General Science Lesson Plans


Classroom Lessons

Science Discovery Days
Sandwich Science

Nature of Science Unit - Digital Interactive Notebook

Ologies - Branches of Science
Scientific Method, Safety Rules

Sinkin' Lincoln
Bikini Bottom Experiments

Bubble Time Lab
Independent Investigations
Consumer Challenge
Old Wives Tales Investigation
Silly Science (Classification)
Mystery Bags
Film Canister Fun
Bioglyphs
Pottery Pieces
Innovative Inventions - Internet project (Sites from the Kid Zone) (Student worksheet provided)
Inventor's Challenge - Internet project (Sites from the Kid Zone) (Student worksheet provided)
A Journey Through Time -Internet project (Sites from the Kid Zone) (Student worksheet provided)
Science A to Z Puzzle & Challenge Project
Super Scientist Challenge

 

Also check out ...

Metric Mania - An assortment of lessons and links for the metric system!

Lesson Plan Links for General Science - Includes scientific method, safety rules, and Science Fair resources

Scientific Snack Day
- Always a favorite for my kiddos when they earn a "snack day"!  Links are available on the Kid Zone to help them connect their favorite snacks/drinks to science.

Science Game Challenge - Students develop their own game (board game, card game, or other type of game similar to those on TV or played in class) targeting the various types of scientists they have studied.  This lesson may also include targeting vocabulary from a specific learning unit.  My students will refer to the vocabulary sets available on my Quizlet page.  
Note: This project could also be developed to provide science games for the elementary classrooms. 

 Observation Challenges - Students search their homes to make observations that can be classified by various scientific characteristics organized into the main brances of science.  Students also need to add a description to explain how it relates to the characteristic.  

 

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Science Discovery Days (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted concepts:  Specific concepts will be determined by the experiments the students prepare and present.

The students in my 7th grade accelerated science classes develop science lessons for elementary students in our district that target a single concept and use “hands-on” activities. Teams are required to prepare a lesson outline, activities, worksheets, and assessments. I allow three class days to prepare for the lesson, create the lesson worksheet, and practice time. I assign a team of 3-4 students to each 3rd grade classroom and allow 25 minutes of "teaching time." The teams usually start with an introductory activity, then split into smaller groups for some hands-on activities. Once they finish in one classroom, the teaching teams rotate to the next one and share their stuff with a new group of youngsters.

The response from my students has been very positive! They enjoy working with the younger students and get a good understanding of the topic after they have taught it several times. The younger students love our visit and have a great time with the big kids. Since I have done this project for several years, I now have the first "Discovery Days" students in my junior high building. They remember the lessons from their 3rd grade days and have a connection with me that helps smooth the adjustment to the new building. This is one of those projects that goes beyond what can be seen on lesson day. The experience of the younger students as well as the older kids will last for years to come.

Project Worksheets: Science Discovery Days (pdf) (includes student information, lesson plan page, and grade sheet)

 

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 Sandwich Science (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted concepts:  Process skills (observations, data collection, analysis, etc.), scientific investigations, science careers

This lesson started as a question on my back-to-school survey for students, which asked “Is a hot dog a sandwich?”  I could tell when students reached that question from their expressions as they started searching for “evidence” on Google.   Since I use Google Forms for the survey, I was able to collect data from all the kids to present the next day in class.  It was a good-spirited debate from the start - sometimes quite lively. Throughout the lessons that followed numerous connections between their efforts to find answers and the process scientists use in their fields.   This one question lead to a short unit on the process of science that I will be able to build on throughout the year.  I have found many ways to refer to the classification process as we work our way through the first unit on ecology.  I imagine I will find other connections just to start up the debate again when things get slow! 

Lesson Resources Teacher Information (incl student worksheets), Class Notes (PPT)
(Click HERE for a link to the survey - make a copy for yourself to edit.)

Sandwich Science Digital INB Versions - Digital Class Notes (PPT) and Digital Student Notebook 
NOTE:  These are set to VIEW ONLY.  You will have to make a copy to use it with your classes.

