Students experiment to rank the wet strength and absorbency of four brands of paper towels. Based on their findings and the cost of each brand, they determine which brand is the “best buy.” These activities provide a stimulating introduction to consumer science and the concept of controlled experimentation. Students can go on to devise their own experiments, tests for other consumer items, or advertisements for paper towels based on their test results.
In this series of highly “involving” activities, students learn about the concepts of dissolving, evaporation, and crystallization. Using familiar substances, they create homemade “gel-o,” colorful disks, and crystals that emerge on black paper to make a “starry night.” Does the substance disappear? If not, where does it go? Could it ever come back? As young students ponder these ideas and gain experience mixing and observing differing solutions, they benefit from this very positive early experience with chemistry.
Of Cabbages and Chemistry
Students explore acids and bases using the special indicator properties of red cabbage juice. The color-change game Presto Change-O helps students discover the acid-neutral-base continuum. They learn that chemicals can be grouped by behaviors, and relate acids and bases to their own daily experience. An “Acid and Aliens from Outer Space” extension activity can be presented to reinforce student learning or as an assessment. The unit is an excellent lead-in to the GEMS guide Acid Rain.
An ordinary ziplock bag becomes a safe and spectacular laboratory, as students mix chemicals that bubble, change color, get hot, and produce gas, heat, and an odor. They experiment to determine what causes the heat in this chemical reaction. This exciting activity explores chemical change, endothermic and exothermic reactions, and is a great introduction to chemistry. Has often been adapted for lower grade levels. This “GEMS Classic” continues to be one of the most popular GEMS activities.
Students combine intense enjoyment with important concepts in chemistry and physics through imaginative experiments with soap bubbles. They devise an ideal bubble-blowing instrument; test dishwashing brands to see which makes the biggest bubbles; determine the optimum amount of glycerin needed for the biggest bubbles; employ the Bernoulli principle to keep bubbles aloft; use color patterns to predict when a bubble will pop; and create bubbles that last for days.
This guide is packed with solid scientific, technological, and mathematical content and learning. An extensive background section on bubbles is included.
10 Sessions (6 Activities)