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.
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-(New Lesson Coming for AY20!)
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 organisms’ 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.
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.
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 (Recently Revised)
This lesson explores frog anatomy and how frog structures and functions relate to human anatomy. Students will dissect a frog in small groups. They will identify the organs and then classify them according to their functional group. After the dissection, students will compare their findings and classifications with other students and present on one system.
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. Students observe the contraction of the iris and focusing of the lens, as well as the features of the retina by experimenting with peripheral vision and finding their blind spot. Longer classes will also be able to explore afterimages. This lesson, though fun as a stand-alone, is intended be taught after AP14: Eye Dissection to enhance students’ appreciation of the structures they have observed in the dissection of the sheep eye, by allowing them to experiment with those structures in their own eyes.
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 (Recently Revised)
Students prepare for the dissection by sketching and asking questions about the heart. After an orientation to the heart’s surface features and identification of external structures and vessels, students work in small groups to complete a dissection of a preserved sheep heart to identify key internal structures. Afterwards, the class will review the basic pathways of blood flow and the physiology of heart function.
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.
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.
AP19-Neurons (Recently Revised)
This lesson focuses on the human brain and its functional units, the neurons. Neurons (nerve cells) are specialized cells designed to transmit information to other neurons. The activity in this lesson allows students to explore the structure and function of neurons through the construction of models. Students will model nerve impulses and discuss how neurons send signals between the sensory and motor systems. This module works best if followed up with AP20: Experimenting with Our Brains.
The human brain is a 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 (Recently Revised)
This lesson is an introduction to the concept of hair analysis. Students use the medulla pattern of different species to solve a mock crime. Students then use claim, evidence, and reasoning to explain their theories about the crime. With enough time, students may also use prepared hair slides or a sample of their own hair to observe under a microscope..
Students self-discover which type of fingerprints they have before investigating the various ways of leaving behind, collecting, and analyzing prints. Students will explore fingerprint inking, dusting & lifting, and analysis.
AP40-Healing the Brain (New Lesson, Currently Only Available in Minnesota)
This module introduces students to neuromodulation (change in the excitability of neurons in a particular area of the brain) and how it can be used in simple electric devices to help patients recover from injury or disease. Students act as doctors to design a treatment plan for different case studies. This module is recommended for older (7th-8th grade) students. In addition, as a prerequisite, students will need to have completed (or have the equivalent background of) AP01: Cells & Organelles and AP18: The Mammalian Brain . Students would also benefit from having done AP19: Neurons and AP20: Experimenting with Our Brains.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
E08-Build a Magnet Detector (New Lesson)
Students design, build, and test a magnet detection device. During the testing process, they have the opportunity to observe that not all metals are magnetic. After testing, students will discuss the properties of the materials used in their own and their classmates’ devices that make them well- or poorly-suited to the task.
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.
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.
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.
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 (Recently Revised)
This lesson provides an overview of the Rock Cycle, highlighting common rocks and the processes that form them. Students will identify a set of rocks using a dichotomous key. They will then classify the rocks as igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic based on additional information and place their assigned rock on a rock cycle map. The class will review the rocks through mini-presentations given by each group.
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.
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.
ES20-Our Carbon Footprint (New Lesson)
Students learn what a carbon footprint is by playing the Carbon Footprint game and learning about different human activities that increase and decrease our carbon footprints. Students gain understanding on the types of decisions they can make in their daily lives to reduce their carbon footprints. Students also learn how carbon dioxide affects climate change.
LS04-Invasive Species (New Lesson)
Students explore what it means for species to be native, non-native, or invasive by using a game-model with different fish species. From their results, students identify what makes an organism invasive. They then discuss what to do with invasive species and are introduced to one method of eradication, the artificial predator Guardian LF1 robot from Robots in Service of the Environment (RSE).
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.
LS06-Population Changes (New Lesson)
In this lesson, students play an Oh Deer! game to learn about population dynamics. In this game, students observe the natural fluctuation of a population and the effect of limiting factors on population levels. After the game, students graph their data and analyze the effects of various limiting factors. Students discuss what defines the carrying capacity of a habitat and how carrying capacity may change over time. This lesson requires enough space for the whole class to walk around.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
P01-Introduction to Magnetism (New Lesson)
This module provides an experience-based introduction to the behavior and properties of magnetic materials. In the unstructured option, students use the class time to investigate the materials independently, while the structured option uses independent exploration as an introduction to specific challenges. Students will use different types of magnets and items including iron filings to explore the strength of magnetic forces, as well as what happens when magnets interact.
