Common Sense


Real-World Science Resources for Students

It's important for students to see how science works out in the real world, beyond the limits of classrooms and textbooks. Students can make thousands of fascinating observations just by roaming around in nature or doing experiments with everyday items. They can collect and interpret data, create theories, test them, and develop models to explain real-world phenomena. To help, some of the tools on this list get students observing the behavior of animals on a webcam, listening to and analyzing the sounds of whales, watching the stars in the sky, and identifying plant or animal species. Often students are given the chance to work with -- or at least give the data to -- real-life scientists. These websites and apps seed ideas for fun, safe experiments and encourage students to actually try them to benefit the greater good.

Continue reading

Top Picks


PrintPrint | Save as PDF

Playground Physics

Fun video app lets students track motion to explore physics concepts

Bottom line: This is a cheap way to get students out of their chairs to make physics real and tangible, empowering learners and encouraging curiosity.

California Academy of Sciences

Expert research and diverse, rich lessons inspire future scientists

Bottom line: A perfect companion to (or substitute for) the Academy, this site delivers highly interactive resources and research with a lot of depth.

Journey North

Long-standing citizen science site continues to inspire learners

Bottom line: Extensive resources can help kids collect, share, and analyze evidence about seasonal change.

Project Squirrel

Solid citizen-science site with good extension projects

Bottom line: This online, collaborative science project is a solid resource for making data collection relevant to kids.


Real research powered by volunteers makes classroom content relevant

Bottom line: Engage in meaningful, relevant research with citizen scientists from around the world.

SDGs in Action

Empowering sustainable development app organizes, educates

Bottom line: It's a well-packaged way for teachers to educate students about the current challenges facing the world and to give them a conduit for social justice.

Esri GeoInquiries

Captivating, focused map activities support larger curricular lessons

Bottom line: These inquiry-based activities are a valuable visual and investigative resource for teachers and students in many different subjects.

PlantSnap Plant Identification

Snap pics to (maybe) identify flowers and plants

Bottom line: If teachers help students learn how to evaluate the plant matches provided, this could be an excellent nature reference source.

Project Noah

Engaging online community for relevant, hands-on science fieldwork

Bottom line: Project Noah is a free and easy way to take part in biodiversity research with the support of a knowledgeable and global community.

Galaxy Zoo

Citizen science site involves, inspires budding astronomers

Bottom line: Classifying, comparing, and analyzing galactic data with this great, free tool can be influential to kids' involvement with science.

Open Explorer

Compelling digital field journal site engages kids on multiple levels

Bottom line: An eye-opening, fascinating way to explore the world from a personal perspective; students will learn about geography, culture, and science along the way.

Science Journal by Google

Turn your phone into a lab sensor to collect and analyze data

Bottom line: Science Journal does a good job recording real-time motion, sound, and light data using phones.


Collect and share class data, pictures, and videos

Bottom line: Works within Google Classroom to help kids record and share observations of the world around them.

The PocketLab

Gather and analyze live data anywhere

Bottom line: A science sensor that pairs with your device to gather and analyze data is perfect for inquiry-based learning.


Global citizen-science community for real-world research

Bottom line: Teens can do hands-on nature research, but in a limited way.

Mars Student Imaging Project

Take science research out of this world with NASA's Mars project

Bottom line: One of the best authentic inquiry space experiences out there: Use this tool to grow the next generation of researchers in your classroom.

Get tips for using these tools in the classroom

See related resources