The Power of Electricity, Magnetism… and Infomercials!


Educational Innovations BlogBy Cathy Byrne

Virtually all fourth grade students explore electricity and magnetism.  As part of this unit, students are asked to do two things:

1 –   Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents (4-PS3-2)

2 –   Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another (4-PS3-4). 

This year, the teachers at my school put a new twist on this unit… and the results were amazing!

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A Light at the Smithsonian: Notes from a Spectroscopist


Alex Scheelineby Alex Scheeline

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, on the national mall in Washington, D.C., has an exhibit on Thomas Edison that includes the development of electricity and lighting, and, more generally, invention.  One area that I saw in late 2017 had a set of lamps, including a low-pressure sodium vapor lamp, a mercury lamp, an incandescent lamp, and a compact fluorescent lamp.

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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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UV Sensitive Putty: Wonder and Curiosity in a Can


Electricity from Mud?! Educational Innovations Blogby Nancy Foote

It’s always fun to put a new item on the curiosity table to see how my students will react.  The newest addition was Arctic Flare UV Sensitive Putty, a gift from our friends at Educational Innovations.

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Summer Science Discussion Starters


Educational Innovations Newsletter - Discussion StartersChoosing a few compelling ice-breakers and discussion starters for the first week of school may not be a priority right now, but it’s never too early to jot down a few good ideas.  We’ve compiled 20 ideas to help you start some lively science conversations next year.

Each of these “raise-your-hand-if…” statements can be expanded or modified, depending upon the grade you teach.  Your goal is to find ways to connect your students’ summer experiences with science topics.

Do you have any excellent discussion starter questions related to summer science?  Share them with us in the comments below!

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