Middle School Science Resources from the USDA Forest Service

Finding free curriculum materials isn’t easy.  Particularly for middle school and high school students.  Today, I am delighted to share with you a wonderful resource for middle school educators from the National Forest Service.

Middle School Science Resources

natural inquirer thumbsScientists report their research in journals, which enable scientists to share information with one another. The National Forest Service has created a science journal specifically for middle school students.  This journal, The Natural Inquirer, was created so that scientists can share their research with middle school students. Each article tells you about scientific research conducted by scientists in the USDA Forest Service.

All of the research in this journal is concerned with nature, trees, wildlife, insects, outdoor activities and water. First students will “meet the scientists” who conduct the research. Then students read special information about science, and then about the environment. Students will also read about a specific research project, written in a way that scientists write when publishing their research in journals. Students become scientists when they do the Discovery FACTivity, learning vocabulary words that help in understanding articles.  Click here to learn more about The Natural Inquirer.

In edition to this wonderful publication – which is available FREE in both print and eBook format, the USDA Forest Service has also created an awesome set of Scientist Trading Cards. The collection includes 80 full-color cards featuring a photograph on the front and a short biography on the reverse.  These cards are an excellent tool for teaching students about different types of science careers and scientists.

scientists

The Scientist Trading Cards from The Natural Inquirer will bring your students deeper into the world of scientists. They will read and learn about many different scientists within the U.S. Forest Service, including what type of scientists they are, where they received their education, and what the scientists feel are important characteristics of scientists.

Scientists are people who collect and evaluate information about a wide range of topics. People of all different ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities can become scientists. Students will also learn when each scientist knew they wanted to become a scientist, what their most exciting discovery is, the various types of equipment and technology they use, and examples of research questions they answer.

Print out the first series of Scientist Trading Cards now!   Click here to see the cards.

Find out more about the USDA Forest Service.

Stamp Collecting and Exhibiting

Few hobbies match the flexibility of stamp collecting. It is suitable for nearly all ages. You can collect stamps all 12 months of the year regardless of the climate where you are located and it does not require any special skills or great wealth. Stamp collecting has provided us with a wealth of educational opportunities, integrating all subject areas.

stamp collectingPhilately is the study of stamps and postal history and other related items. Philately involves more than just stamp collecting. Stamp collecting is the accumulation of material related to the payment of postage and the carriage of the mails. In addition to traditional postage stamps, many philatelists — the fancy word for stamp collectors — also collect covers, envelopes that carried mail. Some individuals also collect markings or labels applied to mail including postage meters.

Stamp collecting provides hours of educational opportunities as collectors research the images depicted on the stamps.  My daughter has learned how to identify birds by scientific order.  My son has learned how the engine has changed transportation and he is now learning about bridge construction and engineering.

If one chooses to exhibit, additional learning opportunities abound.  In the months we have been exhibiting, the kids have learned word processing, aesthetics of display, how to care for mint stamps, and oral  & written communication skills.  Stamp collecting has become so important to them that they each do extra chores to earn money to buy mint stamps themselves and make lists of stamps they hope Santa will leave in their stockings.

Collecting and exhibiting has also enabled us to travel; we attended the APS Stamp Show last year when it was in Sacramento where my daughter’s Birds of the World exhibit placed high enough to earn an invitation to the Youth Champion of Champions at the annual NAPEX show.  While we couldn’t attend that show (it was in Virginia), we were able to submit her exhibit by mail and her entry was selected for the WESTPEX Flora and Fauna Award.

 A couple of great links to help you get started:

  • American Philatelic Society – the largest, non-profit organization for stamp collectors in the world. Founded in 1886, the APS serves collectors, educators, postal historians, and the general public by providing a wide variety of programs and services.
  • American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors – a worldwide organization of stamp collectors who exhibit their collections competitively and work together for the betterment of philatelic exhibiting and judging standards and practices.

If you have enjoyed this post, you may be interested in my earlier posts about stamp collecting, the fascinating hobby of philately.

Do you collect stamps or related ephemera?  Tell us a little about what you collect and how you got started.

NOVAPEX 2013 – Stamp Collecting Show

This weekend marked our one year anniversary in stamp collecting and both kiddos expanded their original exhibits to two-frames (32 pages). I am so proud of how hard they have worked to research the stamps and write their story (though admittedly, I did the typing for Buddy).

We spent the entire day at the show on Saturday and much of Sunday. We enjoyed visiting with the other exhibitors (they were still the only youth), hearing the judges’ critique, brainstorming other exhibit ideas, and browsing the dealer tables.

We continue to learn so much about stamp collecting and the tricks of philatelic exhibiting. As of now, we are content to focus on topical or thematic exhibits. As we continue, I’m sure we will begin to explore more in depth topics like cancellation marks and plate errors.

Sweetie plans to revise her “Birds of the World” exhibit once more in preparation for the “Champion of Champions” show in Washington this May. In the mean time, she plans to begin developing a few more exhibits as material (stamps, covers, etc) become available. She may exhibit “Lunar New Year” and “Fungi” by the years end. She is also collecting materials for “Owls”, “Minerals”, “Fantasy Fiction”.

Buddy has an exhibit in mind that is actually quite advanced for young collectors. It may likely take years to collect enough material to tell his story. His focus is on the Danish company, Mærsk. Until then, I hope I can continue to encourage him to exhibit other more kid-friendly topics.