Lessons


To help teachers understand how each of our modules is related to the Next Generation Science Standards, our Teacher Prep documents denote the relevant Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs – in progress). Our grade level progressions are sourced from NGSS Appendix E (DCIs), NGSS Appendix F (SEPs), and the NSTA’s Matrix of Crosscutting Concepts (based on NGSS’s Appendix G). Click on the title of the lesson to view the Teacher Prep document.

Visit the Lesson Sequences page to see which lessons can be taught as a series.  The Standards page has a spreadsheet that matches all of our lessons to the relevant national and state (CA, MA and MN) standards.

Lessons by Region

All lessons are not currently available in a each region.  Lessons not currently available in a given region may be requested, but additional build time may be required to provide the materials for that lesson.  Requests for lessons not currently available in your region should be made at least one month ahead of the teaching visit to your instructors so that they can determine if the lesson can be created for that region. Thank you for your patience  as we build out our library of lessons in a given area.  Click here for a listing of available lessons by region.

* Lessons marked by an asterisk require extra notice to prepare.

  • AP01–Cells & Organelles

    Students make a cell model to learn about the functions and interactions of a cell’s organelles. In one option, students compete to assemble a cell model, with each pair or small group taking charge of one organelle and interactively instructing their classmates. In the second option, students base their model construction decisions on the information they learn, and justify those decisions to the class.

    AP02–Mitosis

    This module teaches the basics of mitosis using plant root tips. Students learn to identify cells in the different stages of mitosis, as well as how to use a compound light microscope and (for classes with ample time) prepare a wet-mount slide. This lesson is geared towards older (7th & 8th grade) or advanced students. It is recommended that AP01: Cell City and AP03: DNA is Everywhere are taught prior to this lesson unless students are familiar with the structure and function of cells and of DNA.

    AP03–DNA is Everywhere

    This lesson begins with an introduction to the location and structure of DNA and provides an overview of DNA’s role as the blueprints of life and is followed by an exciting hands-on activity designed to extract DNA from strawberries (or other plant matter).

    AP04-Phenotypes, Genotypes, & the Environment (Beta Version)

    This advanced module examines dominant and recessive genes, along with complete and incomplete dominance. Through the activity, students learn about genetic variation within a population by focusing on the genotype and phenotype of fish color. Students will investigate the impact of environmental changes on genetic variation and how favorable traits are passed down to future generations. Furthermore, students will evaluate whether dominant or recessive genes are more impacted by these environmental changes. Students must have prior knowledge of Punnett squares.

    AP05-From Genes to Proteins (Beta Version)

    This module is a hands-on simulation of how DNA ultimately creates the proteins in our bodies. Students are provided with DNA gene sequences, which they must first transcribe into mRNA and then translate into a protein (amino acid sequence) to build a new species, called the Scimon. Time permitting, students may have the opportunity to investigate the effects of three types of mutations (insertion, deletion and substitution) on their Scimon model.

    AP06–Blood Composition and Compatibility

    This is an introductory lesson detailing the components of blood and highlighting the process and importance of blood typing. The lesson starts with an introduction to the cells and fluids making up our blood, followed by a simulated blood typing activity where students work in groups to determine blood types of 4 individuals before they can donate blood to an injured friend, and wraps up with a microscopic examination of human blood smears. This lesson is geared towards older (6th-8th grade) students.

    AP07-Spread of Infectious Disease

    This lesson introduces students to the exponential spread of infectious disease. Students will model a disease outbreak through an activity where they spread an “infection” through the class by sharing contents of a cup with one another. The focus of the lesson is on extracting meaningful information from the data patterns formed by disease outbreaks, and on understanding the difference between linear and exponential growth. If time allows, older classes may discuss the concept of herd immunity.

    AP10-Frog Dissection

    After reviewing lab safety and introducing the dissection procedure, students dissect a preserved frog in order to observe the external and internal structures of frog anatomy.

    AP13-Structure of the Human Eye (Beta Version)

    This lesson’s multiple short activities will walk students through their eyes from front to back, experimenting with and experiencing how different parts affect image formation. Students observe the contraction of the iris, the minimum focal length of the lens, the distribution of rod and cone cells in the retina and the effect of this distribution on peripheral vision, the blind spot resulting from the existence of the optic disk, and optionally, the function of the cone cells. This lesson, though fun as a stand-alone, is designed to coordinate with the AP14 Eye Dissection module. It is intended to enhance students’ appreciation of the structures they will observe in the dissection of the sheep eye, by allowing them to first observe the functions of those structures in their own eyes.

