Friday, May 11, 2012

Favorite Website: Access Excellence

Originally posted on March 19, 2010

There's another great collection of life science activities found at Access Exellence. I have spent most of my time going through the Fellows Collection (1994, 1995, 1996), but the rest of the site is worth looking at as well. As with all my favorites, some individual activities will be featured in their own posts.

The activities found in this section of the website have been submitted by high school teachers participating in the Access Excellence program. As such, the activities were designed for high school students. However, many of these activities are very easily adaptable (or usable as is) for lower grade students.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Inertia: Knock the Penny Out

Originally posted on March 18, 2010

Make a stack of 5 or 6 pennies. Use another penny to try to knock the bottom penny out, while keeping the rest of the stack in tact.

Go a step farther and make your stack of pennies on a piece of paper. Trace a circle around the pennies. Now, try to keep the stack of pennies in the circle after you knock the bottome one out.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cellular Respiration in Yeast

Originally posted on March 17, 2010

Place some yeast, sugar, and warm water in a flask (or bottle with small neck). Quickly place a balloon over the flask opening and allow it to sit for the class period (or longer).

At the end of the period, you will find the balloon has inflated. It is filled with carbon dioxide released during cellular respiration.

You can prove that it’s carbon dioxide and not oxygen: light a wood splint or popsicle stick on fire and then blow it out so that it’s just glowing. Release the contents of the balloon onto the glowing splint. If it’s oxygen, the splint will return to burning; if it’s carbon dioxide, it will go out.

A note about my pictures... In the picture of the initial set-up, the bottle only has a little water in it. It wasn't enough - the yeast respirated, but the carbon dioxide they emitted took up the remaining space in the bottle and didn't make it to the balloon. I redid the experiment, filling the bottle much fuller, which resulted in an inflated balloon; but I didn't retake the set-up picture.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Earthquakes & Plate Tectonics: Plot Earthquake Data

Originally posted on March 16, 2010

Use the US Geologic Society website to print out a copy of the most recent earthquakes. Provide students with a world map with lines of latitude and longitude clearly marked. Have students plot the points at which the earthquakes occurred. Compare the plotted data to a map of the tectonic plates. If enough data points are plotted, you will see an outline of the tectonic plates form, as most earthquakes occur along those faults.

If you wish, to get more data plotted more quickly: print out the world map on overhead transparencies for each student. Have each student plot several points on their transparency. Then stack the transparencies on top of one another to create a single map.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

States of Matter: Bouncy Balls

Originally posted on March 15, 2010

Empty a large, clear container (large pretzel or snack mix jugs). Fill part way with rubber bouncy balls. Use to demonstrate states of matter as follows:

Solids: barely shake the container, just enough to cause the balls to jiggle, but keep them in their place. The atoms/molecules in a solid possess kinetic energy, but not enough to remove any individual atoms/molecules from the group.

Liquids: shake the container a little harder, so the entire “clump” moves together. The atoms/molecules in a liquid posses more kinetic energy than those in a solid. Liquids can change shapes, but the atoms/molecules stay “attached” to one another.

Gas: shake the container even harder, so that the balls begin to bounce around the container, independent of one another. The atoms/molecules in a gas possess a large amount of kinetic energy. They will bounce around to fill the space they have available.

If you don't have a large container, or enough balls for a large container, you can make a smaller version (as seen above). It's probably not quite as effective as a demonstration as the larger version, but it works.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Mixtures: The Mistake

 Originally posted on March 11, 2010

This is a fun, open-ended lab for your students to put into practice that which they've learned about separating mixtures. Read the following story to your students (this is the original, you'll want to swap out "Home Ec" for whatever's appropriate in your school). Then, provide them with a sample of the salt and pepper mixture, a variety of tools, and let them have at it.

You may want to read the story to them the day before they'll perform the separation... gives them time to come up with a plan and gives you the opportunity to gather any materials they may wish to use that you hadn't thought to put out.

The Mistake
What kind of day was it? A day like all days - only THE SUBSTITUTE was there. The place was Home Economics and the substitute - one Mrs. Dimwitty. In her demonstration, Mrs. Dimwitty was to add salt and pepper to her baked dish. In trying to save time, Mrs. Dimwitty mixed the salt and pepper together before class. Upon reading teh recipe very closely, she discovered that the salt and pepper had to be added at different times. What an embarassment. What would she do now? All teh salt and pepper she had was in one jar - all mixed up. One of Mrs. Dimwitty's students said she could help if allowed to go to the science department. A short time later she came back with two jars - one containing salt, the other containing pepper. What a relief. The casserole would be a success.

