Science Education Center of California

Science Education Center
of California
3001 Chapel Hill Road
Orange, CA 92867
714-292-6845
krawitz@sprynet.com


Science Assemblies

Science Museum on Wheels

Science Education Programs

Science Education Center of California provides school assemblies throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.  These science assemblies bring an entire natural history museum to a school site along with hands-on labs and activities that meet California's Common Core State Standards for science and math.

These grade-specific education programs are the educational arm of the Science Education Center of California and bring your field trip and assembly directly into the classroom.  Free lesson plans are included with all school visits.

Your science adventure starts with a phone call (714) 292-6845 or an e-mail at krawitz@sprynet.com. All presentations are conducted by Dan Krawitz who is the curator of the Science Education Center of California.  Prices for all educational programs are heavily subsidized and accommodate budget conscious classrooms for every grade level. 

School Assemblies

The Science Education Center has invested substantial time and capital in the acquisition of natural history specimens that go directly into the classroom. From petrified trees and giant ammonites in the fossil world to large gold specimens and meteorites in the mineral world, the museum items are available for all to see and touch. In addition to a traveling museum collection, the Science Education Center has developed and tested a wide range of physical and life science activities that target the K-12 level.

The Science Education Center of California’s presentations and labs are not all fun and games. Each presentation comes with a collection of laboratory activities that focus on a number of key themes in the physical and life sciences. These laboratory activities are designed to support the K-12 common core standards and are adjusted to be grade (and skill) specific for a given group of students. All presentations are made by the curator of the Science Education Center, and have not been delegated to assistants or any third party personnel.

A summary of currently available laboratory activities and associated fees are listed below. Each laboratory activity is a complete math or science lesson with clearly defined objectives, creative modeling of lesson activities, checks for understanding, and provides an opportunity for guided practice and lesson closure.

Number of Students We Can Accommodate

Since the museum presentations and accompanying laboratory lessons require real academic work on the part of the students in a laboratory setting, the ideal classroom size should be around 30-35 students or less. With a maximum of about 3-5 presentations possible (60-120 minutes each) during the day, about 120-175 students can reasonably be accommodated. We encourage teachers to team up and allow us to present to more than one class so that we can reach the greatest number of students during the visit. For single subject teachers, I can accommodate the 5 period class day (5 presentations to each of your periods). In the multiple subject classrooms, teachers can team up and I can provide a presentation to two classes for the entire day or shorter presentations to several different groups of students in one or more classrooms. Regardless of how the arrangement is set up, the teachers will have presentations available for the entire school day.

School Visitation Fees

Our goal of providing universal school access means that we are willing to transport several hundred pounds of museum items and laboratory supplies to any school site in the state of California. The fees have been broken down by county to account for the added cost (extra fuel and time) of reaching school sites throughout the state.

The school visitation fee (by county) is subsidized by our fundraising efforts and is designed to cover the transporation costs for each school site and the time cost of spending an entire school day at a given school site. Our sucessful fundraising efforts now allow us to provide all laboratory materials free of charge.

School Visitation Fee (By County)

Southern California

$325 (Orange County)
$325 (Western Riverside and San Bernardino Counties)
$325 (Los Angeles County (south of the San Gabriel Mountains)
$350 (San Diego County)
$350 (Antelope Valley and Mojave Desert)
$350 (Ventura, Imperial and Kern Counties)

Central California

$495 (San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Kings, Tulare and Inyo Counties)
$495 (San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Stanislaus, Madera and Fresno Counties

Northern California

$495 (San Francisco Bay Area)
$495 (Sacramento County)
All other locations in California north of Sacramento (Call for quote)

North West

$595 (Any location in Oregon)
$795 (Any location in Washington State)

Interior States

$495 (Las Vegas and Phoenix metro areas)
$595 (Any location in Utah)
$595 (Any location in New Mexico)

All other locations (Call for quote)

Scheduling a Visit

Teachers should give at least 2 weeks notice before scheduling a visit. To help prepare for the visit, the following information will be helpful:

  1. The age and skill level of the students.
  2. The day of the presentation.
  3. Address of the school.
  4. Requested presentation start time, lunch time and student break or recess times.
  5. The laboratory activities you would like us to focus on. A description of laboratory activities is provided below.
  6. The classroom that we will be presenting in.
  7. The number of students in each class and the number and length of classroom presentations.

