Topic 10: Sound and Light–Light box and Mirror

With this activity, students will visually recognize the difference between concave and convex lenses and explain what each does to light. I do not see them struggling with this activity as it just requires turning the light box on and tracing the lights reflection. Students will put observe how light refracts through different mirrors: concave and convex.  They should be able to recognize the different lenses and what is causing this bending of light to appear. To make it more fun for the kids, I could have them create patterns they can trace from the various reflections made using the light source!

With a convex lens, light rays initially focus together (convergence). Light rays do the opposite with concave and tend to spread out instead! The bending of light these students are seeing is caused by a phenomenon known as refraction. Refraction is the bending of light when it moves from one substance to another. Lenses are simply a piece of material in which light is able to pass through, and are used to refract light. A convex lens is thicker in the middle than on the ends. A concave lens is thinner in the middle than on the ends. A way to remember the difference between the two lenses is a concave lens looks like the opening to a cave; therefore, you can remember that it curves inward.

Topic 10: Sound & Light

The point of this activity is to understand vibrations and sound waves and how they move, affecting the air molecules surrounding them. There will be a tuning fork used to demonstrate sound waves and how they affect the surrounding air molecules, in this case salt on a cup. The next small activity is hooking strings to a fork around your hear, and hitting it against the table to see how the sound has amplified. Next, the students will move a slinky back and forth and observe the motion. Finally they will take their fingers and move it around the rim of a wine glass and listen closely. I can see them having difficulty with the wine glass portion, and not getting it to make a sound. Also, hitting the tuning forks hard enough to vibrate for a long enough time to make the salt move on top of the cup.

What you are hearing from these instruments throughout the activity are pressure waves. Waves are periodic motion: longitudinal (sound) and transverse (light). The properties of sound waves are the amplitude (loudness) and wavelength (pitch). Vibrations of an object cause the surrounding air molecules to start vibrating, in this case the salt was shook on top of the cup. These vibrating molecules create pressure waves that travel in the direction of the sound. There are also two different types of waves the students saw with the slinky activity: longitudinal and transverse waves. Coils that move left/right are longitudinal and coils that move up/down are transverse waves.

Topic 9: Electricity and Magnets– Electromagnet with Generator

We use electricity and magnetism each day, but how do they work? This activity demonstrates the difference in current flow between an open and closed circuit and also shorts. We also saw how the generator can create an electromagnet when attached to a wire around a nail. To start, I will bring up the phet model to visually demonstrate the electrons flowing, and the circuit “moving.” This way the students can see what is actually happening before they begin the activity. I can ask them how they think electricity and magnetism and related, and move forward from there. The only struggle I see them having with this activity is being able to crank the generator hard enough, or even creating the circuit (knowing what to attach to what). To change up the activity I could add more things for the magnet to pick up. We can add different lights for them to make the circuits. We can also add wire to even create a parallel circuit.

Electromagnetism is the fundamental relationship between electrical and magnetic fields. A moving electric field produces a magnetic field that rotates around it, and a moving magnetic field produces an electric field that rotates around it. Flowing electrons produce a magnetic field, and spinning magnets are what cause an electric current to flow. Electromagnetism is simply the interaction of these two important forces.

Topic 9: Electricity and Magnetism–Light Bulb Circuit

This activity will show students how electrons flow through a current and create light in a closed circuit. Electrons are attracted to the positive end of the battery and flow to the other end of the battery (negative charge) and are repelled through, thus creating light through a current. This also teaches kids to create a series verses a parallel circuit. I can introduce a circuit concept with the electron rod that creates light and sound with a closed circuit, and stops when the circuit is open, or broken, again. The one part I can see them struggling with is making sure it’s all connected and there is no one part that isn’t working. Also making sure everything is connected properly could be difficult for a younger student .We could add different types of lights for fun, like we added Christmas lights instead of a simple light bulb (which was done in the demo).

In an electrical current, the movement is of negative electrical charges, or electrons, through a conductor (electrical wire, foil, etc). In an electrical circuit, the current flows from the point where the electrical potential is the highest to the point where it is the lowest. An electrical circuit is the complete loop through which an electrical current flows. It is made up of a series of electrical components and conductors such as batteries and light bulbs. The current flows in an electrical circuit when the path is completely closed, forming a loop.

Topic 8: Solar System–Window Illumination/Seasons

Moon phases are caused by observing the half lit Moon at different times during its orbit around Earth. The moon is always half lit by the sun, and in this activity we will see this demonstrated by using a foam ball as the moon, a source of light (window) as the sun, and our heads as Earth. Hopefully they will have had a slight understanding of the solar system and the Moon’s orbit/phases from the previous activity. This activity will help students further grasp their understanding of how the moon orbits in relation to the Earth and how seasons go about changing. I can see students having difficulty with seeing how much of the foam ball is lit, and comparing that to a particular phase of the moon.

