Planet Foss: Investigating Science by Taking Pictures

What it is: Planet Foss is a science photo sharing website for students.  Students are enlisted to help capture science in the real world through pictures and share them with other students around the world.   Students choose a science course to investigate, see what photo challenges exist within the course, and then take a picture of science as it happens.  Each course comes with several challenges; the challenges are all based around themes that tie into the FOSS investigations.   When students have taken their photos, they can upload them, tag them, and record observations about the science they captured in their picture.  Students can also head over to Planet FOSS just to check out the photos taken by other students, they can search by the date that the picture was uploaded, by tag, keyword, or search by location using a Google map. Courses on Planet FOSS include Chemical Interactions, Diversity of Life, Earth History, Electronics, Forces and Motion, Human Brain and Senses, Planetary Science, Populations and Ecosystems, and Weather and Water.

How to integrate Planet FOSS into the classroom: Planet FOSS is an excellent way to involve students in science exploration and discovery in the real world.  The great thing about the site is that it helps students discover the science that it all around them.  Through the photo challenges and investigations, students learn to view the world through a new lens and begin to understand that life is science.  That isn’t a concept I understood until I was out of school (for me science usually meant filling out a worksheet or memorizing science vocabulary-sad).  Don’t have access to digital cameras at school? Students can still use Planet FOSS by exploring other student photos.  The photos are a great way to introduce science concepts and illustrate concepts in a way that is more authentic than the textbook offerings.  As students view others photos, they can leave feedback about the photo, observation, or comment on the similarities or difference to where they live using a set of virtual “stickers”.

Tips: To protect student privacy, Planet FOSS does not accept any photos that includes pictures of students. Planet FOSS has a great introductory video that will have even the novice computer user uploading photos in no time!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Planet FOSS in your classroom

Simple Science

What it is:  Simple Science is a collection of informative science music videos for use in the elementary classroom.  The videos can be used to reinforce science learning objective and science concepts.  The videos can be watched from the website for free or purchased on DVD.  Simple Science video topics include: adapting, micro organisms, forces, changes, dissolving, how we see, changing circuits, keeping healthy, life cycles (flowers), gasses, water cycle, sun, earth, moon, changing sounds, moving and growing, habitats, keeping warm, solids vs. liquids, plants, friction, teeth, circuits and conductors, materials, rocks and soil, magnets and springs, light and shadows, air, atoms, DNA, Earth, electricity, insects, and magnetism.  The format reminds me of School House Rock.  Lyrics for all songs can be downloaded for students to follow along.

How to integrate Simple Science into the classroom:   Simple Science videos are perfect for introducing or reinforcing science concepts.  The songs and videos break down science concepts so they are easy to understand.  Use Simple Science with a projector for whole class instruction or set up a science center on classroom computers where students can stop by and watch the videos.


Tips: The Simple Science website did not work for me using the Opera browser. I was successful with the links using Firefox.


Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Simple Science  in your classroom.

Fantastic Contraption


What it is:   I love Twitter, not just for the ability to keep up with what everyone is doing at any given time during the day, but also because I learn about cool technology like Fantastic Contraption from my PLN (personal learning network).  Fantastic Contraption is a fun online game/puzzle, that teaches kids some physics basics.  Essentially students are trying to get a ball from one box to another using different tools to do so.  The puzzles get increasingly difficult with obstacles between the boxes.  This is an addicting puzzle and logic game!


How to integrate Fantastic Contraption into the classroom:  Even if you are not teaching your students physics, Fantastic Contraption should definitely make an appearance in your classroom.  Even students who have never had a physics class can play this game (3rd-12th grade) because knowledge of physics is not necessary to work out the puzzles.  Students can figure out the puzzle through trial and error.  What I love about the game is the way that it teaches students how it works through step by step directions on the first two logic puzzles.  This is a great exercise to get your students thinking outside the box and using critical thinking and logic skills.  Use Fantastic Contraption as a year long go to game for free time, snow days, and brain warm up before math or science.  Your students will love this one!


Tips: If you aren’t currently using Twitter, join today and find some other educators to follow…you will get all kinds of great ideas for your classroom!  Follow me at


Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Fantastic Contraption  in your classroom.


What it is: Macmillan-McGraw Hill Science is the online student addition of the textbooks. Students is grades kindergarten through six can click on the book that matches their grade level. Here students can watch video clips, play vocabulary games, take animated summary quizzes, read e-journals, and more.

How to integrate Macmillan-McGraw Hill Science into the classroom: Even if your school does not use the Macmillan-McGraw Hill Science textbooks, this site is a wonderful supplement to any science curriculum. The fun interactive environment is sure to be a hit with students. The vocabulary review games would be fun to play as a whole class with the projector (split students into teams) or individually. You might also offer this site to students for homework help or for test review at home.

Tips: Click on the OSE button at the bottom of the screen for the Online Student edition of the text box. Below the OSE button are login names and passwords for various grade levels.

P lease leave a comment and share how you are using Macmillan-McGraw Hill Science in your classroom.

Ed Heads




What it is: Ed Heads has various interactive science activities including Simple Machines where students learn about simple and compound machines (lever, pulley, wedge, screw, inclined plane, wheel, axle, and gear); Ed Heads Weather activities where students learn how to report and predict weather; Ed Head Compound Machine where students learn how forces and simple machines work together; and Ed Heads Virtual Knee Surgery.

How to integrate Ed Heads into your science curriculum: Use these interactive activities as a lab in your science class. Ed Heads will create unique, education web experiences that make hard to teach concepts understandable using the interactivity of the Internet.

Tips: Use the Ed Heads teacher guides and lesson plans to enhance your science curriculum.