Flora Delaterre: The Plant Detective: When Montana Public Radio and the University of Montana School of Pharmacy teamed up in 1996 to create a radio show about medicinal plants, no one ever dreamed that the popularity would spread so far. But over time Flora Delaterre, the Plant Detective, became a small sensation, reaching listeners around the United States, Canada, and even the Philippines. Episodes are just 1.5-minutes long, and were recorded “from locations as far-flung as Sri Lanka and Siberia, the Appalachian Mountains and the rainforests of the Northwest, research labs and your own backyard.” Dozens of them can be accessed in the Audiofile Archive on the website, where plants are listed in alphabetical order, from Aconite to Yucca.
HowStuffWorks: Science: HowStuffWorks, which began in 1998 at a college professor’s kitchen table, has garnered dozens of awards and features thousands of posted articles and podcasts about everything from cars to animals to money. There are even HowStuffWorks Quizzes, Shows, and Videos, as well as an app for both iOS and Android devices. Unsurprisingly, the Science section of the HowStuffWorks website is loaded with fascinating facts. After scouting the Most Popular section on the landing page, readers may like to jump to What’s Inside: Science, which boasts over a dozen topics, such as Engineering, Environmental Science, Forces of Nature, Innovation, and others. Don’t miss the article, “10 Historical Robots,” which explicates automata from as far back as Swiss clockmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s 1774 intricately constructed moving dolls. Readers are sure to find hours of edifying entertainment on this most famous of science sites.
NSF Special Report: Understanding the Brain: In 2013, President Obama unveiled “The Brain Initiative,” a ten-year, nearly one billion dollar effort to unlock the mysteries of the brain. With contributions by everyone from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to the National Science Foundation (NSF) to Google, the initiative focuses on diverse fields and research methodologies. Readers will find much to explore on this accompanying website from NSF, including several dozen beautifully produced videos designed for classroom use. The videos, most of which are about five-minutes in length, cover topics such as the thinking brain, the perceiving brain, brain states and consciousness, the evolving brain, the emotional brain, the effects of musical training on the brain, and interviews with a number of groundbreaking brain researchers. Additionally, readers may peruse information about the brain initiative on the site, including Funding, Events, Resources, and News related to the project.
Scratch: Brought to the world by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group and the MIT Media Lab, Scratch allows children to program their own interactive stories, games, and animations, as well as share their projects with a larger online community. Parents and educators may like to start with Info for Parents and Info for Educators sections, which can both be located under the About tab. To take full advantage, users will first need to Join Scratch – a free and simple four-step process that requires nothing more than an email address. From there, users may peruse the Explore tab, where they will find thousands of projects in the categories of Animations, Art, Games, Music, and Stories. However, the heart of the Scratch site is the Create tab, where anyone can begin to design their own projects by following user-friendly instructions.