Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Science labs, Week 3

Monday's labs were some of the best ever. The kids were all engaged in the material.

The younger kids did the Six Cent Top lab from Teaching Physics with Toys. They made tops and then timed the spins with changes in mass to the tops. We explored rotational motion and inertia.

The teens worked from the TOPS module, Analysis. This is organized in task cards that the pairs work through at their own pace. I made three copies of the cards, one for each group, and laminated them. On some I put the answers on the back of the card and some I left blank to assure that I talked with them about their results.

I love the tone of the cards, gently urging the students to conserve their resources, to reuse materials. Household materials are usually all that is required, for example, we analyzed alum, corn starch, baking soda, salt and sugar. I like the clothespin/paper clip tongs.

We will use more sophisticated equipment later on but I think the TOPS modules are quite good at demonstrating essential chemical lab principles in straightforward ways. They are deceptively simple. PRM


Knittermom in SF Bay Area said...

Hi, I found your blog via Home Chemistry's blogroll, and I just had to share that we are using some of the same resources. I'm Kris, a HS mom in the SF Bay Area, and I'm teaching a science co-op of about 5 boys, ages 9 - 12, and we're doing physics about twice a month. I have "Teaching Physics with Toys", and we just did the Crash Test last Friday, plus I am using the AIMS book "Gravity Rules" and "Machine Shop" for some additional labs. I have looked at the TOPS stuff online, but couldn't quite get enough of a read on it to be sure of ordering it, but I might order one book to try it out, since we seem to like the same sort of resources. I'm also using "Conceptual Physics" by Paul Hewitt and "Hands On Physics Activities" by James Cunningham for additional demonstrations (for example, we did the "hit the stack of books" on my son's stomach, along with hanging a wooden mass from a string and pulling on a lower string for two additional inertia demos. I also *love* Louis Bloomfield's "How Everything Works", he writes about the physics of everyday items (he has a nice website with free resources). Finally, I'm finding the Physlets (little applets demonstrating physics) fabulous for fun learning at home, my boys don't think of them as homework at all. I'll be checking in to see how you're progressing, and if you can figure out how to determine acceleration without having to buy an acceleratometer, my hat will be off to you!

Ruth in NC said...

I have Hewitt and James Cunningham's book.

Tell me about the AIMS books, please. I have not found any sample pages online. Are they similar to Teaching Physics with Toys? I have to say that TPwT keeps my kids engaged the whole hour.

Really the biggest problem is the wealth of materials to use. I can easily confuse myself.


Knittermom in SF Bay Area said...

Actually, it is easy to preview almost entire books over at AIMS, since they sell a lot of the individual activities from the books as E-activities, and they offer previews of almost every one. Just go to:


and once you have the title of a book you are interested in, go to E-activities under the "Online Store", and use the search to type in the book title. All of the chapters will show up with a preview. Most of the books have a preview in the catalog section too. I like the Terrific Science stuff very much, but if I could only have one, I would choose the AIMS books - they are more complete, and integrate a little more math and data analysis. I hear you about having too many resources, but I find as long as I start with the hands-on activities as the spine of the class, it keeps me much more focused. I am a bit of a curriculum fiend, though, vbg.