Science Buddies Blog: Science News Archives

The Science Buddies Blog gives students, teachers, and parents an inside look at student science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) projects, activities, success stories, and real-world connections.

Previous posts in the Science News category


A Bus Powered by Human Waste

Bio-Bus powered by human waste hits the roads for a test run in England.


Rosetta Pulls Alongside Jupiter Family Comet: Student Space Science Projects

The Rosetta spacecraft may help provide information about the formation of the solar system and planet Earth. Students and classes explore comets and space science through hands-on science projects.


Cardboard Houses: The Pritzker Prize and Inspiring Architecture from Surprising Materials

For this year's Pritzker Prize winner, cardboard and paper have proven to be key materials in designing disaster relief housing. Examples of Shigeru Ban's work force a reconsideration of design, materials science, and civil engineering. Can using recyclable materials make a cost-effective and sustainable difference in the way architecture is approached? With cardboard tubes, paper, straws, and other everyday materials, students can experiment with principles on a small scale that the award-winning architect has used in humanitarian structures around the world.


Soft Robots: Alternative Robot Design

Robotics engineers are experimenting with soft robots and robots modeled after biological organisms. With a squishy project at Science Buddies, students can get in on the action and test their own soft, air-powered, robot. A recent story in MIT…


Larger-than-life Robots on Traffic Control Duty

Giant metal traffic control robots installed on busy streets in Africa remind students that robotics engineering tackles projects and issues that may require very big OR very small solutions. Image: "Now, Robocop helps manage traffic in…


Sinkhole Science: Sudden Hole Swallows Corvettes Whole

A car museum turned into a tragic no parking zone. Explore with related science projects.


The New CEO of General Motors Inspires Students about Engineering

Stories about Mary Barra have the potential to empower, encourage, and inspire students of all ages as she takes on a very visible and important leadership role in the automotive industry. As Barra shows, even something as simple as making paper…


Laboratory Kidneys: Bioengineering Success Offers New Hope for Patients with Kidney Disease

Recent reports of laboratory-created rat kidneys provide hope for the future of bioengineered kidneys for those with kidney disease. Students can get involved in this hot area of biomedical technology and research with their own bioinformatics…

Human-Powered Helicopter: Pedal Power Engineering

A team from Canada captures a longstanding prize with their human-powered helicopter. You won't be parking yours any time soon, but the story is an inspiring example of engineering design, innovation, and perseverance. News of a last month's…


Citrus Science Crisis: From Fruitful to Fruit 'fall'

Thanks to the Asian citrus psyllids, your breakfast cup of orange juice is at risk. Learn more about citrus greening, the threat to the citrus industry, and ways students can develop related hands-on science investigations. A Fruity…


Celebrating DNA and the History of the Double Helix

Talk with students about DNA, its history, the scientists who helped crack the code, and ways that students at all levels can get hands-on with DNA-related science.


Turning Biomass into Biofuel: These Cows Are Making Massive Amounts of Potential Alternative Energy

Living on a farm can be smelly business. But stinky piles of biowaste can hold the key to an alternative energy solution that can have a major impact on a farm's available energy and power. Get inspired by one dairy's success and find out how you…


Bot Building for Kids and Their Parents: Celebrating Student Robotics

Find out how to get your (and your kids') feet wet with hands-on robotics engineering projects and activities. From taking robotic steps with LEGO® to upcycling toothbrushes or recouping the innards of cast-off electronics, robotics projects can turn kids on to creative thinking and STEM tinkering! Start at the beginning with simple bots that require only a few parts, and then move on to increasingly more innovative and sophisticated designs, building know-how with each new bot. Watch your student's understanding of robotics engineering grow bot by bot!


