LWhen Xenon’s creator isn’t busy at the script factory (a.k.a. her bedroom) or barking orders at her underpaid crew, she can often be found at her day job: teaching high-school science online—mostly chemistry, but sometimes biology, earth science, and related sciences as well. (She has also taught in traditional concrete-and-stucco schools.) As one might imagine, keeping teenagers engaged amongst the chaos of attention competition from cell phones, friends, family, and a bed screaming “Nap time!” can be a challenge. Here are some of her favorite resources to keep teens enthralled:
- PhET Simulations are digital labs that play like educational video games. Students love them! Please consider leaving a little something at the DONATE button to aid the good folks at U of Colorado Boulder Founded in 2002 by Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman, the PhET Interactive Simulations project is heavy on Chemistry but includes a wide array of other sciences as well as math topics. Here’s the link: https://phet.colorado.edu/
- The UCAR Center of Science Education has a collection of games and simulations related to atmospheric science, space, weather and climate education: https://scied.ucar.edu/interactive
- While NASA’s science-education resources are geared mostly to hands-on, in-person learning, some can be adapted to a digital classroom: https://www.nasa.gov/stem
- Citizen Science projects, designed to aid scientists around the world, can be done digitally or in person depending on the project. Topics include census of plants and wildlife, searching for exoplanets, and more. It’s a wonderful way to employ Next Generation Science Standards in project-based learning. The US government hosts a list of these here: https://www.citizenscience.gov/#; as does the National Geographic Society: https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/citizen-science-projects/ and the Citizen Science Global Partnership: http://citizenscienceglobal.org/.
- Xenon loves and subscribes to Science News, published by the nonprofit Society for Science (formerly SFCATP). They have a wide variety of grants (yay! Free money!) and resources available for STEM educators: https://www.societyforscience.org/outreach-and-equity/stem-action-grants/
- While Xenon pooh-poohs showing long videos during class time (unless teacher needs her beauty rest), she firmly believes that a short, engaging video is a terrific way to introduce new topics. For obvious reasons, https://www.youtube.com/@xenonandfriends is her favorite YouTube channel for Chemistry; but a close second place is https://www.youtube.com/@melissamaribel. Melissa may not have plot-driven stories told via cute cartoon characters who use chemistry to solve their problems, but she does have a cheery, upbeat style, and she does a fantastic job of explaining complex chemistry math step by step.
- Ted-Ed videos [https://www.youtube.com/@TEDEd ] are also among Xenon’s favorites. They’re short---usually less than six minutes—with fabulous visual aids. They cover a wide breadth of topics, not just chemistry.
- If biology is your thing, the Amoeba Sisters videos are colorful and fun ways to get introduced to bio concepts: https://www.youtube.com/@AmoebaSisters
- Xenon recommends that short videos be used to introduce new topics to the entire class; or that they be assigned for students to view independently via Edpuzzle: https://edpuzzle.com/
- Other fun ways to assign guided digital content include competitive quiz-review software such as Quizizz (https://quizizz.com/?lng=en) or Kahoot! (https://kahoot.com/); and Peardeck (https://www.peardeck.com/), Classkick (https://classkick.com) or Nearpod (https://nearpod.com/)
Xenon’s creator draws the slide deck and book excerpts seen in her videos. In the coming weeks, these resources will be made available for free download. Check back soon, or see updates as they occur by subscribing to the Xenon And Friends’ Instagram page or Facebook Group.