Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures Classification Activity

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UPDATED JULY 2016

Materials

Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures –

  • NEW: Google Slides – Public Link
  • Sorting/Task Cards and answers (pdf) – laminate and cut apart, 1 set per 2-4 students
  • NEW: Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures Notes
  • E, C, M, ? (pdf) – laminated or glued onto construction paper, cut apart, 1 set per group
  • OLD: PPT Slides (ppt – read only access)
    • this ppt can be downloaded and saved to your computer, but not modified
    • click on ‘read only‘ to open the ppt after downloading
  • OLD: Notes (pdf)

Note: I modified this lesson to add a hands-on component with the addition of task cards that students can sort at their desks. I use this lesson as a group work activity to introduce Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures.

Procedures:

  1. Each group will have one set of task cards and one set of ECM? cards to hold up.
  2. Students will sort the items pictured into 4 columns: Elements, Compounds, Mixtures, and “?”. (The “?” category is a temporary place holder for students to discuss further within their group, all items should be sorted before answers are revealed)
  3. Once all the groups have had a chance to discuss and sort the items, we will go over the answers as a class.
  4. Using the ppt, show the first item (Rocks). Ask each group to choose one of the E,C, or M cards.
  5. Have them place the “?” in front of their answer. (this prevents the other groups from seeing their answer) A spokesperson for each group will stand up and hold the ECM? cards.
  6. Ask all the groups to reveal their answer at the same time. Compare answers & discuss.
  7. Reveal the answer and have students record the results in their notes.
  8. If needed, have students move the card to the correct category on their desk, too.
  9. For fun, I award a point to each group that has a correct answer, the kids enjoy a little friendly competition:).
  10. Continue with the next slide (Copper) and repeat.

For more lessons related to Chemistry, click on the Chemistry or Properties of Matter Tabs up above.

Making & Sharing Observations: A Telephone Game

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Image Source – Wikipedia Commons

Updated July 2016

Materials:

  • Google Slides  (Public)  – includes directions and photos of damselflies
  • Lesson Plan – (pdf-Instructions)
  • Images to print out and laminate (pdf)
  • 1 Index card per team

I used this activity with my 6th graders to emphasize observations, communication skills, and team work. It is a variation on the classic Telephone Game that many students are familiar with. Depending on the number of students you have, I found that 7-8 per team worked really well. The more students on a team, the more difficult it is to relay the information to each student, and less than 7 was much easier. If your teams aren’t exactly even, that is ok. When grouping students, be sure to mix abilities and plan accordingly for teams that are larger/smaller.

How the game works is I have 10 color photos of damselflies, and each team will make & share observations for one of the photos. The only person who will see the photo, however, is person #1. The rest of the team will not see the photo, and they don’t know what the photos are of. The only information they will have are the 10 observations person #1 will give them. Once each group determines who #1 is, #1 will come up to make and record 10 observations about their photo for 3 minutes. The rest of the team will determine who will receive the information from #1 and the order they will go in. Some strategies will go into determining the order, for example, someone who has a really good memory may want to be person #2.

Students will spread out around the room and take a seat. When the 3 minutes are up, person #1 will go to person #2 and whisper the 10 observations to them for 1 minute. Person #1 will have their index card, but can not give the index card to person #2. Person #2 can ask questions and repeat the information until the 1 minute is up. #1 will take #2’s seat and #2 will go to #3 and share the 10 observations from memory. This will continue until all members have had a turn sharing the observations.

The last member of the team will share the observations with the class and then pick out the photograph from the 10 I have. We will then compare the last set of observations to the original 10 and find out if they were able to choose the correct photo.

This was a fun and challenging activity, and it lead to some really great discussions about making and sharing observations. Many groups had difficulty picking out the original photograph because the information changed or went missing somewhere along the line, just like when they play the game telephone.

