It was a great week to be a science geek, wasn’t it?  After all, the European Space Agency landed a probe on a comet that is 300 MILLION miles away — and we are now collecting data that may just help us to figure out where all the water on Earth came from.

That’s cool no matter how you split it.

The best part for me:  The entire landing process happened during my regularly scheduled science class periods — which meant that I was able to tune a bunch of twelve-year-olds into a historic event that I hope will leave them straight jazzed about both science AND space exploration.

As we watched the Livestream from mission control and refreshed the #cometlanding hashtag on Twitter looking for new pictures, one of my students asked whether or not the European Space Agency was posting pictures on Instagram.

While the answer to that is no — the ESA posts its mission pictures in this collection on Flickr — there are a TON of other great Instgram accounts that science geeks will completely dig.

Here are five that I’ve already shared with my kids:

@nasagoddard – The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is a major space research center.  Their Instagram account is full of remarkable pictures of rocket launches, alien planets, stars and galaxies — and the occasional penguin.  Kids are going to love the photos.  Teachers are going to love the fact that every photo comes with a detailed caption that kids can learn from.

@marscuriosity – My favorite thing about the Curiosity Rover on Mars is that it is taking remarkable pictures OF MARS.  I don’t think students today really get how cool that is.  Not only can they see detailed pictures of other planets, they can see detailed pictures of other planets being taken TODAY by a robotic SUV that we are currently controlling.

@natgeo – There’s no real surprise that National Geographic has an Instagram account, right?  After all, they have been taking and sharing amazing pictures of the world forever.  What I love about their Instagram page is that you are just as likely to find a beautiful picture of an intriguing animal as you are to find a shot sharing the culture of people living in remote corners of the world.

@sandiegozoo – The simple truth is that the San Diego Zoo is a national treasure — and while some may question the value of keeping animals in captivity, no one can question the #cutieness of the zoo’s Instagram page.  While I’m disappointed in the educational value of the captions that the zoo adds to each image, any kid who is interested in animals is going to totally dig this Instagram stream.

@airandspacemuseum – Who’s been to Washington DC?  What was your favorite museum on the Mall?  Chances are you said the Air and Space Museum, right?  It’s hard NOT to like a place with airplanes and rocket ships hanging from the ceiling!  It’s also hard NOT to like the Air and Space Museum’s Instagram page.  Not only are curators sharing really cool shots from the museum’s collection, they are sharing really detailed captions that can serve as starting points for continued study.

My goals for introducing these streams to my students were to steal a few of their online minutes AND to spark their imaginations.  

The way I see it, most of them are poking through Instagram every day anyway.  If I can convince them that stumbling across pictures of galaxiesgannets feeding on sardines, or the uniform of one of our nation’s first flying aces is JUST as cool as the random selfies that currently fill their streams, then Instagram goes from a genuine waste of time to a place where the beauty of the natural world and the glory of ingenuity and innovation can be celebrated one stunning image at a time.



Related Radical Reads:

Five YouTube Channels for #scichat Nation

Three More YouTube Channels for #scichat Nation

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