We should note that since the fees are for an entire school day, I can make any combination of presentations that are possible within the allotted time frame. Since it takes about 90 minutes to set up the teacher or teachers should be available about 90 minutes prior to the start of the classroom presentations.

The Science Education Center of California can be reached through the “contact us” portion of the web site. While everything can be done by e-mail, a quick discussion by phone always seems to work best.



Earth Science (Physical Science) Presentations

Rocket Cars: The abstract idea of force, inertia, velocity, and acceleration come alive when students construct their own high speed rocket cars. Since the thrust of the rocket is created by a mixture of compressed water, air and carbon dioxide, there is no risk of fire or flame.

Construction: All materials including rocket chambers, wheels, tape, wheel axles, etc. will be provided and there is no charge for lab materials.

Launch:This portion of the lab will be completed outdoors. Students will work in teams and will launch their own team vehicle. The lab groups will carefully record the number of feet that each rocket car travels before it comes to a complete stop. Students may want to predict how far their rocket car will travel before it is actually launched.

Recording Data:Each team will record their best reading (vehicles which travel the greatest distance) and the readings will be recorded on graph paper at the end of the activity. Careful record will be made of all vehicle launches. Younger students will be given help constructing their rocket cars, and will orally describe what happens to their vehicle after it is launched on the blacktop.

Graphing and Data Analysis: This is a great lab to reinforce or introduce the concept of graphing. A histogram will be constructed (yes statistics for grade school students) with the available data. On the Y-axis, relative frequency will be the unit of measure, and on the X-axis, number of feet traveled by each vehicle will be the unit of measure.

Advanced Analysis for Older Students:Since several variables contribute to the final distance traveled by each rocket car, it will become an additional challenge to determine which variables are responsible for the fastest cars and greatest distance traveled. Variables that can influence the top speed and distance of each rocket car include the following:

  1. The weight of the rocket car
  2. The amount of water in each rocket car
  3. The final pressure of the rocket chamber before launch
  4. The amount of carbon dioxide added to the rocket chamber

Questions for laboratory discussion could include the following:

  1. Some cars traveled several hundred feet and others traveled several dozen feet before stopping. Why might this be the case?
  2. Based on the shape of the graph, can we predict how far the next rocket car will travel?
  3. Did the heaviest cars travel the farthest? Why or why not?
  4. Some cars released more water than air when they accelerated forward. Did this lead to higher speeds and greater distances traveled?
  5. What happened to the dry-ice in the rocket chamber?
  6. Why does the dry ice expand so much when it goes from a solid to a gas?
  • Materials supplied (rocket chambers, dry ice, wheels, tape, wheel axles)
    Lab fee: None
  • Materials required by students: Pens or pencils, paper

Building Structures That Can Survive Earthquakes

Problem: During a great earthquake on the San Andreas Fault, hundreds of bridges and freeway overpasses may collapse. Designing structures that can withstand earthquake shaking is a great civil engineering problem and one the students will explore.

Building resilient structures allows students to test the strength of Lego bridges that are subject to strong vibrations associated with major earthquakes. We will use a custom designed shake table to simulate an earthquake capable of causing structural damage. Students will work in teams and will construct a bridge that can support as much weight as possible while it is being subject to increasing shaking from a major earthquake. The objective is to:

  1. Build a free-standing Lego bridge linking two desks.
  2. The bridge must be made within the allocated time constraint.
  3. Student teams will be given a science budget sufficient to purchase materials necessary for the construction of a Lego bridge.
  4. Student teams will be working within budget, time and material constraints.
  5. The top bridge is the one that can support the most weight (under maximum earthquake shaking) before it collapses!

Graphing and Data Analysis: This is a great lab to reinforce or introduce the concept of graphing. A histogram will be constructed (statistics for grade school students) with the available data. On the Y-axis, relative frequency will be the unit of measure, and on the X-axis, bridge weight capacity will be the unit of measure.

