Metric Ruler – Guided Practice for cm & mm

Ruler Practice (Student Copy)



I use this activity as a guided review of reading metric measurements in cm and mm. Each student receives one metric measurement, you can laminate and hand out individual task cards to students, or simply print and cut apart so that students can write on each card as well.

As the measurement is projected on the board, the student with that task card will come up to the board and draw a line on the ruler for to represent that measurement, and add the value. Each student will mark the measurement on their own handout as well. Advance to the next slide, and a new student will add their value to the ruler. Continue until all students have added their values to the ruler,


Making Predictions

Here is a simple experiment to incorporate making predictions and reading graduated cylinders. I have two 1-Liter graduated cylinders set up, one in a glass cylinder with blue food coloring and one in a plastic graduated cylinder with green food coloring.

I filled both with water a few days before the start of school and an equal amount of drops of food coloring. Students will make predictions on small post-it notes and place it on the drawing of a large graduated cylinder. Where do they think the water level will be at the end of school? Will it evaporate before school ends? By what date?

I will also have them come up with factors that affect the rate of evaporation on larger post-it notes. What affects evaporation? Will the air in our classroom be drier in the Winter when the heat is on? Is our classroom humid now since it is warm out?

I will post their predictions and questions next week. At the start of the month, I will also post the volume so they can see the evaporation rates over time.


D & T Activity Updated for 2016

New for 2016 – to see the older version with additional lesson details, please visit my post from last year.

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Before starting the activity, I set the stage that they are a group of archeologists and have discovered an ancient tablet at an archeological dig site. Unfortunately, the tablet is broken and as they excavate, they only find a few pieces at a time. What does the ancient table say? Scientists all over the world try to decipher the ancient text…


  • Original Worksheet: (pdf)
  • Worksheet to compare posters (Google Doc)
  • Words to cut apart (pdf) – this year I removed the word “bone” to change it up a little
  • construction paper
  • white paper cut into 1/4ths or small index cards
  • glue sticks
  • colored pencils

This year, I wanted to try something different for this lesson. Instead of seeing how close each group came to the original phrase that was on the “tablet”, I wanted each group to analyze the findings from the other groups to compare their findings and look for similarities and differences. This would be similar to a gallery walk (see video below) but without students explaining their posters, they would view posters at their own pace and choose any 3 posters to compare for each category.


Note – this lesson plan is a modification of the original lesson plan from The University of California Museum of Paleontology (link)

Updated: Dunkin’ for Density using Google Sheets

Updated for 2016

I updated my Dunkin’ for Density Lesson for 2016, I use this lesson with my 6th graders as part of our unit on properties of matter. I wanted it to be more data driven and have them analyze the data from all of their trials, and then compare their data to their classmates. I changed the objective to:

Change the density of the film canister so that 90-99% of the canister is suspending under water.



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For more details about this activity, please see my original post. If you have used this lesson with your students, please let me know, you can post it on my Twitter feed @MSScienceBlog

How to edit Google Slides to meet your needs


I have been getting a lot of requests for editing access to the Google Slides on my blog, so I wrote this tutorial on how to save and edit any of the Google Slides on my website. I can’t permit editing rights because it will change my copy of the slides and your edits will be visible to everyone that visits my blog.

How to edit Google Slides – Step by step tutorial (Public)

Hope this helps!



Vocabulary Bundle – Google Draw Template for Cut & Paste Activities

I created new templates to create your own vocab cut and paste worksheets. The files are located in the Google Drive Folder and were made using Google Draw.

To edit the template, you will need to select:

  • “File” then “Make a Copy”
  • Rename the copy
  • Make edits for your science unit


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Google Drive Folder (link): I have all of my vocab sheets posted in one folder so they are easy to find and access. If I find or create any more vocab sheets, they will be included in this folder.

Below are some fun ways to incorporate vocabulary into your lesson plans:

