The following modules have been developed for use in after-school science clubs and similar after school activities. Most require about 90 minutes. Additional modules on other subjects can be developed on request.

1.         ADHESIVES
To make a successful glue bond, an adhesive must wet the surfaces to be bonded and it must
be strong enough to hold them together.  This normally involves spreading a liquid adhesive
over the surfaces and then letting it harden by drying, by cooling, or by chemical reaction.  We
will look at each type of hardening with a water-based wood glue, a hot melt, and a two-
component epoxy.  Each adhesive will be used to glue together a wood fixture and later these
will be strung together in a chain and pulled apart to see which is the strongest.  Each adhesive
will also be used to glue together strips of paper and aluminum foil.  Students will look at how
quickly and firmly the paper and foil bonds form in order to predict which will produce the
strongest and weakest wood fixtures.

For students 5th grade and above.  Requires a minimum of 90 minutes.                                                             .

2.         BEHAVIOR OF GASSES                                                              
The objective is to explore one of the simple Gas Law relationships, that between temperature
and volume.  The students use balloons inflated with air. The circumference of the balloon is
measured at room temperature, at ice water temperature and at about 45˚ C.  The
measurement is made with waterproof nylon twine and a meter stick.  The students use the
relationship between circumference and volume of a sphere to calculate the gas volume and
then plot the results on graph paper.

For students of 5th grade and above. Requires 90 minutes.

3.         BRIDGES  (Why they are stronger than the materials they are built from ?)    
Almost everyone has thrown a plank across from bank to bank to get over a small stream. Such a simple bridge will not carry much weight without sagging and finally breaking. When the same amount of lumber is built into a simple truss structure, it will carry much more weight safely and sag much less.  We will try to demonstrate how this is possible.  The students will build two simple bridges from soda straws held together with hot glue. The first bridge is a simple slab which will span the space between two stacks of books. The second bridge is a truss structure built from the same materials. The load carrying capacity of both structures will be tested by loading each with a stack of pennies placed at the center of the span until the structure fails.

For students of 6th grade and above. Requires a minimum of 90 minutes.

The magnetic field surrounding a current-carrying conductor will be demonstrated using a large wire and a compass. Then the force on a current carrying conductor in a magnetic field will be demonstrated using a simple apparatus. After a brief review of the theory students will divide into groups to build a simple DC motor which usually runs well and embodies the principals discussed in the theory.

For students of 7th grade and above. Requires a minimum of 90 minutes.

The objective is to connect the density of solids, liquids and gases to their molecular
 constituents.  Students observe the behaviors of a variety of liquids (water, salad oil, rubbing
 alcohol, etc.) and solids (candles, rubber balls, Styrofoam balls, etc.) with special reference to
 the relationship of ice and water.  Water displacement is used to determine the density of
 irregularly shaped objects.  Buoyancy is explored by the construction of aluminum foil boats.

For students of 5th grade and above. Requires a minimum of 90 minutes. 

6.         DNA EXTRACTION FROM WHEAT GERM                             
DNA is a long, stringy biological molecule that can readily be extracted from cells like those of wheat germ using simple household items such as dish detergent and rubbing alcohol.  Before beginning the experiment, DNA is introduced, its structure is described, as is a bit of the history of its discovery in the 1950s.   Then, in a series of seven steps, the students will prepare their wheat germ samples and ultimately collect clumps of tangled DNA molecules that are easily visible to the naked eye.  We finish by discussing what happened at each of the seven steps of our experiment that allowed us to extract the DNA from the cells and examine real-life applications of the science of DNA extraction.

For students of 6th grade and above. Requires 90 minutes.

In this module, we explore the properties of light and optics.  We examine what happens when light passes through a very small hole.  We discuss what a lens is and what it does to light, whether it is in your eye or in your camera.   Lastly, we build simple imaging systems (camera obscuras) out of oatmeal boxes, lenses and viewing screens.   These are miniature devices similar to the chambers used by 17th century artists like Johannes Vermeer as drawing aids.
For students of 5th grade and above. Requires 90 minutes.

