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The Work of Fruit in the Balance

The Physics experiment for Chapter 2 explores how to calculate “work” using pieces of fruit. Let’s have the students use the same pieces of fruit to perform a new experiment exploring “balanced forces.” For this experiment variation, the students will need to create a sort of miniature teeter-totter. You will need these materials:

A board large enough to hold a piece of fruit on each end
A prism (or other fulcrum) large enough to support the board

I. Prepare the lab notebook
The experiment Objective students create will have to do with learning whether the “work” each piece of fruit can do will balance the force on either side of the teeter-totter. Have students look at the work they measured for each piece of fruit to write a Hypothesis about which fruits might result in balanced forces and which might be unbalanced.

II. Observe and measure the results of this new experiment
Students will want to mark the exact center of the board so that the center is placed precisely on the prism. Using previous measurements on the work each piece of fruit can do, have students predict which fruits might result in balanced forces and which might be unbalanced when one piece is placed on each end of the board.

III. What happens?
Did students find a way to arrange the fruit that resulted in balanced forces? What are the results of each combination of fruits? Students should record each set of balanced or unbalanced forces, and then write valid conclusions about what caused the results they observed.

Feel free to write to us with information about how the experiment variations and expansions are received by your students. We appreciate all feedback.


It’s the Law: Newton’s Third Law of Motion

The Physics experiment for Chapter 1 explores Newton’s Law of Inertia to introduce students to physical laws and the five steps of the scientific method. For this experiment variation, let’s help students explore Newton’s Third Law of Motion. It states: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

One way to see “equal and opposite reactions” is to observe how the balls move on a “Newton’s Cradle.” An inexpensive Newton’s Cradle, also called Balance Balls, is available at: www.sourcingmap.com

This classic desk toy is very straightforward. Pull one ball away and release it. Students will see that one ball at the other end swings away. Pull and release two balls on one end and two balls at the opposite end swing out. Students may even wish to try their hand at constructing their own Newton’s Cradle. A simplified version of this demonstration follows.

I. Prepare the lab notebook
Have students create an Objective and Hypothesis for their new experiment. They will need to have space to draw and/or write what happens during the experiment and to record measurements.

II. Observe and measure the results of this new experiment
Students may use marbles, billiard balls or similar balls. Place one ball on the floor or another suitable flat surface. Use chalk or a piece of tape to mark where this stationary ball is sitting. Mark the place from which a student will roll another ball to impact the stationary ball. Measure the distance to the stationary ball.

Roll a ball from the starting line to impact the stationary ball. Students should be able to observe the stationary ball move in the opposite direction (away from where the ball was rolled). The ball that had been stationary should travel a distance that is approximately equal to the distance traveled by the rolled ball.

Level II students should make exact measurements to determine how much opposite movement took place. Level I students can make general measurements, and Pre-Level I students can simply record their observations.

III. What happens?
How far did the ball that had been stationary travel? How close is that distance to the distance previously measured? Help students write valid conclusions based on their observations and measurements.

Feel free to write to us with information about how the experiment variations and expansions are received by your students. We appreciate all feedback.


Making an Underwater Ecosystem

The Chapter 10 experiment in Biology Level 1 instructs students on how to create a closed ecosystem so that various cycles can be observed. To vary the Chapter 10 experiment presented in the Lab Workbook, students can create a simple underwater ecosystem.

I. Prepare the lab notebook
Students should make a grid for drawing the results they observe or prepare a section for notes on observations over a number of weeks. The experiment Objective will be essentially the same. 

II. Create the underwater ecosystem.
The water ecosystem should be created in a large jar or small aquarium that can be sealed. Students will add brine shrimp, algae and phytoplankton to non-chlorinated water (such as distilled water). They can get brine shrimp, algae, and phytoplankton at most aquarium or fish stores. They will want to measure and record the amount of each component they put into the jar with water, and then seal the jar. Observe what happens to the shrimp. Students may want to vary the amounts of shrimp, algae and phytoplankton they put in the jar to see how those variations affect the balance of the ecosystem. They should carefully keep track of all observable changes.

III. What happens?
What happens to the shrimp? What changes can be observed when each component of the ecosystem is changed. Help students write valid conclusions based on their observations.

Feel free to write to us with information about how the experiment variations and expansions are received by your students. We appreciate all feedback.


From Caterpillar to Butterfly

Biology Level 1’s Chapter 9 experiment for takes students through the life cycle of a butterfly, from caterpillar (larval stage) to cocoon (pupal stage) to adult. Students use their powers of observation and classification to record the metamorphosis. The variation suggested for this experiment is to allow students to observe the development of a different type of butterfly to record differences and similarities (which provides more practice in accurate scientific observation).

You may even wish to allow students to observe the growth of two differing butterflies simultaneously so that they can observe differences and similarities directly instead of relying on their drawings and notes. Since completion of each metamorphosis may take weeks, observing two types at the same time allows completion of the comparison in a more reasonable period of time.

I. Prepare the lab notebook
Students will use basically the same Objective of observation since they are recording changes. However, for this second type of butterfly, students may wish to create a Hypothesis about whether the second type will develop differently from the first. This will be easier if they are able to read further information about the specific caterpillar types they are observing.

Resources for purchasing butterfly kits included in the Teacher’s Manual are:
http://www.wardsci.com and http://www.insectlore.com

II. Follow the same experiment steps as provided in the Lab Workbook.
Be sure students accurately label, at least by description, the caterpillar(s) they are observing. If you have purchased a kit, their notes should include the butterfly’s proper name. They will want to draw periodically the changes they observe in addition to recording the physical changes they see each week.

III. What happens?
What differences in size and appearance can be described? Is the second larvae eating the same kind of food? Does the amount of food eaten in a similar period differ? Did the second species begin some changes sooner or later in the life cycle? Are there differences in how the cocoons were constructed? Help students write valid conclusions based on their new observations.

Feel free to write to us with information about how the experiment variations and expansions are received by your students. We appreciate all feedback.