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New Look for AAAS’s Science NetLinks Includes News Section, Enhanced Search Tools

More breaking news, more student-friendly options, and daily science facts are among the features of the new Science NetLinks.

Visitors to AAAS’s site for science education resources will also have new options for exploring the site’s hundreds of lesson plans, online tools, special resource collections, and after-school activities for K-12 teachers, students, and families.

Suzanne Thurston, the site’s director, said the updated site’s news section will help educators connect current events to relevant educational resources—bringing together the latest information on earthquakes in Turkey to online animations of plate tectonics and a hands-on rock lab, for example.

“Science NetLinks is continually developing new resources, and the new search tool and navigation for the site will make it much easier for users to find resources that support teaching and learning,” said Thurston.

Enhanced searches and more interactive options for teachers, students, and parents are among the new features offered at Science NetLinks.

Content from Science NetLinks, which debuted in 1997, is also featured on the Verizon Foundation’s Thinkfinity.org site, which provides free, Internet-based educational resources and an online community for educators. The NetLinks site receives nearly 160,000 visits each month.

The redesign gives students and teachers “even more content and better personalization tools,” said Rose Stuckey Kirk, president of the Verizon Foundation. “For teachers and educators, the updated site will make it easy to link to or participate in discussions on the Verizon Thinkfinity community—a virtual home to engaging, thoughtful dialogue on some of today’s most challenging classroom issues.”

Before the new site was launched on 26 October, the NetLinks team surveyed the site’s users to find out who they were and how they were using the site, confirming that most of its visitors are educators. The majority of survey respondents were middle school and high school teachers with more than 10 years’ experience.

Barbara DeSantis, a technology support teacher for seven schools within New Jersey’s Sayreville Public Schools district, said she uses the site to find specific activities and projects to share with other teachers. “While I used to go to NetLinks when I needed something, now I find myself going to the site to see what is new.”

Many of the resources on Science NetLinks are aimed at students as well, and Thurston said the site has updated its tools section and revised popular features such as AAAS’s Science Update “to be kid-friendly so that students have improved access to interactives and podcasts.”

The site now includes two AAAS news feeds: Science for Kids, which offers student-friendly stories based on reports from the journal Science; and ScienceNOW, the journal’s daily online news section. DeSantis, who is also the president of the New Jersey Science Teachers Association, called the news section “a great resource for teachers and science lovers alike.”

“One of the new features that I really like is the connection to science in the news,” agreed Shirley Malcom, head of AAAS Education and Human Resources. “Students and teachers need to see science in a dynamic way, relevant to the issues of the day, not just something static on the pages of a textbook.”

For the first time, visitors can tag individual resources as “helpful,” and all lessons, tools, and Science Update resources include a web widget that lets users leave suggestions or tips on using the resource. Other interactive opportunities on the new site include blog posts, community discussions, a monthly newsletter, an expanded presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Visit Science NetLinks.