Thursday, November 21, 2019

Mad Science: Day Six

Update: Clear fluorescent tube sleeves or guards are about $3.75 to make a turbidity or transparency tube.  Here are instructions for reading results.

Mad Science Camp needs back up activities.  Sometimes planned  activities are completed in five minutes when 30 minutes were anticipated.  So, here is Day Six: Stream Assay.  When kids measure the health of a stream, or in our case, a retention pond, there are several factors: temperature, turbidity, pH, and nitrates.  Weather data is important, too.  We’ll use GLOBE protocols to learn about clouds and test water in the stream and retention pond near our house.

Our resources are found in Elementary Globe.  First, we’ll make clinometers,  densiometer, transparency tubes, and assemble water kits: buckets, thermometers, test kits, white ice cube trays, tennis ball, flags, and measuring tape.  The kids will do Water Wonders, read Willow Creek and Clouds Have Namesdo a Sky Report, use a cloud identification chart, (and this chart, too)make clouds in jars,  look for macroinvertebrates, test the water, measure stream flow, and measure canopy of the trees over the stream and pond.

We need to test these plans.  We’ll assemble the materials for the instruments and charts.  Several friends are naturalists.  We’ll have a blast!

Apologia Chemistry: Balance Equations

Today we balanced equations.  Mr. Kent and Mr. Guch have good tutorials.  Here are tips and tricks.  Balance one atom or compound at a time.  Line up the atoms on both sides in the same order.  Make one change at a time.  Balance oxygen and oxygen compounds last.  Equations can be balanced algebraically, too.

Apologia Science: GLOBE

I’ve been obsessed recently with locating low cost equipment.  Have you heard of GLOBE?  In the United States, GLOBE is sponsored by NASA.  GLOBE is an international program providing protocols for collecting environmental data.  The program is free; even the training is free and online.    Here’s the rub; the protocols, data sheets, e-training can be hard to navigate owing to the sheer volume.

Start here with the teacher’s guide.  Now, chose Atmosphere and then select Clouds.  GLOBE has a comprehensive program to study clouds, precipitation, etc.  There are instructions for many pieces of equipment: GLOBE has designed the program for any audience.  For example, here are the instructions for making a Secchi disc and transparency tube.  (They are used to measure turbidity or water transparency.). This instrument, a densiometer, measures canopy cover in a forest.  A clinometer is used to measure angles to determine tree height.  (Here is a printable measuring tape.)

After you browse GLOBE and start to tear out your hair, try GLOBE for Elementary school-aged students.  Look at this sensory weather bar for young children.  This protocol for aerosols is a good example of how GLOBE integrates science with simple tools.  Don’t be daunted by the volume of resources!  Start with Elementary GLOBE and shift to Atmosphere for older students.  Again, start with Clouds.  Before you know it, you’ll be moving on to Hydrosphere.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Apologia Science: Water Quality Tests

Update: Here are the instructions to make a Secchi disc and transparency tube to measure turbidity or water transparency.  If you are planning a stream study, make a transparency tube and bring an umbrella.

Last year, in Biology, my students performed several ecological activities.  Watershed studies, stream assay, and water quality tests make good science fair projects, too.  Lamont’s Water Quality Kits are the gold standard for water testing.  Students can perform several stream tests with an armored thermometer (or metal-backed thermometer), aquarium test kits, white ice cube trays, a fish net, a tennis ball, and a bucket.  5-in-1 or 6-in-1 test strips are easy to use and accurate.  The most useful tests are pH, nitrate/nitrite, and hardness.  Phosphates are difficult to measure.  Indicator solutions and pH strips are fine for testing acidity or alkalinity.  Kids like the aquarium test kits because they feel more scientific.  (Compare to the Lamont’s broad pH kit.). Fresh kits are better.  Try to use up the materials in six months or so.  The chemicals degrade.

Start with an overview of stream assay. (This intro has great reference citations, such as GLOBE.).  Students assess the stream’s temperature, pH, nitrates, hardness, dissolved oxygen, and macroinvertebrates. (Laminate guides and bring nets and white ice cube trays for sorting water critters.  The types of critters in a stream indicate the health of the stream.  The tennis ball is tossed in the water and used to time the stream flow.  Bring a tape measure to measure the distance tracked with the ball.). Now that you’ve opened Pandora’s box, take a look at National Geographic’s Field scope.  This is a free mapping project- a citizen science program.  GLOBE offers similar projects and programs.

