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Science Teachers Can Be the Cool Teachers

Teaching science through hands-on activities, creative thinking and active problem-solving can capture students' attention and increase their ability to retain what they have learned. Be the teacher who makes science fun with cool experiments and activities and you may be rewarded with engaged, eager-to-learn students.

Below are fun science class activities your students may enjoy. They are divided into three sections: Life Science, Physical Science and Planetary Science.

Life Science

Wash Your Hands! Use "glowing" germs to teach health.

We live in a world of bacteria and viruses. It can be hard to teach kids about the importance of proper handwashing techniques, but what if they could see simulated germs on their hands and anything they touch?

Supplies:

  • GlitterBug Lotion (or other hand lotion with fluorescent properties).
  • Black lights.

Experiment:

  1. Apply glitter bug lotion to the student's hands.
  2. Ask students to rub their hands together, being sure to get the backs, palms and fingernails.
  3. Turn on the black light. Have the students put their hands under the light to see the simulated germs.
  4. Ask the students to wash their hands as they would normally.
  5. Have them put their hands back under the light.
  6. Ask the students: Did they wash off all the germs? Could they have been a little more thorough while washing their hands?
  7. Repeat the experiment until the "germs" no longer show up on hands after washing.

Physical Science

Make a mini rocket with baking powder.

Mixing baking powder and water produces carbon dioxide gas (CO2). This reaction is similar to what happens inside a rocket engine or volcano.

Supplies:

  • One film canister with a snap-on, plug-style lid.
  • Baking powder.
  • Small container of water.
  • Safety glasses.

Experiment:

  1. Put on safety glasses.
  2. Place a heaping teaspoon of baking powder into the canister.
  3. When you are ready, gently pour water on top of the baking powder in the canister, filling the canister approximately one-third full.
  4. Quickly snap on the canister lid and immediately shake the canister once or twice.
  5. Place the canister upside down on the counter and stand back.
  6. Enjoy watching the canister fly!

Planetary Science

Twisting Tornado

When large air masses move across the ground, they start to roll like a carpet. If one air mass runs into another rising warm one, the rolling mass gets tipped on end and the rising warm air rushes up through the whirling middle. This is how a tornado is formed.

Supplies:

  • Two plastic soda bottles.
  • Paper towel.
  • Duct tape.
  • Food coloring.

Experiment:

  1. Fill one of the bottles three-quarters full of water.
  2. Add a few drops of food coloring.
  3. Pull off a 4-inch length of duct tape and place it on the edge of a table, where you can easily reach it.
  4. Dry the neck of the bottle thoroughly with a paper towel.
  5. Put the empty bottle on top of the full one, neck-to-neck, and tape them together with the duct tape, so that they stay together, and they are aligned and straight.
  6. Now, wrap the bottle necks again with a longer length of duct tape. (The more neatly you wrap, the better it will work.)
  7. Turn your tornado twister upside down and give it a swirl.

Gravity pulls the water down into the empty bottle. The empty one is not really empty; it is full of air. When the water swirls through the necks of the bottles, an open space forms in the middle. This creates a whirlpool. The spinning water holds a steady, swirling shape similar to a tornado.

Being a science teacher can be rewarding when you see students excited and engaged in fun experiments that you set up and implement. Who knows? You may even earn the title of "Most Awesome Teacher!"

Learn more about the UTA online M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction -- Science Education program.


Sources:

Bill Nye Educational Resources: Home Demos

Steve Spangler Science: Experiments

GlitterBug

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