NGSS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING PRACTICES (SEP 1, SEP 4, SEP 8)

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Earth, Moon, & Mars Venn Diagram Activity

Earth, Moon, & Mars Venn Diagram
Earth, Moon, & Mars Venn Diagram

We recently started our Mars Unit and I wanted to have a fun/active way to connect our unit on the Moon to our new unit on Mars. This activity can be used in a few different ways, I used the first lesson posted below.

Materials:

  • Google Slide (Public) Earth, Mars, & Moon
    • Updated July 2016 – when I used this lesson in early 2015, it was prior to the discovery of flowing liquid water on Mars – the slides have the updated fact in the Venn Diagram
  • Updated Answer key and handouts (pdf)
  • 16 facts, printed, cut apart, and glued onto index cards (in pdf above)

gravity-mars-facts

Whole class activity

  1. After discussing what we know about Mars (accessing prior knowledge) and guessing how big Mars is compared to Earth (many were not really sure), I gave each student one of the sixteen facts. They were not to share their facts with the class until it was their turn to present.
  2. They may or may not know the answer to their fact, and we discussed this first. I told them I would give them clues if they needed help and not to worry too  much about getting the answer ‘wrong’.
  3. After a minute or so to think about it, I asked the person with Fact #1 to stand and read their fact to the class. The rest of class was to think about the fact and where it might go into the Venn Diagram, but not share their answers.
  4. The person with Fact #1 then had to guess where the fact fit into the Venn Diagram. Once they gave the right answer, I clicked on the ppt and the answer popped up on the screen.
  5. Everyone wrote fact #1 into their notes.
  6. Then I asked the person with Fact #2 to read their fact to the class, and so on until all 16 facts were posted.
  7. We would discuss each fact and any questions they might have.
  8. If you have more than 16 students, you can have them work with a partner and guess together.

Cooperative Groups

  1. Instead of each student having only one fact, you can have the class work in cooperative groups and give one set of the 16 facts to a group of 4 students. They will cut apart the facts (or you can give them the facts pre-cut) and one student will work on fact #’s 1-4, another #’s 5-8, third on #’s 9-12, and the 4th on #’s 13-16.
  2. The students will discuss the facts within their group and place them on top of the Venn Diagram.
  3. Once each group has had a chance to discuss their facts, you can go over the answers as a class and have each student write the facts into their notes.

Independent Seat Work, or as part of a Station/Center/Review

  1. You can also do this activity where each student will cut out all 16 facts and work independently to figure out where each fact would go in the Venn Diagram. They will then write in the facts as each answer is discussed.
  2. As a station/center activity/review, you can have a blank laminated Venn Diagram, a laminated answer key, and laminated facts. Students can guess where each fact goes into the diagram, then check their work with the answer key and write the answers into their worksheet

Solid, Liquid, & Gas – Triple Venn Diagram Activity

Updated July 2016:

Materials:

  • Google Slides (Public) – this slide presentation will show the answers for the activity
  • Handouts: Includes blank venn diagram, slips to cut apart, and answer key Solid, Liquid, & Gas- Phases & Changes Venn Diagram Sorting Activity 
  • Statements: Different ways to use the 15 statements about Solids, Liquids, and Gases:
    • give each group 2-4 facts to discuss and place into the Venn Diagram
    • give each student or pair of students only 1 fact
    • give every student all 15 facts and have them glue it into their Venn diagram
    • give every student all 15 facts and have them ‘dry fit’ the statements then handwrite them into their Venn diagrams (you can laminate and reuse the statements for each class) (I prefer to have the students write the facts into their Venn diagrams.)

