Each week, Education World's Great Sites for Teaching About ... page highlights Web sites to help educators work timely themes into their lessons. In recognition of the anniversary of Alaska's statehood (January 3, 1959), this week's sites are among the best on the Web for teaching about our 49th state.
- Alaska Maps
The Perry-Castaeda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin presents this online collection of maps of the state of Alaska. Check out the physical relief map of Glacier Bay National Park and the nicely detailed physical-political map of the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. Some maps are in PDF format; link to Adobe Acrobat Reader for the free download.
- Alaska's Blooming Beauties
This wonderful ThinkQuest Junior entry is designed to present all kinds of information about plant life in Alaska. In addition to information about different kinds of Alaskan flora, the site also explores regions and habitats with great visuals, many of them student-designed. The Regions and Habitats section includes information on unusual native plants, including the chocolate lily, wooly lousewort, Alaska cotton, prickly rose, and frigid shooting star. Teachers covering flower anatomy will appreciate the use of correct botanical terms.
- Alaska's Cold Desert
This online collection of information and activities on Alaska was originally published in Science and Children magazine and is reprinted here for use by elementary and middle school teachers. Classroom activities include Temperature and Decomposition, Freezing and Decomposition, Heaving and Thawing, and other extended learning activity ideas. The section How a Sliver of Technology Tamed the Arctic is an especially interesting piece of information on how prehistoric ancestors made their way from Asia across the Bering land bridge.
- Iditarod Official Website
Every March, the "last great race" takes place from Anchorage to Nome, and this Web site brings it all together for your classroom with history, geography, maps, musher biographies, human-interest stories, race updates, and much, much more. Follow the race with teacher Diane Nye, this year's "teacher on the trail," who supplies lessons and log entries.
- The Last Frontier: What Makes Alaska Different
This Alaska Space Science Adventures site is great for elementary and middle school students who are looking for lots of good, basic information on Alaska, from its geography and culture to its weather and unusual natural phenomena. The site presents sections that dispel common myths and relate information about Alaskans involved in space research. The presentation of the midnight sun and the aurora borealis are fascinating!
- Regions of Alaska
This ThinkQuest Junior entry does a great job of breaking down this huge state into its regions and territories. The site divides the state into six areas, and each section offers wonderful images, basic information, links for further study of specific topics, and a quiz.
- State of Alaska on the Web
This section of the official state Web site offers all kinds of great information and activities for kids. Students will find links on wildlife, sports, money, health and safety, and Alaskan schools that are on the Web! The Student Guide section provides all sorts of general information about the state, it is the perfect resource for research projects on the state! Be sure to take in the Magnificent Moose Project and the Battle of the Books while you are there.
- 360 Alaska in Panorama
The pictures on this site offer wonderful images of the Denali Basecamp, Wind Song Lodge, Prince William Sound, Exit Glacier, and much more. With some of the photos, simply click on the image and drag to scroll left or right to get the panoramic effect, then use the A key to zoom in and the Z key to zoom out. This site is truly interactive and truly spectacular!
- Wild-Eyed Alaska
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Alaska is its wildlife, and this Web site brings it to you right on the computer screen! The Pratt Museum in Homer, Alaska, set up Web cams on Kachemak Bay and captured clips of kittiwakes, puffins, gulls, chicks, and fish ready for your students to see! Each page also includes text information to go with the picture and ends with a linked question to intrigue your students.
- Women in Alaska's History
This ThinkQuest entry celebrates women's contributions to Alaska's history. Sections include Early Days, Gold Rush era, Adventurers, and Iditarod. The site offers crafts and activity ideas as well as a scrolling time line, all housed on this completely searchable Web page!
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