We will introduce the parameters that will be measured: (length & mass) and discuss why even honest people don’t always 
mass) and discuss why even honest people don’t always agree on size and mass (weight for this program). Students will make multiple  measurements on small objects using various measuring devices. The results will be plotted on distribution curves and the shape of the distribution will be noted. The concept of averaging to improve the measurement will be demonstrated.   Student groups will make repetitive measurement of the height of one student in both the standing and horizontal
positions. The use of simple statistical techniques to draw conclusions from the data will be shown. If time permits, some precision measurement devices will be exhibited.

For students of 6th  grade and above. Requires a minimum of 90 minutes.  

The objective is to illustrate how a particular type of chemical reaction, the oxidation-reduction
 reaction, forms the basis of batteries by releasing electrons that can move into an external
 circuit.  The students carry out a simple oxidation-reduction reaction with an aluminum/silver
 couple, observe the results and discuss how this does or does not form a battery.  They then
 go on to prepare a battery with a different metal pair, measure the voltage produced and
 demonstrate the battery’s ability to light a small LED.

For students of 7th grade and above. Requires every second of 50 minutes.

The objectives are: (1) to identify and explore some behaviors of fluids and to relate them to the
 structure of molecules in the fluid and (2) to react two liquids to form a polymer (glue) and
 observe its anomalous fluid-like properties.  The pourability, shapelessness and cutability of
 water are compared to that behavior of cardboard and modeling clay.  The polymer is made of
 Elmer’s Glue and liquid starch and its behavior is compared to that of water, cardboard and
 modeling clay.

For students of 5th grade and above. Requires a minimum of 90 minutes.

The emphasis is on Newton’s Laws and engineering. We build balloon, paper stomp rockets, bottle rockets, water bottle rockets, or for older students - Estes gun powder rockets.  Background includes the laws, rocket structure, height finding, and safety. Students build and launch their own rockets. Predictions are made and data is collected and analyzed. Past sessions and resources are The plans are made in cooperation with the teacher. Everyone has truly enjoyed this unit.

This module can be adapted to elementary or junior high students, and requires a minimum of           
90 minutes, outdoors.


2.                                                                                 12.       SEPARATIONS (simple physical and chromatographic)
                                                                                    The objective is to illustrate the utility of separations to studying a physical system.  Students begin with a plastic bag filled with a mixture of different kinds of beans.  They separate the different beans manually and characterize each group in as many ways as time and equipment permit:  size, shape, color, weight, etc.  Following this, they carry out a separation that can not be done manually, separating the liquid colors in marker pens using paper chromatography.
                                                                                    Comparison is made of different solvents and different brands of marker pens.  The importanceof the polarity of the solvents to the end result, as well as the mixtures of some colors to form others, are shown.

                                                                                    Suitable for students of 5th  grade and above. Requires 90 minutes.

The objective is to show chemical reactions using simple readily available reactants and to explore how the reactants influence the reaction rate.  Multiple measurements with each reaction system allow students to learn about averages and the variability of data.  Using discolored pennies and restoring them to a bright shiny condition in the course of the reaction provides a convenient endpoint for a time of reaction measurement.  Comparisons are made of the rates (hence races) of reaction of the pennies with cola, vinegar and lemon juice, all weak acids.

For students of 5'th grade and above.  Requires 90 minutes.

14.       SOUND & WAVES
The general nature of waves will be introduced along with the defining characteristics: media, mechanism, velocity of propagation, and wavelength or frequency. Several well known examples of waves will be discussed in terms of the defining characteristics. The peculiar characteristics of electromagnetic waves will be discussed.

The remainder of the time will be devoted to sound waves with examples on musical instruments including but not limited to: home made one-string violin, tin can telephone,  whistles, bells, voices, and whatever instruments the students bring to the session.

The characteristic sound of various frequencies in the sound spectrum will be demonstrated using a signal generator. The concept of waveform determining the character of sound will be demonstrated using a storage scope which allows the students to see the waveform of various sounds including those of musical instruments and voices.

Designed for students of 7th grade and above. Requires a minimum of 90 minutes. Request students to bring examples of instrument they can play (even a little bit).

