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.

Pangea Puzzle Activity

pangea-pieces-ocean
Puzzle Pieces: Landmasses in their current position (not to scale)

Essential Questions:

  • How has the surface of our planet changed over time?
  • What clues are provided to show that the surface of our planet has changed?
Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 8.54.30 PM
Pangea: Image Source NYTimes

Materials (per 2-3 students): I make these ahead of time to save time in class and I can reuse them for each class.

  • Foam Board
  • Glue stick
  • Disposable scalpel or sharp craft knife
  • USGS landmasses (Pangaea activity PDF)
  • Blue construction paper
  • Ziptop bag

Procedures:

Preparation

  1. Print out and glue landmasses to a piece of foam board
  2. Carefully cut out each land mass and fossil key
  3. Place into zip-top bag
pangea-foam-board-pieces.jpg
Glue landmasses onto foam board then cut out pieces

Class Activity

  1. Have students place the landmasses into their current geographic positions on top of the blue construction paper.
  2. What do they notice about the landmasses? Discuss.
  3. Ask students: “Do you think you can make one large landmass using the clues provided?”
  4. After a few minutes, check on their progress, what did they do first? What was giving them difficultly? Encourage students to try alternate possibilities.
  5. Discuss findings, what possibilities did they come up with?
  6. Ask students how the landmasses moved to their current position- accept all possibilities.
  7. Ask students: “Are the landmasses are still moving?”
  8. Show “Animated Life: Pangea” by the NYTimes
  9. Have students try to create Pangea again.
  10. Discuss.

The Pangaea Pop-Up video is a great video to show also:

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.

SCIENTIFIC AND ENGINEERING PRACTICES (SEP) (Details from NSTA)

  • 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

Mystery Socks – Using Indirect Evidence

image
Some examples of the small toys I used in this activity

Purpose:

Students will use indirect evidence to determine what is inside each mystery sock.

Materials: per class

  • 10 new long black socks
  • 20 rubber bands
  • 10 clothes pins numbered 1-10
  • small toys or other objects to place inside each sock
  • (online) stopwatch
  • student handout (Mystery Socks-Using Indirect Evidence)

Preparation:

  • 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.
20160215_134551.jpg
Mystery Sock with item secured inside

Procedures:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. Arrange students into pairs or groups.
  4. Give each pair/group a mystery sock and ask them not to handle the sock until the timer starts.
  5. Once the timer starts, students will make as many observations as they can and guess what is inside each sock.
  6. Once the timer goes off, they will pass it to the next pair/group and the timer will start again.
  7. Continue until students have made observations on all 10 socks.
  8. Collect all 10 socks.
  9. Share observations and guesses.
  10. Open one sock at a time and reveal what is inside, and discuss.

Closure:

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

 

 

Bond with a Classmate Activity

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.

Lesson Worksheets: Bond with a Classmate Cards (pdf) and Bond with a Classmate worksheet (pdf)

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.

 

DNA – Paper Protein Chains Activity

DNA-paper-protein-chains
Making protein chains – In this example, the color code is different than posted in the lesson, it was a prototype

Purpose:

  • Students will convert their name into a DNA sequence and create a protein chain.

Materials:

  • Student Handout (DNAPaperProteinChainsActivity)
  • Amino Acid Handout (link)
  • 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
  • markers
  • staplers
  • clothes pins and string to hang up in classroom

 

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Protein Chains made by M.P.’s class Dec. 2017

Procedures:

  1. 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)
  2. Each student will write the letters from their first and last name onto the student handout.
  3. Using the chart, they will find the amino acid associated with the first letter of their first name.
  4. 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.
  5. Write the color of the paper link they will need for “L”, in this case, it is Red.
  6. Repeat for every letter in their name.
  7. Once their handout is completed, they will select the colored links, one for each letter of their name.
  8. The colored links will be placed in the same order as the letters in their name.
  9. On each link, write one of the codons for that letter. For example, “L” would be “CTT” on a Red link.
  10. Loop and staple the first letter of their name.
  11. Weave through the second letter and staple the loop closed.
  12. Continue until all the letters have been linked together.
  13. Hang up the protein chain, be sure to have the first letter of their name at the top.
  14. 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.

