Book 1 Hands-On Projects

Book 1 hands-on projects include:

Simple Experiments: Basic experiments where students practice using the scientific method and collecting data. 

Experiments: More complex experiments where students use more advanced techniques to gather data. 

Activities: Students create, design, or explore phenomena, make observations and evaluate what they observe. 

Click here for a downloadable pdf with student notebook page.

Objective:

To practice using the scientific method by exploring how different liquids can affect the melting rate of ice cubes.

Materials Needed: Use the links to order materials you need for your experiment.

Ice Cube Tray

Clear Plastic Cups

Stopwatch or Timer

Different Liquids:

  • Water
  • Table Salt (for making salt water)
  • White Vinegar
  • Coca-Cola
  • Orange Juice

Spiral Notebook

Pencils

Procedure:

R-Research: What happens when a solid melts? Watch a simulation of atoms & molecules moving.

A-Ask a Question: Does the type of liquid affect how fast an ice cube melts?

Form a Hypothesis: (Example) "I think the ice cube in saltwater will melt the fastest because salt lowers the freezing point of water."

Gather Materials: Collect all the materials needed for the experiment.

T- Test, Tinker, Try (Conduct an Experiment):

  • Label each of the three cups: one for water, one for milk, and one for saltwater.
  • Fill each cup with the respective liquid, making sure they are at room temperature.
  • Place one ice cube in each cup simultaneously.
  • Start the timer as soon as you place the ice cubes in the cups.
  • Observe and note the time it takes for each ice cube to completely melt in each of the liquids.

Record Data:

  • Use a notebook to record the time it takes for each ice cube to melt in each liquid.
  • Note any other observations, such as changes in the liquid's appearance or temperature.

A-Analyze Data:

  • Compare the melting times of the ice cubes in different liquids.
  • Discuss why one liquid might have caused the ice to melt faster or slower than the others.

Draw a Conclusion:

  • Based on the recorded data, determine if the hypothesis was correct.
  • (Example) "The hypothesis was correct. The ice cube in saltwater melted the fastest."

TAZ- Share Results:

  • Present the findings to others.
  • Discuss any interesting observations or what could be done differently in future experiments.

Click here for a downloadable pdf with student notebook pages.

Materials List with Links to Sources:

  • Sheets of Paper
  • Scissors
  • Magnifying Glass (optional)
  • Notebook
  • Pencil

Objective:

To help students understand that everything is made up of tiny particles called atoms by cutting paper into smaller and smaller pieces.

R-Research:

Ask students what they think atoms are and how small they are. Review Chapter 2 and discuss that atoms are the smallest building blocks of matter, and everything in the world is made up of atoms, even though we cannot see them with our naked eyes. Use the analogy that just like a house is built from bricks, everything around us is built from atoms.

A-Ask a Question:

Ask the students: "How small can we cut a piece of paper before we can't cut it anymore?"

Form a Hypothesis:

Have the students make a hypothesis (a guess) about how many times they can cut a piece of paper before it becomes too small to cut. For example, "I think we can cut the paper 10 times before it becomes too small."

T-Test, Tinker, Try: Conduct an Experiment:

  • Step 1: Give each student a sheet of paper.
  • Step 2: Have the students cut the paper in half and then observe the two pieces.
  • Step 3: Ask them to cut one of the halves in half again and observe the new pieces.
  • Step 4: Continue this process, cutting the paper into smaller and smaller pieces, and counting how many times they can cut it.
  • Step 5: Optional: Use a magnifying glass to observe the smallest pieces and see how tiny they are.

Observe and Record:

Have the students observe the size of the paper pieces after each cut. They should record the number of cuts and their observations in their notebooks.

A-Analyze Data:

Discuss with the students what they observed. How many times were they able to cut the paper? How small did the pieces get before they couldn't cut them anymore?

Draw a Conclusion:

Ask the students to conclude based on their observations. Was their hypothesis correct? Why or why not? Explain that even though they couldn't see the atoms, the experiment shows that there are limits to how small we can make something just by cutting it.

TAZ-Share Results:

Let the students share their findings with others. They can use their recorded data to explain what they observed and learned about atoms and the limits of division.

Click here for a downloadable pdf with student notebook pages.

Materials List:

Objective:

To observe a chemical reaction and understand how gases are produced.

Ask a Question: Start by asking the students: "Can baking soda and vinegar blow up a balloon?"

Research: Discuss with your student what they know about baking soda and vinegar. Explain that when mixed, these ingredients create a gas called carbon dioxide.

Form a Hypothesis: Have the students make a hypothesis (a guess) about what will happen. For example, "I think the balloon will inflate when we mix baking soda and vinegar."

Conduct an Experiment:

  • Step 1: Put on safety goggles if available.
  • Step 2: Fill each small plastic bottle with 1/4 cup of vinegar.
  • Step 3: Use the funnel to add 2 tablespoons of baking soda into a balloon.
  • Step 4: Carefully fit the mouth of the balloon over the mouth of the bottle without letting the baking soda fall into the vinegar yet.
  • Step 5: Hold the balloon up, allowing the baking soda to fall into the vinegar inside the bottle.
  • Step 6: Watch the balloon begin to inflate as the gas forms.

Observe and Record: Have the students observe the reaction and record their observations in their notebooks. They should note how quickly the balloon inflates and how large it gets.

Analyze Data: Discuss with the students what they observed. Did the balloon inflate? How long did it take? How big did it get?

Draw a Conclusion: Ask the students to conclude based on their observations. Was their hypothesis correct? Why or why not?

Share Results: Let the students share their findings with the class. They can use their recorded data to explain what they observed and learned.

Click here to download a pdf with student notebook pages.

Materials List:

  • Plant Seeds (e.g., Beans)
  • Small Clear Plastic Cups
  • Potting Soil
  • Smooth Rocks (for pet rocks)
  • Decorating Supplies (e.g., paint, markers, googly eyes)
  • Water
  • Notebook
  • Pencil

Objective:

To help students understand the characteristics that define living things and differentiate them from non-living things while having fun decorating a pet rock.

R-Research:

Discuss with the students the characteristics of living things (they grow, move, breathe, need food, reproduce, and respond to their environment). Compare these with non-living things that do not have these characteristics.

A-Ask a Question:

Start by asking the students: "What makes something a living thing?"

Form a Hypothesis:

Have the students make a hypothesis (a guess) about how they can tell if something is living or non-living. For example, "I think living things need water to grow, but non-living things do not."

T-Test, Tinker, Try : Conduct an Experiment:

  • Step 1: Label two clear plastic cups: one "Living" and one "Non-Living."
  • Step 2: Fill the "Living" cup with potting soil and plant a few bean seeds.
  • Step 3: Give each student a smooth rock to decorate as their pet rock using paint, markers, and googly eyes.
  • Step 4: Place both the "Living" cup and the decorated pet rocks in the same location with access to sunlight.
  • Step 5: Water the "Living" cup daily and observe any changes. Do not water the pet rocks.

Observe and Record:

Have the students observe both the "Living" cup and their pet rocks over a week and record their observations in their notebooks. They should note any changes in the "Living" cup (e.g., sprouting, growth) and the static condition of the pet rocks.

A-Analyze Data:

Discuss with the students what they observed. Did the seeds in the "Living" cup grow? Did anything change in the pet rocks?

Draw a Conclusion:

Ask the students to conclude based on their observations. Was their hypothesis correct? Why or why not? Highlight that the growing seeds (living) needed water, sunlight, and soil, while the pet rocks (non-living) did not change.

TAZ-Share Results:

Let the students share their findings to others. They can use their recorded data to explain what they observed and learned, and show off their decorated pet rocks.

Click here to download a pdf with student notebook pages.

Materials List

  • Petri Dishes with Nutrient Agar
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Clear Plastic Wrap
  • Permanent Marker
  • Notebook
  • Pencil
  • Hand Sanitizer

Objective:

To help students explore and observe the growth of bacteria from everyday environments using safe, non-toxic materials.

R-Research: Ask students what they know about bacteria. Review Chapter 9 and discuss that bacteria are tiny living organisms that can be found everywhere, even though we cannot see them with our naked eyes. Some bacteria are helpful, while others can cause illness. Explain that this experiment will allow them to see where bacteria are commonly found in their everyday environment.

