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Ready, Set, SCIENCE!, by the National Research Council, focuses on K-8 science classsrooms. Check out the other publications in our online store, as well as classroom materials.

Exploratour - Life on Earth

Bee on flower
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of Corel Photography

Between 2 and 3 million species are currently known on Earth and new species are being discovered every year. From tiny yeasts to starfish to blue whales, the diversity of life is pretty awesome! With so many kinds of living things, how can we ever make sense of it all?

Scientists organize living things into groups according to how closely they are related. The smallest groups are called "species" which represent one kind of living thing. The largest groups are called "kingdoms". All living things are classified into five Kingdoms:
Kingdom Monera -- the bacteria
Kingdom Protista -- the protists
Kingdom Fungi -- the fungi
Kingdom Plantae -- the plants
Kingdom Animalia -- the animals

To see an example of how living things are classified, compare the classification schemes of humans with that of some other species.

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Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Even though the sleeping man is no longer on the bed, you can still see where he was lying down. The heat from his body warmed up the bed sheets which are now radiating infrared light toward your eyes....more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

All warm objects (not just people) radiate in the infrared. Warmer objects give off more infrared radiation. Very hot objects radiate other types of light in addition to infrared. Click on the picture...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Your eye is a wonderful detector of visible light. Different frequencies of light produce different sensations in the eye which we interpret as colors. Our eyes detect light by using light sensitive components...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Imagine you found a pair of special glasses that not only gave you telescopic vision but gave you the ability to see all forms of radiant energy. The universe in visible light contains all the familiar...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a volcano on the island of Miyake in Japan. It has erupted, sending hot lava and ash into the air, a total of ten times. The time after one eruption until the next occurred was about twenty years...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a picture of a galaxy in visible light. A galaxy is a large number of stars, some like our sun, some bigger, some smaller and all moving together through space. This galaxy is called Centaurus...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a plant in Gary, Indiana where power is made. We use power to run things like television sets, radios, lights, and microwave ovens. The picture looks very strange because it was taken in infrared....more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF