Blogs: Science

We get energy from many different sources, both renewable and nonrenewable.  A renewable energy source is one that is naturally replenished like wind, hydro, biomass, and solar energy.  Nonrenewable energy sources cannot be replenished in a short period of time; they include oil, coal, natural gas, and nuclear power.

Energy consumption by source, 2012.

Compare and Contrast 

The Energy Kids site, produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, includes timelines of energy resource development, pros and cons of energy sources, and statistics about prices, production, and consumption.  The National Academies site, "What You Need to Know About Energy," compares energy sources, their uses, costs, and efficiency.

Another good overview, which comes from the BBC, includes handy tables of advantages and disadvantages of different energy resources.  It includes an interesting case study on changing energy use in Britain.  Energy Resources is a site created by a British teacher which covers a variety of energy resources, and includes summary worksheets and quizzes.

 

Mapping Energy Resources

Maps can be a useful tool for packaging lots of information in a visually appealing way.  The U.S. Department of Energy creates lots of energy-related maps, whether of per capita energy consumption by state, or windfarm placement.  Find maps of renewable energy availability - as well as many others - at the National Atlas.

 

America's Energy Future

 

How will life in America change as our energy outlook changes?  Here’s what the scientists at the National Academies think:



 

Want to learn more?  Librarians can always help you find more resources.

If you’ve studied the periodic table of the elements, you know that there are, well, lots of elements.  Having trouble keeping them straight and remembering their properties?  Check out Periodic Videos from the University of Nottingham’s Chemistry Department.  Each element has it’s own video.  You can watch an (often explosive!) experiment with each element and listen to a mad scientist (complete with crazy hair) explain the element’s properties.  Here’s a video about the very reactive element, potassium, to give you an idea of what to expect from this site.

As you learn more about the periodic table, you’ll begin to understand that it’s organization is meaningful: each element's place within the table can tell you a lot about its properties.  But what if you arranged the elements in a different way?  What other properties of the elements could you use and how would that change the periodic table?  What other periodic tables could you make?  To answer these questions, check out the Internet Database of Periodic Tables where you can find everything from ancient periodic tables to three-dimensional ones.

If you need more information about the periodic table and the elements, you can look at the books on the list below.  Most of them are at a middle-school or high-school level and a few of them include cartoon pictures.

Doctors and nurses help people who are sick, but when a whole group of people, like in a town or a school, get the same disease or other health problem, there's a special name for the scientists who figure out what is going on: epidemiologist.  They look for trends and causes behind outbreaks, and some people even call them "disease detectives".

In real life epidemiology can be serious business, but have some fun with it by picturing yourself as an epidemiologist or other type of scientist while playing Imagine Yourself... or investigate infectious disease outbreaks in MedMyst. Check out real-life stories of some current epidemiologists, or watch a video about Disease Detectives throughout history.  You can even see some current outbreaks on this interactive map!

And you can always contact a librarian for more info!

Micrograph of flu virusOne type of microorganism, the virus, has a huge impact on our everyday lives, causing colds, flus, stomach aches. What is a virus, and how is it different, for example, from bacteria? Roll on over to Manchester Children’s University site to play around with beginning facts about viruses and bacteria. (You can also become an expert on mushrooms and other fungi.) And how do these tiny threats get in our body and get us sick? Watch the adventures of the inept "Staph Sargent" and his trusty sidekick as they try to infect the world with germs. And while the Staph Sargent can be defeated by hand-washing, purses are carrying even more bacteria and viruses, as seen in this newscast.

To get up close and personal with these mischief-making microorganisms, you can browse the fascinating and legally downloadable images at the World of Viruses. To see a picture of a specific microorganism, you can also investigate at, Microbe World Beta. For more light-hearted death and destruction, you can read a Virus Comic Book such as the Frozen Horror or infect the world at the almost too realistic Plague Inc game.

If you want to know more, librarians can help you find more resources.

 

If you think cells are simple boring organisms, well think again, cells are in fact fascinating basic structural, functional living organisms that also refered to as "Building Blocks of Life". Even though cells come in all shapes and sizes, they seem invisible to our eyes. We need the aid of microscopes to explore the world of cells. You can visit “A Tour of the Cell” by clicking on the video below provided by Bozeman Science. Further, you can find out more about cell division through this link “Scientists Solve a Mystery of Cell Division” provided by Today’s Science.

Chromosomes, DNA and Genes

The command center of a cell is it's nucleus. Within the nucleus is the genetic material or the blue print of each cell also known as DNA. The DNA molecules form into a structure that shapes like a letter X. For more information about chromosomes and DNA check out the videos below. 

 

All of these online resources will help you understand how the human body works, and they also provide great images, diagrams, videos, and explanations.

Images of human bodies depicting the major body systems like: respiratory, skeletal,musculatory, digestive, and sensory systems

 

If you are in 1st-4th grade and want to know and see how the body works, click on How the Body Works on the Kids Health website to find out about the nervous system, muscles, organs, and the five senses. You can even play games to see how much you know!

