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.
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.
Erlenmeyer flasks filled with red, yellow, and blue solutions of food coloring and water
5 drops of food coloring per 200 mL (25 per 1L)
3 x 25 mL Graduated Cylinders
3 x 10 mL Graduated Cylinders
beaker filled with clean water
large beaker for used water
this activity took 2x 50 minute class periods
This lab is an updated version of the classic Rainbow Lab (link) that has been around since the 80’s (Measuring Liquid Volume with a Graduated Cylinder 1988). I used this for many years with my 5th graders, and previously with my 6th graders in the early 2000’s. Now that I am teaching 6th grade again, I wanted to make it more open ended and challenging. The purpose of the original version of the lab was twofold: First – could they follow directions carefully to make a rainbow? Second – how precisely can they measure liquid volume?
For the new version of this lab, I created new objectives and assessed the students based on their problem solving, collaboration, and measuring skills.
Students will be able to precisely measure liquids with a graduated cylinder
Students will be able to create their own lab procedures using the given parameters to guide them
Students will create new mixtures and solutions
Students will be able to record accurate data
Students will collaborate and problem solve to achieve a common goal
Students will test, evaluate, and select the best proportions to create the colors orange, green, and purple
each group made 3-4 different combinations for each color and had to, as a group, determine which combinations of primary colors created the best secondary colors
Students will follow proper lab procedures to avoid color contamination
Students will record and analyze data from the whole grade and compare their findings to the averages from each group, what patterns or trends did they notice in the data?
Students will create their own ‘designer’ color and share it with the class
this was fun way to wrap up the activity, we had a ‘fashion’ show with each group coming up to the front of the room to showcase their newly created and named colors
if time allowed, at the end we made a rainbow with each student holding their test tube and standing next to a person who had a color similar to their own, from Red to Purple
pre-cut 2 inch wide strips of construction paper (12×18) in the following colors – red*, pink, yellow, orange*, green, lt. blue, dk.blue, and black*
(*) be sure to have more of these colors since they are vowels
I used a paper cutter and was able to make a lot of strips very quickly ahead of time
clothes pins and string to hang up in classroom
This activity should be used after DNA and protein synthesis has been introduced. This activity will help reinforce the concept of how the sequence of DNA codons create specific amino acids, and in turn, the amino acids are joined together to create specific proteins. (link)
Each student will write the letters from their first and last name onto the student handout.
Using the chart, they will find the amino acid associated with the first letter of their first name.
For example, if the first letter is “L”, it will code for Leucine. They will select one of the codons for Leucine and write it on their chart.
Write the color of the paper link they will need for “L”, in this case, it is Red.
Repeat for every letter in their name.
Once their handout is completed, they will select the colored links, one for each letter of their name.
The colored links will be placed in the same order as the letters in their name.
On each link, write one of the codons for that letter. For example, “L” would be “CTT” on a Red link.
Loop and staple the first letter of their name.
Weave through the second letter and staple the loop closed.
Continue until all the letters have been linked together.
Hang up the protein chain, be sure to have the first letter of their name at the top.
Look for patterns – what color was used the most? Which group of amino acids was it? Which group of amino acids was used the least? Who had the longest name? Etc.
I light the candles for the students in this age group (6th)
Discuss how candles work and the fire triangle (link)
Discuss combustion and the chemical reactions that takes place when a candle burns
Explain the lab procedures and remind students of safety protocols
Students will record qualitative and quantitative observations of an unlit candle (5 minutes), burning candle (10 minutes), and a covered burning candle until it goes out and the wax hardens (5 minutes)
all students will place the larger beaker over the candle at the same time and watch as the candle goes out
Share observations and discuss
I like to use this lab as part of my physical and chemical changes unit, it is such a classic and the kids make some great observations and ask lots of good questions.
I started using this series of videos for my 7th graders to review some of the concepts of Meiosis & DNA. The feedback from my students was that it was helpful so I wanted to share them on here as well. Please visit their Youtube Channel for more videos.
This sugar density activity is one I have never tried before, I actually ‘borrowed’ the idea from my son’s HS Chemistry Teacher. He came home and told me they made different colored layers using only sugar, food coloring, and water. I immediately jumped on the computer and thought about how to use this in my 6th grade classes, we are in the middle of our density unit and it would be a perfect opportunity to try it out.
One of my goals for this year is re-examine my lessons and see which activities I can make more open-ended when appropriate. For this activity, most of the resources I found told the students exactly how much sugar to put in each layer and what order to place the colors into the test tube or some other type of container. I didn’t want my students to follow step by step procedures, but wanted it to be more of an exploration type of activity. I had no idea how this would turn out but gave it shot anyway.
I gave them the problem, the parameters, the tools to complete the activity, and sent them on their way. It was great to see them figure out how to solve the problem, talk out strategies, and to see them go through the trial and error process. Each group came up with a different way to solve the problem and some groups struggled more than others. I met with each group to facilitate, ask questions, and had them explain to me what they were doing and why. Overall, it was a successful lesson, they enjoyed the activity, and it really solidified their understanding of density.
I am also incorporating more open ended writing in science and I enjoyed reading their reflections about the activity.
This was the easiest, and most inexpensive way to make cartesian divers I have ever tried, and each student got to take theirs home after class. Did I mention how much fun it was?!
semi-transparent to transparent bendy straws – 1 per student
colored paper clips – 4-6 per student
scissors – 1 per 2-4 students
2L bottle with cap – 1 per 2 students
beaker of water – 1 per 2-4 students
tray to contain spills -1 per 2 students
optional: eye dropper with blue colored water
Part 1 – Demonstration:
As part of our density unit, we talk about the concept of buoyancy – why do objects float or sink? Using a 2L bottle of water, a glass medicine dropper, and some blue food coloring, we made guesses and observations about the cartesian diver.
The medicine dropper is filled with blue water, checked for buoyancy, and then added to a 2L bottle. Students gather to make observations. What do you think will happen when I squeeze the bottle? What will the blue water do? Why did it sink? Why did it float? What is happening to the air in the diver? What is the water doing? Did the mass of the diver change? The density? Students share their ideas and we come to a conclusion as to why the diver floats and sinks.
Part 2 – Build and Explore:
After the demonstrations, students get to build their own divers and explore on their own. Some tips to keep in mind:
Be careful bending the straw, any cracks will make the the straw useless.
After bending the straw, cut off the excess length of straw so that both side are equal in length. (You can save the rest of the straw for future activities)
Attach one paper clip as shown in the diagram below. Additional paper clips can be easily added or removed by sliding them on or off the main paper clip. (Like keys on a keychain)
Use a rescue hook for any divers that do not float back to the top.
Remind students to place the cap back on the bottle TIGHTLY – or water will shoot out of the bottle when they squeeze it.
Lunch or serving trays work nicely to contain spills.
For this activity, I used the set of density blocks from Flinn Scientific. Each group of students had 6 blocks made of the same material. Their challenge was to identify the material using their measurement skills to calculate the mass, volume, and density of each block. This activity also reinforced the concept that the density of an object is constant.