Lessons


* Lessons marked by an asterisk require extra notice to prepare.

  • C02–Chemical Identification

    A single chemical may be able to take on many forms, rendering simple methods of identification such as sight ineffective. Chemists (your students) therefore use a multitude of tests to compare the properties of a sample to known values in order to identify an unknown material.

    C03–Polymers

    This module helps students: identify polymers in their surroundings, define relevant terminology, and discover the properties of plastics and gels. It is recommended that students have a good grounding in the states of matter i.e; for younger students the topic was recently covered in class, or for older students you include the section about states versus phases.

    C04–Separation of Substances

    After an introduction to elements, compounds & mixtures, common methods & reasons for separating mixtures are discussed. Students then design and implement a multi-step purification process, the effectiveness of which is gauged by calculating the recovered fraction of components.

    C06–Acids & Bases

    The theory of acids and bases is relatively simple—with implications in a variety of fields including chemistry, ecology and biology—yet students of all levels consistently exhibit a poor understanding of its fundamental concepts. This module focuses on chemical strength vs. ion concentration, and formation of salts. The role of indicators is also covered briefly, and several demonstrations of acid/base reactions are presented.

    C07–Nutrient ID

    This activity-based study of nutrients in various foods. Beginning with an explanation of atoms, elements, compounds, and molecules. Then it discusses organic (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids) versus inorganic compounds. The second part of the lecture focuses on carbohydrates (sugar and starch) and proteins which are the main topics of the lab.

    C08–Paper Chromatography

    Students will learn about chromatography in general and use paper chromatography to explore the composition of various inks. We begin with a discussion about chromatography and its various forms and explain how this powerful tool can help distinguish between two or more compounds.

    C09–Soap

    Why do we need soap? How does it work? While answering these questions this lesson can be used to reinforce some aspects of acid/base chemistry, and also to review mixtures and solutions. This “kitchen chemistry” module also helps relate science to everyday experience.

    C10–Distillation

    The purpose of this module is to introduce the process of distillation and demonstrate said process using a simple distillation apparatus. As this is a demonstration, students will not complete a hands-on activity. However, student volunteers should be utilized throughout the entire module as often as possible. For this module, a large amount of time is spent on set-up, which is usually interesting to the students. However, while the distillation is actually proceeding, you may wish to incorporate another activity. Be careful to keep your eye on the progress of the experiment, though!

    C11–States of Matter

    The objective of this module is to introduce/review some of the (more complex) states of matter, and the transitions between them. With some of the worksheets it can also provide exposure to complex charts and graphs.

    C13–Titration *

    This module is designed to give students a practical understanding of titration through quantification of the amount of acetic acid in different types of vinegar. Consider introducing C06 – Acids & Bases first, or using the alternative LS18-Fresh Food.

    C14–Viscosity

    This lesson reviews the concept of fluids and bonding to provide students with an understanding of viscosity. A few brief historical tangents about New England are included, and Newtonian versus non-Newtonian fluids is optionally covered.

    C15–Complex Carbohydrates

    Introduce and review carbohydrates concentrating on complex carbohydrates. Building on concepts taught in Simple Sugars. Touching on the biology of complex carbohydrates as well as the chemistry behind synthetic and naturally occurring carbohydrates.

    C16–Kinetics *

    Students should be familiar with the material covered in C06 – Acids & Bases, and perhaps P12 – Steam Engines. We discuss several factors which affect the rate of reactions: temperature, particle size, concentration of reactants, and pressure or pH.

  • E01–Stress & Strain

    Introduce the important mechanical concepts of stress and strain regarding material strength. Explain strength from a materials science/crystalline solid perspective, and describe material strengthening techniques.

    E02–Rover Restraints

    This module gives students a hands-on, team-oriented introduction to engineering within the context of space exploration. They learn about NASA’s Mars rovers as examples of the challenges engineers face in balancing competing goals, while creating a lander for a mock rover to be tested in an egg drop.

     

  • ES01–Wondrous Water

    In a series of five or six workstations, water’s properties are explored as they relate to its importance in environmental processes including: heat capacity, solvation and density.

    ES02–Earthquakes

    Study the origin, nature, and effects of earthquakes beginning with a brief discussion of plate tectonics followed by a series of small workstations. The lesson ends with the calculation of an earthquake epicenter, and review of the days findings.

