Thursday, July 9, 2015

Mapping the Ocean Floor

Hi friends! I have blogged in MONTHS! I have so many ideas I've tried and cannot wait to show you. This June, in the second to last week of school I was desperate for a super fun activity to keep my kiddos engaged through the end of the school year. I made 2 new activities. The first is my ocean floor mapping project. This one requires a bit of prep. Here are some pictures to walk you through making your ocean floors and preparing materials.
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First, you need several trays, however many groups you want to have. I did 6. They are about 14" x 9" x3". You also need flour, water, crumpled up coupon paper (that's what I used, anyway) and strips of newspaper for the paper mache. Mix flour and water in a 50/50 ratio.
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Crumple up some coupons (or whatever you're using) to create some contrast on your ocean floor. Make each floor different. I ripped up my coupons into different sized pieces of paper before crumpling them so some 'hills' would be different sizes.

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Dip your strips of newspaper into the flour/water mixture, and gently glide your fingers along the strips, removing as much excess flour and water as possible. You want the paper 'wet' with flour and water. It's enough, trust me. Layer, layer, layer.

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I knew I was going to cover my oceans so the students couldn't see the floor, but I needed a way for them to measure the depth. So I created these. Skewers. Just regular skewers. I used markers and make colored lines so the students could record how many 'lines' it took to get to the ocean floor. I just estimated how far apart to make them. It didn't take many lines because my ocean floors weren't that deep. This turned out to work SO well. My students loved using these things. I think what they loved most was NOT using a ruler.

(I had a photo to go here of my students doing the measuring, but blogger is giving me trouble is copying and pasting the photo with their faces covered. I may try again later).
How to map: Cover ocean floor with aluminum foil (easy to pierce with skewer, difficult to see through). Then cover with graph paper. Have other graph oriented in the same direction next to ocean. Stick skewer into ocean. Look at what color line the 'ocean' goes up to. Record number on other graph paper. Move over 4 (or any number) of boxes on graph paper. Repeat sticking/recording. Continue on, and on, and on, until 'other' graph paper has a bunch of numbers written on it. It will look like this...

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You'll have a graph paper (or 2 taped together) with a bunch of numbers on it. The lower the number the shallower the ocean. Next you need to draw topographic lines. Start with the lowest number on your paper. In this pic, the lowest number was 1, you can see them circled in red. The next lowest number is 2. You'll notice the topographic line around the 2s (in orange) includes all of the 1s that are touching the 2s in anyway, in this case, in the middle of them. Next is the 3s in yellow. The 3s contain all of the 2s and 1s touching them. After you have your lines drawn, assign them colors. This group chose rainbow because the pattern is recognizable. It worked well. Here are some more...

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It took my classes a whole class period to record the numbers and draw the topographic lines. The second day began by assigning colors and coloring. After that we gathered the 6 maps and 6 oceans and uncovered them to see how each group did. That was a real crown pleaser. Here is a pic of a really well done map with its ocean floor (although it's hard to 'see' the ocean floor).

Here is another. This one you can see a bit better.

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I LOVED this activity. The kids were engaged for 2 full class periods in the final weeks of school, completed a meaningful activity, had a hands-on opportunity, worked together, and LEARNED something. They even THANKED ME! WOW! I cannot wait to do this again next year!
You can visit my TPT store for a free handout to accompany the activity.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Class Project: Let's Build a Periodic Table

This is a project in the works... but we LOVED it! I created a template for the boxes on the periodic table and assigned each student 5 elements. We only did the first 6 periods, minus the lanthanide and actinide series. I haven't made a grading rubric for this yet, but the link for the free download for the template is at the bottom of this post. We spent 3 days in the computer lab researching and filling out the template for each element. I didn't let the kids color them until it was time to assemble the table. I told them they needed to decide on colors for the metals, metalloids, and nonmetals and someone would need to make a key. They outlined, cut, colored, and glued the table themselves. I made them measure ahead of time to figure out how to fit them all. I put one girl and one boy in charge of overseeing the project. My 8th grade honors class had such a great time with this. They even thanked me and told me how much fun it was! You don't get that everyday! Enjoy. Feel free to leave a comment or message!

