Thursday, April 24, 2014

Top Ten Household Items #7


#7 on the Top Ten List of Household Items to Use in Your Science Classroom is:

Sugar

Granulated sugar can find its way into plenty of science activities, but I find that sugar cubes lend themselves to even more possibilities.  And, you can always crush the cubes to get granulated sugar!

Sugar Cube Rock Cycle
Sugar Cube Solubility
Sugar Density Column
How Much Sugar in a Can of Soda?
Sugar Cubes in a Flask
The Floating Letter
The Big Green Mixing Bowl

Comment on this post to be entered to win a prize box containing most of the Top Ten Items.  And remember, if your comment contains an additional use (not mentioned above) for sugar in the science classroom, you'll receive a bonus entry!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Top Ten Household Items #8


#8 on the Top Ten List of Household Items to Use in Your Science Classroom is:

Play Doh

Play Doh gets bonus points because you can easily make your own in the colors and quantities you desire, with minimal materials and effort!

After you've got it made, try out some of these ideas:

Color Mixing
Earth vs. Moon Volume Comparison
Make a Topographic Map
A Look Inside Folds and Faults
What's Inside?

Comment on this post to be entered to win a prize box containing most of the Top Ten Items.  And remember, if your comment contains an additional use (not mentioned above) for Play Doh in the science classroom, you'll receive a bonus entry!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top Ten Household Items #9


#9 on the Top Ten List of Household Items to Use in Your Science Classroom is:

Dried Beans

I love having a stash of a few different kinds of dried beans/peas/lentils on hand.  Try out these activities:

Seed Germination
Semipermeable Membrane Demonstration
Dissect a Seed
The Geologists' Dilemma
Renewable vs. Non-Renewable Resources

Comment on this post to be entered to win a prize box containing most of the Top Ten Items.  And remember, if your comment contains an additional use (not mentioned above) for dried beans in the science classroom, you'll receive a bonus entry!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Top Ten Household Items #10

#10 on the Top Ten List of Household Items to Use in Your Science Classroom is:

Aluminum Foil

Here are a few ways to use aluminum foil in your classroom:

Clean Your Silver
Penny Boats
Sugar Cube Rock Cycle

I really thought I'd find more uses for it included in the Science Matters archives, as it seems like I use it more often just a few times per year.  Regardless, I think it still makes the Top Ten.  In addition, to the activities included, it's great to have on hand when you're talking about the elements on the periodic table and it's fun to throw a ball of it in with items to test with a magnet.

Comment on this post to be entered to win a prize box containing most of the Top Ten Items.  And remember, if your comment contains an additional use (not mentioned above) for aluminum foil in the science classroom, you'll receive a bonus entry!  I can't wait to hear your ideas!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Coming Next Week: Top 10 Household Products to Use in Your Classroom



I'm jumping back into the blogging world with a special-two-week event and a contest!

I've always proclaimed myself to be a hands-on science teacher who relies heavily on readily available household items to carry out experiments.

These are items that are always kept close at hand, because as soon as they get put away, they're needed again.  Sometimes it's for a planned lesson, other times you pull them out to help answer a question as it comes up.

At various times throughout my time authoring this blog, I've debated which of those items I'd place at the very top of my list.

So, this week I'm going to do a Top 5 list.  Each day I'll reveal a favorite product and I'll share links to a plethora of activities/experiments you can carry out using said product.

If you leave a comment, you'll be entered to win a prize pack containing most of the Top 10 items (one or two of them may not be appropriate to ship...).  You'll get a bonus entry if your comment includes another way to use the item in a science classroom!

I'll see you on Monday for #10!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Nursery Rhyme Science: Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!
Give them to your daughters.
Give them to your sons.
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!

Activity 1: Rising Up
Hot cross buns are a type of yeast bread.  Yeast is a living organism (a fungus to be exact), that is used to make bread dough rise.  If you didn't use yeast, your bread would be small, flat and hard as a rock.

When you open a package of yeast and pour some out, it doesn't look like much.  It certainly doesn't seem to do anything.  The yeast is in a dormant state - it's still alive but it's not actually doing anything; kind of like being asleep.

To get the yeast going you'll need to do two things:
1 - warm up the yeast so that it "wakes" up
2 - give the yeast something to eat

Put the yeast in a flask or small-neck bottle.  Add some warm water (to wake up the yeast) and some sugar (to feed the yeast).

Stretch a balloon over the top of the flask/bottle and allow it to sit somewhere where everyone can keep an eye on it for the next hour or two.

As time passes, you'll notice the balloon filling up.  It's catching the carbon dioxide the yeast is releasing.  When you make bread, the yeast does the same thing, creating small pockets of air within the bread!


