Standards Database Logo
Home | Browse | Search | Purpose | History | Process | Acknowledgment| Reference



McREL Standards Activity

Scientists of the World

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will be able to identify a variety of scientists and their contributions to science and technology.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
 Standard 13.Understands the scientific enterprise
   Level II [Grade 3-5]
   Benchmark 1. Knows that people of all ages, backgrounds, and groups have made contributions to science and technology throughout history
Language Arts
 Standard 8.Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes
   Level II [Grade 3-5]
   Benchmark 7. Makes basic oral presentations to class (e.g., uses subject-related information and vocabulary; includes content appropriate to the audience; relates ideas and observations; incorporates visual aids or props; incorporates several sources of information)
Language Arts
 Standard 4.Gathers and uses information for research purposes
   Level II [Grade 3-5]
   Benchmark 2. Uses encyclopedias to gather information for research topics
Language Arts
 Standard 4.Gathers and uses information for research purposes
   Level II [Grade 3-5]
   Benchmark 4. Uses electronic media to gather information (e.g., databases, Internet, CD-ROM, television shows, videos, pull-down menus, word searches)
Student Product:Oral presentation
Material & Resources:Students can use textbooks, encyclopedias, various library books, and the internet to find biographical information on scientists. The following lists of resources are by no means exhaustive and are intended to serve only as a starting point.

Relevant books:
  • On Giants’ Shoulders: Great Scientists and Their Discoveries--from Archimedes to DNA by Melvyn Bragg and Ruth Gardiner (1999, John Wiley & Sons)
  • Great Canadian Scientists by Barry Shell (1998, Orca Book Publishers)
  • The Great Scientists by Jack Meadows (1987, Oxford Univ Press)
  • American Profiles Series (Facts on File, Inc.) [includes Great Scientists by Victoria Sherrow (1992), Contemporary Women Scientists by Lisa Yount (1994), Asian-American Scientists by Lisa Yount (1998), and others]

Relevant web sites:
Teacher's Note:It may be helpful to compile a list of scientists for which there is sufficient and readily available reference material and provide students the option of selecting a scientist from that list (on the list, include a general description of each scientist).

To help create a more attentive audience, you might want to require students to take notes (in the style of an outline) about the scientists that are presented; another possibility is to include the presented material on an exam.
Each student should select a person (current or historical) who has contributed to science and/or technology.  Encourage students to consider a variety of scientific fields, cultural backgrounds, and eras and to choose a scientist from an area they find particularly interesting (e.g., women scientists, Russian scientists, scientists from ancient civilizations, naturalists, astronomers, inventors).  Students should give an oral presentation on the person they chose; encourage students to be creative and to choose a presentation style that sounds fun to them (e.g, dressing in costume and assuming the identity of their person; using a variety of visual aids, such as diagrams, maps, or objects from the time of their person or from that particular scientific field).  Presentations should consider the person’s contribution to science and/or technology and the effects of that person’s contributions on science and society (e.g., what would the world be like today if this person had not made the contribution he/she did?); they should also address this person’s personal background (e.g., gender, country of origin and race/ethnicity, years and age when made contribution, development and schooling, physical disabilities).  Follow presentations with a discussion about the diversity of people who are scientists, emphasizing that everyone can contribute to science, regardless of age, race/ethnicity, personal interests, etc.