Younger students will be given extra help constructing their bridges and will orally describe the challenges associated with the construction of earthquake resistant bridges.

Advanced Analysis for Older Students: Since several variables contribute to the strongest bridges, it will become an additional challenge to determine which variables are responsible for the strongest bridges. Variables that can influence how much weight each bridge can hold will include the following:

  1. Choice of making flat vs. arched bridges.
  2. Skill in manufacturing.
  3. Teamwork effectiveness.
  4. Length, width and thickness of the bridge.
  5. The shape of the structure.
  6. How well did the team work within itís time constraint.
  7. Skill in purchasing materials.
  8. How much of their materials were used in the bridge (utilization rate).

Questions for laboratory discussion could include the following:

  1. Based on the shape of the graph, can we predict the maximum weight that a bridge can hold?
  2. Did wide bridges do better than narrow bridges? Why or why not?
  3. Suppose that additional materials are available. How would you use these materials to increase the strength of your bridge?
  4. How did the ability to purchase materials in a marketplace contribute to the success of your project?
  5. What would you do differently if you could do the lab a second time?

Helicopter Laboratory

The abstract idea of lift, drag, velocity, and acceleration come alive when students fly their own high speed propellers.

Construction: All materials including propellers, goggles, lab worksheets, etc. will be provided and there is no charge for lab materials. Each team can purchase between three and six propellers, with each propeller costing $300 science dollars, and each propeller launch costing $100. Each team has a budget of $2,500 to purchase and launch their flying devices.

Launch: This portion of the lab will be completed outdoors. Students will work in teams and will launch their own team propellers. Revenue generated by each team is based on how close their propellers get to the target area. Depending on wind speed and direction, team members may choose various launch locations in order to reach the target area.

Recording Data: Each team will keep a running record of science dollars earned from all helicopter launches. Younger students will be given help keeping track of revenue and expenses.

Graphing and Data Analysis: This is a great lab to reinforce or introduce the concept of graphing. A histogram will be constructed (yes statistics for grade school students) with the available data. On the Y-axis, relative frequency will be the unit of measure, and on the X-axis, dollars earned by each team will be the unit of measure.

Advanced Analysis for Older Students: Since several variables contribute to how much each team can earn launching their helicopters, it will become an additional challenge to determine which variables are responsible for the most money generated. Variables that can influence the amount of science dollars earned by each team include the following:

  1. The number of propellers purchased by each team
  2. The wind speed during launch
  3. The wind direction during launch
  4. Number of launch sites
  5. Size of landing areas
  6. Skill in launching each propeller
  7. Experience gained during the practice period

Bridge Building Laboratory

Problem: During a great earthquake on the San Andreas Fault, hundreds of freeway overpasses may collapse. It will be necessary to construct many temporary bridges in a very short period of time. Our scientific leaders will look to our youth for creativity in the rapid design of bridges.

The Bridge Building Lab allows students to explore the science and engineering challenges associated with the construction of bridges. Students will work in teams and will construct a bridge that can support as much weight as possible. The objective is to:

  1. Build a free-standing bridge linking two desks.
  2. The bridge must be made within the allocated time constraint.
  3. Student teams will be given three types of wooden connectors along with connecting tape to build their bridge.
  4. The top bridge is the one that can support the most weight before it collapses!

Construction: All materials including support rods, wooden planks (small and large), and connecting tape will be provided and there is no charge for lab materials. In order to simulate an actual construction project, materials will be rationed and each team will be given one center span and a fixed number of support rods, small and large wooden planks and connecting tape.

Younger students will be given help constructing their bridges and will orally describe the challenges associated with the construction of bridges.

Older Students will be given a budget and are allowed to acquire materials sufficient to meet their budget constraint. Since support rods, wooden planks (small and large), and connecting tape will have various assigned prices; the budget constraint will limit the amount of materials available for each lab group. For instance, a lab groups decision to use more large wooden planks will mean that less support rods will be available (all else held constant).