Welcome to watersheds.  Here are several good guides. Try this on first.   Here are definitions of water quality indicators.  Crumpled Paper Watershed is an excellent way to explain what a watershed is.

The local forestry and soil and water conservation district should have more information.  Ask if they have an Enviroscape watershed model.  Check to see if the agency has a macroinvertebrate expert willing to teach.  The conservation district usually has an educator and the agency serves as a clearing house for other environmental agencies.  Don’t worry if you are new to watershed education.  Their job is to help.  I’ve worked with many agencies; some are better than others.  Keep asking until they put you in touch with someone helpful.

Watershed study Does not have to be expensive.  Go for it!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Apologia Chemistry: Nomenclature Test

Today, we prepped for a nomenclature test.  The kids reviewed ionic compounds and formulas, covalent molecules, and acid nomenclature.  This worksheet (with key) is similar in difficulty to the one I assigned.  The kids are doing the test at home with their notes: ionic formulas, periodic table, and notes from class.  Before the test, I asked the kids to label each compound as ionic, covalent, or an acid to reduce error.  In a few cases, I marked the compounds I,A, or C for the child. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Low Cost Technical Science Equipment

How I wish I had a gift for rigging tech.  Have you heard of Foldscope?  It’s a paper microscope.  There’s a field of science research in designing low cost science equipment for developing countries using open-source tech.  Like to tinker?  These are terrific projects.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Mad Science: Make Science Equipment

Earlier I posted an overview of Mad Science with a basic science kit.  The kits are going to build their own equipment.  We’ll test a soda straw balance, a plastic hangar scale, a no tools scale, a microbalance, a rubber and spring scale, and this scale.  I’ll plan a play date, dig out materials, and have young friends test several designs for scales.  We’ll save three for camp.  (Teens might like this micrometer caliper diy.  Alternately, teens may scream and pull out their hair.). Calibrate your scales with coins.  Note that some of the ideas below are more realistic for camp than others.  We plan to try several balances, cylinders, and thermometers. 

Basic equipment: balance, graduated cylinders, magnifier, test tube rack, and specimen box.

Make diy graduated cylinders for the kits.

Make thermometers or this easy thermometer.  (Directions are here.).  Yet another thermometer?  Test thermometers in hot, warm, cold, and ice-cold bowls to report the changes.

Microscope?  Another microscope? Add-on microscope for smart phone?  Clip on microscope? ($5.99 for smartphone)

Make a rain gauge.  Make a weather station.  Barometer?  Psychrometer?

Hydrometer?  Another hydrometer?



Paper funnel?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Apologia Chemistry: Separating a Mixture and Physical and Chemical Change

Today, I postponed checking the nomenclature homework and dove into the two labs.  Both labs are
 In all three editions of Apologia Chemistry.  Separating a mixture involves separating sand, salt, and water in the textbook.  I used Magic Sand, container of small metal pieces, salt, and water.  The magic sand resists water.  The kids used magnets to remove the metal and separated the sand through a filter, as indicated.

The second lab, Chemical and Physical Change, substitutes for the lab, Chemical and Physical Change I the textbook which uses The Works.  I’m not wild about using The Works cleaner.
This lab is green and uses household chemicals.  Make up red cabbage extract immediately before class.  (Red Cabbage Powder has a good shelf-life, at least six months.)

This lab involves making a prediction, recording observations, and deciding whether the reaction is chemical or physical.  I had thought differentiating between chemical and physical change was self-evident.  It’s not.  Dr. Wile is right to include these labs.  This lab revealed a number of misconceptions.  Have your child test each substance with the red cabbage indicator before and after each reaction.  In this manner, the student can determine if there was a change in pH.

Kids like these labs because they manipulate chemicals and use reaction plates, test tubes, and ring stand (Separating Mixtures).  Warning!  The second lab is messy.  The kids used the digital thermometers with TI 84 to measure changes in temperature.  The photos are evidence we do these labs-even the sparklers!   We skipped the urea and boiling water steps.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Apologia Chemistry: Module 3 Nomenclature All Class Long

We reviewed nomenclature all class: binary acids, ternary acids, ionic compounds, Stock system, and covalent molecules.  All of it.  Initially, I separate the topics.  We've taught nomenclature long enough we can mix compounds. Here is a good example.   How is this taught?  First we went over homework.  Then, I covered the board with polyatomic halide oxyanions.  Next, we reviewed all of the ternary acids formed from halide polyatomic ions.  For example ClO- (hypochlorite ion) and HClO (hypochlorous acid).  This takes a long time.  Next, we reviewed common polyatomic ions: nitrate, phosphate, sulfate, carbonate, bicarbonate, nitrite, sulfite, phosphite, etc and their respective acids: nitric acid, phosphoric acid, sulfuric acid carbonic acid, nitrous acid, sulfurous acid, phorphorous acid. The kids have more practice for homework.  Thursday is lab.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Apologia Chemistry: $100 for Lab Equipment—Even Chemicals!

