Category Archives: Science

Light Box Activity (Sound and Light)

Activity: For this activity we set up a light box over paper and put both convex and concave mirrors and lenses as obstructions and traced the path of the light.


Scientific Principles:  The scientific principle examined here is light waves. When light hits the convex mirror, it reflects outward and spreads out. When the light hits the concave mirror, the light reflects and focuses together at a fixed point. When light hits a convex lens, it focuses together at a single point. When light hits a concave lens, the light spreads out. On a flat mirror the angle the light came in (incident angle) and the reflection angle are equal.

Point: The point of this activity is to show students how light bends.

Introduction: To introduce this to a class I would have them first explore concave and convex mirrors and lenses. Allow the students to come up with their own observations of what happens when they look at them.

Difficulties: I don’t foresee and big difficulties with this activity. The only problem that could occur is being in a dark enough room to clearly see the lines. I would do what we did in class and have the students make dots on their paper instead of the lines so that they can trace it later with a ruler to insure the lines are completely straight.

Extensions: To extend on this activity I would connect it to contacts and glasses and how those products use lenses to improve vision.

Dancing Salt (Sound and Light)

Activity: For this activity we covered a drinking glass with a piece of plastic wrap and secured it with a rubber band. We then sprinkled salt on top of the plastic. We hit a tuning fork and then held it over, without touching the plastic and watched the salt “dance”.

Scientific Principles:  The scientific principle we were learning about through this activity was sound waves. Sound travels through longitudinal waves that create vibrations. The vibrations is what is causing the salt to move in this experiment. Sound waves can travel through air, water or other objects then vibrate in our ears. Because there is no air in the vacuum of space sound can’t travel there!

Point: The point od this activity is for students to be able to see and hopefully understand how sound waves vibrate through the air and interact with the environment.

Introduction: To introduce this to the class I would start with something they know, water waves. How the shape of a pebble hitting a lake creates ripples in the water and how that is similar with what sound does to the air.

Difficulties: The only difficulty that students may have with this activity is getting to tuning fork close enough to the plastic wrap without actually touching the fork to it.

Extensions: A couple ideas for extensions to this activity would be to put the tuning fork in water so that students can actually see the waves and not just the effects they have. I would also have them use tuning forks of different pitches that create different wavelengths.

Magnetic Field Lines (Electricity and Magnetism)

Activity: This activity involved us using a 3D magnetic field line device to show us how the field lines interact with the magnet.

Scientific Principles: The scientific principle being examined is magnetism. Magnets have two poles north and south. North poles attract south poles and repel like poles. The opposite is true for south poles. The denser field lines are on the 3D magnetic field line device are the stronger the pull. This occurs at the poles. The field lines themselves show where a compass needle would point.

Point: The point of this activity is for students to be able to visually see the field lines of a magnet. They can see where the lines are more and less dense. They can also see the overall shape of the lines.

Introduction: I would introduce this to my class by first having them do an activity that had them explore magnets. Have them see what types of materials attract as well as what poles attract to each other.

Difficulties: I do not see students having difficulty using this device.

Extensions: An extension to this activity would be for students to draw or create some form of artistic representation of the field lines.

Earth’s Seasons (Solar System)

Activity: A Styrofoam ball marked with a line to show the equator will act as the Earth as well as a light source that acts as the Sun. The Styrofoam ball will be at a 23.5-degree angle because that is the angle that the Earth is in the sky.

Scientific Principles: The scientific principle being examined is the seasons. The seasons (summer, fall, winter and spring) are caused by the tilt of the Earth’s axis. The Earth’s axis rest at about 23.5 degrees.  We lean towards the sun in the summer and away from the sun in the sinter.

Point:  The point of this activity is to help students understand what causes the Earth’s seasons.

Introduction: I would first introduce this to my class by showing them a model of the Earth going around the Sun. It would show the Earth’s elliptical orbit as well as the tilt. I would have them predict what causes the seasons.

Difficulties: The biggest difficulty I see with this is if the students do the activity exactly as we did without a premade model is keeping the Earth’s tilt consistent. If possible, I would have a class set of the models because I do think they would be helpful to understanding this concept. If a class model set is not a reality in my future class I would show them a globe and how it sits on an angle.

Extensions: To expand on this activity I would introduce to them the concepts of equinoxes and solstices and how that relates to the orbit of the Earth.

Phases of the Moon (Solar System)

Activity: This activity requires a Styrofoam ball on a stick and a light source. The light source represents the sun, your head represents the Earth and the Styrofoam ball represents the moon. You can see the positions of the moon based on where you hold the ball.

Scientific Principles: The scientific principle being examined is the different phases of the moon and why they are caused. The full moon phase happens when the moon is behind the Earth and in direct sunlight. The new moon phase happens when the moon is between the earth and the sun so only the back part of the moon (the part we can not see) is lit.

