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A to Z of Science

Quick tips and ideas to try in your science program

– Slice apples and dry in the sun. Record and discuss changes in appearance, texture and taste.
Animal Tracks – Look for animal tracks outside or create some by making or drawing them in a sandpit. Which animal do they belong to?

Bubbles – Make a bubble mixture using dishwashing liquid and water. Add glycerine to make the bubbles last longer. Pour and share mixture into suitable containers. Use straws to gently blow into the water. Observe and discuss. Use bubble blowers of different shapes to create bubbles. Simple blowers can be made with fuse wire. How long do the bubbles last? What colours can you see? What shape are they? What makes them pop?
Bubble Prints – Add paint to the bubble mixture. Blow gently through a straw to create lots of bubbles. Gently lay paper over the bubbles to create a ‘bubble’ design.

Colours – Make a colour wheel (see template p. 41). Copy or cut out and glue the wheel onto thicker card. Paint the colours as shown. Dry. Make a hole in the centre and gently poke a pencil (lead down) through the hole. Spin the disc like a top as fast as possible on a table top. What happens to the colours as it spins? (Colours should merge to appear white.)
Colour Glasses – Cover the eye sections with different-coloured cellophane. Try blue and yellow, red and blue. What can you see? Cover in red cellophane, this will make any orange colours disappear.

Dinosaurs – Read, view and discuss dinosaur books. Paint a large background mural suitable for a dinosaur landscape. Students can paint, cut and glue a variety of dinosaurs onto the mural. Label or add some interesting facts about each dinosaur.

Eggs – Break open an egg and look at the parts. Separate an egg and beat the eggwhite. What happens? Use both parts of the egg in cooking. How does each change? Weigh an egg before and after it is boiled. Survey the class and record their favourite way of eating eggs. Research animals that lay eggs.

Flying Things – Make a simple paper glider, paper helicopter, balloon rocket, kite or parachute. Hold class races for each flying object. Research and make a collage of things that fly—planes, birds, insects. Create imaginary insects using recycled materials. Create maps from a bird’s-eye view.

Growing Things – Grow simple plants like beans, beanshoots or watercress from seeds. Record the changes. Grow seeds in different media like cottonwool, soil, sand and sawdust by sprinkling with seeds and keeping damp. Observe and record growth. Take photos or draw differences. Grow a hairy spider by sprinkling watercress seeds on a damp seasponge. Add eight pipe-cleaner legs and button eyes. Keep damp and watch as the cress grows into a hairy spider.

Hear – Sit quietly and listen for sounds inside or outside the classroom, house, park or shopping centre. What can you hear? Sort and record sounds into natural or created (made by people) noises.

Insects – Read, view and discuss books about insects. Look for different insects outside. Record what you find and where. Be careful not to disturb them, just observe. Examine some more carefully with magnifying lenses. How many body parts? How many legs? Do they have wings? How do they move? Where do they live? What colour are they

Jelly – Dissolve jelly crystals in different ways:
(a) sprinkle in hot water and stir
(b) sprinkle in cold water and stir
(c) sprinkle in hot water and don’t stir.
Allow jellies to set and observe. Why didn’t (b) and (c) set? Talk about liquids and solids. Find examples of each.

Kites – Make a simple kite using a plastic bag. Tie the handles together and attach a string. Take it outside. What happens when you:
(a) stand still?
(b) walk with it?
(c) run with it?
Which works the best? Construct other simple kites using straws and tissue paper. Attach a string and add a tail. Test them outside.

Light – What things make light? (a torch, a candle, the sun, a match, a light bulb, a lantern) Collect a variety of materials like paper, cardboard, cellophane, mirrors, foil, glass, wood or cloth. Sort into groups of ‘shine through’ or ‘didn’t shine through’. What happens with the mirror, foil or cellophane?

Magnet – Play a magnet sorting game. Guess and then test whether a magnet will pick up a wide variety of materials. Sort into groups on a large sheet of paper. Make a magnetic fishing game. Attach a piece of string to dowel rod or stick. To the other end attach a small magnet. Draw and decorate fish shapes and slide a paperclip onto each fish’s mouth. Scatter fish on the floor and go fishing. Numbers, words, letters, colours or sounds can be added to the fish to practise different skills.

