Grades 9-12

Spitzer Hall of Human Origins Glossary

Curriculum Materials

Spitzer Hall of Human Origins Glossary

What are evolutionary trees? How do hominids differ from primates? And why is it important that humans are capable of symbolic thought? Find out with this guide from "DNA" to "variation."

Melting Ice, Rising Seas

Science Bulletin

Melting Ice, Rising Seas

The rising temperatures of global climate change are melting the world's ice. Most notable are the shrinking ice sheets of Greenland and west Antarctica, which have shown dramatic loss in recent years.

Gamma-Ray Bursts: Flashes in the Sky

Science Bulletin

Gamma-Ray Bursts: Flashes in the Sky

Gamma-ray bursts—flashes of intense radiation in space that are often just seconds long—were accidentally discovered in the 1960's by satellites built to monitor nuclear bomb explosions. They've been one of the leading astrophysical mysteries ever since. This Astro Bulletin introduces you to the scientists and instruments working to unravel the origins of gamma-ray bursts. It highlights Swift, NASA's burst-detecting satellite, and PAIRITEL, one of a fleet of ground-based telescopes that point toward a gamma-ray burst in response to Swift's alert to capture the afterglow before it fades. Astrophysicists at Penn State and other institutions are analyzing these afterglows to understand what causes the most powerful explosions known

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Science Bulletin

Language in the Brain

Why is it that humans can speak but chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, cannot? The human brain is uniquely wired to produce language. Untangling this wiring is a major frontier of brain research. Peer into the mental machinery behind language with this feature video, which visits a brain-scanning laboratory, Columbia Universitys Program for Imaging and Cognitive Sciences, or PICS. Columbia neuroscientist Joy Hirsch and New York University psychologist Gary Marcus explain what researchers have learned about how our brain tackles language—and whats left to learn.

Trails in the Snow: The Effects of Reforestation on Mammal Distribution in the Baraboo Hills

Young Naturalist Awards Essay

Trails in the Snow: The Effects of Reforestation on Mammal Distribution in the Baraboo Hills

The first snowfalls of winter have transformed the landscape into a pristine, silent, unscathed world. The sounds of birds and animals that are so casual in other seasons are now magnified by silence. The bark of a squirrel is crisp and suspended in time, like the lingering imprint her paws leave on the snow.  Winter is the invigorating cold, the silent struggles for survival, the stories written by paws and hooves on the snow; small details that could easily not be noticed.

Barn Owls on the Side of the Road

Young Naturalist Awards Essay

Barn Owls on the Side of the Road

The discovery of many dead barn owls lying around the highway peaked this young naturalist’s curiosity. See what he learned when from his investigation.

From the Desert to the Subalpine Forest

Young Naturalist Awards Essay

From the Desert to the Subalpine Forest

This young naturalist used a trip to the Grand Canyon to test her hypothesis: the higher the elevation, the greater the number of species of flora that would be present.

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Science Bulletin

Thinking in Symbols

Modern human culture underwent a "creative explosion" in Ice Age Europe 40,000 to 10,000 years ago. The evidence, which ranges from fantastic cave paintings to elaborate graves to innovative tools, is a sure sign that human symbolic thought-our ability to create and combine meaningful symbols to represent the world-was in full bloom. What evolutionary steps seeded this mental flowering? This Human Bulletin video follows the ongoing excavations of Christopher Henshilwood, an archaeologist who is seeking the earliest evidence of our species' unique mental powers. Recent finds dating to 72,000 years ago at his South African excavation site, Blombos Cave, are slowly shedding light an era of human culture that has been all but dark.

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