Graphing and Data Analysis: This is a great lab to reinforce or introduce the concept of graphing. A histogram will be constructed (statistics for grade school students) with the available data. On the Y-axis, relative frequency will be the unit of measure, and on the X-axis, bridge weight capacity will be the unit of measure.

Advanced Analysis for Older Students: Since several variables contribute to the strongest bridges, it will become an additional challenge to determine which variables are responsible for the strongest bridges. Variables that can influence how much weight each bridge can hold will include the following:

  1. Skill in construction.
  2. The position of wooden planks.
  3. Teamwork effectiveness.
  4. The shape of the structure.
  5. How well did the team work within itís time constraint.
  6. Skill in purchasing materials.

Questions for laboratory discussion could include the following:

  1. Based on the shape of the graph, can we predict the maximum weight that a bridge can hold?
  2. Did wide bridges do better than narrow bridges? Why or why not?
  3. Suppose that additional materials are available. How would you use these materials to increase the strength of your bridge?
  4. How did the ability to purchase materials in a marketplace contribute to the success of your project?
  5. What would you do differently if you could do the lab a second time?

Identifying and Separating a Mixture The lab groups will be given a combination of†magnetite and various unknowns. Their job is to use the property of magnetism to concentrate the†magnetite and separate the†magnetite from the non-magnetic material.††Screens of various sizes will†also be utilized to separate†material based on particle size.††The lab group that most effectively utilizes their screens and magnets to separate their mixture will be able to keep their magnets.

  • Materials supplied (bar magnets, magnetite, aluminum trays, various non-magnetic unknowns, screens)
    Lab fee: None
  • Materials required by students
    Calculators, pens or pencils, paper

Magnetic Levitating Superconductors

Background:†Bismuth strontium calcium copper oxide or BSCCO superconductors†have the ability to float on a bed of strong magnets when cooled to low temperatures.† This property is utilized in magnetic levitation devices.†

This†laboratory will allow students to observe the latest superconducting†technology and speculate on how it can be used in industrial applications. This is also a laboratory where students can view cryogenic liquids and their amazing properties.

  • Materials supplied (BSCCO superconductors)
    Lab fee: None
  • Materials required by students
    Calculators, pens or pencils, paper


Solid-Gas Phase Change Laboratory
This laboratory explores the dynamics of solid-gas phase changes in matter, and more specifically explores what happens when solid carbon dioxide (dry ice) is allowed to change into a gas within a closed system. In this laboratory, pieces of dry ice will be placed in a small container partially filled with water. Balloons will be placed over the containers (one for each student), and will expand as they become filled with carbon dioxide gas. The filled balloons will be compared with similar balloons filled with air in various buoyancy activities. Finally, the carbon dioxide gas will be allowed to fill containers on sensitive scales to illustrate that carbon dioxide gas is indeed heavier than air. Questions for laboratory discussion could include the following:

  1. What happened to the dry ice?
  2. Is there a change in mass when the dry ice goes from a solid to a gas?
  3. How would we construct an experiment to answer question number 2?
  4. Why does the dry ice expand so much when it goes from a solid to a gas?
  5. Based on your observations so far in the laboratory, is dry ice heavier or lighter than air?
  6. Why might carbon dioxide be a good fire extinguisher?
  • Materials supplied (dry ice, balloons, containers)
    Lab fee: None
  • Materials required by students or teacher
    Calculators, pens or pencils, paper, access to water

Fluorescent Mineral Activity
The group will observe minerals that fluoresce (change color under ultraviolet light) and phosphoresce (stay glowing even after the light source is removed). Changes in the intensity of the ultraviolet light will determine the level of brightness of the fluorescing minerals. Students will use colored pencils to draw the minerals (glowing bright red, green and purple) when illuminated in both short and long wave ultraviolet light. For older students, a graph can be made with mineral brightness on the Y-axis and distance from the fluorescent light source on the X-axis.

