FACTS ON FILE : SCIENCE ONLINE - A comprehensive, curriculum-oriented overview of a broad range of scientific disciplines, with extensive definitions, essays, diagrams, biographies, and experiments, as well as links and suggested searches to related topics. If you're using SCIENCE ONLINE on your home computer, you'll have to enter your name, library card barcode, and PIN to begin.
GREENFILE - A collection of scholarly, government and general-interest titles covering all aspects of human impact to the environment. Includes content on global warming, green building, pollution, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, recycling, and more. For high school and up. If you're using GREENFILE on your home computer, you'll have to enter your name, library card barcode, and PIN to begin.
Air Quality - Animations teach you about ozone and particle pollution, and the 'Smog City' simulation game helps you see how individual choices, environmental factors and land use contribute to air pollution. Includes FAQs and links to more information about ozone, particle pollution, and the Air Quality Index; middle school and up. There is a related site for younger kids, from kindergarten through age 10. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
American Indian Responses to Environmental Challenges - Shows how four Native American communities are responding to environmental challenges in their homelands. (National Museum of the American Indian)
Earth & Environment Classroom Resources - A selection of high quality websites on earth science and environmental science, for teachers and students, K-12; grade level varies for individual resources (National Science Foundation).
EcoKids - Homework help, field guide to plants & animals, games, quizzes and other activities on wildlife, science, nature, energy, and environmental issues; includes lesson plans. For elementary and middle school students & teachers. This site is based in Canada, so some of the information presented relates to Canada. (Earth Day Canada, non-profit organization)
Ecology Experiments - Step-by-step instructions for 12 ecology-related experiments, covering acid rain, biomes, water resources, and soil erosion. Adult supervision is required. (Gale / Cengage Learning)
EduGreen - 'Explore the environment around you through Life on earth, Forestry, Energy, Water, Air pollution, Climate change, Biotechnology and Solid waste.' Includes quiz, story time, games, maps, multimedia resources, and more. For middle school and up. This site is based in India, so some of the information presented is focused on India. (2010, The Energy and Resources Institute; international organization)
E-Nature online field guides - Search the online field guides for plants or animals, and find detailed species descriptions and photo. Click on the small photos for an enlarged picture (Shearwater Marketing Group; site includes advertisements).
Encyclopedia of Earth - 'An electronic reference about the Earth, its natural environments, and their interaction with society.' Features articles, news, videos, images & other resources, contributed and reviewed by experts. Style is intended to be useful to students, educators, scholars, professionals, and the general public. Also offers a University of California AP Environmental Science Online Course. High school and up. (National Council for Science and the Environment et al.; site includes advertisements)
Encyclopedia of Life - An ongoing project 'to organize and make available via the Internet virtually all information about life present on Earth.' (By a consortium of museums and educational institutions)
Environmental Facts - Fact sheets on a wide range of environmental topics, such as alternative energy, biodiversity, climate change, pollution, and sustainability, as well as practical subjects such as feeding garden birds, building nest boxes, meatless Mondays, and more; listed A - Z. (Young People's Trust for the Environment, UK)
Environmental Health Science Education - 'Students of all ages, check out the materials and activities this site has to help you understand links between human health and the environment!' Includes online booklets, factsheets, interviews, news articles, pamphlets, videos, and interactives. Most of the homework resources are for high school and up; most of the online activities are for K-8. There is also a related Kids Page with science resources, games, stories, and other fun stuff for K-8. (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences)
Environment Glossary : Words to Know - Brief definitions of more than a hundred terms related to earth science, weather and environment. (Gale / Cengage Learning)
EPA Student Center - Links to resources on a wide range of environmental issues mostly for middle school. Homework help section covers air, climate change, ecosystems, energy, health, water, and Reduce/Reuse/Recycle. Also includes games, community service projects, Earth Day, awards & contests, teacher resources and more. See also Learn the Issues. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
Exploring the Environment - These learning materials and activities explore issues involved in solving a variety of real-life environmental problems, including global climate change, disappearing coral reefs, endangered mountain gorillas, Florida panthers, Yellowstone fires, and more. For middle school and high school; each unit is labelled with grade level. (1997 - 2004, Wheeling Jesuit University / NASA)
Extinction - This site reviews five past eras in world history when mass extinctions took place, and provides information on recently extinct species (plants and animals) as well as currently threatened & recovered species. The site also explains why it's so important to protect biodiversity and save endangered species. High school and up. (Endangered Species International, non-profit organization)
Global Climate Change Links - Selected links on global warming / climate change. (South Plainfield Public Library)
Habitable Planet - A multimedia course on environmental science, with content and activities developed by leading scientists and researchers in the field. Includes online textbook, videos, and interactive labs, plus a Professional Development Guide for teachers. High school and up; free registration required to view videos. (2007, Annenberg Media)
Highland Avenue Woods Environmental Education Reserve and Friends of the Woods - See South Plainfield Environmental Commission, below.