A-Ask a Question: Ask the students: "Where can we find bacteria in our everyday environment?"

Form a Hypothesis: Have the students make a hypothesis (a guess) about where they think they will find the most bacteria. For example, "I think there will be the most bacteria on a door handle."

T-Test, Tinker, Try - Conduct an Experiment:

  • Step 1: Wash hands thoroughly with hand sanitizer.
  • Step 2: Label the bottom of each Petri dish with a permanent marker to indicate where the sample will come from (e.g., "door handle," "sink," "keyboard").
  • Step 3: Use a cotton swab to collect samples from different areas. Rub the swab over the surface you want to test.
  • Step 4: Gently rub the swab in a zigzag pattern on the nutrient agar in the Petri dish.
  • Step 5: Cover each Petri dish with clear plastic wrap to prevent contamination.
  • Step 6: Place the Petri dishes in a warm, dark place (like a cupboard) and let them sit for several days.

Observe and Record: Each day, have the students observe the Petri dishes and record their observations in their notebooks. They should note any changes, such as the appearance of bacteria colonies (small dots or fuzzy spots).

A-Analyze Data: Discuss with the students what they observed over several days. Where did the most bacteria grow? Were there any surprises?

Draw a Conclusion: Ask the students to conclude based on their observations. Was their hypothesis correct? Why or why not? Discuss how bacteria are present in our environment and how some areas may have more bacteria than others.

TAZ-Share Results: Let the students share their findings with the class. They can use their recorded data to explain what they observed and learned about bacteria growth.

Click here for a downloadable pdf with student notebook pages.

Materials List

  • Toy Cars
  • Small Boxes (to create ramps)
  • Pennies
  • Tape
  • Marshmallows
  • Ruler or Measuring Tape
  • Notebook
  • Pencil
  • Safety Goggles (small)
  • Safety Google (large)

Objective:

To help students understand the concepts of force, work, and energy by observing the effects of different weights and forces on a toy car as it crashes into objects at the bottom of a ramp.

R-Research:

Ask students what they think force means. Allow them time to think about their answers. Review Chapter 11 and explain that a force is a push or pull that can change the motion of an object. Explain work as the result of a force moving an object and energy as the ability to do work. Ask if they think if they increase the weight of an object if it can affect the force it produces when it moves.

A-Ask a Question:

Ask the students: "How does adding weight to a toy car affect the force it produces when it crashes into a marshmallow ?"

Form a Hypothesis:

Have the students make a hypothesis (a guess) about how adding weight will affect the force of the car. For example, "I think adding pennies to the car will make it produce more force and crush the marshmallow more."

T-Test, Tinker, Try: Conduct an Experiment:

  • Step 1: Put on safety goggles if available.
  • Step 2: Create a simple ramp using books or blocks and a piece of wood or a flat surface.
  • Step 3: Tape a marshmallow or a piece of banana at the bottom of the ramp as the impact object.
  • Step 4: Place the toy car at the top of the ramp and let it roll down without any added weight. Observe and record the effect on the marshmallow. Measure the deformation or squish and record it in the notebook.
  • Step 5: Tape a few pennies to the toy car to add weight. Place the car at the top of the ramp again and let it roll down. Observe and record the effect on the marshmallow or banana. Measure the deformation or squish and record it.
  • Step 6: Repeat the experiment with different amounts of pennies and record the distances each time.

Observe and Record:

Have the students observe the movement of the toy car and the impact on the objects with different weights. They should record the amount of deformation or squish of the marshmallow or banana in their notebooks. Note how the distance traveled by the car and the force produced changed with added weight. Use a graph to display the data.

A-Analyze Data:

Discuss with the students what they observed. How did adding pennies affect the force of the car? Did the marshmallow or banana get squished more with more weight?

Draw a Conclusion:

Ask the students to conclude based on their observations. Was their hypothesis correct? Why or why not? Explain that adding weight to the car increased the force it produced when it crashed into the objects, resulting in more deformation.

TAZ-Share Results:

Let the students share their findings with others. They can use their recorded data to explain what they observed and learned about force, work, and energy.

