Set up hints – students prep items at their table then come up to the tank. After dunking, dry off with towels (I just drop it onto a thick folded up towel next to the tank). I have a bank of TBBs set up on the side of the classroom – students find the mass on their assigned TBBs then record results. Repeat trials. Towards the end of class, students enter all their data into the spreadsheet then I give them the volume of their film canister. Depending on the type of film canister, the volumes are about 39-41 mL. Confirm with a large graduated cylinder or water displacement tank.
This post highlights the eight Scientific and Engineering Practices and spotlights a few lessons related to each practice. I had this as eight separate posts but decided to consolidate for easier viewing.
For more details and examples about the Science and Engineering Practices, visit NSTA.
Tag: SEP8 – click for more lessons that cover this practice
print and cut apart the 8 cards for each part of the lesson
to set up the cards, use large 4×6 index cards and store in ziptop bags.
on one side of the index cards, glue on the nonsense letters
on the reverse side, glue on the fossil layers
laminate for durability
Replace the letters for each fossil layer, see my ppt for new random letters
spelling out the word “ORGANISM“ is way too easyfor students to figure out and they will not really have a chance to work on the activity with the depth of thinking and problem solving that you want them to do
be sure to stagger cards so that the order of the cards is not the same, otherwise they will flip over the cards and have the answer for part 2
This is a fantastic lesson and I have used it successfully with both 5th and 6th grade students. When introducing this lesson I use the analogy of a laundry hamper, or in most cases, the pile of dirty clothes on the floor in their bedroom. Today’s clothes would go on top of the pile, each day adding a layer of dirty clothes. The older clothes would be on the bottom of the pile, kind of like a timeline of what they wore this week. When that laundry is collected and moved to the laundry room, the layers would get disrupted. With rocks, the layers form on top of each other, and the older layers are on the bottom. We then brainstorm how those layers can be disrupted: earthquakes, tectonic plates moving, landslides, digging, etc…
For this activity, they have to figure out the pattern of how these layers are formed, and there are clues in each layer, they just need to know what to look for. For the nonsense letters, there is a pattern that connects all the layers together. Many will think it is alphabetical, but I tell them that it is not. Once they have worked on it a few minutes, I have them share their theories. Once each group has shared their theory, I give them the clue. And suddenly, the pattern is clear now that they know what to look for. Using the same strategy, they will then sequence the fossils on the reverse side of the index cards.
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.
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.
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?!
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
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:
Be careful bending the straw, any cracks will make the the straw useless.
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)
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)
Use a rescue hook for any divers that do not float back to the top.
Remind students to place the cap back on the bottle TIGHTLY – or water will shoot out of the bottle when they squeeze it.
Lunch or serving trays work nicely to contain spills.
one laminated set per group (4 slides per page pdf)
2 sided handout for each student to keep in notes (9 slides per page pdf)
Pencils and highlighters
Procedures Part 1:
Prior to the students starting the activity on their own, I read the scenarios out loud for the class. As I read the text, students independently made a light pencil mark in each paragraph to indicate broken safety rules – anything that they thought might be an infraction. After I read the story, they worked with their partner to find the broken safety rules using the task cards. After a few minutes, I modeled the first broken safety rule to make sure everyone was on the right track and understood the directions.
Each student will have a handout with all 5 of the scenarios.
Each group will have one set of safety rule task cards.
Groups will need to identify the safety rules that were not followed for Scenario #1 and pull the safety rule task cards related to Scenario #1. The rules that were not broken will be placed in a pile to the side.
Students will lightly underline where the rules weren’t followed in their notes and write the number of the rule for each violation along with a brief 2-3 word description of the rule that was broken in the margin of their notes.
Once they have found and identified all the safety violations for Scenario 1, they will do the same for Scenarios #2-5.
Students will find as many of the 18 violations as they can.
I don’t tell the students how many safety violations there are, then they can use process of elimination for the last scenario, I tell them that each safety rule task card will be used at least once so they know that there are at least 16 violations to find.
Procedures Part 2:
Once the groups have completed the 5 scenarios, they will share their findings with the class.
On the ppt, advance to Scenario 1.
Ask one group to start – What was the first safety violation in this scenario? Which rule did SpongBob’s crew break?
Advance the slide and the answer will be highlighted in either yellow or green font (see image below).
The number in parenthesis is the safety rule number.
All students will use a highlighter to highlight the phrase and make corrections if needed.
Ask the next group if there are any other violations in the scenario, if so, what is the next one?
Each group will contribute an answer until all of them have been identified for Scenario 1.
Do the same for scenarios 2-5.
Discuss your results/debrief.
Additional Resources for this activity:
The original worksheet for this activity is from ScienceSpot.net (pdf)
Interactive Notebook version of this worksheet (pdf)
Marcia has some nice additional activities for Safety on her website (link)
This ppt was modified from the original source found at (link)
SpongeBob SquarePants® and all related characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc.
For more lessons on Science Skills, click on this page (link)
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)
Optional – privacy screen made of one manila folder cut in half and stapled together
View my Properties of Matter resources for related lessons (page)
This is a fun partner activity that I use as part of my Chemistry unit to get students thinking about the differences between physical and chemical changes. Each pair of students is given a set of cards with images and descriptions of either a physical change or a chemical change. (see photo above)
Each pair goes through the cards and discusses/decides where the each card will be placed. Once they have categorized the cards, students call me over verify their work – I will either say “Yes, they are all in the correct category!” or “Not quite yet, try again.” I give a small clue each time I come over. For example, I will say something along the lines of “You have 2 in the incorrect column” or “You have too many in the Physical Change category, which ones should be moved to the Chemical Change category?” or “Two cards need to be flip/flopped to the other category, all the other cards have been placed correctly” or “All of the cards that are placed in the Chemical Change group belong there, but not all of them are there quite yet, what else can you move to that category?” – I won’t tell them the specifics of what needs to be changed. This forces the students to re-evaluate their choices and make changes as needed until all of their cards in the correct category.
Every few minutes, I will give the whole class a clue. This allows them to check their progress and verify one answer at a time. One card that many students have difficulty with is the boiling water card – and that is usually the first clue I will give out once I have had a chance to check every group’s progress. Each pair of students continues working together until all the cards are placed in the correct category. Once I’ve verified their placements, they add the answers to their notes and answer the questions for the activity and we discuss our results.
For my posts, I am tagging the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP) that I think best fit the lessons on my blog. To find lessons related to each practice, you can use the search box to find them or click on the tags on each post to find similar lessons: