After I demonstrated that water (H2o) drops like to stick (bond) together, PreK scientists drew a path through a forest, and slid their finished drawings inside page protectors. They used pipettes to squeeze drops of water onto the page protectors, and then turned the paper to guide the drops along the paths they drew. Focus and use eye-hand coordination was required for success. This was also an interesting way to investigate friction. Tiny drops did not move, but large drops were difficult to control. These young physicists also placed multiple drops of water on their page protectors, and as they moved the paper, they watched the drops merge into a single drop. In addition, they were experimenting with adhesion which is the tendency of water molecules to be attracted, or ”stick”, to other substances. This is a fun activity to do at home!
Kindergarten scientists traveled to Antarctica in lab. We made snow from a super absorbent polymer and used Styrofoam and clear plastic bowls and cups that resembled ice. Penguins live in this ecosystem. Click here to learn more about this fun sensory material. As they worked, we shared words (adjectives) to describe how the artificial snow felt.
Third grade students are studying environmental science and this lab focused on our use of plastic. Did you know that many scientists believe that there is more plastic in the ocean than fish? Although first invented in the early 1900s, plastic was not widely used until the 1960s. Click here to watch this informative video about plastic with your child. The Wall Street Journal shared our current use of plastic on January 16th: Total plastic waste in the US is 36 million tons and the amount that goes into landfills is 27 million tons. The market for online restaurant delivery has gone from 31 billion in 2019 to 44 billion in 2020.
Trash we throw away ends up in a landfill. After reviewing a chart that listed how quickly different materials decompose, we looked at this landfill that was made almost two years ago to see which items had decomposed. I sent a new landfill to each of the third grade classrooms for them to observe through the end of the year. What makes something decompose?
We learned that scientists label plastics with numbers 1-7. Some of those items can be recycled, while others will go into the landfill. Then we each found the code on 26 different items.
One surprise to many of my scientists was that red solo cups are often not accepted in all recycling programs.
Click here to watch an invention, Mr. Waterwheel, that is cleaning the Baltimore Harbor of plastic and other trash using alternative energy sources.
How can you reuse pieces of plastic? Brainstorming is a group problem-solving technique that involves the spontaneous contribution of ideas from all members of the group. (Merriam Webster) Design teams often use this skill. Choose a piece of plastic from your recycling bin and brainstorm all the ways it could be reused. In class, we thought of numerous ways to reuse this piece of plastic – ice cube mold, paint tray, earring, rock, or Lego storage, cupcake server, and a game to catch small balls.
Light is made up of different lengths of light waves. White light can be refracted to see the colors inside. To see the visible spectrum, we wore refraction glasses or rainbow peepholes. Suddenly, the colors in the rainbow were everywhere there was light.
Ultra violet (UV light) means beyond violet and it is a type of light that we cannot see. UV light helps our bodies make Vitamin D, but too much UV light can cause sunburn. Though some ultraviolet light waves from the sun penetrate Earth’s atmosphere, most of them are blocked from entering by gases like Ozone. Some days, more ultraviolet waves get through our atmosphere. Scientists have developed a UV index to help people protect themselves from harmful ultraviolet waves.
Click here to check the UV index in your area or anywhere else in the world. (Remember to check an area during daylight hours.) You will also find the UV index on weather apps on your phone. Take a few seconds and check the UV index on your phone several times each week. Scroll down to the bottom of the weather forecast. If you have a reptile or amphibian tank at home, you probably have a UV light on it.
My scientists strung bracelets with white beads. When we walked outside, the beads seemed to magically change colors. Why? A chemical reaction occurred when these UV sensitive beads were exposed to ultraviolet light.
Continue experimenting with the beads at home. Do the beads change color when light shines in a window? Rub some sunscreen on a couple of beads. Do they still change color? Place the beads under sunglasses. What happens? If you place the beads in water outside, is there still a color change? Can you make a person or an animal with your beads and pipe cleaner and then build a shelter that will protect him/her from UV rays? Do the UV beads change color on cloudy days too?
We traveled to the IT conference room to use black light flashlights. Black light is UV-A light. We used the flashlights on glow in the dark paper. As I walked around with a larger UV light, we noticed that some of the colors in our clothing glowed. Why?
At the beginning of lab, PreFirst scientists briefly learned how to read a thermometer. We discussed that snow will not fall unless it is raining and the temperature is 32 degrees or below.
We moved to the tables and made artificial snow with a super absorbent polymer. Because they are studying the forest ecosystem, I added forest animals and trees, as well as other cups, plates, and sticks. Such a great sensory experience that also develops creativity, communication, and fine motor skills! If you leave the snow out, the water evaporates and it becomes a powder again.
As I was feeding our duck, Percy, I noticed the heron who has become a frequent visitor to the pond. When I disturbed him, he took flight. What a treat to watch him in motion.
First grade scientists continued their study of magnets. After we reviewed the materials that magnets attract, we investigated how magnets push (repel) and pull (attract). Magnets have a north pole and a south pole, just like Earth. Like poles repel and opposite poles attract. We used two magnets to feel the force.
As we matched the floating magnets to the photos, we applied our knowledge of attract and repel.
Creativity, problem solving, and fine motor skills were developed when we created magnet sculptures at the end of lab. Click here for more ideas.
Click here to do a fun activity at home with magnets.