It’s no secret that science is a field that is constantly changing. With new discoveries and innovations happening literally daily, there is always something new and exciting you can dig into with your students. Staying on top of the latest news in the scientific community is not only a great way to keep students engaged in current events, it also helps our students understand the real world application of all that they are learning in the classroom. As we all know, when it comes to choosing a news source, not all websites and publications are created equally. If you’re planning to incorporate science themed current events into your lesson plans, it’s important to find the best science news sites for middle school students.
What makes a good news source?
When it comes to using the latest science news in classroom instruction, there are a few key things I look for in a great resource.
Current and Up-To-Date Scientific News
Science is definitely a field in which publication dates matter. I prefer to choose sites that routinely publish new content. For obvious reasons, you don’t want to rely on sources that are multiple years old. Scientific concepts and our understanding of the world are constantly evolving. The best resources for industry news understand the dynamic and ever-changing nature of science and they routinely publish new content that keeps up with current events (that pertain to the science field) and technological advances.
Appropriate Reading Levels
When it comes to reading news articles with your science students, it’s important to keep text complexity in mind. (The specific reading level you need will vary depending on the grade level in which you teach.) While informative, there are some popular websites and science magazines that are written at a level that exceeds what many middle school students will reasonably be able to unpack and understand with some level of independence. Instead of focusing on text complexity, I choose to prioritize authentic texts that cover a variety of different science topics without being too difficult for students to understand.
The best science news websites are supported by a body of scientific research. Their articles come from a reputable website and are fact-based, not opinion-based articles.
How can science news be used in the middle school classroom?
There are many ways to incorporate the best science news sites for middle school students into your classroom instruction. In some cases, I’m able to use standards-aligned resources that pair nicely with the fields of science and I’m currently teaching. I’ve found that incorporating science news is a fun way to make our lesson objectives and learning targets come alive for students. In other cases, the news article may not pair directly with the current unit, but offers a nice change of pace when we all could use a little break from our regular science instruction.
Science news resources make great:
- Small group activities during learning stations.
- Independent reading activities to use in a substitute lesson plan.
- Opportunities for whole-class CLOSE reading and large group discussion.
- Partner work.
Best science news sites for middle school students
Alright, the million dollar question…What science news sites should you actually use? This can take some digging. (As I mentioned before — not all sites are created equal.) Lucky for you, I’ve already put the time into finding the best of the best when it comes to great websites for middle school science classrooms. I’ve compiled this list of the best science websites for you to use next time you need a new article to boost your middle school science lesson plans!
Science News Explores
This science news publication posts daily articles and content for students ages 9 and up. Their articles cover a wide range of topics and are completely free to the general public. No subscriptions required! Whether you teach middle school or spend your days with high school students, Science News Explores is one of best places you can go for current science news.
Science News Magazine
This independent science news publication has been in print since 1921. Science News Magazine is the sister publication of Science News Explores. Unlike Science News Explores, this digital magazine isn’t specifically geared towards students, but I’ve still found their content to be helpful and interesting. As an added bonus, this company offers pre-made lesson plans and reading guides that pair nicely with their articles.
Science: Smithsonian Magazine
You can’t go wrong with a Smithsonian publication. This digital magazine will make science enthusiasts out of your middle schoolers. Covering a wide range of popular science topics, Science Magazine has a little something for everyone.
Science Daily considers themselves to be the go-to source for the latest research-based science news. With new free articles published each day, this site covers every topic in the science world, from environmental science topics (ex: fossil fuels, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.) to technology news (ex: artificial intelligence, robotics, etc.)
Live Science is another one of my favorite science resources. They publish news content that covers all of your standard scientific disciplines (ex. life science, space, etc.) My favorite part of the Live Science offerings, however, is their “Strange News” section. These articles will grab your students’ attention with topics such as:
- “Alien Life Could Be Turning Harsh Planets into Paradises”
- “Do Elephants Really Never Forget?”
- “Social Vomit and Hairy Eyeballs”
Probably the most widely recognized science news publication, Scientific American covers any new and notable topics in the world of science. In addition to their compelling news articles, Scientific American also offers short videos and podcast episodes that your students (and yourself) are sure to enjoy!
If you teach Earth and Space science, NASA Science should be on your short list for news resources. As you would imagine, NASA Science covers everything from space exploration the solar system. In addition to news and current events, they produce engaging YouTube videos that will get your students interested about the marvels of space.
Written specifically for the student reader, DOGO News is a great place for science news and current events. My favorite thing about this particular website are the helpful tools they include for teachers. At the top of each article, you’ll find the reading level, word count, standards alignment, and options for audio versions of the article. If you need an article that is simple to differentiate and incorporate into your lesson plans, DOGO News is one site you’ll definitely want to check out.
News for Kids
News for Kids is another great site for science news written specifically for the young reader. This site uses articles written by other reputable news sources (ex: New York Times, and NPR) and turns them into articles that are easy and engaging for students.
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