For high school teachers, using a NOVA Lab is almost as easy as plopping it into your existing unit. For 1-to-1 classrooms, have kids focus independently; you can use printed lab reports to check progress and responses. Student accounts save lab progress. If you use a flipped approach, assign a chunk of the lab for completion before class, designating class time for discussion.
Middle school teachers will want to preview the labs to insert relevant classroom tasks -- possibly textbook passages, hands-on activities, or direct instruction. You'll want to keep addressing misconceptions and help highlight key ideas. Have kids work in pairs, possibly with (teacher-created) digital or paper worksheets to organize learning. Consider requiring a teacher check-in before advancing to subsequent sections. Be aware that the site has quick links to Facebook, Twitter, etc.; provide relevant guidance to your kids.Continue reading Show less
NOVA Labs combines video with interactive tasks and real data sets in creating the Sun, Energy, Cloud, RNA, Cybersecurity, and Evolution labs. Designed for middle and high school students, the labs place content learning within a simulated "research challenge" -- predicting solar storms or designing RNA, for example. Videos are used throughout the labs to share content and tasks; they are also helpfully available from both the site and the lab home pages.
Most labs begin with structured, sometimes game-like activities (e.g., building phylogenetic trees), and progress to more open-ended opportunities (e.g., querying recent weather data). A digital lab report records quiz answers and notes and is saved if the student is logged in (guest access is also available). The site also provides access to relevant professionals (Meet the Experts), related resources and events (Opportunities), and Educators pages.
NOVA Labs furthers the program's reputation for outstanding science content. The labs almost seamlessly merge online tasks (e.g., bonding base pairs, sequencing hurricane events) with learning content. When additional information must be imparted, it's largely through captivating video coordinated to careful narration. Further, the online lab report allows kids to jot down their notes and review quiz responses. Seriously, kids can't help but learn.
Still, teachers may want more classroom-oriented support, like coordinating worksheets, ideas for hands-on activities, sample class discussion threads, and possible answers to open-ended inquiry questions (e.g., What is Typhoon Guchal's shape?). Also, we expect some kids will lack prerequisite knowledge or (somehow) miss the key concepts, while some will grasp it all in the first few clicks. NOVA could do more to suggest specific remediation and extension opportunities.
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.
Construct an explanation based on evidence that the process of evolution primarily results from four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the heritable genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for limited resources, and (4) the proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in the environment.
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.
Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in: (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.
Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past.
Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.
Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.
Earth and Human Activity
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.
Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth’s mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes.
Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.
Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
Earth’s Place in the Universe
Develop a model based on evidence to illustrate the life span of the sun and the role of nuclear fusion in the sun’s core to release energy that eventually reaches Earth in the form of radiation.
Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth's systems result in changes in climate.
Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth’s systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity.
Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses results in changes in weather conditions.
Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.
Develop and use a model of two objects interacting through electric or magnetic fields to illustrate the forces between objects and the changes in energy of the objects due to the interaction.
Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.
Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.
Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells, either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.
Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
Ask questions to clarify relationships about the role of DNA and chromosomes in coding the instructions for characteristic traits passed from parents to offspring.
Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
Integrate qualitative scientific and technical information to support the claim that digitized signals are a more reliable way to encode and transmit information than analog signals.