SEP Programs

Rainforest Bird Beak Buffet

Author(s): Claudia Scharff

Rainforest Bird Beak Buffet

Students will look at pictures of 5 different rainforest birds and share their similarities and differences.  Each student will be given one of 5 tools and one of 3 cups to represent respectively a beak and stomach.  Students will go around the room and forage for "food," respresented by fake and real food.  They will discover that their "beak" and "stomach" allow them to eat only certain kinds of of food and consider the implications of this.

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The Lungs and Respiratory System

Author(s): Kimberly Besst, Deborah Rauchwerger, Karen Hauser, Robbie Ruelas,

The Lungs and Respiratory System

Students review what they already know about breathing and the respiratory system. After a brief introduction to the respiratory system, students break into two groups and rotate through two stations. At one station the students observe and touch human lung specimens and discuss the effects of smoking. At the other station, students simulate the effect of astma on breathing.

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The power of observation

Author(s): SEP Coordinators

The power of observation

Students each receive similar looking objects (marble, gem stone, bead, rock) and are given some time to make and record as many observations as possible. Then students at each table group mix up their objects and take turns reading out their descriptions while the rest of the group is trying to identify the described object.

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Mini Medical School - Hematology

Author(s): Rustom Falahati, Megan Robblee, Bonnie Daley

Mini Medical School - Hematology

This is a two-class lesson plan. During the first class students are entered into a "mini-medical school" where they will learn about the functions and components of blood and make a candy model to reflect their relative proportions.  At the end of the class, they graduate medical school as hematologists. The next day they will be presented with a mock patient with a blood disorder. In groups, they will attempt to diagnose the patient using blood smears, results of lab tests, and patient histories.

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Amylase - Exploring digestion and evolution through a molecular machine

Author(s): Becky Fulop, Juliet Girard, Thomas Noriega

Amylase - Exploring digestion and evolution through a molecular machine

The lesson is designed around two sets of experiments. The first set demonstrates that amylase is a digestive enzyme that degrades starch into sugar, can do so repeatedly and, like many enzymes, is sensitive to acid. The second set of experiments demonstrates the variability of amylase activity in different students' saliva. 

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Which Soil Do Plants Like Best? - Part 2, Collecting Data

Author(s): Will Ludington, Evelyn Hernandez, Karla Perez, Katherine Sorber

Which Soil Do Plants Like Best? - Part 2, Collecting Data

Students will explore how plants grow while using the scientific method to conduct an experiment.

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Which Soil Do Plants Like Best? - Part 1, Planting

Author(s): Will Ludington, Evelyn Hernandez, Karla Perez, Katherine Sorber

Which Soil Do Plants Like Best? - Part 1, Planting

Students will explore how plants grow while using the scientific method to conduct an experiment.

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Exploring chemical bonding

Author(s): SEP staff

Exploring chemical bonding

Students will engage in an exploration demonstrating the Octet rule and chemical bonding using paper models of elements forming covalent and ionic compounds.

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Polarity of Magnets

Author(s): Paige Nittler, Adrian Guggisberg, Jenny Chaffo, Malaika Sapper, SEP staff

Polarity of Magnets

Students will investigate how the effects of magnets change when their position in space is changed. Children are introduced to basic concepts of orientation in space.

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Antigen switching in malaria

Author(s): Mary Kate Alexander

Antigen switching in malaria

In this activity, students will model how the parasitic malaria protist Plasmodium falciparum evades the host immune response through a phenomenon called antigen switching.  Specifically, slips of paper representing malaria-infected red blood cells will be used to demonstrate how random changes in the expression of Plasmodium proteins that display on the surface of human red blood cells helps the parasite avoid destruction by the host immune system.  Students start with a single infected red blood cell with a specific surface marker protein, and from there will simulate the spread of infection through multiple generations of infection (each generation consisting of a parasite infecting a red blood cell, dividing and multiplying inside the red blood cell, then bursting to release new parasites that go on to infect new red blood cells).  Student will find that the parasite occasionally changes the type of surface marker protein expressed over several generations.  When the immune system begins destroying infected cells displaying the original surface protein, cells that have switched to expressing a different protein survive and continue to divide.

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Demonstrating how to Conduct Controlled Investigations: Example Using Sound

Author(s): Linda Akiyama and Ranyee Chiang

Demonstrating how to Conduct Controlled Investigations: Example Using Sound

The teacher conducts an investigation to compare the sound produced by two different sized pipes (higher pitch, lower pitch, louder, softer).  The teacher conducts the experiment multiple times, each time changing different variables.  The students are "directors" and are asked to "cut" the scene when they observe something wrong with the experiment.

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Introducing Models to Elementary School Students

Author(s): Linda Akiyama and Ranyee Chiang

Introducing Models to Elementary School Students

Students learn what a model is by comparing a model of the tongue to their own tongue. They practice asking themselves, "How is this model like the thing it represents, and how is it different?"  This format of questioning can be used when using any model in science and can be used to check students' understanding and misconceptions.

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Cleaning Water: A 5th Grade Standards-Based Science Unit

Author(s): (Coach) David Mann, (Team Members) Kevin Baldizon, Jeff Foote, Robin Schneider, Ben Wieman

Cleaning Water: A 5th Grade Standards-Based Science Unit

Many children around the world die due to drinking contaminated water.  This engaging science lesson will allow students learn how to build and use a simple homemade filter system to clean contaminated water. This 5th grade, standards-based lesson is great for California Science Content Standards Earth Sciences.  Students make observations, collect data and form hypothesis.  The end result is a gratifying surprise that they will enjoy while learning basic investigation and experimentation concepts.