  • Materials supplied (fluorescent minerals and museum quality ultraviolet light)
    Lab fee: None
  • Materials required by students
    Calculators, pens or pencils, paper

Buoyancy Laboratory
This is a great lab for the outdoors. All that is needed are several aluminum trays, a pile of pennies and enough foil for several foil boats. Everything is provided at no extra charge. The pieces of aluminum foil will be folded into small boats, which will be placed in aluminum trays full of water. One by one, the pennies will be stacked into the boats until the boats sink. The lab groups will keep careful record of the number of pennies that each boat holds before it sinks. Each person will record their best reading (boat that held the greatest number of pennies) and the readings will be recorded on the board at the end of the activity. A histogram will be constructed (yes statistics for grade school students) with the available data. On the Y-axis, relative frequency will be the unit of measure, and on the X-axis, number of pennies held by the boats will be the unit of measure. In past labs there have been both normal distributions and bimodal distributions of weight loads that were held by the foil boats. The following skills are developed in this laboratory: Water displacement, mathematical averages, graphing, and basic statistical analysis. These higher order skills are presented in a way that 3rd – 8th graders can understand.

  • Materials supplied (aluminum trays, pennies and sheets of foil)
    Lab fee: None
  • Materials required by students and teachers
    Calculators, pens or pencils, paper and a water source

Density Activity
The class will be exposed to metallic elements that are both very heavy (gold, silver, copper and tungsten for example) and very light (aluminum). I will introduce them to the concept of density and how to calculate the density of an object. A class set of density bars will be provided and students will calculate the density of an unknown metal and use that value to identify the composition of the bar. After each lab group (2 to 3 students) calculates the density of the unknown bars, the result will be written on the board. Students will be asked to see if there are any patterns in the data. For instance, copper has a density of 8.9 grams/cm3. The lab results may be 8.7, 9.1, 17.8, 8.8, 9.0 and 0.89. The average of the four groups closest to the actual value is 8.9 grams/cm3. The remaining results 17.8 and 0.9 may be due to a multiplication error (17.8 is double 8.9) and a place value error (0.89 is one tenth the value of 8.9)

This is a lab that works well with several groups whose quantitative results can be compared to each other for both accuracy and precision. Younger students (who have not mastered multiplication and division) can make qualitative comparisons between light bars (aluminum) and heavier bars (copper and silver).

  • Materials supplied (calibrated density bars)
    Lab fee: None
  • Materials required by students
    Calculators, pens or pencils, paper



Life Science Presentations

The Ocean Acidification Lab allows students to bubble carbon dioxide in water while measuring the change in the water's acidity. In addition to being entertaining, the bubbling of carbon dioxide through water produces a weak solution of carbonic acid, a weak acid responsible for the tart taste in carbonated soft drinks. We will use chemical indicators to measure the change in water acidity. This lab is designed to mimic the acidification going on in our oceans as a result of human produced carbon dioxide. It turns out that 40% of the carbon dioxide that is generated from human activity is being absorbed by the oceans...with visible effects.

  • Materials supplied (dry ice, containers, chemical indicators)
    Lab fee: None
  • Materials required by students
    Calculators, pens or pencils, paper

Yeast and Sugar: Dormant Vs Active Life (Outdoor laboratory)
The definition of what is living and what is not will be explored in this laboratory. Students will be given dry yeast and asked if it is living or non-living. Sugar will be added and hot water as well. The groups will be able to determine if the fermenting yeast is actually alive. After a few minutes of fermentation, the yeast will expand so much that the lids will pop off the containers and the contents will ooze out. An enjoyable lab for all ages. We should note that this laboratory activity works best outside and on a grassy surface. After completion of the lab, the containers can be placed in a trash receptacle, and cleanup is completed. The smelly nature of the lab (fermentation of yeast) dictates an outdoor activity.

  • Materials supplied (sugar, yeast, cups and lids)
    Lab fee: None

Natural Vs Artificial Surfaces
Heat island and global warming activity. This lab is in the science lab booklet (written by Dan Krawitz) and illustrates how dark artificial surfaces (such as asphalt) absorb more heat than lighter natural surfaces (such as grass). This lab also looks into the concept of global warming as well.

