Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Diet Coke and Mentos Exploration

Have you tried Diet Coke and Mentos?  This activity is so much fun at any age.  Students just have a blast.  

Why I love Diet Coke and Mentos?

1.  It is exciting.
2.  It takes simple supplies and creates a great scientific experience.
3.  It is great for teaching about the properties of matter.  Especially Gases.
4.  There is so much science happening.

This activity is so easy.  The bottle is opened and 5 to 10 Mentos are quickly dropped into the bottle.  Almost immediately a huge geyser of soda erupts.  If lucky it can be over 10 feet high. 

This is not a chemical reaction, but a physical  reaction.  Mentos candy contains lots of tiny bumps or nucleation sites.  It is also the correct size and weight to cause the carbon dioxide gas to immediately come out of solution.  The carbon dioxide grabs onto the nucleation sites on the Mentos and the bubbles get bigger and bigger.  These large bubbles force there way out of the bottle with the liquid coming for the ride. 

I really like digging into the science of Diet Coke and Mentos.  Helping students to understand the science behind it is so much fun.   Because it is a physical reaction you don't need to use Mentos.  Other objects and candy can be tested.  It is all in the nucleation sites.  So head to your dollar store for a wide selection of candy to help get started.

This workbook is great.  It will take you step by step through learning about the science behind geysers.  A great addition for the hands-on science class, STEM Club, scout group, and summer camp.  Click to download today.


Monday, April 2, 2018

Applying Good Lab Practices for Safety in the Science Classroom

The science classroom can be a magical place for students.  They will uncover the world around them with hands-on science laboratories.  Things may bubble, change colors, or move in amazing ways.
The science classroom can also be an overwhelming place for teachers and students.  Teachers need to get the supplies for the activities.  They need to organize it so the students achieve the correct results.  Budgets are tight and supplies are limited.  Each student needs to work in a group to save on supplies.  This means group cooperation.  Students need to follow safety precautions as well.  If you are a science teacher you have had that lab that just didn't go right or that one group that argued the whole time.  Several groups may have gotten the wrong results and now you are re-teaching the concept.  It happens, it is science.  We need to find a classroom management strategy that works.  

How can we create a better experience?


My husband is a toxicologist.  Yes, two science geeks in the house.  He works in clinical labs testing the safety of materials.  Consistent data is a must and procedures must be followed.  Most experiments are for approval from the FDA or EPA. He would always talk about how a lab was a GLP lab(Good Lab Practices).  He would mention that he was the study director or that the QA was coming over to check on things.  I started wondering what are these group roles and would they work in the science classroom.  What exactly is GLP? 

Assigning group roles really helps experiments go more smoothly.  I use to use
roles like Recorder, Gopher( goes for this and goes for that), Measurer, etc.  I wondered if things would go smoother if I had GLP in my class.  It would be more like a true lab.  GLP stands for Good Lab Practices.  That would make a lot of sense to my students.  So I integrated Good Lab Practices in with science safety and cooperative groups.  Now I don't say. "Follow the safety rules." I say to students "Are you using Good Lab Practices?" 

Students take on the roles of Study Director, Quality Assurance, etc.  The labs go more smoothly, data is more consistent, and clean-up is better.  The terms help them learn about a true lab.  This is a great way to integrate with STEM lessons.  Students take the labs more seriously and it is lots of fun.

It doesn't necessarily make my classroom quiet.  I find science classrooms at never quiet.  They need to be able to discuss what is going on and they do get excited.  That doesn't both me as long as they are following good lab practices.




Everything you need to teach your students is available in the download.  It is easy prep.  You can also get more creative with your bulletin board and role cards by adding colorful paper and laminating. 

It is available on my Teacherspayteachers.com store.

Would you like a free sample.


Monday, March 26, 2018

Egg Drop Challenge

The egg drop challenge is a popular activity in science and STEM classes.  The basic directions are to build a container that will protect the egg when dropped from a high height.  These basic directions are lots of fun, but if we truly want to make it a STEM activity we need to relate it to the real world.

To relate it to STEM I found an activity on NASA.  Instead of making it an egg drop the students were told they have been asked by NASA to come up with a way to safely land a Mars Rover.  They don't want any of the expensive components to break.  The egg would be modeling the rover.  This gave them a real word context.

My students had a great time with this activity.  I had a variety of ages, so there were some challenges.  I learned that is much easier when students know how to blow up their own balloons and tie them.  They also had trouble putting the string through the holes for the parachute.  We also learned taping a balloon to the sides is not the best way.  We also learned that you learn just as much from your failures as you do your successes.