How to use this version of the activity:

Whole class activity

  1. Discuss what we know about Solids, Liquids, and Gases.
  2. Give each student one of the fifteen facts. They are not to share their facts with the class until it was their turn to present.
  3. They may or may not know the answer to their fact, and we discussed this first. I told them I would give them clues if they needed help and not to worry too  much about getting the answer ‘wrong’.
  4. After a minute or so to think about it, ask the person with Fact #1 to stand and read their fact to the class. The rest of class will think about the fact and where it might go into the Venn Diagram, but not share their answers.
  5. The person with Fact #1 will guess where the fact fit into the Venn Diagram. Once they give the correct answer, click on the Google Slide and the answer will pop up on the screen.
  6. Everyone will write fact #1 into their notes.
    • Optional:
      • Using a blue colored pen or pencil, the students will fill in the phrases related to the states of matter and their characteristics, such as definite shape or volume.
      • Using a red colored pen or pencil, they can write in the phase changes, such as evaporation. They will notice that all of the phase changes are placed where two states of matter overlap.
        • For example, evaporation is placed where liquids and gases overlap.
  7. Then ask the person with Fact #2 to read their fact to the class, and so on until all 15 facts are posted.
  8. We would discuss each fact and any questions they might have.
  9. If you have more than 15 students, you can have them work with a partner and guess together.

Cooperative Groups

  1. Instead of each student having only one fact, you can have the class work in cooperative groups and give one set of the 15 facts to a group of 4 students.
  2. They will cut apart the facts (or you can give them the facts pre-cut) and one student will work on fact #’s 1-4, another #’s 5-8, third on #’s 9-12, and the 4th on #’s 13-15.
  3. The students will discuss/share their facts within their group and come to an agreement on where it should go.
  4. They will place the facts on top of the Venn Diagram where they think it is the best fit.
  5. Once each group has had a chance to discuss their facts, you can go over the answers as a class.
  6. Starting with #1, have the first group tell the class where they think it belongs in the Venn diagram and why.
  7. If their answer is correct, show the answer in the Venn diagram and have each student write that fact into their notes.
  8. If it in incorrect, go to the next group and have them share where they think it belongs.
  9. Do the same for fact #2 goes, and repeat the steps above until all 15 facts have been placed into the Venn diagram and each group has had a chance to place a fact into the Venn Diagram.

Independent Seat Work, or as part of a Station/Center/Review

  1. You can also do this activity where each student will cut out all 15 facts and work independently to figure out where each fact would go in the Venn Diagram. They will then write in the facts as each answer is discussed.
  2. As a station/center activity/review, you can have a blank laminated Venn Diagram, a laminated answer key, and laminated facts. Students can guess where each fact goes into the diagram, then check their work with the answer key and write the answers into their worksheet

Older Version:

solid_liquid_gas_triple_venn_diagram
Phases of Matter Venn Diagram

This is an interactive/SmartBoard activity to show the relationship between the phases of matter and phase change.

Materials:

Part 1 – Discussion and Categorizing: Students will work in collaborative groups to determine where each statement will go into the Venn diagram. In their notes, they will pencil in an ‘S’ for solid, ‘L’ for liquid, ‘SL’ if it goes between Solid/Liquid, etc… next to each statement on their list.

Part 2 – SMART Board: Each group will have a turn to make a guess to place one of the statements into the Venn diagram. If the group is correct, it stays in the Venn diagram and each student writes the statement into their Venn diagram handout and crosses it off the list. If the statement is incorrectly placed into the diagram, the statement is returned to the list outside of the diagram. The next group chooses a statement, and so on, until all of the statements have been placed correctly into the Venn diagram.

Using a blue colored pencil, the students will fill in the phrases related to the states of matter and their characteristics, such as definite shape or volume. Using a red colored pencil, they can write in the phase changes, such as evaporation. They will notice that all of the phase changes are placed where two states of matter overlap. For example, evaporation is placed where liquids and gases overlap.

For more lessons about phases of matter, please see my Properties of Matter page. Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MSScienceBlog

Highlights “Hidden Pictures” help sharpen observation skills

Updated July 2016

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I love “Hidden Pictures” by Highlights magazine. On their website, they release several new puzzles each month and I download and save each one to my google drive so that I can select from different themes throughout the school year. My 6th & 7th grade students really enjoy working on these puzzles and will try to find all the pictures for each one.