    ES03–Cartographic Projections (& Map Elements)

    Review & expand upon the basics of map literacy. In particular, to familiarize students with different projections so that they can cope with seeing “oddly” formatted maps (as in ES02-Earthquakes), and also recognize that the form of the map may distort or enhance its message.

    ES04–Cartographic Symbology

    This module reviews & expands upon the basics of critical map literacy. The preceding module on projections and elements (ES03) introduces students to concepts regarding the critical reading of maps. This continues the theme with a discussion of how information is portrayed (symbology) in different types of maps and culminates with the examination of potentially misleading maps.

    ES05–Topographic Maps

    This module is intended to help students understand topographic maps, a topic which students traditionally find difficult to grasp and also happens to be tested for on the MCAS. This skill can be useful in outdoor pursuits, and may aid in later understanding of advanced concepts e.g; E&M or multi-variable calculus.

    ES06–SETI

    Discuss the possibility of finding life outside of the planet Earth: how scientists classify life, the probability of finding intelligent life in our galaxy, astronomical scale, where we could look for life in our solar system, what type of life we would look for, and the types of experiments we have performed previously.

    ES07–Celestial Mechanics

    Topics covered relate the Moon’s orbit to eclipses, tides and phases of the moon. An optional exercise mapping the phases of the Moon for a month is recommended before teaching this module. An unrelated topic, the seasons are also covered since students will already be thinking about positions in space.

    ES08–Solar System

    This lesson provides a detailed overview of what makes up our solar system, with an emphasis on scale and non-planetary objects. Students learn about the vastness of local space, and the myriad of “lesser” celestial bodies.

    ES09–Rock cycle

    The three rock types found on Earth (igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic) are discussed and their specific characteristics are identified. Students will examine and identify rock samples using a dichotomous key.

    ES10–Fossils

    Fossils are fundamental to discovering the earth’s past inhabitants that occupied over its 4.5 billion year history. This module briefly explores the various time periods known to man and instructs school-age children how to both make and excavate fossils like paleontologists.

    ES11–Stars

    This module is designed to present an introduction to what stars are made of, their size, and how they are classified. As such, it works well as a follow-up to SM08-Classification.

    ES12–Cyclones *

    This activities-based study of the weather phenomena provides the students with the fundamental scientific concepts of thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes. They can be conducted before the lecture to stimulate students’ interest in the topic and/or following the discussion to recap.

    ES13–Soil Nutrient Cycle

    This module provides a basic understanding of the key nutrients needed for plant growth.

    ES14–Soil Properties

    Earth is not only the name of our planet but also refers to the soil that covers much of our land. Because only 11 percent of the Earth’s surface is suitable for farming, and because of the yearly rise in the world’s population, it is imperative that we know as much as we can about soil in order to maximize our land use. This module will explore both the formation and properties of soil that make it so essential to life.

    ES16–Weather

     

  • LS01–Inheritance & Blood Types

    Students are introduced to some of the basic rules of inheritance. These concepts are reinforced with a discussion of human blood types, and activity in which students type match synthetic blood.

    LS02–Hair ID

    This module teaches methods for analyzing different hair samples. It begins by discussing what hair is and why it is important. Students are taught the difference between human and animal hair samples. They are also taught how to use a microscope and how to make a wet-mount slide.

    LS03–Visual Illusions

    In this module, students will learn about human vision and visual illusions. We begin with a discussion about the human eye, its physiology, function, and how we perceive visual illusions.

    LS04–C. Elegans *

    This activity serves as introduction/unifying nexus of myriad scientific concepts including genetics (reproduction) and anatomy (differentiation).

    LS07–Eye Dissection

    In this module, students will learn about the general structure and physiology of the mammalian eye, comparative to the human eye. This module can be done alone or combined with the Visual Illusions module. We begin with a discussion about light, the human eye, its physiology and function, and lab safety.

    LS08–Owls!

    We begin with a discussion of adaptations key to owls’ success as predators, and the resulting pellets. Student’s then dissect an owl pellet and learn about the diet of owls and basic physiology of their prey.

    LS09–Cell City

    By competing to construct a model, students learn about its components and their functions. The metaphor of the cell as a city is used to make the information more accessible.

    LS10–Population

    Introduce and review a wide variety of ecological and population-related concepts including carrying capacity and natural fluctuations, namely that population levels are not static but vary over time.

