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Science Activities and Tips

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TWO COMPARISONS. Have available pairs of food items. In each pair, the items should have at least two of the same attributes, e.g., green pepper and cucumber--green and have seeds. Display the pairs on a table. Help the class identify the foods and have the children choose partners. The partners draw pictures of each pair of food items on separate half sheets of paper. They label each food item and list how the items are alike. Using their papers as references, the children report on each food pair.

SKELETAL REVIEW. Make reviewing parts of the human body fun for your student with this game of Simon Says. Explain the game of Simon Says to the class and tell the kids you'll be Simon. Then give them a direction; for example, "Simon says, wiggle your phalanges." (Students should wiggle their fingers.) Have the kids continue until the entire class is wiggling the correct body part. Then tell them, "Simon says to stop." Continue playing the game using other body parts the kids have learned. Finally, let the kids take turns being Simon.

SOUNDS AROUND. Try these activities with your students to help them understand that sound is a result of vibrations in the air that can be seen or felt.
*Have the kids hold their hands to their throats and hum. What do they feel?
*Turn on a radio or other small appliance and let the kids take turns placing their hands on top to feel the vibrations.
*Collect small containers such as empty film canisters or small plastic margarine containers. Fill them with objects such as sand, popcorn, rice, paper clips, and so on. Then let the kids shake the containers and guess what's inside.
*Have the kids create wind chimes using clothes hangers and string. Tie seashellls, wooden dowels, spoons, or other objects to the hangers. Let the kids experiment with the sounds by mixing the materials.
*Use empty paper towel and toilet tissue tubes as sound magnifiers. Have the kids hold them up to an aquarium, a clock, or one another to identify various sounds.
*Use 2-inch plastic pipes and connectors to create a telephone system in the classroom.

BIRD FEEDERS TO MAKE. Help the students make bird feeders! Hang the feeders outside and observe them daily. Have the students write experience stories about what happens. If nothing happens, have the students write about that!
1. Dab peanut butter on pinecones. Place the pinecones in a shrub or hang them from low tree branches.
2. Ask students to bring empty milk cartons from home. Cut a "window" in the front of a milk carton. Close the top front of the carton and tape or glue it shut. Roll a piece of suet in birdseed and place it in the feeder. Make a hole in the top and pull a piece of cord through the hole to use in hanging the feeder.
3. Thread a needle with a long length of thread. String pieces of fruit and small pieces of fat on the thread, leaving room between each piece to tie on ribbon or yarn bows (to help attract the birds' attention). Loop the garland over a tree branch or shrub.

POPPING PENNY. Can air move a penny by itself? Chill a pop bottle and wet the edge of its opening. Lay a penny on the opening. The penny should pop.

TAKE A LISTENING WALK. Take the class on a listening walk. Walk around the school grounds or through the immediate neighborhood. Ask the students to be very quiet and to listen for every sound as they walk. Have the students count the sounds made by animals, machines and the wind. Discuss the sounds heard on the walk after returning to the classroom.

MUSICAL BOTTLES. Fill several pop bottles with different amounts of water. Fill one bottle 3/4 full and leave one bottle empty. Let the students take turns blowing across the tops of the bottles to make tones. Ask these questions:
1. Which bottle makes the highest tone?
2. Which bottle makes the lowest tone?
3. What effect does the amount of air or water in the bottle have on the sound produced?

MAGIC FINGER. Balance a pencil on a chair. Rub your feet on the carpet to generate static electricity. Move your finger toward the tip of the pencil. The pencil should move.

SENSATIONAL SENSES. Use this fun activity to stimulate students' awareness of the functions of the five senses. Place objects on a table to be categorized by smell, taste, touch, sound or sight. (Smell: onion, potpourri; Taste: sugar, salt, orange, and apple slices; Touch: silk, sandpaper, bark, leather; Sound: bell, whistle, alarm clock; Sight: book, flashlight, picture) Ask the students to select an item from the table and to tell which of the five senses would be most responsive to the item. Include activities such as these:
1. If you and a friend were locked in the school on a dark night, would you rather have a flashlight or a whistle? Why?
2. If you could choose a rose or a bag of jellybeans as a present for your teachers, which would you choose and why?
3. If you were going on a car trip, would you rather have a favorite book or a tape player and a favorite tape? Why?

ANIMAL ANTHOLOGY. Make a list of animals from A to Z. Ask each student to use manila paper, crayons and markers to illustrate one or more of the animals so that every letter of the alphabet is represented. Allow the students to use resource books for help in drawing details and distinguishing features. When the drawings have been completed, have each student write the name of the animal and a brief description of the animal below the illustration. Staple the pages together to make a book and add an attractive cover. Make a class trip to another class to present the book, or invite the class to your room to receive the book. The visit also could include a brief skit, a simple game and refreshments. This activity makes a good culminating project for a study of animals.

STUDY ROCKS. Place a collection of different kinds of rocks on the science table. Students might enjoy contributing to the collection. Use the rocks for these activities:
 Rank order the rocks: lightest to heaviest, largest to smallest, lightest color to darkest color, dullest to shiniest, smoothest to roughest.
*Classify the rocks according to size, shape, type, etc., by separating them into egg cartons or muffin tins.
*Make a list of descriptive words for each rock.
*Make a list of uses for rocks.
*Name ten things made from rocks.
*Make pet rocks. (Do this as a final activity.) Use buttons, yarn, colorful paper, paint, paste and whatever materials you choose to make faces and features. Use a box to make a home for the pet rock.