James Webb Space Telescope: Galactic Scope

SXSW Interactive Festival attendees got a chance to see a full-scale model of the giant James Webb Space telescope last month in Texas. Visitors to the Webb Telescope exhibit at South by Southwest engaged in presentations by prominent astronomers…


Surfing Mavericks: The Science of Northern California's Big Waves

When Mavericks' unusual sea floor terrain meets up with the perfect winter weather conditions rolling in from the Pacific Ocean, the surf's right for big waves. Students can learn more about the area's extreme surf with a range of hands-on science…


Burning Calories: Putting Nutritional Value to the Test

Do you use a package's nutritional information when making food choices? Can you trust the accuracy of the information? Nutritional content requirements are becoming more widespread, but the information on a label or a restaurant brochure may or may…


Beyond Winter White: A Burst of Color for Winter Engineering

Colorful full-size igloo examples of hands-on STEM. Students can explore physics, civil engineering, and more in related science projects at home or in the backyard on a snow day!


Science Fit for the Stage: DNA Sequencing Confirms Identity of Richard III's Skeleton

Archaeologists and scientists have announced that the remains found last summer beneath a Leicester parking lot are those of Richard III, a much-maligned figure from English history. The story offers an enticing mix of history, literature, and…


BLASTing Flu Season Frenzy: A Bioinformatics Perspective

Did you get the flu shot? This year's flu season started early and with a vengeance. How effective is the vaccine against the influenza making the rounds? Using an online bioinformatics tool, students can analyze flu data from previous years and…


Encouraging and Inspiring Female Student Engineers

While "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day" is officially celebrated in February, helping girls understand the creative world of engineering is important all year long. If you love to innovate, imagine, build, tinker, solve problems, or make things,…


Altered Foods: Labeling, GMOs, and Biotechnology

What kind of corn is in your favorite corn chip? Current debate in California surrounds the labeling of genetically modified foods and foods made from genetically engineered crops. Students can get hands-on and learn more about genetically modified…


Frankenstorm Science: Hurricane Sandy

Students of all ages may be hearing and seeing news about Hurricane Sandy. Even in the aftermath of the storm, talking about hurricanes with your students helps them better understand the science involved. (Image: NASA GOES…

Tonight's Blue Moon

You've heard the phrase, "once in a blue moon"? The phrase often refers to something unusual or rare. A "blue moon" doesn't happen every day—or even every year. As the infographic below from explains, the name of this event has…

Pinhole Viewer: Trying Again for the Transit

The Venus Transit offers a wonderful opportunity for family summer science and an easy DIY science activity—making a pinhole viewer. From parallax to exoplanets, tomorrow's transit raises plenty of talking points for students and their…


Venus Transit: Last Chance of the Century

By Kim Mullin Did you know that our moon is not the only heavenly body to pass between Earth and the Sun? The orbits of both Mercury and Venus infrequently take them on such a path, and on June 5th, you will have your last opportunity of the…


Gear Up for the Solar Eclipse

By Kim Mullin Safely viewing a solar eclipse takes special equipment—ask an adult for help now so you are ready! Those who see the May 20 annular eclipse will see a ring of sun around a dark center. The above photo of the January…


Science and Art: Mutant Sunflowers

Variations in gene expression can lead to anomalies in flowers. Some of Van Gogh's sunflowers were of a mutant variety, and scientists recently tracked down genes that may be responsible. When we think of a sunflower, many of us think of a…


Galaxy Games

Astronomers at the University of California, Santa Cruz are part of an international team that captured exciting first photos of a dwarf galaxy absorbing an even smaller galaxy. The photo above, captured by the Suprime-Cam in Hawaii, shows the…

New Paper Plane Record

A plane designed by John Collins set a new world record last week. Thrown by former football quarterback Joe Ayoob, the plane flew 226 feet, 10 inches in an indoor hangar on the McClellan Air Force Base, breaking the previous record by more than…


The Nighttime Sky Offers a Rare Treat This Week

The night sky is offering up a rare show this week: five planets so bright that you can see them with the naked eye! Also for your viewing pleasure, Earth's moon will stay high in the sky several hours before setting, and two of the brightest stars, Sirius and Canopus, will each be at their highest point in the sky during 2012.