The objective of this exercise is to introduce students to the use of statistics and to learn something about averages, graphs, data, and sampling techniques.  Each student or team is given a sample (M&Ms or colored blocks).  We ask them to guess the number of items in the sample without counting.   After they estimate the sample size, they count their sample and see if the original estimate was reasonable.  Then have them sort the sample by color and draw a bar graph to show the distribution starting with the color with the largest number.  The individual results are then combined, and each group prepares another graph of the overall data.  Students will determine if the sequence of colors changed when going from individual data to the larger sample of the overall data.  Have the students calculate the average number for each color in the pooled sample.  Determine the range of the data.

All the samples can be pooled into a bowl, and  the students reach in and select one without looking.  Discuss which color is most likely to be selected and least likely to be selected.  They then reveal which color was actually selected.   Discuss lotteries, raffles, and the computation of odds.

For students of 6th grade and above.  Requires 90 minutes.

16.       VOLCANOES
The study of volcanoes helps us to understand the structure of our planet – what the layers of the Earth are, what plate tectonics are, and where volcanoes occur.   We discuss these questions and also how volcanoes are classified, what materials come out of volcanoes, what dangers they pose, and what benefits they may provide.  To demonstrate, at a modest level, the action of a volcano, we simulate eruptions using simple, non-toxic materials such as vinegar and baking soda.

For students of 5th grade and above. Requires 90 minutes.

17.                                                                               17.       HEAT,  HEAT FLOW,  AND HOW TO STAY WARM  IN  A  COLD  CLIMATE
                                                                                    We first describe what heat is and then talk about how heat flows from one place to another. This leads to a description of the units of heat and energy and the concept of insulation. We then have a hands-on experiment in which students measure the relative insulating properties of several different kinds of cloth and clothing liners. This is done by measuring, and recording, the rate of temperature fall of cans of hot water insulated by samples of the material being investigated. If time permits, the effect of air flow (wind chill) is demonstrated. This experiment can actually be used to evaluate insulating materials.

                                                                                    For students of 6th grade and above. Requires 90 minutes.

18.                                                                               18.       UNDERSTANDING BLOOD PRESSURE AND BLOOD FLOW.
                                                                                    The mechanism of the human heart and circulatory system is described and the reason for the periodic changes in pressure in the arteries is explained. The definition of the terms “Systolic” and “Diastolic” is explained and the common method for measuring blood pressure is demonstrated and explained. Students are taught how to measure blood pressure on each other. We have enough equipment for about 5 student groups. The effect of blood circulation loss is demonstrated by using the blood pressure cuffs to constrict circulation in the arm while the students are working to compress a sponge with the hand.

                                                                                    The functions of blood circulation are reviewed and the mechanisms of various failures of that system are explained. This leads to a discussion of heart attacks, what can be done to make them less likely and the best course of action, should one encounter a person having a heart attack.             This module is led by an MSSV volunteer who is retired from a clinical and research career.

            For students of 5th grade and above. Requires 60 minutes. 90 minutes would be better, if possible.

19.        LIGHT AND COLOR (“ What is color? ”)
We seek to reveal the concepts of color through light mixing (additive colors) and filtering (subtractive colors). Also we reveal concepts of luminescence and light absorption. First we discuss white light and the students use gratings to disperse a white light source (e.g., a bright flashlight) into a color spectrum. Connections to rainbows and other dispersive phenomena are made. The electromagnetic spectrum is introduced to emphasize that visible light is only a small fraction of it. The students then perform light mixing experiments with red, green, and blue LEDs to demonstrate additive color through the creation of secondary colors (magenta, yellow, and cyan) and white light. Connections are made as to how the human eye “sees” color, and how a TV screen can “produce” various colors. Finally the students use colored filters to understand the concept of “subtractive” color mixing, and its connection to paints, inks, etc. They will discover a different set of primary colors (magenta, yellow, and cyan) and secondary colors (red, green, and blue).