    AP14–Eye Dissection

    This lesson engages students by asking them to compare a camera with a mammalian eye. Then, after reviewing lab safety, the instructor briefly introduces the dissection procedure and students work in pairs to explore the anatomy of a preserved sheep eye. The lesson ends with a review of mammalian eye anatomy and the basic mechanics of vision.

    AP15–Heart Dissection

    After reviewing lab safety, the instructor will provide students with an orientation of the heart’s surface features and identification of key structures and vessels. The basic pathways of blood flow will be outlined and the physiology of heart function will be introduced. Students will complete a dissection of a preserved sheep heart to identify key external and internal structures. Orders for hearts are needed at least 2 weeks before the lesson.

    AP16-Heart Health

    This station-based lesson allows students gain an understanding of the cardiovascular system and an appreciation for the importance of physical activity for heart health. Students will get a chance to act as both ‘patient’ and ‘physician’ to measure their pulse, heart rate, and blood pressure in different ways, and learn what those different measurements represent.

    AP17-Artificial Lung (Beta Version)

    In this lesson, students are introduced to the structure and function of the human lungs through the use of models. Students are provided with a variety of building materials to construct an artificial lung and diaphragm model and examine how the lung and diaphragm work together to achieve breathing. An additional focus of the lesson is to introduce the field of bioengineering and demonstrate how engineers are currently developing the technology for construction of artificial lungs.

    AP18-The Mammalian Brain (Beta Version)

    After a brief introduction to the structure and functions of the mammalian brain, students examine preserved sheep brains and make observations about the external and internal anatomy.

    AP19-What’s in my Head?

    This lesson is an introduction to the human nervous system (NS), and focuses on the human brain and its functional units, the neurons. The neuron is the basic working unit of the NS: it is a specialized cell designed to transmit information to other nerve cells. The activity in this lesson allows younger students to explore the structure and function of the brain and neurons through the construction of models. Older (6th-8th grade) students will construct models, as well as learn about nerve cell communication.

    AP20-Experimenting with Our Brains

    The human brain is highly adaptable system. This activity demonstrates how the brain learns to adapt to an altered situation. Students divide into small groups and learn to toss beanbags at a target while wearing prism goggles. They then remove the goggles and “unlearn” the task. Students collect data from these experiments and interpret it in the context of their brain’s adaption and subsequent communication with sensory and motor systems.

    AP21-Hair Identification

    This module teaches methods for analyzing different hair samples. It begins by discussing what hair is and why it is important in nature and in forensics. Students are taught the difference between different mammal hair samples based on microscopic differences. They will then examine cards with microscopic images of unknown hairs and identify them by comparing to a guide. If microscopes are available and time allows, students will examine hair slides and record what they observe.

    AP22–Fingerprinting

    Students learn how fingerprints are formed, the forms friction ridges take and the prints they can leave behind, before investigating the various ways of studying fingerprints. Students will experiment with fingerprint dusting, lifting, inking, and will also practice analyzing prints.

  • C01-Properties of Water (Beta Version)

    This lesson demonstrates the unique properties of water through a series of simple experiments that encourage students to generate explanations for what they observe. Students work in groups to complete activities, collect data, record results, and describe their findings. The properties of water examined include cohesion, adhesion, surface tension, density, solvent ability, and heat capacity. The lesson culminates with a discussion of student observations and introduces the scientific terms for the properties of water.

    C02–Chemical Identification

    In this lesson students will perform several experiments to determine the identities of six different household white powders: baking soda, cornstarch, sugar, salt, chalk, and borax. Students will perform solubility tests in different solvents and simple chemical reactions with acetic acid and iodine.

    C03–Polymers

    This module helps students identify polymers in their surroundings, define relevant terminology, and discover the properties of some plastics and gels. For the main activity, students will use glue, water, and borax to create a cross-linked polymer gel that they can take home. A good grounding in the states of matter is recommended – see our lesson on the States of Matter if your students are not yet familiar.