 Interactive Science Notebook Resources - Updated to include digital resources along with the great resources I've used for traditional (paper) versions.

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Nature of Science Unit - Branches of Science, Scientific Method, Science Safety Rules, Experiments, & More
(T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted concepts:  Branches of science, scientific  method/investigations, process skills (observations, data collection, analysis, etc.), variables vs. controls, lab safety, experimental design

  • Digital Interactive Notebook - The PPT download includes the Teacher Masters slides to share during class presentations/recordings along with notes for instruction and links to resources you can use - see the speaker notes and margin areas for these.  The first slide includes a Table of Contents to help you navigate the topics/activities. The download also includes the templates I used to create the digital notebook pages on Google Slides for the student.  A link to the Student Notebook (Google Slides) is provided on the first slide of the PPT download. NOTE:  If you are using the traditional (paper) ISN, you can still use these resources. I use a page format of 11x8.5, which will print landscape on a standard-sized paper.  Some of the PDFs are ones I've used over the years, while others have been created using the slides in the digital notebook.

    This digital notebook incorporates a variety of lessons and activities to introduce students to world of science. I have combined many of my past activities with some new ones exploring the "what" of science and the branches of science.  Most of the video resources are available FREE on EDPuzzle. 

    Topics included in this digital notebook:

    • What is Science?  - NGSS Definition (pdf) + Branches of Science (pdf) (EDPuzzle video notes), Science Connections activity, UPick Projects - Branches of Science, & an "Ologies" Quizlet set you can use for Quizlet Live.  I also included a link on the teacher slide to the Smillionaire challenge (my version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?") 

      Also available from the Science Learning Hub website - Extra Piece & Scrambled Sentences
      NOTE:  Teachers and students will need to MAKE A COPY in order to edit these files.  If you send an e-mail to request access from your school account, I may not be able to respond depending on the filter settings for your district.

      For more worksheets & activities related to scientists, check out the Super Scientist area at the bottom of this page.

    • Observations & Inferences Lesson - Includes an overview of both terms, and introductory activity, and a follow-up activity involving a dinosaur scene.

      Data Analysis - Notes* related to data definitions and how they are used in science.  Extend the lesson by including activities from Data Nuggets or NASA JPL Data Activities.  Also check out these fun projects: PBS Learning Media Fish Sampling or Ant Picnic (Student-gathered data)  Note:  The note portion incorporates a Study.com ideo (subscription-based website), but you could have students complete using the teacher notes.

    • Lab Safety - Science Safety Rules w/ SpongeBob (pdf) - Students identify safety rules that SpongeBob and his pals broke as they performed experiments. Download includes notes for the teacher and an answer key. An additional slide challenges students to find mistakes illustrated in a science lab image.
      Also check out MSS Blog's activity for safety!

    • Lab Equipment - What is it? (pdf) - Students identify various lab equipment they will use in my classes.  A Quizlet set is available to help them with the assignment, which can also be used as a Quizlet Live game.

    • Investigations - Penny Lab (pdf), Bikini Bottom Experiments (includes the Controls & Variables 1 (pdf)Controls & Variables 2 (pdf) worksheets) involving identifying control & variables along with data analysis to help SpongeBob and his pals with their experiments! They are also challenged to write their own experiment (see Bubble Time Lab below) using their knowledge of the scientific method. Answer keys have been provided. 

    • Science of Spin (PPT) - This was developed as a 1 day activity for use during our Nature of Science unit - the last video make a great connection with the unit.  The lesson challenges students to make observations of a spinning "tube" or "redneck fidget spinner" (as I call them).  My hubby and I cut 1/2" PVC pipe into lengths of 2.5 inches.  The lesson guides students to determine the science to explain their observations.  The first slide of the PPT includes a link to the video lesson I used with my remote students as well as the digital assignment for students (Google Slides).  I also included a link to a great resource to provide background information for teachers to help them implement it in their classroom.   NOTE: If you have a shop class at your high school, see if they can cut the PVC pipe to the lengths you need.