For middle school students. Requires 90 minutes

In this session we first talk about muscles, we make the point that our body is full of muscles – not just the ones we always think of.  We point out that the skeletal muscles and the heart and many others are similar.  We then ask how muscles are controlled and introduce the importance of the brain and the nerves.  We talk briefly about how nerves are similar to and different from wires. 

We then talk about muscle reflexes – what does it mean and how is it done?  We discuss the difference between a muscle contraction signal from the brain and a reflex from the spinal cord and show them what the electric signal should look like.  We offer to attach volunteers to our electricity measuring device (a simple ECG) we explain a bit about how it works and how one measures electric signals within our bodies.  We then show them the complex electrical signal associated with muscle contraction and the simple signal associated with a reflex in the arm or leg. 

We then talk about the heart as a muscle and how it is also controlled by nerves for both rate and contraction.  We have a video that explains the anatomy of the heart, how it works, and a bit about its electrical signals (ECG).  We offer for volunteers to be connected to our ECG – it requires three sticky electrodes that are completely harmless.  We use the chest of males and the shoulders of females.  We can then show them their ECG, explain the components, and print it out for them.

The students  can take home their own ECG and, in the unlikely case that their parents haven’t had one – maybe they can explain why it is important.

The goal is for them to understand a bit about how muscles and nerves work, why doctors do reflexes, and why their parents have ECG’s.  They can go home with a print out showing that their heart is doing just fine.

For 6th through 8th grades. Requires 90 minutes but can be done in 50 minute class with some effort.

 21.      A DAY AT THE BEACH (All about Sand)
The objective is to introduce students to a variety of basic scientific operations through the observation, comparison and analysis of sand samples. Who doesn't like to go to the beach, walk on the sand, collect shells?  But what can the beach tell us about the geology of the area; about the dynamics of wind and water flow? Students will examine sand samples from a variety of land/water junctions including ocean, river, and lake-shore beaches.  They will familiarize themselves with the operation and use of a stereo-microscope.  They will also engage in some activities focused on measurement of objects within the microscopic field of view.  Discussion of the effects of wind and water on shorelines, erosion and weathering, and changes in current velocity will be exemplified using a variety of sand samples. Students will also be introduced to, or review, some basic mineralogy. Observations and measurements will be recorded on a data collection sheet.  Students will leave with one or more sand sample cards containing their choice of sand, and relevant data about the sample.

For students in grades 5 and above.  Requires 90 minutes.

This module explores why things like hair and mineral rocks have their characteristic shapes.   We explore how atoms are arranged to give a particular structure, such as six-sided snowflakes or the mineral fluorite.  We look at fractal geometry – what it is and where we find examples of fractals in nature, such as in Romanesco broccoli.   Finally, we build an origami virus particle to see how Nature efficiently packages DNA in these symmetric, infective agents.

For students of 5th grade and above. Requires 90 minutes.

21.      Mouse trap cars.
This is an engineering unit where the students assemble a kit. After discussion of mass, energy, work, levers, and other topics the students use their knowledge to predict which cars will go fastest and which cars will go furthest based on lever length. Consideration is given to craftsmanship also in that some cars fail. Beside a work space, a long flat hall is needed since the cars can go almost 100 ft.  The trial distances and times are recorded to discuss how well we predicted and a “post- mortem” is held for some.  (This module can be extended to form a mousetrap car club.)
For students 5th grade and above. Requires a minimum of  90 minutes. 

                                                                                    From time to time MSSV volunteers have presented special content modules in classes as requested by teachers. Some of these modules appear to be of general interest and are available to teachers who may want to include them in their class schedules.  In each case the modules have been used by a particular volunteer who has expressed a willingness to travel a reasonable distance in order to present the particular module in a location different from his/her home area.

                                                                                    For each of these modules,  MSSV has the equipment and reproducible class notes so that all the teacher needs to provide are the students and a scheduled time and location.

                                                                                    On request we, will consider other modules requested by teachers provided we have or can recruit the necessary talent. If there is something  you need, just ask.

1.                                                                                 1.         Buoyancy and Density.
This module was prepared for Lisbon middle school and was presented to about 6 classes in 2007. The module was presented by two volunteers working as a team and requires a full class period. 