Arsenic and Rice

If you think arsenic poisoning is something relegated to the pages of mystery novels, think again. Arsenic may be in foods you routinely eat—but it's undetectable by taste or smell. How much arsenic in your diet is safe? Number 33 on…


Licorice Root, Please

Licorice root may help fight cavities and other oral health problems, but most "licorice" candies are actually flavored with anise. Image source: Pikaluc, Wikipedia. Willing to try a licorice-based toothpaste? When it comes to candy,…


Find a Feather, Pick It Up?

Hanson's essay is thought-provoking and eye-opening, and for students with an interest in birds, or even an interest in paleontology, there is plenty of potential for inspiring and inspired science projects that may find a launching point in an essay on feathers. One path students might follow involves considering the question: where did feathers come from? And why do birds, alone, have them?


A Wolf Story in California

This zoology Project Idea gives students an inside look into wolf movement.


Green Tiles: Renewable Energy One Step at a Time

Pavegen's research into green technology, sustainable energy sources, and clean, renewable energy alternatives led to the development of Pavegen tiles—and an exploration of the potential offered by kinetic energy harvesting.


Looking Back: Science in 2011

A look back at science news from 2011 opens up exciting angles for student research and investigation. Despite the exacting nature of "science" and the scientist's quest for cut and dried, statistically sound results, science is constantly…


Color-Soaked Bugs: Color Sense in Insects

Dr. Mohamed Babu, India, turned thirsty garden ants into a cool series of photos and an interesting hands-on look at color sense and insects.


Rowing in Icy Waters: An Extreme Challenge

Screenshot from the Row to the Pole website for Day Thirteen of their multi-week row to the magnetic North Pole. The "Day Thirteen" update on the Row to the Pole website reads: "The crew fight against turbulence during a 20 hour…


An Herbicide Goes Awry

Eastern White Pines are among the types of conifers included in recent reports of widespread tree loss that may be linked to the commercial herbicide IImprelis. Image: Wikipedia. Sometimes, becoming more environmentally-friendly is a…


Women's World Cup and Soccer Science

Photo: Screenshot from FIFA headline coverage of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup outcome. The U.S. Women's Soccer Team didn't win in the finals of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup on Sunday against Japan, but for women's "football" fans,…


"Standing Up" for Your Health

The choice between standing and sitting might be as important as choosing to eat better or exercise more.


A Student Puts a "T" on Turbidity

How's the water? SODIS water disinfection uses PET bottles and the power of the sun over time. Image Source: SODIS Eawag, Wikipedia) The answer depends on a number of variables, including where you are, especially if you are considering…

From the Field: Nora Volkow

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an in-depth profile of Nora Volkow, the neuroscientist in charge of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In the accompanying video, Volkow talks about the psychology and physiology behind addiction. According to…

Zombie Preparedness

Zombies. Are you ready? You can get your own "zombie preparedness" badge on the CDC website. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a guide on how to prepare for a zombie attack. That's right, the government…


Visual Illusions: When What You See Is... Not What's There?

Exploring the science behind what we see and what we think we see. It's not always the same thing!


Science Buddies Wins Prestigious SPORE Award

The Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) is awarded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Science. Video Announcement Press Release Science Essay When you hear the word…


Earth Day: Staff Picks!

