A small group of science teachers in Missouri are using the coronavirus as a teachable moment aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Working with researchers from two universities, nine teachers designed high school science activities with two simultaneous goals: students will study a natural phenomenon that is meaningful in their lives—a key aim of the NGSS—and they will process the pandemic’s impact on their lives. Currently the group has developed four activities. For example, a simulation lets students change the percentage of people who are practicing social distancing to see what the impact would be on coronavirus infection rates. Another activity walks students through the creation of a mathematical model for the spread of the virus. Additionally teachers will find systems thinking tools to help students summarize the science and societal impacts of the coronavirus, as well as a set of media literacy activities about the disease. The researchers have gathered the instructional activities onto a website that is a work in progress; additional activities will be added throughout 2020, and the complete module by 2021.
The Virtual Koshland Science Museum, now part of the National Academy of Sciences’LabX program for students, offers a beautiful interactive feature on the anatomy of the human brain. LabX also presents a collection of online experiences.