    • Bubble Time Lab Activity - Download includes teacher notes and a student worksheet for the Bubble Time portion of the Controls & Variables 2 worksheet.   A Power Point presentation is also available and a Google Form you can have students use to submit their data.

  • NOTE:  SpongeBob SquarePants and all related characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc.

More resources for the Scientific Method ...

  • Scientific Method Worksheets- Scientific Method Notes (pdf) , Scientific Method Review Puzzle (pdf), Scientific Method Word Search (pdf)- The note worksheet I use to introduce a basic version of the "scientific method". The download includes a student worksheet as well as an answer key that can be used to make an overhead master.

  • MedMyst - Students complete the missions to learn about epidemiology along with a review of scientific method processes.  Studnet worksheets for Mission 1 (Orientation), Missions 2-4, and Mission 5-6 are available.   Answer keys are available for teachers if they contact me with their school information included in the request.

  • Independent Investigations- Independent Investigation Lab Worksheet (pdf), Independent Investigation Guidelines (pdf) , and Independent Investigation Grade Rubric (pdf)
    At the end of my scientific method unit, I challenge my students (usually working in pairs) to create an experiment of their own using pennies and drops of water by following the basic steps in the scientific method. A few ideas ... Which will hold more drops of water: cold penny or hot penny; new penny or old penny; and head side or tail side? Student groups have also created experiments to test different substances: different brands of soaps, shampoo/conditioners, or other safe household liquids. I always emphasize the need for safety! Each group must have my permission before attempting any part of the experiment. If a group has not addressed possible errors or safety rules, I have them rewrite the lab until it meets with my approval.

    • Other ideas ... I give the students several chances throughout the year to create their own experiments using the Independent Investigation format. I provide only the topic and allow the students to create a question and design an experiment to find an answer. My students have experimented with bouncy balls, Hot Wheels cars, tops, yo-yos, and other toys that are easily available. For example, students work in pairs to create a question about bouncy balls, such as "Does the diameter of the ball influence the height of the bounce?" Students design the experiment by completing the first few sections on Ind. Investigation worksheet and have the experiment approved by me before they attempt the lab. If time is available after the labs are completed (or as an extra credit on-your-own-time project), I have the groups exchange experiments. After the experiments are completed, the groups meet to discuss the results, which provides a great opportunity to discuss problems related to the design of the experiment or data collection. Many times the groups come up with different results and the kids ask to repeat the experiment to see who is right! It is great to see them taking the initiative to experiment on their own and develop ways to address errors that could cause unreliable data - all without prodding from me!

  • Mythbusters (PDF) - Use this worksheet with any of the Mythbusters episodes to explore how Adam & Jamie apply the scientific method to explore myths and legends. After viewing a video, challenge your students to develop their own Independent Investigation to test one of the myths from the show.Need clips from the show?  Try these links:  Discovery Channel - Mythbusters, How Stuff Works: Mythbusters Search, AOL Videos: Mythbusters, YouTube: Mythbusters
    NOTE:  As with any online videos, be sure to review them before showing them to your classes!

  • Come Fly With Me - Thanks to Jessie Bergman for sharing her paper airplane project that she uses with her scientific method unit. Version 1 is the basic version and provides detailed instructions for the students.  Version 2 is the advance version that challenges students to develop their own procedure for the experiment.

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Consumer's Challenge (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)    
CHECK out the newest version using Oreo cookies on the STEAM MINIS page!
Targeted concepts:  Scientific  method/investigations, process skills (observations, data collection, analysis, etc.), variables vs. controls, lab safety

My students work in research teams (2-4 students) to challenge the claims of products available to consumers. From paper towel advertisements to powerful battery claims, my students take the lead in their learning and investigate their world using the scientific method.

During the first part of the project, students choose a product, create their question/hypothesis, and develop their procedure. They are required to incorporate methods to ensure reliable results and to address safety concerns. Before the experiment day, teams list the materials needed and gain final approval from me. After the experiment, students use their data to construct a graph and write a conclusion. Each team is required to create a presentation to report their findings to their classmates.