Here is what we did.

Engage:  I engaged the students by showing them how strong an egg is.  We talked about how the curved shape helps spread the force evenly.  We also talked about how they are fragile if you tap on them.  We then placed cans on top of 4 eggs to show their strength.  This always gets them focused.

Design:  Next I showed them a video to introduce the NASA Rover.  I stopped the video before it reached the part showing how NASA did it.  I am going to save that for later.  In this video they dropped them from a very high height.  I only a second floor, but it worked well.

Then the students got to work.  This was a very open ended exploration.  They could build it anyway they wanted to.  I provided lots of different supplies.  Different sized boxes, lots of tape, zip ties, plastic bags, packing material, foam, newspaper, whatever you can find.  Many students had success and many learned that their container needed less mass and a way to slow down.  I wish I had a video, but I was too busy dropping the containers.

Design 2:  Now it is time to learn about the actual one NASA created.  We discussed their designs.  What worked?  What did not work?  Then we watched the rest of the video. The students enjoyed seeing the actual design.  Here is another great video.

I found several directions on-line.  This is the site I used.  I like the use of cereal boxes for the space capsule.  The only change I would make is how the balloons were attached.  Tape does not work well.  I would follow the directions from the video.  They show placing a hole in the center of each triangle.  The end of the balloon gets pushed inside.  This would hold the balloon much better.  We had great success with this model.  The parachute size was perfect.

For the complete directions go here: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/docs/Egg_Drop_508FC.pdf 

I will definitely do this lesson again.  The kids just love it.  Very memorable.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Saint Patrick's Day Science Activities

Saint Patrick's Day is coming.  Rainbows, Leprechaun Traps, green food, and more.  Holidays are a great way to integrate science into your teaching.  Hands-on fun and learning at the same time.  Crafts are great, but when you can integrate it with the magic of science it is much more memorable.  Here are few of my favorite Saint Patrick's Day science activities.

Rainbow Milk 

Whole Milk     Dish Soap     7 inch dessert plates     Eye dropper or pipette
Liquid Food Coloring:  Blue, Yellow, Red, Green     Measuring cup  
1. Pour 80ml of whole milk into the plate.
2. Place one drop of each color of food coloring near the center of the plate.  Try not to let the colors touch.
3. Using the eye dropper carefully place one drop of soap into the center of the colors.  You can also dip a cotton swab in soap and hold it in the center of the plate.
4. Observe the colors swirling.
6. Try again and make some changes.  What will other types of milk do?  Does the type or amount of soap make a difference? 

Leprechaun Trap
This is a fun STEM activity.  I have done it at home with my kids for years.  The idea is simple.  The Leprechaun is coming the house or classroom.  To get him to come we leave out shiny items, because Leprechauns love shiny things.  Coins, dollar store coins, and anything silver or gold works great.  

The kids than create a trap.  These can be made a variety of ways.  The trap needs to fall or catch them when they go in to get the shiny items.  Here are some examples.  The Leprechaun falls into a trap, but can't get out.  Kind of like the Pitcher Plant.  The standard box with a stick.  The leprechaun walks under a box trips the stick and it falls over him.  A sticky floor he gets stuck too.  That one seems a little cruel.   Check out my Pinterest board for ideas.  I remind the kids are goal is to catch him so we can see him and become friends.  We don't want to hurt the leprechaun.  

 Color Separation
This activity is a favorite of mine.  Simple supplies.  You could even take the colorful filter paper and use it to decorate the Leprechaun traps.
Coffee filters     Wet erase markers     Water based markers     Shallow plate     Water
1.  Choose one of the markers.  Draw a circle around the outside of a coffee filter. Leave about an inch of space from the edge. Be careful it may bleed through onto the table.
2.  Fold the coffee filter into a tee-pee.
3.  Pour a little water in the dish.
4.  Place the bottom of the coffee filter into the water.  Make sure it can stand up on its' own.  You also want to make sure the water does not touch the marker.  You want the water to travel up to it.
5.  Observe the water traveling up to the marker.  You should see the colors start to separate.
6.  Try other kinds of markers.  Some will separate and some will not.  The wet ease markers work best.  They separate into a rainbow of colors.
7.  Let the coffee filters dry and then use for crafts.

Check out this great experiment for teaching about Rainbow Milk.  It follows the scientific method.  great for science fairs too.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Dr. Seuss Science Ideas

I just love Dr. Seuss books.  They catch the students attention with fun poems and great pictures.  They can also be used to introduce some great science concepts.  Here are some ways to integrate Dr. Seuss into you science curriculum.  Perfect to celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday!