In this lab you are to separate the salt and pepper mixture that you find in your test tube into two piles. Salt must be piled on one paper towel - pepper on another. You WILL NOT get another test tube so be careful. Don't throw anything down the drain until the end of the period. After you have separated the salt and pepper, bring them to the front desk for inspection. There should be no salt in the pepper and no pepper in the salt. After your separation has been approved, give a step by step description of what you did on the back of this sheet.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Diffusion: Perfume in the Room

 Originally posted on March 10, 2010

Place an open container of perfume (or other scented substance, such as vanilla) in a corner of the room. Have students raise their hand when they first smell the scent. Or, they could quietly note the time at which they first notice it and you can analyze the data later. You should find that students nearest the container are the first time notice it and it spreads outward from there.

To keep the results as honest as possible, don’t tell students where you’ve placed the container or what scent you’ve used.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rocks: Sugar Cube Rock Cycle

Originally posted on March 9, 2010

Have your students complete the rock cycle, using sugar cubes.

You'll need:
--Sugar cubes,
--Squares of aluminum foil, folded into a "boat"
--Hammer (or other smashing device)
--Candles (birthday or Hanukkah)
--Lumps of clay
--Test tube holder

Each student begins with a sugar cube, which reprsents the original sedimentary rock. Then...
--Weathering: Crush the rock with a hammer (or heavy book)
--Erosion: Move the crushed rock into the foil boat
--Heat/Melting: Using the test tube clamp, hold the foil boat over the candle flame until it melts. (Use a lump of clay as a candle holder).
--Cooling: Set the melted sugar aside for several minutes.
--Weathering: Break the new, igneous rock into pieces.

Warning: Melting sugar smells! Forewarn your neighbors and administrators before your classes get to work, so as to avoid unnecessary calls to the fire department!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Water: Drops on a Penny

 Originally posted on March 8, 2010

How many drops of water do you think a penny can hold? Make a hypothesis as test it out... you might be surprised.

When beginning a unit or lesson on water, I like to ask my students to give me as many words as they can think of to describe water. I make a list on the board and at the end, add one or my own: sticky. Students look at me like I've lost my mind, but once they start on this experiment, they start to understand my description - the water drops stick to one another. A great introduction to the properties of adhesion, cohesion, and surface tension.

Encourage students to make up their own experiments. For example, which side holds more, heads or tails?

After going through the activity once, you can mess with your students a bit - put a little liquid soap in their water supply, or rub a little soap on the penny. The soap interferes with the surface tension and the pennies can't hold nearly as much water.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Favorite Website: Middle School Science

Originally posted on March 5, 2010

Get your printers loaded and ready to go... Middle School Science is another great website loaded with labs, lessons, and activities all ready for you to print out and take into your classroom. To find the goodies, click on the appropriate branch of science at the top of the home page (maybe it's just me, but every time I stop by the site, I start looking for them in the list in the left-hand margin and can't find them. Good reason... they're not there! They're at the top. If my head wasn't screwed on tight...).

Bonus... this year, she started a blog to go with her website. I haven't yet worked my way through the archives, but I will in the very near future. And will be subscribing to the feed as well.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Atoms: Rutherford's Gold Foil Experiment

Originally posted on March 4, 2010

This is an original demonstration I created to try to help my students understand Rutherford's experiment: what he expected to have happen, what actually happened, and why it was significant. The demonstration is a bit crude (and it's starting to fall apart) - there's certainly room for improvement, but I think it does help students visualize what was happening. Please let me know if you find a way to improve upon this demonstration - I would love to hear about it.

Prior to Rutherford's experiment, the going theory about the atom was Thomson's Plum Pudding model. In this model of the atom, negatively charged material is scattered throughout the atom.

In Rutherford's Gold Foil experiment, he set out to shoot a beam of atoms at a thin sheet of gold foil. Based on the Plum Pudding model, one would expect most of the atoms to bounce back because the "negative" material is scattered throughout the atom, not allowing much room for atoms to pass by.

Instead, most of the atoms went straight through the gold. The resulting conclusion was that gold atoms must be made mostly of empty space, with a large central nucleus.

