SEP's Daly Ralston Resource Center

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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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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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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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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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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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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Introducing Cells

Author(s): Linda Akiyama

Introducing Cells

Students learn that all living things are made of cells. They use a microscope to look for evidence of plant cells(from onion) and animal cells(from human cheek).

This lesson is from the unit, "What is a Living Thing, and How Does a Living Thing Respond to Its Environment?" The unit is designed to supplement the adopted FOSS curriculum on life sciences. In this unit students are given time to think about and discuss the fundamental question, "What is a Living Thing?" They are also introduced to a process for planning science investigations on the topic of how different living things interact with their environment. The unit ends with students deciding on a testable question, designing an investigation, doing the investigation, collecting data and drawing conclusions. Students then create poster presentations of  their investigation for a grade level science fair.

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Living or Non-living?

Author(s): Linda Akiyama (adapted from SEP Architecture of Life -"What Is Life?" Lesson)

Living or Non-living?

Students will investigate different objects and discuss whether they are alive or not alive. Students are challenged to provide evidence for their decision and defend their opinion.

This is the second lesson of a unit (What are Living Things and How does a Living thing Respond to Its Environment?) that was designed to precedes teaching the adopted FOSS unit on life sciences. In this unit students are given time to think about and discuss the fundamental question, "What is a Living Thing?" They are also introduced to a method for doing their own science investigations on the topic of how different living things interact with their environment. The unit ends with students deciding on a testable question, designing an investigation, doing the investigation, collecting data and drawing conclusions. Students then create poster presentations of  their investigation and findings for a grade level science fair.

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Mystery Box

Author(s): SEP Coordinators

Mystery Box

This lesson is designed to help students better understand the nature of science. It uses a Mystery Box (see attached photos) which has a funnel at the top and a beaker underneath. When water is poured into the top funnel, colored water flows out the bottom. A turn of the funnel and then pouring in more water results in either a different colored water or no water at all. The teacher demonstrates this Mystery Box to students and challenges them to propose models of the inside of the box. The students draw models of what they think the inside of the box looks like and share and discuss these models. Students can also construct their own mystery box using cardboard boxes and other common materials. For this option, you will need an additional class period.

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Detecting Photosynthesis- Analyzing Other Scientists' Data

Author(s): SEP Staff (Architecture of Life Course)

Detecting Photosynthesis- Analyzing Other Scientists' Data

Students will analyze the results of another scientist's experiment by examining leaves that have been exposed to different treatments, and draw conclusions about the process of photosynthesis.

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Skulls- Herbivores, Omnivores, and Carnivores

Author(s): Jen

Skulls- Herbivores, Omnivores, and Carnivores

Students familiarize themselves with different types of animal skulls and teeth.  From observation they learn to tell which skulls are those of herbivores, omnivores and carnivores.

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Testing for Lipids, Proteins and Carbohydrates

Author(s): SEP staff (Chemistry of Life lesson)

Testing for Lipids, Proteins and Carbohydrates

Students will test a variety of food samples for the presence of lipids, proteins, simple and complex carbohydrates.

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What is matter?

Author(s): SEP staff

What is matter?

This activity is based on a lesson from the Living by Chemistry curriculum developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science (see citation).

During this activity students explore in depth their own understanding of what constitutes "matter" and work together as a group to create a definition for matter.

Students work in pairs to debate how to sort "items" printed on cards into three categories: "matter", "non-matter" and "unsure" and then try to determine what properties all items in each category have in common. A whole class discussion about "tricky" items follows during which students ultimately agree on a definition of matter.

You can choose which cards you would like to use depending on your students' age, abilities, and experiences.  As an example, for elementary grades, you might choose not to use the entire set.

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Conversion of energy into different forms (lesson two of eight)

Author(s): Ben Engel, Arthur Millius, Lisa Monti and Helen Wong-Lew

Conversion of energy into different forms (lesson two of eight)

Students investigate flash paper, rubber bands, a mechanical crank, and a radiometer to determine the energy conversion occurring in each.

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Energy Conversion in Electricity – Resistors and Circuits (lesson three of eight)

Author(s): Ben Engel, Arthur Millius, Lisa Monti and Helen Wong-Lew

Energy Conversion in Electricity – Resistors and Circuits (lesson three of eight)

Students are introduced to the concept of a resistor and reminded about electrical energy from the previous lesson. They are then challenged to build a GIANT circuit to determine whether the size of a circuit affects whether it lights a bulb. They build as a class a giant series and giant parallel circuit. Then, in pairs, they build their own circuits with different resistors.

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Making a battery

Author(s): Florian Merkle and Margot Juhr

Making a battery

This is an inquiry-based activity in which students are given materials to make a battery. Students work in pairs and results are shared with the class. Content is discussed after the hands-on session.

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Understanding Air Pressure (a lesson series)

Author(s): Nathan Gosse and Kim Probst

Understanding Air Pressure (a lesson series)

The activitites establish the concepts of atmospheric pressure, differences in pressure, how changing volume affects pressure, and a molecular model of how air pressure arises.  Modified from the 5th grade FOSS Water Planet Investigation "The Pressure is On" (Investigation 4, part 3)

The lesson opens with some demonstrations and activities to introduce the properties of air. Moving on to air pressure, the teacher demonstrates how one can pick up liquid in a straw using a finger as a stopper. The students make a barometer, experiment with a bag and a jar, and participate in a straw race. For each activity the question of what is causing each phenomenon is asked. Students then do single and double syringe activity from FOSS Water Planet Investigation #4. After discussion of syringe activities students are asked to go back to initial demonstrations/activities and pick one to explain in a poster format.

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Electromagnets (lesson four of eight)

Author(s): Ben Engel, Arthur Millius, Lisa Monti and Helen Wong-Lew

Electromagnets (lesson four of eight)

Introduce the scientific method, control and variable. Reiterate that electricity can be used to create magnetic energy and discuss the different properties of an electromagnet (number of batteries, number or wires turns, or material of wire). Students then take time to think of experiments varying these properties and then test their hypotheses by actually performing the experiment they thought of.

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Understanding Germs (Bacteria, Viruses and Fungi)

Author(s): Helen Hwang, Mary Mohrin, David Allyn, Mithril Cox

Understanding Germs (Bacteria, Viruses and Fungi)

This lesson focuses on understanding "germs" (specifically bacteria, viruses, and fungi), how they cause illness, how they can help us, and some lessons about personal hygiene (protecting ourselves from germs).  Students learn about the different classes of germs via a book and discussion, assign germ names, symptoms and modes of contraction to microbe stuffed animals, and finally try to wash "Glo Germ" off their hands to emphasize the importance of personal hygine.

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The energy of life in zebrafish (lesson six of eight)

Author(s): Ben Engel, Arthur Millius, Lisa Monti and Helen Wong-Lew

The energy of life in zebrafish (lesson six of eight)

We introduce the concept that life needs energy to grow. We explain a little about microscopy and then the students observe different stages of zebrafish development (except we do not tell them that it is a zebrafish). Then student predict what animal they are observing leading up to a big reveal.

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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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Investigating the Relationship of Mass to Volume

Author(s): Linda Akiyama and Ranyee Chiang

Investigating the Relationship of Mass to Volume

Students practice the process of doing investigative science through team investigations. They investigate two materials that weigh the same amount. The testable question: If I have an amount of gravel and an amount of sand of the same weight, will they take up the same amount of space? Together, the class makes predictions, and decides on materials and procedures. Then in pairs, students do the investigation, collect data and draw conclusions.  After this activity, students will be better able to develop independent investigations in this and other subject areas.

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