BrainPOP Recent Topic Roundup: October 2022
Back-to-school season is in full swing, and we’re taking a moment to celebrate the newest content up on the site. Here are all the new BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. topics published (or updated) since July.
You’ll find more than 1,200 topics on BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. in all major subjects across the curriculum—and the Editorial Team is always hard at work creating new topics and updating existing ones. All BrainPOP content is designed to meet a wide range of standards, so teachers can always find relevant, engaging topics to support their lessons and drive learning outcomes. Here’s a look at what has been keeping us busy in recent months:
New on BrainPOP
Making Inferences: Inferring involves combining clues you come across in the world with what you already know to form ideas. In a text, drawing inferences is about reading between the lines. Authors don’t state everything explicitly—that would get boring! Instead, they imply information through hints and suggestions, and rely on readers to infer the meaning. Making inferences is important when reading all kinds of texts, but especially in fantasy and sci-fi novels, poetry, and informational texts, like news articles.
Heredity (update): Learn all about how we inherit our looks, height, size, and other traits from our biological parents. Much of what we know about heredity is thanks to a 19th century scientist named Gregor Mendel. He used short and tall pea plants to discover dominant and recessive traits, and his work helped lead to our modern understanding of genes. British mathematician Reginald Punnett built on Mendel’s work—his Punnett Square allows us to predict the possibilities of what happens if you cross a tall plant with a short plant.
Light (update): With the flick of a switch, light shows us what’s in a room by reflecting off objects. It moves right through glass windows, a phenomenon called transmission. And it heats our planet by traveling millions of miles from the Sun, until it’s eventually absorbed here on Earth. Many of light’s abilities and features have to do with the way it travels: as a wave. Depending on the distance between the peaks of a light wave, it might look green or red—or you might not be able to see it at all.
Scientific Method (update): The first step of the scientific method is asking a question. It was likely sparked by something you noticed—those are your observations. They’ll help you develop an inference that points to a possible answer. That can be turned into a hypothesis, a testable explanation for your observations. The next step is to design an experiment to test your hypothesis. The data generated by your experiment will lead you to a conclusion. The results might support your hypothesis, or they might help you rule it out. Either way, you’ll learn something you can use for your next experiment.
Disability Rights: In 1977, a group of disability rights activists occupied a federal building in San Francisco for 26 days. Led by Judy Heumann and Kitty Cone, the protestors were fighting for a new law to finally go into effect. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was the first law ensuring civil rights for people with disabilities. But the government had dragged its feet for years. The demonstrators stayed for weeks, putting their health on the line for the cause. Finally, a trip to Washington, D.C. got them on the national news—and a signature on Section 504. The protests helped launch the modern disability rights movement. One of its greatest victories was the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. You can see the law’s impact everywhere, from kneeling buses to sign language interpreters at press conferences.
Lin-Manuel Miranda: Born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, Lin-Manuel Miranda grew up in a mix of cultures. He loved music and theater even as a kid, and knew he wanted to see his name in lights. But classic musicals don’t offer many roles to Latino actors—and even fewer that aren’t stereotypical. So he decided he’d have to write his own. Now, his award-winning work—including the blockbuster musical Hamilton—has put him “in the room where it happens”!
Pumpkins: When you start seeing pumpkins around, it’s a sure sign that Halloween and Thanksgiving are on their way. But did you know that in eras gone by, pumpkins played a key role in the history of this continent? They were probably the first plants domesticated by Native Americans, and served as an important part of many societies’ diets. When Europeans arrived, pumpkins helped sustain them through long, hungry winters. And in the late 1800s, pumpkins became a symbol of country values—and then abolition—before finding a starring role on the Thanksgiving table. Get a well-rounded view of their story by watching our Pumpkins movie!
Health and SEL
Back to School (update): Transitioning to a new school year can be an emotional time. That’s especially true now, since the last few school years have been so full of changes and interruptions. To prepare, kids can review their schedules and make a plan for their first day. As they adjust, they can turn to teachers for help and open up to friends and family about how it’s going. They can help themselves by setting up a study space at home, by adopting a growth mindset, and by staying open to making new friends and joining new clubs. Practicing self-care and talking to a trusted adult can also help ease anxiety or nerves, and make this back-to-school season a success.
Growth Mindset: Believing you’re doomed to be “bad” or “so-so” at math or sports or art indicates a fixed mindset. The truth is, our abilities change over time. The neurons in our brain process information and form pathways between what we already know and new ideas or skills, which helps us learn. The pathways get stronger the more we practice a new skill—and weaker the less we do. You can help yourself face a new challenge by adopting a growth mindset: the belief that you can learn. It can be hard work—learning takes time, and is rarely a straight path. Making mistakes is frustrating, but is simply part of the process. To stay motivated, try paying attention to your progress, or even tracking it. Happily, now is a great time for kids to learn new skills, since young people’s brains are especially dense with neurons.
New on BrainPOP Jr.
Counting Back: How can you solve 5 – 3? In this movie, students explore how to subtract by counting back! Annie and Moby count back to subtract 1, 2, and 3 from different numbers, and explore using a number line to develop number sense alongside subtraction skills.
Counting 0 to 10: Count on Annie and Moby to teach the numbers 0 through 10! In this movie, students practice numbers and learn how to count different groups of objects. Annie and Moby show how to count up from a number and explore the number zero!
Lindsey Palmer is a senior editor at BrainPOP.