Journey to Planet Earth : Mobilizing to Save Civilization - 'Explores the fragile relationship between people and the world they inhabit, and the necessity to achieve a balance between the needs of people and the needs of the environment.' Topics include loss of farmland to urban development, the pollution of rivers, and inadequate housing and water resources in the world's mega-cities, as well as 'hopeful solutions... that will help eradicate poverty, stabilize population, stabilize climate, and protect and restore the earth's forests, soils and fisheries.' Hosted by Matt Damon (2011, PBS; site includes advertisements). World in the Balance is a related site on the connections between economic development, population, and the environment (2007, PBS; site includes advertisements). High school and up.
National Wildlife Foundation : Family Fun - A collection of fun activities for kids of all ages, searchable by age, season, animal, type (craft, outdoor, recipe, song), or subject (camping & hiking, observing wildlife, musical instruments, costumes & masks, science, plants & flowers, etc.).
Nature Detectives Play Booklets - Printable booklets to inspire you with outdoor play ideas for different seasons. Elementary and middle school. (Woodland Trust, UK)
Nature Interactives - Dozens of interactive multimedia adventures, designed to help you learn about the natural world and have fun at the same time. You can try your skill at helping an orphaned cheetah catch a meal and avoid danger, explore the anatomy of a glacier, see the world through the eyes of a peregrine falcon — and more (2001 - 2011, PBS; site includes advertisements). See also Natural History Interactives ; expect some broken links (2002 - 2008, Educational Web Adventures, Inc.). Middle school and up.
New Jersey Environmental Digital Library - An online library of environmental literature and multimedia related to New Jersey; includes documents and reports, scientific studies, photographs, videos, maps, and more. High school and up. (Rutgers)
Recycle City - An online game and other fun activities to help you find out about how people can recycle, reduce, and reuse waste; middle school and up. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
South Plainfield Environmental Commission - Facebook page with updates and news about upcoming events at Highland Woods, as well as other environmental news & events for South Plainfield. You'll find links to more local environment & nature resources on our Local Information page.
Sustainability [UPDATED LINK!] - A collection of radio stories covering a wide range of current topics in environmental and economic sustainability, including energy, food production, jobs, and climate change. See also Consumed : Can We Afford the Consumer Economy . High school and up. (2013, American Public Media; site includes advertisements)
Time for Kids : Environment - Short articles on a variety of environmental topics, for elementary & middle school students. (2013, Time Inc.; site includes advertisements)
Web Rangers Nature Activities - Learn about having fun and staying safe outdoors. Also includes features on dinosaurs, tree rings, bald eagles, and more. For elementary school through high school (National Park Service). [NOTE : Click on 'Visit' to choose activities; cookies must be enabled to use this site.]
Your Big Backyard is now part of National Wildlife Foundation : Family Fun, above.
Beyond Penguins & Polar Bears - Stories that explore the environment of the polar regions; for grades K-5 (Ohio State University et al.).