To create my stunning visual aids, I collected:
*a couple dozen small (~1") styrofoam balls
*a styrofoam disk (~2" in diameter)
*2 empty cereal boxes (on the larger size)
*a very large needle (used for upholstery)

Box 1: Thomson's Plum Pudding Model
-Cut open the sides of your cereal box, I left them on as flaps, to protect the model.
-Use the needle to sting the styrofoam balls onto the thread. (I used about 4 balls per thread and about 6 threads - adjust to the size of your box accordingly)
-Tape the ends of the threads to the top and bottom of the box.

Box 2: Rutherford's Model
-Cut open the sides of your cereal box, I left them on as flaps, to protect the model.
-Use the needle to run the thread through the styrofoam disk. Instead of trying to poke the whole way through the diameter of the disk, I ran thread through two holes that were poked through the flat part of the disk (examine the above picture).
-Tape the ends of the threads to the top and bottom of the box.

To demonstrate:
Rutherford thought he was shooting atoms at something resembling Thomson's model. Use an extra styrofoam ball and toss it at Box 1. The majority of the time, the ball should bounce back, because there isn't room for it to fit through. This is what Rutherford expected to have happen.

But... that's not what happened. Instead most of the time the atom (ball) passed through. Pull up Box 2 and toss the ball at it. This time, the ball should pass through a lot of the time. The only time it will bounce back is if it hits the nucleus.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Microscopes: Water Drop Microscope

Originally posted on March 3, 2010

Cut a 1” square out of the center of an index card (the shape and size are not important, you can decide how accurate you want students to be). Place a small piece of plastic wrap over the cut-out area and tape it so it’s taut. Place a drop of water on the plastic – you want it to maintain it’s drop shape, not spread out. Look through the water drop at some small writing, newspaper pictures, etc. The curve of the water drop will magnify what you are looking at, creating a very simple microscope.

I like to have students complete this activity after they complete their microscope quiz. I give out extra credit for anyone who takes their microscope home, shows their parents and has their parents write a note letting me know what they shared.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Minerals: Cost of 2L of Gold

Originally posted on March 2, 2010

Thanks to the soda/pop industry, 2 liters is a volume students are readily able to visualize. And, 2 liter soda bottles are readily available to use as a prop.

Ask students to imagine the soda bottle filled with gold (or silver or platinum). Use the internet (or newspaper) to find the current price for gold (gold is traded, thus the price fluctuates – get up to date information) as well as the density of gold. Then do the math (work through it with your students):

2L x 1000mL/L = 2000mL

2000 mL x 19.3 g/mL (density) = 38,600g

38,6000g x 0.035 (conversion unit) ounces/g = 1351 ounces

1351 ounces x $1,695.30 (price)/ounce = $2,290,350.30

Don't you wish you had a 2L bottle filled with gold!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Air Pressure: Crush a Soda Can

Originally posted on March 1, 2010

Place a small amount of water in an empty soda can. Place the can on a hot plate and heat until the water boils. While waiting, prepare a large container of cool water. Once the water has begun to boil, use tongs to pick up the can and quickly turn it upside down and place it in the water bath. The air in the can heats up, the air molecules start moving faster and some find their way out of the can, creating an area of low pressure. Turning the can upside down into the water creates a seal in which no air molecules are able to re-enter the can. The pressure outside of the can is greater, and the can is crushed.

To see a “real life” example of this phenomena, check out what happened to this train car when it was washed with hot water and sealed before it was cool.

Monday, April 2, 2012

National Science Teachers Association

 Originally posted on February 26, 2010

If you're teaching science, consider membership in the National Science Teachers Association. Along with membership comes a subscription to a great journal. Membership is a bit pricey if you're paying out of pocket... Even if membership isn't in the works for you, check out the website for some interesting articles and check out the store - lots of great book titles there. You can always check and see if your local library can get you any of the titles you're interested in.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Periodic Table: Word Game

Originally posted on February 25, 2010 
(Tungsten*Hydrogen*Astatine - Calcium*Nitgroen - Iodine - Flourine*Iodine*Neodymium)

Have your students use the symbols found on the periodic table to spell as many words as they can. It's a fun and simple game, but it does help familiarize your students with the periodic table, what's on it, and where they can find certain elements.

Set the parameters as you wish: work alone, as partners, or teams? how long do words need to be to qualify? do plurals count? should they write out the names of the elements as well?

