PHYSICS

Electrifying STEM: Circuits and Batteries

Required materials:

"switches," wire strippers, insulated wire, flashlight, lightbulbs, batteries, electrical tape

Description:

TED-Ed calls batteries a "triumph of science." They allow electronics to operate "without anchoring us to an infernal tangle of power cables." The activities above take learners from simple circuits to an electrifying design challenge.

Tips:

Scissors may be used instead of wire strippers, but may take extra practice to strip the wire. Select a flashlight that can be easily disassembled so that the lightbulb can be removed. Also, replacing flashlights with lightbulbs may be more cost effective.

NGSS alignment:

1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)  2. Developing and using models 6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering) 8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

BubbleSci

Recommended materials:

different types of soap (dish soap, hand soap, bubble bath, etc.), glycerin or corn syrup, items to make bubble wands (pipe cleaners, straws, etc.), measuring tools (cups, spoons, droppers, etc.), stopwatch (or smartphone app), distilled water, containers like cups or empty bubble solution bottles for students to test and keep their solutions.

Description:

Blowing bubbles may seem like a simple or childish pastime. However, blowing a bubble is packed with STEM concepts from physics to geometry to art (with that STEM becomes STEAM!). The lessons provided above allow teachers to take this activity in many directions to suit their instructional needs. For an engineering route, set up design challenges for the bubble wand and the solution. For a math route, study shapes, ratios or volume calculations. For a physics or chemistry route, experiment with air speed, solutions, surface tension and more.

Tips:

If glycerin is difficult to find, corn syrup can be used instead.  Also, your local dollar store may carry small bubble containers with wands as party or wedding favors, which make great containers to store students' final solutions.

NGSS alignment:

1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering) 2. Developing and using models  3. Planning and carrying out investigations 4. Analyzing and interpreting data 5. Using mathematics and computational thinking 6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering) 7. Engaging in argument from evidence 8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

A SUPER Strong STEM Activity: Super Cuffs by @TechbridgeGirls

Required materials:

straws, tape, scissors, cylindrical container (like a soup can or jar), heavy items (like books)

Description:

In this activity, you will take on the role of a structural engineer. Structural engineers use shapes to add strength and stability to buildings roads, and a variety of products. Your mission is to create a powerful wrist cuff by using a repeating pattern of shapes. The cuffs have to be strong enough to support the weight of a stack of books.

Tips:

Any cylindrical object that measures larger than most wrists can be used instead of a soup can. For example, the inside of the roll of tape can be used to shape the cuffs.

NGSS alignment:

1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)  2. Developing and using models  3. Planning and carrying out investigations 6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)

Sink, Float, Hover Challenge

Required materials:

small containers with lids (film canisters work best), variety of small, heavy objects (coins, washers, marbles, etc.), variety of small, lightweight objects (corks, beads, Styrofoam, etc.), rubber bands (optional to keep lid on canisters or modify distribution of mass), and large containers of water

Description:

Students will learn about density, buoyancy, and how submarines dive. Students will design and create a vessel that is able to sink, hover, and float.

Tips:

Many craft, household or classroom items that you already have will work for this activity and can possibly be reused. Items listed here have already been tested with students as a part of this lesson. Students should be given access to as many or as few materials as you can afford. This allows students to be more creative. 

NGSS alignment:

1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)  2. Developing and using models 3. Planning and carrying out investigations  4. Analyzing and interpreting data   6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)  8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

On Target Challenge

Estimated cost:

$0.10

per student

Photo cred: PBS Kids

Photo cred: PBS Kids

Required materials:

zip line (wire or fishing line), index card, marbles, masking tape, paper clips, paper cups, scissors, a Target (can be drawn on a piece of paper)

Description:

This activity turns a paper cup into something that can zip down a line and drop a marble onto a target. Just as the success of NASA's LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) depends on hitting the crater exactly, success in this activity depends on being able to hit the target accurately and consistently. As students test their designs, encourage them to find ways to make it work better.

Tips:

A few of the items needed for this activity are reusable or can be replaced by classroom or household items you already have, saving you even more money!

NGSS Alignment:

2. Developing and using models  3. Planning and carrying out investigations