Point:  The point of this activity id for students to understand why the phases of the moon occur. It was also supposed to show students how its possible that even though the moon rotates we only ever see one side of the moon. That is because it rotates and revolves at the same time.

Introduction: To introduce this to a class I would show them The Lunar Phase Generator, a website that shows you the current phase of the moon. As well as letting students on their own (if the technology is available) to look up the phase of the moon when they were born.

Difficulties: The big challenge here is having a dark enough space that students will be able to clearly see the different phases of the moon. It could also be difficult for students to completely keep the “sun”, light source still during the entire exercise.

Extensions: To help with understanding how we only see one side of the moon have the students act it out. Have one student in the center be the Sun, one be the Earth and another student be the Moon. The student who is the Moon should always face the Earth. I think it could also be helpful to have a fake clock to show when the moon is overhead.

Simple Machines (Energy/Motion/Forces)

Activity:  The first part of this activity was for students to look at toy tools and identify simple machines in them. For example, a nail and a saw are both wedges. For the second part of this activity students had to make a lever out of Legos and then label the fulcrum and the load

Scientific Principles: The scientific principle being examined through this activity is simple machines. The lever is a bar that pivots on a fixed point. Levers make it easier to lift heavy objects or to pry something loose. Wedges are something used to push to things apart. Pulleys make it easier to lift something up, they consist of one or more ropes attached at one end to an object and one end to the force that will pull it. An axle is a rod or pole centered in the wheel that allows the wheel to turn around it. The wheel then spins in a balanced circle to be used. A screw is an inclined plane around a cylinder used primarily to hold things together. Finally, an inclined plane is a sloped surface that makes it easier to carry things up it.

Point: The point of this activity is show students that simple machines are everywhere and are used all the time in our daily lives.

Introduction: To introduce this to the class I would do a version of peer lessons. I would divide the students up into 6 groups and each group would be assigned one simple machine. They would then have to become “experts” on that simple machine and teach it to the rest of the class. Once they know all the types I would have them try to identify them in the toolbox through this activity.

Difficulties: I don’t see students having too much difficulty with this activity once they know what each type of simple machine is. They may have difficulty identifying all of them though.

Extensions: To extend this activity I would have each group of students try to identify the most simple machines in the box.

Hotwheels Activity Sheet (Energy/Motion/Forces)

Activity:   For this activity we used a Hotwheels track and cars. We first set up the track with both ends being raised, like shown in the picture. We were to measure the beginning height and the ending height of the car and record it. We did this at various heights and then created a graph. At the end using our graph we were to predict the lowest starting point the car would have to be at to successfully go through a loop.


Scientific Principles: The principles this activity looked at where potential and kinetic energy as well as touching on friction. Potential energy is the energy something has because of its position. Kinetic energy is energy an object has because it is in motion. This activity also shows us about forces. Without forces the cars ending height would be the same as the beginning force. Friction is the main force that we saw in this activity.

Point: The point of this activity is for students to be able to see the different types of energy as well as how forces (friction) can affect our lives.

Introduction: I would introduce this to the class by first using the skateboarder phet. That phet shows the potential and kinetic energy of a skateboarder at any point on the ramp. The skateboarder however has the same ending height as the beginning height and never stops. I would first ask them about potential and kinetic energy but then ask them how realistic the phet is. Would the skateboarder really never stop? Why would he stop?

Difficulties: The main difficulty in this activity is building the track itself. Its hard to get it rest perfectly without falling. It may also be challenging to measure the exact ending point of the car because it happens so fast.

Extensions: To extend on this activity I would challenge them to see of they can find ways to reduce the friction.

Reaction Rate versus Water Temperature (Chemical Reactions)

Activity:   For this activity we poured equal amounts of water in to two plastic cups. One with hot water and one with cold water (the instructions called for a room temperature one as well). We then added an antacid tablet to each of the cups of water and were to time how long they took to dissolve. The antacid tablet in the hot water dissolved considerably quicker then the tablet in the cold water.


Scientific Principles: The scientific principle being examined through this experiment in chemical reactions.  A chemical reaction is a reaction that actually changes the molecular structure of the substance. A chemical change differs from a physical change is that in a physical change the substance stays the same.

Point: The point of this activity is to show how outside factors can affect chemical reaction times. The hot water sped up the reaction time. This shows them how heat is a form of energy.

Introduction: To introduce this to a class I would first have a demonstration where I dissolved one tablet in room temperature water in front of the class. After timing how long that took I would ask the students how I could make the process go faster if I didn’t cut or smash the tablet itself.

Difficulties: A difficulty might come from students having to work fast enough that the hot water does not cool down.

Extensions: An extension to this project could be combining it with the activity we did with a whole tablet and a broken-up tablet. The students would have to find what combination dissolves the tablet the fastest.