He had finished building his own paper spectroscope and was helping another student at the lab table. An empty toilet paper tube, black construction paper, and a pair of scissors were a few of their hands on lab tools. Filling the room was the ripping sound of duck tape peeling off the aluminum coating from the CD.
Put it all together and you’ll see a smile on the faces of teenagers and teachers as they experience white light splitting into a span of colors. They had read about it in their science text and but now their excitement appears on their face. Now they know it.
The almost-teenagers were measuring, mixing and manipulating simple house hold items (salt, dish soap, water, and a toothpick). Then they poured it into a test tube and topped it off with rubbing alcohol. We mixed the conversation with “who can describe what they know about density” and reviewing our science information of positive and negative interactive charges causing a gelatin like mass ~and voila~DNA floats to the top of the test tube.
“Describe what it feels like.”
“It feels like snot,” says one 6th grader. I’m good with that because I want them to tell me from their life experiences what they already know, all while adding to their knowledge the discovery of how mixing things creates an outcome that is not magic, but is this thing we call science.
“I wasn’t a big fan of science, but now I am,” one of the boys said to another. I smiled.
That is what makes my job fun. But that “fun” moment doesn’t accidentally happen; it took focused planning of the method that hands on activities are the fastest way to achieving student success in any topic.
Just as my students are on a journey that explores how science is in everything we do and use, I am on a constant hunt to find hands on activities that don’t break our lab budget and generates a class full of science minded thinkers.
I would greatly appreciate it if you would share your science hands on lab ideas, even if you are not a classroom teacher. I hope you will share your best science ideas with us.