As I wrote my blog essay in celebration of Earth Day, I found myself in unexpectedly bug-laden territory, without a compost bin, wind turbine, or reusable food container in sight. But Earth Day is about all of those things. It's about taking a…


Earth Day: Turn Over a New Log

"Beetle collection at the Melbourne Museum, Australia," Wikipedia In celebration of Earth day, take a colorful entomological look at biodiversity by browsing Pheromone: The Insect Artwork of Christopher Marley. When it comes to things…


The da Vinci Way

Sample page from journals of Leonardo da Vinci. Image: public domain.Born on April 15, 1452: Leonardo daVinci, a "total package" when it comes to the quest for knowledge. Students learning the importance of a lab notebook might find inspiration in…


Celebrate the History of Space Flight

Screenshot from First Orbit (the movie), created by Today marks the 50 year anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's 108-minute, first human in space, orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961. It's a big day in the history of space…


Programming a Logo

With over 40,000 versions, MIT Media Lab's new logo is computer-driven design. Students can begin creating and exploring their own image-oriented applications--and algorithms--using MIT's Scratch programming environment.

Natalie Portman: A Winning Combination

As a straight-A high school student, Natalie Portman (a.k.a. Queen Amidala) was a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search, a prestigious, and highly competitive, national science competition.


pH Concerns for Hungarian Farmers

Almost six months later, scientists are still trying to assess the damage, both long-term and immediate, caused by the red mud, which contains both toxic metals and radioactive elements. Recent studies suggest that an immediate challenge for farmers will be dealing with soil that might be considered super alkaline.


A Video View of the Elements

The deadline has passed for entering the Chemical Heritage Foundation's "It's Elemental" video contest, but voting is underway! In recognition of the2011 International Year of Chemistry, the Chemical Heritage Foundation invited students to…


What is... Watson?

What would you have made Watson "look like"? Check out IBM's video coverage of what was involved in giving Watson both a "face" and a "voice" for the Jeopardy! Competition. "I'll take "Artificial Intelligence" for $1000, please." Jeopardy!…


State of the Union Speech Celebrates Science Fair

State of the Union address, Jan. 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) Are you tuning in to the Super Bowl? Are you participating in your school's science fair? Both are exciting. One can change the future. Students in the…


Desks Piled High, and Lizards for Lunch

There are 70,000 species of plants—flowering ones—that haven't even been tackled by scientists, but that we know exist and, as the article suggests, half of them are probably sitting on a desk somewhere or in a jar or maybe even pressed between the pages of an old dictionary.

DNA-Based Crime Prevention

Depending on where you live, you may find that even local corner stores have sections that are kept under lock and key. Over-the-counter drugs and even toys often end up under "please ask for assistance" supervision. It can be frustrating to have to…

Bitter is Better for Bronchial Tubes

Do you wrinkle up your nose at the taste of something bitter? That's partly what your taste buds do—help warn your body against something that is bitter and could be poisonous. While your tongue may or may not like the bitter taste of…

Cholera Season

Smallpox, typhoid fever, bubonic plague, cholera... These may be health problems you know best from history class—or even from novels in your literature class. In a world in which super-bugs lurk on the medical fringe and new viruses like H1N1…

Trapped Below Ground: The Importance of Circadian Rhythm

Nuts and Bolts: The study of Circadian Rhythms is called chronobiology. It's not about bugs! "Cicadas" are the insects that come back periodically—every 13 or 17 years in the case of some species. But the bugs (often called…


Making Radio Contact with the Space Station

If you consider FM-radio a bit old-school compared to your portable MP3 stash, it may be time to think again—with a look to the sky. Not only is it possible to see the International Space Station with the naked eye, it's also possible to…

A Vinegar-Based Effort to Save the Danube

Red Sludge: What is It? According to The Associated Press coverage of the Hungarian spill, "red sludge is a byproduct of the refining of bauxite into alumina, the basic material for manufacturing aluminum. Treated sludge is often stored in…

Nobel: Palladium as a Catalyst

Key Terms: Synthesis: forming or building a more complex substance or compound from elements or simpler compounds. Palladium: a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pd Catalyst: a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical…

Nobel: The Wonders of Graphene

The 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics went to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, a team of researchers from the University of Manchester. Using ordinary tape, Geim and Novoselov managed to extract a flake of graphene from a piece of graphite like that…