Activity 2: Does "Hot" Always Feel the Same?
 Temperature can be a funny thing.... A 60 degree day in March feels fabulously warm and wonderful.  That same temperature, in the middle of July, feels frigid.  The temperature is the same, but the way in which it feels can vary depending upon our perspective.

Here's a way you can actually feel that principle at work in a matter of minutes.

You'll need three bowls:
--Fill one bowl with water and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes (or more) to reach room temperature.
--Fill the next bowl with water and add several ice cubes.  Stir.
--Fill the final bowl with warm tap water.  Aim for something that just feels warm on your wrist - you don't water so hot that it'll hurt you.

Arrange the bowls on the table so that the room temperature water is in the middle and the hot and cold water are on either side of it.


Place one hand in the warm water and the other hand in the cold water.  Leave them there for about 20 seconds. 

Remove your hands from the bowls and place them both in the middle (room temperature) bowl.  How do they feel?

Even though they are now in the same water, the hand that was in the cold water feels warm and the hand that had been in the warm water feels cold.

The explanation....
You placed your hand in warm water.  The energy (heat) moved from the water, which was hotter than your hand, to your hand, making it feel warm.  Then you placed it in water that was colder than your (now warmed) hand.  The energy (heat) left your hand and flowed into the water, leaving your hand feeling cold.

You placed your other hand in cold water.  The energy (heat) moved from your hand into the cold water.  When you placed that hand, with a reduced amount of heat energy, in the room temperature water, energy (heat) flowed from that water to you hand because there was more energy in the water than your hand.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Snow Science

If you've got antsy kids at home and another week of vacation time to fill, here are a few more ideas to keep them busy, having fun and learning!


Activity #1 - How Much Water is in Snow?

If you're finding yourself with an abundance of snow.... perhaps you'll want to perform some investigations. 

The amount of water snow contains can very greatly, depending upon the snow. 

Gather a set amount of snow... I collected approximately 500 ml of snow.



Allow the snow to melt - if you'll be allowing it to sit for an extended time, you may wish to cover it to minimize the amount lost to evaporation. 


My 500 ml of snow yielded slightly less than 50 ml of water.  This was a very dry, powdery snow. 

If you live in a place that gets snow throughout the winter, you might want to repeat this activity with each snowfall and see how they vary in water content.


Activity #2 - Learn About Snowflake Bentley

Wilson Bentley was the first man to photograph individual snowflakes, in 1885.  He's the person who determined that no two snowflakes are exactly the same.  A fascinating man, indeed.

Start your research at the Official Website of Wilson A. Bentley.  You'll find a brief biography there, and some wonderful, printable images of his photographs. I printed
 out the collection and laminated them for my students to look at and admire.

Snowflake BentleyFor a more thorough biography, and one to share with your students, check out Snowflake Bentley.  It's a picture book intended for children.  The biography is written as a story, with a lot of factual information in the margins - you can decide how much to share based on your students.
The Snowflake Man: A Biography of Wilson A. Bentley

For your own knowledge, you may want to read The Snowflake Man: A Biography of Wilson A. Bentley.  I haven't read the whole book, but have read an excerpt.  You can probably get it through your library system.

Two other books that look interesting are Snowflakes in Photographs and Snow Crystals. I'm not familiar with either book, but they are both collections of Bentley's images.  Again, it might be worth looking for these at the library before investing.
Snow Crystals (Dover photography collections)Snowflakes in Photographs



Activity #3 - Make Sparkly Snowflakes
This is a fun, artsy-craftsy project in which students can learn about solubility, super-saturated solutions and crystal shapes.

Make a super-saturated solution of Borax and water:
--Fill a jar with hot water (boiling is best).
--Add Borax, a little at a time, until no more will dissolve (you'll know you're there because instead of dissolving the Borax will settle to the bottom)

Use pipe cleaners and thread to make a snowflake.

Attach a piece of thread to the snowflake.

Place the snowflake in the Borax solution and leave for several hours or overnight.

In the morning, you'll have a beautiful, sparkling snowflake, covered with large crystals.

If you'd rather not make snowflake shapes, you can shape the pipe cleaner into stars or other shapes.  You could also just place a straight pipe cleaner into the solution.

The pipe cleaner works well because all the fuzz on it gives the crystals nice places to attach, and thus works much better than just a string.  (Which may explain why all my attempts at making rock candy as a kid were met with utter failure (and a sticky mess)).


Safety Note: The Borax and the finished snowflake should come nowhere near the mouth.


Activity #4 - Learn About the Coldest Places on Earth!

Check out the National Snow & Ice Data Center, where you can learn more about some of the coldest places on Earth!  There are lots of neat pictures in the photo galleries