Update: I was at Walmart and checked prices.  Yeast is $1.79 for three packets and four pounds of Epsom salts are $2.86.   Hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol are $0.88 each.  Browse the clearance aisle, too.  Look at these simple science tools: balance, cylinder, test tube rack, magnifier, and specimen box.  I especially like the balance and milk carton test tube rack.  This thermometer is $3.48.

Microspirit burner is a tiny alcohol burner.  Generally, I use tea candles to heat reagents.

Look at this microtitration assembly.  I think the syringe can control the drops more accurately than with pipette alone.

Can you equip a chemistry lab in your home for $100?   I’m talking about a bare bones lab.  But, your child deserves to try a variety of lab experiments.  I put together a list of materials, chemical supplies, and labs.

First, locate a cassette case, clothes pin (test tube holder), iron nails, steel wool, sand paper, transparency sheets, yogurt cups, soda can, glass jars, plastic bottles, CDs, q-tips, craft sticks, and plastic spoons.  Drinking straws and blister packs from gum can be used for small scale reactions.  A soda can, cork, and pin convert to a calorimeter to measure calories in food.  A paper towel tube and CD convert into a spectroscope.

Medicine droppers $4.33 (reuse instead of plastic pipettes)
Cupcake liners $1.00 (weigh paper)
Coffee filters $1.00 (dollar store)
Tea candles $1.00 (heat solutions)
Paint palettes (6) $4.20 (reaction plates)
Toothpicks $1.00 (Walmart or dollar store) (stir sticks)
Small funnels (2) $1.00 ( Walmart)
Thermometer $5 (glass) or (metal $3.55)
Plastic syringe $2
Total: $41.82

Salt $0.50 (dollar store)
Sodium bicarbonate $0.50 (baking soda)
Sodium carbonate $4.10 ( washing soda)
Isopropyl alcohol $1 (dollar store) (rubbing alcohol) 
Magnesium sulfate $1 (dollar store) (Epsom salts)
Hydrogen peroxide $1 (dollar store)
Yeast $4.10 (three packets)
Cornstarch $1 (dollar store)
Iodine $1 (dollar store)
Calcium chloride  $5.42 (Driveway Heat)
Dish soap $1 (dollar store)
Ammonia $1 (dollar store)
Bag of mixed beans $1
Bag of dry popcorn $1.50
Steel wool  $3.31
Total: 45.70

Chemical or Physical (Skip the urea reaction and locate Koolaid.)
Ink Chromatography Lab
Make pH test strips. (This lab requires red cabbage.  I use the household items on hand: apple juice, lemon juice, vinegar, salt in water, 
Precipitate Reaction (This lab uses Epsom salts and washing soda and a piece of Ivory soap.
Chemical Reactions (Make red cabbage indicator solution to substitute for Universal indicator.)
What’s new, CO2?
Hydrate Lab
Penny Density Lab
Green Pennies Lab
Trading Places
Charles Lae Lab (Use large yogurt cups as beakers.  The 10 mL oral syringe works better than a 30 mL syringe.)
Why no metal containers? (Koolaid and steel wool)

Friday, November 8, 2019

Apologia Physical Science: Green Labs

I’m betting your child wants more chemistry experiments.  I can see you cringing.  Chemistry labs are dangerous and costly.  Here are a series of acid-base labs which require Citric acid, sodium carbonate, Na2CO3, washing soda, and universal indicator.  Green Pennies Lab requires pennies, vinegar, and salt.  Baking Soda vs Baking Powder uses baking soda, vinegar, and baking powder.  Forming a Precipitate requires sodium carbonate (washing soda), ivory soap, and magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts).  Color Change requires laundry detergent, Cream of Tartar, and red cabbage.  (I use red cabbage powder.  It can substitute for universal indicator.). Different Substance React Differently or Reaction in a Bag require baking soda, calcium chloride (Driveway Heat), citric acid, and either phenol red, or universal indicator.  I’ll bet cabbage powder or leaves will work, too.

Mad Science: Day Six

Update:  Clear fluorescent tube sleeves or guards  are about $3.75 to make  a turbidity or transparency tube.    Here  are instructions for ...