Physical Science

Oobleck

Author(s): SEP Coordinators

Oobleck

Students will read the first part of the book by Dr. Seuss, "Bartholomew and the Oobleck," where they learn about the mysterious substance "Oobleck",  created by a group of magicians in the story. Students then make Oobleck from cornstarch and water and observe its properties, realizing that Oobleck does not behave like other solids or liquids.  After experiencing Oobleck first hand, students create their own ending to "Bartholomew and the Oobleck".

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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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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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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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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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Investigating the types of energy in different objects (lesson one of eight)

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

Investigating the types of energy in different objects (lesson one of eight)

Class discussion on what energy is and different examples of energy. Instructors write words associated with each type of energy. Students pick an object and classify what energy it has. Students now take turns describing their object and defining what sort of energy it has.

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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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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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States of Matter (lesson five of eight)

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

States of Matter (lesson five of eight)

Students investigate the difference between ice and dry ice, and review the concept of control and variable. The scientists demonstrate condensation, sublimation, and freezing with a series of object lessons.

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What is an atom?

Author(s): Linda Akiyama and Ranyee Chiang

What is an atom?

The students will repeatedly cut a piece of aluminum foil into smaller and smaller pieces to model the process of how you can break a substance down from a large number of atoms to a single atom.  This activity is meant to supplement the introduction to atoms on Foss Matter and Energy, Investigation 4: Changing Matter, Part 2: Melting and Evaporation, page 183.

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Heating Earth

Author(s): Nathan Gosse and Kim Probst

Heating Earth

Students develop an experimental plan to investigate the question how solar energy heats different earth materials (water and land). A container half filled with water and half with soil is exposed to full sun (if doing it outside) or placed under incandescent lights (inside). Students take temperature readings of both materials for 15 minutes and then either bring setups to a shady spot or turn off the lights. Again students record change in temperature in intervals during the next 15 minutes and then graph results. Lesson introduces the concepts energy transfer, solar energy, and heat sink.

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Observing Properties of Matter

Author(s): Linda Akiyama and Ranyee Chiang

Observing Properties of Matter

Students will observe two materials and compare their properties. They will use this information in a later lesson to help them predict whether an equal amount by weight of the two materials will take up the same amount of space (volume). This will lead to a discussion and activity about density.

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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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Alternative Energy Part II (lesson eight of eight)

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

Alternative Energy Part II (lesson eight of eight)

Student take their cars outside to a "time track" and a "distance track". They measure how fast their car goes 10 feet on the "time track" and how far their car goes in 30 seconds on the "distance track". They perform multiple trials, interpret their data, and predict which region in the world the car would be most suitable for.

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Alternative Energy Part I (lesson seven of eight)

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

Alternative Energy Part I (lesson seven of eight)

Students design a car that could be powered without gasoline. A class discussion ensues on different energies you could use to power a car. The students receive a model car kit with alternative modes of propulsion and get to design a car based on a form of energy they choose.

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Making an electromagnet

Author(s): SEP staff

Making an electromagnet

Students discover that, when electric current flows through an insulated wire wound around a steel core, the steel core becomes a magnet. They learn that this happens because an electric current produces a magnetic field. They experiment with a number of variables and try to find out how to increase the strength of the electromagnet.

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