## Make Snowflakes and Learn Math!

What a great way to sneak math into a fun winter activity!  Have students figure out how many degrees will have to be in each angle if a hexagon shape is cut into a snowflake.  Well. 60 degrees of course because 60×6 angles would make 360 degrees.  You can also discuss symmetry after they are cut out to see if the snowflakes truly did turn out symmetrically.

I had students cut these out for a fun enrichment activity.  First of all, I read a portion of this book to them since it is about the science behind snowflakes.  Did you know snow is NOT MADE by freezing raindrops?  Me neither.  It is made by frozen water droplets smaller than the tip of your hair.  It takes over 100.000 water droplets to make one snowflake.  This information and more are included in this unique book which gives the science behind snowflakes.

After I read students a portion of this book, we made snowflakes.  I will show you below.  The more you do it the better you get!

Step 1:  Get a pair of scissors and a sheet of 8.5 x 11 computer printer paper.

Step 2.  Fold the paper in half “hamburger style” or the fat way.

Step 3.  Fold the paper in half again. Make sure the open corners are facing you.  If they are not facing you then your snowflake will be cut in half unintentionally, and you will be left wondering why this happened.

Step 4: Fold the top corner down until it is slightly over the bottom of the rectangle above.  I have not changed the orientation of the paper to accomplish this.  The open corner are still in the same location as above

Step 5:  Finally fold the bottom triangle over the other triangle in a waffle cone type of configuration–(that’s what the kids called it)

Step 6.  Slide the end of the “waffle cone” off of the rest of the figure.  and you will be left with the bottom of the “waffle cone” which is a triangle.

Step 7.  Cut any type of figures you like into the triangle and experiment with different patterns.

Step 8.  Open up your snowflake and see what you have created!

Hang them up  in your classroom for a festive winter theme!

## Is There Math in Building Robots?

It seems building robots is frivolous…an extra activity….not really necessary…just for fun, BUT I recently had the privilege to attend a 5- day robotics summer camp, which opened my eyes to the skills involved in learning robotics.  Elementary students in grades 2-5 worked with VEX IQ robotics in teams of 2-3.

1.The first day they built the robots from the kit directions.

2.The second day they practiced having the robots drive to certain points on a floor mat.

3.The third day they programmed the robot to go to certain points on the mat.

4.The fourth day they learned to drive the robot with a controller.

5. The fifth day they put all they had learned into practice and competed.

The day they competed was my favorite day because I got too see the students excel with all they had learned.

Here are the major skills I observed kids learning during the process of building robots:

1. learning interpersonal skills by working in teams to accomplish a goal
2. learning and communicating in angle measures because they had to program their robot to turn
3. learning the difference in mm and inches as they had to program their robot to move a certain distance.
4. estimating distances as they had to program their robot to stop at a certain point
5. exercising perseverance when a part of their robot didn’t quite connect correctly or behave correctly when programmed

Below you will see some photos showing the first mat students used in learning to drive their robots.  On this mat students programed  their robot to turn and learned about distances.  Their task was to program their robot to drive from home (the orange sign) to their friends house (the green sign) to the movie theater (the pink sign).  Then they were to program their robot to drive their friend back home and return to home themselves.  This task was way more challenging than it appears.

For your students who are unmotivated, what better way to create motivation than to have them do a culminating project of building robots after they learn measurement or as they learn measurement skills.

So I am going to fumble through learning this with my students this year.  I will be a novice robotics coach learning along side the kids.  🙂

## Crayola Markers STEM Challenge

I made scribble bots with my students during the last days of school.  It was a GREAT activity with high engagement and interest among students.  Not only that, it is a great way to use your almost dried up markers–the ones that still make a mark, but may not be so good for coloring.  All of the other materials are available at the Dollar Tree except for the small motors and items from around the house.

