Thousands of free science lesson plans from the Yale National Initiative

“To Strengthen Teaching in Public Schools” is their motto.  Simple and clear.

Yep, it’s true.   They are all free!   There are literally thousands of lessons here – hundreds of them are in science, as well as in literature and other areas.   There were written over the years by teachers from several summer science institutes.  Most of them have a written abstract, a narrative, objectives, worksheets, grade levels and references.    Don’t let the name “Yale” scare you – this site is really quite friendly to use.

You are given three choices; I would start at the top one “Search Curricular Resources from Local and National Seminars” and click on “search”.

This might easily become one of your biggest resources for you science classes.


Project WILD schedule for fall, 2012

I have mentioned Project WILD elsewhere; it’s a great set of resources for teaching conservation concepts.   Our Oklahoma contact and high-energy presenter is Lisa Anderson;, (405) 990-1292.  She can also schedule events at your school if you can get at least 15 participants.  The workshops are six hours long and cost $15 each.

The following Saturday workshops are currently scheduled for open participation at Arcadia Lake (near Edmond.  Contact Lisa to register or for more information:

June 23 – Project WILD

June 30 – Growing up WILD

Sept 8 – WILD about reading

Sept 22 – Project WILD

October 27 – Growing up WILD

Fish Prints – Where will gyotaku take you?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the horrible pun.  This is an art activity that teaches science.  Gyotaku is the art of putting ink or paint on a fish and then rubbing the fish onto paper.  You can make the print on paper, fabric or even T-shirts.  You can use it as-is, you can hand-color details, you can add any way you want to and even add schools of fish.

A few minutes of searching the web for gyotaku images and you’ll be hooked.  There are also some great how-to videos on youtube.

You can use real fish or you can buy rubber casts of fish.  In either case you can rinse off the ink or tempera paint and use the fish over and over.  If you use real fish you can simply re-freeze them in individual plastic bags.  A good source for rubber casts of fish is Acorn Naturalists.  They have a great online catalog at

Don’s hints:  Use a good grade of paper.  Copy paper won’t take the ink nearly as well as art paper and you want your students to have a good experience!   Practice first.  Try intergrading different colors of ink on the same fish!  Add fins and other details by hand – just use the fish print for the basics.  With some papers and some inks it works better to slightly mist the paper with water first.  Finally, it is usually better to ink the fish and then place the paper on top rather than the other way around.  Gently pat the paper around the fish and then remove, dry and admire it!

You can also use the same technique to add some plants and make a scene, but plants don’t generally print nearly as clearly as the fish do.  Shells work nicely;  they have more texture.

Where is the science?  This forces the students to concentrate on the form and the details.  Now you can talk about the different parts of a fish and the different fins.  You can related structure to function – different body shapes and different mouth shapes for different purposes.  A diagram to label of parts of a fish will make a lot more sense after this activity than if it were before!  A good follow-up activity for younger students is the free sample activity “Fishing Fun”  from Project WILD at

Project WILD

Project WILD – one of the most-used sets of environmental education curricula in the US. grades K-8 with some flexibility in the grade levels. You can’t buy the materials – it’s given to you when you attend in one-day (or more) workshop. You get the books while the actual materials are simple and cheap.

Don’s hint – get a plastic bin for each activity you will use and keep it pre-loaded with all of the things, be they paper towels, paper clips, whatever.  Add a few empty trash bags and a photocopy of the exercise and the teacher’s hints.  Then you can just grab and run.

A lot of learning about conservation, environmental and ecological principles can be taught through games and activities.  Project WILD and its companion, Project WET serve to provide the teacher with dozens of such activities that have been teacher-written, then teacher-tested, and revised so that they just simply work.  Most are keyed to objectives.  Read more at

One more thing – here a free sample lesson.  It’s for young children, and it’s about how fish use their bodies when they swim. and click on the “Sample Activity”.

STEM Workshop at OSU

Wow !  If you didn’t go to this one-day event last Friday you missed a super workshop!  If you ever get a chance to go to another one at Stillwater, the correct answer is a resounding “YES”.  I hope to get some pictures I can post.

The pace was fast and furious – just the way I like it.

The facilities were at the College of Education at Willard Hall at OSU.  Now, I had not been back to Willard Hall in . . .  well, a long time.  I had not seen it since it was renovated to become the home for OSU’s College of Education and I must say – as far as beauty and professional presentation this facility tops any other college of education in the region.  The renowned OSU gardens on one side, Theta Pond on another, and Whitehurst Hall on the third gives it the perfect setting.  Add to that the renovation was able to retain the colonial architecture both inside and out, while totally changing the interior with no hint of it ever having been a dorm – except the refurbed living and dining areas.  Very nice, and reminds us teachers of another meaning of the word “class”.

The presenters were top-notch, from Dr. Lowery of Berkley who kept us on the edge of our seats to the Delta/Foss people who kept us laughing.  I think everyone got lots of great ideas for teaching science and math to our students in the fall.  I loved how all grade levels were well-represented, from K on up.

It’s always great to see old friends and acquaintances while at the same time meeting new people who are leaders in their field, top teachers, and excited young college students.   I hope they will do it again so that you can attend.

Ghost Towns in Oklahoma

We will bring the history lesson (and posts) to an end today – what better place than ghost towns.   Here is a list of nearly 100 in Oklahoma!  Surely there is one near you.  These all have links and many of them have comments and images.  You can add to the list and you can add your images.   Sounds to me like a great place to begin (or end) a research project.   So here’s the link, and tomorrow we’ll get back to science in the GSO – the Great State of Oklahoma.

History of Oklahoma Highways

Today seems to have evolved into an Oklahoma History theme.  Fine, let it go in that direction then.  Here is another one of Wes Kinsler’s sites that I have used often. This one is about the history of Oklahoma Highways.  It’s good for armchair traveling, either down the highway or backwards into time.