    C04–Separation of Substances

    After an introduction to elements, compounds & mixtures, common methods & reasons for separating mixtures are discussed. Students then design and implement a multi-step purification process, the effectiveness of which is gauged by calculating the recovered fraction of components.

    C05 Introduction to Acids & Bases (Beta Version)

    In this lesson, students will be introduced to the Arrhenius theory of acids and bases (acids dissociate into H+ and bases into OH-). They will learn that pH gives us a measure of the concentration of H+ in solution, and they will use a universal indicator and pH strips to test the pH of various common household liquids. Note: The background information provided by this lesson is largely the same as the background info in C06: Acid-Base Titration, but the activity in this lesson aimed at 4th- 6th grade students.

    C06–Acid-Base Titration (Beta Version)  

    In this lesson, students will be introduced to the Brønsted-Lowry theory of acids and bases (acids donate a H+ ion and bases accept the H+ ion). They will perform a simple titration to neutralize a base with an acid, using a color indicator to determine the endpoint. This lesson is intended for older (7th & 8th grade) students.

    C07–Nutrient ID

    The lesson begins with a review of atoms, elements, and a discussion of organic versus inorganic compounds. Students learn that organic compounds, such as sugars, starches, and proteins, can be identified with the use of chemical indicators, which produce a characteristic color when a particular substance is present. Using these chemical indicators, students test a variety of food samples for the presence of proteins, and simple and complex carbohydrates. Fats (lipids) are identified by their ability to make paper translucent. This lesson is geared towards older (6th-8th grade) students.

    C08–Paper Chromatography (Beta Version)

    Students are introduced to the technique of chromatography as a way to separate compounds. In the activity, students will test four different inks to separate on a strip of chromatography paper and compare to an unknown brand of ink. While the experiment is running, the students will participate in a discussion and demonstration of how chromatography works. After the chromatographs have developed, students will identify the unknown ink by comparing the chromatographs to the known ink.

    C09-Electrophoresis (Beta Version)

    This lesson provides an exploration in electrophoresis using wet and dry activities. The wet activity is to run an agarose gel electrophoresis, which is typically done to separate macromolecules (such as DNA) in a laboratory setting. The dry activities are designed to convey the concept that migration of molecules during electrophoresis is size-dependent, and to have students predict the results of their agarose gel electrophoresis. This lesson is geared towards older (8th grade) students. It is recommended to conduct this lesson in classes at least 60 minutes long.

    C11–States of Matter

    This module provides students with an introduction to the states of matter, especially phase transitions. Through observations with dry ice, students will get to see both water and carbon dioxide change phases in multiple ways and understand how heat energy causes these changes.

    C14–Viscosity

    Students investigate viscosity by using falling sphere viscometers to examine the speed at which a marble drops through tubes of liquids with varying viscosities. Students will formulate hypotheses about the viscosities of these fluids and also variables that might affect their viscosity.

     

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    E02–Rover Restraint

    This module gives students a hands-on, team-oriented introduction to engineering within the context of space exploration. They learn about NASA’s Mars rovers as examples of the challenges engineers face in balancing competing goals, while creating a lander for a mock rover to be tested in an egg drop.

    E03-(Re)-Building a Bridge (Beta Version)

    Students are presented with the engineering design challenge to build a bridge that will transport a defined number of people, modeled by weights. Students design, build, and test prototype bridges. During testing, they identify the failure points of their models and use these results to improve their designs, rebuild, and retest.

    E04-Engineering Redesign (with Legos!)

    This lesson focuses on the redesign step of the engineering and design process. Students will begin with a flawed prototype bookshelf made of Legos that must be redesigned based on certain constraints. Students will critique the bookcase, design and build a new prototype, and then present it to the class by testing it in a model hallway.

    E05 – Simple Machines

    This module introduces the six basic simple machines: the inclined plane, the wedge, the screw, the lever, the wheel and axle, and the pulley. The students are then challenged to design and build a Rube Goldberg device to ring a service bell in a chain reaction using multiple simple machines. After the devices are built, the groups will present their devices and describe the simple machines used in their designs.

    E06 – Saving the Beach

    Students will examine the causes of beach erosion and discuss how erosion affects a beach and its ‘stakeholders’. Students work in small groups to engineer solutions to beach erosion through brainstorming, planning, and designing prototypes for their model beaches.

