nonliving, for example, stones and water are abiotic.

Abstract math:

a way of looking for the basic meaning of a math idea, by taking it away from any specific examples, in order to make a general model that can be used to solve many other math problems. For example, instead of trying to find out how many kids in a group are girls, you could just look at the math problem. For the group, you could substitute the letter X, for girls, Y, and for boys, Z. So the basic problem to solve for might be:  X - Z = Y. Some types of abstract math include algebra and geometry.

Acid rain:
is rain, snow or fog that is polluted by acid in the atmosphere and damages the environment. Common air pollutants acidify rain: sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxide (NOX). When fuels such as coal, gasoline, and oils are burned they release these oxides into the air, which react with water in the air to form acids. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency information on acid rain:
http://www.epa.gov/acidrain/  ; National Parks Service curriculum activities on acid rain: www.nature.nps.gov/air/edu/Lessons/AcidRLessonPlan.cfm

physical, mental, or emotional dependence on drugs or alcohol.


The act or process of management of a government or large institution.


simple rootless plants that grow in sunlit waters in proportion to the amount of available nutrients. They are food for fish and small aquatic animals.

an important form of mathematics that uses letters for unknown numbers in formulas and equations. For example, if 2x+10=24, than x=7; another example: a+a=2a and a+b=b+a,  no matter what numbers a and b represent.


A measure of the size or power of waves.

Applied science:
using scientific knowledge to study or solve practical problems.

the scientific study of ancient times and ancient people by digging up what is left of ancient buildings, cities and tombs. The discoveries are the main source of knowledge about prehistoric cultures. Explore the “Mysteries of Çatalhöyük!” with archaeologists in Turkey:

are animals that have an external skeleton (exoskeleton), a segmented body, and jointed legs. Member of the phylum Arthropoda, the largest in the animal kingdom, which includes such familiar forms as lobsters, crabs, spiders, insects, centipedes, and millipedes.

Asexual reproduction:
a type of reproduction that involves only one parent that passes copies of all its genes on to its offspring and thus the offspring are genetically identical to the parent.


The gaseous layer of air surrounding the earth.

the smallest particle of an element that still retains the identity of that element. An atom is made up of a nucleus with electrons revolving around it.

Avian ecologist:

one who engages in the process of understanding how birds behave in the environment.

the Native American people who founded the Mexican empire, and dominated northern México at the time of the Spanish conquest led by Hernan Cortez in the early 16th century (1519). Today, Aztec is a collective term, applied to those of Aztec ancestry who are linked by trade, custom, religion, and language.

tiny, one-celled organisms that live on, in, and around human beings as well as many other living and nonliving things. Most of these organisms can be seen only with the aid of a microscope and millions of them would fit on the head of a pin.
Bacteriology is the study of bacteria. Digital Learning Center for Microbial Ecology, including the Microbe Zoo: http://commtechlab.msu.edu/sites/dlc-me/

Bar Graph:

a graph using parallel bars of varying lengths, as to illustrate comparative costs, exports, birthrates, etc.  Also called “bar chart.”

small sea animals with a shell that attach themselves to rocks, bottoms of boats, etc. They are crustaceans, which live in the seas, and ponds, that are not free to move. They feed by using their appendages (limbs) to strain food from the water.

The research, development or application of computational tools and approaches for expanding the use of biological, medical, behavioral or health data, including those to acquire, store, organize, archive, analyze, or visualize such data. Working definition of bioinformatics,

the study of life (or living organisms).

the use of biological organisms to make products that benefit human beings. Biotechnology contributes to such diverse areas as food production, waste disposal, mining, and medicine.

of or relating to life; caused or produced by living beings.

a severe storm characterized by extreme cold, strong winds, and a heavy snowfall. These storms are most common to the western United States but sometimes occur in other parts of the country. USA Today information on winter weather warnings:

the scientific study of plants.

often called ”moss animals” because they look a lot like seaweed and plants, bryozoans are, in fact, ancient animals that form an important part of the fossil record, which is used to explain the history of the earth. Bryozoans are also unusual because they are actually made up of tiny individuals called zooids that work together to create the organism. Bryozoans are invertebrates; animals without backbones, like worms and jellyfish. Great bryozoa site:


The upward force resulting from a lighter material contacting a heavier material, such as wood floating in water.

branch of mathematics that analyzes aspects of change in processes or systems that can be modeled by functions.


a military operation with some more or less defined objective that might involve a combination of movement and one or more battles.

