My students often stare in wonder at the radiometer that sits in the window sil of my classroom. A lot of them think it's the temperature that causes the different spinning rates. Others think it's the amount of light. I decided to attempt to see which factor determines it. This could be a good inquiry activity for students and it also demonstrates how smartphones are becoming useful data collection devices.
I have two lava lamps that rest in one of the window sils in my classroom. It is both a great distractor to the students and a source of fascination/curiosity to my students. It also helps that my students have to learn the concept of density. One of my lava lamps always seems lethargic and to be frank quite a dissapointment for viewing. I had been thinking that maybe it's a really good observation that might lead to a science inquiry for my students. I did some video and time lapse filming which may result in an inquiry for my students to do. Take a look at the video and see if it's a good idea.
A little late for the holiday season, but better late than never. One of the standards my students have to learn is the repeating pattern of the crystaline lattice. With a little bit of time before break (and after a unit test), my students were able to make some Borax crystal holiday ornaments (and they took their ornaments home). The video shows the making of process, which my students did. After they return from break, we will go into the nitty gritty science part of the crystal formation.
This past unit in science we covered states of matter and how they change. Students have to understand how molecules move at each phase and the energy involved. There are a ton of demos that show the phase changes and this is one of my favorites. All that you need is a large flask, water, a water balloon, a hot plate and tongs. I have my students draw diagrams of how the molecules are arranged and moving at each phase and the transitions inbetween. They also have to determine if heat energy is being added or taken away in each change. Even in the digital age, I think students benefit from simple pencil and paper drawings. The drawings are really models that explain the scientific phenomena. When the balloon gets pushed into the flask, it is a very dramatic demonstration of a liquid taking up less space than a gas.
Discrepant events are the cornerstone of a constructivist science education. A good demo will force a student to confront their preconceived notion of how a phenomena works. Students must work at trying to resolve the conflict between what they just saw and their prior knowledge. Magic tricks are a perfect example of that. Students think what they just saw is magic or they try to figure out how the magic trick works. This is a simple magic trick that involves the scientific concept of friction (and a little bit of tension).