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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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Activity: Be Inventive!

Da Vinci HelicopterAcross three or more class periods, students in grades 4-8 combine their own ideas with the elements of machines to imagine and design inventions to solve specific challenges. Using a variety of materials, they can create small working models of their inventions to test and improve them.

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Class Activity: 3-2-1 Pop!

In this simple, exciting demonstration of Newton’s Laws of Motion, students in grades 5-8 construct a rocket powered by the pressure generated from an effervescing antacid tablet reacting with water. They undertake the work of aerospace engineers in exploring design elements that can affect a spacecraft’s performance.

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Lesson: The Luge

Austrian Luge Championships 2010 by Christian JanskyStudents build a simulated luge track and make predictions about the impact of surface type, wind resistance, size of slope, and shape of luge on their track; test their predictions by conducting several simulated luge runs; and make conclusions about the effects of physical forces on the sport of luging.

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Olympics Matching Game

Where would the Olympians be without their carefully engineered hockey sticks, skates, and helmets? Have your students grades K-3 try their hand at this quick and fun matching game, as a way to prompt discussion on sports equipment. A Spanish version is also available.

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