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Student-Centered Activities

Federal Resources
Other Resources

There are literally thousands of materials to choose from when it comes to classroom and after-school activities. Some of these are outstanding, while others, despite the hard work and dedication of their creators, may turn out to be unworkable in the classroom or in the venue in which you are working. They may be out-of-date, and a few are scientifically inaccurate. How will you know which to choose?

The most obvious rule of thumb is to go to a trusted site. The NIH has produced a large number of field-tested materials for children of all ages. Start there. Next, check with other government agencies, many of which have developed science education materials. Your professional society or a related society may also have materials, and most of these will be scientifically accurate and field tested. If you can’t find what you want in either of these places, talk to the teacher you’ll be working with, who may have a favorite source. Teachers may not be able to judge the scientific accuracy or completeness, but they will know if the activities are workable. (You can always correct the science yourself in advance.) Finally, remember that NIH, NSF, NOAA, NASA, DOE, and other government entities support the development of educational materials by others, so consider using materials from nonfederal sources that carry the logo of a government agency. Although no agency can guarantee the quality of the final product, they will at least have vetted the project idea.

At the end of this list you’ll find a few “How-To” guides to help you conduct a tour of your workplace, organize a science fair, and set up a distance partnership using videoconferencing.

Federal Resources

To make this resource more usable, this list includes only Web sites that have lesson plans and student-centered activities that are focused on basic science. However, many NIH websites have excellent informational materials that may be useful in preparing your own activities, as well as materials about activities and programs for teaching children to live healthier lifestyles. To access these resources, go to, which includes a description of all of the NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices. Then, go to the appropriate Web site for information about your topic of interest.


Office of Science Education (OSE/OD)
The OSE Web site is the most comprehensive compilation of NIH-produced science education materials. To make searching simple, resources are indexed by topic, grade level, and format. The site features lesson plans, tools and videos to help students investigate careers in the health and medical sciences, and links to other NIH education-related Web pages among other resources. There are also many resources to help you educate parents, teachers, and administrators. Explore the programs that the OSE runs in the Washington, D.C., area for ideas on starting your own community activity.

National Cancer Institute (NCI)
In collaboration with OSE, NCI developed a curriculum supplement for grades 9-12 called "Cell Biology and Cancer."

National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) External Web Site Policy
You can find materials and programs developed by SEPA awardees through links on this page.
NCRR collaborated with OSE to develop the "Using Technology to Study Cellular and Molecular Biology" curriculum for high school students.

National Eye Institute (NEI)
Material for VISION, a school-based program for 4th-to-8th-graders to teach the basics of vision, is available here.

National Heart Lung Blood Institute (NHLBI)
The Star Sleeper games educate children – and their parents, educators, and healthcare providers – about the importance of adequate nighttime sleep.
In collaboration with OSE, NHLBI developed a curriculum supplement for grades 9-12 called "Sleep, Sleep Disorders, and Biological Rhythms."

National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
NHGRI has developed curricula, classroom activities, teacher education resources, fact sheets, and other materials about topics related to the Institute's mission for classroom and after-school use.
NHGRI collaborated with OSE on a curriculum supplement for high school students, “Human Genetic Variation.”

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Information about curriculum materials as well as a link to "The Cool Spot", the NIAAA children's Web site, can be found here.
NIAAA collaborated with OSE on a curriculum supplement for middle school students, "Understanding Alcohol: Investigations into Biology and Behavior."

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID)
In collaboration with OSE, NIAID developed a curriculum supplement for grades 9-12 called "Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases."

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
In collaboration with OSE, NIAMS developed a curriculum supplement for 6th-to-8th-grade students called "Looking Good, Feeling Good: From the Inside Out (Exploring Bones, Muscle, and Skin)."

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Biomedical Engineering
The NIBIB site has useful background materials for topics in biomedical imaging and engineering and an index of information about current technologies. It also provides a list of Federal and non-Federal Web sites with resources for educators.

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
NIDCD has videos, activities, and classroom guides on hearing and sound for elementary and middle school children.
In collaboration with OSE, NIDCD developed a curriculum supplement for 7th-to-8th-grade students called "How Your Brain Understands What Your Ear Hears."

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
In collaboration with OSE, NIDCR developed a curriculum supplement for grades 1-2 called "Open Wide and Trek Inside!"

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
In collaboration with OSE, NIDDK developed a curriculum supplement for grades 7-8 called "The Science of Energy Balance: Calorie Intake and Physical Activity."