a disease that develops when cells in a part of the body begin to grow out of control. Although there are many kinds of cancer, they all start because of out-of-control growth of abnormal cells. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Half of all men and one-third of all women in the US will develop cancer during their lifetimes. Native American Cancer Research site:
http://members.aol.com/natamcan/ American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org/

Carbon cycle:
the series of connections through which carbon is exchanged between living organisms and the nonliving environment. NASA Classroom of the Future information on the carbon cycle:

Carbon dioxide (CO2):
a heavy colorless gas made up of carbon and oxygen; it is heavier than air. CO2 is formed when carbon-containing fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal are burned in air. It is then absorbed from the air and used by plants to make sugars.

Carbon-14 dating:
also called radiocarbon dating, is the method of determining the age of old object or material (as an archaeological or paleontological specimen) by measuring the content of carbon-14. Carbon-14 is a radioactive form of carbon that is present in all things that contain carbon.

dead and decaying animal flesh.

Catch limits:

regulations in specific areas that limit fish caught per person by amount or minimum size. These are enforced so that younger fish are left alone to have a chance to mature and breed.

in biology, a cell is the basic and smallest unit of which all living things are composed. Cells are the “atoms” of the living world. Some plants and animals consist of only a single cell, others are composed of many billions of cells. Encyclopedia Britannica Virtual Cell page:
http://search.britannica.com/frm_redir.jsp?query=cell+biology&redir=http://personal.tmlp.com/Jimr57/textbook/chapter3/chapter3.htm Diagram of a Cell: http://web.jjay.cuny.edu/~acarpi/NSC/13-cells.htm

Chemical pollution:
when unwelcome chemicals are released into the land, water and air. They can have small or large environmental impacts, as they contaminate and disrupt the biological processes of the organisms in the ecosystem.

a science that deals with chemical elements and compounds. It studies their qualities (composition, structure, and properties of substances and with the transformations that they undergo. It is used to make stronger metals, to improve soil, and to destroy bacteria. Hands-on chemistry activities from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry:

are one-celled marine plants that live in large numbers throughout the upper layers of the ocean.

Cognitive Psychology:
discipline concerned with how people perceive (see, hear, feel), learn, remember and think about information. The study of the way people think and behave is called psychology.


process by which sedimentary rock is formed when layers of sediment are compressed by the weight of layers above them.

a method of breaking down food and garden waste. Vegetable matter, leaves, grass clippings and weeds can be broken down by microorganisms into dark, rich soil. Composting is like recycling plants into dirt. About compost from the New York Botanical Garden:


the formation or expression of an opinion, observation or theory based on incomplete evidence.

something that contaminates; makes unfit for use by the introduction of unwholesome or undesirable elements; for example, pesticides or poisons.

process by which heat is transferred by movement of heated fluid such as air or water.

Copper (Cu):
a metallic chemical element, reddish and capable of being fashioned into a new form. Unusually, a good conductor of electricity and heat.

Criminal justice:
the system of law enforcement that is involved with handling people who have committed a crime or who are suspected of having committed a crime.

a solid body having a characteristic internal structure and enclosed by symmetrically arranged plane surfaces, intersecting at definite and characteristic angles.

Curandera (female):
is a person who uses a mixture of herbs, stones, prayers, and folk medicine to help their patients with physical, spiritual, and emotional ailments.


the breaking up as a beam of light, into a series of dark and light bands, high and low intensities. To learn more about diffraction go to: http://www.exploratorium.edu/snacks/diffraction.html


The movement of particles from a more concentrated to a less concentrated area. The process tends to distribute the particles more evenly.


Deoxyribonucleic acid is located in the nucleus of almost every cell in your body. DNA in the nucleus is grouped into 23 sets of chromosomes that are called your genome. In each chromosome, the DNA is grouped into genes. Your genome contains about 35,000 genes. Each gene carries information that tells the cell to make a unique protein that will perform a special function. http://www.genetics.gsk.com/kids/index_kids.htm


a lack of rain over a long period of time that can cause a lot of problems for people, plants, and animals in an area. http://www.drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html

the sudden shaking of the ground that occurs when masses of rock change position below the Earth’s surface. The shifting masses send out shock waves that may be powerful enough to alter the surface of the Earth, thrusting up cliffs and opening great cracks in the ground. PBS Online: Savage Earth program on earthquakes:

a level of ecological study that includes all the organisms in a given area as well as the physical environmental factors with which they interact. A community and its physical environment; the parts of an ecosystem depend on one another to live.

