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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 kits by region.
* Lessons marked by an asterisk require extra notice to prepare.
By competing to construct a cell model, students learn about its components and their functions. The metaphor of the cell as a city is used to make the information more accessible.
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.
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).
This module covers dominant and recessive genes, along with complete and incomplete dominance. Through the activity, students delve more into 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 the favorable traits passed down to future generations. For further application of the lesson, the importance of preserving ecosystems, along with environmental health, can be emphasized. This lesson is geared towards older (6th-8thgrade) students.
This module is a hands-on simulation of DNA mutations and their effects on protein encoding genes. Students are provided with DNA gene sequences, which they must first transcribe into mRNA and then translate into a protein. Students have the opportunity to investigate the effects of three types of mutations (insertion, deletion and substitution) on their gene sequence or to evaluate how differing gene sequences contribute to diversity within a species. This lesson is designed for 7th and 8th grade students.
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.
This lesson introduces the study of epidemiology and focuses on the transmission of infectious disease. The importance of disease mapping and methods of preventing infection are emphasized. This lesson is geared towards 6th-8th grade students.
This lesson provides an exploration in electrophoresis using wet and dry activities. The wet activity is to run an actual gel electrophoresis, which is typically done to separate DNA in a laboratory setting. In this lesson the students will be running food dyes instead of DNA. The dry activities are designed (1) to convey the concept that the gel matrix acts as a molecular sieve, (2) to simulate the methodology used to generate a DNA profile (also known as a DNA fingerprint), and (3) to use a fictitious case study to analyze a DNA profile to solve a crime and/or design a drug therapy. This lesson is geared towards older (6 – 8th grade) students.
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.
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.
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. We end the lesson with a review of mammalian eye anatomy and the basic mechanics of vision.
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.
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.
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.
The human brain is highly adaptable. This activity demonstrates how the brain learns to adapt to a new 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 connections between neurons (synapses) in the brain being made stronger and weaker during the learning process.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For younger students, this module introduces the three commonly-observed states of matter (solid, liquid, gas), the most commonly-occurring one (plasma, which makes up the stars), and allows them to observe many of the transitions between the different states. For older students, the topic is connected to heat transfer, as they consider how the flow of energy between materials allows the transitions to occur.
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 hypothesize about how long it will take a metal marble to travel through each fluid and make predictions about how viscous each one is compared to the others. Students use the data they collect to calculate the average speed of the marble as it travels through each liquid and see if their hypotheses were correct. Older students/lengthy classes can complete the mathematical calculations to determine the actual viscosity of each of the liquids tested. For these classes, instructors should consider teaching Physics 19: Friction first.
E01-Stress and Strain (Lesson currently available, updates coming soon!)
This lesson introduces the important mechanical concepts of stress and strain regarding material strength. It explains strength from a materials science/crystalline solid perspective, and describes material strengthening techniques. After some linguine strength demos, students explore stress and strain through three stations: polarization in plastics, elasticity vs. plasticity in rubber bands, and work hardening in steel paper clips. This lesson is aimed at older (6th-8th grade) students.
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.
This lesson is a basic introduction to engineering and design using the 8 steps of the Engineering and Design Process.
This lesson focuses on the redesign step of the Engineering and Design Process. Students will begin with a flawed prototype made of Legos that must be redesigned and reconstructed based on certain constraints. The flawed prototype will be presented in SolidWorks, a 3D software program, to introduce students to the concept of design with computers. It is recommended that instructors begin with E03: Introduction to Engineering and Design if students are unfamiliar with the Engineering and Design Process.
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 three steps. After the devices are built, the class will identify the simple machines used in their designs.
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.
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.
This lesson provides students with a deeper understanding of the issues that surround an oil spill and highlights methods of environmental cleanup. Students will investigate how oil spills negatively impact the environment by destroying habitats, endangering animals, and threatening our food supply. Students create a small model of an oil spill, act as environmental engineers to test different methods for effectively cleaning up the spill, and determine the harmful effects that oil spills and their cleanup have on animals and the environment.
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.
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.
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.
This lesson provides an overview of the objects that make up our solar system, with an emphasis on scale. Students will learn about the vastness of space and will challenge their assumptions about the scale of our Solar System by building their own Solar System model to scale, in order to visualize how it really looks.
The three rock types found on Earth (igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic) are discussed and their specific characteristics are identified. Students will examine and identify rock samples using a dichotomous key.
Fossils are fundamental to discovering information about the Earth’s past inhabitants. This module briefly explores the various time periods known to man and 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.
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.
This module presents a game that explains how water cycles through different forms and storage types on Earth and in Earth’s atmosphere. Students act as water molecules and move around the room to the different places water is found on Earth. This lesson is geared towards younger (4th & 5th grade) students.
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.
This lesson introduces students to the characteristics and formation of soil. In the hands-on portion of the lesson, students examine the color, texture, and field capacity of soil. The debrief includes a discussion of the importance of soil, and the significance of these properties to the ability of soil to support plant life. This lesson is appropriate for 4th-8th grade students.
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.
This lesson provides an introduction to weather and its key components that influence it. Key components include temperature, humidity, pressure, ocean currents and air currents. The four main types of precipitation are also included in the lesson. This lesson was designed to focus on weather concepts that are introduced in 4th and 5th grade, or for students who have not yet had an introduction to weather.
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.
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.
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.