You can also use factmonster to find our more information by clicking on Your Body's Systems. (hint: you might have to type it also in the search box next to the fact monster!)

5th-12th grade and beyond! Trying using innerbody for detailed and interactive diagrams and explanations about all the major body systems. Don't forget to scroll down on the web page to see all of the information!

 Try our Teen and Health and Wellness Database and click on the Body Basic page. Just scroll down and click on the topic that you need. (hint: you will need to sign in using  your library card and pin number)

If you need more information beyond what the major body systems do and how they work try the howstuffworks. You will need to type in your specific topic in the search box or you can try this Discovery Fit and Health page which features the major body systems. (hint: don't forget to scroll down on each webpage to view your information. It may look confusing, but just scroll down!) 

Need more information and/or guidance? Contact a Librarian!

Who is this Molly everyone’s talking about?  Why are those girls giggling so much about bath salts?  Cruise over to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s site for teens for information on many kinds of drugs, including street names, addictiveness, effects on the brain, and symptoms of abuse.  Then swing by the University of Utah’s Mouse Party for informative animations of the ways drugs interact with neurons to produce those euphoric effects. 

Perhaps you need to write a research paper on a drug or addiction and you’re casting about for a suitable topic.  Sara Bellum’s blog, produced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as jumping off points for more research on many angles of drug abuse.  You may be inspired by a blog on e-cigarettes or the prevalence of performance enhancing drugs in sports or how new brain science is influencing addiction treatment.  Learn how addiction works from How Stuff Works and click on links to more articles on specific drugs.  Once you’ve chosen your topic, use the Teen Health and Wellness database with your library card and PIN to find further information and articles.

If you’re debating the pros and cons of drug legalization, take a look at the Drug Policy Alliance website.  They present political arguments and opinions in favor of legalizing marijuana in the United States.  Weigh those against the opinions of CALM (Citizens Against Marijuana Legalization) for your compare and contrast paper.  Librarian Cathy C. gathered lots of recent information on the efforts in Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana in her blog postOpposing Viewpoints Resource Center in Context is available anywhere with your library card and PIN.   Search “drug legalization,” “drug abuse” or “drugs and athletes” for balanced, factual pro/con articles.

 

For more help, contact a librarian.

If you've ever wanted to move, build or take something apart, you need tools.  The most basic of these are called simple machines.  Used alone or in combination, they allow us to do the jobs we need to do.  They are levers, wheels and axles, pulleys, inclined planes, wedges, and screws.

Simple Machines

Here are some different ways to learn more: quiz yourself, learn their history, build something fun, work on the math and find out how they are used in a job setting.  See how simple machines might have built a mystery castle.  If, after all that, you can't remember what they are, here's a catchy tune to help jog your memory.

Need more information?  Visit your local library.

In the great outdoor laboratory that most of us know as The Planet Earth people are working all the time to determine how mountains and canyons were formed, lakes are made and why volcanoes erupt the way they do.

 They are practicing geology. They also study small and not so small changes that might help to predict the future. The study of the earth doesn’t just involve our planet, it includes other planets, and the activity that human beings are doing on the Earth every day.

The National Geographic Society calls on all of us to recognize the importance of Geo-literacy.

You may love to pick up rocks when you hike or have an assignment to build a volcano. Perhaps you travelled to Crater Lake (put on your 3d glasses for this one) with your family and became fascinated by that very deep, round and blue body of water. You can observe the history of the earth in the small details in your backyard, or the larger than life details of the entire world. Just imagine being able to name any rock formation as your family drives by it on the highway, or rides by it on a bicycle.  

For inspiration take a look at the Earth Science Picture of the Day (EPOD) that will also provide you with links to NASA’s Earth Observatory and Visible Earth

In addition to great books about geology the Multnomah County Library has a couple of electronic encyclopedias that can answer many of your questions about the Earth Sciences. You will need to use your library card number and PIN to login to the New Book of Popular Science or Kids Infobits.

illustration of a geologist

Once you’ve satisfied the Oregon State Standards for elementary, middle and high school students in Earth Science, you can start thinking about career options as a Geoscientist.

 

While you are waiting for a new blog post from me check out the Student's Link on EPOD. It's just for kids.

 

 

 

Trees at Hoyt ArboretumAre you looking for help identifying trees?  A simple scientific method for identifying plants or animals has an impressive name: the dichotomous (dih-kot-uh-muhs) key.  As you use this tool, you make a series of choices based on characteristics of the item you want to identify.  Oregon State University has an excellent dichotomous key for identifying common trees of the Pacific Northwest.

Sometimes it's helpful to have a small handbook that you can take with you when you're outdoors looking at trees.  You can create your own tree identification handbook by printing some of the Pacific Northwest Native Plants Identification Cards.  Learn about the ID plant cards, search by common name of plants, or search by scientific names of plants.   There's even a blank template (Word doc) so you can create additional cards.

If you want more information, contact a librarian through your computer or at your local library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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