Grade 8

The power of observation

Author(s): SEP Coordinators

The power of observation

Students each receive similar looking objects (marble, gem stone, bead, rock) and are given some time to make and record as many observations as possible. Then students at each table group mix up their objects and take turns reading out their descriptions while the rest of the group is trying to identify the described object.

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Introducing Models to Elementary School Students

Author(s): Linda Akiyama and Ranyee Chiang

Introducing Models to Elementary School Students

Students learn what a model is by comparing a model of the tongue to their own tongue. They practice asking themselves, "How is this model like the thing it represents, and how is it different?"  This format of questioning can be used when using any model in science and can be used to check students' understanding and misconceptions.

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Perception and the Brain

Author(s): Erin Currie, Eirene Markenscoff-Papadimitriou, SEP Staff

Perception and the Brain

In this lesson, students are introduced to how the brain interprets and uses sensory information from the visual system to guide how the body moves and performs various tasks. This lesson makes use of a specialized set of goggles with prism lenses that shift what the wearer sees. Using these prism goggles, students will see first hand how the brain adapts over time to changes in what we perceive. The lesson also makes a connection to the brain and brain function by giving students a chance to see and touch a preserved brain specimen.

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What factors affect the oxidation of apples?

Author(s): John Rivera, Lillian Seu, Juliet Rose Girard, Anthony Shiver

What factors affect the oxidation of apples?

Students observe the browning of apples after cut and being exposed to air and brainstorm ideas about why this might be happening.
Students think about ways to slow down or prevent the browning effect and in teams create and conduct a simple experiment to test their ideas.

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How does the pH environment affect bioavailability of Iron?

Author(s): John C. Rivera, Lillian Seu, Juliet Rose Girard, Anthony Shiver

How does the pH environment affect bioavailability of Iron?

Dietary minerals are available through ingestion of food and supplements.  In this lesson, students first examine the chemical reaction of two forms of iron, Fe0 and F+2 with various pH conditions of either the stomach or intestine to determine how it gets absorbed and eliminated in the body. Then students isolate iron from the foods we eat (such as cereal) using a magnet to attract elemental iron or Fe0.

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Mini Mystery Boxes

Author(s): SEP Coordinators

Mini Mystery Boxes

This lesson is designed to help students better understand the nature of science. It uses simple, readily available mini-mystery boxes to model how scientists study things they cannot see (see http://www.lab-aids.com/catalog.php?item=100). Scientists often study things that cannot be seen - either because they are incredibly small (inside of cells/atoms) or too far away (other galaxies). In such work, scientists must rely on indirect information. Mystery boxes – each with a small steel ball and a raised terrain inside – demonstrate this aspect of science to participants. The students will draw a model and discuss in groups what they think the box looks like inside.

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Mystery Box

Author(s): SEP Coordinators

Mystery Box

This lesson is designed to help students better understand the nature of science. It uses a Mystery Box (see attached photos) which has a funnel at the top and a beaker underneath. When water is poured into the top funnel, colored water flows out the bottom. A turn of the funnel and then pouring in more water results in either a different colored water or no water at all. The teacher demonstrates this Mystery Box to students and challenges them to propose models of the inside of the box. The students draw models of what they think the inside of the box looks like and share and discuss these models. Students can also construct their own mystery box using cardboard boxes and other common materials. For this option, you will need an additional class period.

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Detecting Photosynthesis- Analyzing Other Scientists' Data

Author(s): SEP Staff (Architecture of Life Course)

Detecting Photosynthesis- Analyzing Other Scientists' Data

Students will analyze the results of another scientist's experiment by examining leaves that have been exposed to different treatments, and draw conclusions about the process of photosynthesis.

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Testing for Lipids, Proteins and Carbohydrates

Author(s): SEP staff (Chemistry of Life lesson)

Testing for Lipids, Proteins and Carbohydrates

Students will test a variety of food samples for the presence of lipids, proteins, simple and complex carbohydrates.

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Properties of Metals

Author(s): Philip Merksamer, Beatrice Wang, Sue Mocklin, Sarah Simson

Properties of Metals

Students will be able to see the iron filings in breakfast cereal fortified with iron and qualitatively compare the iron content between 2 different cereals.   They will also see that as part of a salt solution, some elements give off characteristic colors when placed in a flame.

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What is matter?

Author(s): SEP staff

What is matter?

This activity is based on a lesson from the Living by Chemistry curriculum developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science (see citation).

During this activity students explore in depth their own understanding of what constitutes "matter" and work together as a group to create a definition for matter.

Students work in pairs to debate how to sort "items" printed on cards into three categories: "matter", "non-matter" and "unsure" and then try to determine what properties all items in each category have in common. A whole class discussion about "tricky" items follows during which students ultimately agree on a definition of matter.

You can choose which cards you would like to use depending on your students' age, abilities, and experiences.  As an example, for elementary grades, you might choose not to use the entire set.

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Measuring Calories in Food

Author(s): Luna Abdallah, Elinor Sullivan, Bethany Currin, Mathew Campana

Measuring Calories in Food

The lesson introduces the concept of calories and provides examples of high calorie and low calorie foods. Students learn a number of ways to determine how many calories a food item has and discuss how calories influence body weight. Students learn how to measure calories by constructing and using a calorimeter.

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How does an infectious disease spread? HIV simulation

Author(s): SEP staff

How does an infectious disease spread? HIV simulation

Students will simulate the exchange of bodyfluids and then test whether they got infected with a disease. This activity will show how one person who is infected with a disease can infect other people, who in turn infect others. Students will be able to see how behavior can effect their risk of getting infected.

The lesson plan was inspired by many educators. Thanks to Lance Powell at June Jordan HS in San Francisco, Jennifer Doherty and Dr. Ingrid Waldron, University of Pennsylvania

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Extract your own DNA from cheek cells

Author(s): SEP staff

Extract your own DNA from cheek cells

Students will extract DNA from their own cheek cells.

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Oh Deer! and English Language Learner Writing Extensions

Author(s): SEP Quattro Staff

Oh Deer! and English Language Learner Writing Extensions

Teacher(s) will describe an ecosystem scenario and ask students to ponder why the population of deer in a particular area fluctates from year to year. Students will research the question through a simulation of deer in nature. The teacher will record data from the activity in the form of a graph. Before analyzing the graph, students will record words they used in the activity and sort others used in the context of ecology. While analyzing the graph and sharing their experiences, students will use these words to create sentences and eventually a paragraph describing the patterns of the data collected.

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What is Life?

Author(s): SEP Academic staff, past and current

What is Life?

Students will investigate different objects and discuss whether they are alive or not alive. Students are challenged to provide evidence for their decision and defend their opinion.

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Making an electromagnet

Author(s): SEP staff

Making an electromagnet

Students discover that, when electric current flows through an insulated wire wound around a steel core, the steel core becomes a magnet. They learn that this happens because an electric current produces a magnetic field. They experiment with a number of variables and try to find out how to increase the strength of the electromagnet.

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