Click here for a downloadable pdf with student notebook pages.

Materials List with Links to Sources:

Objective:

To help students understand how energy can be stored in a rubber band and released to launch a paper airplane.

R-Research:

Review Chapter 12 and explain to the students what energy is and that there are different types of energy. Discuss that energy can be stored in objects and released to do work. For example, when we stretch a rubber band, we are storing energy in it. When we let it go, the stored energy is released, and it can make things move, like launching a paper airplane.

A-Ask a Question:

Ask the students: "How far can a paper airplane travel when launched by a rubber band?"

Form a Hypothesis:

Have the students make a hypothesis (a guess) about how far the paper airplane will travel when launched by the rubber band. For example, "I think the airplane will travel 10 feet."

T-Test, Tinker, Try: Conduct an Experiment:

Step 1: Put on safety goggles if available.

Step 2: Make a paper airplane by folding a sheet of paper.

Step 3: Tape a popsicle stick to the bottom of the paper airplane to give it a sturdy base for launching.

Step 4: Create a simple launcher by attaching one end of a rubber band to a fixed point (like a chair leg) and stretching the other end to hook around the popsicle stick on the airplane.

Step 5: Use masking tape to mark a starting line on the floor where the airplane will be launched.

Step 6: Pull the airplane back, stretching the rubber band further, and then release it to launch the airplane.

Step 7: Use the ruler or measuring tape to measure the distance the airplane traveled and mark the end point with masking tape. Repeat several times.

Observe and Record:

Have the students observe the flight of the paper airplane and record the distance it traveled in their notebooks. They should note if the airplane travels different distances when the rubber band is stretched more or less.

A-Analyze Data:

Discuss with the students what they observed. Did the airplane travel farther when the rubber band was stretched more? Why do they think that happened?

Draw a Conclusion:

Ask the students to conclude based on their observations. Was their hypothesis correct? Why or why not? Explain that stretching the rubber band more stores more energy, which is then released to make the airplane fly farther.

TAZ-Share Results:

Let the students share their findings with the class. They can use their recorded data to explain what they observed and learned about stored energy and its release.

Scientific Concepts Explained:

  • Energy: The ability to do work or cause change.
  • Stored Energy (Potential Energy): Energy that is stored in an object, like a stretched rubber band.
  • Released Energy (Kinetic Energy): Energy that is released to make an object move, like when the rubber band is let go.

Click here for a downloadable pdf with student notebook pages.

Materials List:

Objective:

To help students identify and observe the properties of different types of rocks and minerals.

R- Research:

Ask students if they can explain the difference between a rock and a mineral. Review Chapter 15 and discuss that rocks are made up of one or more minerals, and minerals are natural, solid substances with a specific chemical composition and structure. Introduce the three main types of rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.

A- Ask a Question:

Ask the students: "What are the different properties of rocks and minerals, and how can we identify them?"

Form a Hypothesis:

Have the students make a hypothesis (a guess) about the properties of the rocks and minerals they will observe. For example, "I think some rocks will fizz when we drop vinegar on them, indicating they contain calcium carbonate."

T- Test, Tinker, Try: Conduct an Experiment:

Step 1: Give each student or group of students a rock and mineral collection kit.

Step 2: Use a magnifying glass to closely observe the appearance of each rock and mineral. Note the color, texture, and any visible crystals.

Step 3: Record observations in the notebook.

Step 4: Test for the presence of calcium carbonate by placing a few drops of white vinegar on different rocks. Observe any fizzing or bubbling.

Observe and Record:

Have the students observe the physical properties of each rock and mineral and record their observations in their notebooks. They should note the color, texture, luster, and reaction to vinegar, if any.

A-Analyze Data:

Discuss with the students what they observed. Which rocks or minerals fizzed when vinegar was applied? What does this tell us about their composition? How did the properties of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks differ?

Draw a Conclusion:

Ask the students to conclude based on their observations. Was their hypothesis correct? Why or why not? Highlight that the physical properties and reactions to vinegar helped them identify different types of rocks and minerals.

TAZ- Share Results:

Let the students share their findings with others. They can use their recorded data to explain what they observed and learned about the properties of rocks and minerals.