BeachKids - Explains what a beach is, what kinds of pollution threatens beaches, and what you can do to help protect them. Also includes safety tips, games, and links. Middle school. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
Biomes and Ecosystems - Detailed material on biomes and freshwater & marine ecosystems; for middle school and up. Click on a biome or ecosystem, then use the menu at the left to get more information. Click on a picture for an enlarged view (Missouri Botanical Garden). Enchanted Learning Biomes / Habitats provides brief information for upper elementary and middle school students, with descriptions, pictures, and printouts of the animals that live in the biomes (site includes advertisements). The World's Biomes describes the major biomes, their importance, and how they are being threatened by human activity. Photos included; high school and up (University of California). See Biome Overview for brief descriptions (1 - 3 paragraphs, no pictures) of each biome (Gale Cengage Learning, educational publisher). World Wildlife Habitats briefly describes a variety of habitats such as grasslands, islands, forests, wetlands, deserts, mountains, & polar regions, and some of the wildlife each one supports; middle school and up (World Wildlife Fund).
The Dirt on Soil - Every plant and animal depends on this vast hidden ecosystem. On this site you can 'Dig into this underground universe and meet its tiny but helpful residents.' Middle school and up. (2001, DiscoverySchool.com / Eduweb; site includes advertisements). Soil Basics [UPDATED LINK!] offers a brief overview about soil; click on 'Soils by Subject' to find out about soil formation, biology, chemistry, mineralogy, and more; or select other subjects from the top menu bar. High school and up (2012 - 2013, Soil Science Society of America). See also Dig It! The Secrets of Soil for middle school and up (2004, Smithsonian), and Adventures of Herman the Worm, below, for younger kids.
Ocean : The Basics - 'Outline of an introductory course in Oceanography... with material for complementing existing courses.' Covers beaches, coral reefs & atolls, the Gulf Stream, deep sea, global warming & the ocean, ocean creatures, and more; chapters are in PDF format. For advanced middle school students / high school and up (2007, Dr. Wolf Berger, Professor of Oceanography, University of California). Oceans Alive! provides an overview of the water cycle of oceans, how currents & wind affect their movement, the various depth zones of the sea, and what kinds of life can inhabit each. For upper elementary and middle school students (1998, The Museum of Science, Boston). Marine Life includes education resources on Aquatic Food Webs, Coral Ecosystems, Life in an Estuary, Marine Mammals, and Sea Turtles (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Ocean Topics offers up-to-date articles on climate change, coastal science, ocean life, marine pollution, polar research, and other subjects (2013, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Rainforest Resources - Pictures, stories, facts, fun projects, and other resources on rainforest plants and animals; age level varies (Rainforest Alliance).
Rivers - Learn all about the basics of rivers, how they are formed, and how they change over time. For elementary and middle school students. (University of Illinois Extension)
Tides and Water Levels - Explains what tides are, what causes them, tidal frequencies, variations & cycles, measurements & monitoring, and more. High school and up. (2008, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
The Water Cycle - A labelled diagram showing how water is cycled through our environment. Click on any of the labels to explore any phase of the cycle, including oceans, surface runoff, ground-water storage, infiltration, springs, etc. For information on many aspects of water, along with pictures, data, maps, and activities, see Water Science School; age level varies (U.S. Geological Survey). What Is a Watershed? explains watershed basics, including the water cycle, groundwater, stormwater, conservation and more (Borough of South Plainfield and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection). Test your knowledge by playing The Watershed Game ; offers a novice version for grades 3-4, intermediate for more advanced students (1998, University of Minnesota). Water and Life on Earth includes special online exhibitions about water such as 'H20 = Life,' 'The New York City Water Story,' 'Recycling Water,' and 'Hydropower & Ocean Energy,' as well as related science bulletins & research news; middle school and up (American Museum of Natural History).
Canine Corner [ARCHIVED SITE] - Explores domestic dogs and their wild cousins, plus facts, glossary, and recommended reading; expect broken links (2002, San Diego Natural History Museum). A similar page on cats is Cats! Wild to Mild [ARCHIVED SITE] (1998, San Diego Natural History Museum).