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You can complete the hidden pictures online using an iPad or laptop, or you can print them out as B/W pdfs

I hand out one or two picture finds whenever we have assessments (or for holidays) for students to color in with either a highlighter or colored pencils/makers while they wait for everyone to finish their quiz or test. Once their assessments have been collected, they immediately ask each other where the items were that they couldn’t find and spend the alst few minutes of class finishing up the puzzles. There are usually a few items that stump the majority of the kids.

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Hidden Pictures as pdf files

Looking for the hidden items helps the students sharpen their observation skills. They are looking for shapes and patterns, looking with a purpose, and evaluating spaces where items could be or can’t be located in. My favorites are the hidden items that are found in the ’empty space’ of the drawings.

Bookmark the website and add it to your favorites!  https://www.highlightskids.com/hidden-pictures 

 

Color Coding Families on the Periodic Table

This is a fun way to introduce the families of the periodic table and their properties. The students really enjoy watching the video clips from Periodic Table Videos and the experiments performed by the Chemistry Department at the University of Nottingham.

As a class, we found the location of each family, recorded the elements for each family, discussed their properties, color coded the periodic table, and discussed any patterns they noticed.

Materials

  • Google Slides (Public) – updated for 2016 with links to the YouTube videos to view an element in each family
  • Handout – (pdf) students take notes for each family and use this is a reference for further lessons
  • Periodic Table – (Updated 2016 pdf) I like to use this student version of the periodic table from Jefferson Lab for my 6th graders. I photocopy it double sided – one side stays blank while the other side is color coded. If students have binders with a clear pocket on the outside front, I ask that they place it there for quick reference and access.

This activity was featured on the following blog post: The Joy of Chemistry – A Unit in Photos a few years ago. You can read about how she used this lesson in her 3rd grade classroom as part of her Chemistry unit.

Below is a video about Sodium from Periodic Table Videos. They have a lot of great chemistry videos posted for free on their site, be sure to check them out!

Sheep Head Dissection – Brains, Tongues, and Eyes

Our 7th grade team is revamping the science curriculum to include more dissections. Our focus in 7th grade is The Cell, Genetics, and the Human Body. Last year, we introduced the sheep heart dissection and it was such a great experience for our students. As far as dissections go, I do not like to use preserved specimens – they are often rubbery, pale yellow to beige in color, and look and feel so different than what the specimen is like in its original form. We ordered frozen sheep hearts from the butcher, thawed them in the fridge, and they were able to dissect a heart and see so much more detail than a preserved specimen.

This year, we wanted the students to dissect a sheep brain and didn’t want to use a preserved specimen. There was one ‘problem’, the head came with it. I didn’t see that as problem, instead my first reaction was – “We can dissect the eyes, too!”

The frozen heads were sawed in half so that each group could have half a skull to work on. (We kept some heads intact so that the students could make observations on those as well. Next year I will ask the butcher to saw them in half before they ship them to us.) My husband sawed them in half perfectly (thanks honey!) and it was amazing to see the internal anatomy – the brain, the sinus cavity, the tongue, the teeth, the muscles of the face, the eye in the eye socket, the lip – everything fitting together perfectly and all of it was perfect healthy tissue.

Once we had the heads prepared, and in the freezer, our next concern was student reaction. Would this be too much for them to handle? Would a lot of students opt out? We discussed the sheep head dissection with our students, and answered any and all questions they had. We expressed that they had options with how involved they wanted to be in the dissection process, that there were alternative options available, and we had them complete a quick Google survey. We wanted their honest answers and they were able to change their mind, either way, once the dissections started.