Night and Day – Hold a torch (the sun) to shine on world globe. Gently turn the globe to show how the sun appears to move across the sky and shine on the earth. Discuss which part of the earth is experiencing day or night. Make a list of activities students would do at night or during the day.

On the Move – Collect a variety of pictures or drawings to show the different ways animals move. Mimic different animal movements (e.g. hopping, gliding, galloping, running). Investigate the way toys or people move.

Popcorn – Cook popcorn. Study how it changes and why. Cook other ‘p’ foods like pikelets or porridge. How do they change when cooked?
Pets – Collect or draw a variety of pets for a ‘pet’ collage. Discuss their needs to keep them healthy and safe. Sort them into groups by different features such as covering (fur, feathers, skin), home, food or shelter.

Questions – Encourage students to always question their surroundings and observe them closely; e.g. Where does your shadow come from? Can water disappear? What do plants need to grow?

Rain – Make it rain. Hold a metal tray above the steam of a boiling kettle. As the steam rises to meet the cold tray, tiny droplets start to form on the tray. Soon the droplets ‘rain’ and fall back down to earth. Catch them in a bowl.
Rainbows – Read books and discuss what a rainbow is. How many colours are there? What colours? Make bubbles; can you see the rainbow colours in them? Place a mirror in and at the edge of a tray of water. Move it around until the sun is reflected in the mirror just below the water’s surface and creates a rainbow. (Don’t look directly at the sun or the bright light in the mirror!)

Shadows – Trace or plot your shadow from the same position but at different times during the day. How does it change? Why does it move? Play ‘shadow chasey’ with a partner or small group. Can you make your shadow small/large? Does your shadow move in the same direction as you? Can you jump on your shadow? Can you and a partner make your shadows touch without touching each other? Make shadow puppets for a class play. Trace student profiles projected onto a large sheet of paper from the light of an overhead projector. Paint the silhouettes in black and display. Can students guess who they belong to?

Touch – Make a ‘feely bag’ with 2–3 different objects for students to feel, touch and describe to others. Can they guess the objects? Use a large opaque bag such as a pillowcase so that students can focus soley on their sense of touch.
Taste – Discuss different types of food and how they taste. Discuss the terms salty, sweet, sour and bitter. Which word best describes the students’ favourite foods? Blindfold a student and have him/her taste different foods. Can he/she describe and guess what they are? Suitable foods could include vinegar, sugar, potato chips, jam, drinking chocolate, jelly crystals or salt.

Underground – What lives underground? Why do animals live underground? In a safe outside area dig a small section of earth and record what you find. Create a wormery or for a short time make a suitable container for earthworms with moist soil and old leaves. Gently collect earthworms. Observe and discuss how they move. Use a magnifying lens to study the body parts and details. Gently hold one. Why do you think they have a slimy, moist covering? Return earthworms to a hole in the garden after these observations.

Vegetables – Grow vegetables like snap peas, alfalfa sprouts or broad beans. Observe and record changes as they grow. Eat them. Make a vegetable soup or salad to share with the class.

Weather – Discuss and record the daily weather changes on a chart, using simple symbols. What are the four main seasons? What weather changes occur for each season? How are the weather patterns different for the Northern or Southern Hemispheres? What are we more likely to wear, eat or play for each season?

Xylophone – Make sounds of a different pitch on a xylophone. Look at the size of the bars. How do the sounds change with the size of the bars? Make a simple xylophone with 4–5 glass jars/bottles of the same size and shape. Place in a line and fill at staggered heights with water, ranging from a full jar/bottle down to one holding only a small amount. Gently tap each bottle with a pencil. Can you hear a difference? Can you put them in order of pitch? Create a simple tune.

Yatch – Make a yacht using a foam tray base. Float it in a large bowl or trough of water. How can you make it go faster? Give students a variety of materials (e.g. plastic, foil, paper, straws, tape, scissors). Allow them time to make and test sails. Choose the best. Blow on them to make them move. Hold a boat race.

Zoo Animals – Discuss and research zoo animals. Create a class ‘zoo’ mural. Discuss zoos old and new. Why do we have them? How have they changed? Can you see the animals elsewhere? Sort animals into groups like ‘jungle’, ‘Australian’ or ‘water’. Set up a toy zoo. Discuss fences, cages and enclosures. Which are best? Why?