The Horse - Online exhibit exploring the history and biology of horses, and the relationship between horses and humans. (2009, American Museum of Natural History)
Pet Care: ASPCA - Advice on caring for common household pets, including dogs, cats, horses, and small pets. (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
Working Dogs - Describes different kinds of working dogs, including chemical explosive dogs, narcotic detection dogs, search & rescue dogs, and service & therapy dogs. Click on an item in the picture to choose a topic. NOTE : Site may be slow to load and navigate. (Federal Bureau of Investigation)
Biomes & Habitats
Autumn Colors - Explains the chemical reactions that cause leaves to turn colors in the fall. High school and up. (2008, Chemistry Professor Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, University of Wisconsin)
Biology of Plants - Step-by-step explanations of how plants grow, make food, reproduce, and adapt to the world around them. Well illustrated; middle school and up. Pages may be slow to load. (2006, Missouri Botanical Garden)
Botany Photo of the Day - 'On a near-daily basis, a photograph of botanical interest and accompanying write-up are published.' Photographs come from around the world. High school and up. (University of British Columbia)
Budburst Buddies - An outdoor learning activity 'designed to engage elementary school students in making simple observations of how plants change during the growing season... kids can undertake their own scientific investigation that includes making observations and reporting them online.' Older students who want to participate may register online at Project Budburst, a national field campaign for 'citizen scientists' to help collect important climate change data, based on the timing of leafing and flowering of trees and flowers. (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, The Chicago Botanic Garden, University of Montana, et al.)
Endangered Plants : New Jersey - Information on hundreds of threatened & endangered plants in New Jersey (USDA).
Life Cycle of Plants - Interactive animations demonstrating seed growth, parts of a flower, seed dispersal, and plant identification guide. (Birmingham Grid for Learning, UK)
Meet the Plants - Great photos of over 100 tropical plants, with descriptions and other resources. You can choose from an A to Z list of botanical names, or from questions such as 'What do I look like?' 'Where am I from' 'Am I dangerous?' 'Am I rare?' 'How can you use me?' and 'Can you eat me?' Now includes a separate Kids' Corner . (National Tropical Botanical Garden)
Pollinators - 'Pollinators are responsible for assisting over 80% of the world's flowering plants. Without them, humans and wildlife wouldn't have much to eat or look at!' This site provides general background information on pollination, plus facts & photos for individual pollinators such as bats, butterflies, moths, flies, birds, beetles, ants, and bees. High school and up. (U.S. Forest Service)
Science of Gardening - 'Like all great endeavors, gardening is both a science and an art. Whether you're growing carnivorous plants, cash crops, or giant pumpkins - or even if you're just trying to keep a few houseplants alive - see how the plants we tend feed our bodies, our minds, and our senses. Middle school and up. (2009, Exploratorium Museum)
Soils - See The Dirt on Soil and related links, above.
USDA Plants Database - Basic facts and images for all kinds of plants found in the U.S., with optional searches for threatened / endangered, culturally significant, or invasive / noxious plants. Searchable by common or scientific names; high school and up.
See also :
Biomes & Habitats
Adventures of Herman the Worm - Learn all about the history, anatomy, habits, and importance of worms in our soil. For elementary and middle school students. (University of Illinois Extension)
Amphibian Checklist - Excellent photos and brief facts for all kinds of frogs, toads, and salamanders found in the U.S. and Canada, with links to some other reptile and amphibian sites (2006, U.S. Geological Survey). See also Amphibian FAQ (Burke Museum, University of Washington) and Reptiles & Amphibians (Smithsonian National Zoo).
Animal Bytes (San Diego Zoo) - See San Diego Zoo Animals, below.
Animal Communication : Squeak, Rattle & Roar - This website helps you learn about the various ways animals communicate, including sound, visual, touch, chemical and interspecies communication. Also provides information on animals' physical characteristics, habitat, food, growth, reproduction, and other interesting facts. For ages 8 through 16 (2006, Thinkquest Library). The Animal Communication Project offers more information about communication among different types of animals, including cephalopods, insects & spiders, fish & frogs, birds, dolphins & whales, elephants & hippos, cats & dogs, and monkeys & apes; also includes news on the latest research in the field. High school and up (by science writer Stephen Hart).
