This is one of my favorite activities from our minerals and mining unit. It takes about 1 whole class period to explain the activity, collect data, eat the cookie (& crumbs), and clean up. We discuss our results the next class and determine who made the most profit.
When determining the value of the chocolate ore, I have the students place their chocolate pieces close together in one area of the map. When they are done, I go around and circle the area of chocolate and give their chocolate a rating. They count the number of boxes their chocolate covers and enter it into their spreadsheet.
If there are crumbs attached to the chocolate, I call that ‘slag’ and it lowers the value of the chocolate ore. This leads to a great discussion afterwards when we compare the profits and talk about land use. Is it better to get out as much chocolate as you can, even if you get a lot of slag, or is it better to remove just the chocolate even though you will have less in the end? How is this similar to coal mining? Diamond mining?
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 🙂
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.
Additional samples of science prompts available – see the images below:
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.
Provide each lab group with an assortment of bottles
Students will arrange the bottles from lightest to heaviest by making observations
They will record the order of the bottles and their contents with #1 as the lightest and #10 the heaviest on their handout
my groups used 9 bottles, but there is room on the handout for 10
Using the set of masses, they will estimate the mass of each bottle by holding a bottle in one hand and a mass in the other hand, recording their estimations on the handout
Procedures – Part 2
Students will transfer their estimation to the back page
Using the TBB they will record the actual masses of the bottles
Then they will rank the bottles from lightest (#1) to heaviest (#10) and compare their estimation to the actual masses. How close were the estimations to the actual masses? Did they place the bottles in the correct order?
You can also use these bottles as part of your density unit, see my blog entry for more information.
I use these blocks as part of a density lesson as well
Prior to this set, I used blocks of scrap wood that were cut in the wood shop, but any rectangular shape works well such as chalk boxes, expo boxes, staple boxes, tissue boxes, playing cards box, dice, etc…
Prior to having the students record the measurements for the blocks, we go over the importance of how to orient the blocks before measuring. A problem that students often run into is that they end up measuring one of the sides two times, and not measuring all three of the sides. Even though the right-hand rule is not used for volume, it helps to find the L, W, & H of each block.
In the image below, Z = Length, Y= Width, and X = Height. Mathematically, it doesn’t matter which side is designated as the width, height, or length since all three sides are multiplied, but this will help students measure all three sides properly. Students should place the block in their hand and align their fingers with the three sides of the block. Once they have decided on how to orientate the block, they can record their measurements.
For this lab, you can have several stations set up around the room with 1-3 blocks at each station. I assign each block a number and using a black sharpie, write it right on to the block itself. Not all blocks have to be measured, once each student has measured 10-15 blocks, they can go back to their seats and compare their measurements with a partner. We go over the answers together as a class once everyone is done.
Students can create their own Geometric, or Tangram-like, puzzles. A classic tangram has 7 pieces (link), but with this template, students can make their own puzzles with as many pieces as they would like to use.
In the sample photos above, I created a puzzle with 12 pieces. After students have made their puzzles, they can trade puzzles and try to solve them. You can also combine/shuffle 2 puzzles together and try to create one large rectangle, or 4 puzzles together to create one large square.
When coloring in the puzzle, darker colors help hide the grid lines. You can also use the patterns each student has created as a cutting template – glue the template onto a piece of construction paper, cut out the pieces, flip, and use the construction paper side as your puzzle pieces.
This is a wonderful problem solving and hands-on activity to use as part of your density unit. The students enjoy the challenge and have a solid understanding of density after completing this activity. Even though students quickly figure out how to make the canister float and sink, making the canister suspend is pretty challenging and requires a lot of trial and error and problem solving.
To qualify as suspending, the film canister needs to float just under the surface of the water, with a small portion of the top just breaking through. How I also verify that it is suspending is by pushing the film canister to the bottom of the tank, if it comes up very slowly to the surface, it counts – if it comes up quickly or stays towards the bottom, it doesn’t count. Students then need to figure out that if it comes up too quickly, they need to add to the mass, if it comes up too slowly, they need to remove some of the mass. It will take several tries to get it just right.
one canister per 2 people works well, they can reuse the canisters if you don’t have enough to give each set of lab partners 3 canisters
if they reuse the canisters, be sure that they find the mass before they empty the contents
An assortment of small objects such as pennies, paper clips, stoppers, small pebbles, etc…
Introduce the Dunkin’ for Density Challenge – their goal is to make the film canister float, suspend, and sink by placing contents inside of the film canister.