The students earn two grades: one for the experiment portion and another for their group work. While I determine the grade for the experiment portion of the project, the students help determine the member grades (effort and participation) by completing a Group Rating form. The form allows them to assess the effort and participation for themselves as well as for their classmates. The scores are averaged to calculate the individual grades for each team member.

Student Worksheets: Consumer's Challenge (pdf) - Includes all the worksheets and grade rubrics for this activity.

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Old Wives Tales (contributed by Sarah Bynum, Atascadero Junior High in Atascadero, CA)
Targeted concepts:  Scientific  method/investigations, process skills (observations, data collection, analysis, etc.), variables vs. controls, lab safety

To introduce this lesson, students discuss old wives' tales and define the difference between them and superstitions. The class creates a list of the tales on the board and each group chooses one to investigate. They have to choose one that is can be tested safely and in a short amount of time. Groups use the scientific method to explore the accuracy of the tale and keep a record of their results. After all the investigations are completed, the students write a lab report and give a brief oral report to the class.

Student Worksheets: Old Wives Tales (pdf)

 

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Silly Science - Dichotomous Keys & Classification (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted concepts:  Science process skills (observations, data collection, analysis, etc.), classification

This quick and easy activity introduces students to the world of dichotomous keys. Keys are available for a wide range of items, from trees to insects. Students may extend this lesson by creating their own keys using ordinary items (sewing items, art supplies, food, animals, doughnuts, candy, etc.) I use this activity to teach students how to use a dichotomous key before they attempt to use other dichotomous keys, such as Mineral Match, my mineral identification lab with a key created specifically for my mineral sets.

Materials Needed/Answer Key: Whatnot: white marble, Fancy Whatnot: colored marble, Screecher: white chalk, Wadget: unsharpened pencil, Widget: sharpened pencil (more than 10 cm), Gadget: wooden splint (popcicle stick), Cubey: die, Oopsey: eraser (less than 10 cm), Itsy Bitsy: small paperclip (less than 3 cm), and Super Duper: large paperclip (more than 3 cm).

Student Worksheet: Silly Science (pdf)

A cool idea from Dennis Moore (John Deere Middle School, Moline, IL) ...
To teach his students about dichotomous keys, Dennis Moore challenges his students to develop a key to identify the letters of the alphabet. He provides a list of ten letters (such as A-J) and instructs them to create a key. They must create new groups for the letters, such as curvy or loopy, based on the shapes and lines used to write the letters. After the students have the first ten letters classified, he gives the students 3 to 4 additional letters. The students must use the key they created to determine the classification for the new letters. If the letter doesn't match one of the original groups, students must readjust their keys to make room for the "new species".

Other ideas for dichotomous keys ...
Shoe Classification (pdf) - A different version from BJ's Resources to teach your students how to make a key.
CPalms - Try a candy classification activity or one involving creatures.
What is a key to classification? - Visit this site for information about making dichotomous keys and tips for your students!

 

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Mystery Bags (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted concepts:  Science process skills (observations, inferences)

Collect several items that will fit into brown paper lunch bags. Items I have used include floppy disks, cotton balls, soap, deck of cards, paperclips, band-aid, paint brush, index card, eraser, CDs, and stick of gum. Place in lunch bags, staple top, and number. Pass each bag around the room and allow students time to write down any physical characteristics they notice along with their best guess to its identity. (For soap and gum, challenge them to name the brand.) This activity is an annual hit!

 Student Worksheet:  Mystery Bags (pdf) - Submitted by B. Peck

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Film Canister Fun (submitted by Judi Flaherty, Quincy, MA)
Targeted concepts:  Science process skills (observations, inferences)

I learned the following activity at a Museum of Science camp-in and have used it dozens of times in many different venues from Physical Science class to ice breakers in Youth Group. Use the film canisters to divide the kids into groups or teams or with same materials have them work in teams to study the scientific method or deductive reasoning.