These were the survey choices:

  1. I am comfortable making observations, and handling the specimen and the dissecting tools
  2. I think I might be comfortable handling the specimen, tools, and making observations
  3. I don’t want to handle the specimen, but I would like to observe and take notes for my group
  4. I want to be in the room but keep my distance and get closer to the specimen as I get more comfortable
  5. I can’t be in the room for personal or religious reasons

Below are the student responses:Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 7.20.04 PM

All of our students were involved in some way based on their comfort level and the dissection was a huge success, something that they will always remember.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some tips for the Sheep Head Dissection:

Storage – large 1 gallon zip top bags can be used to store the 1/2 sheep skull in the fridge or freezer. Whole heads would be stored in a plastic shopping bag – grocery store size. Students names should be written on the bags with a permanent marker prior to any dissections starting. If frozen, half skulls will need to be out a few hours to thaw, whole skulls at least 6 hours. Thawing them the day before then placing them in the fridge works well.

Cleaning up – Lots and lots of newspaper and disinfecting wipes. This made clean up faster and easier. Students were able to wipe down their goggles, then the trays and equipment. Also, triple bag any garbage to avoid leaking and remove from classroom quickly. Since the specimens are food grade, they are able to be thrown out like kitchen refuse.

Dissection equipment – disposable scalpels are the better option, cleaning the scalpels was very time consuming – I did this at the end of the dissection, students did not take scalpels apart for safety reasons. It included removing and disposing the used blades and disinfecting the handles and replacing/screwing on new blades. Also, a few scalpels broke while the students used them. You do not need dissecting trays – aluminum foil trays, esp the ones that come with covers, are a good option. You can keep all your tools in the cover so they are easy to find and won’t get lost or thrown out by accident. When we were done with the dissection, I soaked & washed everything in a bleach solution to disinfect prior to storage.

Reference Material – We printed out diagrams and photos that were laminated and placed on the desks for students to use (we searched Google for images that were clear and easy to see structures with). This was really helpful when identify structures during the dissection. The laminated sheets were used during each class over several days, we did not have to worry about them getting wet or funky while we used them. You can also wipe them down after each class. To guide students during the dissection, we used a simple check list of items we wanted the students to observe. You can laminate this as well and use an Expo marker to check off  items:

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Post – Lab – we discussed the sheep dissection as a class and the students provided great insight and feedback. Instead of a formal lab report, we asked the students to write a one page reflection about their experience.

 

Patterns of the Periodic Table: Finding Shells and Valence Electrons

Materials:

  • Google Slides – students will learn how to find the number of energy levels (shells) for elements in periods 1 – 8 and the number of valence electrons in their outer shells using the periodic table. Updated (Public link)
  • Handout – updated Shells & Valence Electrons
    • Older version: How to determine the number of valence electrons and shells using the element’s group number and period – Notes (pdf) and Slides (ppt)
  • Find that Element!” Worksheet (pdf)- Practice finding the period & group for each element

 

How to draw Lewis Structures – a step by step tutorial

Materials:

  • Updated Google Slides (Public Link) with step-by-step instructions on how to draw Lewis Structures
  • Lewis Diagrams worksheets

How to draw Bohr Diagrams – a step by step tutorial

I updated the Google Slides and worksheet for my lesson on drawing Bohr Diagrams. This lesson will walk your students through the basics on how to draw a Bohr Diagram for the first 20 elements on the periodic table. I also created a simple worksheet for students to record their drawings and do independent practice.

You can access them at:

For additional lessons related to atoms and the periodic table, please click on the tags below.

Element, Compound, or Mixture? Identify & Sort

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Students can practice identifying elements, compounds, and mixtures

Materials:

Different ways to use this activity:

  1. Vocabulary reinforcement
  2. Students can review the slides independently as added practice and self check.
  3. This can be a guided mini-lesson for a whole class to reinforce the concept.
  4. Students can work in pairs to sort the cards into the 3 different groups, then discuss the answers as a class. Challenge – categorize the mixtures.
  5. Give each student one of the larger cards and have them do the activity “Quiz, Quiz, Trade

 

For more lessons related to this activity, please click on the tags below.

