Archive for December, 2011

Science with the WOW Factor!

December 4, 2011

As a school we have begun to use a creative curriculum to teach a topic based curriculum rather than teaching discrete subjects. We are using the Hamilton Trust as a starting point for our planning. My topic for this first term has been Cool Stuff and in addition to teaching specific skills and concepts I have also tried to find some COOL SCIENCE activities to create the WOW factor.

The first of these lessons was Making Gloop which you can read about on our class blog. We had been looking at Materials and their Properties and had been examining the properties of solids, liquids and gases. Gloop (also known as oobleck) is a bit more difficult to classify. In fact if Sir Isaac Newton, the British scientist who gave us the theory of gravity, were alive today, he might be confused by gloop. Back in the 1700s, Sir Isaac Newton identified the properties of an ideal liquid. Water and other liquids that have the properties that Newton identifies are call Newtonian fluids. Gloop doesn’t act like Newton’s ideal fluid. It’s a non-Newtonian fluid. Gloop is a solution that behaves a little like a solid and a little like a liquid and seems to defy the laws of gravity.

When gloop is molded into a ball, it stays that way for a short time, but then gravity pulls it down — and it becomes a liquid. As you can hear one of the children saying in the video…..”It’s Amazing!” (click on the photo to go to the blog post).

Is it a liquid or a solid?

Our second WOW lesson Diet Coke and Mentos looked at what happens when you put a solid (Mentos) into a carbonated liquid (Diet Coke).

To say that there were explosive results would be an understatement. You can read how some of the class described this WOW activity here. Here is the video we added to the class blog.

Not only was it pretty exciting to do, the boys also really loved watching the film of what they did; they particularly enjoyed the rewind effect I managed to create using iMovie!

The science that they learnt was that the surface of the Mentos is covered with many small holes and that this increases the surface area available for reaction thereby allowing the CO2  bubbles from the Diet Coke to form rapidly.  When the mints come into contact with the liquid, a reaction causes the formation of foam at a rapid rate.

Our third Cool Science experiment was to investigate if ALL liquids mix together. We looked at mixing squash and water, which of course they then needed to drink 🙂 and tested whether various other liquids would mix together. We decided to investigate if oil and water would mix but rather than just mixing it together we decided to make a ‘Lava Lamp’.

In the morning we looked at pictures of lava lamps online and the children sketched pictures of them and in the afternoon we used vegetable oil, water and food colouring to make our own lava lamps. We think they looked pretty 1960ish cool ;o)

The Science behind why the Oil and Water won’t mix.

Oil and Water are made of different types of molecules that are far too small to be seen. When you poured the molecules of water into the bottle, they settled to the bottom as a liquid. The molecules didn’t fly apart and fill the entire bottle because water molecules stick together. Likewise, the oil molecules also stick together. Different molecules have different tendencies to stick together. The oil and water did not mix. This shows that oil molecules do not like to stick to water molecules.  When two liquids do not mix they are considered immiscible.

It has been great fun planning these lessons and even greater seeing the children’s faces as we did each of these activities!

What is YOUR most WOW science lesson?

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