Audubon: Birding Without Borders: The “Big Year” is a concept unique to the birding community, centering around an informal competition among birders to see who can identify the largest number of species of birds within a single calendar year. This site, hosted by the Audubon Society, follows Noah Stryker, a writer, photographer, adventurer, and birder, as he criss-crosses the globe, searching out rare and common bird species in cities, forests, plains, and just about every other conceivable geography. Along the way, readers may enjoy the author’s adventures with friendly locals almost as much as his identification of Buff-collared Nightjars and Barn Owls. Spoiler alert: Stryker manages to identify over 5,000 unique bird species during his 365 day trek.
BioDitigal Human: BioDigital’s interactive, medically accurate Human platform has been designed to educate the average person about human anatomy and their own health through the use of dynamic 3D graphics and simulations. Available as a web-based or mobile app, readers must first sign up for an account to begin. From there, the system opens up to an image of the human skeleton. Readers may then select from over a dozen options to show and hide the skeletal, ligament, digestive, urinary, reproductive, respiratory, endocrine, nervous, cardiovascular, lymphatic, viscera/fascia, and muscular systems. The program also allows readers to explore in depth conditions related to various anatomical systems, including Blood, Heart, and Circulation, Brain and Nerves, Digestive System, and half a dozen others. The information here strikes an excellent balance between accessible and medically erudite.
DNA Barcoding 101: With a budget of 150 million dollars a year and a history dating back to 1890, Cold Spring Harbor (CSH) Laboratory is one of the nation’s most respected private, non-profit research institutions. Now, the Lab has given the world an excellent educational website on the topic of DNA Barcoding, a method that allows experts and non-experts alike to objectively identify species based on their unique pattern of DNA sequence. The Introduction page outlines the methods and applications of DNA Barcoding. From there, educators may want to download “Using DNA Barcodes to Identify and Classify Living Things,” the PDF document that outlines the experimental methods used to document species. Here readers will learn how to gather samples, use a smartphone to take photographs, drop a pin for location, use a field guide to identify the specimen to the degree possible, and then label and analyze the DNA. All the necessary equipment is listed in the document.
Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet: NASA’s Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet website features a diverse set of resources related to the measurement, analysis, and dangers of global climate change. Here readers will find a collection of Interactive Features all designed to bring to life the sometimes abstract conclusions of scientific articles on climate and its effects on human and other life on Earth. For example, the Climate Time Machine allows readers to go backward and forward through four different key climate indicators, including Sea Ice, Sea Level, Carbon Dioxide, and Global Temperature. Perfect for educators who are looking for impactful visual representations of the rising temperatures on the planet, the interactive makes these measurements visceral in a way that charts and graphs are seldom able to do. Other interactives on the page include the Global Ice Viewer, Quizzes, The Sun: A Virtual Tour, The Water Cycle, and others.