For each scribble bot you will need:

• a small motor (from Amazon)
• a clothespin
• tape (I used masking)
• a AA battery
• a cup (I used styrofoam)
• a popsicle stick
• Old Crayola markers (at least 4)
• old Christmas light wire (we used this instead of alligator clips)
• bulletin board paper large enough for the bot to travel a little way

First, I showed this video to my students.

Next, I reiterated a few parts of the video such as make sure your motor is perpendicular to the popsicle stick and make sure the motor is all the way on the end of the stick.

This will probably take your students the better part of an hour, but your really smart kids may finish earlier.  These students can still be challenged by trying to find a way to make a different pattern with their bot, or using their materials and motor in a different way.  Notice the scribble bot with lots of markers all around…my little over achiever made this one.  His bot actually made a fabulous pattern!  Notice some of the different patterns that are being made on the paper by different students’ bots.

I hope your students enjoy this as much as mine did!

## Does Fruit Have Feelings?

This post is a continuation of our previous water and rice experiments.  The experiment is completely a product of child wonder and curiosity.  After we spoke to rice for 30 days and saw the changes, the students wanted to try fruit, and they voted on blueberries.  So that everyone was a part of the experiment, I put the blueberries in a baggy and put that baggy inside of a Wal-Mart sack to prevent leakage.  Then I passed the bag around so that all of the students could have a turn squashing the berries inside the bag.  Next, I put about a half of a cup of squished berries in three different clean jars and sealed them.  With masking tape, one jar was labeled “LOVE” and the other jar was labeled “HATE”.  A third jar was left blank as our control group.  The children made predictions about what they thought would happen to each jar.  Every day without prompting as the students would leave class, they would say, “I love you” to the love jar and “I hate you” to the hate jar.  The blank jar sat by itself without being spoken to.

After 30 school days of speaking to the jars, we opened them…duh…dum…

So what do you think happened?  Now, if you have been following the other two experiments, you may have an idea of what happened.  The love and hate jars smelled distinctly different.  The love jar smelled like sweet wine.  The hate jar smelled more like vinegar.  Of course, all of the jars had started a fermentation process.  In fact, the jars had fermented so much that when I opened the lid it was pressurized to some degree and  hard to open.  There was actually a blue-grayish fog that came out of the love and hate jars when they were opened.  The jar that had no name didn’t have a fog and neither was the smell very strong like the love and hate jars.

What explains all of this?  Now, I can’t explain it, but there is something powerful about words and your students will figure this out after doing any of these experiments.  This could lead to such a powerful discussion about talking to others in a kind way.

What do you think we did next?  Well, I had one student who wanted to know what would happen if we started saying “I love you” to the hate jar and “I hate you” to the love jar.  We did this for 30 school days with the same jars and same berries.  We relabeled the jars with “hate” tape over the “love” tape and “love” tape over the “hate” tape.

(suspense building music plays here)…We opened the jars again after 30 school days of talking to the jars.  I predicted that the jars would change and the love jar would turn the hate berries into smelling sweeter and the hate jar would turn the love berries into smelling more sour…BUT this isn’t what happened.  The jars actually smelled the same.

What should we try next?

## How to Set Up an IKnowIt Account (free)!

Guess what?!  Have you heard about this great new math website?!  There are math lessons set up for kindergarten through 5th grade.  Students are given a score for problems they get right so that you could potentially use this for a quick grade. Winning!  Right now you can set up an account for your class absolutely free–until August 2018 that is!  In the following video, I show you how to set up your free account and how to assign lessons to your students.

## Does Water Have Feelings? {Science Experiment}

Well, it may not have feelings, but it responds when you talk to it.  If you have been following my blog at all, you will know that in the fall we did an experiment with rice jars.  We said, “I love you” to one, and “I hate you to another”.  Then we let one jar just sit as our control group.  If you want to read more about the rice jar experiment, go here.