Scientific Concepts Explained:

  • Rocks and Minerals: Natural substances with specific properties and compositions.
  • Types of Rocks: Igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, each formed through different processes.

Click here for a downloadable pdf with student notebook pages.

Materials List:

Objective:

To help students understand how soil can behave like a liquid during an earthquake, affecting structures built on it.

R-Research:

Start by asking the students: "What happens to the ground and buildings during an earthquake when the soil behaves like a liquid?" Review Chapter 17 and allow students to discuss their ideas. Expand their research using internet sources if needed guiding them to understand that during strong earthquakes, saturated soil can lose its strength and behave like a liquid, a phenomenon called soil liquefaction.

A-Ask a Question:

Ask the students: "How does soil liquefaction affect buildings and structures during an earthquake?"

Form a Hypothesis:

Have the students make a hypothesis (a guess) about what will happen to the structures when the soil liquefies. For example, "I think buildings will sink or tilt when the soil behaves like a liquid."

T-Test, Tinker, Try: Conduct an Experiment:

  • Step 1: Fill a shallow baking dish with play sand and small rocks or pebbles, creating a layer about 1-2 inches deep.
  • Step 2: Pour water over the sand and rocks until they are fully saturated but not completely submerged.
  • Step 3: Place small figurines or Lego minifigures on the sand to represent buildings and people.
  • Step 4: Using plastic cups, fill them halfway with water and place them gently on the sand to simulate heavier structures.
  • Step 5: Insert straws into the sand around the structures to act as support columns.
  • Step 6: Simulate an earthquake by gently and consistently tapping or shaking the sides of the dish to create vibrations in the saturated soil.

Observe and Record:

Have the students observe what happens to the structures during the simulated earthquake. They should note any structures that sink, tilt, or remain standing. Record observations in their notebooks.

A-Analyze Data:

Discuss with the students what they observed. Which structures were most affected by the shaking? Why do they think some structures sank or tilted?

Draw a Conclusion:

Ask the students to conclude based on their observations. Was their hypothesis correct? Why or why not? Explain that soil liquefaction can cause buildings to sink or tilt because the ground loses its strength and behaves like a liquid.

TAZ-Share Results:

Let the students share their findings with the class. They can use their recorded data to explain what they observed and learned about soil liquefaction and its effects on structures during an earthquake.

Scientific Concepts Explained:

  • Earthquakes: Vibrations of the ground caused by the movement of tectonic plates.
  • Soil Liquefaction: A phenomenon where saturated soil loses its strength and behaves like a liquid during strong ground shaking.

Click here for a downloadable pdf with student notebook pages.

Materials List:

Objective:

To help students understand how earthquakes and soil liquefaction affect structures using food products and simple household items.

R-Research:

Start by asking the students: "What happens to the ground and buildings during an earthquake when the soil behaves like a liquid?" Review Chapter 17 and allow students to discuss their ideas and research briefly, guiding them to understand that during strong earthquakes, saturated soil can lose its strength and behave like a liquid, a phenomenon called soil liquefaction.

A-Ask a Question:

Ask the students: "How do different types of ground materials (like sugar and gelatin) affect structures during an earthquake?"

Form a Hypothesis:

Have the students make a hypothesis (a guess) about what will happen to the structures when placed on different ground materials. For example, "I think structures on sugar with gum drops will sink more than those on Jell-O during an earthquake."

T-Test, Tinker, Try: Conduct an Experiment:

  • Step 1: Prepare the "ground" by making Jell-O according to the package instructions and pouring it into one half of a shallow baking dish. Let it set completely.
  • Step 2: On the other half of the dish, fill it with sugar and mix in gum drops or malted milk balls to create a layer about 1-2 inches deep. Pour water over the sugar and gum drops/malted milk balls until they are fully saturated but not completely submerged.
  • Step 3: Cover both the Jell-O and sugar with plastic wrap to keep them clean.
  • Step 4: Use graham crackers and toothpicks to build small structures of different heights and shapes. Place small figurines or Lego minifigures on top of or around the structures to simulate people.
  • Step 5: Place the graham cracker structures on the surface of both the Jell-O and the sugar with gum drops/malted milk balls.
  • Step 6: Using plastic cups, fill them halfway with water and place them gently on the sugar and Jell-O to simulate heavier structures.
  • Step 7: Insert straws into the sugar around the structures to act as support columns.
  • Step 8: Simulate an earthquake by gently and consistently tapping or shaking the sides of the dish to create vibrations in both the Jell-O and the saturated sugar with gum drops/malted milk balls.

