I have found what looks to be the ultimate treasure trove of science demonstrations and activities for elementary and middle school students.
Tik Liem published a book called Invitations to Science Inquiry. It's downright difficult to find a copy of this book today, and if you can, it'll cost you plenty. But, ERIC* has the complete second edition available for free. That's 400 discrepant events** for you and your students, for FREE!!! And they cover every branch of science.
In the abstract, Liem writes:
In the teaching of a science concept, it is important for the teacher to arouse the student's curiosity. Once curiosity is aroused, the students will learn much more on their own than the teacher can ever teach them. The use of discrepant events in the teaching science is one of the best methods to arouse this curiosity. This book is a collection of thoroughly tested discrepant events. They can be used to initiate or sustain a lesson in virtually any topic of science at the upper elementary or intermediate level. They can be used as reinforcement activities or as challenging problems for further inquiry.
Seriously... I think I've been channeling Tik Liem for the past 8 years without even knowing of his existence. I've been trying to learn a bit more about him and his experiences, but have yet to come up with anything beyond this publication.
In the meantime, I'm figuring out how I want to print this massive document because I think I need to have it in hard copy - there are just too many high quality demonstrations I need to try out.
I"m familiar with several of the discrepant events in this book (and you are too, if you've been reading my blog), and they are demonstrations that easy to set-up and come through for me every time. I'm looking forward to finding more of these as I work my way through the book. And I thought I might run out of material for this blog... I'm good for a while now! (Although I won't be doing much of anything in his chemistry section, as they all require chemicals and safety equipment that I just don't have at home).
Do yourself a favor and go check out Invitations to Science Inquiry NOW!
*ERIC is the Education Resources Information Center run by the US Department of Education - a very legitimate site. My past experience with it came in grad school - it has lots of journal articles and research papers. I still think that's the majority of the content, but after learning of Invitations to Inquiry, I might have to explore a bit more and see if there are other treasures lurking about.
**Discrepant events are things that counter-intuitive. You need to look closer at the science involved to understand what's happening.