In the past, I've managed to work it so that the last day of school before vacation, students take a quiz on the periodic table and the spend the remainder of the period playing the game - it works out GREAT! You can offer a prize to the student(s) with the most words or the longest word, but it's not necessary - they're so engrossed in getting as many as they can and besting their friends that they keep going on their own.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Photosynthesis: Photosynthesis Races

Originally posted on February 24, 2010

Teams of students (or individuals) race against each other to assemble the equation for photosynthesis. As students master the equation, they move from words to chemical symbols.

Carbon dioxide + Water + Light--> Oxygen + Sugar
6 CO2 + 6H2O + Light --> 6O2 + C6H12O6

Use index cards to create the equation components. You will need a set for each team you plan to have compete at one time.

Set one:
Carbon dioxide
Light (Sun)
+ (x3)

Set two:
Light (Sun)
+ (x3)

Depending upon the level of your students or how much of a challenge you wish to present, you can also provide the coefficients for students to put in the correct places.

I like to have each team begin with the words. The teams each work together to properly assemble their equation (remember, it doesn’t matter which order the reactants and products are in, just that they are on the proper side of the arrow).

As soon as a team claims to have completed the equation, I check it for accuracy. While I am checking, the other team can continue to assemble their equation in case the first team is incorrect. If they are incorrect, both teams continue to assemble the equation.

Once a team has correctly assembled the equation, the winning team moves on to chemical equations while the losing team continues to use the words.

This game can be played very quickly and is a good way for student to learn the equation for photosynthesis. By providing one additional card – ATP – and removing one card – Light – you can have students create the equation for cellular respiration. You could set up a whole tournament for your class to crown a photosynthesis champion!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mining/Minerals: Mining in a Nutshell

Originally posted on February 23, 2010

As promised, here is one activity from the Women in Mining website that I have used in my classroom: Mining in a Nutshell.

In this activity, students form mining companies and are given a $1 million budget (use play money, the students love it and "buy" into the experience all the more). The activity leads them through the process of mining: map making, exploration, drilling, mining and the costs associated with each process. There is also an optional processing phase. The Women in Mining have done a fantastic job laying out all the steps for you, so they're easy to follow. In addition, there's a great student worksheet, which makes it easy for the students to track their expenses at each step. Really helps students grasp that mining isn't just digging randomly into the ground - a lot of preparation goes into the process to increase the chances of it being a profitable venture.

A few changes I have made...
Instead of using peanuts (due to allergies and durability), I used poker chips (which automatically eliminated the processing phase). Instead of putting dots of paint on the chips, I used colored star stickers. The color of the poker chips is irrelevent. In a perfect world (with unlimited budgets), I would have the chips be all the same color, instead I went with what was available. The colored stickers are spread evenly amongst the different color poker chips.

When writing this post, I noticed that they have created a lower grade version of this activity. Looks like the process has been simplified for elementary students.

Friday, March 23, 2012

States of Matter: Food Dye in Water

 Originally posted on February 22, 2010

States of matter are determined by the amount of kinetic energy the atoms possess. Solids possess very little kinetic energy, liquids have more, and gases possess the most kinetic energy.

For this demonstration we’ll just be using a liquid, water, but at two different temperatures. We’ll use boiling water, whose kinetic energy is just shy of that of a gas and ice cold water, whose kinetic energy is closer to that of a solid.

Place two identical containers on the demonstration table, one filled with near-boiling water and the other with ice water (don’t put any ice in with the water). Hold a dropper of food dye in each hand and simultaneously place a drop of dye in each container. Observe.

The dye spreads out because the water molecules are moving around throughout the container and moving the dye with them. You will see the dye in the hot water spread out much more rapidly than in the cold water because the water molecules are moving so much faster.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Favorite Website: Women in Mining

 Originally posted on February 19, 2010
The Women in Mining Education Foundation has a wonderful list of activities related to minerals and mining that you can use in your classroom.

In forthcoming posts, I will highlight some of the activities I have successfully used in my classroom. In the meantime, check it out for yourself!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Free Bill Nye Video Guides has created a series of FREE worksheets to be used in conjunction with the Bill Nye videos. 

Each video guide has students document facts they knew before watching, new knowledge gleamed while watching, and complete 15 fill-in-the-blank questions. 

My understanding is that they have created guides for the entire Bill Nye series.  While I can't exactly confirm that, I do know that every episode that I'm familiar with is on the list. 

What a great resource to utilize when including one of these videos in your lesson plans.  Also great for making sub plans. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Potential & Kinetic Energy: Jumping Frogs

Originally posted on February 18, 2010

Have students fold origami jumping frogs using green index cards (the color really doesn’t matter, just makes it more fun). Allow students to play with the frogs and have them explain at which point the frog possesses 100% potential energy and at which point it possesses 100% kinetic energy.