a new discipline in science that studies exposure and effects of contaminants on organisms. For more information go to:

El Niño:
this term was originally used by fishermen along the coasts of Ecuador and Peru to refer to a warm ocean current that typically appears around the end of December and lasts for several months. It is a disruption of the ocean-atmosphere system that has important consequences for weather and climate around the globe. Aside from the seasons, El Niño is the most powerful force affecting global weather. Tracking El Niño:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elnino/ NOAA El Niño pages: http://www.elnino.noaa.gov/

one of the basic forms of energy. Electrical activity takes place constantly everywhere in the universe. Electrical forces hold molecules together. The nervous systems of animals work by means of weak electric signals transmitted between nerve cells. Electricity is generated, transmitted, and converted into heat, light, motion, and other forms of energy through natural processes, as well as by devices built by people.

the building blocks of matter. An element cannot be broken down into simpler substances. For example, Carbon (C) is an element that is found in many different compounds, such as food, clothes, cosmetics, gasoline, etc. For more information on the periodic table of the elements:

the science or work of planning and building machinery, roads, bridges, buildings, etc. There are many branches of engineering including civil, electrical, mechanical and chemical. Some say “engineering is the application of math and science to create something of value from our natural resources.” A person who is trained in some branch of engineering is called an engineer.
Discover Engineering Online:
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering: http://www.nacme.org/

are unique proteins that convert other proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into structures that make the human body work properly. John Brown’s enzyme page:

organisms that require extreme environments for growth, this includes high temperature, pH, pressure and salt concentration, or low temperature, pH, nutrient concentration, or water availability.


the process of movement along a break or crack in Earth’s crust.

Flagellum (plural, flagella):
a long, hair-like structure specialized for movement in the surface of cells of many living organisms; it is the primary organ of motion of many microorganisms.

the remains or imprints of plants or animals.

A rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be subdivided in parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole. Rice University site on fractals:
http://math.rice.edu/~lanius/frac/ The Infinite Fractal Loop, a webpage dedicated to fractal art: http://www.fractalus.com/ifl/

Fruit fly:
a small fly whose larvae feed on fruits and vegetables. For more information on fruit flies:

Fungus (plural of fungi):
a group of simple plants (yeast, molds, rusts, smuts, and mushrooms) that lack complex structures such as roots, stems, leaves and flowers. Most fungi are decomposers; they break down organic material, returning nutrients to the soil. Some are parasites and get their food from a host.
Fun facts about fungus:

physical and behavioral information passed from parents to their children.

Gene therapy:
introduction of a normal gene into an individual in whom that gene is not functioning.

the scientific study of heredity (the continuity of traits from one generation to the next) and variation. Genetic Science Learning Center:


The complete DNA sequence of one set of chromosomes.

The study of genes and their functions.

a field of study that deals with the chemical composition and chemical changes in the solid matter of the earth or a celestial body (such as the moon).

Geologic map:

a map that shows the distribution of rock units and structural features such as faults and folds, mineral deposits, and fossil locations.

Geologic time:

division of earth’s history into time periods based upon geologic and climatic events (ex. Ice Ages).

a scientist who studies the history of the earth by looking at things like rocks, mountains, rivers, and lakes.


the branch of geology that studies the Earth by measurement and recording of certain physical properties, such as seismic waves, heat flow, gravity, and magnetism.


(or Earth Sciences), is an all-embracing term for the sciences related to the planet Earth.


a slow moving river of ice, often formed during an ice age over a part of the Earth that is not usually covered by ice. http://nsidc.org/glaciers/ and


Global cooling:
a gradual decrease in the temperature of the Earth.

Global warming:

a gradual increase in the temperature of the Earth. Many scientists believe that our current period of global warming is caused by the poisons that cars and some other human inventions release into the air. http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/kids/index.html 



Global Positioning System.  A navigational system of signals from a network of satellites used to accurately determine locations on the earth’s surface.

Graph Theory:
the study of graphs (or networks).

the natural home or environment of a plant or animal that provides adequate food, water, shelter, and living space.

a chemical substance used to destroy or inhibit growth of plants, especially weeds.

Higher Education Management:
HEM focuses on teaching higher education administrators to be even more knowledgeable about admissions, financial aid, student services, curriculum, faculty, development and campus planning, in order to be effective leaders of college and universities.

(Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) a complicated illness (AIDS), caused by a virus (HIV) that can be passed from person to person. The virus attacks the immune system – the system responsible for fighting disease. It eventually leads to immune system’s destruction, leaving the victim unprotected against various infections. On-line textbook of HIV disease from the University of California San Francisco and San Francisco General Hospital:

Human genome:
the genetic material of humans. The tens of thousands of genes we inherit from our parents make our genome. Human Genome Project Information:
http://www.ornl.gov/hgmis/ The National Human Genome Research Institute: http://www.nhgri.nih.gov/

the study of how ground water interacts with geologic formations.

of or relating to hot water.

an idea or educated guess that is the guide for a scientific investigation.

Ice age:

a very long span of time, usually millions of years, during which the Earth’s temperature is much colder than usual, causing parts of the Earth to be covered in ice and glaciers.



to grow more than one crop in the same field, especially in alternating rows or sections.

an advanced program for students in a professional field (such as medicine or teaching), where the student gains practical job or research experience while being supervised.


Liquid crystal display.  A display of information as on digital watches and calculators, using a liquid crystal film that changes its optical properties when a voltage is applied.

various species of snails that have a flattened shell.

Liquid Crystal:
a liquid having certain crystalline characteristics, especially different optical properties in different directions when exposed to an electric field, used in electronic displays.

the substance or substances of which any physical object is made of. For more information go to:

Maturity age:

adulthood, the period after physical growth has stopped and an organism is fully developed and able to breed.

Processes for separating the metal from the impurities it is found with or the other elements with which it is combined depend upon the chemical nature of the ore to be treated and upon the properties of the metal to be extracted.

the scientific exploration to understand the nature of the tiniest living organisms (microbes). The scientists who study them are called microbiologists. Information on microbes and microbiology activities are available at MicrobeWorld:

Migration patterns:

as a natural part of their life, animal species move from one geographic region to another to reproduce or feed .

the smallest particle of a substance that retains all the properties of the substance and is composed of two or more atoms held together by chemical bonds. Encarta details on molecules:

Mountain range:

a group of closely spaced mountains or parallel ridges.

a cluster of nerve-cell (neuron) bodies outside the central nervous system. For information on the central nervous system:

scientific discipline concerned with all aspects of the world’s oceans and seas, including their physical and chemical properties, origin and geology, and life forms. Learn more about oceanography on the Oceans Alive! website:

small, self-contained, parts of a cell that perform specific functions and are found inside (in the cytoplasm) of (eukaryotic) cells.

Organic Chemistry:
the chemistry of carbon-containing compounds (carbon compounds form over 95% of all known chemicals!).

an insect that grows within the body of another insect eventually killing its host. As an adult, the parasitoid is free-living. Most of parasitoid species are either wasps or flies.

a consistent, coordinated system that can be detected or recognized with the eyes or other senses.

a chemical used to kill pests, especially insects.


An unusual or remarkable fact or event.

the science that deals with the matter and energy, and studies the ways things are moved and their interactions. Physics includes the study of light, heat, sound, electricity and mechanics. Space physics is the study of the physical properties and composition of things in space. Geophysics is the study of how matter and energy interact on earth. 

the study of the way parts and organs of living things work.

the transfer of pollen from male reproductive structures to female reproductive structures in plants. For more information go to:

the contamination of the environment, usually from human activities.

all members of one species in a particular area.

Poverty line:
In the United States during 1992, any family with an annual cash income of less than $14,335 (before taxes) was considered poor. This dollar amount is called the poverty line, an economic measuring rod.

an animal whose food source is primarily obtained by the killing and consuming of other animals.

Prime number:
a counting number greater than 1 that can only be divided without a remainder by 1 and itself. For example 17 is a prime number because no other number can divide it besides 17 or 1. The number 12 is not prime because 12 can be divided by 1, 2, 3, 4,6, and 12.

principal part of any digital computer system, generally composed of the main memory, control unit, and arithmetic-logic unit. It constitutes the physical heart of the entire computer system.

the study of how people and animals think and behave.

Radical behaviorism:
the study of how different types of punishment and reward change animal’s behavior.

when certain unstable atoms release energy in the form of rays and are suddenly transformed or disintegrated because to release that energy the atoms’ nuclei are either split or united. When a substance exhibits radioactivity it is said to be radioactive. What is radioactivity?:


Unpredictable; having no pattern.

a specialized structure, cell or group of cells, that translates information received from the environment or from within the organism, into nerve impulses that aid the organism in responding to the information received.


in the United States an Indian reservation is land which is managed by a Native American tribe under the United States Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs.

man-made equipment that orbits around the earth or the moon. For more information on statellites, go to:

Science policy:
a plan of action decided upon by the government and governmental agencies regarding the direction of scientific research and applications.

