Online Education News

CURRICULUM GOES BANANAS.The Rainforest Alliance, an international, not-for-profit conservation organization, is offering seventh- and eighth-grade teachers a new standards-based environmental curriculum. Teachers will have access to social studies, language arts, math, and science activities that explore the environmental, cultural, and economic aspects of banana production in Honduras. By tracing the journey of bananas from tropical farms to breakfast tables, students learn about the origin of one of their favorite foods, and about their own connection to ecosystems and cultures that may seem far away.

The hands-on, interactive lessons created by Project Learning Tree ( and the Rainforest Alliance give students an opportunity to explore the origins of the banana, as well as the communities and wildlife affected by the production of the fruit. Teachers can log on to the Rainforest Alliance Learning site to access the free curricula. Visit

STANDARDS-BASED SCIENCE LESSONS OFFERED. The Space Foundation has developed a comprehensive bank of science lessons for grades pre-K through 12. The lesson plans meet national science standards, and educators can download them for free. More than 200 lessons have been developed by educators for students of all levels. The lessons are divided into grade levels pre-K through second, third through fifth, sixth through eighth, and ninth through 12th. All specify the national science standards that are met, and include keywords, objectives, and other subject areas covered in the lesson. They also have timelines, background, materials, lesson format, extensions, resources, and evaluation and assessment criteria. Sample lessons for each grade level are available for preview online. To access the entire lesson bank, teachers must register to establish a login and password. Registration is free. Visit

STUDENTS RACE AROUND THE WORLD. Winward: Outsmart the Weather in a Race Around the World is an online game designed to teach real-world science skills to middle school students, and is the result of a collaboration between Cable in the Classroom (, NASA (, Discovery Education (, and the Weather Channel ( Players confront weather challenges as they travel around the world, navigating tricky currents and developing hurricanes and thunderstorms.

To calculate how to overcome or avoid the hazards, players can access online references on weather and sailing and check wind conditions, and they can seek the guidance of expert sailor and marine navigator Bill Biewanga to plot their course. The object is to complete the journey swiftly and safely, and to beat the world record of 71 days, set on May 3, 2005 by Dame Ellen MacArthur, a renowned 28-year-old yachtswoman from Great Britain. She encountered icebergs, mountainous seas, extreme weather, and a near collision with a whale on her solo circumnavigation. Hopefully your students will fare better! Visit

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2006 issue of THE Journal.