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Jennifer Cutraro's Articles

  • Problems with ‘the scientific method’

    In Connecticut, first-graders load up toy cars with different amounts of mass, or stuff, and send them racing down ramps, rooting for their favorites to travel the farthest. In Texas, middle school students sample seawater from the Gulf of Mexico. And in Pennsylvania, kindergarten students debate what makes something a seed.

  • How creativity powers science

    Ask most people to identify a creative person, and they'll probably describe an artist — Picasso, Shakespeare or even Lady Gaga.

    But what about a Nobel prize–winning chemist? Or a team of engineers that figures out how to make a car engine operate more efficiently?

    Creativity, it turns out, is not only the domain of painters, singers and playwrights, says Robert DeHaan, a retired Emory University cell biologist who now studies how to teach creative thinking.

    “Creativity is the creation of an idea or object that is both novel and useful,” he explains. “Creativity is a new idea that has value in solving a problem, or an object that is new or useful.”

  • Speedy sharkskin

    Slicing through the water at speeds exceeding 45 miles per hour (72 kph), the shortfin mako shark is one of the fastest fish in the sea. A team of Harvard biologists has made a surprising discovery about what feature gives the mako, like all other sharks, its incredible swiftness — its sandpapery skin.

  • Science fair as a family affair

    feeny

    As temperatures drop and days grow shorter, middle and high school students across the country begin gearing up for science fair season. While these competitions typically take place in the spring, the qualifying projects can take several weeks or even months to plan, carry out and summarize. That means late fall and early winter are an ideal time for students to start brainstorming project ideas.

  • Young scientists work together and win

    Broadcom MASTERS finalists

    Guests checking into the posh Palomar Hotel in Washington, D.C., recently, might have been surprised to hear pounding footsteps, shrieks and laughter pouring out of a conference room late one evening. And they would have been even more surprised to see what was behind those doors: 30 of the nation’s top middle school science students, flushed and sweaty, playing dodgeball, riding piggyback on their parents and squirting one another with water bottles.

  • Young scientists come to Washington

    The Broadcom MASTERS 2011 finalists

    On a chilly, rainy October morning in Washington, D.C., two middle school students from Hawaii sat shivering on a tour bus as they waited to depart for a photo shoot at the U.S. Capitol.

     “I don’t know how people live here,” said Jordan Kamimura, 14, of Hilo, Hawaii, through chattering teeth. 

  • Springing forward

    Lowell Cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts on May 30, 1868, and May 30, 2005.

    Lowell Cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts on May 30, 1868, and May 30, 2005.

    R. Primack, anonymous

    It's not just Daylight Savings Time that came early this year. All around the world, spring seems to be coming sooner than it used to. It hasn't moved up on the calendar — but many cycles in nature are telling us that spring just can't wait to be sprung.

  • Mood-boosting drugs make unhappy fish

    Scientists recently did experiments on several species of freshwater fish to see how they reacted to antidepressants in their water. Normally a bottom-dwelling species, this bass exposed to antidepressants started swimming at the surface, partially out of

    Scientists recently did experiments on several species of freshwater fish to see how they reacted to antidepressants in their water. Normally a bottom-dwelling species, this bass exposed to antidepressants started swimming at the surface, partially out of

  • Body clocks

    The human body is regulated by several internal clocks, which control sleeping and eating patterns among other things.

    The human body is regulated by several internal clocks, which control sleeping and eating patterns among other things.

    jodiecoston/iStockphoto

    Try this: For an entire day, forget about the clock. Eat when you’re hungry and sleep when you’re tired. What do you think will happen?

  • A new look at Saturn's rings

    This portrait of Saturn’s rings looks toward the northern side, which is not lit by the sun. Sunlight lights up the rings from below, though, and light not reflected scatters through the rings' particles, making them glow.

    This portrait of Saturn’s rings looks toward the northern side, which is not lit by the sun. Sunlight lights up the rings from below, though, and light not reflected scatters through the rings' particles, making them glow.

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