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Science teachers come talk to me about my indulgent project

(28 Posts)
Cathpot Wed 24-Jun-09 23:15:31

OK, so am currently SAHM and frustrated science teacher, but not frustrated enough to get back into a classroom until kids are a bit older.

So. Got in touch with my old HOD and said 'I'm a bit bored can I do a project for you?'
'Yes please' he said.

My plan is to have a really good poke about on the internet/ pick the brains of teachers in other schools and put together a 'fun experiments' pack to test out, and then slot into the schemes of work.

I found as a department we always did the same set of experiments and when I was working I didnt have the time to dig around and see what else was out there.

I am after suggestions for good websites to start me off, or maybe chatrooms etc to swap ideas in. Of course if anyone wants to share their favourite experiments (all 3 sciences KS3 and KS4)may be we could start a thread? I can of course share anything I find with interested parties!

cuppateaplease Thu 25-Jun-09 09:37:43

ooh ooh i like the sound of this thread. We like science experiments in this house (have just bought some coke and mentos to do the exploding coke one - might be a bit messy for school! and the water bottle rocket one is repeated lots!) DS is just finishing primary school so will need to find out more advanced experiments

the following websites were recommended recently on another thread about a science mad son - can't find the thread tho.

sounds like a really fun project - especially testing all the experiments!!

Cathpot Thu 25-Jun-09 20:37:45

Thank you! Went into school today to sort it out- was very lovely, such a nice dept. Am going to narrow it down to start with to packs of experiments the kids can do at home as homework- so your links are just what I need to get started.

TheCheeseAlarm Thu 25-Jun-09 20:43:55

bluesushicat Thu 25-Jun-09 21:08:49 for some good chemistry pracs also

Cathpot Fri 26-Jun-09 20:56:45

thank you- getting a list together now,I'm strangely excited in very geeky way

mumblecrumble Sat 27-Jun-09 21:19:00

Oh my God this is GENIUS!!!

I think all teachers who are at home or out of work [only if they want to!] Could be paid to make resources and cool stuff!

That would be cool!!!!! I'm part time.... in teacher mode I could dip into a pool of beautifully crafted, not made at 5 in the monring when I can;t sleep, resources...... as a mother, thining about work but needing to saty in while child goes to bed at 7 I could contribute to it....

SOrry I am so sad. Also not a science dude but music.

What a fab idea. Best of lkuck!

roisin Sat 27-Jun-09 22:57:04

chemistry with cabbage

golgi Sun 28-Jun-09 22:14:00

I used to find the TES forum a good source of information (then they changed the format and I can't follow it any more!)
Also look at Planet Science - they have lots of stuff you can do at home.



golgi Sun 28-Jun-09 22:14:38

Sorry I haven't put the links in properly.

BestLaidPlans Fri 03-Jul-09 22:09:45

This sounds ace! Completely identify with the time thing, I'm Head of Key Stage 3 science next year and trying to put together something similar, and it's starting to look like a whole holiday project, although these links are a fantastic start, thanks! Here's what I can remember off the top of my head, I'll have another look in my lab on Monday for anything else. I suspect you'll know most of them, but just ask for any more details.


- Alka seltzer rockets
- Coke fountains/rockets
- Hydrogen rockets (anyone sensing a theme?)


- Wax volcanoes
- Sediment layers (not exciting, but useful)

*Micro organisms*

- Thumprints on a petri dish before and after washing (things I have learnt this year: making up agar with oxo cubes nourishes a scary amount of bacteria and makes your lab smell pleasingly of bovril for several days)


- Custard powder fireball (to be done only on the days when your H&S person is absent!)

*Food and Digestion*

- Magnetic rice krispies
- Screaming jelly baby


- Demonstrating the speed of light with a microwave, bread and butter/chocolate.
- Demonstrating efficacy of old/low factor vs high factor sun lotions using uv beads


- Forensics, chromatography ransom note, fingerprinting, soil pH analysis etc

I'm sure there's loads more, have just reread thread and seen the bit about kids doing these at home, so obviously that rules some of these out! But will add more as I think of them.

hana Fri 03-Jul-09 22:14:17

try doing a google search on running a science club - I'm starting one up in September and have a few things written down (at work sorry) with some good links and ideas.

<you should be getting paid for this!>

Loshad Fri 03-Jul-09 23:32:35

can't do scremaing jelly babies at home though !!
if lab based add setting your teacher on fire (otherwise known as methane bubbles)
bird Feeders from old coke bottles - and there were some decent bird fluttery things as well (RSPB) website
compounds vs mixtures with ricekrispies and chocolate
a model digestive system with a bowl, knife, water, chocolate roll and a pair of tights - ends up with a perfectly formed poo at the end grin

scienceteacher Sun 05-Jul-09 13:32:38

I think there can often be a mismatch between having spectacular experiments and those that directly support the science curriculum. A lot of experiments mentioned here are fun, but best suited to a Science Club. There are also an awful lot of teacher demonstrations, rather than experiments for the children to do themselves with little or no supervision, and no specialised equipment. You also have to think about whether you would get parental support, and if not, does the child lose out on accessing the full curriculum?