    E07 – EQ Resistant Buildings

    Using the problem of earthquake-resistant building design, this module focuses on steps 5 and 6 of the engineering design process: constructing a prototype and testing the solution(s). Students will be introduced to the problem—damage due to seismic waves—and will build and test different block configurations to determine which model provides the best solution.

  • ES01-Oil Spill (Beta Version)

    This lesson provides students with a deeper understanding of the issues that surround an oil spill and highlights methods of environmental clean-up. Using a model of an oil spill in an “ocean”, students act as environmental engineers to test different methods for effectively cleaning up the spill, and determine the harmful effects that oil spills and their clean-up have on animals and the environment.

    ES02–Introduction to Tectonics

    This lesson is an introduction to basic plate tectonics. It includes a review of the earth’s internal structure and the formation of continents, oceans, and mountain ranges as a result of plate movement. There will be a discussion of the mechanism of earthquake production as the sudden release of rock under stress. The types of faults will be defined and the correlation of tectonic plate boundaries with earthquake epicenters will be discussed. The students will hypothesize about how actual geologic formations were made and will test their hypotheses using sponge and clay models of faults. This lesson is geared for students in grades 4-6.

    ES05–Topographic Maps

    This lesson reviews and expands on the basics of map literacy. In particular, it familiarizes students with topographic maps – a type of map that describes the physical features of an area of land. In the activity, all students will create a 3D model of a landform and then use it to create a 2D topographic map. Lengthy classes and older students (6th-8th) will also use a topographic map to create a 3D model.

    ES06-Lunar Landing Team Challenge

    In this team problem-solving exploration, an astronaut crew has suffered an emergency crash landing on the Moon 60 miles from their destination. Everything is damaged except for 14 specific items. Each student must decide which items are most useful, based on their knowledge of their Moon and resources available. Individuals then come together in teams to share ideas and negotiate team choices as they rank the salvaged items in terms of their importance in allowing them to reach their base. At the conclusion, item scores can be compared to real NASA scientist rankings.

    ES07–Celestial Mechanics

    Celestial mechanics deals with the movement or motions of celestial objects (objects found in space). In this lesson, students learn about the moon’s orbit around earth, and how the moon progresses through its eight major phases and why Earthlings have only ever seen one side of the moon! Older students and longer classes will also be able to explore solar and lunar eclipses.

    ES08-Solar System

    This lesson provides an overview of the objects that make up our solar system, with an emphasis on modeling the scale of both the sizes of objects and distances between them. Students will challenge their assumptions about the scale of our Solar System by building models in order to begin to visualize how much of space is really just… vast, empty space. They will use two separate models, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each.

    ES09–The Rock Cycle (Beta Version)  

    This lesson provides an overview of the Rock Cycle, highlighting common rocks and the processes that form them. The three rock types found on Earth (igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic) are discussed and their specific characteristics are described. Students will examine rock samples, note similarities, classify them by rock type, and identify them. 

    ES10-Fossils

    Fossils are fundamental to discovering information about the Earth’s past inhabitants. This module provides students the opportunity to excavate fossils from rock. Students will then use their fossils to reconstruct and analyze a fossilized skeleton for clues to the type of creature that existed during the late Jurassic period.

    ES11–Stars

    This module provides a brief introduction to the basic structure of a main-sequence star, some of the observations that allow astrophysicists to learn about stars, and the use of the Hertzsprung-Russell (HR) diagram, a powerful tool based on temperature and brightness data for thousands of stars. The H-R diagram is used in this lesson to determine the age of a star cluster. Stellar evolution may be introduced and discussed if time and student understanding allows. This lesson is geared towards older (6th – 8th grade) students.

    ES12–Water Cycle

    This module introduces how water cycles through different forms and storage types on Earth and in Earth’s atmosphere. Students hypothesize about the path water takes through the water cycle. Each student will act as a water molecule and move around the room to model the path that a water droplet might take. The class will then identify benefits and limitations of this water cycle model.  

