12FEB a Top Educational Website

SMILE voted in top 100 sites has been voted one of this year's Top 100 Educational Websites by, which has more than a million members. 

The homeschooling site recognized in the multiple subjects category, noting SMILE’s topic sections on MathematicsOcean Literacy, Chemistry. The Mathematics section links SMILE activities to the new Common Core State Standards. The Ocean Literacy section links SMILE activities to the Ocean Literacy Principles. The Chemistry section lets users search SMILE activities by chemical and find safety information for purchasing, using, storing and disposing of chemicals. SMILE will soon be expanding its topic sections to include climate literacy, energy literacy, life sciences, cooking, astronomy, neuroscience and materials science. 


The More the Merrier

SMILE users group

Starr Jordan, of the College of Charleston, is part of a new and growing regional SMILE users group in Charleston, South Carolina. She shares her insights about building a SMILE users group and her favorite SMILE activities.

How did you get involved in the Charleston SMILE users group?

I was already using SMILE activities—for outreach to schools, afterschool programs, homeschool groups, and teacher training workshops. Fred Phillips connected with me through, via the user search function.


Scientists Go Public

Public science meets professional meetings

Not only huge science festivals, but professional scientific conferences are giving the public a chance to do more hands-on science and meet scientists face to face. On Sunday December 2, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference in San Francisco will hold its free, public Exploration Station. Visitors of all ages can play with “radar,” discover the ocean and the Earth’s polar regions, stargaze in an inflatable planetarium, race against climate change, and pose questions directly to real scientists. Mars scientists will also give a free public lecture about the red planet mission. 


Sweet Science

Candy chemosynthesis and more

Turn leftover Halloween treats (or any holiday treats like Valentine's Day candy) into sweet STEM explorations, by using candy to illustrate scientific and mathematical concepts and processes. 


"Spooky" bone Halloween science

Halloween science fun

SkeletonMake no bones about it—Halloween is a great time for spooky science, especially the science of bones! Scary skeletons turn into not so scary science of human bones in SMILE activities like Bone BingoSketch a SkeletonBony "Win, Lose, or Draw," Body PartsMacarena Bones and The Bone Zone. Try these at home, using simple materials like play dough, paper, markers, brads, straws, toothpicks, and cardboard tubes from toilet paper and paper towels.


Working the Earth

Earth Science Week Careers

Earth Science WeekThis year, Earth Science Week (October 14-20) celebrates "Discovering Careers in the Earth Sciences." Paul Renne, Director of the Berkeley Geochronology Center, has carved out his career analyzing the age of rocks all over the world.

Why does he encourage students to pursue careers in science?

"One of the great things about science is that almost anyone can do it at some level. You don't have to be all-star athletic or movie-star glamorous. All you need is a love of learning how the world works," emphasizes Renne, who is also Professor in Residence of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Berkeley

"You can discover all kinds of cool things about how the world works, and many of the important things waiting to be discovered will benefit society in direct ways. For example, if we can figure out why certain organisms have gone extinct in the past, it will help us try to avoid creating those conditions in the future."


National Chemistry Week Nano

Nanotechnology Activities

National Chemistry Week

"Nanotechnology: The Smallest BIG Idea in Science" is this year’s National Chemistry Week theme. It's not too early to start planning local events for the week of October 21-27. You can find planning resources, or search events happening near you, on the American Chemical Society's National Chemistry Week webpages.

Start exploring all kinds of nanotechnology today with nano activities. One of the most popular activity themes is nanotech in nature. In SMILE activities like Morphing Butterfly and Exploring Structures: Butterfly, learners will be surprised to discover that the coloration on a Blue Morpho butterfly's wing is not pigment, but the refracted rays of light broken up by the wing's nanoscale structures.


National Fossil Day Contest

Enter Your Artistic Creation

National Fossil Day 2012Do you like art and photography and...dinosaurs? Individuals and groups age 8 and up can submit artistic entries to the National Fossil Day Art and Photography Contest. The theme is "Careers in Paleontology." 

Paleontology isn't limited to dusty deserts—many paleontologists work in forests or caves, even underwater! Some paleontologists work with computers, using 3D modeling or CT scans to learn how ancient animals moved or hunted. How would you depict the work of paleontologists through painting, photos, sculpture or other media?


Crash Course on Creativity

Creativity and STEM

BrainstormCreativity is not just a trait we’re born with, but a skill that can be taught and learned, says neuroscientist Tina Seelig. Seelig teaches young scientists and engineers to develop and heighten their creativity at the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, the entrepreneurship center of Stanford University’s School of Engineering. In her new book, inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity, she is out to inspire all her readers, including new and experienced STEM educators, to infuse their learners’ experiences with much more creativity.

“Creativity fuels great scientific discoveries,” and can engage learners of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels, says Seelig. She encourages brainstorming as one of the most valuable creativity techniques that can be used in both professional and academic settings. “Brainstorming is the exploration phase of a project, a key to enhancing and expressing your imagination,” she explains.

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