Published in 1996, the National Science Standards were written with the hopes of guiding our nation toward becoming a more scientifically literate society. One key point made is that science is an active process. Science is something students do… it is not something done to them.
Science is a verb!
Since the incorporation of Educational Innovations 15 years ago, this has been our mantra. The products we sell are selected because, as science teachers ourselves, we recognize the importance of motivating students of all ages and engaging them in the process of learning science safely, and in a way that when they return home after a long grueling day of school, the topic of discussion at their dinner table centers around the science activity that was experienced in your classroom! It just doesn’t get any better than that.
During my 16 years in the classroom, my students and I have accumulated a plethora of fond and one or two not-so-fond memories. One memory that still makes me cringe deals with the amount of time I spent traveling from one film-processing center to the next, in search of those perfect little containers I made such great use of within the walls of my science classroom. I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about…those little containers, which could be used for everything from conveniently and securely storing small amounts of solids or liquids to acting as the engine compartment of the well-known makeshift paper rocket.
What versatile things those film canisters are…
Thanks to Bob Morse of St. Albans, we have found yet another use for those mini containers. In this short segment, Bob demonstrates how to construct a simple Leyden jar that is large enough to produce a nice spark, yet small enough to be perfectly safe, and best of all, durable enough to reuse over and over again! The only materials needed are a film can, a small strip of aluminum foil, a paper clip, a small section of PVC pipe, a cloth or piece of fur to rub on the pipe and a small amount of water.
How to Build a Leyden Jar
In this age of digital cameras, 35mm film canisters are becoming a thing of the past. Educational Innovations can supply you with clean film canisters to use in your home or classroom. Check out the other activities we have for film canisters, and please feel free to share your own ideas with us.
Recently, I was asked to visit a first grade classroom and teach a lesson on Solids and Liquids. As a university professor, I always get excited when I get to work with real kids in real classrooms – there is nothing like the passion that children have when they are actively engaged in doing science! So, after looking up the specific standards and objectives as well as perusing through the adopted curriculum for the school, I chose to explore ice melting as an introduction to the lesson (engagement), making ice cream in a bag (exploration), and then making Gak (white school glue, water and Borax) as both the elaboration and assessment.
Having taught elementary school as well as teaching science methods for over 15 years, I know, as well as all of you know, the importance of having a good plan and being as organized with materials as possible. This organization even goes to the extent of pre-measuring glue into individual 2 ounce portion cups and mixing up the Borax to the specified solution ratio and then putting all of this into plastic bins so that I could easily hand a bin with the materials to each group.
I was ready to go. I showed up at the school thirty minutes early with 2 copy paper boxes loaded up with materials, only to find out that our lesson would be delayed another thirty minutes due to an assembly. Not a problem, I had the classroom to myself and quickly organized the materials and was ready to go when the kids entered the classroom. Oh, the energy these wonderful children have! We quickly got out the science notebooks that are used in the classroom and we drew pictures of the ice cube as it melted for the first two minutes (about the entire attention span of all of these children.) Then we decided to see what we could do to melt the cube faster and the creativity kicked in.
Here at Educational Innovations we always keep an eye out for that new science related story or gadget that might turn into a great product for teachers to use in their classroom. More often than not, if we do spot something, it turns up at the lunch table as a topic of conversation. Recently, I heard something on the radio that made me think that it was, perhaps, April 1, 2008 rather than late October.
It seems that scientists have discovered that you can make X-rays with tape: If you pull 3M® brand Scotch Tape off the roll while in a vacuum, it will emit a significant quantity of X-rays.
This sure sounded like lunch conversation material, so I did a little research.