Using numbat in the classroom

A major impetus for starting this site was to create a portal for young students to find out about science and how it gets done. Ask any researcher how they got into science and they will usually tell you: 1) As a kid, I had NO IDEA how to get into a career in science, and 2) I only stumbled onto this career because of Person X. We want to change this, and provide a showcase of the diversity of science and scientists out there, and the wealth of fantastic outreach tools that are scattered around the web. Our goal is to make it clearer how one might pursue a career in science, but more importantly, to impress on students how essential science is in our daily lives.

Here are some suggestions for classroom exercises. If you have an idea for other exercises, please email us.

Exercise 1: Meet a scientist

Give students 20 minutes to browse the Contributors tab. This will be a growing list of scientists--hopefully there will be someone who each student can identify with on some level. The rest of the class period can be spent summarizing the person, their work, and their personality/interests. If people overlap, they can fill in gaps that one person missed or share what they found most interesting/compelling about that person and their research.

Exercise 2: Research an animal

Have students browse the Photos tab. Find the animal they're most interested in. Have them search the web to find out all about it.

For example:

  • Why did you choose this animal?
  • What is its range?
  • What is its genus and species? (You could also have more advanced students figure out how they fit more broadly in the tree of life through online phylogenies such as or looking at the taxonomic hierarchy on the species Wikipedia page.)
  • What is its IUCN conservation status?
  • What does it eat?
  • How does it reproduce?
  • How does it communicate (i.e. primarily vocally, visually, chemically, electrically, etc?)
  • What ecosystem services does it provide (i.e. food source, habitat engineer, pollinator, predator of pests, etc)?
  • Provide one other interesting fact.

Exercise 3: In the Line of science

Assign groups. Each group will choose a different #inthelineofscience story to read. They can also click any links in the story to learn relevant background context for the story. They should then summarize for the rest of the class (each group member attacking a question):

  • Describe the researcher
  • What was their research question?
  • What challenge did they face while trying to answer this question?
  • Did they overcome the challenge? If so, how?
  • How do you think you would have acted if you were in their shoes?
  • What did you learn that you had never thought about before?
  • Name at least one way this story will make you think differently in the future.

This is a work in progress! If you like Numbat or have suggestions for classroom activities or other changes to make the site more useful to you or your students, please let us know!