A Free Resource : A Must For Media Centers and Science Departments


Welcome to another mid-week post that allows me to share what I claim to be “Great Web Catches”. Explore this review of The Encyclopedia Of Life. It is a resource that should be known by every science teacher and available in every media center. Encourage students to explore what will eventual be a  amazing resource of biodiversity and  of all life on earth. – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

Imagine a database filled with all the Earth’s living organisms! A site that allows students to search by common or scientific name, shows a text  and graphic  illustration of specific classification, provides “creative commons” pictures,  and displays interactive maps of distribution. In fact, complete detailed physical and behavioral descriptions are included, along with habitats, distribution,  trophic strategies, conservation status, usefulnessand associations. EOL known as The Encyclopedia of Life is an unprecedented global partnership between the scientific community and the general public. The goals of the organization is to make  freely available an online reference and database of all 1.9 million species currently known to science and stay current by capturing information on newly discovered and formally described species. The EOL steering committee consists of  senior advisors from Harvard University, Smithsonian Institution, the Field Museum of Chicago, the Marine Biological Conservatory at Woods Hole, the Biodiversity Heritage Libary Consortium, Missouri Botanical Gardens, MacArthur and Sloan Foundations, and over 25 content providers worldwide. There is an excellent web page tutorial providing assistance on how to use the interface and the species pages. The site has even been featured  in this TED Video by site  founder E. O. Wilson of Harvard University. EOL is well on its way of reaching the 1.9 million species listing.

EOL has  also recently launched an exciting education site for teachers and students to explore biodiversity. Some activites include having middle and high school students upload pictures of their area floral fauna and upload images and video to the EOL Flickr Photo Pool. EOL  runs regular image contests, so you can use the contest as extra motivation for your class. Perhaps you may wish to introduce elementary and middle school students to the  Podcast of Life: lively, you-are-there audio segments showcasing science in action. Beginning December 17, 2009, you can download the podcasts.  New podcasts will appear every other week. Learn how middle and high school students can enter the Living on the Ocean Planet Video Contest sponsored by the US-based National Ocean Sciences Bowl. EOL content and images can be used for these and other class projects and winning videos will be posted on EOL. Explore the new EOL NameLink widget to automatically hyperlink species names in any web page to EOL. NameLink will also convert scientific names to common names. To install the widget, drag this link (NameLink this page) to the bookmark bar in your browser (or right-click and add it to your favorites). Elementary and middle school students may wish to Dive into Marine Biology with WhyReef. Developed by EOL cornerstone institution,  The Field Museum in Chicago, in conjunction with the social networking site WhyVille. WhyReef is a virtual coral reef stocked with species that are linked to content on EOL. Have students find out about classification and taxonomy by exploring species’ “family trees” using the classification browser located in the upper right  hand side of every EOL species page. Click here for a lesson plan developed by a teacher using this feature. Have students Explore primary biodiversity literature and illustrations from the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) that are linked to the species pages.  EOL is an awesome project with even bigger possibilities for today’s twenty-first century learners, and it’s free! – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

3 Comments

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3 responses to “A Free Resource : A Must For Media Centers and Science Departments

  1. I guess I’m gonna have to look up a couple more things but this is a pretty good strting point.

  2. Thanks a ton !! very helpful post!

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