National Institute on Drug Abuse
NIDA has developed a variety of resources for teachers of students at different grade levels, including a series of curriculum materials in both Web and paper formats. The Institute has also developed a Web site for teens with instructions for educators on how to use the site’s tools in the classroom.
In collaboration with OSE, NIDA developed a curriculum supplement for grades 9-12, "The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology through the Study of Addiction."

National Institute of Environmental Health Science Education (NIEHS)
On the NIEHS Website, you’ll find curriculum materials, factsheets, flyers, and other materials for children of all ages related to the Institute’s mission. The site also has professional development materials.
NIEHS collaborated with OSE on a curriculum supplement for middle school, "Chemicals, the Environment, and You: Explorations in Science and Human Health."

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
On the NIGMS Web site, you’ll find a variety of classroom materials, including curricula, slide kits and booklets, videos, and interactive games.
NIEHS collaborated with OSE on a curriculum supplement for middle school, “Doing Science: The Process of Scientific Inquiry.”

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
In collaboration with OSE, NIMH developed a curriculum supplement for grades 6-8 called "The Science of Mental Illness."

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
In collaboration with OSE, NINDS developed a curriculum supplement for grades 6-8 called "The Brain: Our Sense of Self.".

National Institute on Nursing Research
OSE, NINR, and OBSSR teamed up to develop "The Science of Healthy Behaviors," a curriculum for grades 7-8.

National Library of Medicine
The "Visible Proofs" education site provides online activities and lesson plans in the area of forensics.
ToxTown and ToxMystery take students through a variety of activities to teach them about chemicals in the environment. Teacher guides and class activities are available for use on the Web or as text.
On this page, you’ll find a link to "Resources for Science Teachers," an introduction to NLM Web resources useful in biology, chemistry, genetics, earth science, and environmental science courses. It also includes resources on the history of medicine, information on health careers, and Spanish-language resources.

Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR/OD)
OSE, NINR, and OBSSR teamed up to develop "The Science of Healthy Behaviors," a curriculum for grades 7-8.

Office of NIH History (ONH/OD)
On this Web site, you’ll find a resource page with plans for activities and lessons in genetics. There are also many resources related to the history of NIH, HHS, and PHS, and it includes a history of the AIDS epidemic with audio clips from the researchers that did the research.


General Education Web Site for Teachers
Links to many energy-related K-12 education resources can be found here. The links include classroom and after-school activities in both science and the history of science, help and ideas for science fairs, “cool” Web sites, and other materials.

Energy Kids: Energy Activities for Students and Teachers
Most of these activities were developed by the National Energy Education Development Project in cooperation with the Energy Information Administration. A teacher guide provides extension activities that use this Web site as a resource. A selection of energy-related stories, hands-on activities, and research articles is provided for different age groups. Materials are grouped by age.

Human Genome Project Information
Educational resources from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) about genetics, the human genome project, and bioinformatics, including downloadable curriculum modules.


General Education Web Site for Teachers
The site includes teacher materials appropriate for the life sciences, ecology, earth sciences, geology, and more.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

Minerals Management Service (MMS)
Links to classroom and after-school projects from the DOI and other government agencies can be found here. The site features pages specific to particular geographical regions.

National Park Service (NPS)

US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)

US Geological Survey (USGS)

NASA has a variety of teaching materials indexed by grade level, type of material, and subject area that include more than 100 lesson (activity) plans.

NOAA's many educational activities are distributed across the agency. This site has been designed to help students, teachers, librarians, and the general public access the many educational activities, publications, and booklets that have been produced.

NSF maintains a Web site that contains a diverse collection of lessons and Web resources for classroom teachers, their students, and students' families. Materials are arranged by subject area.

Other Resources

Exploratorium Science Fair Page External Web Site Policy
The Exploratorium Learning Studio brought together some resources to help with running science fairs and preparing science fair projects. Many of the Web sites listed have more to offer than science fair information.

National Energy Education and Development Project (NEED) External Web Site Policy
NEED curricula and related materials can be found here. Curricula are indexed by grade level, subject, and title.

NEED Science Fair Projects for Kids External Web Site Policy
The NEED program developed some energy science fair projects for kids. The site also includes an Energy Fair science fair guide to help plan a science fair project.

National Science Digital Library External Web Site Policy
This NSF-funded resource includes thousands of digital items. The advanced search capability allows you to search on audience, grade level, topic, format, and source simultaneously. You will find audio, data, image, text, and video files as well as interactive resources here.

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