MY FIVE SENSES. The sensory activity will get students personally involved. Have the students make "My Five Senses" booklets. Direct the students to write and complete each sentence below on a sheet of drawing paper. Then have students look through magazines and catalogs to find and cut out pictures of things they like to touch, see, hear, smell and taste. Instruct the students to paste each picture on the appropriate "senses" page. Collage covers can be made by pasting pictures of things that can be touched, seen, heard, smelled and tasted on a colorful piece of construction paper. Punch holes in the pages and tie them together with yarn to make individual booklets. Display the finished products on a table for all to read. You could add the following statements to your booklet:
1. I am glad that I have taste buds because___________________________________.
2. I think my nose is_____________________________________________________.
3. One thing about my ears is _____________________________________________.
4. My eyes are_________________________________________________________.
5. A warm hug makes me feel_____________________________________________.

OIL AND WATER DO NOT MIX. Write the following activity on the chalkboard and help the students conduct the experiment. After concluding the experiment, involve the students in a discussion of what happened.
For you to think about:
No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to mix oil and water.
For you to do:
1. Fill a glass with water. Add a spoonful of oil.
2. Stir the liquid until the oil breaks up into drops.
3. Stop stirring and watch the oil rise to the top of the water.

I CAN'T STAND UP. Have the student sit with his head back, feet resting squarely on the floor, hands in his lap in a straight backed chair. Have another student press a finger lightly on his forehead while the student tries to stand up. The student in the chair should not be able to stand up because of his center of gravity.

SOUND PLAY. In separate, clean baby food jars, place about three tablespoons of each of these dried foods: Butter beans, peas, rice, kidney beans, elbow macaroni and sunflower seeds. Screw the lids on the jars and place a sticker on each jar. Using the first set, the children shake each jar and listen to the sound the items make. Guide them in the following: Describe the different sounds. Place the jars of items in order from loud to soft sounds. Using both sets of jars, match the items that sound alike.

WEATHER AN EGGSHELL. Try this experiment to help students understand the composition of limestone and marble. Hard boil an egg, and place it in a jar filled with vinegar. Loosely cover the jar and place it where students can observe it. Bubbles should be forming around the shell. Some bubbles leave the egg, and some remain attached to the egg, enabling it to float. One day later remove the egg and rinse in water. The shell should have disappeared, leaving a leathery membrane covering the egg. The egg can be bounced like a ball. Next, drop a piece of chalk into the vinegar. Bubbles will rise and pieces of the chalk will disappear. Pieces of limestone, marble, and clamshells also make bubbles in the vinegar. Conclude that in acid, calcium carbonate (the major component of eggshells, limestone, marble, animal bones, clamshells and chalk) undergoes a chemical change. Through this reaction, carbon dioxide is separated from calcium carbonate. The carbon dioxide makes the bubbles. The remaining component, calcium acetate, dissolves. Observing that the eggshell, clamshell, limestone and marble react similarly to acid will help students understand that these materials all contain calcium carbonate because they were formed over time from sea animal remains millions of years ago.

ELECTRIC LEMONS. Maybe you can't get blood form a stone, but you can get a charge out of a lemon! Demonstrate the principle of the electric cell using an ordinary lemon; two strands of copper wire, each with clips on both end; a penny and a dime; and a voltmeter. Insert the coins into separate slits made in the lemon, then attach each copper wire to a coin and to the voltmeter. If the needle on the voltmeter jumps backwards, disconnect the meter and reverse the vires. After presenting this demonstration to students, ask them to hypothesize various ways to increase the voltage, such as changing the coins used.

TOUCH LEARNING. In separate small brown bags that have flat bottoms, put about four tablespoons each of flour, rice, pebbles, soil, sand, sugar, salt, and flower seeds. Number the bags with a marker. Place them in a row in numerical order on a table. Each child takes a turn reaching inside each bag and feeling the contents. The children write the name of the contents beside the number of that bag on their paper. Have them tell the items they listed for the other bags. Show and identify all the items. Discuss why some were difficult to touch.

EXPLORING DENSITY. You'll need five clear-plastic cups, tweezers or tongs, and five each of five different, small objects. (Golf tees, erasers, popcorn kernels, beads, and toothpicks work well.) Also collect small containers of the following: rubbing alcohol, mineral oil, cooking oil, and white corn syrup. Place the cups so they're visible to all the students. Then ask five students to each fill a cup with a different liquid. Start with one set of the small objects, such as the golf tees, and give one to each of the five students. Tell the class to watch carefully. Then signal the kids to drop the objects into the cups simultaneously. Have your students write their observations. When everyone has finished writing, have the kids remove the objects with tongs or tweezers. Then choose five other students to take a turn dropping another set of objects into the cups. Again, have the students write their observations. Continue this procedure with the rest of the objects. Then ask the children to share observations and draw conclusions. They should conclude that the object's level of suspension depends upon the liquid's density and the object's density.

MELTING MATTER. Help your students explore changes in matter with this simple science activity. You'll need a glass of water, an ice cube, string, and salt. Place the ice cube in the glass of water. Lay the string across the ice cube so that the ends dangle over the sides of the glass. Sprinkle salt on top of the ice. Have your students predict what will happen to the salted ice. (It will begin to melt.) Wait 3 or 4 minutes, then lift the string. You'll lift the ice cube out of the water as well. Now ask your students why you were able to lift the ice with the string. They'll find that salt lowers the freezing point of ice and causes it to melt. A portion of the ice cube melted around the string, but the remainder of the frozen cube caused the melted part to refreeze around the string.

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