50 more easy science activities

Another fifty (or so) easy science activities, most require few materials, with links to many more.   http://buggyandbuddy.com/science-activities-kids/

Sky Brightness Maps

Wow is this cool.   We’ve all seen the black-and-white world-at-night map; this one is more accurate and more current.   There is a series of about a dozen maps to pick from.   It lets you ask your students questions about sociology and geography.  Plus pick our your location for your next star party!   Thanks John WD5IKX for the link!

Click on http://djlorenz.github.io/astronomy/lp2006/overlay/dark.html   and then click on “More Information” to access the other maps.

Toys from Trash – 100’s of cheap and easy activities.

This is a wonderful science education site from India.   There are literally several hundred easy little toys to make from paper and other scraps.   He does not go deeply into the science of each however you, the trained professional, could easily have them modify different variables and you have an instant STEM, STEAM, or EDP activity.

Many of them also have short videos.   Don’t overlook the opportunity to teach cultural diversity as the language, etc are slightly different from here in rural USA.

With several hundred activities you could literally have one per day – as if you had THAT kind of time!

Appropriate ages?  Use your professional judgement.  Most are intended for upper elementary but with the proper presentation I have used some up to grades 9, 10 and even in college!   When working with the little ones though be aware of safety hazards.

http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/toys.html

Make a Fossilized Rainbow ….fast!

You’ve seen rainbows in the water before… for example, a drop of oil on water, or an oily smudge floating near the shore.   Simon Field has a quick and easy way to make such a rainbow permanent – using water, paper and a drop of fingernail polish.   He also has a great explanation for how this works.   Besides the obvious value in the science of light and astronomy this little activity can be used as another bridge between arts and the sciences.  I’d love to hear some comments about how you might use this.

http://sci-toys.com/scitoys/scitoys/light/permanent_rainbows/permanent_rainbows.html

Maps of Ecosystems

Very nice maps of North America by region or by states, in a variety of different levels of detail, are available from http://www.epa.gov/wed/pages/ecoregions.htm

If you ask nicely you can sometimes get a large classroom copy mailed to you.

 

One example of how to use this is to post them side-by-side with a geology map of the same area, or a precipitation map and have the students looks for similarities and patterns in the distribution of vegetation types and the surface geology.  They can also look for patterns in the distribution of vegetation types and the amount of precipitation, or of any other weather characteristic you might be able to generate maps of.  Shown is Oklahoma but these are available for most states and regions.

Texas Science Educators conferences coming up!

Link

The 2012 CAST (Texas Science Teachers Association) meeting is now in the history books.  I know one booth gave out 6,000 catalogs so there were at least that many teachers present.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this kind of event will be a life-changer for you.  Whatever level you teach or hope to teach there is something about being a part of a HUGE group of the best of the best to get a person excited and energized and full of new ideas!

The best part for us Northerners (Oklahomans, as seen by Texas) is that there are several such events coming up near us.  The future CAST meetings are:

Nov. 7-9, Houston (OK, so Houston is not so close – but think what kinds of field trips there will be with Galveston and NASA so close)

Nov 20-22, 2014, Dallas

Nov 12-14, Fort Worth

And… drumroll…. the BEST of the best of the best – the NSTA National Science Teachers national conference this spring in Dallas, April 11-14 .  If you can only make one day, do it!  It will be unimaginably big.  http://www.nsta.org/conferences/2013san/

How to spot satellites

Image from NASA

So you’re looking up at the stars one night and you see something up there moving… suddenly it goes out.  Was that a satellite?  Was it an airplane?

There are a lot of websites out there for watching satellites but the best, most comprehensive and one of the oldest is www.heavens-above.com.  I have been using it for almost as long as the internet itself has been around.

It’s great to know that at a certain time tonight you can step outside, look in a certain part of the sky, and maybe, just maybe, see a satellite suddenly appear and whiz by.

You will need your latitude and longitude; there are lots of ways to get that.  Then go to the heavens-above site and just play around with it.

The first and easiest is the ISS, followed by the Iridium satellites.  With practice you can even see the Iridiums in the daytime!  The best way is to practice on these two until you get pretty good at it – then there are hundreds more.  And, the site has lots and lots of other good information about spacecraft.  The more time you spend there, the more things you’ll want to try.

Keep these things in mind though:

1) Your fist help at arm’s length covers about 10 degrees.  Use that to measure altitude (Alt.) above the horizon.

2)  The direction (North, northeast, etc.) is given as a bearing and is called “Az.”.  East is 90, south is 180, west is 270, etc.

3) “Magnitude” is how bright the satellite will be.  The smaller the number the brighter it is.  Anything smaller (brighter) than zero will be very bright, like an airplane.

4) Airplanes often have their flashers on; satellites do not.

5) The light from a satellite is reflected from the Sun.  That’s why it will suddenly appear in the middle of the sky and will suddenly go out.  The website tell you exactly when these will happen.

6) The whole thing is an estimation.  It’s a sort of a sport.  Times may vary, usually a little later as the orbits decay unexpectedly, and magnitude can change too.

Have fun! and let us know how you did.  or didn’t.

Oklahoma Water Resources

Water is becoming more and more important to Oklahomans.  There are water shortages, legal conflicts over water ownership, climate change and the occasional flood.  All of these and more are reflected in the daily and hourly changes in streamflow in watersheds across the state. This information is readily available and it makes for great discussions and projects on graphing and interpretation of graphs.

What you will find is hourly streamflow, water use, groundwater, maps and other water-related data for dozens of water locations in Oklahoma.  What you won’t find are lesson plans.  This is an area where you can shine by making your own:

http://ok.water.usgs.gov/

 

Oklahoma Climate

Oklahoma Climate – The educator’s part of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey is at http://climate.ok.gov/ and there is an incredible amount of material here – lesson plans, current data, archived data, and so forth.  The site is interlinked with Okahoma’s companion weather-education organizations – Mesonet and Earthstorm.  These are major sites with lots of information and teaching ideas – they take awhile to get familiar with where the materials are located.  Sometimes there are summer workshops to help you with this.  There already exists a cadre of experienced teachers who are using these materials in their classrooms.  In any case, be prepared to invest some time and energy, and in return, your classroom with be the premier weather classroom in your district if not your county.

Oklahoma Climate:  http://climate.ok.gov/

Oklahoma Mesonet:  www.mesonet.org

Earthstorm (Education):  http://www.mesonet.org/index.php/earthstorm