What is a Mineral? Sorting Activity

 

rhodochrosite
Source: Minerals 4 Kids

Resources:

I use this activity as an introduction to my minerals and mining unit. Students learn the 5 properties of minerals (SNIFC) and apply them to a variety of items to categorize each item as either a mineral or non-mineral.

I also have the slides in a pdf format if you would like to have the students sort the items first, then discuss each item and why they think it is or isn’t a mineral. Then, they can view the answers afterwards.

 

NGSS: Scientific & Engineering Practices (SEP)

If you are looking for lesson plans that cover the following NGSS Standards, you can do a search using either tags or the search box. I have tagged all of my blog entries with the corresponding SEP.

SCIENTIFIC AND ENGINEERING PRACTICES (SEP) (Details from NSTA)

  • SEP1 – Asking Questions and Defining Problems
  • SEP2 – Developing and Using Models
  • SEP3 – Planning and Carrying out Investigations
  • SEP4 – Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • SEP5 – Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
  • SEP6 – Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  • SEP7 – Engaging in Argument from Evidence
  • SEP8 – Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Eyewitness Videos – FREE!

I just stumbled upon this – the classic series by Eyewitness Videos is now available on YouTube for free! When I started teaching in the 90’s, we didn’t have all the amazing free online videos available at our fingertips like today and relied on…..gasp… VHS tapes. Having a collection of quality science videos in your classroom was highly coveted!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEBTfxJ13zkpZVbZTF3aukg/videos

About EWV: “Eyewitness is a natural history television series produced by BBC and DK Vision. The series is based on the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Books series of children’s books.”

Here are a few of my favorites:

 

Identifying and Balancing Chemical Reactions

Types of Chemical Reactions (Public)

Tracy has a nice lesson plan and handout on identifying chemical reactions posted on her website: http://sciencespot.net/Pages/classchem.html#chemreactions .  I modified the ppt slides she had posted for her 8th graders to use with my 6th graders as a guided lesson.

I used this lesson after we had already learned how to balance chemical equations using the hands on lesson I created and described below (also found on my Chemistry page):

Balancing Chemical Equations Activity – one of my long time favorite activities. Students will learn how to read formulas, count atoms, create and read chemical equations, and balance chemical equations using a hands on activity with color coded formulas:

We worked through the problems together and I called on students to first identify the chemical reaction and then balance the equation. After a few slides, they began to recognize the types of reactions quickly and had a good understanding of how to identify and balance the equations.

  • Click here for the ppt: Google Slides (Public)
  • to save the slides, you can select “file” then “Make a copy” or “download as”

Cabbage Juice Lab – pH indicator

My students have enjoyed the Cabbage Juice Lab over the years – and yes, it does smell!

Materials per group of 3-4 students:

  • Student Handout (pdf)
  • Cabbage Juice in an Erlenmeyer Flask with a pipette
  • micro-wells or small clear bathroom cups
  • litmus paper – blue and red
  • toothpicks
  • ‘garbage’ cup
  • beakers and pipettes for each solution
  • Substances to test – diluted in water
    • You can have all of these set up at one station and students can pick one up and take one to their desk for testing, then return it to the station and choose another substance- you don’t have to have a complete set for each group.
      • vinegar
      • lemon juice
      • lime juice
      • pickle juice
      • baking soda
      • salt
      • sugar
      • detergent
      • hand sanitizer
      • alka seltzer tablets
      • bleach
      • ammonia

cabbage_juice_lab

Additional Resources:

K-4 Lower School Science Position

The Peck School, a co-ed, K-8, independent school in Morristown NJ, seeks a full-time Lower School Science Specialist for the upcoming school year.

 

The science specialist develops curriculum and provides hands-on investigations in grade K through 4. The ideal candidate will have strong content knowledge, broad technology skills, and a proven track record inspiring young learners. The candidate must be eager to contribute to Peck’s new STEAM program, developing innovating programing in concert with other faculty members. A deep understanding of learning styles, classroom management techniques, and the particular needs of students of different ages is also essential.

All candidates should have a minimum of three years teaching experience with elementary students, as well as exceptional communication skills, both oral and written. A degree or background in science or related STEM fields is required.

This position is an excellent opportunity for an innovative and highly motivated educator to join a wonderful faculty. Please submit a cover letter, resume, and contact information for three professional references by email to science @ peckschool.org.

Kindly reference the job title in the subject line of your email. No phone calls please. We encourage you to explore our website to find out more about our program and mission.

http://www.peckschool.org/about-peck/employment-at-peck/ls-science-specialist/index.aspx 

Ionic & Covlalent Bonding Activity

Ionic and Covalent Bonding (Public)

I recently used Tracy’s Bonding Basics 2010 Activity (link) with my 6th graders as a guided lesson. We spent one day on Ionic Bonds, and the second day on Covalent Bonds. Students worked in pairs and practiced making Lewis Structures, finding Oxidation numbers, identifying elements as either Metals or Non-Metals, and determining what each element would do when bonding with another element.

Instead of candy, I used pennies as electrons along with the element cut outs she provides on her website. This was a great hands-on activity to have students ‘see’ how the atoms bond together, and after a few slides, they were able to quickly determine how each element would bond.

