Exciting Science Activities

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by KLily21, Aug 31, 2007.

  1. KLily21

    KLily21 Companion

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    Aug 31, 2007

    I recently got a new job teaching 7th grade science! Are there any activities that you have found that are especially engaging and exciting in a middle school science class? Maybe some project ideas, text book reading comprehension strat., review games, even bulletin board ideas?

    My curriculum is quite broad, I cover the scientific method, waves, electricity, light/sound, weather, atoms, mostly a lot of physical science.

    I would appreciate your input and ideas!!!
     
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  3. Charger

    Charger Companion

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    Sep 1, 2007

    Check out sciencespot.com

    I have found several really good middle school science ideas. I teach 6,7,8 science and am trying to add really good ideas to my curriculum as well.
     
  4. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    Another good place to try is middleschoolscience.com. There is also a yahoo group of thesame name that is very active with great ideas. You can find a link to the group on the web site.
     
  5. KLily21

    KLily21 Companion

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    Thanks charger and chemteach55! Those are great resources! I especially lik e the BrainPOP site!
     
  6. trina

    trina Companion

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    Sep 4, 2007

    Welcome to this board! I have found it to be an invaluable resource. I teach 6,7,8 science and have had so much fun teaching. I think I enjoy the activities and hands-on stuff more than they do! Here are a few winners from my class:

    (from the NTSA magazine this spring) To teach the SM, ask "What do you think will melt quicker- a regular Lifesaver or a sugar-free Lifesaver?" From there they are in the palm of your hand. Guide them through (don't say too much! let them work out all the kinks) the scientific method- control group, experimental group, variables and constants, sample size (the whole class divided in half), data analysis, and conclusion. I did this as a second day of school activity and it was a hit!

    Have the kids get up and act out everything humanly possible. We've had a human flower (pistil, stamens, ovary, etc) and then I had another student act like a bee come and pollinate the flower (balled up yellow post its). We've replicated the solar system with students acting as planets. We've acted out Kepler's 3rd law of planetary motion. We've made the concept of spring tide and neap tide come alive by forming a human tide ring around a student (earth) and then had 2 other students act as the sun and the moon.

    I have a bulletin board right now of their 1st day assignment- What does a scientist look like? Then I took their drawings and added to it- I put up a mirror that says "This is what a scientist looks like!"

    I find the website www.quia.com a luxury I can't live without. I put all their info on there in the form of games and they can't get enough.

    Have fun and keep it student-centered and you'll do great!
     
  7. KLily21

    KLily21 Companion

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    Sep 5, 2007

    Wow those are some great ideas, trina! Thanks!

    I think I'll do the Lifesaver activity on Monday! Did you say you found this activity in a magazine? Is there an online format for this activity, too?
     
  8. KLily21

    KLily21 Companion

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    I'm sitting here at lunch trying to Google the lifesaver experiment to get more info. and can't find anything. Would you be willing to give me a bit more detailed explanation as to how you do this activity in your class? I love the idea!
     
  9. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Last year my 7th and 8th graders loved these activities:

    The "weather house" (teacher.scholastic.com/activities/wwatch/investigate/weather_maker.htm)
    This is an interactive online weather maker, where you can change the temperature of two air masses and the relative humidity to see what the weather would be. I made a worksheet for the students to predict what the conditions would be for rain, snow, wind, etc. and then we tested their predictions as a class with the simulation projected on the screen from my computer. This was when the students really "got" that if two air masses have different temperatures, they have different pressures, and this is what causes wind (as air moves from a high pressure area to a low pressure area).

    The other activity they loved was making impressions of leaf stomata with nail polish and looking at them under the microscope. (sps.k12.ar.us/massengale/leaf_stomata_lab.htm) We used the plants in the classroom and compared the numbers of stomata on cactus and spider plants. The kids love using the microscopes anyway, and they think it's really cool to make their own slides instead of looking at pre-made slides or photos from the textbook. They loved this lab so much that one class period wasn't enough - they begged to be allowed to continue their investigations the next day (and of course I allowed them to!). Any activity that gets students so excited about science is a keeper for me.
     