Nobel: In Vitro Fertilization

The 2010 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded yesterday to Robert G. Edwards, a pioneer in in vitro fertilization (IVF) therapy. Edwards' research and conviction that infertility could be treated, dates back to the 1950s. After years of…

Nobel News and Student Projects to Explore

It's Nobel Prize time! This week, Nobel Prizes will be announced in the following areas: Physiology or Medicine Physics Chemistry Peace Prize The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel To help students,…

New Exoplanet Discovered

This week, a team of astronomers at the Keck Observatory announced the discovery of Gliese 581g, a planet orbiting Gliese 581, a red dwarf star twenty light years away (and part of the constellation Libra). Gliese 581g is one of six planets that…

Turning the Titanic

Over fifteen hundred people died when the "unsinkable" Titantic sank in 1912, just days into the passenger steamship's first trip from Southampton, England to New York City. Collision with an iceberg undisputedly caused the tragedy, but recent news…


A Sweet Sequence: The Cocoa Genome

Cocoa beans in a cocoa pod. Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service. Cocoa is the key ingredient in chocolate, and while it may seem like the candy display at your local store is never at risk of…


Science Mom: Experiencing a the Driveway

I read about the Perseid meteor shower in the newspaper the morning of August 12--the day the annual meteor shower was predicted to peak. The Science Mom in me flagged the event, but even so, I thought to myself, "I'm not sure I want the kids to miss their bedtime again."


Soccer Ball Science

The "Adidas Jabulani" is the official match ball for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Image source: Wikipedia, RoyFocker 12. A World Cup Debate Away on vacation last week, I was admittedly only vaguely aware that the World Cup was getting ready to…


Oil Spill and Wildlife

A massive oil spill off of the Gulf of Mexico has had environmentalists watching the winds in hopes that the oil wouldn't wash ashore. The oil spill threatens the habitats and health of many coastal species.

Earth Day: Polar Caps

As you observe Earth Day 2010 today, it's the perfect time to talk with students of all ages about conservation, recycling, and the importance of being good caretakers for the Earth. The following newly released Science Buddies science project can…

Ash Air

Eruptions this week of a volcano that sits beneath a glacier in Iceland forced the evacuation of local residents who were in the path of the meltwater run-off from the glacier as surface melting occurred in response to the energy and temperature underground.


Mercury and Venus with the Naked Eye!

Whether you're an amateur astronomer or just one to look out the window at night from time to time and notice a particularly bright moon, it's been a year of big sightings in the night sky.

In the Wake of Shake

While smaller US earthquakes made recent news, like the 6.5 magnitude shake in Northern California that was felt up into central Oregon, the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck near Port-au-Prince, Haiti yesterday, has brought earthquakes into the…

Calling All Computer-Savvy Girls!

The November 15 deadline for the 2010 NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing is approaching. All US high school girls in grades 9-12 (excluding previous winners) are invited to apply. Awardees receive both cash and technology prizes. For…


The above video is from NASA's coverage of the LCROSS impact the morning of October 9, 2009.

Earth Science Week: Climate

This week, we'll be looking skyward as we await the impact of the LCROSS satellite and hope for sight of the plume on the morning of October 9. But next week, our attentions will spiral back to Earth for "Earth Science Week 2009," October 11-17.…

Countdown to LCROSS Impact

10 Days and Counting! The countdown is on! LCROSS' projected lunar impact will occur on October 9, 2009 at 11:30 UT (7:30 a.m. EDT, 4:30 a.m. PDT), +/- 30 minutes. If you've been tracking the LCROSS Mission, you…

Near-Space Photos on Shoestring Budget

"Earth" as photographed by Project Icarus' weather-balloon-toted camera at 93000 feet. (Photo used with permission. A recent CNN story highlights the spirit of ingenuity and determination that…

From Science Teacher to Astronaut

Last spring, Science Buddies announced in a teacher newsletter that applications were being accepted for Northrop Grumman Foundation's Weightless Flights of Discovery Program. Last week, the 30 teachers selected for the "zero-gravity" flight, a…