So, why do we have seasons? It is caused by the tilt angle of the Earth as it revolves around the sun. When the Earth’s northern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun we are in our summer solstice (June 22) and are in our winter solstice when our hemisphere is tilted away from the sun (Dec 22). Our fall equinox is Sept. 22 and spring landing between our winter and summer solstice occurring March 22.

Topic 8: Solar System–Phases of the Moon

This activity uses a flashlight and a foam ball. We will illuminate the foam ball (or moon) with the flashlight (sun) from different directions to show how the phases of the moon occur due to the relationship with it and the sun. I can see students having trouble with knowing what phase is what, since it wont look exactly how it does in the sky.

Phases of the moon, when referring to waning, waxing, new, full, and quarters are as follows. Waxing refers to moving toward the full moon, or increasing in brightness so the left side of the moon is dark. Waning means moving toward a new moon, or decreasing in brightness; the right side of the moon is always dark. With a new moon, the moon is all dark because the lit-up half is facing away from earth. A quarter moon occurs a week after the new moon and we can see half of the half that shows–so ¼ of the moon. A full moon occurs two weeks after the new moon, we can see the entire lit-up half of the moon at this stage. The last quarter (or third) moon is seen three weeks after the new moon and we are able to see half of the lit-up part again.

Topic 6: Energy, Motion and Forces–Lego Lever

Simple machines have only one part to do the work and they have very dew or even no moving parts. A lever is an example I can start the class with. Since we will be building a lever with a fulcrum out of Legos later in the activity. You can use a lever to move a larger load with a smaller effort. I will then bring out the Legos and discuss how a small simple machine can be easily constructed out of the Lego set. The only struggle I can see the students having is piecing the parts together to form the correct lever. They will be able to visually see where the load and effort are on the Lego set.

The terms load and effort are used in describing how simple machines work. The load is the object that is moved. The effort is the force used to do the work. In this case, the effort is me pushing down on the Lego lever, and the fulcrum and pivot help move the load up and down. There are three common ways to set up a lever. This activity was a type 1, or, the fulcrum is between the force and the load, or between the input and output.

Topic 6: Energy, Motion and Forces–Simple Machines


Simple machines are a part of learning about forces and energy motion. There are six different types of simple machines and we will learn what they are: the lever, inclined plane, wedge, screw, wheel and axel, and pulley. I will start by showing pictures of each simple machine and an example of each (i.e., a lever example would be a seesaw). Simple machines have few or no moving parts. They all use energy to work, which is the point of the activity. The students will learn how these simple machines help make work easier. After the introduction I will show the students the experiments in which they will complete them and determine whether each uses a push or pull and how they make work easier.

Forces cause change in the speed or direction of the motion of an object; the greater the force, the greater the change in speed or direction. A simple machine is defined as a machine that makes work easier by allowing a person to push or pull objects over increased distances. There are few to no moving parts in a simple machine. Work is defines as applying a force over a distance in the same direction as the force.

Topic 4: Properties of Matter- Potato

Where does the water go? This activity will show the distribution of water, otherwise known as osmosis and diffusion, the movement of water molecules from high to low concentrations. Students will be given different aged potatoes and asked to make observations. They will then place one potato slice in the water and put salt on a different slice on the plate, then record what happened by comparing the characteristics of the potatoes.

In diffusion, matter is dispersed in a way that allows it to obtain an equal concentration throughout the environment, moving from a higher concentration to a lower concentration. With osmosis, liquid is diffused through a semi-permeable membrane. The potato slice submerged in the water will have absorbed the surrounding water through its membrane, making it larger than the other slices, demonstrating osmosis. Then, the potato slice with salt on it will have soaked in the salt but released the water, causing the potato to shrink–it absorbed salt and diffused the water. The water moved into the potato because there is a slightly higher salt concentration.

Topic 4: Air Pressure and Volume- Glove Container

This activity will play with pressure and volume relationship, demonstrating a closed system. I will start by explaining how pressure and volume have an inverse relationship, then introduce the glove in a jar activity. I can see students struggling with not creating an air tight container by not covering the hole or getting their hand to fit in the glove. They also may struggle with making conclusions about the movements before allowing the volume/air pressure to stabilize. Their hands are also going to be smaller, so they may not fully feel the air pressure change.

You could add water to this, so they can see the water move in and out of the container. This way, water molecules in the form of water vapor are present inside the jar. The movement of the glove will cause thermal energy to heat up these molecules and allow them to stick together. When the glove is pushed in, the pressure will increase causing the air to warm and droplets of water to evaporate.

If volume increases, then pressure decreases and vice versa, when temperature is held constant. Because the rubber glove is stretched tightly around the rim of the jar not allowing anything (including air) to get in or out, the glove in the jar is a closed system. The jar is completely and only filled with the glove and air. So, what happens when you try to put your hand into the glove in the jar? Nothing! Air and pressure will be able to escape through the hole. Now, when the hole is closed and you try to fit your hand in the glove it is difficult because there is not room left nor is there anywhere for that internal air and pressure to escape to! When the glove is pulled outward the air is expanding inside the jar. When the glove us pushed back in, the pressure is increased.