Science Activity Summaries

Science Activity Summaries

1.  Elephant Toothpaste
A chemical reaction used to get elementary students excited about the wonders of science. A huge jet of soap foam is produced from a 2 L cylinder which is used to brush elephants’ tusks in Africa.  

2.  Magnets
Various magnet activities at all levels to teach magnetism: magnetic attraction and repulsion, metals magnets are attracted to, making temporary magnets, magnetic toys, electromagnets.

3.  Slime
Properties of matter: solid, liquid, gas.  A chemical reaction of polyvinyl alcohol and borax to make slime.  Various experiments done to discover its properties.  Children take home a bag of slime.

4.  Five Senses
A variety of discovery activities in which the children use their senses.  Activities include Cartesian divers, space phones, chemical reaction of magnesium metal and vinegar, unknown liquids, and the disappearing water trick.

5.  Pond Life   (Starting in May)
A collection of pond organisms is brought into the classroom to observe and identify.  The ecology of each organism is discussed.  Organisms may include: dragonfly nymphs, damselfly nymphs, leeches, fish, beetles, water scorpions, shrimp, crayfish, tadpoles, salamanders, backswimmers, water boatmen, water striders, water mites and others.

6.  Bacteria and Germs
Students grow bacteria on Petri plates by directly touching with their nose and fingers or from swabs rubbed on objects in the classroom environment.  Children observe and record the growth in the dishes over 4-7 days. Teachers are taught how to use and dispose of  the Petri plates when finished..

7.  Arthropods (Fall)
Living specimens are brought into the classroom to observe and discuss.  Creatures include a tarantula, a giant millipede, hissing cockroach, crayfish.

8.  Weather
Activities include making a rainstorm in the classroom (water cycle), using weather instruments, making/feeling cloud and fog, tornado tubes, and weather terms.

9.  Bubbles
Students observe and experiment with the properties of soap bubbles.  Students will observe floating bubbles on a layer of carbon dioxide gas in a fish tank, huge bubbles, bubbles that are not spherical, and will blow piles of bubbles in large trays.

10.  Carbon Dioxide Gas
Students create carbon dioxide by mixing baking soda and vinegar, and do various experiments which demonstrate that they exhale carbon dioxide, that carbon dioxide puts out fire, and that it is more dense than air.  They will also safely experiment with dry ice (solid carbon dioxide).

11. Static Electricity
Students do various experiments showing electrostatic attractions between balloons and objects, such as salt, paper and water.  Students will have fun with a Van de Graf generator which demonstrates electrostatic repulsion as their hair stands up!

12. Electricity: Simple Circuits
Students use batteries, bulbs and wires to create 15 electrical circuits.  They will make predictions about whether each circuit will work.

13. Sound
Students explore sound using metal strips, space phones, tuning forks, a giant slinky, soda bottles, coat hangers, lasers, plastic tubes, and more.  A model of the human ear is observed and discussed.

14. Light  (lower elementary)
Children create and bring home a simple spectroscope to view various colored and white lights.  They use “spy pens” to observe invisible writing using a UV light.  Sun safety is discussed while using UV sensitive beads.

15. Chromatography
Students observe the separation of pigments in watercolor markers.  Students also create a radial chromatogram using filter paper, markers, pipettes and water.

16. Gold and Silver Pennies
Discussion of metal, alchemy, and chemical reactions.  Students make a copper penny turn “silver” and then “gold”.

17.  Microscopes
A class set of 40X microscopes give the students an opportunity to magnify various objects and view them on cardboard slides.

18.  Crystal Gardens
Pairs of students grow crystal gardens on charcoal briquettes . Students use measuring skills to prepare a solution of salt, water, ammonia, and laundry bluing.  They also compare their gardens to a “control garden”, which is made without adding the bluing.

19. Bridge Experiments
Students create and test five bridge designs made only from half a sheet of copy paper.  The bridge strength is tested by placing pennies on the bridge until it collapses.

20. Dissolving Salts and Temperature Change
Students discover how salt can change the temperature of the water in which it is dissolved.  Students will practice skills of observation and recording as well as measuring volume and using thermometers.

