I’m loving this… Virtual Circuit Builder!

With DISTANCE LEARNING I wasn’t able to do the hands-on electrical circuits lab with my wonderful 8th graders so I had to come up with another way for them to learn the basics. A web search brought me to this really cool VIRTUAL circuit builder that does NOT use Flash – which is awesome because Flash is no longer supported by Chrome.

Here’s a brief video of how this Phet interactive works.

Pros:

  • easy to learn how to use
  • can build series and parallel circuits
  • there are a few different components to experiment with such as the light bulb, resistor and switch
  • can experiment with how adding and subtracting components affects resistance.
  • multiples of all of the components can be added, such as adding two batteries to increase voltage
  • the anmeter is fun to play with!
  • you can view the parts of the circuits in symbols to practice with engineering pictograms

Cons:

  • There are no particular directions so if you want to be sure your students really learn what you want you’ll need to come up directions for them.

Don’t have time to design an activity? No sweat – use mine!

Internet Activity:  Build Circuits Virtually!

My worksheet guides students in
constructing series and parallel
circuits using the Phet interactive.
No prep required – just have
students watch the video above so
they know how to attach/detach
components.

3D Cell Models – Go beyond basic plant and animal

I wanted my 7th graders to make cell models this school year, but I didn’t want everyone just making the same thing so I searched the internet for a variety of labeled pictures so that the students could make a variety of cell types.

Bone Cell
Amoeba Cell
Euglena – single-celled Protist (with both plant and animal characteristics)
Plasmodium Cells – protists that cause Malaria
Fat cells
Paramecium – single-cell protist
Budding Yeast Cell
Plant Cell
Nerve Cell

Send me an email at generationscience3@gmail.com if you’d like more information about how I did this activity, including a rubric.

Mineral Lab for a Tight Budget

If you don’t have any supplies for studying minerals, my experience suggests that the following mineral specimens and supplies provides you with the least amount of materials you need for hands-on activities.

Mineral Samples

I chose these three because you get a variety of mineral properties for low cost. Talc is a cheap replacement for graphite and fluorite can work in place of hematite for a middle level hardness, although its luster and streak are the same as quartz.

MineralHardnessStreakLuster
graphite1.5-2blacksubmetallic
red hematite5-6red-brownearthy
quartz7whiteglassy

Additional Supplies

  • white streak plates (Unglazed porcelain tiles) – sets are about 10 bucks
  • pennies
  • nails
  • steel butter knives (if allowed)

With these supplies your students can make observations and practice testing minerals for streak and hardness.

Need a Lab Worksheet?

Level Up Your Ecology Lessons with Real-World Food Webs

Bats are birds. Snakes eat grass. Insects aren’t animals. Nature knowledge seems to be at an all time low among my own students.

In response, I designed two food web activities to simulate connections between a diverse set of organisms that actually interact in nature.

Eastern U.S. Woodland and Field Food Web

The 12 cards look like these below – sun, 4 plants and 6 animals

food web cards

The cards can be used for many activities, such as constructing this food web:forest food web cover page 2

Both activities includes directions and worksheets for students to..

  1. Construct a food web
  2. Construct a food pyramid
  3. Classify by type of food source (heterotrophs, carnivores, etc.
  4. Classify by type of organism

North American Atlantic Coast

ocean food web
ocean food web COVER PAGE 5
woodland food web cover pageocean food web COVER PAGE 1

 Follow up with a food web research project.

Students construct their own using a great online resource that provides predator/prey information for a variety of forest (Eastern, mid-Atlantic) organisms.

Pond Dip – Bring an Ecosystem into the Classroom

aquatic beautiful bloom blooming
Photo by Diego Madrigal on Pexels.com

Studying aquatic microorganisms is engaging and very educational.

Here I share how I teach a 7th grade lab on finding protists and microscopic animals in pond water. This may seem daunting if you are not familiar with the organisms or haven’t had the time to organize the activity. I hope that I’ll give you all the information you need for a successful lab.

 

Why take the time for this lab? Well, no one is going to be excited about algae by looking at a picture of it. Algae in the macroscopic world is called POND SCUM, but under the microscope it’s BEAUTIFUL.

Also, many standards can be addressed in a pond dip lab:

  • modeling ecosystems and ecosystem interactions
    • food chains, food webs and trophic levels
    • nonliving and living factors within an ecosystem
  • biological diversity
    • taxonomy and evolutionary relationships among species:
      • single-celled protists
        • algae – single-celled organisms with plant-like characteristics
        • protozoans – single-celled organisms with animal-like characteristics
      • microscopic animals – all multicellular
        • crustaceans, aquatic worms and rotifers
  • cells
    • single-celled organisms are microscopic, but have all of the characteristics of living things
    • microscopic multi-celled organisms such as microscopic crustaceans and worms
  • Using dichotomous keys and technical language – meet Common Core standards for using “key terms” and “domain-specific words and phrases” used in a “scientific and technical context”.
green toad in water
Photo by Darius Krause on Pexels.com

The supplies are simple and usually found in the typical middle school or high school biology classroom. The only things you will need to gather otherwise is the microorganism-rich water and organism keys; I provide you with information on both.

Keep Reading