National Academy of Sciences Expands Middle School Science Resource

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iWASwondering.org, a science education project operated by the National Academy of Sciences, is expanding its online resources. The site--a companion to the Women’s Adventures in Science book series--has added a free moderated forum to help answer science questions and get students talking to each other about science.

iWASwondering.org is a site dedicated to encouraging interest in science for young students, particularly girls of middle school age.

Terrell Smith, Managing Editor of Women's Adventures in Science, told us via e-mail, "The need to encourage young people--all young people--in STEM pursuits was one of the main concerns raised in the 2007 report Rising Above the Gathering Storm. A recent review of what’s happened in the two years since that report was published indicates that improving K-12 science and math education remains the most pressing issue facing policymakers today. U.S. students continue to perform below average on international comparisons of science and mathematics achievement. So it is crucial that we continue to reach out to young people in innovative and engaging ways to nurture and support an interest in STEM, particularly those groups that aren't traditionally well represented in STEM--like girls."

The site includes a range of activities, materials, and other student and teacher resources, including science labs, games, interactive comic strips, news, and a teacher guide.

The new Ask It! feature of iWASwondering.org invites students to pose a scientific question or offer an answer to an existing question posed by another student. Students can also expand questions posed by their peers and vote to determine which questions will be answered by subject matter experts. It's designed for use in classroom settings or in after school programs or other educational settings. It

"We designed iWASwondering.org to be one of those engaging, innovative ways to attract kids’ interest in science and engineering through storytelling and cool interactive features," Smith said. "An added benefit is that the content is free and immediately available so those who can’t access the books (in the Women’s Adventures in Science series) can still learn about these fantastic scientists and the work they do. The site also gets kids working with technology, feeling comfortable at a computer exploring and learning. And the new activity--Ask It!--is designed to create a community of inquiry and exploration. Kids can interact in a safe environment, posing questions, suggesting answers to each other’s questions, and hearing back from real scientists on some of the most popular questions. It’s all meant to make kids feel like they are part of the scientific enterprise so they recognize that they, too, can be scientists."

Further information about the site can be found here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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