NOVA Collection



For over 40 years, NOVA has been educating and entertaining millions of television viewers with media stories of scientific discovery that enlighten and challenge the mind. NOVA Education helps teachers bring these compelling stories to their students by providing them with free tools, strategies, and media resources.
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  • Poisoned Water | Making River Water Safe to Drink

    Examine the steps a municipal water treatment plant in Cincinnati takes to remove particulates, pathogens, and chemicals from river water and make it safe for drinking, in this video from NOVA: Poisoned Water. Treating water from a river, especially an industrialized one like the Flint River in Flint, Michigan, and the Ohio River in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a big challenge. What starts as cloudy water, full of decaying plant matter, bacteria, and surface runoff, is subjected to a series of physical and chemical processes designed to remove obvious as well as invisible impurities. This resource is part of the NOVA Collection.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Poisoned Water | Protecting Pipes from the Effects of Corrosion

    Learn about the chemistry involved in water pipes and why a failure to protect against corrosion in the water system of Flint, Michigan, tainted city water with lead and a dangerous strain of bacteria, in this media gallery from NOVA: Poisoned Water. Mineral “scale” that builds up inside water pipes serves a protective function: it prevents metal in the pipes from dissolving in water. For the scale to do its job, it must be protected from a corrosive chemical environment. However, when an anti-corrosive chemical has not been used, corrosive water flowing through a metal pipe can cause the scale to deteriorate. This can prompt reactions that leach lead from the pipe into the water and also allow disease-carrying germs to spread. This resource is part of the NOVA Collection.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Poisoned Water | The Health Impacts of Lead Exposure

    Learn about findings from the Cincinnati Lead Study concerning the effects of lead in the bones, the brain, and elsewhere in the body—especially in children and pregnant women—in this video from NOVA: Poisoned Water. Researcher and study investigator Kim Cecil explains how lead tricks the body into thinking it’s calcium, hiding in bones and in the brain, where it disrupts vital signaling between neurons. Lead can impact brain development, resulting in shrinkage or volume loss of brain tissue in areas responsible for decision making, attention, planning, and more. Lead poisoning can also be passed down from a pregnant mother exposed to lead to her fetus. This resource is part of the NOVA Collection.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Holocaust Escape Tunnel | Discovering the Burial Pit

    Using a new imaging tool—electrical resistivity tomography (ERT)—two geophysicists investigate an area that they suspect was a burial pit in Lithuania during the Holocaust, in this excerpt from NOVA: Holocaust Escape Tunnel. Using hundreds of electrical impulses to measure how soil conducts electricity, ERT scans the ground and creates a map that identifies disturbances in the soil—without disrupting the ground. These changes in the soil would indicate activity, such as a mass grave. Archeologists were able to confirm the location of a site where thousands of people, mostly Jews, were killed and buried by the Nazis. This resource is part of the NOVA Collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Holocaust Escape Tunnel | Testament to Courage

    Join archaeologists, geologists, and engineers as they uncover the truth about an astonishing story—told by a handful of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust—of a secret escape tunnel, dug by hand, in these video excerpts from NOVA: Holocaust Escape Tunnel. Using new technologies, scientists were not only able to locate the tunnel, they also were able to reveal the extent of Nazi atrocities in Vilna, Lithuania—once a vibrant center of Jewish life and culture. This resource is part of the NOVA Collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • NOVA Next | X-Ray Vision Archaeology Reveals Holocaust Escape Tunnel

    Learn how scientists discovered a Holocaust escape tunnel at the Lithuanian site, Ponar using noninvasive techniques, in this NOVA Next article. Vilnius, Lithuania, was once home to over 100,000 Jews. However, during the Holocaust, 95 percent of Lithuanian Jews were killed. In 1944, 80 prisoners attempted to escape a mass burial pit through a hand-dug tunnel. Only 11 people survived; however, the story of their escape has been passed down through oral histories. The exact location of the tunnel remained a mystery until 2016. Advances in archaeological technology allowed researchers to search the area without disturbing the burial sites. This resource is part of the NOVA Next Collection.

    Grades: 10-12
  • NOVA Next | The 100-Year-Old Idea That Could Change Flight

    Learn how nature is inspiring new aircraft designs, in this article from NOVA Next. Modern airplane wings are stiff; they are generally designed for flight at one speed and direction. Bird and bat wings, however, are designed to alter their shape for different modes of flight, such as gliding and diving. Aerospace engineers are modeling the morphing ability of animal wings to design flexible aircraft wings composed of cellular modules with lighter materials and shape-memory alloys. Their goal is to create morphing aircraft that can function efficiently in any flight condition. This resource is part of the NOVA Next Collection.

    Grades: 12-13+
  • The Origami Revolution | Predicting How Proteins Fold

    Explore how origami, the age-old tradition of paper folding, is analogous to one of the hardest problems in biology today—predicting a protein’s folded shape—in this video from NOVA: The Origami Revolution. A protein’s specific three-dimensional shape determines its function in the body. Failure to fold correctly can lead to disease. Because protein folding is essential for life, scientists are trying to predict which shapes, out of trillions of possibilities, are the most stable. To do so, they use computers to simulate the ways different protein sequences could fold and the shapes these could produce. This resource is part of the NOVA Collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Secrets of the Sky Tombs | Adapting to Survive at High Altitude

    Examine DNA evidence that links the Himalayan population to ancestors from faraway lands and explains how today’s inhabitants survive at altitude, in this media gallery from NOVA: Secrets of the Sky Tombs. By studying small variations in DNA sequences and comparing them across populations, geneticists determined that early Himalayan settlers came from East Asia. Sequencing also revealed that the Himalayan people survive at high altitude thanks to a second DNA variant inherited from a now-extinct human species. This resource is part of the NOVA Collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Search for the Super Battery | Designing a Cheaper, Safer, and Cleaner Storage Battery

    Examine a new approach to create a cheaper, safer, and environmentally friendly battery to meet society’s energy-storage needs, in this video from NOVA: Search for the Super Battery. Battery scientist Jay Whitacre explains how he developed a functional “saltwater battery” as an alternative to lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. A key aspect of his battery-design process was to identify elements abundant in Earth’s crust in order to reduce material costs and the environmental impact of mining. While Whitacre’s battery produces less voltage than a Li-ion battery, it requires fewer factory controls, is nonflammable and nontoxic, and is already used in hundreds of solar installations around the world. This resource is part of the NOVA Collection.

    Grades: 9-12