to learn how different physical adaptations enable an animal to thrive in a harsh environment. Specifically, students conduct an experiment looking at how the walrus's blubber and other adaptations allow it to regulate body temperature.

Grades 5-8


Using online resources related to the NATURE episode TOOTHWALKERS: GIANTS OF THE ARCTIC ICE, students research walruses and write illustrated autobiographical essays from the point of view of a walrus. The final illustrated essays can be posted to the Web or exchanged with other students.

Grades 5-8


Students research wild tigers that live on the Indian subcontinent. They contact conservationists via email to inquire about how tigers are protected around the world, and to learn some strategies for protecting wildlife in their own communities.

Grades 5-8


This lesson is based on the third episode of the NATURE series, INDIA: LAND OF THE TIGER, called UNKNOWN SEAS. Students examine the rich array of marine wildlife that lives in waters surrounding the Indian subcontinent. They explore the relationships among organisms in coral reefs. Students also learn about environmental dangers to coral reefs and research methods to protect them.

Grades 9-12


Accessing the INNOVATION Web piece on Thirteen Online, as well as related sites, students investigate the topic of cloning and the ethical issues surrounding it. Through Web-based research and classroom discussion, students develop their own viewpoints on the issues. Students then write persuasive essays with the option of posting them to the INNOVATION forum.

Grades 5-8


This lesson will allow students to conduct research on the Internet about earthquakes and buildings that have successfully withstood them. They will suggest designs for future buildings. They will then create models of their suggested designs. These models will be tested in an earthquake simulator. Students will then redesign the models so that they can successfully withstand the simulation.

Grades 5-8


By conducting online research, students will learn about the physical traits and behavioral patterns of buffaloes and wolves. The class will present their findings and observations by turning their classroom into a mini wildlife park.

Grades 5-12


In this lesson students will gain an understanding of the human elements of natural disasters. They will read a Hawaiian myth; conduct a survey; discuss different viewpoints on why people choose to live in high risk areas; participate in a writing activity based on reading children's real life accounts of catastrophes; and focus on the role of economics in disaster preparedness.

Grades 5-8


Students explore the migratory patterns of various animals using the World Wide Web.

Grades 5-12


In this lesson students will gain an understanding of natural events that occur on the planet Earth by researching volcanoes, storms, atmospheric conditions and extreme environments. Students work in groups to collect facts; create a simulation of a science news broadcast; watch a video clip of an avalanche; reflect on personal reactions to these events; and create an artistic rendering in response to one of the different naturally occurring events in the lesson.

Grades 5-12


Students learn the order of the planets, research the main characteristics of the nine planets, and understand the basic structure of our solar system. They also participate in an Ed Online-created, online learning activity.

Grades 6-8


A critical part of any scientific experiment is collecting and analyzing data (as seen in the WHAT'S UP IN THE ENVIRONMENT? Web site). In this lesson, students learn about the strengths and weakness of qualitative and quantitative data first-hand by gathering and analyzing data collected from a classroom poll. Using what they’ve learned, students design and conduct a poll of their own. As an assessment piece, students can use what they’ve learned to teach their peers about qualitative and quantitative data, or stage a debate over the merits of qualitative versus quantitative data.

Grades 5-8


Students will conduct Internet research on a variety of ant species and their habitats. The goal of this lesson is to allow students an opportunity to observe ants in their environment. After researching ants, students will create an ant farm in the classroom to continue their observations.

Grades 5-8


The earth has many rain forests, both tropical and temperate, that affect the overall welfare of the earth. In this lesson, students discover facts about rain forests and learn to appreciate their importance in our lives.

Grades 5-8


This is an ideal team-teaching lesson for science and English teachers. Students work as magazine reporters to produce a print or multimedia magazine about rain forests. Student-reporters look at current examples of print scientific magazines for children, in order to learn about their different sections and types of writing. Students then produce their own magazine. Sections can include feature articles, puzzles, poetry, a math corner, a geography section, and so on.

Grades 4-6


Children love to fly paper airplanes, sometimes even in the middle of class. On the other end of the scale, a forty-ton airliner's ability to leave the ground is an amazing feat of engineering. With emphasis on "lift" students will use paper airplanes to study the forces that affect the flight of their much heavier counterparts.

Grades 9-12


Using the STEPHEN HAWKING'S UNIVERSE Web site, students study black holes. They will view visual representations available on the Web, and ultimately create animated GIFs from their own illustrations

Grades 5-8


This lesson will acquaint students with the characteristics and effects of volcanic activity. It will also explore how plate tectonics relates to volcanoes. Experiments on the volume of ejecta produced by a volcano and the viscosity of lava will be conducted. Students will use the Internet to research information on volcanoes and talk to experts.

Grades 5-8


Students will explore the water cycle by conducting experiments and visiting related Web sites. Students will create their own water cycle in a terrarium.

Grades 3-5


Students learn how meteorologists measure the weather. They examine some online, real-time data resources that measure weather across the country. Students then collaborate to create an in-class weather station that tracks local weather patterns for one week. Students compare this information to weather patterns in two other locations.

Grades 6-8


This lesson introduces students to many of the basic properties of matter, including atoms, ions, elements, molecules, and density. The class explores an interactive, Flash-animated Web site to answer questions and clarify some misconceptions they might have had about matter.

Grades 5-8


In this lesson, students will role-play the jobs of real space shuttle astronauts, conduct experiments, and research space using the Internet and offline experiments. At the conclusion of their shuttle trip, student-astronauts will hold a "press conference" to share their information with others.