Using Real Data in Life, Earth, and Physical Sciences Classes

When students interpret data and communicate inferences, they are building skills that will help them solve problems throughout their lives. With the investigations featured in these resources, students will collect data and present and analyze their findings. These skills are an important part of the Science as Inquiry strand in the National Science Education Standards.

Monarch Watch
This network of students, teachers, and researchers is dedicated to the tagging, rearing, and study of the monarch butterfly. Each spring, the network publishes a season summary that contains tag recovery data, tips and ideas for teachers and students, observations on monarch populations, and new information on monarch biology. Other projects include life history studies, flight vector analysis, and butterfly gardening. A K-8 science curriculum titled Monarchs in the Classroom (available through the mail) offers standards-based lessons.

Boil, Boil, Toil and Trouble: The International Boiling Point Project
Which do you think has the greatest influence on the boiling point of water: room temperature, elevation, volume of water, or heating device? The answer to this question requires input from people all over the world, and this online collaboration allows your students to enter the investigation. The students will boil water, under controlled conditions, record information, and post it online. They can analyze the data sent in by others worldwide and reach their own conclusions on what makes a pot of water boil.

Musical Plates: A Study of Earthquakes and Plate Tectonics
In this series of lessons, students use real-time data to study the correlation between earthquakes and tectonic plates and to determine whether or not there is a relationship between volcanoes and plate boundaries. The science and the data analysis are demanding but still within the range of upper-level middle school students. Four activities, each designed to be used in a 45-minute class period, teach students how to access and interpret real-time earthquake and volcano data. Three enrichment lessons follow in this teacher-friendly unit.


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 4/19/2012.

Density

Density is a property of materials included in the National Science Education Standards Physical Science Content Standard B. It is a property by which mixtures can be separated but has much more profound applications outside the classroom such as rock formation, severe weather and living systems. But none of these concepts are fully comprehensible without a fundamental conceptual understanding of density. This is an abstract concept combining the concepts of mass and volume. The resources here provide examples designed to help you facilitate student acquisition of a conceptual understanding of density.

Funny Water
This page from the National Science Education Standards starts the story of a middle school teacher’s inquiry lesson on density.

Density Balloon
What happens to the density of a balloon as it is heated and cooled? Here students use a hair dryer to heat a helium-filled Mylar balloon, causing it to rise, and let it cool, causing it to drop. The activity includes a description, a list of science process skills and complex reasoning strategies being used. Also provided are content topics, a list of necessary supplies, instructions, and presentation techniques. The content of the activity is explained, and assessment suggestions are provided.

Liquid Rainbow
In this density activity, students determine the relative densities of five liquids and layer them atop one another in a straw.

Atmospheric Properties: Convection
This page describes convection currents in terms of density differences.

Potato Float
How can a potato wedge be made to hover in the center of a glass of liquid? Students investigate density using potato wedges and water and sugar water solutions.


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 10/16/2011.