I made ScienceFix.com to share my favorite demos that I do in my middle school science classes.  

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    Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Moon
    by Sara Howard
  • NOVA - Origins
    NOVA - Origins
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    Human Body: Pushing the Limits
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Video Demo: Water Up

An inverted 100 ml beaker is placed inside a 400 ml beaker filled with colored water. The 400 ml beaker is placed on a hot plate. The water boils for a while, and then the beaker is removed. The water vapor inside cools condenses back into liquid. The molecules of a liquid take up less space than a gas, and therefore the pressure inside lowers. The atmospheric pressure pushes the colored water up inside the beaker. This demonstration can be found in Tik L. Liem’s Invitations to Science Inquiry.


Genetic Engineering in the Classroom

Genetic engineering may be the single most important development in biology in the last 20 years. Bio Rad is a terrific Bay Area company that sells easy to use kits that can be used in the classroom. Bio Rad’s pGLO transformation kit (see below) essentially allows students to insert the Green Fluorescence Protein (GFP) from a jellyfish and insert it into E. coli bacteria. With this inserted gene the bacteria make GFP and thus the bacteria glow green under UV light. The name of the kit is the pGLO Bacterial Transformation Kit. For detailed explanation of the kit, see video below.

pGLO kit

kit contents

video demonstration of kit


Science of 4th of July

The fourth of July means fireworks.  Here is a list of 10 science facts about fireworks, including the health affects of the smoke.  Here is also a good simple explanatory video of how a firework works.

Here is video on a red, white, and blue Mentos and Diet 7up reaction and explosive watermelon carving, via Steve Spangler.



Lesson: Google Maps/Earth Solar System Scale Model

Google Maps has recently developed “My Maps” where Google Maps can be annotated with pictures, lines, shapes, and points. I incorporated this new tool with one of my all time favorite lessons: The Solar System Scale Model. This model shows the Sun and the nine planets (yes I still include Pluto for comparison reasons) to scale in both size and distance. For details download the student (word document) and teacher handout (word document). You can take a look at the model in action by going to Google Maps or download the Google Earth kml file to look at in Google Earth. Below is a short narrated video clip of the Google Earth version.



Lesson: Sink or Float

We are now beginning our unit on density and buoyancy and I like to use this learning activity to introduce density. Making students aware of their misconceptions is one of the most powerful methods in teaching science. When you demonstrate the actual reality of the concept it can break their misconception and students are forced to change their thinking. I give the students the following challenge statement (word document):

“Ojbects that are high in mass sink in water.”

Students have to write a paragraph stating if they agree, disagree, or are somewhat in between with the statement. They have to explain in detail their reasoning. It is not important that they are actually right or not, they just need to be able to clarify their thinking. I then do the following (see video below).

Afterward the students need to explain in a paragraph if their thinking has changed and if so, they need to explain how. The items that were used in the demo can be found at Educational Innovations. Here is a list of the items, with their masses and densities (excel spreadsheet).