Center of Mass Challenge


By Jeremy Johnson

In my 13 years of classroom teaching experience, I’ve learned a few tricks to keep my students from becoming overwhelmed—or bored—by their science textbooks.  One of my favorite tricks is to get my kids up on their feet, doing science instead of reading about it.

When I teach about gravity and center of mass, for example, I like to shake things up by turning our classroom into an impromptu biokinetics lab.  I challenge my students to perform a series of seemingly simple physical tests, described below.  Lift a chair?  Raise your leg?  Pick up a quarter?  No problem!  (Or so they think…)

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The Sun Is Pretty Hot Stuff!


Ted Beyer, Educational Innovations, Inc.by Ted Beyer

The sun is, on average, about 93,000,000 miles (149,668,992 kilometers) away from us.  That’s pretty darn far.  In fact, if the sun went out right now, we would not know about it for about eight minutes.  Not to worry, that’s not going to be a thing to fret about for quite a while—a couple of billion years last time I checked.

That huge (try 109 times as big as Earth) ball of fusion reactor up in our sky is arguably responsible for all of the energy we use on Earth.  Not just solar power, but all of it.  Fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas) were created from ancient plant and animal matter—which all lived because of the sun.

The Sun Is Pretty Hot Stuff! Educational Innovations Blog

  Image source: Stanford Solar Center

Hydropower is only possible because of the water cycle (best look that one up on your own, they won’t let me make these posts too long).  Wind power relies on, well, wind—and that is a byproduct of the warming and cooling of the atmosphere—and that’s the sun doing that warming too.  Atomic power uses heavy elements like Uranium, which was created in the hearts of suns.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

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Classroom Fun with the Static Electricity Electroscope


Educational Innovations Blogby Nancy Foote

The latest addition to my classroom’s Curiosity Table is a Static Electricity Electroscope.  The fact that it looks a bit odd made it even more intriguing to my students.  Once they began to play with the electroscope, they couldn’t stop. Read the rest of this entry »


Forces and Motion Lesson


Lesson - Educational Innovations Blog

Through the years, we’ve seen teaching trends come and go… but one thing hasn’t changed: students LOVE anything related to balloons and rockets.  (So do we.)  And when you’re talking about rockets, you’re talking about forces and motion!

Take a look at this free lesson on forces and motion.  We’re using balloons as our rocket “engines” to power these simple cars.  The activity is basic enough to work with younger students, and can easily be augmented for a more advanced group.  This lesson invites all kinds of variations.  You might say the sky’s the limit!

Click on the image below for a full-size, full-color PDF of this easy-to-implement forces and motion lesson.  Enjoy!

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Forces and Motion Discussion Starters


Discussion Starters - Educational Innovations NewsletterForces and motion are all around us.  You might even say they make the world go ’round.  In 1687 Isaac Newton attempted to explain the movements of everything in the universe—from a pea rolling on a plate to the position of the planets.  It’s staggering to think about how much of our daily life involves some aspect of Newton’s Laws of Motion.

This is one science topic that can be easily approached by using examples from our collective life experiences.  Starting a discussion about forces and motion with your students is easy.  All you have to do is drop a feather…  nudge a toy car forward… pull open a door.

We’ve put together a collection of interesting topics and interactive games that you can use to get a conversation going with your students.  Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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