Lesson Ideas

7 Science Articles from California

Teaching science in California? Engage your students with scientific articles from their home state. Here, we present seven articles from California for middle and high school students. They cover various topics – from biodiversity to social science. All seven articles include an introductory video and questions to assess the students’ understanding.

1. How can protecting lobsters be good for fishermen?

Fishing is important, but if fishermen are not careful, they can overfish and damage the ocean habitats with their fishing gear. So, many people are working to protect the ocean. However, sometimes people living closest to the ocean worry that protecting it might harm their jobs. In this article, scientists show that protecting the marine environment can actually benefit fishermen.

This article is suitable for middle school and lower high school students and includes a bar graph.

2. Do bats benefit from wildfires?

Bats are well adapted to life in the forest, but what happens when wildfires burn their homes? In this article, researchers wanted to find out how wildfires in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California affect bats. Their results showed that wildfires can be beneficial to bats. This is mainly because fires make forests less cluttered, which makes it easier for bats to find food and roosting spots.

This article is suitable for middle school and lower high school students and includes a line graph. The article is also available in Spanish. Check for other articles in Spanish.

3. How can we track life in the ocean?

Do you know that around a third of species living in the ocean might soon be extinct? This problem is called loss of biodiversity and is often caused by human activities such as overfishing. Scientists have been trying to keep track of biodiversity in the ocean for a long time, but it hasn’t been easy! In this article, researchers used the DNA that organisms leave behind in their environment to work out which species were present in Monterey Bay, California.

This article is suitable for middle school and lower high school students and includes a time series graph.

4. How is asthma related to the neighborhood you live in?

In the U.S., asthma is more common in communities of color. But why is that? People of color are more likely to live in neighborhoods with worse air quality and more poverty. But this is only the start of the answer. Why are those neighborhoods like that? In this article, researchers wanted to find out if a discriminatory system from 85 years ago called red-lining might relate to asthma rates in “lower grade” neighborhoods in US cities.

This article is suitable for lower and upper high school students and includes a bar graph.

5. How can we quickly assess the status of eagles?

Many ecologists have to quickly assess whether an animal population is at risk. So they need a method to collect data quickly to predict how animal populations will fare in the future. This is especially difficult with animals that live long lives, such as whales, sea turtles, and birds of prey. In this article, researchers created a mathematical model which allows them to examine whether commonly used metrics for assessing the health of eagle populations are reliable.

This article is suitable for lower and upper high school students and includes a time series graph.

6. Bullfrogs – a Trojan horse for a deadly fungus?

Amphibians use their skin to breathe and drink water. But a skin-eating fungus is killing them. Since the 1970s, over 200 species of amphibians have declined or gone extinct. In this article, scientists wanted to know if bullfrogs play a role in the spread of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, the deadly fungus that attacks amphibian skin.

This article is suitable for middle school and lower high school students.

7. Where will plants migrate as it gets warmer?

We know that the climate is changing. All living things have one of three options: move, adapt or die. Migrating to a more suitable climate is a typical response from animals. But plants, which we think of as stationary organisms, can do that too. In this article, scientists model ecosystem distribution in different future climate scenarios.

This article is suitable for middle school and lower high school students and includes a scatter plot.

That’s Not All!

If you’d like to find articles from other regions, check out our map, showing all our articles by research locations. 

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