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

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Entries in video (92)


Video Demo: Whiteboard Protein Synthesis Demo

Protein synthesis is the process that the cell goes through to make a protein from the information stored in the DNA. The video below shows a demonstration that you can do in your classroom to show how protein synthesis works. This demonstration emphasizes the following points:

1. DNA contains the information to make a specific protein.
2. The DNA is in the nucleus of the cell.
3. The DNA cannot leave the nucleus.
4. The ribosomes make the protein from the information.
5. The ribosomes are in the cytoplasm and cannot go into the nucleus.

The metaphor that I use in class is that the DNA is like a series of recipe books in the library. These books cannot be checked out/taken out of the library. The only way to get the information that is in the books out of the library is to make a copy. mRNA is the copy of the information that can leave the nucleus and go into the cytoplasm so that the ribosome can read and make the protein. Watch the video to see how it comes all together.

Teaching tips: Place the amino acids around the classroom (cytoplasm). Assign students to be specific tRNA’s. They will get the specific amino acid and bring it to the ribosome for you.


Video Demo: Accelerometer

Acceleration is the change in velocity over time. Velocity changes when speed, direction, or both changes. Anyone can build a simple accelerometer. The video below shows how to build an accelerometer and how to use it.


Video Demo: Laser Lens Eye

Teaching how the eyeball works usually involves showing diagrams of the eyeball and showing how light passes through the lens. Science teachers can also use Jello to make lenses that will show laser light refraction.  I tried that and had disastrous results.  I started to play around with mixing baby powder (mostly cornstarch) with red food coloring and water.  I was quite pleased with the results.  Go ahead and watch the video below to see what happens.



Video Demo: Glowing Tonic Water Fountain

The idea for this demo came from Steve Spangler Science.  In his post he states:

Tonic water might not be your first choice for a beverage, but it's the secret ingredient you'll need to make a glowing geyser. It turns out that tonic water will glow under a black light because tonic water contains quinine, a chemical that was originally added to tonic water to help fight off malaria in places like India and Africa. While the tonic water we drink today only contains a small amount of quinine, it's still enough to make your drink glow under black light. 

Instead of using mentos to make a glowing gyser, I decided to do a Hero's fountain version. You can get a simple apparatus from teachersource.com that fits into 2 2L bottles. Where in your curriculum can you fit this? In eighth grade science we cover properites of matter such as denisty, phase at room temperature, color, flame color, smell, texture, etc.  Some chemicals can be identified from the ability to fluoresce when exposed to uv light. I would maybe do this with a fountain of regular water and one with tonic water and then ask the students if the same chemical is in each founatin.




Video Demo: Sodium in Water

The alkali metals are highly reactive since they have one valence electron. One of those metals is sodium. It needs to give up one electron to become stable. When a cubic centimeter sized piece of sodium is placed into water, a vigorous chemical reaction occurs in which sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and hydrogen gas is produced. Wikipedia provides an excellent description of what happens during the reaction.

Sodium reacts exothermically with water: small pea-sized pieces will swim around the surface of the water until they are consumed by it, whereas large pieces will explode. While sodium metal reacts with water, you can observe that the sodium piece melts with the heat of the reaction to form a perfect sphere shape if the reacting sodium is small enough. The reaction with water produces very caustic sodium hydroxide and highly flammable hydrogen gas. In any case these are considered an extreme hazard and will cause severe skin and eye injury.

In the video below a small pea sized piece of sodium is placed into water. It does ignite and explode. To avoid an explosion ice water should be used. To avoid ignition a safer method can be used in which a layer of mineral oil is placed on top of the water. The mineral doesn’t react with the sodium and prevents ignition.

For a safer sodium demo, fill a large graduated cylinder with and equal portion of water and mineral oil. The mineral oil will be on top. When sodium metal is dropped into the cylinder it won’t react with the mineral oil and when it touches the surface of the water, it reacts briefly to produce hydrogen gas bubbles, thus causing it to rise back up into the mineral oil.