    LS11–Heart Dissection

    We begin with a demonstration showing the basic processes of heart function. It is then followed by a dissection that will allow visual learners to better grasp the lesson.

    LS12–Fingerprint

    Students learn about fingerprint analysis beginning with a discussion of what fingerprints are and how they are collected. They will have the opportunity to practice identifying different types and patterns of fingerprints.

    LS13–Electrophoresis *

    The purpose of this lab is to learn about DNA and how unique sequences in DNA called restriction sites can be cleaved by restriction enzymes (RE). Using the technique of gel electrophoresis students will get to set up reactions with plasmid DNA and different RE and separate them on a gel. The students will also get practice with plasmid maps and how to determine the length of the fragments RE will create.

    LS14–Mitosis

    This module teaches the basics of mitosis using plant root tips. The students learn to identify cells in the different stages of mitosis, as well as how to use a microscope and prepare a wet-mount slide.

    LS16–DNA is Everywhere

    We begin with a brief overview of DNA’s role in the storage of genetic information, followed by a hands-on activity to extract DNA from food.

    LS17–Protein Folding

    This module introduces some of the major concepts in protein function, folding, structure, and binding. It may be helpful to cover C9 – Soap as an introduction to bonding first.

    LS18–Fresh food

    Students learn about the relationship between nutrition and fresh/processed foods, then verify this information by measuring the concentration of vitamin C in different forms of orange juice.

    LS19–Sugars

    Introduce and review many different types of sugars including artificial substitutes, covering how sugars are broken down and used by the body.

    LS20–Balanced Diet *

    This module will familiarize students with healthy eating habits. It then investigates how to ascertain nutritional value by exploring the food pyramid, nutrition labels and portion sizes. Activities are introduced throughout lecture to underline the points brought up during the presentation of the material.

    LS22–Lipids: Fat & Cholesterol *

    This module teaches the basic biochemical nature of lipids and the role lipids play both in health and disease. The students will have the opportunity to learn and develop hands on experience on detection, solubility determination of the level of unsaturation and the comparative chain length of fats.

    LS23–Calories *

    This module introduces the concept of calories, the relationship with food, and diseases related to caloric intake. Students will learn how to measure calories in everyday foods by constructing and using a calorimeter.

    LS24–Food Additives

    This module allows students to become more aware of what they eat and why as we explore a variety of food additives prevalent in the modern diet of processed foods and how they are used.

    LS25–Plants

    This lesson presents a broad introduction to the plant kingdom. Other topics of discussion include photosynthesis and plants’ effects on the weather. The lesson ends with a student investigation and dissection of plant anatomy.

    LS26–Roles of Vitamins *

    The objective of this module is to help students understand the importance of vitamins & minerals in nutrition. The demonstrations will visually show some of the roles that vitamins and minerals play in our bodies.

    LS27–Tree ID

    “Science” extends beyond the scope of classroom experiments and textbooks. Curiosity about anything and everything around us, even trees, can lead to greater understanding and appreciation of our world. Students will discuss the importance of trees, be introduced to their anatomy, and learn about adaptations and specific characteristics that will help them identify various species.

    LS28–Camouflage & Mimicry

    Camouflage & mimicry are explored as examples of adaptations adopted by plants and animals to increase their chances of survival. Students play a table-top hunting game as desert island castaways to gain appreciation of the problems posed for predators by those adaptations.

    LS99–Frog Dissection

    Students will get the chance to dissect a frog and observe frog anatomy.

  • P01–Standard Curves

    This module will introduce students to the importance of using standard curves to make predictions in science. A standard curve is a graph that is made from a small set of data points from an experiment. Many people are familiar with a line of best fit drawn through a linear set of data, and this is in fact an example of a standard curve.

    P02–Electricity

    A basic introduction to electricity and circuits for younger audiences without prior exposure. Students create a simple circuit, battery, and test the conductance of various materials.

    P03–Blue Skies & Rainbows

    Many people look into the sky and ponder “Why is the sky blue?” Unfortunately, this fascinating question often remains unanswered for students. Science is built upon these kinds of questions. For centuries, investigators have made advancements in science and technology by observing their surroundings and posing similar questions. Therefore, this module serves an intellectual purpose by exploring the characteristics of light, while simultaneously demonstrating the power of observation and experimentation.

    P04–Gravity

    Students learn about the difference between mass and weight while exploring the phenomenon of gravity with demonstrations of inverse-square laws, mass-dependence & the curvature of space.

