Educate: Physical Science
Science Friday’s lesson plans and activities are produced by our education staff and with partner organizations. Sign up for our educator newsletter here.

Oct. 16, 2015

Build a Cloud Chamber

By Ariel Zych

Observe the radioactive particles all around you by building a cloud chamber using a clear container, dry ice, and a little rubbing alcohol.

cosmic ray detector, cloud chamber, nuclei, radiation

May. 07, 2015


By Ariel Zych

What does the Sun do? Tell us, using the hashtag#ExplainTheSun

sun, #explainthesun, science club, space weather, heliophysics, NASA, solar power

May. 01, 2015

Build an Earthquake Machine


In this activity from IRIS, students explore a mechanical model of a fault to learn how energy is stored elastically in rocks and released suddenly as an earthquake.

earthquake, seismology, plate tectonics, tectonics, convergent zone, faults, Nepal, potential energy, kinetic energy

Apr. 14, 2015

Convection Can Be Pretty

By Karla Talanian

In this excerpt from the book Science for Parents, learn how to visualize convection using stuff you’ve probably already got in your kitchen.

convection, conduction, heat transfer, kitchen, chemistry, experiment

Apr. 09, 2015

Can You Explain The Sun?

By Ariel Zych

For this science club, we want you to explain something to us, something BIG…

sun, heliophysics, astronomy, evidence, explanation, common core, solar, wind, space, photosynthesis, skin cancer

Feb. 09, 2015

Magnetic Turtle Navigators

By Ariel Zych

Create small turtle navigators and use them to detect magnetic fields in this activity and companion game.

animal behavior, magnetism, adaptation, core, fields, mapping, navigation, migration

Feb. 04, 2015

How Dense Is Snow?

By Ariel Zych

Use a measuring cup to figure out the density of snow.

snow, density, measurement, conversion, units, volume, mass, substances

Dec. 19, 2014

Christmas Tree Combustion

By Ariel Zych

A home holiday experiment that explores combustion using festive fuels such as fir, pine, spruce, and cedar.

combustion, fuel, ignition, heat, temperature, flame,

Dec. 10, 2014

Simulate Net Forces to Predict an Object’s Motion

By PhET Interactive Simulations

Use a simulation from PhET Interactive Simulations to model force in a tugging competition and a pushed skateboard.

force, motion, newtons, acceleration, friction, balanced forces, net forces, push, pull, objects

Sep. 26, 2014

Science Club #ObserveEverything

By Science Friday Education

Go out and observe something interesting! Submit your in-depth observations with the hashtag #ObserveEverything.

observation, experimentation, watch, look, science skills, scientist, job, vocational,

Sep. 19, 2014

Jumping Spider Shake Down

By Ariel Zych

Can you match each jumping spider dance to its vibratory song?

spiders, behavior, acoustic, bioacoustic, sound, analysis, spectrogram, frequency

Sep. 05, 2014

Squishy Circuits

By AnnMarie Thomas

Use two play dough recipes to create "squishy circuits" and explore electricity.

circuits, electricity, STEAM, NGSS, LED, current, resistance, inquiry, motor, LED,

Aug. 22, 2014

Classroom Strategy: Image of the Day

By PA Earth Science Teachers Assoc.

Three approaches for using images as gateways to instruction in grades 4-16

earth science, media use, classroom, higher education, Common Core, observation, inference, multimedia, scientific method

Jul. 31, 2014

Balloon Rockets

By Chemical Educational Foundation

In this lesson from the Chemical Educational Foundation, apply the concepts of pressure and Newton's laws of motion to build balloon rockets.

newtons laws, force, thrust, pressure, motion, rocket, straw, balloon, middle school, NGSS

Jul. 18, 2014

Fashion Circuit

By Ariel Zych

Add some pizzazz to your favorite clothing and accessories using some wire, tape, a battery, and an LED.

circuit, electricity, current, LED, tech, wearable, soft circuits

Jul. 01, 2014

How Fireworks Get Their Colors

By Science Buddies

In this activity from Science Buddies, you will burn some metal salts to investigate what colors they make, then you'll explain to your family and friends how fireworks colors are made!