Resources:

  • Ionic & Covalent Bonding: Google Slides (Public link)
  • Handout – I modified the handout for use with  my students (link)
  • Tracy’s lesson plan for this activity (link)

Mystery Socks – Using Indirect Evidence

image
Some examples of the small toys I used in this activity

Purpose:

Students will use indirect evidence to determine what is inside each mystery sock.

Materials: per class

  • 10 new long black socks
  • 20 rubber bands
  • 10 clothes pins numbered 1-10
  • small toys or other objects to place inside each sock
  • (online) stopwatch
  • student handout (Mystery Socks-Using Indirect Evidence)

Preparation:

  • Place the desired quantity of each item into each sock.
  • Halfway down the sock, secure/close the sock with a rubber band.
  • Fold the top half of the sock down so that it completely covers up the bottom half of the sock.
  • Add the 2nd rubber band to the opening of the sock to secure it.
    • this will prevent items from falling out, students peeking into the sock, and provide an additional layer of material to conceal what is inside
  • Attach a numbered clothes pin to the sock.
  • Each group or pair of students will make observations on one sock at a time, then pass the sock to the next group when the timer goes off after 1 minute.
20160215_134551.jpg
Mystery Sock with item secured inside

Procedures:

  1. Discuss and share strategies students may use to determine what is inside a wrapped present before they open it. Students are using clues, or observations, and their problem solving skills to guess what is inside. They will know if their guess is correct once they open the gift. But what if we couldn’t open the gift, ever? How would we know what is inside? How would we know if we were right or not?
  2. Introduce the activity to the students. They will have one minute to determine what is inside each sock. They can’t open the sock but they can use their hands to feel what is inside the sock.
  3. Arrange students into pairs or groups.
  4. Give each pair/group a mystery sock and ask them not to handle the sock until the timer starts.
  5. Once the timer starts, students will make as many observations as they can and guess what is inside each sock.
  6. Once the timer goes off, they will pass it to the next pair/group and the timer will start again.
  7. Continue until students have made observations on all 10 socks.
  8. Collect all 10 socks.
  9. Share observations and guesses.
  10. Open one sock at a time and reveal what is inside, and discuss.

Closure:

For thousands of years, we have been trying to figure out what an atom looks like, and what is inside the atom. We can’t ‘unwrap’ the atom and peak inside. But based on experiments and observations, we have our current atomic model.

Students will watch the BrainPOP movie and fill in notes about the Atomic Model

 

 

Bond with a Classmate Activity

My 6th graders recently completed “Bond with a Classmate” from Tracy’s ScienceSpot website. I have used this activity successfully with both 5th and 6th grade science classes over the years. Here is the description form her website:

Bond with a Classmate (Gail Sanders, Monroe Middle School, Wheaton, IL)

In this activity from Gail Sanders, a member of the MidLevel Science Teachers group in Northern Illinois, students are given a tag (or necklace) to wear with the symbol of an ion and its oxidation number. Positive ions are green and the negative ions are blue. The students are instructed to “bond” with other ions and keep a record of their bonds. Students had to work with their bonding partner to agree on and write a formula and name for the compound they formed. Once that was done, they could break the bond and find a different ion with which to bond. After 5 bonds, students switch tags with another student and start bonding again.

Lesson Worksheets: Bond with a Classmate Cards (pdf) and Bond with a Classmate worksheet (pdf)

I have a modified  version of the student handout posted here (link pdf file). If you have a smaller group of students, I would suggest changing cards after 3 bonds. When a student has successfully made 3 bonds, they come up to my desk, I quickly check their bonds for correctness, and then give them an oppositely charged ion. For example, if a student is Mg +2, they would then receive Cl -1 and make 3 bonds with that new ion.

The version in the video posted above is a more challenging version of the activity, I would suggest 8th grade or higher. Bond with James – free lesson plan on TPT (link). You can also combine both set of cards.

I don’t use the yarn for this activity, the students carry the cards around with them and it is easier for them to place the cards on the table when they pair up so they can write down the formula and compound name more easily instead of looking down and upside down at their cards.

If you have used this activity, would love to hear how it worked with your students and if you have any other ideas to add to this lesson.

 

Transition Metals Bingo Card – Free Template

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 1.54.21 PM

Downloads:

During our chemistry unit, playing games is a fun way to become familiar with the elements and the vocabulary associated with the periodic table.

Different ways to play:

  • Say the element symbol
  • Say the atomic number
  • Say the name of the element
  • Describe the properties of the element:
    • “I am the only metal that is a liquid at room temperature’
    • “I am used in light bulb filaments and have 74 protons”
    • “My atomic mass is 52”
    • “I have 29 electrons”

Different ways to win:

  • Any 5 spaces in a row that are vertical, horizontal, or diagonal
    • good for quick games
  • An “X”, “L”, or “T” formation
    • takes longer to win
    • “L” or “T” can be in any orientation such as sideways or upside down
  • After a few rounds, have students switch cards with their seat mate, if either one wins, they both win
  • Collect all bingo cards, shuffle and hand out, if someone wins, the person with the card and the person who made card are both winners
  • Small prizes such as stickers or other knick-knacks are fun to give out