Make sure you try your hand at making the frogs before presenting this lesson to your students. It's not hard to do, but you'll be much more effective at helping students if you've done it yourself first!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Classification: Pasta Dichotomous Key

Originally posted on February 17, 2010

Collect a large variety of different pasta shapes. Place one of each shape in a bag. Provide each student/pair/group with a bag of pasta shapes. Students then create a dichotomous key to identify each pasta shape. After completing the dichotomous key, groups can exchange keys to test them.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Oceans: Earth Ball Catch

Originally posted on February 16, 2010

Beg, borrow, steal or buy an inflatable globe or other spherical representation of the Earth that can be tossed around the classroom.

Have students throw the globe to one another around the room. When a student catches the globe, he/she should look to see if his/her left thumb is on water or land. The student will call out "land" or "water" and the teacher (or another student) keeps a tally of land and water catches on the board.

At the end of the game, analyze the data and you should find that about 70% of the time, the student's thumb was on water. A great introduction to a study of oceans and water - emphasizing the large percentage of the Earth that is covered with water.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Density: Coke Cans

Originally posted on February 15, 2010

A classic…
Fill a small aquarium (or other clear container that can hold enough water) with water. Place a can of Coke and a can of Diet Coke in the water. The Diet Coke will float while the regular Coke sinks. Very little artificial sweetner is needed to sweeten the Diet Coke, as compared to the sugar used in regular Coke.

Some extensions…

Test your students understanding of density by using different sized cans of soda, if you can find them.

Measure out the amount of sugar and artificial sweetner used in each can to show students. Once you have it measured, store them in small plastic bags, so you have them for next time.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

American Museum of Natural History: Seminars on Science

Originally posted on February 12, 2010

If you're looking for professional development credits, consider the American Museum of Natural History's Seminars on Science. There are currently 11 online courses offered, spanning the range of science disciplines. Graduate credit is available through a number of institutions.

The courses are co-run by an educator and a scientist from the museum. They run 6 weeks (with a 7th week to finish assignments) and you are provided with a CD of course materials (which are also available online).

I have personally completed the Space, Time, and Motion course and the Genetics, Genomics, Genethics course. I thoroughly enjoyed both courses and found the discussions, despite taking place through the computer, to the thought-provoking and engaging. I found the costs to be very reasonable and I couldn't recommend the program more.

**I am not being compenstated in any way for my endorsement of the American Museum of Natural History's Seminars in Science - I just really enjoyed my experience and want everyone to know about the program.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Action/Reaction: Hero's Engine

Originally posted on February 11, 2010

First, a little story...
Back when I first graduated and was looking for a teaching job, I needed to prepare a demo lesson on the 3rd Law of Motion. Being the dilligent (and hopeful) interviewee, I scoured the internet for ideas to bring to the lesson. One of the things I found was to make a Hero's Engine using a soda can. I had never heard of such a thing before, but gave it a shot. Turns out it worked pretty well. Fast forward a few months, when I had a teaching job at a well-supported school with a science lab filled with goodies and gadgets of all sorts... one of those nifty gadgets was a fancy, purchased-from-a-catalog Hero's Engine. Unfortunately, you needed to heat it (with a flame) for it to work and even then it really didn't work!

So, today, I provide you with some guidance for making your own Hero's engine - it's generally safe, it costs next-to-nothing, and it WORKS!

Get an empty, clean soda can out of the recycling. You'll be using a nail to punch holes around the bottom of the can. Before doing any hole-punching, you'll want to plan approximately where you'd like the holes to appear, as you'd like them as evenly spaced as possible.

To make the holes: use a hammer to pound the nail into the can. Once the nail is poking through the can, push it (the nail) to one side, so you create an angled hole (see picture below). Remove the nail and make additional holes. Make sure you angle all of the holes in the same direction.

Lift the tab on the top of the can, so it's sticking straight up. Tie a length of string to the tab.

To use: You'll want to work over a large sink/bin or outside and you'll want to work quickly. Fill the can with water and hold onto the string. The water will come out of the holes in one direction and push/spin the can in the opposite direction. Can be used as a demonstration or as one station in a series of activities related to the 3rd Law of Motion.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Microscopes: The e lab

Originally posted on February 10, 2010
e Cut out a lower-case letter e from a newspaper. Create a wet mount slide by placing the e on a slide, placing a drop of water on the e, and dropping on a cover slip. Place the slide on the microscope, so that the e is facing you, as you would read it. Draw what you see through the microscope. Move the slide to the right as you watch through the eyepiece, to the left, up and down.