Each group will be given a centigrade thermometer, a piece of paper to cover the thermometer (this will avoid the risk of exposing the thermometer to direct sunlight and causing the data to be biased), and a laboratory notebook to record temperature readings in. Even numbered groups will be measuring grassy surfaces and odd numbered groups will be measuring asphalt surfaces.

Grassy surface groups: If you are measuring grassy surfaces, your group should place the thermometer on a grassy spot (you should cover the bulb of the thermometer with paper), and take a temperature reading. Take the average of several nearby readings for more accurate results.

Asphalt Surface Groups: If you are measuring asphalt surfaces, your group should place the thermometer on an asphalt spot (you should cover the bulb of the thermometer with paper), and take a temperature reading. Take the average of several nearby readings for more accurate results.

The temperature readings will be made each hour for a few minutes and recorded in the class summary table. When each group returns to the classroom they should record their group averages onto the blackboard.

Temperature will be plotted on the Y-axis and time will be plotted on the X-axis. Every hour the lab groups will go out and measure either grassy surfaces or asphalt surfaces. These values will be plotted over time and on a sunny day, a pattern will emerge. The pattern is not random and suggests that natural grassy surfaces heat much differently than artificial dark surfaces.

  • Materials supplied (professional thermometers)
    Lab fee: None
  • Materials required by students
    Calculators, pens or pencils, paper


Environmental Science Presentations

Water Purification Lab Using Student Constructed Aquifers

Students will design their own aquifer, filter their water and purify a simulated container of contaminated water. The water will have food coloring and various additives such as vinegar to simulate water that is undesirable both in terms of color and smell.

Water purification will be a two step process:

  1. Filtering the water.
  2. Passing the water through a lab-created aquifer.

Lab created aquifer:

Student aquifers will contain sand, gravel, magnetite, wood chips and other materials in various proportions. Younger students will be given help in their aquifer construction, and will orally describe what happens to their contaminated water after it is filtered and allowed to pass through their aquifer.

Older students will construct their own aquifer using sand, gravel, magnetite, wood chips, etc. Each lab group will be given a budget (Letís say $100 science dollars) and are allowed to acquire materials sufficient to meet their budget constraint. Since, sand, gravel, magnetite and wood chips will have various assigned prices, the budget constraint will limit the amount of materials available for each lab group. For instance, a lab groups decision to use more wood chips means that less sand will be available (all else held constant).

Variables in aquifer creation:

The quantity of sand, gravel, magnetite and wood chips in each groupís aquifer will vary based on the lab groupís preference for materials.

Filtering:

Students will have an opportunity to filter their water using a single or double filter. Double filters use more resources than single filters. As a result, groups using double filters will have fewer materials available for their aquifer.

Water purification:

Each group will add contaminated water (water + food coloring + vinegar or other safe liquid representing a disagreeable odor) to the top of the aquifer, and will pass the water through their aquifer and filtration system. Students have a choice of filtering the water first, and then adding it to the aquifer, or passing the water through the aquifer first and then filtering it.

Time constraint:

Each lab group will have a predetermined amount of time to decontaminate their water.

Laboratory evaluation: Lab groups will be evaluated based on their success on four critical benchmarks:

  1. Visual inspection of water: How effective has the lab group been in removing any disagreeable color to the water?
  2. Nose inspection: How does the water smell? Lab groups will be evaluated based on how much their water smells. The less scent the better.
  3. Choice of materials: What decision making process was used in the lab groups choice of materials? How did the cost of materials (relative scarcity) influence their construction?
  4. Written conclusions: Which lab groupís aquifer worked the best and what can we learn about the various materials ability to purify water?

Engineering and Construction

Lego Tower Laboratory

Working Within Budget, Time and Material Constraints

The Lego Tower Laboratory allows students to explore the science and engineering challenges associated with the construction of tall buildings. Students will work in teams and will construct their own team building. The objective is to maximize the height of their building while working under budget, time and material constraints.