 

 

 

 

 

Acids & Bases Venn Diagram Activity

Acids&BasesVennDiagram

Materials:

  • New Version
    • Acids & Bases Google Slides (Public)
    • Handout – print pages 3 & 4 or page 5 Acids & Bases Venn Diagram pdf
    • Glue & scissors if using as cut ‘n paste activity
    • Optional – red & blue colored pens or pencils
  • Older Versions
    • Acids & Bases Venn Diagram worksheet (pdf)
    • SmartBoard file download (link)

This is a fun activity to get students thinking about the properties of acids and bases based on their prior knowledge. Then using what they know, can they figure out the rest of the properties?

I like to do this activity as a friendly competition and see how many each pair of students can answer correctly. Before the students place items into the Venn diagram, I ask them to look at the properties and write a red “A” next to the property if they think it belongs to an acid, a blue “B” if they think it belongs to bases, and “AB” if it belongs to both categories.

Once they have completed categorizing the properties on their own, have each student share their answers with their seat partner. What was the same? What was different? Have them discuss their reasoning for each answer and try to come to a consensus. (You can add an additional step by asking partners to compare answers with another set of partners.) When they are ready, reveal each answer, one at a time, and discuss. Students will write (or glue in) each property into the Venn diagram.

Please click on the tags below to find additional lessons on Acids, Bases, and pH.

 

Super Easy to Make Cartesian Divers

Looking for a fun summer activity? Make your own Cartesian Divers using paper clips and a bendy straw. Who can make the slowest diver?

Middle School Science Blog

Cartesian Divers - test out your divers in a beaker of water and then add to the 2L Bottle. Keep all your materials on the tray to manage spills. Cartesian Divers – test out your divers in a beaker of water and then add to the 2L Bottle. Keep all your materials on the tray to manage spills.

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?!

Rescue Hook: Attach 2 straws together and add a paper clip hook for rescue missions Rescue Hook: Attach 2 straws together and add a paper clip hook for rescue missions

Materials

  • 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
  • paper towels
  • optional: eye dropper with blue colored water

Part 1 – Demonstration:

As part of our density unit, we talk about the concept…

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Science Prompts, Starters, Warm-Ups, & Do Nows

I used Google Slides to create my science prompts and students accessed the slides via Google Drive to complete for homework. They kept a marble composition notebook and wrote the questions and answers into their notebooks and we discussed each one at the start of class.

Next year, I am going to try a different approach. Some students had difficulty keeping their notebook up to date. Using a pocket folder with prongs (like this one) I am going to print 4 prompts per page and photocopy them ahead of time, essentially making a workbook with about 100 prompts on 13 double sided pages. This will help keep students more organized and have access to the information for review easily. This is on my summer list of things to do:)

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You can download the pdf file of the prompts (Science Prompts 2015-16 Public) I used this year with my 6th graders. Please keep in mind that many are from ScienceSpot.net and you can find her starters with answer keys sorted by category here and her Mystery Photos here – (the kids loved the mystery photo challenges!)

You can also use Activity Pages from BrainPOP.com (here is a free example) as starters or writing prompts. Almost every video has an activity page that you can download and use with your students.

Science Prompts 2015-16 Public

Additional samples of science prompts available – see the images below:

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 11.00.51 AMScreen Shot 2016-06-22 at 11.01.06 AM

RSO Physics 02 – Mass & Buoyancy

Thank you for sharing your experience on your blog! Liz

homeschoolsciencegeek

For today’s class we did two different labs. The first one I found while digging for materials for the chemistry class I’l be teaching this fall.  This website, Middle School Science, has a great list of resources for middle school chemistry, including this activity for ‘bottles of stuff.’IMG_3328.jpg I liked this activity because the kids get to bring in a bottle of stuff, they have to guess which ones are more massive and then actually estimate the mass of each bottle.  Since few Americans are familiar with grams, its a bit of challenge to guess the mass of a bottle of legos in grams so I gave them a big bottle that had a mass of 500 grams, a 50 gram brass mass and 5 gram cubes (each cube is a gram).  IMG_3320.jpgThis helped them at least get the right order of magnitude.  Once everybody had their estimates the…

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