    ES13–Soil Nutrient Cycles and Soil Chemistry (Beta Version)

    Plants get much of what they need from sunlight, air, and water, but they also need nutrients that come from the soil.  In this lesson, students perform tests of the concentrations of the soil nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK), and, time allowing, a test of soil pH. The activity is a multistep process that allows students to practice measuring, following directions, and evaluating their results by comparing to a standard.  Both tests use commercially-available kits, and students may bring in their own soil samples to test.

    ES14–Soil Properties

    This lesson introduces students to the characteristics and formation of soil. In order to answer the question of which soil is best for a tomato plant, students examine the color, texture, and field capacity (a measure of how much water soil can hold and make available to plants) of different soils.

    ES15–Seismic Waves

    This lesson is an introduction to the concept that S- and P-waves travel at different speeds away from the epicenter of an earthquake, and explains how we can take advantage of this fact in order to locate the epicenter. After a brief review of basic earthquake plate tectonics, S- and P-waves will be defined and explained with a demonstration using multiple Slinky toys. Students will then be challenged to locate the epicenter of an earthquake by using data from the timing of S- and P-waves to triangulate on a map. This lesson is geared towards older (6th-8th grade) students.

    ES16–Weather Basics – Rising Air and Falling Rain (Beta Version)

    Using a series of demonstrations and activities, students will learn about how clouds form and the role that air temperature and moisture have in this phenomenon. They will also see how these factors allow clouds to ultimately produce rain or other forms of precipitation.

    ES17-Meteorology and Weather Mapping (Beta Version)

    In this lesson, students will learn about weather patterns, weather symbols, and how to interpret a weather map. They will then use the skills they have learned to highlight the weather on a national weather map and identify pressure systems and weather fronts. This lesson is geared towards older (6th-8th grade) students. Prerequisites: Students should have seen the module ES16 Weather, or have a strong background in weather basics, including air pressure and weather fronts. The introduction for this lesson should serve as a brief review of air masses, pressure systems, and weather fronts so that the weather mapping activity can be the main focus of this lesson.

    ES18-Understanding the Asthenosphere (Beta Version)

    The asthenosphere is generally presumed to be a solid, but it is a solid that can flow over long time  periods. This lesson gives the students hands-on practice with two different viscoelastic materials that also exhibit the behaviors of both solids and liquids in order to promote understanding of the properties of the Earth’s asthenosphere.

  • LS04–C. Elegans* (Beta Version)

    In this lesson students are introduced to one of the most simple—yet powerful—model organisms, the microscopic roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). Students will conduct a very simple controlled experiment to test the preference of C. elegans for different odors. With this chemotaxis test, students will be able to understand the basics of the sense of smell and visualize the nervous system in action. This lesson is intended for older (6th-8th grade) students. Due to the timing constraints of the experiment, this module requires a minimum 60-minute class. 

    LS05-Food Webs

    This module teaches the basics of food webs. Students first construct a food web model for a simplified Yellowstone ecosystem. They then consider what would happen to the ecosystem if the food web were disrupted by the removal of a native species and/or the introduction of an invasive species.

    LS08–Owls!

    There are many physical and behavioral adaptations that make owls excellent (nocturnal) predators. Students learn about several of these including stereo eyesight, keen hearing (and uneven ears), and silent feathers. Students then examine an owl pellet and identify the bones found within.

    LS10–Population and Sustainability

    This lesson introduces population-related concepts, focusing on those relating to human impact. The lesson utilizes demonstrations and videos to explore how the Earth’s human population has grown and how limited our resources are. Then students (unsuspectingly) explore the concept of the Tragedy of the Commons through a group ‘fishing’ activity, culminating in a discussion of the Tragedy of the Commons and how we can stop or prevent them.

    LS18-A Vitamin C Experiment

    Students learn about the relationship between nutrition and fresh/processed foods, then verify this information by measuring the concentration of vitamin C in different forms of orange juice.

    LS22-Photosynthesis-The Game

    Students work in pairs to model photosynthesis through an interactive game. From their game evidence, students then develop an argument that plants need sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water to make food.

    LS23-Tree Identification (Beta Version)

    Students will use a dichotomous key to identify trees by their leaves. Students will learn the vocabulary necessary to describe the leaves in order to identify the trees from which they came. Students will also compare conifers and broadleaf trees, discuss the function of the leaf, and talk about the advantages of each type of leaf.

