Making Scientifically-Accurate Snowflakes


By Priscilla Robinson

Snowflakes!  They arrive in flurries, storms and blizzards, not to mention “Winter Bomb Cyclones!”  I’ve always thought the science behind snowflakes is amazing.

A snowflake begins when a tiny dust or pollen particle comes into contact with water vapor high up in Earth’s atmosphere.  The water vapor coats the tiny particle and then freezes into a tiny crystal of ice.  This tiny crystal will be the “seed” from which a snowflake will grow.  The process is called crystallization.

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Using the ZigZag Density Tumbler In (and Out) of the Classroom


by Linda Dunnavant

The ZigZag Density Tumbler is an elegant desk “toy” and much more.  Turn the tumbler over and watch two different colors of droplets float down in a relaxing zigzag pattern.  I like to keep mine on my desk.  I often pick it up and watch it while I clear my head.  Not only is the tumbler a soothing, relaxing activity for busy adults, but it also provides so many possibilities for calming, inspiring, and teaching students. Read the rest of this entry »


Engaging Students with Electrochemistry… and Goldenrod Paper


Educational Innovations Blogby Nancy Foote

I’m in love with goldenrod paper.  I’ve loved it for a long time.  In my never-ending quest to emotionally entangle my students in the content of our science curriculum, Color-Changing Goldenrod Paper provides a long-lasting entanglement.

If you’ve never done the bloody handprint goldenrod paper demo with your students, you are truly missing out—and so are they)!  This is the most engaging “engage” part of the 5 E’s I’ve ever experienced.  I like to do the bloody handprint demo around Halloween, but we don’t do acid/base chemistry until February.  That’s a long time to wonder, ponder and try to figure out exactly what is happening.  But that’s for another blog post.

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Using Growing Spheres for 3D Modeling


Using Growing Spheres for 3D Modeling - Educational Innovations Blogby Jen Donaldson

In my classroom, I’ve devised two new uses for Growing Spheres which help students have a better grasp on some otherwise complicated science concepts.  

These small spheres are a wonderful way to make the invisible VISIBLE—in three dimensions!

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The Chemistry of Currency


Dr. Kenneth Lyle, Duke University Department of Chemistryby Gabrielle Hodgins and Dr. Kenneth Lyle, Duke University, Durham NC

The wonders of magnetic ink!

INTRODUCTION

Demonstrating the magnetic ink used in printing US currency has proven to engage audiences of all ages because of its relevance to everyday life.  Nearly everyone has used machines that distribute and/or accept currency but few understand how the machines distinguish between the various denominations.  The key is in the face of each denomination.  Magnetic ink is used in the printing of the currency.  Each denomination has a different face and, therefore, a different magnetic signature.  Similar to a bar code reader, the machines recognize the denomination by its magnetic signature.  A strong magnet, such as a neodymium magnet, can be used to demonstrate the magnetic character of US currency.

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