Construction: All materials will be provided and there is no charge for lab materials. In order to simulate an actual construction project, materials will be rationed, with all materials being assigned various prices. Each team will be given a budget of $2,000+ science dollars and are allowed to acquire materials sufficient to meet their budget constraint. Since various types of Legoís and supports will have various assigned prices; the budget constraint will limit the amount of materials available for each lab group. Younger students will be given help constructing their buildings and will orally describe the challenges associated with the construction of tall structures.

Older Students will try to reach multiple objectives at the same time; namely maximizing the height of their structure while minimizing their overall costs. Time is also a constraint and any specialized help given to a science team will cost the team a small amount of science dollars.

Graphing and Data Analysis: This is a great lab to reinforce or introduce the concept of graphing. A histogram will be constructed (statistics for grade school students) with the available data. On the Y-axis, relative frequency will be the unit of measure, and on the X-axis, building height will be the unit of measure.

Advanced Analysis for Older Students: Since several variables contribute to the maximum height reached by each building, it will become an additional challenge to determine which variables are responsible for the tallest structures. Variables that can influence the maximum height of each building include the following:

  1. Skill in construction.
  2. The position of reinforcing supports.,
  3. The weight distribution of each building.
  4. Material choices.
  5. Construction speed.
  6. Team effectiveness.
  7. The shape of the structure.
  8. Amount of consulting needed.

Questions for laboratory discussion could include the following:

  1. Tall buildings tend to concentrate the most materials on the lower floors. Did you follow this strategy? Why or why not?
  2. Based on the shape of the graph, can we predict the maximum height of a building given the materials available?
  3. Tall buildings have certain characteristics in common. What are these characteristics and did the model towers have these characteristics?
  4. Suppose that additional materials are available. How would you use these materials to increase the height of your building?
  5. Older students are required to pay a fee (in science dollars) for specialized consulting help. Was the fee worth it?

Aviation Laboratory

The Aviation lab allows students to explore the science and engineering challenges associated with the construction of helium filled airships and their use in transportation. Students will work in teams and will construct their own team vehicle. Each teamís objective is to maximize the amount of goods their airship can transport within the allotted time constraint.

Student teams will:

  1. Use helium filled airships to transport actual goods to various locations.
  2. All teams start with the same budget and each team receives an initial allotment of science dollars. Most of the initial money is used to purchase helium filled balloons, the size of which is based on how much money they invest. Larger balloons have greater lifting power but also cost more. Balloons with greater lifting power can transport more goods, but have greater fixed costs.
  3. Construction: All materials used in constructing airships will be provided and there is no charge for lab materials. Success in transporting goods (coins in this lab) will depend on the lifting capacity of the airships and the size of the transporting container attached to the airship.
  4. Each team tries to transport as many coins from one location to another. The team can choose to transport heavy, medium weight, or light coins, or any combination thereof. Transporting larger and heavier coins generates more revenue, but the added weight means that less coins can be transported over any given time interval. Revenue generated can be used to purchase more balloons which can be used to transport more coins.
  5. Teams can combine balloons for greater lift or can use each balloon individually to transport coins.
  6. The amount of coins that can be transported at any given time is dependent on the size of the lifting container, lifting capacity of the airship and how many trips each team can make within a given amount of time.
  7. Teams have a specific amount of time to transport as many coins as possible to their destination area. Teams that transport the most coins in the least amount of time are able to generate the most money.
  8. The winning team is the team that transports the most coins at the end of the aviation simulation laboratory.

Graphing and Data Analysis: This is a great lab to reinforce or introduce the concept of graphing. A histogram will be constructed (statistics for grade school students) with the available data. On the Y-axis, relative frequency will be the unit of measure, and on the X-axis, total team revenue will be the unit of measure.

Advanced analysis for older students: The amount of revenue that each team generates is the result of several interdependent variables. Identification of these variables will help us to summarize the simulation exercise. Variables that can influence how much money each team can generate include the following:

  1. Size and lifting capacity of the airships.
  2. Number of airships used by each team.
  3. Speed in loading and unloading transported coins.
  4. Teamwork effectiveness.
  5. How well did the team work within their time constraint.
  6. Speed of the airships during transport.
  7. Accuracy of the airships during transport.
  8. Skill in purchasing materials.