Protein Synthesis (link)

Sugar Density Column


sugar_density_2

Materials

  • Student Handout (pdf)
  • Food Coloring – Red, Blue, Yellow, & Green
  • Erlenmeyer flask filled with warm tap water
  • Graduated cylinder
  • 4 Stirrers/Sticks
  • 4 Pipettes
  • 1 Spoon
  • Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Test Tubes
  • Test Tube Rack
  • 4 Clear Cups

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.

sugar_density_set_up
Materials for the Experiment

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.

sugar_density_3

Super Easy to Make Cartesian Divers

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 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:

  1. Be careful bending the straw, any cracks will make the the straw useless.
  2. 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)
  3. 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)
  4. Use a rescue hook for any divers that do not float back to the top.
  5. Remind students to place the cap back on the bottle TIGHTLY – or water will shoot out of the bottle when they squeeze it.
  6. Lunch or serving trays work nicely to contain spills.
Source: Wikipedia
cartesian_diver_straw_paperclips
Cartesian Divers: Students can race their divers, who will sink faster? Slower? Float up to the top faster? Slower? Try different modifications and see what happens!

Density Bottles Demo

Density Bottles
Density Bottles: Sand, Air, Rice, Water, & Cotton Balls in 500 mL bottles

How to use density bottles:

Demo & Discussion – For this part of the lesson, students will not handle the bottles, they will answer discussion questions based on their observations only.

  1. Share observations about the bottles.
  2. What do the bottles have in common?
  3. What is different about the bottles?
  4. What do you think the original contents of the bottle were?
  5. What phases of matter are shown?
  6. Are any of these bottles empty? Explain.
  7. Do all of these bottles have air in them?
  8. Which bottle has more air in it: Cotton Balls or Water? Explain.
  9. Which bottle is filled the most? Least?
  10. Which bottle has has the most ‘stuff’ in it? Least?
  11. Which bottle is the heaviest? Lightest?
  12. How would you order these bottles from lightest to heaviest?
  13. Estimate the mass of each bottle in grams.
  14. Which bottle is the densest?
  15. How would you arrange these bottles from least to most dense?
  16. Which of these bottles can have more of the same ‘stuff’ added to the inside of the bottle? Explain.
  17. Which bottle(s) would float in a tank of water? (I do this at the very end of the lesson with everyone at the sink)

Hands On Exploration

  1. Each group will have one set of bottles or take turns using the demo bottles and sharing their findings.
  2. Using a triple beam balance, the volume of the bottles, and a tank of water, answer as many of the questions above as you can. (for our calculations, we use the volume of the bottle’s original content (500 mL of sport drink) to give us an approximate density, not the actual density – for comparison purposes only)
  3. How did your findings compare to your observations and predictions?
  4. Dunk tank – time to find out which one will float!

Further Exploration

Give each group of students a new set of bottles (ones that they have brought in from home) and have them make observations, predictions, and density calculations.

Additional Bottle Ideas:

  • Rocks/pebbles
  • laundry detergent – liquid or powder
  • paper clips
  • paper shreds
  • crayons
  • marbles
  • flour
  • bread crumbs
  • coffee beans
  • beans
  • different shapes of pasta
  • pom-poms
  • pop corn kernels or popped
  • Lego pieces
  • salt
  • dish-soap
  • beads
  • yarn/string
  • etc…

Have each student bring in a bottle from home filled with the contents of their choice so that you have enough bottle to compare. Match similar bottle shapes/sizes together for each group or match similar contents in different sized bottles for comparison.

You can also use these bottles as part of a Triple Beam Balance Activity (blog entry).