    LS24–Food Additives

    This module allows students to become more aware of what they eat and why as we explore a variety of food additives prevalent in the modern diet of processed foods and how they are used.

    LS25–Plant Structure and Function

    In this lesson, students will learn about the main structures of a flowering plant (root, stem, leaf and flower/fruit) and will discuss the function of each component. A dissection of common edible plants will allow students to locate relevant plant parts and make everyday connections with plant anatomy.

    LS26-Carbon Cycling- A Virtual Lab (Beta Version)

    This lesson provides an opportunity to investigate the processes of cellular respiration and photosynthesis in living organisms and will highlight how carbon dioxide and oxygen cycle through a biological system. During the virtual activity, students observe the interaction of a snail and a water plant in a closed environment and use a chemical indicator to determine the presence of carbon dioxide in the environment. The experiment will be instructor-led, with the focus on student analysis of the experimental data. This lesson is intended for older (6th-8th grade) students.

    LS27-Investigating Photosynthesis (Beta Version)

    Students carry out an experimental lab investigation of photosynthesis using the floating leaf disk procedure to measure oxygen production. Groups will compare results of their experiment, carried out in the presence of carbon dioxide, with the instructor’s experiment, run without carbon dioxide. Especially long classes may also investigate the effect of the color of light on the rate of photosynthesis. Due to the timing constraints of the experiment, this module requires a minimum 60-minute class. This lesson is geared towards older (7th-8th grade) students.

    LS28–Camouflage & Mimicry

    Camouflage and mimicry are explored as examples of animal adaptations that increase chances of survival. Students play a hunting game to gain an appreciation of the problems that these adaptations pose for predators. Classes with more time can continue to explore different examples of camouflage and mimicry.

    LS42-Mechanisms of Biodiversity in Populations (Beta Version)

    This module explores the mechanisms by which biodiversity (genetic variation) is created within populations. It explains the concepts of mutation, gene flow, genetic drift, and natural selection, and how these mechanisms work in different ways to create genetic variation in a population. In the activity, students will use beads and event cards to simulate how a population of beetles changes over time. This lesson is intended for older (6th-8th grade) students. Students should be familiar with DNA, genes, and heritable traits before this lesson is taught.

  • P02-Electrical Conductivity

    In this introduction to electrical conductors and insulators, students are challenged to build a simple circuit, test and classify various materials as conductors or insulators, and add a switch to the circuit. Students will then use the evidence gathered in their exploration to explain why wires are made of a copper core encased in a plastic coating.

    P04-Gravity

    This exploration-driven lesson uses an interactive physical model of a gravity well to introduce students to the laws governing the gravitational interactions of objects. A qualitative understanding of Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation, the nature of planetary and comet orbits, and the use of gravity in changing spacecraft trajectories are all touched upon. This lesson is geared towards older (6th-8th grade) students.

    P05–Pendulums

    Students are introduced to pendulums and their periodic motion. They design and execute an experiment to determine whether bob mass, chain length, or displacement angle affects the period of a pendulum. This lesson is appropriate for older (6th-8th grade) students.

    P06–Ballistics (Beta Version)

    This module is a qualitative introduction to projectile motion. Students first independently compare the paths followed by objects simply dropped from a height (that is, having zero horizontal velocity) with those of objects pushed off an elevated surface (with nonzero horizontal velocity). Student observations are used as a segue into an explanation of velocity as a quantity that has both size and direction, and which can be understood in terms of its horizontal and vertical components. The lesson concludes with an activity testing the horizontal range of a projectile as a function of its launch angle. Students will make a graph of the range vs. launch angle and will discover the angle at which a projectile travels the furthest horizontal distance after launching. This lesson is aimed at older (7th-8th grade) students.

    P07-Electrostatics (Beta Version)

    There are two types of electricity: current and static. This lesson focuses on static electricity, which is a charge separation (buildup of an electric charge) on the surface of an object. This is different from current electricity, which is the flow of electrons. During the activity, students will assemble an electroscope, an instrument used to detect the presence and magnitude of an electric charge on an object, and then test different materials to determine which build up more or less electrostatic charge.

    P08-Circuits

    This lesson focuses on the path of electrons through a closed circuit. Students will experiment by creating three circuits with light bulbs: a simple circuit, a series circuit, & a parallel circuit. They will use their observations to explain why a string of lights wired in series will all go out if one bulb is removed, but not if the lights are wired in parallel. Students will then explain that energy is converted into different forms by electrical circuits.