Jun. 27, 2014

Physics Secrets for Hula Hooping

By Science Buddies

In this activity from Science Buddies, kids will create their own hula hoops and investigate how the hoops' masses affect how they spin. Which do you think will spin better, a heavy hoop or a lighter one?

physics, speed, forces, weight, gravity, rotation, DIY, make, outdoor activities, sports, inertia, torque

Jun. 20, 2014

How Tails Help a Kite to Fly

By Science Buddies

In this activity from Science Buddies, you will experiment with how a kite's tail affects how it flies.

aerodynamics, wind, flight, forces, sled kite, drag, lift, force, resistance, outdoor, activity, summer

May. 09, 2014

Lovely Leidenfrost

By Ariel Zych

Experiment with the relationship between boiling point and the Leidenfrost effect using different aqueous solutions, a metal pan, and a little baby powder.

boiling point, water, solutions, mixtures, solvents, temperature, heat, force, evaporation, steam

Mar. 14, 2014

Make a Wire Critter That Can Walk on Water

By Ariel Zych

Learn how insects have inspired engineers to make a robot that walks on the surface of water. Design your own water-walking critter using thin wire, and test its effectiveness: how many paperclips can it hold up using surface tension?

intermolecular forces, properties, water, molecule, cohesion, adhesion, biomimicry, robotics

Feb. 21, 2014

Use Clues to Solve an Ice Mystery

By Ariel Zych

Use the physical characteristics of ice to determine where and how several mystery samples could have been frozen.

Ice, melting point, cystal, solid, liquid, phase change, physical science, glacier, olympics, frozen, melt, dissolved oxygen, properties

Feb. 14, 2014

Test the Finger Wrinkle Hypothesis

By Ariel Zych

Perform an experiment to determine whether smooth or wrinkled fingers are better at holding wet objects. The experiment requires only a water bottle, paperclip, and plastic ruler. Downloads: Video, student data sheet, illustrated instructions

physiology, nervous system, biology, form, function, adaptation, human, evolution

Jun. 13, 2011

Pinhole Viewer

By Teachers Talking Science

By building their own pinhole camera, students will learn how cameras, telescopes, and their own eyes use light in similar ways.

observatory, light, telescope, pinhole viewer, planets, photography

Jan. 31, 2014

See the World Through Color-Filtering Lenses

By Ariel Zych

Explore color by creating color-filtering glasses using paper and tinted cellophane.

light, color, vision, spectrum, waves, perception, images, bulb, filter, glasses, make, craft, activity,try,

Aug. 25, 2011

Wind Power

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will discuss the differences between the Bear Creek Wind Park and Bergey Windpower turbines. Students will learn the basic parts of a wind turbine and then build their own model wind turbine out of recyclable materials. Students...

turbine, recycle, wind, electricity, windmill, energy, sustainable, renewable energy, engineering

May. 06, 2011

Make a Speaker

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will learn how an electromagnet works by making a simple one. Using this knowledge, students will design a diagram to make a working speaker using household materials. Then students will follow instructions on one method of ma...

electromagnetic, magnetic field, currents, amplifier

Mar. 09, 2011

Building A Solar House

By Teachers Talking Science

Buildings that are called “green” or “environmentally sustainable” are designed to use energy as efficiently as possible. In Missouri, Washington University’s Tyson Living Learning Center achieves sustainability by incorporating green technologies in diff...

green, environment, solar panels, solar energy

Feb. 07, 2011

Explosive Science

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will use household materials to investigate and explore how the release of carbon dioxide gas from a chemical reaction can cause a small-scale explosion. Students then will experiment with variables to determine which factors la...

chemistry, Carbon dioxide, fireworks, explosion, air pressure

Dec. 29, 2010

Fun With Optics

By Teachers Talking Science

In this activity, students will perform several experiments, using simple materials to explore the properties of reflection and refraction and how they work in telescopes.

telescopes, light, reflection, refraction, physics, invention, engineering

Aug. 10, 2010

Best Bubbles

By Austen Saltz

Astronauts are allowed to bring special “crew preference” items when they go up in space. NASA astronaut Don Pettit chose candy corn for his five and a half month stint aboard the International Space Station. But these candy corn were more than a snack; P...

NASA, candy corn, bubble, soap, water, chemistry

Jan. 25, 2010

Let’s Grow Some Crystals!

By Teachers Talking Science

A crystal is a natural solid made up of a repeated pattern of molecules connected together. Crystals can form through the slow cooling of molten material (gemstones), or when a warm gas such as oxygen cools down (snowflakes), or when a liquid that contain...

snowflakes, crystals, solids, gemstones, salt, chemistry

Jan. 25, 2010

Sound Science

By Teachers Talking Science

Sound is all around us. Everything we hear in our day-to-day lives has a distinctive sound, from the jingling of keys to the tapping of footsteps in a hallway. Sound is created when objects vibrate. These vibrations cause the air around them to vibrate, s...

sound waves, vibrations, resonant frequency, chemistry, pitch



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