Looking for an idea for a science project? Here are several science experiment ideas that use materials easily found in your house. A couple of them might require a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy, but mostly you can just raid the garage, kitchen or medicine chest for the ingredients. Many experiments you will want to do OUTSIDE. Each experiment will give you directions as well as suggest websites and books that will help you explain what science is at work during the experiment. Science ExperimentsPrint This Post
In Finding Nemo, Nemo’s Dad Marlin wakes up riding on the back of Crush the sea turtle. Crush is surfing the East Australian Current (EAC) that runs along the coast of Australia. Currents are moving ocean water. They are generated by the wind, temperature, the amount of salt in the water (salinity), by the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun, and by events like earthquakes. There are several currents in the earth’s oceans that constantly circulate the oceans’ water.
In some places out in the middle of the earth’s oceans, currents surround an area of ocean. These areas are called gyres. You can see the earth’s five gyres on this map. One of the gyres, located off the coast of California (it takes a week by boat to get there!) is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Why is it called that? Because it is full of TRASH, namely, plastic. Water bottles, action figures, legos, you name it. If people somewhere on earth decided they didn’t want it, it’s out there, floating in the ocean, brought to this spot by the ocean’s currents.
Plastic Ahoy! is the story of a research vessel called New Horizon that sailed to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to study the plastic there. The scientists wanted to answer important questions about how the plastic might be affecting the ocean and the creatures who live there. Questions like:
- How much plastic is actually out there?
- Are fish eating the plastic? Is it hurting them?
- Are the plastic chemicals poisoning the water?
The book follows three students, Darcy, Chelsea and Miriam, as they help gather samples and prepare experiments. As you can tell by the cover, the book is full of great photos of the ocean and all of the activities that take place on the boat, and not just the scientific ones. You also get to see how the scientists eat, sleep and keep fit while living for long periods of time on a small ship.
The book did three really important things for me.
- It made me want to learn more about the ocean.
- It made me worry about all that trash in the ocean.
- It made me want to do more to use plastic less.
The book also has extra interesting pieces of information that make you go, “Huh. Really?” Here are two things I thought were interesting:
1. What the number inside the recycling triangle means. When plastic is manufactured it is made into small pellets called nurdles. Nurdles are then formed into different shapes like milk jugs or patio chairs or legos. Different kinds of nurdles make different kinds of plastic. The number inside the recycling triangle that you see stamped on the bottom of things made from plastic, tells what type of nurdle was used. Knowing the number helps you know how to recycle the plastic. Interesting! When the recycle container shows which number can go in it – pay attention! It’s important!
2. What bioluminescence is and does. Bioluminescence is a chemical reaction inside organism that make them glow when they are scared. It is a defense to confuse predators. Sometimes, the movement of a ship on the water at night can scare bacteria in the water…the water is so full of bacteria that the water glows in the dark. I would love to see that!
- Amazon Look Inside: Plastic Ahoy!
- GoodReads: Plastic Ahoy!
- GoogleBooks: Plastic Ahoy!
- Official Website: Patricia Newan
- Official Website: Annie Crawley
- Plastics at SEA North Pacific Expedition
- Project Kaisei
- Youtube Channel: the SEAPLEX team aboard New Horizon
- TheFive Gyres Institute Learn about the plastic problem and possible solutions.
- National Ocean & Atmospheric Administration: Marine Debris
- Recycling Plastic #1-7 What Those Triangles Mean
Describes the peaceful protest organized by teenager Barbara Rose Johns in order to secure a permanent building for her segregated high school in Virginia in 1951, and explains how her actions helped fuel the civil rights movement.
- Amazon Look Inside: The Girl from the Tar Paper School
- GoodReads: The Girl from the Tar Paper School
- Official Website: Barbara Rose Johns
- Moton Museum Biography: Barbara Rose Johns
A fascinating look at how scientists solve a medical mystery when brown bats start dying off all across the country. Is climate change to blame? Are the bats sick? Do they have a fungus or a virus? Are they being poisoned? No one knows for certain. Walk with the scientists as they piece together evidence to help save the little brown bats. Wonderful pictures of the bats as well as the scientists at work in the lab and in the field, or in this case, the cave.
A finalists for the 2014 Cybils Award in the category: Non-Fiction for Early and Middle Grades.
- GoogleBooks: The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats
- GoodReads: The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats
- University of Michigan BioKids Critter Catalog: Little Brown Bats
- New Hampshire Public Television Natureworks: Little Brown Bats
- Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Bats of Indiana State Parks & Reservoirs
- National Wildlife Federation: Little Brown Bat
Completed in 1889 for the World’s Fair, France’s Eiffel Tower was the world’s tallest man-made structure at 986 feet. Organizers of the next World’s Fair, in 1893 in Chicago, were under a lot of pressure to build something so impressive, so they held a contest to see who could come up with the best idea.
The winner was George Ferris, a steel expert who had a crazy idea…his structure would MOVE. This book is the story of how George built his enormous wheel. George was under a very tight deadline. Four months. In Chicago. During the winter! He really only had one chance to get it right.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “measure twice, cut once”? My Dad used to say that when he was working with wood. It means you should double-check your measurements and design for accuracy…because if you make a mistake you waste time and materials because you have to do it again. George did not have any time to waste and could not afford even a single mistake. The whole project is an amazing story of precision and teamwork. George’s Ferris wheel was assembled from over 100,000 separate parts from more than a dozen different steel mills. Correctly made parts arrived at the building site in the right order and were put together “like a giant Lego toy.” Amazing. Some men have the brains and the guts to dream big.
- Amazon Look Inside: Mr. Ferris and his Wheel
- GoodReads: Mr. Ferris and his Wheel
- Chicago History Museum: The First Ferris Wheel
- Hyde Park Historical Society: The Big Wheel
- Explore PA History: Ferris Wheel Inventor Historical Marker
- Ferris Wheel Physics
- Science Technology & Society: Ferris Wheel
- Amusement Park Physics