Planet Under Pressure

Science Center Events Support World Conference

Planet Under PressureWhat forces are "putting the squeeze" on Planet Earth? Science centers worldwide will help their visitors grapple with this complex question during public events connected with the international Planet under Pressure conference, March 26-29.

Check out a world map of conference-related events created in coordination with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC). 


SMILE Boosts Science Festival Plans

Science Festival SMILE tip

MovieAdd science festival planners to the growing list of's biggest fans. In this "best tips" video for building successful festival booths, the Philadelphia Science Festival recommends for great activities and to "get your creative juice flowing." The video offers booth builders other tips too, such as: set up simple and accessible hands-on activities, involve 4-6 high energy volunteers, and go green—don't hand out too much printed material.


Enter the Google Science Fair

Entry deadline April 1

Google Science Fair 2012This year's Google Science Fair offers an added Science in Action prize, for "projects that champion scientific projects that make a practical difference in the lives of a group or community." Deadline for all entries to the Google Science Fair 2012 is April 1. The fair challenges students aged 13-18 to carry out a scientific investigation into a real-world problem or issue that interests them, through rigorous experimentation, recording and conclusions.

The Fair's Educator Toolkit recommends as a great STEM activity resource that draws on trusted sources, and can be searched by material costs, age range, subject matter and prep time. It's not too early to start looking for inspiration for the 2013 Google Science Fair!


Read Across America with STEM connects STEM and kids' books

Bartholomew OobleckGet your hands-on science, and your hands on a book, for Read Across America this year. Friday, March 2 celebrates the birthday of Dr. Seuss with reading events across the country. celebrates Dr. Seuss with activities featuring "oobleck" (also known as goop, gluep, flubber or slime). The name "oobleck" is borrowed from the Dr. Seuss Caldecott Honor book Bartholomew and the Oobleck. 

Oobleck is an inexpensive, easy-to-make, non-Newtonian substance that behaves like a solid and a liquid. In the Planet Oobleck activity, learners not only make and test oobleck with different tools, they also design a spacecraft that could land on an oobleck-covered planet, take a planetary sample, and return to Earth. Learners can compare their designs with others online, and engineer a model spacecraft to test on their oobleck concoction.


Summer Survival Guide

SMILE Featured in New Summer Survival Guide

Summer Survival GuideThinking about summer already? Bay Area Parent's Summer Survival Guide features activities that are inexpensive, challenging and fun—plus summer reading connections! With 90,000 print copies being distributed around the San Francisco Bay area, and an online version (see pp. 58-62), the free Bay Area Parent guide highlights SMILE activities that can be done outdoors or indoors and include arts and crafts, stories, a field trip, and both offline and online components. 


Ocean Art, Poetry, Story Contest

2012 Humpback Whale Ocean Contest

HumpBack WhaleStudents in grades K-8 are invited to submit original artwork, poetry and short stories to the 2012 Humpback Whale Month Ocean Contest. Entries must be received by 12 noon on March 15. By participating, students become members of the NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries Ocean Guardian Kids Club.

Humpbacks are the Hawaiian state marine mammal. Even if you don't live in Hawaii, or near any ocean, you can find lots of whale information at the library, or online at websites like Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. At, you can listen to humpbacks' amazing underwater sounds in Identify Whale Songs, and use real humpback population data in Let's Count Humpback Whales to find out if humpbacks are endangered.


Learning from Lincoln

Presidents and Wind Power

Wind TurbinesLincoln's Gettysburg Address ("Four score and seven years ago...") is famous from his time as President of the United States. In a less well-known campaign speech, Lincoln talked about the power of scientific discoveries and inventions, including the challenge of harnessing forces of nature, like the wind.

"As yet, the wind is an untamed, and unharnessed force; and quite possibly one of the greatest discoveries hereafter to be made, will be the taming, and harnessing of it," Lincoln predicted. 


Heart Smart

Heart Smart

Heart InteriorAmerican Heart Month is a great time to have a heart to heart talk with learners—about hearts! gets to the heart of the matter with physical, outdoor, indoor and online activities about how the heart and circulatory system work.

Learners get moving to music, then measure the changes in their heart function, in Heart Rate and Exercise. This activity could be combined with music time or indoor recess. You can also connect it with lessons on living in space, since the activity PDF includes descriptions and photos of astronauts exercising in space so they won’t lose critical heart muscle mass.


SMILE a "great, go-to website" says NAEYC

Teaching Young Children magazine gives SMILE a thumbs-up is a "great, go-to website" for teachers of all subjects and levels, says the National Association for the Education of Young Children. NAEYC recommends under "Tools for Teachers" in the February/March issue of Teaching Young Children, NAEYC's magazine for preschool professionals. The review particularly notes the SMILE collection's high-quality activities, and the fact that "teachers can search for experiments and activities by age, keywords, materials needed, and content subject."

The youngest learners can discover the science and mathematics of the world around them in hundreds of SMILE's hands-on activities for ages 4-8. Many activities involve role play, music, movement, art, games, sensory explorations, literature connections, and field trips. 

Thinking ahead to spring-themed activities? (For learners in many locations, spring is already here!) Try SMILE activities about the life cycle of animals and plants, like Chickens and EggsLife Cycle of a Grasshopper, Lupine and ButterfliesWhat is a Seed or Growing Plants: Track Their Growth.


Plant Science for Black History Month

Plant Science for Black History Month

African SymbolsThe 2012 theme for Black History Month is “Black Women in American Culture and History.” At, learners can explore the connection between culture and science, including the kind of scientific work done by African American plant scientist Dr. Fatimah Jackson, who is both a biologist and anthropologist.

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