Observe and Record:

Have the students observe what happens to the structures during the simulated earthquake. They should note any structures that sink, tilt, or remain standing. Record observations in their notebooks.

A-Analyze Data:

Discuss with the students what they observed. Which structures were most affected by the shaking? Why do they think some structures sank or tilted more on one material than the other?

Draw a Conclusion:

Ask the students to conclude based on their observations. Was their hypothesis correct? Why or why not? Explain that different ground materials can affect how structures respond to earthquakes, and saturated soil can behave like a liquid, causing buildings to sink or tilt.

TAZ-Share Results:

Let the students share their findings with others. They can use their recorded data to explain what they observed and learned about the effects of earthquakes and soil liquefaction on structures.

Scientific Concepts Explained:

  • Earthquakes: Vibrations of the ground caused by the movement of tectonic plates.
  • Soil Liquefaction: A phenomenon where saturated soil loses its strength and behaves like a liquid during strong ground shaking.

Click here for a downloadable pdf with student notebook pages.

Note: This experiment utilizes a modified version of the "Make Just One Change" approach to encourage students to generate their own questions, fostering deeper engagement and understanding. For more information, refer to Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana.

Materials List:

  • Styrofoam Balls of Different Sizes (representing the Moon, Earth, and Sun) Order Here
  • Skewers or Wooden Dowels Order Here
  • Flashlight Order Here
  • Paints and Brushes (optional, for coloring the balls) Order Here
  • Notebook Order Here
  • Pencil Order Here

Objective:

To help students understand the relative positions and movements of the Moon, Sun, and Earth, and how they cause phenomena such as day and night, and the changing phases of the Moon.

R-Research:

In this part of the lesson, the teacher helps guide the students to ask their own questions about the Moon, Sun, and Earth. The teacher will facilitate a student-directed inquiry process.

Briefly introduce the concepts of the Moon, Sun, and Earth. Explain that the Earth's rotation causes day and night, and the Moon's phases change based on its position relative to the Earth and Sun.

  • Step 1: Present a prompt for student inquiry.
  • Step 2: Students generate as many questions as they can about the.
  • Step 3: Improve the questions.
  • Step 4: Prioritize the questions.

A-Ask A Question:

Once the students have formulated their questions, they will choose one to focus on for the experiment. Encourage them to think about what they are curious about and select a question that can be tested or observed.

Example Questions:

  • "How does the Earth's rotation create day and night?"
  • "Why does the Moon look different at different times of the month?"
  • "What causes an eclipse?"

Form a Hypothesis:

Based on the question they choose, have the students make a hypothesis (a guess) about how these movements affect what we see. For example, "I think the Earth makes one full turn to create day and night, and the Moon changes shape because of its position relative to the Sun and Earth."

T-Test, Tinker, Try: Conduct an Experiment:

  • Step 1: Paint the Styrofoam balls to represent the Moon, Earth, and Sun (optional). Use a large ball for the Sun, a medium ball for the Earth, and a small ball for the Moon.
  • Step 2: Insert skewers or wooden dowels into the balls to make them easier to hold.
  • Step 3: In a dark room, use the flashlight to represent the Sun. Have one student hold the flashlight steady.
  • Step 4: Have another student hold the Earth ball and slowly rotate it on its axis to demonstrate day and night. Show how one side of the Earth is illuminated (day) while the other side is dark (night).
  • Step 5: To demonstrate the phases of the Moon, have a student move the Moon ball around the Earth, keeping the flashlight (Sun) in the same position. Observe how the Moon appears to change shape based on its position relative to the Earth and Sun.

Observe and Record:

Have the students observe the changes in light and shadow on the Earth and Moon balls. They should record their observations in their notebooks, noting how the Earth's rotation creates day and night, and how the Moon's position affects its phases.