21. Electricity: Conductors and Insulators
Students use handheld generators to produce an electrical current through a circuit.  Students will predict and  test to see if electrons will pass through given objects placed in the circuit, as well as other objects found in the classroom. 

22. Simple Machines
Students observe the workings of simple machines through a variety of activities.  This includes using a giant lever to lift their teacher, using a lever as a scale, and other activities.

23. The Plant Game
Students learn about photosynthesis as they grow a seedling into a plant with multiple leaves , roots and flowers.  Measuring skills with a graduated cylinder, math skills and critical thinking skills are reinforced during this game.

24. Changes in Matter
Students learn about freezing, melting, evaporation and condensation as they observe and take part in various demonstrations, including the use of liquid nitrogen.

25. Depth Perception
Students use the scientific method to discover the advantage to having two eyes.  A tennis ball and eye patches are used to perform ten trials, first with both eyes open, then the right eye covered, and then the left eye covered.  Class results are recorded and discussed.

26. Astronomy
Students view a slide show of our solar system.  Students then participate in a scale simulation of the solar system, where the sun is reduced to a ten inch ball, and the other planets scaled accordingly.  This activity must be done on an athletic field.

27. Video microscopy
Students observe microorganisms, cells and other objects using a camera connected to a microscope and viewed on a television.  The objects can be viewed at 40X, 100X, 400X and 1000X.

28. Plants and Chlorophyll
Students use chromatography to separate chlorophyll and other pigments from a leaf of spinach.  Cells from a plant are observed using video microscopy to view chloroplasts.  The basics of photosynthesis, water, light, carbon dioxide, and chlorophyll are discussed.

29. Energy
Students learn the definition of and the seven types of energy.  Students will discover and demonstrate energy transformations using toys, gadgets and chemicals.

30. Electricity : Series and Parallel Circuits
Students build and compare series and parallel circuits made with 1,2 and 3 bulbs.  From these observations, students deduce what types of circuits are used in their homes.

31. Magnet Stations
Students make predictions and observations to see if certain metals are attracted to a magnet.  Bar magnets are used to identify the poles on cylinder, ring and a marble magnets.  Students make temporary magnets out of paper clips.

32. Measuring Volume By Water Displacement
Students are taught measurement skills using a 100ml graduated cylinder.  Students then find the volume of five different objects by placing them in a known amount of water.

33. Measuring Momentum
Using the scientific method, students measure how far four different metal balls will push two wooden blocks placed at the bottom of a ramp.  The ball with the most momentum should push the blocks the farthest.   Class results are recorded and discussed.

34. Pendulums
Students measure the time it takes for a given pendulum to make ten back and forth swings.  Predictions and observations are made when the pendulums are shortened, lengthened, made heavier or lighter.

35. Measuring Olympics
Students participate in the following events;  the cotton ball flick,  paper towel absorbency, and wooden block push.  Measuring skills are strengthened.

36. Dry Ice and Liquid Nitrogen Demonstrations
Many impressive activities using these super cold substances  (dry ice at -78C, and liquid nitrogen at -195C)

37. Periodic Table of the Elements
Students are introduced to the various elements and their properties and reactions, using demonstrations , activities and discussions. Reactions involve the elements; sodium, magnesium, copper, silver, iodine and hydrogen.

38. Cartesian Divers
In a soda bottle full of water a Cartesian diver floats, but sinks when the bottle is squeezed.  Students build and keep a diver, a fun toy to reinforce the concepts of buoyancy and density.  Students supply the 1L or 2L empty bottles.

39. Air Pressure
Students will see the effects of high and low pressure using a bell jar, vacuum pump, marshmallows and balloons.  Students will also use suction cups, view the can crusher demonstration,  and get vacuum packed in a plastic bag using a vacuum cleaner.

40. Chemical Reactions - Four Types
Students observe and experiment to learn about the basic types of chemical reactions: single replacement, double replacement, synthesis, and decomposition.