Engineering and Robotics Laboratory

The Robotics lab allows students to explore the science and engineering challenges associated with the construction of robotic vehicles and their use in transportation. Students will work in teams and will construct their own team vehicle. Each teamís objective is to maximize the amount of goods their robotic vehicle can transport within the allotted amount of time.

Student teams will:

  1. Use robotic vehicles to transport actual goods to various locations.
  2. All teams start with the same budget and each team receives an initial allotment of science dollars. Most of the initial money is used to purchase their robotic vehicle which can be customized to suit the team's individual needs. The robotic vehicles have two switches, with each switch operating an electric motor. Each motor can use either three or four batteries. Switching on all motors and using all batteries provides more speed, but the extra power consumption costs the team more money.
  3. Construction: All materials used to construct the robotic vehicles will be provided and there is no charge for lab materials. Success in transporting goods will depend on the speed of each robotic vehicle and the size of the trailer attached to the bed of the robotic vehicle. Vehicles with larger trailers can transport more goods on each trip but they also use more materials which is an added expense for the team. The trailer portion is constructed from Legoís and snaps onto the bed of the vehicle.
  4. Each team receives science money for successfully transporting goods from one location to another. The team can choose to transport heavy, medium weight, or light goods, or any combination thereof. Transporting larger and heavier goods generates more revenue, but the added weight slows the robotic vehicle down, which can allow another team to reach the unloading section first.
  5. The amount of goods that can be transported at any given time is dependent on the size of the trailer, speed of the vehicle and how the goods are arranged within the trailer.
  6. Teams have a specific amount of time to transport as many goods as possible to as many locations as possible. Teams that transport the most goods in the least amount of time are able to generate the most money.
  7. Overweight loads and oversize loads (loads of goods that are sticking out the side or rear of the vehicle) are assessed a fine, so there is a limit to how much a team can transport at any given time.
  8. The winning team is the team that accumulates the most money at the end of the robotic simulation laboratory.

Graphing and Data Analysis: This is a great lab to reinforce or introduce the concept of graphing. A histogram will be constructed (statistics for grade school students) with the available data. On the Y-axis, relative frequency will be the unit of measure, and on the X-axis, total team revenue will be the unit of measure.

Advanced analysis for older students: The amount of revenue that each team generates is the result of several interdependent variables. Identification of these variables will help us to summarize the simulation exercise. Variables that can influence how much money each team can generate include the following:

  1. Size and shape of the robotic vehicleís trailer.
  2. The choice of which products to transport.
  3. Speed in loading and unloading transported goods.
  4. Teamwork effectiveness.
  5. Availability of high-value goods for transport.
  6. How well did the team work within itís time constraint.
  7. Speed of the robotic vehicle during transport.
  8. Accuracy of the robotic vehicle during transport.
  9. Skill in purchasing materials.

Traveling Natural History Museum Collection
Observation and Inquiry

Students will observe museum items and will try to answer the following questions prior to an official explanation of what the museum items are and what causes their formation:

  • What is it?
  • What is the museum item made of?
  • Is it a mineral or a fossil?
  • How old is it?
  • How did it form?
  • Is it a sedimentary, igneous or metamorphic rock?

Examples of museum items that will be available for viewing, touching and discussion are petrified trees, giant ammonites, large gold and copper specimens, meteorites (an 85 pound specimen is in the collection) and a host of well-crystallized minerals that form the basis of gemstones. Many of the museum items on the web site will be available for classroom use and discussion. Additional museum quality items that are not on the web site will also be available during presentations. For a detailed description of some of the museum specimens, click onto the minerals, fossils and gems sections and have a look.

In the museum inquiry portion of the presentation, it is the student who discovers what the answers are. Instead of just telling the class what a meteorite is for instance, we have them figure out for themselves what the items are. My job is just to help guide them to where they should be going. The museum inquiry activity helps to bring some of the finest natural wonders of the world into the classroom in a way that was not possible before.

  • Materials supplied (Museum quality natural history items)
    Lab fee: None
  • Materials required by students
    Pen or pencils, paper
 
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