If you have 30 kids and want 5 groups of 6, you will need 30 film canisters (all alike). Put them in rows of 6, with caps off and fill each row with something different, such as rice, pennies, marble, popcorn, paper clips, water, karo syrup, magnet, push pin, eraser, etc. You'll have 6 canisters with rice in them, and 6 with paper clips, etc. Put the lids on the canisters and put them all in a bag. Have the kids each pick one and then move about the room shaking the canister and trying to find the other members of their group based on the sound they hear. Once in the group they can try floating, rolling, shaking, etc. to come up with a hypothesis for the contents or deduce the contents based on non-visible evidence. It's quite fun, has endless combinations and possibilities, and the kids really get in to it.

 

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Bioglyphs (original idea from Katie Stapleton, NJ, and Nancy Nega, Churchville Middle School, Elmhurst, IL)
Targeted concepts:  Classification

A great activity to challenge the code reading ability of your students. I also reference this activity in our lessons on classification. For this activity, students develop a face diagram using symbols. From hair color to birthdays, students share a little about themselves with their classmates. After all the bioglyphs have been completed, display them in the hallway or other area of your classroom and challenge your students to identify their classmates. Students may ask questions that require yes or no answers only! "Is this your bioglyph?" is not an acceptable question! After fifteen minutes, have each student write their name on their picture and allow time for them to check their answers. My students had a great time identifying their classmates and I enjoyed bringing a little of their history lesson about hieroglyphics into science class.

Student Worksheets: Bioglyphs (pdf) - Includes all the Worksheets for this activity.

Also available ... Bioglyph PowerPoint - Use this presentation to help your students as they create their bioglyph.

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Pottery Pieces (contributed by P. Downs, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted concepts:  Science process skills (observations, inferences)

Mrs. Downs, a former 6th grade teacher, incorporated this activity during a unit on Inca, Aztec, and Maya culture, but it would make an excellent addition to any science class by challenging students to use their scientific skills (powers of observation and problem solving skills) in a different setting.

Each group of 4-5 students receive a 4" clay pot that they decorate with symbols of our present day culture. They keep their pot from being seen by the other groups by keeping them a paper bag when they are not being decorated. She tells them that they will then exchange pots and try to have another group decipher what the symbols really mean. Once most of the pots are mostly done, a "Great Catastrophe" occurs---a volcanic eruption, earthquake, or whatever!!! All the pots are placed in one bag (really, 2-3 bags, for strength) and smashed with a hammer. She then puts the same amount of broken pottery back in their bags, which now has pieces from all pots. The next time the students work on them they notice the bags 'feel funny'.

Mrs. Downs writes, "You should see their faces when they realize what has happened!! It seems to really bring home the reason why we know so few 'for sure' facts about ancient cultures if they have this much trouble reassembling pots made now!! Good ole Elmer's Glue works to put them back together, as well as rubber cement. Then we make a big deal about not telling the next class of 6th graders what we just did."

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Innovative Inventions (contributed by S. Baker, Pleasant Hill, Peoria, IL)
Be sure to visit the Invention Links page of the Kid Zone!

Through research, students discover when certain items were invented. Using the information they collect, students create a timeline to show the progression of technology over the years.

Student Worksheet: Innovative Inventions (pdf)

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Inventor's Challenge (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Be sure to visit the Invention Links page of the Kid Zone!

This twist on Innovative Inventions challenges students to explore the history of science and technology and the contributions by various ethic groups. Students search the sites listed on the Invention Links page of the Kid Zone to complete the worksheet. I do allow students five "freebies" to use if they cannot find information for some of the inventors. Students use 15 of the inventions from the worksheet to create a time line on a piece of adding machine tape.

Student Worksheets: Inventor's Challenge (pdf) (includes the answer key) and Inventor's Challenge Time Line Directions (pdf)

Also available - Inventor's Challenge Word Search (pdf), Inventor's Challenge Review (pdf), and Inventor's Challenge Quiz (pdf)

New version available ... Inventor's Challenge 2 (pdf) - For this version, students choose inventions to complete the worksheet. The worksheet is organized into topics, such as transportation, communication, and more. After the students are done with the worksheet, they can use the items to make a time line following the Inventor's Challenge Time Line Directions (pdf).