    P09–Electromagnetism

    This lesson introduces electromagnetism as students explore electric current producing a magnetic field. Students build and test their own electromagnets, gaining an experiential understanding of how electromagnets work and how to modify the magnetic fields they produce.

    P10-Sound

    This lesson provides an introduction to sound, a form of energy transmitted as a longitudinal wave with a wavelength, frequency, and amplitude. A series of workstations allows students to explore how the pitch (frequency) and volume (amplitude) of sound waves can be changed in different homemade musical instruments.

    P13– Light Reflection, Transmission, and Absorption (Beta Version)

    This lesson introduces students to the idea that reflected or emitted light is the only thing we see; we perceive this as seeing objects. Students will explore how white light interacts with various objects. They will then observe that white light is made of all the colors of light, and will finish by exploring how filters can block all but one color of light, connecting this to the ideas of light absorption and transmission.

    P14-Light Diffraction (Beta Version)

    Students will study the wave nature of light by carrying out a double-slit experiment. We will use graphical representations of waves to explain that the resulting interference pattern provides evidence that light is a wave. This is an advanced lesson intended for older (7th-8th grade) students.

    P16–Energy

    This module familiarizes students with various forms of energy using demonstrations and multiple workstations. It also introduces the First Law of Thermodynamics (i.e. “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.”) through direct observations during activities.

    P17-Density

    Students explore density with a boat-related challenge and a polydensity bottle. Students construct boats out of aluminum foil to float in small ponds. Younger students measure the mass that their boats can support before sinking; older (6th-8th grade) students calculate the predicted capacity of their boats and then test them in order to compare their prediction to the actual maximum load.

    P19-Friction (Beta Version)

    This lesson provides students with an introduction to friction by exploring the factors affecting friction and discovering two types of friction (kinetic vs. static). Students can explore the differences in frictional forces for different materials or the effect of the weight of an object on the frictional forces it experiences. The concluding discussion allows students to compare their results to those of their classmates in order to gain a more complete picture of the nature of frictional forces. This lesson is geared towards older (6th-8th grade) students.

  • SP00-First Day

    This is an introductory lesson for the first day of teaching in your classroom. It serves to introduce the students to the Science from Scientists (SfS) program, its methods & rules, and the scientists. This lesson will be paired with another activity-based mini lesson, which will vary based on instructor/teacher preference and class time/requirements.

    SP01-Procedural Thinking

    The ability to create and follow clear, ordered plans is a vital life skill and is especially important in science. Thinking in a stepwise fashion is necessary for making just about everything, e.g., furniture, lasagna, computer programs, and laboratory experiments. Students will experience this mode of thinking from the point of view of both creator and user. They will first build an object with blocks and write clear directions to allow their partner to replicate their creation; they will then try to follow the written directions of their partner. Students will then discuss what could have made their procedures easier to follow.

    SP02–The Observation Challenge (Beta Version)

    This lesson challenges students’ observational skills—one of the most important basic scientific process skills. Students will learn how to distinguish between subjective vs. objective observations and between quantitative vs. qualitative observations. They will test these skills with a mystery object challenge: students will need to observe objects, describe them, and see if their observations allow their peers to correctly guess their object.

    SP03–Mystery Tubes

    This lesson gives students experience developing a physical model in order to understand how an unknown system (a mystery tube) works. Students will observe the system, then design, build, and test their own models so that they behave the same way as the unknown system.

    SP04-The Classification Challenge (Beta Version)

    We classify things on a nearly daily basis, as a way to organize observations, describe relationships between different things, and communicate clearly with others. In this lesson, students will understand the importance of classification in scientific practices and will come up with their own classification system for a collection of random objects.

    SP05–Measurement & Estimation

    Students will learn the difference between estimating and measuring. The difference between precision and accuracy will be explained. Class measurements will be plotted to demonstrate the importance of taking multiple measurements. Students will be taught that precision is largely a function of the measurement tool, and accuracy is a function of the user. Advanced students will be introduced to the concept of significant figures. This lesson is aimed at 4th – 6th graders, or students who are not familiar with measurements and estimations.

