Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fun Science Craft for Spring

Are you ready for spring!! 

In preparation for a workshop I did over the weekend, I came across an activity that discussed painting by freezing colored water. Those of you who know me really well, know that I am not one of those people to simply just believe something works. True to form, I tried it out.

Let me just say, this is one of the coolest things I have done in a long time! It just made me say-I Love Science!

This activity is a fun and inexpensive way to teach children about melting and freezing.  So go to the store today and get the supplies.
Here is what you need:
Bag of Straws

Ice tray
Food coloring-red, blue, yellow

This is what you do:
Add water to the tray and then the food coloring; stir

Straws-cut them and put in the water. These will be your handles-just put in before freezing

Then all you do is put in freezer and freeze!! When you take them out of the tray, they will look like this:

 And soon you will be able to do this!
Painting a rainbow with colored ice!

This is a picture I painted. Don't you just want to say Science Rocks!!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Great Science Books Inspire!

Books, books, books! My daughter walks around with a book hooked to her nose almost ever day! I love that she loves to read so much. Frederick Douglass once said,“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”  Books open up a whole different world to children. In books, children can go to far off places. They can become a scientist who cures a life threatening illness. In the classroom, books can also be used to help build vocabulary and inspire students. Over the next few weeks, I am going to share some of my favorite books. Of course you know these books are going to be all about science topics, but I threw in some math books as well!

An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Aston and Sylvia Long

Several posts ago, I wrote about one of my favorite science activities to spark curiosity. In the activity, you take an egg and put it in vinegar to see what happens (check out my previous post for directions). This is the book I use after doing the activity. 

What makes this book fantastic is not just the incredible illustrations, but the language. Dianna Aston uses vivid language to describe the physical properties of eggs found in nature. For example, eggs in the wild can be round (Ridley Sea Turtle), oval (Ladybird Beetle Egg), pointy (Common Murre), and tubular (Dogfish). Tubular dude! No, this is not just a shout out to all my friends born in the 80's!  Tubular is the word that best describes the Dogfish's egg sack!

The book also describes how eggs are textured-they can be hard, soft, gooey, smooth, and rough! I just love how describing words are used to articulate how these eggs would feel if we could tough them! 

Observations are very important to the work of a scientist. Scientist use words to describe what they see, feel, hear, and smell. I don't like to use taste often because scientists do not taste things in their labs. But for another group of people, taste is really important-chefs! Think about how chefs use words to describe how food tastes! 

Observations really lead to an understanding of what makes up an object and the relationship between what the object can do. Think structure (what it is made up of) and function (how it works). The relationship between the two can help scientists get a better sense of how the object can be used in the real world. Let's go back to the Dogfish egg sack. Take a look at  it's tubular (just love saying that word! And so do little ones!) shape-see picture below. What do you observe off the ends of the tubular sack? See the little strings? What do you think they are used to do?

If you said they act like an anchor (did you cheat and read the page?), then your idea would be right. They anchor the egg sack to seaweed so it does not get swept away with the current. Their function is to help protect the sack. In essence, the strings help the eggs to survive! 

What the sack is made out of also helps the eggs to survive. Its leathery texture makes is harder for prey to break it open. It also prevents water from getting in and drowning the eggs. Again, the structure leads to the survival of the Dogfish when it is in the most delicate stage of it's life cycle.

Once children get the hang of understanding the relationship between structure and function, they can use that knowledge to inspire innovation. Did you know velcro was invented from those pesky burrs that love to hook a ride on your pants leg? 

So if you want a great book to build words while inspiring lots of questions, this is the book for you! Children will also learn lots of information about animals. Stay tuned for more books!