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.
P03-Collisions (New Lesson)
Students explore a “marble roller coaster” with two marbles that can collide with each other. Students ask questions about their observations and then test a few of their questions about force or energy with the apparatus. Groups describe their experiments and share the conclusions they draw based on their results.
P04a-Gravity (Recently Revised)
In this lesson for 6th-8th grade, students will use gravity wells to explore how mass and distance affect gravity. They then use their knowledge and the gravity wells to create models of the current solar system and its formation. The lesson wraps up with students considering the benefits and limitations of the gravity well models.
P04b-Gravity Basics (Recently Revised)
This lesson for 3rd-5th grade focuses on the force of gravity and how it affects objects. Students will experiment with gravity wells and marbles to model the effects of gravity. They will learn that gravity acts in a downward direction keeping us on the surface of the Earth. Students will also learn that gravity attracts objects together and acts at-a-distance. Finally, students will explore how mass and distance affect the strength of gravity on two objects.
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.
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.
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.
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.
P15-How Does Heat Flow? (New Lesson)
Students will experiment with the flow of thermal energy to and from materials that have different thermal conductivities, breaking the misconception that whether something “feels” cold or hot can give sufficient information about the material’s temperature. They will be introduced to the term “thermal conductivity” and, if time allows, use this knowledge to explain the design of and/or propose designs for insulated beverage carriers which minimize thermal energy transfer with the environment.
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.
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. Students will learn how to distinguish between observations (quantitative vs. qualitative), inferences, and opinions. 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.
SP05–Measuring Volume (New Lesson)
By exploring different methods to measure an object’s volume, students will gain a deeper understanding that volume is the space a substance occupies or contains. Students will get a chance to measure the volumes of at least three different 3D figures and explore measuring volume using unit cubes, rulers (& formulas if known), and/or water & graduated cylinders. Students will then share their results and discuss the pros and cons of each method. Older students will also get a chance to use volume by displacement with marbles.
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 (Recently Revised)
In this lesson, students explore different ways to analyze data including calculating the mean, median, and mode for a given data set. Students will collect measurements of height for students in the classroom to use as their data set.
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.
This mini-lesson consists of a fun pair of geometric puzzles. The first is relatively easy and quick; the second, which builds on the first, is more challenging. Together they are a metaphor for the practice of science: various sets of data are combined to form a coherent scientific theory, but when new data is found it may require scientists to revise theories and reevaluate their previous ideas about the connections between the data.
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.
T02-Biometrics (Recently Revised)
This lesson provides an introduction to biometrics, an important security field in our digital lives. Small groups will design and test hand geometry biometrics to be used in place of a combination lock on a school locker. After creating their own biometrics, groups will test each other’s biometric designs using handprints collected at the start of class. Students will evaluate the designs and share their observations about factors contributing to the strength of a biometric.
T03-Conditionals in Code (Recently Revised)
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 (Recently Revised)
Students get a crash course in cryptography, the science of encoding and decoding secret messages. Students are introduced to different types of ciphers, including transposition and substitution ciphers. Students, individually or with a partner, work through a variety of code breaking activities that make use of tools, keys, or just their own brains!
T05-e-Trashing our Future (Recently Revised)
This lesson provides students with an opportunity to examine the increasing volume of e-waste in society and what happens with it after people get rid of it. Students will discuss problems resulting from e-waste that is not properly recycled and model e-waste handling in the United States. Students will also discuss ways of reducing e-waste and learn how they can make a difference by properly 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.
T07-Digital Footprint (Recently Revised)
After an introduction to digital footprints, older students will be given social media profiles and search histories of several Internet users. They will infer personal data about these people based on the information they can gather from their social media accounts. Younger students will create their own online gaming profiles and then perform a safety review of each other’s profiles. All students will then discuss what material is appropriate and safe to share online and what material should be kept private.