2.                                                                                 2.         Battery Chemistry and theory.
This module was prepared and presented by a team consisting of a chemist and a physicist. In the presentation the theory of the oxidation reduction reaction that produces the electrons was presented. Following this the class was divided into groups of 4 or 5 students and each group was given instructions and material for the construction of a battery. The battery design was an MSSV original and was chosen to be safe and to produce a large enough current to brightly illuminate an LED.  This module requires every second of a 45 minute class period. It would be better to give it two class periods. 

            3.         Small Electric Motors a Student can Build.
            For several years one of our volunteers who is an electrical engineer has presented a program in which the students are divided into small teams, each of which builds a small motor which runs from a standard 1.5 Volt battery. To do this, the volunteer pre-fabs some of the parts that the students would have trouble with. The motors each require about $1.00 worth of materials (not including batteries or battery holders). We can supply the materials on a limited basis, but it would be better if the school paid for this, particularly if they want to allow the students to keep the motors they have built.  The program requires 2 or 3 class periods and so far all of the motors constructed have run. We would be happy to present this program to other schools which include electricity and magnetism in their science curriculum.

4.         Van de Graaff Generator.
Many schools have one of these high voltage generators in their supply room. The generators are truly impressive. They are inherently safe for humans (not so safe for electronic devices) but the static discharge can be surprising if the students are not properly instructed.  Every year we are requested to handle the demonstration of these things for teachers who are not comfortable with the generators and the high voltage effects they produce. One of our volunteers will come to a classroom that has or can borrow a Van de Graaff generator. We will carry out the demonstration so that everyone has fun and no one gets hurt. We will also explain how the generators work and explain why they produce the effects that are observed.

            The generators are notoriously delicate and require occasional repair to keep them working. We know how to do this and will repair the generators as necessary as a part of a scheduled presentation.

5.         Mechanics. (Special subjects and entire program).
            MSSV has prepared a complete program on the subject of Mechanics. We have also written a series of notes that can be reproduced as needed. These notes form a mini textbook that can be distributed to all students for the cost of reproduction. The entire program is intended to guide the presentation of the subject for schools that wish to include it in their curriculum.  MSSV volunteers who are trained in this subject are available to assist with any or all parts of this program.

The titles of the individual sections of the notes and hence the sections of the program are:    
            A.         Units of measure
                        B.         Vectors and Scalars and description of forces
                        C.        Newton’s laws (all three)
                        D.        Momentum and conservation of momentum
                        E.         Gravity (Newton again)
                        F.         Energy potential energy and kinetic energy  and conservation of energy
                        G.        Power
                        H.        Friction
                        I.          Efficiency.
                        J.         Density and buoyancy.
            K.         Introduction and teacher’s notes.

These notes are written at 7th and 8th grade level and have been used in a number of classes, so we think that most students of those grades can understand them.

On request we can convert any of the above topics into a stand-alone one-class presentation.

6.         Electricity & Magnetism. Special subjects and entire program.
MSSV has prepared a complete program on the subject of Electricity and Magnetism. We have also written a series of notes that can be reproduced as needed. These notes form a mini textbook that can be distributed to all students for the cost of reproduction. The entire program is intended to guide the presentation of the subject for schools that wish to include it in their curriculum.  MSSV volunteers who are trained in this subject are available to assist with any or all parts of this program.

The titles of the individual sections of the notes and hence the sections of the program are:
                        A.         Static Electricity
                        B.         Magnetism
                        C.        Electrical Units
                        D.        Circuits & Schematics
                        E.         Simple Circuits
                        F.         Ohm’s Law
                        G.        Power in Electric Circuits
                        H.        Batteries
                        I.          Current-carrying Conductors in Magnetic Fields (motors and generators)
                        J.         Electrical Safety
                        K.         Lightning Safety
                        L.         Introduction and teacher’s notes.      

These notes are written at 7th and 8th grade level and have been used in a number of classes, so we think that most students of those grades can understand them.  MSSV owns and maintain a great deal of the equipment used in these class programs.

On request, we can convert any of the above topics into a stand-alone, one class presentation. 

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