Here is the link for the template...Periodic Table Pieces Template


Friday, April 17, 2015

Class Project: Making a Model of the Solar System to SCALE!!!

I've always wanted to make a model of the Solar System. I hoped my teacher would assign it as a project when I was a kid. It never happened. So... I had my students do it! We built a Solar System, to scale, in our school. Not just an ordinary Sun and 8 planets, no. We included 9 moons, 2 dwarf planets, and the asteroid belt. It was SO MUCH FUN! Each class picked their own scale based on actual numbers. The 2 scales (for distance and diameter) had to be different from one another, of course, but the results were awesome! My favorite was Eris ending up down 2 hallways outside our main office. You'll notice several of each planet in the hallway, that's because I did the activity with each of 3 classes. Next year I'm going to put each class in a different hall.  You'll also notice the planets are different sizes, that's because each class chose a different scale.  Leave me a message if you have any questions! Check out our pics and visit the link at the bottom for the FREE download.  Enjoy!

I hope you liked it! Here is the link!


Sunday, March 22, 2015

My love/hate relationship with Science Fair

I love science fair, I do.  I love watching my students succeed and put their heart into their work.  I strongly dislike when they become stressed out or when they try SO hard, and then don't win.  Here is a look at some of my favorite boards from this years school fair.
Hallway 1
The rest of hallway 1.
A computer science project designed to find the most profitable properties of Monopoly.
Can ear lobe creases be used to predict high cholesterol?
How do different colored night lights effect your deep sleeping patterns?
Are women more likely to go into labor during a full moon?
How do different types of cholocolate affect your heart rate?
Can a homemade parabolic receiver work as well as one printed from a 3-D printer?

Are children more likely to look like their grandparents or parents?

How do glucose rates vary in common fruits?

How do burn rates vary in different types of wood?

How does human urine effect the growth of grass?
How does the weather effect the colors you see in a sunset?

And that oh, so classic trebuchet project!  How does the mass of the counterweight effect the throwing distance of a trebuchet?

Our school fair is over, the very first of which I was in charge.  Time to start planning for next year!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Welcoming the New School Year!

We're back!  As a parent and a teacher it feels good to be back in a routine.  I am SO thrilled to be teaching earth science this year.  I am also teaching an honors physical science class.  I still have a number of life science resources that aren't quite ready to post.  Here are some pictures of my room this year!
This is the bulletin board outside my classroom.

Here are my Mineral Group posters.  See my post from July for the link to print these for free!

My desk area

The front half of my classroom

Some foldable activities I'm getting ready for next week.  Here is the link if you want to check them out.

Be sure to check back next week when I introduce my favorite science fair project ideas for this year!  Hope your year is off to a great start!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My First Venture in Earth Science: Mineral Star of the Week!

How do I get my students interested in rocks and minerals? When my students leave 7th grade, what do I want them to remember about rocks and minerals?  They certainly won't remember every detail we study, but if I can get them to appreciate minerals, recall some general ideas, and be able to identify some common minerals I would be happy.  How can I simplify the facts and make it fun for a 12 year old who couldn't care less about rocks?  Here is my answer...

Mineral Star of the Week!  (Get it?!  "Mineral" Star instead of "Rock" Star?!)
I'm going to begin the year by introducing the basic families of minerals by their common ingredient (chemical composition).  I made posters that I'm going to hang on my closet door, since it's boring looking anyhow.  Here is the link to my free poster set...

Mineral Star of the Week Posters {FREE}

Each week I'm going to highlight a different mineral.  I'll give 3-4 facts about the mineral and review them each class period.  At the end of each week I'll choose one name at random to answer questions about the mineral.  If all correct answers are given the student will keep the mineral!  Here are the minerals I chose to start with... (I teach 3 sections of earth science, so there are 3 of each mineral.)

Included in the photo are rose quartz, bloodstone, Tiger's eye, and amethyst points.  As you can see, I'll be highlighting the silicate group first.  

Please let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions to make this idea better!  If you download my free posters, please leave feedback.  I appreciate it oh, so much!
Crazy Science Lady