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January 19, 2011

Science Fair Help in the Gale Databases

Science fair season is fast approaching for many students.  This is a friendly reminder that the Gale databases have background information on many science topics and include a few books specifically about science experiments.  

If you are prompted to log in when you click on Gale bookmarks below, use your district-wide Gale user name and password.  If the login page only provides one text box, enter the password instead of the user name.

Kids InfoBits (elementary) 
I did a search for “experiments” (no quotes) and found over 400 hits under the subject “science experiments (education)” (no quotes).  There’s an experiment about testing lung capacity (related to singing), an article detailing how a teen designed an experiment to test which appeals more to butterflies when seeking food: scent or color, a quiz to help students decide which science subject might be most interesting to investigate further, and much more.  There were also good resources under the subject “scientific method” (no quotes).
          Search results:

Student Resources in Context (middle & high school; possibly upper elementary) 
Besides being able to search for many science topics and subjects, users can limit their search to the contents of the book, Experiment Central, which contains ideas for science experiments and related background information.  For a quick way to access all available experiments, try this:
            Go to the Secondary Student Find Information page on OSLIS (
            Click on the icon for Student Resources in Context.  (Log in if prompted to do so.)
            Click on Advanced Search found just under the search box in the top right corner.
            Scroll to the box called Document Type, click on Experiment Activity, click on Add, and click on Search.
            Click on Reference (97) under the heading Everything in the left column for a list of 97 hits.  (Each result details 2 related experiments.)
          Search results:

Gale Virtual Reference Library (target audience varies)
Several of the eBooks in this collection are about science or specifically about science experiments.  This is a sampling of titles with the target audience indicated:
            Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics (middle & high school)
            Environmental Science Experiments (middle & high school)
            Forensic Science Experiments (middle & high school)
            Grzimek's Student Animal Life Resource (upper elementary)
            U*X*L Encyclopedia of Biomes (middle & high school; possibly upper elementary)
            U*X*L Encyclopedia of Weather and Natural Disasters (middle & high school; possibly upper elementary)

Opposing Viewpoints in Context (middle and high school)
This is a good source for background information related to controversies or debates in science.  A search for “scientific method” (no quotes) yielded such results as an article about misleading nutrition labels, arguments in defense of forensic science, and a website link leading to the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), “an organization dedicated to evaluating ‘fringe-science’ claims using science-based methodology and critical inquiry.”  Of course, you can look up specific topics, too.
          Search results:

Access the databases I highlighted above from the relevant skin, or version, of the Find Information page on OSLIS.  The elementary skins do not feature Student Resources in Context, Gale Virtual Reference Library, or Opposing Viewpoints.  However, recall that users can access a menu of all Gale databases available through our statewide contract by clicking on PowerSearch, which is featured on all Find Information pages. 

These are just some ways the Gale databases can help students with science fair projects.  Please consider sharing this information with appropriate staff in your school or district.
Jennifer Maurer
School Library Consultant
Library Development
Oregon State Library
250 Winter Street NE
Salem, OR  97301-3950