I have recently discovered a great not-so-new resource for teachers and librarians – Biology in a Box!
This program, now in it’s 25th year, was created by University of Tennessee/Knoxville professor Dr. Susan Riechert to help science teachers in the Knox County, Tennessee, schools who were lacking a strong science background, or adequate resources to provide strong STEM programs in their schools. Each of the soon to be 13 thematic boxes is chock full of cool, attention-grabbing manipulatives which inspire students/children to take a scientific interest in the world around them. Each box also includes curriculum information for every grade, so that the boxes are useful to entire schools and communities. Recently, the Biology in a Box resources have become available to libraries providing STEM programs, as well. In addition, libraries which partner with schools could potentially receive any or all of the boxes free of charge.
Recently, a partnership with NIMBios, the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, has led to more mathematical activities and resources in all of the thematic units, furthering the program’s goal of aiding teachers/educators at every level in inspiring the children in their lives to want to learn.
The relationship with UT/Knoxville doesn’t have to end when a school or library receives the kits. Biology in a Box has a website with lots of videos and several online games which support the themes. The program also has a YouTube channel which is loaded with videos about each of the boxes, to make it all the easier to understand all the ways the materials can be used to make education fun and engaging. Box holders can also contact UT for additional support, and for replacement materials should something happen to the originals.
The thematic units are:
2-Of Skulls and Teeth (with real skulls and teeth in it)
3-Fur, Feathers, Scales- Insulation
4- Simple Measures
5- It’s in Your Genes
6- Animal Kingdom
7- Backyard Naturalist
8- Everything Varies
12- Cell Biology
And soon to come – Microbiology
Even if you can’t afford to purchase the boxes, check out the videos. Many of the activities can be done with materials that are reasonably accessible.