Merry Christmas from the Science Learning Centres | National Science Learning Network Blog.
This is a link to two videos from the National Science Learning Centre – both of them linked to Christmas! The first is aimed more at primary aged children with snow and winter in mind. I’m sure you can do it even if you’re older in age (and young in mind perhaps). The video makes it look very simple, perhaps even to get an older set of students to plan it all and experiment themselves with differing amounts/types of salt and watching how fast the ice/snow melts.
I don’t think it would be too difficult to adapt to do at home with younger children either. Especially as nothing involved is hazardous or toxic (if you stick to salt). I’ve always wanted to try ice and salt based activities with normal table salt and reduced sodium salt. Add in rock salt and you have a nice little experiment.
The second video is for secondary aged students and based around experiments you can do at the Christmas table.
The Science Spot: Science Classroom has a nifty little collection of Science projects – Element Trading Cards (with worksheets), Bursting Balloons (looking at Charles’ Law) and two Christmas themed activities.
The first one (Christmas Chromatography – Deck the Halls with Science) is something that popped up from a colleague in my inbox over a year ago for a Christmas now long forgotten! The actual link is to a pdf worksheet that can be downloaded and printed, but the basics of it are: draw a bulb, cut it out, put ink on it, make a colourful chromatography bulb to then hang up once they’re all dry. The worksheet comes with handy shapes to use as templates for your bulbs and a method of chromatography using water and pipe cleaners.
Of course, if you have access to coffee filters, you can do this at home and make yourself a pretty garland of “lights” as a family – explaining the science of course!
The science spot page even says that this activity could be adapted for Easter eggs, flowers or rainbows. What other holidays or events could be used? July 4th, perhaps? Valentines hearts, scary Halloween monsters? Maybe fireworks if it was done right. Or, using filter paper pre-cut to form the letters of your school, get students to make them colourful in preparation for or during an Open Evening. Or just to put your teaching name up on the wall!
The second Christmas based activity they have is The Case of the Christmas Cookie Mystery, which I think I have seen before, but never tried. Pdf worksheets and details are available for download and this activity involves testing six powder samples to find the Christmas Cookie Mix. Again, this one can probably be adapted for other holidays, but would make an excellent end of year activity for Science class, STEM session, extended tutor time. Maybe then make your students make a pretty light-bulb garland in the last few minutes of the Christmas lesson!
Invitation to Build: Gumdrop Christmas Trees – Left Brain Craft Brain.
Okay, we’ve done challenges like this before in STEM club – spaghetti towers, marshmallows are far too messy, “buy” different types of building materials. I think one year we did it as part of STEM week and had to balance Creme Eggs on the top of a tower! It had never occurred to me to make this twist and make a Christmas Tree version!
Maybe part of the challenge could be to hold a particular star or tree ornament.
I love how you can adapt the other challenges, involve a planning session to get students to look into the best shapes involved to make a tower and then devote an hour to building a Christmas Tree. I think it would also be incredibly useful in an end of term lesson or even for a tutor-time activity. There might not be time to add it in for this year, but perhaps next year!
Melting Ice Experiment – Inspiration Laboratories.
I remember seeing a video about melting ice on metal and wood blocks years ago and being simply amazed, and I love the next step that Inspiration Laboratories takes on it. Especially with a Wintery slant.
This would be so achievable in a STEM session, or fun end of term lesson, especially if you then took the worst surface and added salt, rock salt, other harmless white chemical and then compared with surfaces. For example, if metal is the best, can a chemical on a wooden surface make it better than metal?
Could you find enough stones, or a house brick, a paving slab, something akin to tarmac and test “outdoor” surfaces?
Christmas Sensory Play Series: Holiday Optical Illusions – Babble Dabble Do.
Christmas-themed optical illusions with a pdf for the illusion templates! So, you can print a copy for your child or a class set and have some fun!
A quick little pinterest search and I came across this list of 24 STEAM based ideas and I wanted to share it before I made my way through the list looking at which ones I want to do (either at home or at work!). I wasn’t even searching for anything Christmassy! And now I possibly won’t have to due to using Left Brain Craft Brain’s already compiled list! Especially as it includes Art with the usual STEM subjects.
Christmas STEAM Advent Calendar: 25 Days of Learning Play – Left Brain Craft Brain.
And, yes, I know it’s a few days early, and not quite December yet, but people need to plan!
Mindsets Online – Conductive Ink.
Have you ever tried this conductive ink before? You can buy a few from the range online at Mindsets and also at Bare Conductive themselves and they are fantastic. We used some a few years ago just before Christmas as a fun session for our STEM group and we have just ordered some Christmas Card packs for our current STEM group.
I think, first of all you colour in the card/design (because they do little houses that you can build, too) and then you make the circuit. Although it was a few years ago that I did it so it might be the other way around. In most of the kits, for every 3 cards you get a conductive ink pen, which you can also buy separately, and you use this pen to draw the circuit. Then you might have an LED or two to put into the circuit and the battery. When you connect up all of the circuit, the LED lights up.
What a novel Christmas card that you can make! Hopefully our order will come in time for the last session of the year and everyone can make their own, personalised, light up card!