First grade scientists began the year with a living and nonliving things unit. We have learned that plants and animals are living because they reproduce, react to changes around them, move on their own, grow and change, and need food, water, and air.
Are there other living things? Is yeast living? Does it need food and water? Can it reproduce (make more of its own kind)? YES! Yeast is a fungus and when it is in the package, it is in a dormant state, but if we add food and water, it will begin to reproduce. Yeast reproduce by budding. Click here to watch an animated video.
When we added warm water and sugar, the yeast in the bottle immediately began budding. Why did the balloon expand? Yeast release carbon dioxide as a waste product, just like us! Use what you’ve learned to explain why bread has holes in it. Click here to watch the experiment. In this video, a variable was changed. We changed some variables too. Some of my scientists used larger bottles and we added varying amounts of sugar, but we all poured in one cup of warm water and one tablespoon of yeast into our bottles.
Resurrection plants are found in the desert and have adapted to a habitat with little water. The plants drift into a dormant state and survive for years in this dry state. They looked dead when I pulled them out of the bag, but look what happened after we poured water on them!
The plant began to uncurl its dried branches almost immediately, but it will return to its dormant state if it dries out again.
Kindergarten scientists began lab with an optical illusion. Stare at this image for 30 seconds, look at the ceiling, and blink a couple of times. Who do you see?
Our physics investigations continued. Why does your image appear upside down on the concave side of the spoon and right side up on the other?
Mirascopes are a favorite of mine! Place the item inside the mirascope and it appears on top – a hologram. It looks like you can touch it, but it is just the illusion of the object. Click here and here to learn more about this fun physics toy. My students were amazed and perplexed!
The clip and the bell are inside the hole and they appear as if you could pick them up! There is actually nothing there!
My physicists couldn’t wait to touch the sphere inside the cups on their lab tables. Click here to learn more about water marbles. When I filled the cup with water, the sphere disappeared from sight. Why? When we looked through the water spheres, images were upside down, just like the spoon. They bounce too!
We recalled from last week that sound travels more easily through solids. We wrapped the string (tied around the spoon) around our fingers, stuck our fingers in our ears, and banged the spoons against the tables. Wow, it sounded like a bell was ringing! Try this at home with a metal hanger against a variety of surfaces!
Lots of thought provoking observations and questions during this lab which is where all great learning begins!
Dissecting owl pellets is always a favorite lab! It’s a treasure hunt!
Owls eat their prey whole. Since birds don’t have teeth, they can’t chew their food. The owl slowly digests its meal by separating the softer materials (such as meat) from the harder materials (such as bones, claws, and teeth). It then regurgitates the indigestible items in a pellet. An owl pellet can provide important clues to how an owl lives and which rodents habitat an area.
We used forceps and probes and placed the bones we found in Petri dishes. We are learning to talk like scientists!
My third grade biologists used a bone identification key to identify the bones they discovered in their sterilized pellets. We noticed that the animal bones have the same names as the bones in our bodies.
Click here for an informative video about owl pellets.
Click here to learn how to dissect an owl pellet.
Click here to order owl pellets. Several students asked me to include this information.
Mrs. Dickey’s class made up a living things lab that focused on mealworms. These entomologists were able to investigate three stages of metamorphosis – larva (mealworm), pupa, and adult darkling beetle. When the beetles first emerge from the pupa stage, they are red, but they will gradually turn black. Click here to learn more about mealworms.
May we never lose our childlike wonder!
Sweet potatoes grow underground. Can we trick a potato into growing if we place it in a dark cabinet, as if it was underground?
My scientists knew that blood travels through our body in veins, but they didn’t realize that plants are designed in a similar way. Food and water travels throughout leaves in a network of veins. We split a Napa cabbage leaf and placed it in red and blue food coloring. Before the end of lab, the colored water had moved through the veins. What a great reminder that whatever we pour into our soil is absorbed by the plants around it. For more information about this investigation, click here.
Before the end of lab:
The next morning:
Symmetry was the next topic. God created many plants and animals with symmetry. Where would you draw the line of symmetry on these pictures? Some objects have more than one line of symmetry and others are asymmetrical Click here to watch a video about symmetry. We did not watch this in lab. Look for symmetry as you are out and about with your child.
Engineers use symmetry in buildings.
Use some type of construction material at home to build a symmetrical structure.
Second grade botanists folded a piece of paper in half and then used the fold (the line of symmetry) to cut out a symmetrical leaf. Use fall colors and cut out symmetrical leaves to decorate your home.
Finally, we drew designs on one side of lines. We placed a mirror on the lines which made our drawings symmetrical. This is a fun activity to do at home.
I wonder if any of my kindergarten scientists will be a Foley artist. This lab may have steered them in that direction! We began our time together by repeating three part patterns using movement and sound. This is a fun way to learn how to follow multi-step directions.
Did you know that you can amplify the sound on your phone by just placing it in a cup? As I pulled my phone in and out of the cup below, we could hear the volume increase and decrease. You can also make speakers from recyclable materials. Click here to learn how to make your own speakers. This is a fabulous at home engineering challenge that solves a real problem! How would your results change if you varied the size of the cups or used cups that were made from different materials? What happens to the sound when you use a longer tube?
I shared some of my favorite sound makers – bike horn, train whistle, sound hose, and duck call. Click here for more information about sound hoses. My scientists were amazed at the sound created by the air twirling inside the hose.
Sound was also amplified in the thunder tube. Click here to find out how to make your own thunder tube. Sound cups also demonstrate this concept. This would be a fun at home project too! Click here for directions on how to make “talking cups.” The smiles below testify to how much we enjoyed this investigation. I wish you could hear the sound track! Will changing the size or material of the cup change results?
We struck tuning forks and could see them vibrating, but when we touched them, the vibrations stopped. When we placed the handle of the tuning fork on our lab tables, the sound increased because sound travels easier through solids. Then we placed our ears directly on our lab tables and the sound from the tuning forks was even louder! At home, ask your child to place his/her ear on the table. Then tap the table with different objects. Is the sound louder with your head on the table?
My third grade biologists continued their study of the skeletal system. Our emphasis in this lab was on the bones and joints in the hand. We used Mystery Science, a great online resource, to lead us through the investigation. The bones appear translucent because we painted them with vegetable oil and therefore, our drawings resemble x-rays.
I also shared pictures of prosthetic and robotic hands. I explained engineers use the knowledge they learn in science and math to solve problems. This is an example of a STEAM activity. We aren’t completing the project below, but I challenged my scientists to try it at home.