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Sheep Heart Dissection

Author(s): Chris Cain and Soroya Wood

Sheep Heart Dissection

Students observe and dissect a sheep heart. In doing so, they learn about how the heart works and what it really looks like.

While this lesson is adaptable for many grade levels, it is a great fit with California's FOSS 5th grade Living Systems kit and that kit's goal of learning the structures and functions of the circulatory system.

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Hands On With Cells - Using Slide Viewers and Microscopes

Author(s): Chris Cain and Soroya Wood

Hands On With Cells - Using Slide Viewers and Microscopes

In this activity students use microscopes and slide viewers to visualize cells and record what they see. Emphasis is on *recording observations*. Students are introduced to new technologies and to the diversity of cells that make up our body and that exist in plants.

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Do You Know Bamboo?

Author(s): Jennifer Howard and Yoko Nozawa

Do You Know Bamboo?

Bamboo shares many similarities with wood in their appearance (brown and fibrous) and usage (furniture, flooring etc). Bamboo strips will be studied by floating and sinking tests and compared to wood samples. 

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What is the best brand of paper towel?

Author(s): Yoko Nozawa, Jennifer Howard

What is the best brand of paper towel?

Compare different brands of paper towel for their strength and absorbancy through a series of short investigations.  This lesson can be used in conjuction with the FOSS Wood and Paper kit, or on its own.

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Meet a Land Snail

Author(s): Jennifer Howard and Reba Howard

Meet a Land Snail

In this lesson students will play a guessing game, observe land snails, and create a realistic drawing of a land snail.  At the end of the lesson they will brainstorm things they wonder about Land Snails.

This lesson is alternate or introductory lesson to the FOSS lesson on observing land snails.  Students begin and end the lesson as a whole group and observe either independently or in pairs.

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Perception and the Brain

Author(s): Erin Currie, Eirene Markenscoff-Papadimitriou, SEP Staff

Perception and the Brain

In this lesson, students are introduced to how the brain interprets and uses sensory information from the visual system to guide how the body moves and performs various tasks. This lesson makes use of a specialized set of goggles with prism lenses that shift what the wearer sees. Using these prism goggles, students will see first hand how the brain adapts over time to changes in what we perceive. The lesson also makes a connection to the brain and brain function by giving students a chance to see and touch a preserved brain specimen.

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What factors affect the oxidation of apples?

Author(s): John Rivera, Lillian Seu, Juliet Rose Girard, Anthony Shiver

What factors affect the oxidation of apples?

Students observe the browning of apples after cut and being exposed to air and brainstorm ideas about why this might be happening.
Students think about ways to slow down or prevent the browning effect and in teams create and conduct a simple experiment to test their ideas.

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How does the pH environment affect bioavailability of Iron?

Author(s): John C. Rivera, Lillian Seu, Juliet Rose Girard, Anthony Shiver

How does the pH environment affect bioavailability of Iron?

Dietary minerals are available through ingestion of food and supplements.  In this lesson, students first examine the chemical reaction of two forms of iron, Fe0 and F+2 with various pH conditions of either the stomach or intestine to determine how it gets absorbed and eliminated in the body. Then students isolate iron from the foods we eat (such as cereal) using a magnet to attract elemental iron or Fe0.

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Forensics Crime Lab

Author(s): Molly Darragh, Maria Jenerik, Sarah Maifeld, Christopher McClendon

Forensics Crime Lab

A crime is staged in the classroom.  After observing the crime scene, student identify and collect crime scene evidence.  Students use blood typing analysis, microscopy, and chromatography to analyze the evidence.  The list of suspects is narrowed to identify the potential culprit. This lesson may be done in two parts or as one long session.

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Observing and Drawing the Structures of Guppies and Goldfish

Author(s): Jennifer Howard and Reba Howard

Observing and Drawing the Structures of Guppies and Goldfish

This lesson is a modifcation to FOSS Investigation #1 in the Animals 2 x2 unit.  In this version the students are observing both guppies and goldfish at the same time as their first introduction to the fish (where as in FOSS they have them look at them separately on separate days). Also, in this version, students not only observe, but learn to do drawings "like scientists".  They use new worksheets and write a few words about what they see.

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Meet an Aquatic Snail

Author(s): Jennifer Howard and Reba Howard

Meet an Aquatic Snail

In this lesson students will observe aquatic snails, create a realistic drawing of an aquatic snail, and create a class list of questions about aquatic snails.  This lesson is alternate or introductory lesson to the FOSS lesson on observing water snails.  Students begin and end the lesson as a whole group and observe either independently or in pairs.

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Mini Mystery Boxes

Author(s): SEP Coordinators

Mini Mystery Boxes

This lesson is designed to help students better understand the nature of science. It uses simple, readily available mini-mystery boxes to model how scientists study things they cannot see (see http://www.lab-aids.com/catalog.php?item=100). Scientists often study things that cannot be seen - either because they are incredibly small (inside of cells/atoms) or too far away (other galaxies). In such work, scientists must rely on indirect information. Mystery boxes – each with a small steel ball and a raised terrain inside – demonstrate this aspect of science to participants. The students will draw a model and discuss in groups what they think the box looks like inside.

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