  10. trina

    trina Companion

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    OK- so here's my LONG step by step procedure. If you are a member of NTSA you can access the journals online and read it yourself. I read it in the actual journal at my college library. I went back a week later to make a copy, and doggone it if they hadn't sent it off to be bound into a book for permanent shelf placement. Thank goodness I have a good memory because I'm not a member of NTSA!

    Pose the question "What do you think will melt quicker- regular or sugar free Lifesavers?" I think the article used Certs as the candy, but I couldn't find Certs! You will get all kinds of answers. Ask them why they think one will melt faster than the others. A debate will start. Ask "How could we find out for sure?" A kid will invariably say "We can eat one!"

    Keep in mind that the power of this activity is to not discuss the SM as you are doing it. Act like this just randomly ran through your head and you honestly just were curious. Later you will close all the loops and show them how scientist use the same query method every day and design experiments to find out the answers. You let THEM meander their way through all the steps, and you just pose questions that get them back on track or lead them in the right path. They will remember the steps if you let them figure it out. Another key is to pose "false" questions or suggest scenarios that mess up the experiment and that will make them put in the constants to control the experiment.

    So you say "Ok, so I eat a regular one. How can I tell if it melted faster than a sugar free one?" They will answer "Buy some of both and then time yourself!" Respond "Ok, but what if you did it too and something different happened in your mouth, like you REALLY suck yours hard, and I just kind of let it sit there. Our results would not be the same." Eventually you should get someone to say "Let more than one person try it." From here you agree, and suggest that you would get a few people to try it and time them. Pose a false question like "Ok, so how about 5 people get regular and 3 people get the sugar free" to make sure they are thinking scientifically. (Plus they love telling the teacher what's wrong with her idea!) Be sure that a kid says that you should average the times in both groups.

    OK, so now you have had them figure out the control and experimental groups. Now it's time to have them define the variables and constants. Say "OK, so say I get 10 people to agree to help me figure this out, and 5 get the regular, and 5 get the sugar free. What if one guy really likes the cherry flavored one I gave him, so he just crunches it up as soon as I give it to him?" Typical responses that will result from the discussion and questions you continue to pose will include: make a rule that you can't chew it, make a rule that you can't park it in the side of your cheek either, make a rule everybody puts it in their mouth at the exact same time so it's fair, no talking or laughing, suck it in a normal fashion like if you were in a church service, etc. (See one more constant later in this explanation!)

    Once you are happy that they have put parameters in place, tell them what a great job they've done in designing the experiment, pause, and pull out the bags of candy and exclaim "So let's do it!"

    Break them up into 2 even groups. If you have an odd # of kids, you suck on 1 as well to make it even. Be sure you have a stopwatch. Give each group their respective candies. **Hint- be sure to give at least 1 kid a broken one or one that is missing a piece, even if you have to break it yourself. When the kid says "Mine is broken" (and he WILL because all the kids want their candy to be perfect) say, Oh... does that really matter? Hopefully they will catch on and realize that that's another rule to add- Everyone's candy must be the same for it to be fair.

    Be ready to say "Go" and time them. I had my kids raise their hands and stick out their tounges to show me that it was gone or just a sliver left. It depended on the rules the class had decided on to tell when the candy was officially "melted." One class said it had to be all the way gone, another said gone to just a crescent, and one didn't figure that part out in their constants, so I added it. It IS pretty hard to suck a sliver, you know!