41.  Infectious Disease Transmission Model
A discussion of infectious and non-infectious diseases leads to a simulation activity where a “disease” is spread among students.   Students are given numbered test tubes, one of which is “infected”.  As students come in contact with one another, they exchange contents of their tubes, and later chemically test the tubes  to determine how many have become “infected”.  Common viral diseases are discussed, and discussion with older students in health classes may include HIV and herpes.

42. Winogradsky Columns:  A Microbial City
Using mud, eggs, newspaper and light, different colored photosynthetic bacteria can easily be grown in tennis ball cans.  Each bacteria occupies a different depth in the can, leading to discussion of ecology, niches and competition.

43. Measuring Lung Capacity
Each student’s vital capacity (amount of air in lungs produced by a maximal inspiration followed by a maximal expiration) is measured. Many methods are used including balloons and lung bags.

44. Measuring With a Microscope
Students learn how to measure the field of view of a microscope.  Using that knowledge they can then estimate the size of objects or microorganisms that they view.

45.  Hydrogen Balloons
Students produce hydrogen gas by reacting magnesium and dilute hydrochloric acid.  They learn how to balance a simple chemical equation, observe that hydrogen is lighter than air, and safely explode their balloons with a candle taped  to a meter stick.

46. Crystals in Gels
Students make silica gels in glass tubes.  A variety of metal ions are trapped in the gels. A solution of different ions is added to the top of the gel, and as it diffuses downward, beautiful crystals are formed.

47.  Acids and Bases
Students learn about the pH scale and test various household liquids using pH test strips and red cabbage juice.

48. Electromagnetism
The history of electromagnetism is discussed using demonstrations similar to what early scientists did.  Using motors, generators, flashlights and radios, students gain an appreciation for the practical uses of electromagnets.

49. Classification
Students use observation skills to classify sharks and /or fictitious animals using a dichotomous key.  The game of “Set” is also used to sharpen observation skills.

50. Light and the Electromagnetic Spectrum
Students learn about all of the different electromagnetic waves from radio and TV to microwaves, infrared, visible light, UV light, x- rays and cosmic rays.  Demonstrations enhance the topics of wavelength, frequency, and the energy of waves.

51. Electricity: Potato Batteries
Students make batteries from potatoes, zinc and copper. Voltage is measured as batteries are connected one at a time in a series. Data is graphed.

52. Silver Bottles
A chemical reaction causing silver to coat the inside of a bottle is performed.  This is an example of a redox reaction which is used as a chemical test to identify an aldehyde or ketone compound.  Students leave with a beautiful silvered bottle.

53. Volcanoes
A slide presentation of the Mt. St. Helens eruption is shown, with a discussion of famous eruptions and types of volcanoes.  Finally, a volcanic eruption using a model volcano is demonstrated.

54.  Video microscopy:  Protists
Different examples of protists are observed using the video microscope. Specific protist cultures can be ordered or made from pond sources.  They may be used to play “Microbingo”, where pictures of possible protists are placed randomly on a bingo grid.  As different microorganisms are spotted, students can turn over the cards and answer a question on the back.

55. Electrophoresis of Dye Markers     -    AP Biology
Students experiment with the technique of electrophoresis.  Agarose gels are loaded with different molecular weight dyes and a dye mixture.  Electricity is used to move the dyes and separate the mixture.   Migration distances are measured and compared.

56.  Photosynthesis  Lab    -    AP Biology
This experiment is designed to prove that chloroplasts and light are needed for photosynthesis.  Students use spectrophotometers and a color changing reagent to measure the photosynthetic reaction.  Students react chloroplasts in darkness, light, and some that have been boiled.

57.  Soda Bottle Rockets
At lower elementary grades (K-4), rockets are launched as a demonstration.  Rockets are made from 2L soda bottles, using glue guns, cardboard fins, and packing tape.  The bottom bottle of the rocket is half filled with water and placed on a special launch pad.  A bicycle pump is used to pump 90 lbs of air pressure into the rocket and then is launched.  A large athletic field is necessary for safety reasons.  Grade 5 and up, can build and launch their own rockets.
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