"The program . . [combines an] interesting use of technology
with classroom investigations to let students explore areas
that they would not otherwise have a chance to explore."
Science Books & Films|
Can't manage a field trip to the Gobi Desert or Monterey
Bay? How about taking a virtual field trip instead, using
the new Science Seekers CD-ROM series which gives
your students the chance to solve a real-world problem the
way scientists do. Three innovative kits provide all the
resources necessary for teachers and students to embark on
a mission like this one:
For a transcript of the audio clip,
Each title begins with a clip like this one in which noted
scientists brief students about a fictionalized version of
a real-world problem that requires real-world knowledge
and skills. In Endangered Species, the mission is to find
out why a population of southern sea otters is declining.
Are they starving? Getting tangled in fishing gear? Perhaps
vulnerable to a water-borne disease? Ultimately, students
must draw on their knowledge of ecosystems and food chains
to figure out how to protect these engaging marine mammals.
Structured to promote active, collaborative learning|
Each of the Science Seekers programs is structured
to take the students back and forth between the computer
and offline, hands-on activities. After the video
introduction, the class receives a set of questions and
breaks into teams of four. Each team uses a variety of tools,
techniques, and supplemental materials they gather
evidence, conduct lab experiments, and analyze data.
In other words, they engage in scientific problem-solving
activities. (All groups must work to answer a series
of six questions, but each member of the group has a different
information sheet. Each student must contribute and explain
some unique piece of the research to help the team answer
the questions.) When all four members of each group can answer
all six questions, the students reconvene at the computer for
the next instructional video and set of questions. After
working through a series of investigations and exploring
several possible answers, students ultimately resolve the
problem. A video debriefing by scientists, who discuss the
importance of these techniques and tools in successful research,
wraps up the project.
Mission #1: How do biologists study endangered populations?
In the first program in the series, Endangered Species,
once students have been briefed about the population decline
of southern sea otters along the Pacific coast, they investigate
five possible causes to the problem. Next, American Museum
of Natural History (AMNH) conservation biologist Howard
Rosenbaum explains how his colleagues use computer modeling
to make predictions about a population. Eleanor Sterling,
director of the
Museum's Center for Biodiversity and
also explains how modeling was used by scientists to protect
endangered sea turtles. In the video debriefing, scientists
explain why understanding the complexity of ecosystems and
the mechanics of population decline is crucial to protecting
the Earth's environment.
Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, a conservation
biologist at the AMNH, studying humpback whales with a research
colleague off the coast of Madagascar in Endangered Species
Brings real scientists into the classroom|
Because most of the work takes place away from the computer,
the Science Seekers programs are ideal for a one-computer
classroom. Because they're designed for small groups, they
encourage active learning and collaborative problem-solving.
Because these hands-on activities employ tools and techniques
used by actual scientists, they link the classroom to real-world
exploration and experience. That's the guiding concept behind
the series: to turn kids on to science, and to help middle-school
science teachers teach the required curriculum, by using real
scientists' skills and experiences to solve actual scientific
Designed to fit into your curriculum|
Based on the natural sciences, the three CD-ROMs combine
the scientific expertise of the AMNH, whose scientists and
educators developed the content, with the technological
experience of Tom Snyder Productions, a leading developer
of multimedia educational software. Each title combines online
and offline activities, and is used over three to five 40-minute
class periods short enough to cover in a week. You can
go through the program in its entirety, or you can piece
together smaller units tailored to your curriculum.
Science Seekers is a co-production
of the AMNH and Tom Snyder Productions Inc.
© Tom Snyder Productions Inc.
Mission #2: How can lead pollution be prevented?|
In the second CD-ROM, Safe Water, housing developers
discover lead pollution while digging a well. Students learn
about groundwater what it is and how it cycles underground
as well as how scientists use models to determine how water flows
through rock. They need that skill in order to figure out
the source of the contamination and stop it before it spreads
to all of the town's wells. In one investigation, students collect
data using a cross-section diagram of the town's water system
and construct a computer model of groundwater flow in the area.
Dr. Elizabeth Keating, a hydrogeologist
at Los Alamos National Laboratory, examines a water sample in
Elizabeth Keating, a hydrogeologist at the Los Alamos National
Laboratory, discusses how she uses computer models in her
own research. Important clues also come from museum geologist
Margaret Carruthers, who talks about the porosity and permeability
of rocks and how they transport water underground.
Mission #3: How do paleontologists decide where
Hidden in Rocks, the third Science Seekers title,
tackles a topic that's a perennial favorite at the AMNH: fossil
hunting. Students study an uncharted area known as Vastland in
order to pick the site where paleontologists are most likely
to find fossils. In the process, they learn about basic plate
tectonics, the rock cycle, and the three major types of rock.
Mike Novacek, a Museum paleontologist, offers some fossil-finding
tips based on rock types. John Pickle, a satellite imagery
specialist, helps students interpret
Landsat images to determine which
land forms are likely to contain fossils. Lastly, students
investigate how the effects of weathering and erosion
can reveal fossils.
Dr. Rosamond Kinzler, a volcanologist at the AMNH, uses
a handlens to examine a speciment in Hidden in
A typical Landsat image. This image was taken of the
Gobi Desert. What can you see in this satellite image? Can
you find the mountain peaks? the lake? the clouds?
A comprehensive teaching guide|
The software is easy to use, and comes with a 70-page
guide that introduces the whole process of combining
multimedia, cooperative learning, and hands-on,
problem-solving activities. Many reproducible blackline
masters accompany the investigations. The teacher's
guide also offers help in navigating the program,
troubleshooting, content preview, and suggestions
for assessment. It also recommends enrichment activities
and publications, as well as online resources that
further develop real-world learning in the relevant
"Who wants to be a geologist when they grow up?
A paleontologist? A marine biologist?" After trying one
of the Science Seekers CD-ROMs, you might see
a record number of hands shoot up in the air.
© 2001 American Museum of Natural History