One good activity is what I call The Ice Balloon Experiment. Students work in pairs and they have to come up with an experiment to perform on an ice balloon (frozen water balloon). They have to come up with a scientific question that can be answered using materials we have in class. If you are interested in the worksheets I give my students PM me and I'll send them to you. For a final project I have students do a LifeSaver Project. They have to come up with an experiment to do on Life Savers. My students really like these projects. Just let me know if you are interested in the info. I can't seen to attach anything.
I have attached a worksheet for dissolving m&m's in different liquids. We put them in vinigar, saltwater, sugarwater, tap water, and lemon juice. We tried plain m&m's and penut m&m's. Each group choose a different color to test and then they compared their results.
I do several mini-investigations that focus on each step of the scientific method. Here are some possibilities:
- I like to tell the story of Louis Pasteur's life as a interesting hook to what is science (exploring, curiosity, asking how and why)- asking questions
- to practice asking good scientific questions & developing hypotheses: how many pennies will fit in the almost-full jar of water before it overflows? (this always fools them!), how many pretzels can a science student eat in 2 minutes? (this fools them too- they love it!) which will hit the ground first when dropped from the same height- a ping pong ball or a golf ball (tell the Galileo/Leaning Tower of Pisa story)? which will water pour out of faster: a bottle with one hole or two? which will bounce higher: a ping pong ball or a tennis ball?
- for teaching observations, I use SCUMPS (Size Colour Use Materials Parts Shape), which is a good mnemonic throughout the year. I ask: How can you tell a hardboiled egg from a raw egg? or I give groups four pieces of chocolate bars, ask them to SCUMP each piece and then have the group use the SCUMPS to match to each piece, then if they get them all right, they can eat the chocolate; I've also had them SCUMPS a penny and then see if they can find someone's penny from a big pile of pennies just using the SCUMPS description (for homework, they SCUMPS a fruit or veggie in their fridge and we see if we can guess it the next day. Then I reinforce that the best kind of characteristic to describe is a structural characteristic- this is what the biological classification system is built on- so Materials and Parts are the most useful SCUMPS descriptors).
Anyways, hope there's something useful here. I like the book "Teaching Science Process Skills" for the start of the year.
I'm looking for simple and fun ways to engage my students. I teach a general science, life science and earth science class. I would like copies of your ice balloon and life saver project worksheets. Thanks.
I have a lab I do with Paper Airplanes. I provide 6 designs. The kids can also use a design of their own. I provide paper (since I work at a Middle School, I get a very bright color and then warn the kids that other teachers will bust them if they catch them with one of those paper planes) and also paperclips and tape.
These are the things I have them record:
approximate wing surface-area
Describe "flight properties" such as "loops upside-down," "fast, straight flight, or "glides slowly."
Does the airplane seems to fly better if it is thrown hard or gently?
Distance it can fly, best out of 3
Glide-time, best out of 3
We look at the characteristics of the different airplanes that go furthest or stay in the air longest. Generally, the fastest have a narrow, pointy profile with a small surface area and the best gliders have more wing. I've even done a mass-to-wingspan ratio with them and talked about F=ma. Then of course there's the Scientific Method of making a new model with a specific goal in mind.
I do a weekly science project in my class called the Traveling Scientist. I wish I could take credit for this activity cause its awesome but its from a coupld teachers that work in my district who put it together. A student is chosen each week to create a science project to present to the class using the Scientific Method.
I decorated an old college backpack with science words, graphics, etc. Then put in about 5 used science experiment books that i purchased at like thrift stores, yard sales, etc. Inside I have a folder that has a letter to the parents, a filled out example of the scientific method worksheet, and an empty scientific method worksheet that they fill out.
But with students repeating this process and reviewing it weekly with experiments it makes it enjoyable for the students scientifically with a review.
I have the worksheets and I am sure I uploaded them before on here--try looking in the archives and if not message me and I will get them rescanned and send them to you.