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 (Recently Revised)
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.
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 Extraction (Recently Revised)
This lesson provides an introduction to the location and function of DNA in different cells. Students will critically think about the process of DNA extraction using a model and then each student will get to extract DNA from a strawberry (or other plant)! Afterwards, students will learn more about the similarities and differences between our DNA and other organism’s genetic content.
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.
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 Typing (Recently Revised)
Students will learn what determines a person’s blood type through a blood-typing activity using simulated blood. From the results, the class will discuss which blood types are compatible and what happens if you give incompatible blood to a patient during a blood transfusion. Longer classes will also examine human blood smears under the microscope and discuss the function of various blood components.
AP07-Spread of Infectious Disease (Recently Revised)
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.
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 allows students to explore the role of decomposers, the flow of matter, and the cycle of energy in an ecosystem through the dissection of a preserved earthworm. After a brief introduction to the dissection procedure, students work in pairs to discover how the earthworm’s simple, yet complete, digestive system plays a crucial role in the environment.
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 (Recently Revised)
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.
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.
AP17-Model Lung (Recently Revised)
Students are introduced to the structure and function of human lungs through the use of models. Students are provided with a variety of building materials to construct a model lung and diaphragm to examine how the lung and diaphragm work together to achieve breathing.
AP18-The Mammalian Brain (Recently Revised)
Students examine and ask questions about preserved sheep brains. Students identify which questions can be answered by observation alone, and learn about the major substructures of the brain.
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 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.
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.
C01-Properties of Water (Recently Revised)
This lesson demonstrates the unique properties of water through a series of simple experiments that encourage students to ask questions about what they observe. Students will explore cohesion, adhesion, and surface tension. The lesson culminates with a discussion of student observations and modeling of water molecule’s interactions.
C02–Chemical Identification (Recently Revised)
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) based on their solubility in different solvents and simple chemical reactions with acetic acid and iodine. After the testing, students will learn how to distinguish between physical and chemical properties of substances and how these can be used to identify substances.
C03–Polymer Investigation (Recently Revised)
Students create cross-linked polymers and investigate their polymer’s behavior. Younger students (3rd-5th) will use pre-made solutions (e.g., with cornstarch) to make different polymers within a group of 4. They will then ask and answer a testable question to compare their group’s four polymers, e.g., which one bounces the highest. Older students (6th-8th) will attempt to make a polymer that will stretch the longest without breaking by varying the amount of water and borax solution used. Students in all grades will have the opportunity to present their results to the class.
C04–Separation of Substances (Recently Revised)
Students design and implement a multi-step process to separate three different materials. They then assess the effectiveness of their separation techniques by comparing the recovered vs. initial mass of materials. After discussing their results, students compare their techniques to the methods used for separation at recycling facilities.
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.
C07–What’s In Our Food? (Recently Revised)
Students start by thinking about the prompt “You are what you eat”. They discuss what food, and therefore people, are made of. Small groups then design tests to identify the presence of different nutrient molecules (sugar, starch, protein, fat) and test common foods for these molecules. After testing, groups share their results and conclusions. Longer classes may play a game classifying foods according to the categories in the USDA “Choose My Plate” graphic.
Students are introduced to the technique of chromatography as a way to separate compounds. In the activity, students will consider what type of questions this technique can be used to answer, and design and carry out at least one chromatography experiment. While the experiment is running, the students will participate in a discussion of chromatography and interpreting chromatograms. After the chromatograms have developed, students will draw conclusions about the pigments making up each marker ink, and, time permitting, design and execute a follow-up experiment.
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.
C10-A Vitamin C Experiment (Recently Revised)
This lesson introduces students to the useful chemistry process of titration through an exploration of vitamin C in drinks. In the exploration, students predict and then measure the amount of vitamin C in selected drinks by counting the number of drops needed for a color change of an indicator solution. Students are then challenged to explain the molecular processes happening during the titration experiment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (Recently Revised)
This module focuses on model testing of various earthquake-resistant designs. Students will build different block configurations and test them using shake tables to determine which model provides the best protection in a simulated earthquake. Students will then identify benefits and drawbacks of our models.
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 (Recently Revised with New Activities)
This lesson is an introduction to plate tectonics and the structure of the earth. Students will first think about how mountains can be formed. They will then work in pairs to construct a puzzle model of Pangea. After having time to build and revise their model, students will analyze a modern-day map of the tectonic plates, model the plate boundaries using putty and tiles, and then return to the opening question about mountain formation.