This is a great introductory microscope lab for students. You can easily determine if students are accurately drawing what they see through the microscope or just drawing what they think they are supposed to see.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Earthquakes: When was the last earthquake?

Originally posted on February 9, 2010

Ask your students to guess when the last earthquake occurred. You can have them write their answers on paper or have a discussion. Log on to the US Geologic Society to find out the answer. Many students will be surprised to learn that the most recent earthquake likely occurred in the last few hours – numerous low-magnitude earthquakes occur every day - in this country and worldwide.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Body Systems: Nervous System: The Importance of Cerebrospinal Fluid

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is the liquid that surrounds your brain and prevents your brain from smashing in to your skull. 

Here's a simple little demonstration that shows just how crucial that fluid is.

You'll need a small container (with a tight-fitting lid), 2 eggs and some water.

Throughout the demonstration, the egg yolk will represent your brain and the container will represent your skull.

Crack one egg into the container and put the lid on. 

Agitate the container - you can just shake it, or you can have a student run a few laps around the room with it for it.

Open the container and observe - scrambled brains!

Clean out the container and crack the second egg into the container. 

This time, before putting on the lid, fill the remaining space in the container with water. 

Agitate the container once again.

Open the container and observe - the egg yolk remains intact.  (The egg what froths up a little bit, making it difficult to see at first, but the whole yolk is there).

The water cushions the egg yolk, just as the CSF cushions your brain. 

Great visual explanation!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Inference Cups

Originally posted on February 8, 2010

Create inference cups by placing an object in a styrofoam cup. Cut 4 slits partway down the sides of the cup. Fold two opposing sides down, and then the other two sides down on top of those. Seal with packaging tape. Label all the cups with one object in them "A", all cups with the second object in them "B", etc.

The students' goal is to infer the shape of the object in the cup based on the observations they make by moving/shaking/rotating the cup. They can then hypothesize what the object is.

Objects used in making the cups:
*Penny (disk)
*Marble (sphere)
*Die (cube)
*Nut (hexagon)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Favorite Websites:

Originally posted on February 5, 2010

If I could pick only one website in the whole worldwide web to use as a science resource, this is it!!! Tracy Trimpe as created and assembled the most fantastic collection of science activities I've encountered. If you're anything like me, after perusing the site, you'll find yourself reinvigorated and excited to head back into your classroom armed with a brand new repertoire of science activities. And all the paperwork is ready for you to print out and go.

You'll find me highlighting several of the Sciencespot activities in their own individual posts, and sharing my experiences with them. But, don't let that stop you from heading over there RIGHT NOW! (And make sure your printer is fully stocked with paper and ink - once you start, you'll be printing out activities left and right!)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Projectile Motion/Gravity: Ruler and Penny

Originally posted on February 4, 2010

To demonstrate that gravity pulls objects to the ground at the same speed, regardless of the path they take…

Place a ruler flat on the demonstration table, with about 2 inches hanging over the edge of the table. Place a penny on the table next to the ruler (between the edge of the table and the ruler).

Instruct students to listen for the pennies hitting the ground. Quickly flick the ruler, so that you are pushing the penny off the table at the same time you are “pulling” the ruler out from under the penny sitting on it. The penny that was on the ruler will fall straight to the ground (due to inertia, 1st law of motion), while the penny that was on the table will travel along a path of projectile motion.

If executed properly, the pennies will hit the ground at the same time. You will no doubt have to repeat this demonstration several times; first, because students take that long to determine that they are in fact landing at the same time and second, because it’s a bit mind-boggling to students (and teachers).

Do as I say, not as I photograph...
1 - Don't perform this demonstration with little people sitting on the floor where pennies may land!
2 - Don't perform this demonstration in a carpeted area of the room, you won't hear the pennies land!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Solar System: Pictorial Comparison

Originally posted on February 2, 2010

I LOVE these pictures. I first learned of them a few years ago and promptly printed and laminated a set for my classroom. I was reminded of them recently when I received them as an email attachment.

I think the art is beautiful and I can just stare at them-my mind spinning, trying to comprehend the size of the universe, all the while.

I don't know the source for these pictures. If someone out there does, please let me know and I will gladly add it.