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2020 Nobel Science Experiments for K-12 Students

Encourage your students to dream big! See K-12 STEM projects and activities that relate to the 2020 Nobel Prizes.

Nobel Prize logo

Announcement earlier this month of the 2020 Nobel Prize winners brought recognition to exciting research in areas of physics, space science, health and human biology, biotechnology and genetics, and the global challenge of ensuring adequate food supply for the world's population. These annual awards honor the pinnacle of science, technology, engineering, and math research and discovery.

Explore Nobel Prize Science with Student Projects

Students inspired by this year's Nobel Prize winners can start their own research on similar topics with independent science projects and STEM activities.

We've got suggestions for student exploration in areas of physics, chemistry and biotechnology, medicine, and global challenges.

Physics, Space, and Black Holes

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three scientists whose research has involved black holes. Half of the award was presented to Roger Penrose who demonstrated (in 1965) the relationship between Einstein's theory of relativity and black holes. The other half of the award is shared by Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez who "discovered that an invisible and extremely heavy object" controls the orbits of stars at the center of the Milky Way. Their research suggests this invisible object is a "supermassive" black hole.

Make a Model to Explore the Distance from the Planets to the Sun

Students can start digging into the science of black holes with physics and space science projects like:

Educators teaching space science can make use of these free, NGSS-aligned STEM lessons:

See also the new Space Exploration and Exoplanets cutting-edge lesson plan collections.

Chemistry, Biotechnology, and Gene Editing

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for development of CRISPR/Cas9 "genetic scissors," a method for precise editing of DNA. Learn more about CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in this summary.

CRISPR overview diagram showing CAS9 mechanism

Students can learn about genetics and biotechnology with independent science projects and activities at all grade levels. See the following projects to get started:

Educators can connect student learning to this year's Nobel Prize-winning research with these lessons:

For additional lessons related to biotechnology and gene editing, see the Genetic Engineering cutting-edge lessons collection and the Teaching Biotechnology at All Grade Levels resource.

Medicine, Human Biology, and Disease

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was jointly awarded to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton, and Charles M. Rice for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus, which causes chronic liver disease. Learn more about Hepatitis C (one of three variations of the Hepatitis virus) in the Nobel announcement.

How Do Viruses React To Soap?

Students interested in medicine, disease, and human biology can experiment with independent science projects like these:

Educators can use the following lessons to teach about the science of viruses, vaccines, and human health:

For additional lessons related to health, viruses, and the COVID-19 pandemic, see the Pandemics — COVID-19 cutting-edge lessons collection.

World Peace and Global Food Supply

The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the World Food Programme (WFP), an organization dedicated to fighting global hunger.

Hydroponics in a 2-Liter Soda Bottle – STEM activity.

Students interested in the challenge of feeding the world's population and using STEM to respond to that and other global challenges can do their own research and testing with independent science projects like these:

Educators can teach about sustainability, climate change, and STEM solutions to global challenges with lessons like:

Make STEM Career Connections

The awarding of the Nobel Prizes presents a great opportunity for educators to talk with students about this year's award winners and related STEM careers. For more information and inspiration about doing STEM career projects with students, see:

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