This lesson touches an intersection of science and social studies by familiarizing students with topographic maps. Students create a 3D model of a landform and use it to create a 2D topographic map. Students will then evaluate their understanding of contour lines by interpreting another group’s map.
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- Moon Phases & Eclipses (Recently Revised)
Celestial mechanics refers to the movement of celestial objects (objects found in space). In this lesson, students learn how the geometry of the Moon’s orbit around Earth and the Earth’s orbit around the Sun result in the phases of the Moon that we observe. They will determine how the Moon progresses through its eight major phases and may discuss why most Earthlings have only ever seen one side of the Moon! Older students and longer classes will also be able to explore the causes of solar and lunar eclipses, and their relationships to the phases of the Moon.
ES08-Solar System (Recently Revised)
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.
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.
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 (Recently Revised with New Activities)
In this module students learn about the variety of stars in the Universe and how our Sun compares to other stars. Students work in pairs to build a Hertzsprung-Russell (H-R) diagram, a powerful tool based on temperature and brightness of stars used by astronomers to study the stars. Students then analyze data from the H-R diagram and learn what the position of a star on H-R diagram can tell us about the star.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 upper portion of the Earth’s mantle, called the asthenosphere, is a special type of solid material that can flow under steady pressure over long time periods. Such a material is called a viscoelastic solid, and behaves as a liquid under steady pressure but as a solid in response to sudden shock. This lesson gives students hands-on practice with two different viscoelastic materials – Silly Putty & oobleck – that also exhibit the behaviors of both solids and liquids in order to promote understanding of the properties of the Earth’s asthenosphere, and give them the opportunity to use these substances to model the movement of tectonic plates in contact with the 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 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 Pellets (Recently Revised)
Students learn about the adaptations owls have that allow them to swallow their prey whole – bones, fur, and teeth! They will then dissect an owl pellet with a partner to gather data about the owl’s diet. Students can go on to learn about several other owl adaptations including stereo eyesight, keen hearing (and uneven ears), and silent feathers.
LS10–Sustainability-Fishing for Answers (Recently Revised)
This lesson uses a fishing game to explore the concepts of sustainability and the tragedy of the commons. Initially, students play a round of the game with no communication allowed. Once most “villages” run out of fish, groups get a chance to collaborate to devise strategies that will allow them to fish sustainably. After the activity, students present their individual group strategies and the class chooses a strategy that will allow them to continue to fish indefinitely.
LS22-Photosynthesis-The Game (Recently Revised)
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.
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.
LS25–Plants- Structures and Functions (Recently Revised)
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. Observation of common edible plants will allow students to locate relevant plant parts and make everyday connections with 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. 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.
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 (Recently Revised)
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.
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 (Recently Revised)
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.
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–Pendulum Patterns (Recently Revised)
Students are introduced to pendulums and their periodic motion. After experimenting individually with pendulums of different lengths and bob masses, they systematically measure the period of pendulums with different lengths. Students will observe that a longer pendulum correlates to a longer period and use this pattern to predict the period for a fourth length.
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.
P08-Circuits (Recently Revised)
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 (Recently Revised)
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 (Recently Revised)
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.
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.
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.
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 (Recently Revised)
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.
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.
This lesson provides students with an introduction to friction as a force that opposes motion. Students experiment with different surfaces and classify them as having low, medium, or high friction. Longer classes may investigate the effect of added mass on the force of friction. This lesson is geared towards younger students. A 6th-8th grade version of this lesson is also available.
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 give and follow instructions is an important life and science skill. Students will experience this procedural thinking from the point of view of both creator and user. After a whole-class replicating a drawing demonstration, students will first create an object with building bricks and write clear how-to instructions for building. Students will then be challenged to use only the written directions of their partner to replicate an unseen structure. Students will then compare their completed designs, critique their partner’s instructions, and reflect on their own.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, or How to Speak Computer (Recently Revised)
This introductory lesson provides a mathematical and conceptual basis for understanding how computers handle information. The first activity provides students with an opportunity to practice recognizing numbers written in the binary number base, which is the system that computers use to communicate with each other. In the second activity, students will both encode and decode English alphabetic characters to/from binary, illustrating how computers can be designed to communicate information to humans.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.