After that experiment, it made kids become curious about what would happen if we repeated the same experiment, but with different items such as fruit or water.  Well, we did repeat the experiment with water and repeated another experiment with blueberries.  This post will be about what happened with the water experiment if you want to repeat it in your classroom or at home for that matter.

First we took three jars of exactly the same size and put the same amount of spring water in each one.  I used spring water because I have a water cooler in my room. Then we put exactly 1 cup of water in each jar. We made a jar to say “I love you” to, a jar to say “I hate you” to, and a jar with no label that was just to sit as our control group.  The kids in the classroom talked to the jars every day for 30 school days before they left the room.  The jars just sat over the weekend, and they just sat if we had a day out of school.  The students picked the jars up when they talked to them, but for the most part didn’t really pick up the control group jar.

Below, I put these against black construction paper so you could really tell the difference in the three.

Ironically, our 30 days ended on Valentine’s Day, so we opened the jars on February 14th.  The control group jar just smelled like water and the water was very clear.  The love jar didn’t have a really detectable smell to me but one of the kids said it smelled like cut grass.  It was a little whiter in color than the control group water, but not very much.  The love jar looked very similar to the control group.  Next the big difference was in the hate jar.  We could easily see that the hate jar had a cloudy white color to it compared to the other jars.  It also smelled musty when we smelled it.  More condensation was also on the sides of the jar.  Upon close examination, we also noticed that the lid had grown mold or mildew on the top.

Below, in order the control group jar lid, the love jar lid, and the hate jar lid.

Ok, so I know the experiment isn’t perfect because the lids aren’t all the same, but I couldn’t find another one of the metal lids at the time, so I used the purple plastic one.

What a fantastic and powerful way to teach kids about bullying and kindness.  The power of the kids’ words is evident when they speak to the jars without you having to say much.  I do suggest you ask questions when the jars are opened such as:

Why do you think this happened?

How is this like when we talk to people?

Do you think your words affect people the same way?  Why?

What do you wonder now?

Did our words really change the water?  Was it just some bacteria that floated in the air?  Were the jars clean enough? Was there bacteria in the water?  What could explain these differences?  (I feel like I am a script writer for Ripley’s believe it or not.)

Now, this happened not once–but twice.  First, with the rice experiment and now with water!  Something is definitely going on here.  You don’t believe me?  I dare you to try it at home for 30 days.

What will we do next?  Well, the kids in my class decided that they wanted to put three NEW jars in boxes in separate corners of the room to talk to each day–so that is what we will do!

## Do This Experiment if Your Kids Are Name Calling {Giveaway}

So, I had this idea a couple of years ago.  It started with the curiosity of the experiment Dr. Emoto had about water and snowflakes.  In case you don’t know Dr. Emoto spoke different words to water and then froze it.  After freezing the water, he saw the water form different structures and shapes. The kind words made beautiful snowflakes while the bad words made the water form in less desirable shapes.  I showed this to my students first.

Then I saw where someone had recreated this experiment with rice and water.  I decided to try this at home one summer where I could speak to the jars without interruption for 30 days.  When I was at home, I chose 3 equal sized jars and put one cup of dry rice in each.  Then I poured one cup of water on top of the rice in each of the three jars.  On one jar I labeled LOVE, one I labeled HATE, and on the third jar I wrote nothing.  Then I spoke to the jars for 30 days.  I said, ” I love you” to the love jar and “I hate you” to the jar labeled hate.  I did nothing to the jar labeled with nothing.  After 30 days I opened the jars.  I was in total suspense.  When I opened the jars, they all stunk really badly, but they all had distinctly different smells.  They all grew mold.  Interestingly, the jar that was ignored grew more mold than the jar that was labeled hate.