Animal Diversity Web - Type the name of an animal in the 'Search ADW' box for detailed information on geographic range, physical characteristics, food, reproduction, habitat, behavior, economic importance, and conservation information for individual species. Excellent pictures, plus audio recordings for some animals. Click on a small picture for an enlarged image. High school and up. (2012, University of Michigan)
Animal Guides - 'How fast can a cheetah run? How far can a lemur leap? What's the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? Find out the answers to these and many other questions about your favorite animals.' Includes video from 'Nature' episodes, arranged by animal, A-Z. (PBS)
Animal Records - Facts about the world's fastest animal, largest animal, deadliest animal, and more from the National Zoo. Use the menu on the left for additional facts about animals. For more helpful facts and resources about wildlife, see the National Zoo Homework Helper and National Zoo Education Resources. See the National Zoo Animal Gallery for photos and webcams of Great Cats, Great Apes, Amazonian Animals, Giant Pandas, and many others. Middle school and up. [NOTE : A popup window that says 'Get the latest National Zoo news' may block the webcam; close it to view the webcam.] (Smithsonian National Zoo)
Aquatic Animals - Photos and fun facts about different kinds animals found in aquatic environments, including seahorses, penguins, anemones, seals, turtles, whales, and others (Shedd Aquarium). Mystic Aquarium Species of the Month includes info, FAQs, photos, videos, and podcasts on each featured species. The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers videos and live web cams of aquarium animals, as well as photos and activities.
ARKive - High-quality videos, photos, and educational materials to help you 'discover and learn about the world's endangered animals, plants and fungi... what they look like, what makes them special and why we should protect them.' (Non-profit organization)
Bats : All About Bats - An introduction to bats, with information on benefits of bats, anatomy, behavior, navigation/migration, and origins & relatives. Includes a Kidz Cave section for younger kids. (Bat Conservation International, non-profit organization).
Bioluminescence [ARCHIVED SITE] - Animals that can produce light are called bioluminescent. This site explores the world of amazing glow-in-the-dark animals like fireflies and bioluminescent squid, with facts, quizzes, games, and more; for middle school and up. Expect some broken links (San Diego Natural History Museum). See also Creatures of Light (American Museum of Natural History).
Bird Central - Good photos of birds arranged by type; after selecting a bird, click on 'Natural History Notes' for observations about the species excerpted from classic ornithology texts by Arthur C. Bent; high school and up (personal site by Jim Rosso). All About Birds : Bird Guide offers descriptions, facts, sounds, photos, and distribution maps for each bird, plus other information about birds and birding. For middle school and up (Cornell University).
Bug Bytes - 'The sounds of crickets courting and flies flying familiar to many of us, but have you heard a rice weevil larva eating inside a wheat kernel, a termite cutting a piece of wood, or a grub chewing on a root?' This page contains links to audio files, and accompanying information (U.S. Department of Agriculture). PestWorld for Kids includes a guide to bugs and other pests, games, and additional learning materials for elementary & middle school students. (National Pest Management Association / Eduweb) See also Insect Links for selected links to additional insect-related web sites (by web designer Dexter Sear), and Pollinators, above.
Butterflies and Moths of North America - This searchable database of butterflies and moths in the United States and Mexico includes dynamic distribution maps, photographs, and species descriptions, plus links to information on butterflies around the world. For high school and up. There is a related website for younger students, the Children's Butterfly site (Butterfly and Moth Information Network; site includes advertisements). See Butterfly FAQ; use the left-hand menu to find more information about butterfly anatomy, metamorphosis, evolution, ecology and more (American Museum of Natural History).
