This is always a favorite investigation! The primary colors of pigment (red, yellow, and blue) mix to form the secondary colors (orange, purple, and green), but how do you create the intermediate or tertiary colors? First graders were tasked with using varying amounts of the primary colors to create 24 different colors. Click here for additional information. I used color fizzers which do not stain. How fun to have a job creating crayon or paint colors! After we mixed the colors, we named them. Click here for the color names of Crayola crayons. I witnessed an abundance of collaboration as they asked their classmates how they created the colors in their trays.
In the second half of both of their labs, prefirst and first grade grade scientists connected math and science as they learned about anaglyphs. We learned that a 2D shape has two dimensions (length and width), while a 3D shape has three dimensions (length, width, and height). We looked at examples of anaglyphs and noticed that red and cyan were added to the photos. When we wore glasses with lenses of the same color, the pictures became 3D. These scientists especially enjoyed watching a 3D movie. Click here to take a ride on a roller coaster. Want to learn more about the art of anaglyphs? Click here.
Have 3D glasses at home? Click here to review shapes.
During fourth grade’s weather unit, I demonstrated how to make a “homemade” thermometer with a bottle, straw, clay, and water colored with food coloring. Click here for directions. In the photos below, the water moved in the straw as the temperature changed throughout the day. I also taped a water cycle bag on my window. Fourth graders made these during online instruction. As the water heats up, it changes to water vapor, condenses, and then falls again as precipitation down the side of the bag. Click here for additional directions. (Food coloring is optional.)
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!
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.
At the end of our geology lab, we had time to combine art and physics to create rock sculptures. Click here to learn more about how artists use science (center of gravity and counter balance) to create these astonishing sculptures.
Do you know that one of every four creatures on Earth is a beetle? PreK biologists learned about the beetle’s body parts and were surprised at the diversity! We drew the three body parts (head, thorax, and abdomen), six jointed legs, antennae, and wings.
We each had a beetle to investigate and to observe those parts up close.
Click here to listen to this story.
Second graders have been studying the Cherokee and Creek nations in their homerooms. I wanted to do a STEM lab to reinforce the major concepts that they have been learning, and I believe multidisciplinary learning is a best practice in education. The two big ideas were: Native people used the resources that were available to them and the area in which they lived determined their culture. We briefly discussed the Native Americans who lived in the Eastern woodlands, plains, and Southwest, but our lab focused on how the people groups who lived on the plains constructed tipis – an amazing engineering feat! The people who inhabited the Great Plains were nomadic and followed the buffalo. Click here to watch an informative video. Click here to read an article about tipis.
This proved to be a difficult task, especially since we were not working on the ground. As we faced challenges, we collaborated to overcome them, and failed forward. We learned that the shape of a tipi is a cone. We cut a circle to form our cones and folded the circle twice to find the center. We drew a smaller circle around the center and cut a slit to it. One of my students compared this process to a Christmas tree skirt-a useful analogy!
My PK and P1 scientists had fun learning all about snails! It is paramount that children investigate the world around them, so that they learn to respect and care for living things. After studying a snail’s body parts, we drew the spiral shell, the muscular foot, and eyes on the end of the tentacles. There are a smaller pair of tentacles that snails use for sensing. Snails secrete mucus, so that they can slip and slide. To learn more about this interesting little creature click here and here.
We also made a 3D model of a snail.
But the favorite part of this lab was observing live garden snails! Just look at the sense of wonder in these faces!
What is the difference between a snail and a slug? Do you see a mistake in one of the cover illustrations?
First grade entomologists continued their study of fireflies. After reviewing the body parts of a firefly: six jointed legs attached to the thorax, three body parts (head, thorax, abdomen), compound eyes, antennae, and two pairs of wings, we sang the following song, to the tune of Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.
Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen ( Repeat 2 times)
Antennae, wings, and six jointed legs,
Head, thorax, abdomen (abdomen)
Like all beetles, fireflies undergo complete metamorphosis during their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Click here to watch an informative video about fireflies. What is bioluminescence? Why do fireflies glow?
We applied what we learned about the anatomy of a firefly and added bodyparts to the fingerprint abdomen. Of course, these scientists would only observe a firefly in a jar for a short time, before they released it.
Our fireflies really glow in the dark because I added Steve Spangler’s phosphorescent powder to yellow paint. We dipped our fingers into the paint to make the abdomens.
This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine!
Click here to watch The Very Lonely Firefly.