This module teaches the basics of the energy pyramid and food webs. Students learn about the different trophic levels of the energy pyramid and how to identify organisms in food webs at these trophic levels. They then construct a food web model for a simplified Yellowstone ecosystem. This lesson is geared towards younger (4th and 5th) grade students as an introduction to the topic.
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.
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.
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.
This lesson examines the process of photosynthesis that plants undergo to create their own energy. Students create physical bead and pipe cleaner molecules in order to model the process of photosynthesis. This lesson is geared towards younger (4th & 5th grade) students. For older students (6th-8th grade) that have some familiarity with photosynthesis, consider LS27: Investigating Photosynthesis.
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.
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.
This lesson begins with a broad overview of the plant kingdom and classifies plants into groups according to the presence/absence of a vascular system, seeds, and flowers/fruits. Topics of discussion include photosynthesis, pollination, and plants effects on the weather. The lesson ends with a student investigation and dissection of plant anatomy.
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. This lesson is geared towards older (6th-8th grade) students. A solid understanding of photosynthesis is critical to successfully completing this activity.
After a brief review of photosynthesis and plant leaf anatomy, students carry out an experimental lab investigation of photosynthesis using the floating leaf disk procedure to measure oxygen production. Groups will examine the affects of temperature, light, or carbon dioxide 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 (6th-8th grade) students. A solid understanding of photosynthesis is critical to successfully completing this activity. Classes unfamiliar with the photosynthetic process should complete LS22 Photosynthesis.
Camouflage & mimicry are explored as examples of adaptations adopted by animals to increase their chances of survival. Students play a tabletop hunting game as desert island castaways to gain appreciation of the problems that camouflage adaptations pose for predators.
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. Natural selection is explored further with a few examples from different species and time-scales. In the activity, students will use beads and event cards to simulate how populations change over time, collect data, and plot a graph. 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.
This lesson is a basic introduction to electricity and circuits for younger audiences or for audiences with no prior exposure to the topic. Students create a basic circuit, test the conductance of various materials and examine a battery made out of produce. This lesson is geared towards younger (4th – 5th grade) audiences. A better choice for older students would be our lesson on Circuits or Ohm’s Law.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This lesson is a more advanced version of the P02: Electricity lesson. The basics of electricity are reviewed and circuits with lamps in series vs. parallel are explored in depth.
This lesson introduces electromagnetism both conceptually and practically. Students learn that electric current can produce a magnetic field. Conceptually, students see that a magnetic field is the same thing whether it comes from an electromagnet or an “ordinary” magnet (called a permanent magnet). On the practical side, students build and test their own electromagnets, gaining an experiential understanding of how they work and how to modify the magnetic fields they produce.
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 types of homemade musical instruments.
This station-based module introduces students to the properties of light. All students will explore absorption, transmission, refraction and reflection, and use spectrometers to examine white light. Younger students (4th-5th grade) should also be able to identify transparent, translucent, and opaque objects. Older students (6th-8th grade) will learn about the Law of Reflection.
This module presents the concept of energy as the ability to do work and familiarizes students with many of the various forms of energy – by direct observation whenever possible. It also introduces the First Law of Thermodynamics (i.e. “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.”). Lecture demonstrations and a series of workstations allow students to observe a variety of conversions of one form of energy to another. This lesson is aimed at a 4th to 6th grade audience or for students who need an introduction to energy.
The concepts of density and buoyancy are explained with several compelling demonstrations. Students then construct boats out of aluminum foil. Younger (4th-5th grade) students measure how much mass their boats can support before sinking; older (6th-8th grade) students also calculate the predicted capacity of their boats, and then test them in order to compare their prediction to the actual maximum load.
This lesson is a more advanced version of our lesson on Circuits. Students are assumed to have a thorough understanding of the basics of electricity. Ohm’s Law is discussed in depth and resistors are introduced as useful circuit elements. The use of multiple resistors in a circuit is explored; specifically the effect of using them in series vs. parallel. This lesson is aimed at older (6-8th grade) students. For an introduction to the topic of circuits and electricity, see our lesson on Electricity.
This lesson provides students with an introduction to the concept of friction and a chance to discover two types of friction. Students explore the differences in frictional forces for different materials through experimentation and compare their results to those of their classmates in order to draw conclusions about the nature of frictional forces. Advanced students or lengthy classes may present their results graphically. This lesson is geared towards older (6th-8th grade) students.
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.
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.
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.
Observations in science are crucial to the development and sharing of ideas and theories. This hands-on module introduces the scientific method and focuses on the importance of making detailed observations, writing valid hypotheses and developing and building models that support these hypotheses.
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.
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.
In this lesson, students will compare a poorly-defined scientific question with a well-defined question that can be tested by a simple controlled experiment.
SP11–Exploratory Data Analysis (Lesson currently available, updates coming soon!)
An introduction to “data science” through a discussion of exploratory data analysis including measures of central tendency (mean, median, and mode), as well as histograms, quartiles, and box plots. Coverage of how scientists measure certainty is possible (t-test) with a longer period for older students.
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 (Beta Version)
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.
After a brief discussion of the skills necessary for good teamwork, students work in groups to solve a difficult problem and make complex decisions. In this team problem-solving activity, astronaut crews have suffered an emergency crash landing on the moon 60 miles from their destination. Everything is damaged except for 14 specific items. Crew members must work together 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. The lesson ends with a reflection of teamwork.
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.
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.