Scuba Diving:
a type of underwater diving where a diver wears a tank of compressed air strapped to the back and connected by a hose to a mouthpiece. For information about the medical aspects and history of scuba diving:

Sea slug:
a marine gastropod (snail and slugs) that lacks a shell, gills, and mantle cavity. The delicately colored body has strange looking outgrowths, which serve as a defense against predators.


the soil, sand and minerals at the bottom of surface waters, such as streams, lakes and rivers. Sediments capture or adsorb contaminants. The term may also refer to solids that settle out of any liquid.

Sedimentary rocks:
the type of rock that covers the majority of the Earth and is formed from fragments of other rock.

the study of sedimentary rock, which forms most of the Earth’s surface. Sedimentologists study how sedimentary rock is formed to find out more about the Earth’s geologic history.

Seismic map:

data that is captured by reflecting sound from underground, which is processed to yield a picture of the sub-surface geology of an area.

instrument that records the movement of the ground produced by the waves from earthquakes.


the study of earthquakes. Earthquake links: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/4kids/


climates with enough rainfall to support short, scrubby plants, but not much else. Usually semi-arid climates receive about 10-20 inches of rain a year.

Smallpox :

highly contagious disease that can prove fatal. From the first settlement of Europeans in North America, smallpox epidemics occurred with great frequency. In 1721, for example, 50 percent of the population of Boston was infected. Native Americans had no immunity to the disease; it was the single greatest cause of death for them.

Social science:
the science of studying society and how people relate to each other.

the top layer of earth, in which plants grow. The earth material that covers land surfaces and is formed by the action of natural, physical, and biological forces on the loosely arranged residues of rocks and minerals on the earth’s surface.

one of the layers of an embryo, from which the muscle segments develop.


each particular group of plant, animal, or other organisms that have a unique set of characteristics (like body shape and behavior) from other groups. Each species is capable of interbreeding freely with each other but not with members of other species.

A mass of very hot, glowing material in space that continuously gives off heat and light. How stars are “born”:


lowering or sinking of land caused by compaction, wind and water erosion, oxidation of peat soils, and other causes.

Subsistence Farmer:
a farmer who produces only enough food to feed the family working on the farm.

Substance abuse:
 use of alcohol or drugs that impairs an individuals’ ability to function. The impairment can be mental, physical or financial to the individual abusing the substance or others around him or her.


the geologic zone below the surface of the earth; includes rock and sediment materials lying near but not exposed to the earth’s surface.

the total of two numbers when added together.

a mathematical statement proven to be true: proposition.

Tidal flood:
the overflow of water onto normally dry land caused by an alternating rise and fall of sea level.


any group of specialized cells that make up part of a plant or animal (e.g., muscle tissue; connective tissue).

in mathematics, is the study of the properties of a geometric object (circular, rectangular, triangular, etc.), that remains unchanged by deformations such as bending, stretching, or squeezing but not breaking. MegaMath site on topology:

Traditional Native Knowledge:

knowledge that has been collected and preserved by a community that is very familiar with a certain area, and which comes from having lived on and with the land for a very long time. http://www.ankn.uaf.edu/tek.html

a very large, damaging wave caused by an earthquake or very strong wind. Tsunami links:


Disturbance, agitation or disorder in air or water.

are springs from which hot, mineral-rich water rushes out onto the ocean floor. Also, vents are formed when seawater seeps into cracks in the earth’s crust, becomes superheated, picks up and loses minerals on its way, then rises and bursts out into the ocean through holes in the seafloor.


Plural for vertex.  A point (as of a graph or network) that terminates a line.

Wildlife toxicologist:
one who studies the exposure and effects of contaminants on animals.

Word Problem:

A mathematical story problem; a problem stated in a practical context. For mor information go to http://www.mathstories.com/

a tiny individual member (module) of a colony; zooids work together to make up an organism called a bryozoa.

branch of biology concerned with members of the animal kingdom and with animal life in general. The scientists who study them are called zoologists. For more information on zoology and zoologists:

the study of how animals spontaneously use items (mostly plants), in their environments, as medicine.

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