A-Analyze Data and Answer the Question:

Discuss with the students what they observed. How did the Earth's rotation affect day and night? How did the Moon's position relative to the Earth and Sun create different phases? Was their experiment able to help them answer their question? Have the students explore why or why not.

Draw a Conclusion:

Ask the students to conclude based on their observations. Was their hypothesis correct? Why or why not? Explain that the Earth's rotation creates day and night, and the Moon's phases are due to its position relative to the Earth and Sun.

TAZ-Share Results:

Let the students share their findings with the class. They can use their recorded data to explain what they observed and learned about the movements of the Moon, Sun, and Earth. Have the students discuss if the experiment helped them answer their question and why or why not.

Scientific Concepts Explained:

  • Day and Night: Caused by the Earth's rotation on its axis.
  • Phases of the Moon: The changing appearance of the Moon as it orbits the Earth, depending on its position relative to the Sun and Earth.

Click here for a downloadable pdf with student notebook pages.

Note: This experiment utilizes a modified version of the "Make Just One Change" approach to encourage students to generate their own questions, fostering deeper engagement and understanding. For more information, refer to Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana: Order Here.

Materials List:

Objective:

To help students understand how a planet's distance from the Sun affects its temperature.

R-Research:

Begin by guiding students to ask their own questions about the planets and their temperatures. Following the philosophy from "Make Just One Change," the teacher will facilitate a student-directed inquiry process.

Introduction:

Briefly introduce the concept that planets closer to the Sun are generally warmer than those farther away.

  • Step 1: Present a question prompt for student inquiry. Example: "The temperature of planets changes with their distance from the Sun."
  • Step 2: Students generate as many questions as they can about the question prompt. Encourage students to ask questions like: "Why are some planets hotter than others?" "How does distance from the Sun affect temperature?" "Do planets have their own heat sources?"
  • Step 3: Improve the questions. Help students distinguish between open-ended and closed-ended questions. Encourage them to refine their questions to make them clearer and more focused.
  • Step 4: Prioritize the questions. Have students select one or two questions that they find most interesting or important to explore further during the experiment. Have students write down their prioritized questions in their notebooks.

A-Ask A Question:

Encourage students to ask their own questions based on their research. Teachers can guide them with prompts such as:

  • "What do you wonder about the temperatures of different planets?"
  • "How do you think the distance from the Sun affects a planet's temperature?"

Students should choose one question that interests them the most and write it down in their notebooks.

Form a Hypothesis:

Have the students make a hypothesis (a guess) about their chosen question. For example:

  • "I think planets closer to the Sun will have higher temperatures."
  • "I think the further a planet is from the Sun, the colder it will be."

Test, Tinker, Try: Conduct an Experiment:

  • Step 1: Paint the Styrofoam balls to represent different planets (optional).
  • Step 2: Label the balls with the names of different planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune).
  • Step 3: Tape a small digital thermometer to each Styrofoam ball.
  • Step 4: Arrange the Styrofoam balls in a line, representing their distance from a central heat source, like a flashlight or lamp. Place the "Sun" (flashlight or lamp) at one end to simulate the heat source.
  • Step 5: Turn on the lamp and leave it on for 10-15 minutes, ensuring each planet gets equal exposure.

Observe and Record:

Have the students observe the temperatures recorded on each thermometer. They should record their observations in their notebooks, noting the temperature of each "planet" and its distance from the "Sun."

A-Analyze Data:

Discuss with the students what they observed. How did the temperatures vary with distance from the Sun? Which planets were the hottest? Which were the coldest?

Draw a Conclusion:

Ask the students to conclude based on their observations. Was their hypothesis correct? Why or why not? Explain that planets closer to the Sun generally have higher temperatures, while those farther away are cooler.

TAZ-Share Results:

Let the students share their findings with the class. They can use their recorded data to explain what they observed and learned about the relationship between a planet's distance from the Sun and its temperature.

Scientific Concepts Explained:

  • Planet Temperature: How a planet's distance from the Sun affects its temperature.
  • Solar Radiation: Energy from the Sun that heats the planets.