August 29

Skittle Investigation

Kindergarten chemists used the Scientific Method and hypothesized what might happen if we placed Skittles in water. My scientists thought they might sink or float, break into pieces (like cookies), grow larger (absorb the water), melt, dissolve, lose their colors, combine colors, or explode.

Why don’t the colors mix? Why do they move toward the center of the plate?

Scientists often think of new questions after they perform an experiment. What would happen if the Skittles were in the center of the plate or in the shape of a cross? Would we have the same results with another candy? What if we tried another liquid, such as milk or Sprite? Try this experiment at home and change one of the variables. Click here for more information.

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August 27

Chromatography

Lab began with the questions: How would you make the color black if you didn’t have a black crayon or marker? Is the color black all black?

Second grade chemists used chromatography to separate the colors (pigments) in black ink. We tested two water-soluble markers and discovered that black ink is a blend of other colors. Why are the bands of colors in the same order? Click here to learn more about this investigation.

Each scientist drew black circles in the center of his/her filter paper. They inserted a wet pipe cleaner into the center of the filter paper and placed the paper on top of a cup of water. The colors were revealed almost immediately.

I demonstrated with some non-soluble markers, like Sharpie and Expo, and the pigments did not separate. Click here to watch a humorous story about a little girl who learned the difference between permanent and water-soluble markers!

 

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August 26

Backbone

I introduced third grade’s vertebrate labs with a lesson about the backbone. All vertebrates have an internal skeleton and a backbone. We learned that the human backbone or spine consists of 33 interlocking vertebrae with different functions. Discs made of cartilage (flexible connective tissue) lie between the vertebrae to prevent them from rubbing against each other. They also serve as natural shock absorbers. The singular of vertebrae is vertebra.

The spine lets you twist and bend, and it holds your body upright. It also protects the spinal cord, a large bundle of nerves, that sends information from your brain to the rest of your body.

We made a make and take model of a backbone by threading a straw onto a pipe cleaner. We realized that this was not a desirable backbone because it did not bend. So, we cut the straw into pieces and put them on the pipe cleaner. Now, the backbone could bend, but the vertebrae were rubbing against each other. Finally, we placed beads (discs) between the vertebrae to cushion the vertebrae. A simple activity that illustrates the functional design of our backbone.

After reviewing the parts of an egg, we placed a raw egg in cups of vinegar, orange juice, and coke. Third grade biologists hypothesized what they believe will happen to each egg. Check back next week when we analyze our observations.

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August 23

Syringes and Color

Last week, kindergarten chemists used pipettes to learn about the properties of air and water. (See previous post.) When we dropped the water on foil and wax paper, the water droplets clung together and remained on top of both materials. The children noticed that the water droplets formed what appeared to be a half bubble in a dome shape.

During this week’s lab, we expanded on those concepts and used air to pull water into syringes. I explained that the numbers on our syringes measured the liquid in mL.

Prior to using the syringes, we used Crayola primary color markers (red, yellow, and blue) to add designs or pictures around names that I had previously written on paper towels. This material had a different texture than the foil and wax paper.

As my scientists colored, we discussed the structure of their names. Who has the shortest name? Does anyone have a double letter? Who has five letters in his/her name? How many classmates have an “a” in their names?

Then, we pulled the water into our syringes and dropped it on the colors we had drawn on our paper towels. The water did not stay on top of this material which led us to a discussion of absorbency. The colors also expanded (as one of my scientists exclaimed.) What a fun way to explore diffusion. But wait, we only used red, yellow, and blue markers! How did green, orange, and purple appear? Another scientist, noticed that the colors stopped moving when they reached the edge of the paper towel. Why didn’t our names change?

We thought our work looked like sunsets and tie dye.

Some of my young scientists have dreams about going into medical fields one day, so they were excited to learn how to use syringes.

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August 22

Science Treasures

My students often bring me science treasures and new items for our lab. These treats arrived the first week of school. Appreciate their thoughtfulness!

This was a gift from the High School Prefects and the One Association at the end of our first week of school! Such a fun surprise!

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August 20

STEM Challenge

Second grade engineers were tasked with building the tallest possible, freestanding tower with 15 pipe cleaners. Before they began work, we looked at towers around the world and discussed decisions that they would need to consider while planning. After collaborating with their engineer team, they began work.

But wait, we received an announcement from headquarters. Wow, this made our work much more difficult!

We were relieved to receive this communication, but now it was tough to collaborate.

After this final note, we completed our towers. This was not an easy assignment!

These engineers constructed the tallest tower. They used some solid shapes (cube and pyramid) in their design.

This activity came from Vivifystem.

August 20

COLOR

Color is a physical property and PreK chemists begin the year with a unit about color. In lab, we used color paddles to investigate how the primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) mix to create orange, purple, and green. Click here to watch a fun color mixing song.

 

We placed red, yellow, and blue color fizzers into cups of water. To make the secondary colors, we added one more color to each cup. Color fizzers are great because they do not stain, like food coloring.

This would be a fun time to pull out paints and mix colors at home.

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August 19

Help Save Fred!

Third grade scientists began the year with a STEM activity that focused on collaboration and problem solving.

Click here to watch the short video that introduces Fred’s problem.

Goal: 
Turn the boat right side up. Put the life preserver on Fred and place him back in the boat.

Rules:
You may only touch the paperclips – not Fred, the boat, or the life preserver.
Don’t let Fred fall into the lake or he will drown!
You can not injure Fred. For example, you cannot pierce him with the paperclip.

As students worked, they realized that bending the paperclips was not one of the constraints and that success required all four hands.

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