Lawrence Hall of Science is such a well-organized and comprehensive site that you'll be able to use nearly all its interactive games or experiments in your classroom to supplement existing lesson plans on scientific topics, or construct lesson plans around them. You'll be able to return many times for new ideas, and even give your students a choice of which activities they'd like to complete first -- they'll want to do plenty.Continue reading Show less
Scientific experimentation and investigation are the focus of Lawrence Hall of Science: 24/7 Science, the kids' section of a science site created by the University of California, Berkeley. Young learners will find instructions on experiments they can conduct offline as well as games that teach scientific fundamentals, like measurement and comparing the properties of different substances. All activities illustrate basic principles of physics, chemistry, astronomy, and other scientific fields. Many of the games and experiments are based around real-world issues, such as how cigarette smoking damages the lungs or how to spot potential household hazards.
Rather than simple cookbook labs, kids get options. In "Sticky Situations," kids get basic directions but can choose the materials they want to use. Once they've ranked those materials' "stickiness" online, they can submit their recipe. Some investigations are relatively simple, like "How Old Is Your Penny?" where kids just enter the years of pennies they've collected. Kids learn about bar graphs, but the power of the activity is that kids' data is shared and compared with others instantly.
"Bridge Builders" -- Create different bridge structures and test their effectiveness.
"Bird Beaks" -- Use different household items as "bird beaks" and see which are best for eating certain foods. Compare data with other students' online.
"Save Ratty" -- Design nanotechnology capsules to deliver new cells that make insulin.
Lawrence Hall of Science does a great job of encouraging curious kids to interact with the world around them and record their observations. Experiments feature common household items and are easy to conduct, with very clear instructions.
Kids get choices about how to design their investigations. When conducting experiments, they can collect and share their data online. Each experiment includes links to other activities, so kids can learn more about their favorite topics.
Games and simulations are accurate, colorful, and creative. The NanoZone games are lots of fun and give kids real-world design challenges to solve using nanotechnology. Some of the Earth and Space Simulations like "Seasons" aren't that engaging; kids simply move a slider. However, these games still provide an opportunity for kids to look at data and form conclusions about it.
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.
Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same species may provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing.
Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
Earth’s Place in the Universe
Use observations of the sun, moon, and stars to describe patterns that can be predicted.
Represent data in graphical displays to reveal patterns of daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky.
Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season.
Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world.
Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.
Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like, their parents.
Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms.
Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.
Matter and Its Interactions
Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.
Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.
Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
Make observations and/or measurements of an object’s motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion.
Define a simple design problem that can be solved by applying scientific ideas about magnets.