• New book coming soon!

    Mark Eastburn's first children's novel will be published by SkyPony Press in 2016.

    Buy Mark's book

  • Green Fruit Loop?

    Our laboratory mascot

  • To better understand our ecosystem

    Education and conservation

  • Introducing students to new technologies

    Sample our projects

  • Science education with a purpose

    Read our blog

  • Tracing genes through generations

    More about heredity

  • Preserving a local treasure

    Meet our turtles!


Presenting genetics, heredity, and environmental conservation through fun and engaging activities.


Welcome to Teacher Turtles, where prehistoric creatures meet the modern world. This project has grown from student-based genetics and population studies of captive box turtles at Riverside Elementary School in Princeton, NJ, where a population of released pets have been thriving for more than thirty years. Materials on this site will all be aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), particularly with regard to ecosystems, human impact on the environment, and heredity.

But why turtles?

The biggest reason? They force us to take the long view towards conservation. Many of the turtles we follow can live to be more than a hundred years old, and maybe even two hundred, which means we’ve got to take a look at what’s happening to our planet over longer spans of time. Another reason? Turtle species live on every continent, and nearly every country, from the snapping turtles and Blanding’s turtles of Canada to the side-neck turtles of Argentina, and from the Horsefield’s tortoise of Kazakhstan to the angulate tortoise of southern South Africa. Nearly everywhere one goes, chances are that turtles live nearby–which makes them a great resource for schools to learn about creatures in their local habitat and the threats that they might face. With knowledge comes awareness of the need for conservation of natural areas, both for our own mental well-being and that of our shelled neighbors!

Genetic research has grown at a rapid pace over the past several decades, and today’s children need to learn about molecular biology at earlier ages than ever before. With genetic modification becoming routine, and genetic analysis speeded by new technologies, Teacher Turtles seeks to engage children on all of the latest science, and we will also be posting plenty of “maker” projects that will help students everywhere gain career-building skills!

Please feel free to come in, click around, try our activities, and learn more about our turtle friends. Be sure to click on our blog section, too–there’s always something new to report!

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Activities, Animations, and Games!

Learn about turtles from around the world!

Turtles and their relatives need help everywhere around the world. Find out the threats that they face, and ways you can help!

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Click here to learn more about DNA

DNA is common to all living organisms. Try these activities to see what we've learned, and how it all relates to our turtles.

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Why turtles make TERRIBLE pets!

Yes, they're cute, but they're better left in the wild. If you do decide to get a turtle, there are lots of important things that you'll need to know.

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Learn about Green Fruit Loop, our laboratory mascot!

Learn about a little lizard's journey through organic food, globalization, evolution, and the accidental transport of invasive species!

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Funding for an idea whose time has come

Over the fifteen years that I have been a teacher, two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and fourteen years as a parent, I have become increasingly aware of a profound disconnect in modern society. As we have become more and more heavily dependent on technology in nearly every aspect of our lives, we have lost our ancient contacts with the natural world. This

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What’s a sideneck turtle?

The one continent that doesn’t have any land-living turtles is Australia (aside from Antarctica, which doesn’t have turtles at all). They do have plenty of turtles, though, and we’re now going to include a pink-bellied sideneck turtle (Emydura subglobosa) in our studies. These turtles are native to Australia and New Guinea, and they are a special group of turtles that can’t draw heads back

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Tortoises!

Since I was unable to post for several weeks, there is plenty of news to report. Turtles keep emerging from hibernation, we are making contacts with a variety of turtle researchers and schools around the world, and I’ve decided to take in a few turtles from other parts of the world. The first two adoptions are leopard tortoises (pictured above) named Leo and Josephine.

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