Science is always changing. What scientists understood about areas like genetics, physics, or biology as few as five years ago has drastically changed. Consequently, finding ways to keep your students current and informed can be a challenge, but there are many websites that offer kids understandable and interesting scientific current events.
Science News for Students
Science News for Students is a website dedicated exclusively to current events in kids' science. Geared towards the upper elementary set, it features topics kids would find interesting, as well as topics that teachers are likely to assign - thus making it a great resource for homework. The site has a section specifically for educators with resources so teachers can use the articles more effectively in their classes.
Dogo News is a simple site with several different categories of news. The site features a 'feed' of current news stories (much like a blog), but also features movies of various genres, as well as books. What makes the site fantastic is that kids can sign up for an account and earn badges for reading, commenting on, and sharing stories. Each story includes worksheets and assignments that dig deeper into the background of the story. There is also a search function kids can use to find current events related to specific information. In addition, teachers can sign up for an account and integrate stories with class assignments, Google Classroom, and their Dogo class page, making this a versatile and useful tool. The site is included in the American Library Association's great websites for kids list and also won an honorable mention in the School Media Reader's Choice Awards.
Youngzine is a news website geared towards kids. Definitely intended for the curious-minded, the site is more appropriate for those reading at least at a fifth or sixth grade level. Youngzine features both videos on interesting topics like How Do Gummy Bears Get Made? and articles that are designed to sound exciting like Meet the Mesentery: The Newest Organ! Youngzine is its own 501(c)(3) corporation and has won numerous awards including Homeschool.com's Top Educational Websites for 2016 and American Association of School Librarian's list of Best Websites for Teaching and Learning.
Science in Real Time
Another way to keep up with what's happening in the scientific world is to watch data as it comes in. Space, web cams, and tracking centers like the National Hurricane Center all offer kids a unique opportunity to keep current with scientific events.
Nature News is an online resource full of interesting current events having to do with nature. This can include the weather, migratory patterns, or other current happenings in the realm of environmental science.
If you have a budding astronomer, sign up for the e-mail updates from Spaceweather.com. Spaceweather will alert you when there are unusual or noteworthy events happening that you can view either online or in your backyard depending where on earth your backyard is!
National Hurricane Center
While hurricanes and tropical storms devastate the areas they hit, watching them develop through Hurricane Tracker is rather fascinating. Combining both weather science and satellite technology might be just what you need to inspire a budding meteorologist.
If you're studying volcanoes, you can rest assured that there is something happening somewhere. Wovo is a website dedicated to updating information on the world's volcano observatories. You can also check out Volcano Live to watch some of the world's more active volcanoes in action.
Every spring, nature is a giant cornucopia of scientific current events, and no one tracks it better than Journey North. Although the website takes a while to navigate, the basic purpose is that students and sometimes entire classes chart the signs of spring as they are happening--everything from bird migration to when the first blooms bloom.
Global Shark Tracker
Pick a shark and follow it around the globe with the Global Shark Tracker. The website is in almost real-time. You can either follow a shark by name or by who has most recently surfaced. You can also click on a shark's profile to see its migration pattern. For the teachers, there is a free curriculum you can download (under 'Education') that can help you incorporate your findings into your classroom.
Incorporating Science Current Events
All these resources are great, but how do you squeeze them into what you're already doing?
Current Event Projects
One way to allow time for current events without sacrificing your curriculum is to start the semester by assigning students a particular week during which it's their job to wax eloquent on what happened that week in the scientific world. The advantage to doing this is that there is little prep for you, and at most, it'll take ten minutes per week out of your class time.
Challenge students to chart the signs of spring, the weather, or even the night sky for one month. Not only does this increase observation skills, but it also helps student understand the relevancy of science in their everyday lives.
Learn by Themes
Search out current events based on what you're learning in class. Look for webcams that watch wildlife refuges in Africa if you're studying Africa, or pay attention to what happens in the ocean if you are exploring marine biology.
Science All Around Us
To engage students regularly, challenge them to note when science is happening all around them. It may be a bird singing outside one morning or a heavy roll of dark clouds coming in. Because science is always happening, current events in science are always around, as well. Incorporating current events for teens and younger kids into your science curriculum will help your students see how important and relevant science is to their daily lives!