  • Cut & Paste: Have students cut out the definitions and paste or tape them next to the correct word.
  • Flashcards: Students will cut out each vocab word and paste it to the front of an index card, then they will cut out and paste the correct definition on to the back of the index card.
  • Find Your Partner: Give half of the class a vocabulary word and the other half of the class a definition. They will look for their partner and record their answer. Have them come to you to pick up a new word and a new definition and find new partners.
  • Quiz, Quiz, Trade: Using the flashcards, give each student one vocab word. They will go around the room and quiz each other. After quizzing each other, they will trade flashcards and find a new partner.
  • Matching: Create a vocab set by laminating and cutting out the words and definitions. Place the words and definitions into a ziptop bag. Have each student or pair of students match the words with their definitions.
  • Go Fish: Using the matching set above you can play Go Fish. Deal out 3-5 cards per player (depending on the number of students and vocab words) and place the rest upside down in the center. Students will ask each other for a vocab word or a definition, if they don’t have it, they will say “Go Fish” and the student will pick a card from the pile. If they have a matching set, they will place it down. If not, they will add the card to their hand. The first person to place all their cards down wins.
  • Old Maid: Using the matching set above, you can remove one of the vocab words or definitions from the set. Students will deal out all the cards. Students will pick a card from the person to their right. If they have a matching set, they will set it down. The first person to place all their cards down, wins, the person left with the vocab word or definition without that doesn’t have a matching card is the “Old Maid”.
  • Dominoes: Using the matching set above, you can have 3-4 students shuffle the words and definitions and deal out to each student. Have one person start by placing a vocab word on the table. If the next person has the definition, have them place it on the table touching the vocab word. The next person will place a vocab word on the table touching the definition of the previous word, and so on until all the words and definitions are used. The first one to get rid of all their cards wins.  If a students doesn’t have a definition or new vocab word to put down, they will skip their turn.
  • Stations: You can set up stations around the room with different vocabulary activities and students can rotate through the stations.

To make any of these games more challenging, you can combine 2 or 3 related sets of vocab into the mix. If you have any other fun ways to review vocabulary, please add to the comment section below.

Note: If you are having trouble seeing the handouts in ‘preview mode’ and it seems to be stuck in the loading phase, click on the boxed arrow (pop-out button) on the top right to open the pdf and view the rest of the pages.Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.47.20 PM.png

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 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 (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

Real Time Earthquake Data Mapping Activity

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Image Source: USGS

Essential Questions:

  • Where do earthquakes occur?
  • How are earthquakes recorded and measured?
  • What is the relationship between earthquake location and magnitude?
  • How do earthquakes impact humans and the environment?


  • Internet Access & USGS Earthquake Data
    • this link is set to the following settings: 30 days, 2.5+ magnitude, terrain, and no plate boundaries
  • Google Sheets Template – one per table top map
    • Earthquake Data Mapping Activity (Public Template)
      • to edit this spreadsheet, make a copy for each map, then share editing rights with each group of students who will be working on that map
        • if you don’t use Google Drive, you can download the Google Sheet as an Excel spreadsheet
      • ex: Map A data is shared with 4 students from period 1, 4 students from period 2, 4 students from period 3, 4 students from period 4, and 4 students from period 5. When done, they will have 200 EQs plotted and color coded on the table top map.
  • Colored pencils or markers per map
  • 1 Table sized map per lab group (3-6 students) – printed and assembled
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Sampling of student data from different regions of the world


  1. Assemble one table map and materials per lab group.
  2. Show students how to use and navigate the USGS website, find EQ data, and how to record their data on the Google Spreadsheets.
  3. Assign each group a map and 1-2 regions of the world. They will collect 25 data points for each region. They can choose any EQs over a magnitude of 3.0 for their region(s).
  4. Once they have all of their data, they will plot the EQs onto the table map. The magnitude of the EQ is the color they will plot onto the map.
    1. ex. Magnitude of 7.5 will be a purple dot
  5. Students will analyze their data and look for patterns
    1. What regions of the world have EQs?
    2. What regions of the world had more EQs? Less?
    3. What regions of the world had lower magnitude EQs? Higher?
    4. Why are EQs located where they are?
    5. etc…
  6. After this activity, I introduced Plate Tectonics and we discussed the relationship between EQs and tectonic plates.


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.


  • 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

Triple Beam Balance – Bottles of Stuff!



  • Single Serving Size (1L or less) bottles filled with various items
    • students brought in materials of their choice over the course of a week
  • Triple Beam Balance (TBB)
  • Mass Set
  • Student Handout (Triple Beam Balance Bottles pdf)


Procedures – Part 1

  1. Provide each lab group with an assortment of bottles
  2. Students will arrange the bottles from lightest to heaviest by making observations
  3. 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
  4. 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

  1. Students will transfer their estimation to the back page
  2. Using the TBB they will record the actual masses of the bottles
  3. 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?


Bottle # Mass (g) Bottle # Mass (g) Bottle # Mass (g)
1 126.9 14 281 27 192.3
2 72.9 15 336.5 28 330.9
3 29.6 16 223 29 465
4 438 17 70 30 195
5 202.1 18 36.43 31 59.1
6 166 19 185 32 168.8
7 63.1 20 88 33 33
8 301.5 21 140.1 34 100
9 224 22 49.1 35 402.5
10 610+ 23 73.3 36 187.1
11 67.1 24 54.9 37 318.4
12 251.8 25 27.5 38
13 410.1 26 406 39

You can also use these bottles as part of your density unit, see my blog entry for more information.