    Write down the times in 2 columns as they raise their hands. At the end of the experiment, write all the data on the board. Here again is a PERFECT interdisciplinary moment to add math into the science class. Ask "Does anyone have a problem if I take my calculator and add all these numbers together and divide them by the number of students in that group?" This part is tricky because you are trying to motivate someone to say that time noted as 3:35 for 3 minutes and 35 seconds is NOT the same as 335. One class I had grabbed this right away, the other struggled with the concept. Again, don't give them the answer. Ask "What should we do?" Hopefully you'll get someone to say "Convert the times to all seconds." To test this idea I checked it by using the board and converting a time to seconds and then back to minutes and seconds. Now that they had seen me do it, I gave each kid a time to convert. Give them a minute. Have them call out the converted time. You can do this next part or ask them to do it. Average each column of time and convert back to minutes and seconds. You will get your answer. Be sure you help them correctly interpret the answer. The shortest time melted quicker.

    Follow up- Discuss the results. Why did the sugar free melt quicker, or why did the regular melt quicker? NOW......you can review the steps of the SM. Be sure to point out the observation stage, the data on the board, and the analysis. Be sure to ask what equipment was needed to carry out this experiment. You can even discuss what other constants or variables could be put into place if you did the experiment again. Be sure to show how only 1 variable was needed at a time- don't compare Jolly Ranchers and Blowpops with sugarfree and regular Lifesavers all in the same experiment.

    I hope that helps all of you, and that you have as much fun with it as we did!

    Trina
     
  11. MarshNConsMom

    MarshNConsMom Rookie

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    Sep 5, 2007

    I taught sixth grade science. When we studied the scientific method, I stressed how important it is to follow procedural directions. Students learned how writing specific procedures are important with a shoe tying activity.

    The students were to list the steps needed to tie a shoe. Everything had to be precise. When all procedures were written, they'd be exchanged with another student who then had to follow the procedures exactly as written. If the directions didn't say let go, then it couldn't be done ;) Each student had a rubric to "grade" the other's procedures.

    It was pretty funny watching the kids try to tie their shoes with the given directions.

    Another procedural activity could be "How to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich".
     
  12. KLily21

    KLily21 Companion

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    Sep 6, 2007

    Wow thanks for all of your ideas.

    I've been doing a bit of research on my own and I stumbled across the website sciencespot.net . I found some cool projects that I'll use in the next few weeks like the Mr. Peanut activity, Consumer's Challenge, and the Drops on a Penny lab. I just figured I'd share since you all have such good ideas for me!
     
  13. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Sep 8, 2007

    sciencespot.net, science-class.net, middleschoolscience.com

    Also, check out the GEMS units here: http://www.lawrencehallofscience.org/gems/

    I love the Gems units. They have tons of cool activities. A good one to get is the Oobleck unit. They get to make observations of oobleck and figure out it's properties- is it a liquid? a solid? Then, the next day, the class meets together as a scientific convention to talk about the oobleck. Next, students draw, or construct a ship that can land on top of the oobleck, or, since I teach life science, they draw a picture and write a description of an animal that can walk on the Oobleck.
     
  14. dolphinmn

    dolphinmn New Member

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    You might try some United Streaming videos. I am not sure if this is a free option? Our school subscribes to United Streaming so it is always available to me. I have found a wide variety of short videos that the students seem to enjoy. You can search by subject/age group for more convenience.
     
  15. geoCAD

    geoCAD Rookie

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    What a GREAT site! I just downloaded two projects! Now if there is a site just like this one for MATH projects, I would be a happy camper.

    Thanks for the link.

    ~G
     
  16. muinteoir

    muinteoir Companion

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    another good website to explore

    science-class.net
     
  17. MrL

    MrL Companion

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    The National Chemical Association publishes an awesome book called Science Through Inquiry filled with easy to run labs. I've run about half of them, and its huge book.
     
  18. MrL

    MrL Companion

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    Sorry, I mean "Inquiry in Action."
     
  19. KLily21

    KLily21 Companion

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    Feb 22, 2008

  20. MrL

    MrL Companion

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  21. MrL

    MrL Companion

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  22. PowerTeacher

    PowerTeacher Comrade

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    When I taught Scientific method I made a powerpoint with several really interesting photos to show the differences in observation abd inference.
     
  23. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    That's hilarious. Not only is this assignment actually in my methods for teaching science course but my teacher actually did this assignment on us the first day as well.
     

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