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.
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!
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.
Cabbage Juice in an Erlenmeyer Flask with a pipette
micro-wells or small clear bathroom cups
litmus paper – blue and red
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.
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.
I recently used Tracy’s Bonding Basics 2010Activity (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.
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.
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?
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.
Arrange students into pairs or groups.
Give each pair/group a mystery sock and ask them not to handle the sock until the timer starts.
Once the timer starts, students will make as many observations as they can and guess what is inside each sock.
Once the timer goes off, they will pass it to the next pair/group and the timer will start again.
Continue until students have made observations on all 10 socks.
Collect all 10 socks.
Share observations and guesses.
Open one sock at a time and reveal what is inside, and discuss.
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
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.