 

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A Journey Through Time (developed by S.Baker, Pleasant Hill, Peoria, IL and T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Be sure to visit the Invention Links page of the Kid Zone!

During this activity, students work with their classmates to investigate various time periods to identify scientific developments and historical events. The information from their research to create a time line to share their results.

Student Worksheet: A Journey Through Time (pdf)

 

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Science A to Z Puzzles (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)

Students are challenged to find 26 science terms in the puzzle. (Puzzle #2 has words that bend at least once!) I use this puzzle as an introductory lesson at the beginning of each new year. As an extension, students may (1) write a report, (2) create a model, or (3) make a presentation on any of the terms in the puzzle. If you use this puzzle at the end of the year, you might consider challenging the students to create a concept map or web that would show the relationship between the various topics in science by integrating all of the words in the puzzle!

Student Worksheet: Science A to Z Puzzle (pdf) or Science A to Z Challenge #2 (pdf)

Science A to Z Challenge - Students develop their own "alphabet book" using terms from a past learning unit. The handout provides student directions as well as a worksheet to help them keep track of their progress.  "Books" may be handmade or created using online tools for students with Internet access. 
Note: Our students create their projects targeting specific grade levels.  The booklets/projects are then shared with our elementary teachers and their students.


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Super Scientists Challenge (developed by T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL and S.Baker, Pleasant Hill, Peoria, IL)
Targeted concepts:  Branches of science, science careers

During this lesson, students use their code-reading skills to identify 34 different scientists. I do this lesson at the beginning of the year and refer back to it whenever we start a new unit. An extension lesson has been provided to allow the students to research one of the careers on the Internet using the sites available on the Career Links or the Reference Desk Pages of the Kid Zone.

Worksheets: Super Scientists Challenge (pdf),Super Scientists Challenge Answer Key (pdf), Super Scientist Quiz (pdf), and Super Scientist Fact Sheet (pdf)

Also available ... Super Scientists Crossword Puzzle (pdf) and Super Scientist Test (pdf) - Thanks to Malissa Lyons for sharing these worksheets!

NOTE: The challenge worksheet provided has been designed to be copied back-to-back. The students are able to fold along the line on the front allowing them to use the code when completing the back of the worksheet.

Also available ... Super Scientists Word Search (pdf)

Super Scientists Study Tips (pdf) - Over the past few years, my students have created phrases or tips to help them remember the scientists. Feel free to use the tips provided or challenge your students to create their own!

Super Scientists Bingo Game (pdf) - The download contains a bingo card as well as clue cards. I print the clues on an overhead transparency, then cut them apart and put on the overhead during the game. I give the kids a roll of Smarties to use as markers, but warn them that don't get to eat them unless they are good. I also challenge the kids tell me what each scientist does when they read off their bingos. I encourage the kids to make notes on their bingo card which can be used to study for the quiz.
ALSO AVAILABLE ... Science Bingo Teacher Tips (pdf) - Includes a description of my version of bingo and a "blank" bingo card you can use for any topic.

Also visit my Quia page for Super Scientists challenge board (Jeopardy format) or the matching game.

Super Scientist Vocab Cards (pdf) and Super Scientists Vocab Cards Answers (pdf)
NOTE: I print the vocab challenge cards on cover stock. I copy the cards on one side and the answers (or letters to match) on the other. Once the students have matched all the cards, they can check their work by turning the cards over. If the letters match, they are correct. If not, they know the ones they need to study! I also provide stopwatches for them to time their trials. Students who are able to match all the cards in a specific amount of time (usually under 1 minute) get to add their name to a star and receive a treat.

Also available ... Super Scientist Activity Worksheet (pdf) to use with the vocab matching cards in a small group setting. Thanks to Tina Jenkins for sharing this worksheet!

 

 

 Be sure to visit http://middleschoolscience.com/ for a wealth of resources!

Check out "wearable" science projects at ScienceWear.net!

 

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The Science Spot was developed in March 1999 by Tracy Tomm
Science Teacher @ Havana Junior High, Havana, IL

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