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Class Activities: Chemistry and Physics from CSIRO

csiroVisit the chemistry activity page from CSIRO — The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia’s national science agency — to find simple, fun chemistry and physics projects for students. Other sections of this science Website offer information, videos, links, the Double Helix Science Club, and local resources for Australia teachers.

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Activity: Propel a Toy Boat with Chemicals

BubblesStudents grades 4-12 conduct a simple experiment that demonstrates how a familiar chemical — liquid soap — can be used to break the surface tension of water and propel a toy boat. Older students move into further inquiry of chemical dispersants and their use in combating oil spills.

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Activity: Shipwreck Survival

Surviving a Ship WreckDo your students have what it takes to survive and be rescued? In this activity from Boston’s Museum of Science, student teams practice the design skills of engineers as they create survival tools from a crate of supplied materials. They learn about teamwork, brainstorming, innovation, and creative material reuse in attempting to create a protective shelter, a method for gathering food, and a signal for help. The teams test their designs for feasibility before having a design review with the rest of the class.

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Lesson: The Engineering Design Process

The Works museumThis simple lesson from The Works Museum in Minnesota consists of two activities that introduce elementary school students to the engineering design process. Students first work through a chart detailing the steps of the design process and then use the steps to consider ways to solve one of three problems: rescuing a trapped kitten, devising a way to water plants while on vacation, and rigging up a remote light switch.

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Activity: Glass Blowing Simulation

Glass BlowingIn this activity, elementary and middle school students learn about glass and the techniques for making it, especially glass blowing. Then, students experiment with honey to get a feel for how glass is blown, and butter, to learn how temperature changes affect a material.

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Class Activity: Fabricating Glass — and Candy

Glass-like hard candyThis lesson uses candy as a medium to illustrate the creation of glass, engaging students in three separate experiments as they predict, observe, and record the outcome of varying controls. The lesson is drawn from the curriculum “Contrasts: A Glass Primer,” developed by the Museum of Glass in Takoma, Washington, which aims to help students comprehend the medium of glass, while emphasizing oppositions in its creation, use, and aesthetics.

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Lesson Plan: Plasma Globes and Electricity

Plasma GlobeUsing a plasma ball or lightning globe, students in grades 3-5 test various objects to see if they pull the electric current generated by the globe to them. Students then explore how the globe excited electrons inside the fluorescent bulbs to make them light.

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Activity: Balloon-powered Car

Balloon CarWhat more fun way to demonstrate Newton’s Third Law – every action has an equal and opposite reaction – than through a balloon-powered rocket car? In this lesson from NASA Quest, students grades 4-8 construct their cars from simple materials, test them along a measured track, then work to modify them for improved performance.

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Activity: The BristleBot

BristleBotBristleBots are one variety of the popular vibrobot, a simple category of robot controlled by a single vibrating motor. This BristleBot is made from a toothbrush and a few low-cost materials and can easily be modified for additional challenge.

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