Now fast forward to a couple of years later.  I did this with my class starting on the first day of school.  This time I did the experiment a little differently and I recommend doing the experiment this way with your class if you decide to do this. I boiled 3 cups of white rice and measured out one cup for each of three equal sized jars and sealed them.  I, again, labeled the jars, love, hate, and then just a blank jar.  Each time the students would leave for the day, they would say “I love you” to the love jar and “I hate you” to the hate jar.  Now to the blank jar, they were supposed to do nothing and say nothing.  Every now and then a child would pick up the blank jar.  I had it marked on the calendar for the day we would open the jars.  We just finished the experiment this past Friday.  This was the 30th day of us talking to the jars, but not the 30th day of the jars sitting.  On days we were not at school, the jars just sat.  I was a little worried that this would have a negative effect on the experiment, but it did not. (below the lids are ajar because this is the day we opened them)

Before we did the experiment, I had the students predict what would happen to each jar.  None of them predicted what actually happened.  I was also surprised about what happened.The rice DID NOT mold.  About mid way through the 30 days the rice started to liquefy and become just white slush.  The granules of rice were no longer visible.  The consistency was more like oatmeal.  When we opened the jars, they all stunk but not as bad as when I did the experiment at home.  The love jar smelled like fermented bread.  The hate jar smelled like fermented cheese and had more of a sour smell.  In my opinion, the blank jar smelled the worst and also smelled fermented.

To make sure everyone had a chance to smell the jars without having their peers adverse reactions affect their experience, I had each student go smell the jars individually with their back turned to the class.  The jars were set up in the back of the room.  The children were busy working on another activity while I let each child go one by one to the back for jar observations. I instructed them before hand to not make any reactions to the class so that everyone had a fair chance to form their own opinion.  I  had the students write down the results of what the jars smelled like after they smelled them on the same paper that they had made their predictions 30 days earlier.  Then I let them talk at their table groups about what they noticed.  Later I pulled all the students to the carpet to discuss what they noticed and their thoughts.  Of course, they wanted to talk about how it smelled like “poop”, “farts”, and the like! 🙂  When we got past what the jars smelled like, I asked the kids why they thought I had them do this.  Some kids recognized the fact that their words changed the rice, and were in amazement about how this had happened.  (below the jars from the back–I know the jars look like different amounts, but I measured each one the same)

I must mention a HUGE teacher moment happened during this.  One of those moments that makes your job worth while :).  I had a child come up to me after we had talked about how words affect people when you say mean things to them just like our words affected the rice positively or negatively.  He said, “You know, I’ve been saying mean things to a someone in my class, and he’s here in this room right now.  I said, “Do you feel like you need to apologize?”  He shook his head saying yes.  I said, “Well, you are welcome to step outside with him and apologize.”  And, so he did!

Who would’ve thought that talking to rice would change the heart of a child?

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## What Is It? {Giveaway Time}

So the story goes like this.  I, of course, like most dutiful teachers went back to school before my contract began to get my classroom set up.  I currently have a trailer classroom.  We affectionately refer to all of us in trailers as the “trailer park”.  Well the first time I went into my trailer and walked out I noticed a little friend waiting for me on the wood railing outside my door–pictured above.

What do you think it could be?

Suddenly I smiled and realized what this was.  I hate to spoil the fun, but I’ll go ahead and tell you.  Last school year towards the end you may remember I spent a lot of time doing electricity experiments with lemons, limes, potatoes, fruit, you name it.  I had given some of the potatoes to a classroom teacher so that she could use them in her plant unit.  She was allowing the students to sprout seeds.  Well the last day of school, I had one little potato left that had sprouted a bit and I planned on taking it home to see what would happen.  And, you guessed it!  I forgot and left it on the railing outside my trailer.  Little did I know two months later it would still be there untouched.

As if my whole house and yard haven’t become little science projects.  Think with me.  How would you turn this into a lesson? 🙂

Giveaway time!!!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Prize: \$100 Amazon Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 8/11/17 and is open worldwide.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

## Can a Human Circuit Light an LED bulb?

This past year when we were building lemon batteries, students had many of their own investigative questions.  For one, students wondered if lemon juice would light an LED bulb.  As a result, we tested lemon juice, apple juice, salt water, and many other liquids.  Acting on their own questions fueled even more curiosity.