Cleaner Coasts

The 25th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day is this Saturday, September 19, 2009. Part of the California Coastal Commission's Adopt-a-Beach initiative, California Coastal Cleanup Day encourages volunteers of all ages to head to the beach to help…

From Storyboard to Computer Design

For today's students, the leap from playing video games to programming video games isn't necessarily a big one. Even elementary school students who enjoy filling some down-time with a favorite game can begin exploring the logic and sequencing…

A New Name for 112

When you're an element - even a "super-heavy" one - getting an official name and spot on the Periodic Table isn't easy. A chemical element, Element 112 was first fusion-created more than a decade ago but only recently found a spot on the table. It…

Singing On Key or Off Key

                Michael Jackson, 1984, Wikimedia Commons If you can remember the first time the Moon Walk was performed on stage (and I don't mean anything related to Neil Armstrong) and know…

A Twist on Heart "Beat"

CNN Health reported last week on a woman who saved her husband's life by using the rhythm and pacing of the Bee Gees 1977 classic "Staying Alive" as a metronome for performing CPR. With no prior CPR training, she kept the song in her head…

LCROSS: Crashing Craters

          Image of LCROSS separation from Centaur during lunar approach. Image created for NASA and the LCROSS mission by Northrop Grumman, sponsor of Science Buddies' Aerodynamics Interest Area. …

47-Million-Year-Old Fossil

Last month, CNN and National Geographic reported on a 47-million-year-old fossil discovered in the Messel Pit in Germany, in 1983. The fossil, described as small-cat sized, was of something that has been pinpointed as a predecessor of humans…


The Science of Bridges

   May 27, 1937 marked the initial celebrations of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge, a project that was started in January of 1933 and cost more than 35 million dollars. (Source: Wikipedia) A popular Magic…

Mockingbirds Recognize Humans

      Image source: Wikipedia Commons Driving to my son's preschool this week, I spotted a bird on a wire as it lifted up into the air, wings fluttering, and then settled back down. Seeing the…

The Power of Forensics

Popular prime time TV like CSI (in all its variations) shows have imbued forensics labs with glamour and intrigue, but beyond the lights, camera, and action of the stories we see unfold on TV, the world of real-life forensics offers drama…

Gearing Up for Pedal Power

The month of May is national "Bike to Work" month, and this week the League of American Bicyclists is encouraging people to leave their cars parked and get on a bike for the morning commute to work or to school! The environmental and energy…


A Closer Look at Saturn's Rings

The May 11 successful launch of the space shuttle Atlantis marks NASA's fifth repair trip to the Hubble Space Telescope. This trip is listed as Atlantis's final servicing trip for Hubble, and slated repairs and upgrades include installation of the…

Pass the Bacon: Swine Flu Not Food-Based

With news of H1N1 flu, more commonly known as "swine flu," spreading like wild fire through the fibers of every communication and networking stream we use day to day, levels of fear and panic about this strain of influenza are on the increase,…

Renewable Energy

PG&E recently asked the state of California to approve plans to turn to space-based solar systems as a source of clean energy. With plans for the satellite which would relay the solar energy to be designed and completed by Solaren Corp by 2016, it…

Swine Flu: BLASTing viruses

No matter what you open, turn on, or tune into, chances are you'll catch a headline about swine flu. The outbreak can be tracked at HealthMap or with their newly launched Twitter stream, which, according to Discovery News, was created in response to…

DNA Day!

In celebration of the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003, today is National DNA Day. The following Science Buddies project ideas offer an excellent point of entry for DNA discussions and an introduction of relevant…

Very Cool Collection of Bird's-Eye-View Photos

There's a very cool slideshow on the Discovery Channel site in recognition of Earth Day 2009. The collection of photos that make up the "On Earth Day, a Bird's-Eye View" slideshow are beautifully done and are accompanied by explanatory text that…

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