I do practicals in all my lessons and give them written work to do at home, rather than the other way around!

I think the best starting place for your enterprise is to look at the curriculum and then devise the experiments. You have to have clear learning objectives that these experiments can support.

A couple of things that I can think of that would be safe, useful, and reasonable fun - making a 'cell pizza', eg with green olives for chloroplasts, a black olive for the nucleus; making up a red cabbage indicator and then testing household substances. Anything to do with plant growth/photosynthesis/reproduction etc is useful at home, as the monitoring could take place daily rather than relatively sporadically according to the school timetable.

hocuspontas Sun 05-Jul-09 13:40:34

We get an experiment each week emailed to us from Might be worth signing up for to get some ideas?

Meanbeansmum Sun 05-Jul-09 14:30:42

Hi, I'm a secondary physics teacher. (blissfully unemployed lol SAHM at the moment).

My favourite KS4 experiment is based around crumple zones.

They have to design a crumple zone for a raw egg.

I get the children to design a crumple zone from limited resources (half an egg box, 50cm2 bubble wrap, small amount of toilet paper, card, carrier bag and some string glue and a small amount of cellotape- if they get given free range they will design a beach ball to protect their egg lol).

They have to fill out a design sheet explaing why they have designed it in the way they have, draw and label the design and explain the science behind it etcetcetc.

They have to draw up recording tables and say how they are going to take measurements units etcetc.

Then the fun begins...............the most fun is from the parachute designs......take different reading from different height. You know if the egg cracks you'll hear it. The children have to design some sort of hatch (excuse the pun) to get in and out of their crumple zone to load up another egg after they have redesigned to improve their crumple zone.

The children love it and it gets laughs all round...the boys always want their egg to break and the girls get all sentimental over theirs...

Some fab ideas on here. Nice to see other loonies like me on here.

scienceteacher Sun 05-Jul-09 14:49:37

I agree that egg drop competitions are fun - but they are best done with a whole class so that there are witnesses to the successes and failures.

An at-home expt lacks something major - and it's easy to lie grin

Cathpot Sun 05-Jul-09 15:06:26

Hello again, fab ideas coming out. Bestlaidplans talk to me about speed of light and microwave one please. My husband left for four months today so when I have got over my wobbles this is the project that will keep me sane til he gets back.

I will be making homework sheets with the instructions for the experiments on and some sort of associated question,exercise book size so they can stick it in.

Scienceteacher - I plan to see what exp I can find that are likely to be relevent from memory, and then have a close look at the curriculum to see exactly where they should go or if I ahve to pass them on to science club. Clearly these will not be weekly homeworks but just something different to drop into the mix now and then.

We are thinking of different ways they can prove they have done it eg take a picture and email it in, comment from parent, bring results in etc. Any other thoughts welcome. I am thinking I might try and and make 3 versions of each exp so that teachers can pick one at the right level for the class. I have the new scientist book 'how to fossilise your hamster' which looks like it might be good.

scienceteacher Sun 05-Jul-09 15:23:31

The chocolate/microwave thing is when you put a bar of chocolate in the microwave. When you take it out, there should be stripes of melted/non-melted chocolate corresponding to the wavelength of the microwaves.

Meanbeansmum Sun 05-Jul-09 15:50:00

science teacher, when I do it we do it in groups of 2 and then the dropping activity is done as a whole class activity.

scienceteacher Sun 05-Jul-09 15:51:42

You could prepare the egg at home and then bring it in for the drop. That would mean the teacher wouldn't have to collect all the materials and the pupil could be a lot more creative.

samsonthecat Sun 05-Jul-09 16:49:36

I'm a science teacher and at the moment my year 7 are loving the experiments in the Wikd scheme of work. We are doing the "Cook" topic and so far have made ice cream (couldn't get dry ice to make it unfortunately ) and also made pancakes in a cooking room. The topic is all about changes of state and chemical reactions but taught in a completely different way. I think it is fab and would recomend it to any school.

Cathpot Sun 05-Jul-09 20:21:08

You see now I have the perfect excuse to buy a large chocolate bar and see if it actually works.

Samsonthecat- have you got any links to that scheme- do you have to be in a school to get hold of it?

samsonthecat Sun 05-Jul-09 20:27:16

You have to buy it I am afraid

BestLaidPlans Sun 05-Jul-09 22:05:09

samsonthecat I'm using the Wikd heating and cooling with my Year 8s at the moment (well, my trainee is) and it's looking great so far. We've got a few topics from the LA,definitely considering buying the rest.

Cathpot scienceteacher has summed it up, I'd just add remember to remove the turntable first if your microwave has one.

Another thing I thought of that could be done as a project at home, looking at density by layering fluids (e.g. oils, alcohol [if supervised!], water) and finding what things float at each level.

Making model digestive systems is fun and you can assess their understanding surprisingly well from the results, doing it at home means you're not stuck picking up bits of broken balloon from all corners of your lab for the next fortnight and you don't have to completely empty your own tights drawer!

Designing the ultimate paper plane, including accompanying work about why it is so effective.

I hope the next four months fly past for you and I'll have a flick through my books tomorrow.

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