Awesome follow up to Bartholomew and the Oobleck. Do an oobleck science experiment!
Read Bartholomew and the OOBLECK and then create some oobleck.  (That's cornstarch and water.)  Find more ideas here.  http://mrsriccaskindergarten.blogspot.com/2013/03/dr-seuss-week.html
Ten Apples Up On Top 10 Real Apple STEM Activities for Kids
Science activities inspired by Dr. Seuss books - 30 ideas for 12 books. You’ll find activities that practice measuring, graphing, and observation skills, explore baking soda and vinegar, and lots more!

Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artists - great tie in with Dr. Seuss - have done this with kindergarten, but like the Dr. Seuss inspiration and the preprinted little characters.
Add a STEAM Activity.  Students could even be architects and try creating Dr. Seuss themed buildings.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Kimberly Scott Science is on Instagram


I was one of those people who resisted getting a smart phone.  I have used my flip phone for years.  It was reliable and did what I wanted it to do.  Recently my phone features went out of date.  I knew it was time to update.  I learned more about Instagram and that sealed the deal.  Now I can take and post pictures more easily of my classes performing experiments.  I can also take more videos.  I love the slow motion video feature.  I also love the ability to make movies right from my phone.  I am slow at texting, but I will get there.  I still love my computer.  Typing on a keyboard is so much faster.  My goal is to inspire lifelong learners through a memorable experience.  I think expanding to Instagram and even Twitter will help.

To celebrate I am giving a way a $10.00 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card.  To enter you must visit my Instagram account.  While there consider following me to get great hands on science inspiration.

Did I mention there is also a site-wide sale going on.  Click the image to head on over for great deals.


I even made some slow motion videos with my new phone and turned it into a video preview on my store.  Such a nice feature for TeachersPayTeachers.com to add.  I took the video on my phone and then used Movie Maker and Movie Moments to finish it up.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Reaction in a Bag

My students just loved this activity.  Okay, I did too.  I made a few modifications.  I will have to write that up more formally another time.  Here are the highlights.


I found this activity on a science forum.  The teachers were all talking about how much they loved it.  It is a great way to show students the informal part of the scientific method.  The scientific method isn't always done in the same way.  It is still systematic and precision is important, but sometimes it is not in a formal way by starting with a hypothesis.

The premise is to teach the kids how to discover what substances cause what parts of the reaction.  They first see the complete reaction with all 4 substances.  This will produce heat, foaming, gas production, and a color change.  Then they combine two substances at a time to see what they do together to discover their role in the reaction.  Such a great way to teach about chemical reactions.  All of this is done in a zip lock bag, so clean up is easy.  Performing the reaction in a bag allows them to see the gas production and feel the temperature change.  Some combination will do nothing.  Others will be exothermic or endothermic reactions.  Some will even produce a color change.

Here is the link for the specific directions and worksheets.  It does a fabulous job explaining the science that I won't repeat it here.


Changes to the experiment.

I made same changes to make it more cost effective and use materials I already had.

Calcium Chloride:  I bought Damp Rid at my local superstore.  I use the unscented, which is pure calcium chloride.

Phenyl Red:  I did not have phenyl red, nor the budget to order some.  I decided to use red cabbage juice.  I had a red cabbage in my freezer from a previous experiment.  I boiled it in water until the color was mostly out of the cabbage and in the water.

Red cabbage produced a different change than the phenyl red.  Both are indicators, but produce different color changes.  Red cabbage is an acid/base indicator.  In the reaction with all 4 ingredients it produced a purple color.  Most likely because the substance were neutralizing.  In the presence of a base it will turn more green.  In the presence of an acid it will turn more pink.

When students began testing two items together they quickly noticed that sodium bicarbonate and red cabbage juice turned green.  Sodium bicarbonate is a base.  This really interested them because it did not happen when all 4 substances were mixed.  They were also surprised because the liquid gets cool.  When all 4 are mixed the students feel the heat from calcium chloride and water reacting.

 When the students mixed calcium chloride with red cabbage juice they discovered it turned a bluish/green color.  It did not seem to be quite as strong of a base as the baking soda, but it was close.  In this reaction a lot of heat was produced.  This just makes it even more exciting for students.  They immediately noticed more heat is produced than when all 4 substances were combined.  That is most likely because of the sodium bicarbonate and water losing temperature.

If you have a group of 5th-8th graders I strongly recommend this activity.  It is memorable and really applies higher order thinking skills.  Click the link above for the detailed directions.