    SP08–Experimental Design (Beta Version)

    Using a ruler drop procedure (testing reaction time) as a starting point, students will develop a testable hypothesis and design an experiment around it. Students will identify independent, dependent, and controlled variables and outline an experimental procedure. They will then critique another group’s experimental design. If there is time, students may carry out the experiment in class.

    SP11-Mean, Median, and Mode (Beta Version)

    In this lesson students explore different ways to analyze data including calculating the central tendencies of mean, median, and mode. Students will focus on correlating their data to real world applications.

    SP12-Normal Distribution in Measurements (with Plinko!) (Beta Version)

    This lesson provides a conceptual introduction to the normal distribution, its occurrence in nature, manufacturing, and scientific measurements, and its usefulness in analyzing data to minimize the effect of random errors. Students generate simulated data sets with approximately normally-distributed error, exchange them with each other, make histograms with the data, and analyze it to find the central value. Analysis may be visual, numerical, or both.

    SP21- Mini Lesson Nature of Science

    This activity is for use on the first day of teaching. The purpose of this short activity is to get students to begin thinking like scientists and to demonstrate the importance (and excitement) of being an active participant in the scientific learning process. With scientific inquiry, students will begin to appreciate that as their knowledge of science increases, their scientific perspectives will also change. This hands-on lesson will prepare students for the active learning they will be involved with throughout the year in their science classes.

    SP22- Team Building Mini Lesson Cup Stacking

    This activity can be used on the first day of teaching following the introductory lesson (SP00) or at the start of a new semester. The purpose of this short activity is to promote team building. The majority of lessons that we teach during the academic year involve group work. Developing good teamwork skills at the beginning of the year will prepare students for the active group work they will be involved in throughout the year in their science classes.

     

  • T01-Binary Code and Communication (Beta Version)

    This lesson provides an introduction to technologies used to communicate information. Students will learn about the components of a communication system and some of the machines and devices used in such a system. The activities provide students with an opportunity to both encode and decode English alphabetic characters to the binary number base, which is the system that computers use to communicate information. This lesson is an introductory lesson for students who have no prior experience with the topic, though it is best suited to older (6th-8th grade) students.

    T02-Biometrics (Beta Version)

    In this lesson, students learn about using measurements or natural patterns of body parts (eyes, fingerprints, etc.) as means of identifying individuals and how those unique body patterns can act as security identifiers in the technological world. Students will then design and measure their own hand geometry biometric.

    T03-Conditionals in Code (Beta Version)

    This foundational lesson introduces the concept of a conditional statement, relating it initially to students’ everyday decision-making processes, and then using a game to allow students to observe the execution of conditional statements as they would occur within the context of running a computer program.

    T04-Cryptography

    Ciphers and codes have been around since the ancient Egyptians, and are one of the oldest forms of secret communication. Cryptography is the science of encoding and decoding secret messages. Students will be introduced to a series of ciphers, including transposition and substitution ciphers, and will discover techniques for encoding/decoding secret messages. Younger classes will explore letter groupings, the Jefferson Wheel, and the scytale and pigpen ciphers. Older classes will complete an alphabetic letter frequency analysis and learn how this process can be used to break a code. All students will investigate a monoalphabetic substitution cipher using a Caesar Cipher Wheel.

    T05-e-Trashing our Future

    This lesson provides students with an opportunity to examine the increasing volume of e-waste in society and how our country is dealing with our technology habits. Students will analyze authentic data and explore this rapidly growing problem to gain an increased awareness of e-waste and its effect on global communities. Students will learn how they can help make a difference by properly disposing or recycling their e-waste.

    T06-Building a Webpage

    What happens “behind the screen” when we click on a button or type in a URL on our computer? This module presents the basic structure of a web page and will help students understand what happens when they visit a webpage. Student teams compete to “load” their webpage fastest, modeling the operation of a browser: they use simple HTML commands, travel through a model network to retrieve files from servers, and assemble the text and images to create the finished webpage.

    T07-Digital Footprint

    After an introduction to the idea that we leave a digital footprint when using the Internet, students will be given social media profiles and search histories of Internet users. They will then be asked to infer personal data about these people based on the information they can gather from their social media sites. Students will then decide what material is appropriate and safe to share online and what material should be kept private.