Understanding scientific principles and practices is essential for every person. Without scientific literacy, people are subject to false or inflated advertising claims, misplaced fears, and a general inability to understand the modern world. And of course, science-based careers are among the fastest-growing employment sectors.
But science is a broad term that includes a large subset of specific topics, all of which are tricky to learn or teach—if you’re not a scientist yourself. Or even if you are, for that matter!
The following free science lessons and activities are designed to help students learn about the world of science by engaging them with fascinating facts, intriguing interactives, and compelling projects. This article is the first of our STEAM series, which will curate the best teaching resources for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.
Best Science Lessons & Activities
NASA Kids’ Club (opens in new tab)
Packed with digital interactive stories, games, and slideshows, NASA Kids’ Club is a safe and fun place for younger students to learn about space and our exploration of it. Activities are standard-based.
Exploratorium Tools for Teaching and Learning (opens in new tab)
From the acclaimed Exploratorium museum comes this fine selection of science videos, activities, and lessons. Browse by type of activity or topic. No time for a big multi-day project? Try the science “snacks,” teacher-tested activities for the classroom using inexpensive and easy-to-find materials.
SciencetoyMaker (opens in new tab)
After a long and successful career teaching technology to middle and high school kids, Slater Harrison turned his attention to SciencetoyMaker, where visitors will find a series of delightful and educational DIY science projects. Projects range from quick and easy to advanced, so there’s something for every grade. Harrison’s love of science and teaching expertise shines through on every page.
World Wildlife Fund Educator Toolkits (opens in new tab)
Available in English and Spanish, each toolkit focusses on an appealing species—such as tigers, polar bears, and monarch butterflies—and includes an educator resource guide, classroom presentation, and cross-curriculum activities. Bonus: easy-to-navigate website.
Science Lesson Plans (opens in new tab)
Thousands of science-themed lesson plans, games, worksheets, and more invite educators to explore everything from plant growth to the solar system to the human brain. Organized by type, grade, subject, and standard.
K-5 Everday Science ACS American Chemistry Society (opens in new tab)
Fine selection of chemistry lessons for K-5 students. Lessons are organized by grade, are NGSS-aligned, and follow the 5E (Engage-Explore-Explain-Extend-Evaluate) lesson plan format. Includes a set of remote learning lessons for fifth graders.
California Academy of Sciences Science Lesson Plans (opens in new tab)
Strong collection of multimedia science lessons, searchable by grade, language, and subject. Topics range from astronomy to tectonic plates to African safari. While a few of these NGSS-based lessons are intended for museum visitors, most are classroom lessons that can be taught in any school.
High Adventure Science (opens in new tab)
A free online science curriculum that examines some of the most important unanswered questions in Earth and space science, such as climate change, freshwater access, and life on other planets. Features include pre- and post-tests as well as interactive simulations. Create a class online to track student progress.
Google For Education Applied Digital Skills (opens in new tab)
These five complete and compact lessons are a great way to combine science with digital learning. Teachers simply create a class, share the lesson, and let the science learning start.
Science News for Students (opens in new tab)
A fascinating look at a wide range of science topics in the news. What’s a smellscape? Are there active volcanoes on Mars? How do octopuses taste food? And—perhaps most important—can we make vibranium? Articles are accompanied by free classroom resources.
HyperDocs Science Lessons (opens in new tab)
HyperDocs are 100% digital science lessons created by educators. Whether employed in the classroom or remotely, these lessons will engage learners about a diversity of science topics. Want to learn more about HyperDocs? Check it out here.
Zooniverse (opens in new tab)
True or false: Anyone can do real scientific research, regardless of credentials. Answer: True. With Zooniverse, that is! Volunteers browse the ongoing projects and select the one they’d like to contribute to. Want to spot clouds on Mars? How about decoding bacterial DNA to help fight disease? The astonishing diversity of projects includes not only scientific research but also historical, linguistic, and literary. Ideal for advanced students and PBL.
Frontiers for Young Minds (opens in new tab)
Like Zooniverse, Frontiers for Young Minds invites young scientists to participate in real research. In this case, students serve as reviewers of journal articles that have been rewritten specifically for young learners. A great way for kids to start understanding how research is communicated in real life. Bonus: All Young Minds articles are free to access, download, and reproduce in your educational materials, with citation.
Science Buddies (opens in new tab)
A wealth of lesson plans, videos, science projects, experiments, and more for K-12 science teaching and learning. Search by science topic, grade, materials, and type of resource. Integrates with Google Classroom.
Project Noah Wildlife School (opens in new tab)
Aimed at elementary and middle school students, Project Noah invites kids to explore wildlife through their own backyards and communities. Each standards-based lesson includes anatomy, life cycle, and behavior as well as great graphics and images. Be sure to check out the interactive wildlife challenges, which explore specific aspects of wildlife more deeply. Kids can design a protective turtle tunnel, build an animal track station, or test a hypothesis.
Lawrence Hall of Science Apps (opens in new tab)
Eight awesome games that immerse students in some of the most amazing science topics ever, from how living cells function to nutrition to sun science. Four apps are iOs only, while the remaining are iOs, Android, or browser-based. Excellent science fun!
Climate Science, Risk and Solutions
Authored by the renowned M.I.T. scientist Dr. Kerry Emanuel, this site is essentially a digital textbook of climate science. But Climate Science, Risk and Solutions isn’t a dry recital of facts. Rather, it explores the topic using FAQs, images, video and engaging and accessible text. Each module provides a voice narration in addition to the written content. This site lives up to its tagline, “Climate Knowledge for Everyone.”