Chimpanzees - In depth information about chimps, including biology & habitat, tool use, communication, conservation, and more. High school and up. (Jane Goodall Institute)
EEK Critter Corner - Facts and photos of many common and endangered animals, plus fun features. Middle school and up. (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)
Endangered Species : Wild Animal Factsheets - Facts on about 75 of the more well-known wild animals such as polar bears, tigers, whales, gorillas, etc. Now includes photos, plus audio or video recordings for some animals. (Defenders of Wildlife)
Field Trip Earth - Field reports, photos, interviews with researchers, and other materials describing more than a dozen ongoing wildlife conservation projects from around the world, including studies on Atlantic sea turtles, midwest falcons, and elephants of Cameroon, and more. High school and up. (North Carolina Zoological Society)
Hogle Zoo Animals - Basic information about more than 200 animals, including characteristics, behavior, habitat, etc., plus a very good photograph on each animal. You can search for animals by name, type, or region.
Journey North - A sampling of stories, pictures and video clips about nature, wildlife migration and seasonal change. Covers monarch butterflies, robins, hummingbirds, whooping cranes, gray whales, and more. For all ages. (Annenberg Media)
Life... - 'Every nook and cranny of the planet is a potential home. Even the harshest landscapes can be the perfect habitat for a creature with the right adaptations — that may be big teeth, good night vision, sharp claws or simply being the right shape and size.' Learn about how different types of animals adapt to different environments... in the dark, in the sea, in the jungle, when you're small, when you're large, or in disguise. Middle school and up. (Natural History Museum, London, UK)
Listen to Nature - Hundreds of sounds from the natural world, including birds, insects, mammals and soundscapes. Browse by location, animal group, or habitat; use Windows Media Player to listen (British Library). Another archive of recorded animal sounds is The Macauley Library , where you can also watch videos of animal behavior (Cornell University)
Mammals [ARCHIVED SITE] - Explains how mammals differ from other animals, and also describes the different mammal groups, various mammal adaptations, and biomes & niches. For elementary and middle school students. (2006, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County). The Kenneth E. Behring Family Hall of Mammals includes games and timelines, as well as a searchable database of North American Mammals; for high school students (2002 - 2006, Smithsonian). Extreme Mammals introduces you to an assortment of amazing and bizarre mammals; middle school and up (2009, American Museum of Natural History). The UCMP Hall of Mammals explores the fossil record, life history & ecology, systematics, and morphology of mammals; high school and up (2009, University of California).
Marine Mammal Center - Facts on marine mammals including seals, sea lions, sea otters, whales, dolphins, porpoises, and manatees. Choose Pinnipeds, Cetaceans, or Sea Otter from the lefthand menu to see a list of individual species. Middle school and up. (Non-profit organization)
Sea World Animal Information - In-depth information on selected animals species and issues; quick information and fun facts about animals; animal sounds library; Q & A about animal life, zoological careers, & conservation issues; and more!
Shark School [ARCHIVED SITE] - Learn all about sharks, with FAQs, shark anatomy, glossary, games, and more. Middle school and up. (San Diego Natural History Museum)
Spider Myths - Explains all about 'Myths, Misconceptions, and Superstitions About Spiders', plus links to additional resources. (2003-2010; By Rod Crawford, Curator of Arachnids, Burke Museum, University of Washington)
Tracking and Stalking North American Wildlife - This scouting guide teaches you how to safely track and observe wild animals, and includes basic facts, photos, footprints, and recorded sounds for about thirty common animals such as badger, coyote, skunk, moose, wolf, and others (1990, Boy Scouts of America). Princeton University's Outdoor Action website has more advice on animal tracking [Links in Table of Contents are broken; scroll down the page to see the relevant sections.] (by Rick Curtis, Outdoor Action Program). National Wildlife Federation : Kids page (formerly Your Big Backyard) offers instructions on observing wildlife, as well as other fun outdoor activities for kids of all ages; scroll down the page to search for activities by subject and/or age group.
Wonders of the Seas - Interesting information with good pictures on different kinds of sea life, including sponges, mollusks, echinoderms (starfish), whales, sharks, and more. Now also includes Jonathan Bird's Blue World series. (2007 - 2013, Jonathan Bird Productions and Oceanic Research Group, non-profit organization)