SEP's Daly Ralston Resource Center

The cornerstone of all of SEP’s work is the Daly Ralston Resource Center, a lending library of materials to support hands-on health and science teaching. The Resource Center is open to all SFUSD teachers and UCSF volunteers in SFUSD and includes more than 3,000 materials.

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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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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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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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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How does an infectious disease spread? HIV simulation

Author(s): SEP staff

How does an infectious disease spread? HIV simulation

Students will simulate the exchange of bodyfluids and then test whether they got infected with a disease. This activity will show how one person who is infected with a disease can infect other people, who in turn infect others. Students will be able to see how behavior can effect their risk of getting infected.

The lesson plan was inspired by many educators. Thanks to Lance Powell at June Jordan HS in San Francisco, Jennifer Doherty and Dr. Ingrid Waldron, University of Pennsylvania

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Extract your own DNA from cheek cells

Author(s): SEP staff

Extract your own DNA from cheek cells

Students will extract DNA from their own cheek cells.

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Slinky Lab- Simulating the Motion of Earthquake Waves.

Author(s):

Slinky Lab- Simulating the Motion of Earthquake Waves.

Students use a slinky to model earthquake waves. Learn the speed, direction and behavior of different waves which tell scientists about earthquakes.

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What is Life?

Author(s): SEP Academic staff, past and current

What is Life?

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.

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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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