One student wondered if we could build a human circuit.  I didn’t think it would be possible to light an LED bulb with a human circuit.  I researched it on Google before I tried this activity with the students, and I found NOTHING about being able to light an LED with a human circuit.  I had the students predict whether they thought that we could accomplish the lighting of an LED.  Only about three out of ten students thought we could light the bulb.

Here is what we did:

1. I had each student get one alligator clip wire to connect a pre-1982 penny and a zinc nail.  (Doing this will give you about two more wires than you need, but at least everyone is busy.)
2. I had about 10 students stand in a circle.
3. Then each student in the circle held one pre-1982 penny in one hand between two fingers and with the other hand held one zinc nail between two fingers.
4. Between each of the sets of students in the circle, I had the students hold the wire of an LED bulb.  One student held one wire (positive) coming out of the bulb while another student held the other wire (negative).
5. I made sure everyone was making a complete circuit for the electricity to pass through.

Then I heard the unthinkable.  “I saw it light up!”  one child exclaimed.

Now, I thought the students just saw a reflection, and it really wasn’t lighting up. Speaking to myself here—“Oh, ye of little faith.”  Children are so optimistic, and I was blatantly reminded of my pessimism at this moment.

I turned off the lights because I wanted to be sure they weren’t imagining this. Sure enough, the electrical current flowed through all of the kids to create a human battery and light up an LED!!!

Side note:  In case you aren’t having success with your human circuit.  Make sure each child is actually making connection with a penny and a nail.  There must be a penny, nail pattern in the circle.  Flip the LED bulb the opposite direction if it doesn’t work the first time since each of the wires/prongs coming out of the LED are either positive or negative.

This could be an amazing team building experience with your students at the beginning of the year!

## Cheap Mystery Experiments with Solids {Giveaway}

Originally I had planned for students to do the mystery liquids and mystery solids lessons together, but once students were doing their experiments, I realized we needed another class period to do the solids. This allows time for at least 15 minutes of rich discussion at the end. During the discussion time students tell what they think each solid is by defending it with their experiment data. Now, for each group of four students I made cups like the ones you see pictured. I collected seven substances that were white and powdery. Numbered cups help children determine which substance they are using and also help if they use the numbered plates I mentioned in the previous post. The substances can come from your kitchen cabinet or bathroom. These are the seven I used.

1. Table salt
2. Baking powder
3. Baking soda
4. Borax
5. Powdered sugar
6. Granulated sugar
7. White Flour

Before allowing them to experiment, I asked them to discuss some of the ways that we could test these substances to see what they were. They mentioned the senses. At this point I tell them that we will absolutely NOT be tasting them, even though it would work in some cases, I let them know that these are NOT all edible. Further, I demonstrate how to use your hand to fan the scent of an item to smell it. Before I mentioned this, some students had sucked some of the substance up their nose by accident, and I didn’t want to repeat this problem. 🙂 Other ways to test that were mentioned were pH indicators, comparisons to other substances, and chemical reactions. Students had gathered significant data about these substances with pH indicators and chemical reactions in previous lessons.

Concerning materials management, I will be honest. I wasn’t brave enough to allow free access to  substances for them to freely gather to do chemical tests. I dispensed these as needed.

All in all, the kids enjoyed being scientists, mixing substances to see the reactions, and creating new substances. This lesson needs at least an hour and maybe longer for students who take longer. Some of my classes took more than one  class period, but most students needed just one.

Further, chemical reaction experiments are great to do before summer break because students will be inspired to do something besides sit in front of a  screen during the summer.  They might turn into real chemical engineers one day just by exploring their kitchen cabinets. (I always remind them to ask parental permission before exploring substances at home.) Now for a giveaway!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

Prize: \$25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter.  Giveaway ends 6/12/17 and is open worldwide.

Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!