Many students will say that the canister will float with nothing in it, but they must place a few objects in it for it to count 😉
On a side note, a mini history lesson on film and cameras is fun to discuss since most students have never used a camera that used film
Explain the procedures, review how to use the TBB, note that the film canister must seal completely and be air tight so that water doesn’t enter, and also demonstrate how to use the dunk tank properly and to dry off the canister before finding the mass.
Do not give the students the value for the volume of the film canisters until they have collected their data. If the students know the volume of the film canister, they may figure out the mass needed to make the film canister’s density close to 1.0 g/cm3.
The value is approximately 39 mL or 39 g/cm3 – verify with a large graduated cylinder that the film canister can fit inside of – or use an overflow can to find the volume (link).
I will give the volume to each set of lab partners individually and ask that they don’t share that information with the class.
Once students have calculated the density, collect class data on a spreadsheet projected on the board/screen.
Discuss results – why did the film canister float, suspend, or sink in the tank of water? What relationships did you notice?
For more lessons related to the Properties of Matter, click here (link)
Here is nice video that gives a general overview on how to use the TBB:
3/28/18, updated again 10/7/18
OHAUS is no longer providing the free online tutorial for this activity – I will post alternatives as I find them.
Reading a Triple Beam Balance Worksheet (pdf) and Ohaus website (link)
This is a great interactive tutorial from Ohaus (link). Using the tutorial prior to using the triple beam balance in class significantly improved the student’s understanding of how to find, read, and record the mass of an object to the nearest 1/10th of a gram.
For the tutorial, each student works at their own pace and is given immediate feedback for each answer they submit. The problems are randomly generated and each student has a slightly different experience, as opposed to having each student answer the same set of problems. Students will also review place values for 100s, 10s, 1s, and 1/10ths. (Values for the 100ths place may appear in the answers, but students will only be assessed up to the 10ths place)
Next Generation Science Standards, Science and Engineering Practices (SEP)
(SEP2) Practice 2 – Developing and Using Models
(SEP4) Practice 4 – Analyzing and Interpreting Data
(SEP5) Practice 5 – Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
My 6th graders completed their Adopt-a-City unit and wrote their weather reports comparing the weather in Morristown, NJ to their adopted cities. Students transferred their data to the following Google Sheet Template and then analyzed their data to write their weather reports using Google Docs.
Overall this was a successful unit. The students enjoyed having an independent study based classroom experience and working at their own pace. They worked cooperatively with their peers and were able to explore each topic in depth with the provided resources. They also learned so many valuable skills and had a real understanding of weather. Below are some sample graphs for different cities:
Pacing for Adopt-a-City Unit – students collected data and created Mini-Maps at the start of each class, and they updated their weather data over the weekends. I checked mini-maps and gave a daily grade of 5 pts per map completed and graded completed tasks as they handed them in. I also graded weather data for completion to be sure their data was up to date. Having a shared spreadsheet, with tabs for each student in the class, made it easy to quickly check each student’s data. I also added quizzes to check for understanding along the way. Their weather report was weighted as a test grade.
Day 1: Tasks 1-2
Day 2: Tasks 2-3, HW Task 2 completed
Day 3: Tasks 3-4-5, HW Tasks 3 & 4 to be completed
Day 4: Tasks 4-5-6, HW Task 5 to be completed
Day 5: Tasks 6-7, HW Task 6 to be completed
Day 6: Tasks 7-8
Day 7: Tasks 7-8, HW Task 7 part 1 to be completed
Day 8: Tasks 7-8, HW Task 7 – complete Part 2
Day 9: Tasks 7-8-9, HW Task 8 to be completed
Day 10: Tasks 8-9-10
Day 11: Tasks 9-10-11, HW complete Task 9
Day 12: Tasks 10-11
Day 13: Tasks 10-11-12, HW complete Task 10
Day 14: Tasks 11-12-13
Day 15: Tasks 11-12-13, HW complete Task 11
Day 16: Tasks 12-13
Day 17: Tasks 12-13-14, HW complete task 12
Day 18: Tasks 13-14
Day 19: Tasks 13-14-15, HW complete task 13
Day 20: Tasks 14-15 or begin Weather Report, HW complete task 14
Day 21: Task 15 or begin Weather Report, HW complete task 15