    P05–Pendulums

    Pendulums have played an important role in the history of technology, and still have many uses in modern society. Students explore the periodic nature of pendulums by testing variations in three parameters of their design to identify the variable(s) which affect the pendulum period.

    P06–Ballistics *

    This activity-based study of projectile motion teaches students fundamental scientific concepts while generating student interest in the sciences. The lesson begins with the definition of a projectile and gives various examples of projectiles. It then discusses specific properties of projectile motion.

    P07–Electrostatics

    Students will learn the fundamentals of electrostatics and its role in everyday life. It is recommended that this module be used during the drier winter months since humidity will interfere with the build-up of sufficient charge.

    P08–Circuits

    Students gain a basic understanding of the nature of electric circuits after constructing common examples, including a “stairway circuit” whose successful completion demonstrates a real grasp of a fundamental law of electronics: electricity can only flow throw a closed circuit (MCAS PS5-6).

    P09–(Electro-)Magnetism

    Introduces a variety of magnetic phenomenon including but not limited to ferromagnetism. Students should have some familiarity with electricity/electrons.

    P10–Sound

     

    P11–Dimensions

    Students will learn about the three basic dimensions (x, y, & z) and an effort will be made to extend their understanding of higher dimensions. To do this, students will first try to understand the idea of objects with 1, 2, 3, and finally 4 dimensions through a brief retelling of “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions.” Although not required, it is recommended that you teach P4 – Gravity first.

    P12–Steam Engines

    This module introduces students to basic relationships between P, T, & V, as well as some basic thermodynamics through a discussion of steam engines. Note: Strong heat sources are required, if your students cannot reasonably manage them, the activities also make excellent demonstrations.

    P13–Introduction to Light

    The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the properties of light. At the end of this module, students should be able to identify transparent, translucent, and opaque objects, discuss reflection and refraction of light, and have a better understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum.

    P14–Springs

    Students will construct their own spring and mass systems to investigate Hooke’s Law.

    P15–Mechanical Advantage

    In this module, students will review the concept of mechanical advantage (M.A.), a ratio of input to output effort, and explore the M.A. conferred by many classes of simple machine.: levers, ramps, wheels, pulleys, gears & hydraulics.

    P16–Energy

    This module elaborates upon the basic forms of energy students may be familiar with, and the conversion of energy between different forms. Note: An instructor demonstration with flash paper is included. Also, a possible skin irritant is used in a student activity, but in a manner that avoids contact with skin.

    P17–Mass, Weight & Density

    The related and often confused concepts of mass, weight and density are discussed with several compelling demonstrations. Students construct boats then calculate and test how much mass they can support before sinking.

  • SM02–Repetition, Probability & Statistics 2

    Students’ introduction to “data science” continues with a discussion of measures of central tendency (averages) and exploratory data analysis (quartiles, histograms and box plots). Coverage of how scientists measure certainty is possible (t-Test) with a longer period for older students.

    SM03–Critiquing an Experiment

     

    SM04–Mock Science Fair

    This multi-session module serves a gradual low-level introduction to the scientific method through the use of a mock science fair project, “Under what conditions will a bean grow the most?” It is most appropriate for younger audiences where one will subsequently be later conducting a full science fair.

    SM06–Procedural Thinking

    The ability to create and follow clear, ordered plans is useful in many aspects of life. Thinking in steps is necessary to assemble anything from furniture to lasagna. Students will try to replicate the creation of a classmate from written directions.

    SM07–Observation

    Observations in science are crucial to the development and sharing of ideas and theories. This module focuses on the importance of making detailed observations with oft neglected senses of touch, smell, and hearing.

    SM08–Classification

    Various forms of classification are used on a nearly daily basis, as a way to organize scientific observations, describe relationships between things we see, and communicate our understanding of such clearly. Students will be exposed to the logic and pitfalls involved in creating and using classification schemes.

    SM09–Units, Measurement & Estimation

    This module provides a broad overview of the history and rationale of common measurement systems, tips for estimation and conversion between systems, as well as discussion of important topics such as intrinsic/extrinsic properties, density, and even (6th grade+) to review exponents.

    SM10–Repetition, Probability & Statistics 1

    Students are introduced to the central limit theorem through a variety of activities (including graphing), in order to emphasize the importance of collecting multiple data points for an experiment. Real world examples of the normal distribution are shown, as well as related mathematical phenomena.