Science Exploration Curriculum

The Rutgers Science Explorer bus features interactive exhibits and laboratory exercises in the life sciences, earth science, and the physical sciences. Rutgers graduate students who have been awarded special teaching fellowships staff the bus and conduct the presentations. The Rutgers Science Explorer accommodates two Rutgers instructors, 20 students, their teacher, and up to two visitors per teaching session. In order to initiate the process for arranging a Rutgers Science Explorer visit, please view the Scheduling Details page and fill out our visit request form. The Rutgers Science Explorer staff will contact you with available dates in your area.

Science Exploration Curriculum

The Rutgers Science Explorer offers activities suitable for middle school students that encompass the areas most frequently covered in middle school curricula: life sciences, earth science, and the physical sciences. Many activities also incorporate mathematics and/or technology. The activities currently available are:

  • Skeleton Detectives (7-8th grade)

    Whose body? Students take on the role of forensic anthropologists in charge of discovering the identity of bones discovered at a crime scene. Using measuring skills and basic algebra, the height, sex and ancestry of two individuals are uncovered. Students then each examine unique characteristics of skulls to determine the sex and ethnicity of their individual.
  • DNA Detectives (6-8th grade)

    Students embark on a journey through the Amazon River Basin, coming across an unfamiliar plant. Traditional resources are not helpful in identifying this mystery so they examine the DNA to discover a new way to identify unknown organisms. Drawing on the basics of the DNA molecule, students perform an ethanol extraction, become restriction endonucleases and run an electrophoresis gel to determine the identity of this unknown plant.
  • Drilling into Science: A Petroleum and Oil Exploration (6-8th grade)

    Using chemistry, math, geology, and current events, we will discover the substance that makes our cars go, lip gloss shiny and our plastics possible from finding reserves to extracting and refining it, this exploration is all about oil! After learning about the chemistry of hydrocarbons and the process of ‘cracking’ these molecules to create the various materials we refine out of crude oil, students become geologists on the hunt for oil. Using maps containing the necessary geologic features of petroleum formation, students explore their oil field in the hopes of striking oil before they go bankrupt.
  • One Fish, Two Fish - Marine Ecology (6-8th grade)

    Why are there dead fish? Students delve into an investigation of New Jersey marine ecology; understanding the animals, habitat and environmental issues of the Raritan Bay and surrounding areas. We will explore food webs, water quality and the human impact effects as students look into the causes of a hypothetical fish kill event discovering the concept of eutrophication.
  • Matter Matters (7th–8th grade)

    Everything is made of matter, and all matter is made of particles. This basic idea is the foundation for an exploration of all things matter! Beginning with the particles themselves, we will begin to understand how the proton, neutron and electron make up everything. Using physical representations and visible demonstrations, students can see the charged nature of these molecules, the structure of the atom and the forces at work within it, what radioactivity is and how this all relates to the periodic table.
  • Outbreak! (6-8th grade)

    Students take on the role of a researcher at the Center for Disease Control to identify the unknown microbe that is causing a fictitious outbreak. As they create a list of potential culprits, they learn all about the many, many microbes, both good and bad that are in our lives. Using a series of simulated tests just like the professional do, students eliminate the possible causes one by one, learning about each microbe as they go. They discover the reason for the outbreak just in the nick of time!