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Science Experiments
Straight from the Web

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Think of your favorite science lesson from elementary school, and it probably won't be one that involved a lecture. Hands-on means heads-up! Teachers are responding to their students' need for real-life, experimental science activities. But where can you find them? The Web is brimming with great lessons for you, so build a guitar, make a raisin dance, or build a solar hot dog cooker. You provide the supplies, and the Net will show your students how to use them. Included: Bill Nye tells Education World that there is no substitute for hands-on learning!

More Science

Vicki Cobb, author of dozens of popular science books for children, is a regular contributor to Education World. Find more than 75 great hands-on experiments that teach real science concepts in Vicki Cobb's Show-Biz Science.

For additional science lesson ideas and resources, be sure to visit Education World's Science Subject Center.

"One test is worth a thousand expert opinions," Bill Nye, the "Science Guy," told Education World. "There is no substitute for doing a science demonstration for yourself. Once you see it, hear it, touch it, taste it, or smell it for yourself, no one can take it away from you. Test on!"

Through his television program and Web site, Nye Labs Online, Nye promotes scientific exploration and experimentation. As he says, "Science rules!" And kids are beginning to agree. Students and teachers may access some of Nye's favorite activities online. His Web site offers more than 40 Home Demos.

The Science Guy's fun doesn't stop in his lab! Nye has found ways for students to bring the study of Mars down to Earth. He helped establish the Web site Mission to Mars to enable teachers to incorporate NASA's upcoming APEX and Athena missions into their lessons. See what these new explorations have to offer your budding mission specialists!

EXPERIMENTS FROM THE INTERNET

Although Nye Labs is an excellent resource, it isn't the only site that is making great experiments easily accessible to teachers. Check out the following activities from some of the Web's best science sites. Go beyond the experiments we've highlighted; you'll find many more on these sites. Generate interest and excitement with experiments from the Net!

Clickety-Clackety Coin. A 2-liter bottle, a quarter, and some water are the main ingredients for a simple weather experiment that shows how air flows. This activity comes from The Laboratory (Physics) at Funology.com. Put the empty, uncapped bottle in the freezer for ten minutes. Remove it, dip the coin in water, and place the quarter on top of the bottle. The coin will move as warm air from around the bottle tries to get inside it and cold air from inside tries to get out, causing a clickety-clackety sound.

Groovy Guitars. Scare up a milk carton, a fat rubber band, a skinny rubber band, and two pencils, and you are ready to make a groovy guitar! A fun experiment for all from The Hands-On Technology Program, this lesson introduces the concepts of sound vibrations and pitch to your students. To create a guitar, have students place one of each type of rubber band over a milk carton the long way. They should slide the pencils under the rubber bands at each end on one side of the carton. As they pluck the "strings" of the guitar, your students will notice how the strings differ in pitch and how they may adjust the sound by moving the pencils. Other experiments on this site cover topics in physical science, life science, Earth science, and math for students in grades K-8.

Moldy Oldies. Here is a great way to make use of all that interesting stuff growing in your refrigerator -- study it! In this lesson from Helping Your Child Learn Science, students use leftovers to learn about how molds grow. They need three cups containing a little coffee or leftover food, magnifying glasses, and a science journal. Place one container on a sunny windowsill, one in the refrigerator, and one in a dark cupboard. For several days, the students should monitor the cups and write down their observations in their journals. When they have finished gathering their data, they may compare the results and describe how mold grows in each area. They may address such questions as How do light and temperature impact the growth of mold? To complete the activity, students should look for more examples of mold and compare the appearance of those mold samples to what they have grown in the classroom. Are all molds the same?

Happy, Dancing Raisins. Not since the California Raisins have we seen a dance like this! Fill a glass or bottle with carbonated water, drop in a few raisins, and watch the show. The carbon dioxide gas that is dissolved in the water gathers on the surface of the raisins and lifts them to the top. When the gas is gone, the raisins fall back to the bottom, and the process repeats. This fruity experiment comes from the files of Reeko's Mad Scientist Lab, which contains many more selections that will amuse and amaze students.

Card Games. What activity calls upon the assistance of the queen of hearts? A simple air pressure lesson from Beakman's World Experiments [archived copy only]. Actually, your students may use any card from a deck of ordinary playing cards and a glass half full of water for this experiment. To accomplish the astonishing trick, have the students place a playing card completely over the mouth of the glass and slowly turn it over. They should apply slight pressure to the card to keep it in place and remove their hands from the card when the glass is upside down. The card will keep the water in the glass because air is pushing on it more strongly from the outside than the water is pushing out on it from the inside.

Solar Hot Dog Cooker. Young entrepreneurs will want to take this idea to the bank! Your students can make solar hot dog cookers with a cardboard box, a pencil, scissors, poster board, a piece of unpainted coat hanger, glue, and aluminum foil. The best boxes for this activity are long and narrow. The students should choose a focal length and draw a parabolic curve on the long sides of the box. They will cut the sides along the lines and measure a piece of poster board to cover the opening. Students should affix the poster board with tape and glue aluminum foil smoothly onto the curve, keeping the foil's shiny side out. Next, students should add two cardboard scraps for support at the middle to hold the skewer. They should punch a hole in each support and mount the coat hanger skewer. Add a hot dog, and the students may enjoy the rewards of their labor and make use of the energy of the sun. The solar hot dog cooker is one of the most delicious experiments you will find at Science Projects from Energy Quest.

MORE HANDS-ON SCIENCE SITES

The Exploratorium Science Snacks
Science "snacks" are experiments or science exhibits you can share in the classroom. These great activities from the Exploratorium address tons of popular topics and are fun and educational. Your students are sure to eat them up!

Easy Science Experiments with Steve Spangler
If you're looking for a way to amaze your friends or to stimulate incredible conversation at the dinner table, you've come to the right place. This hands-on science museum represents Steve's most requested science projects from his weekly television appearances and live presentations throughout the country.

Science Resource Center
This site is an excellent resource for exchanging science experiments. Biology, chemistry, life science, and physics activities are among the categories you may choose to investigate.

Science Experiments You Can Do
Here, you will find information about experiments in sound, how to make slime, working with dry ice, creating a chemical volcano, and more.

Science Made Simple
These science experiments attempt to explain questions that often plague young people: Why do leaves change color? Why is the sky blue? Don't just tell them -- show them!

Fun Science Gallery
This site is perfect for teachers of advanced science classes. Detailed instructions tell visitors how to create telescopes, microscopes, batteries, and more.

Home Experiments
This collection of experiments will add joy to your science experience. Share the fun of scientific experimentation with friends or family members. Safety comes first. Be sure to follow each instruction carefully. [The link above goes to an archived version of the site; the original site is no longer live on the Internet.]

Cara Bafile
Education World®
Copyright © 2010 Education World

Originally published 05/01/2000
Last updated 06/02/2010