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SPRING 2012 Vol. 1 Issue 1

WONDERS Engaging activities for the elementary science classroom

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In this issue: (click titles to visit the activity)

- Predict a Pop

Welcome to

CISER Wonders

- Sweet Potato Plants - Camouflage: Candy

- Camouflage: Butterflies

- The Colorful Chemistry of Egg Dying CISER Wonders: Elementary Science Magazine Spring 2012 Volume 1 - Issue 1 Editor: Ashley Brimeyer HHMI/CISER Assistant Director: Susan Talkmitt Activities from HHMI CISER Copyright 2012


On any page, click the butterfly to return here


p o P a t c i ed


s n r e t t a p f o t s e u q a

Let’s Get Started 1. Pour half of the bubble solution on the black table surface or black trash bag attached to table. 2. With the straw just touching the edge of the bubble solution, gently blow through the straw to make a bubble dome. 3. Remove the straw. 5. Practice making several bubbles. 6. Look for patterns just before the bubbles pop. 7. Discuss with your partner the colors you observe as you watch the bubbles. 8. Make and record observations.

EXPLANTATION THE CHALLENGE Predict when the bubble will pop.

MATERIALS (per group) 125 mL (1/2 cup) bubble solution in cup 1 straw per student black table surface or black trash bags

As the bubble gets thinner on top (pulled down by gravity) the wavelengths begin to cancel out and black spots appear.

t n a l p a w o r g n a c u o y w o n Did you k

? ? ? d e e s without a

Plants can be grown from other parts of plants including stems, leaves and roots. Try growing your own plant from a different plant part.

Grow a sweet potato vine! A sweet potato is a root that stores food produced by the plant. Why do you think the plant needs to store food?

MATERIALS - A sweet potato - 6 toothpicks - 1 jar slightly larger than the potato - water

Figure 1

Figure 2

LET’s GET STARTED 1. Choose a sweet potato that is beginning to bud. 2. Stick toothpicks in the potato around the middle area as shown (see Figure 1). Toothpicks will help the potato to sit in the top of the jar. The toothpicks should stick out of the potato so it can sit on the jar. 3. Place the pointed end into the jar facing down. Half of the potato will be out of the jar (see Figure 2). 4. Add water just below the top edge of the jar. Set the jar in a sunny window and watch for changes. Add water as needed to keep the level the same. 5. Watch the sweet potato as it grows and keep a journal to show what you see.





CAMOUFLAGE: CANDY MATERIALS - 1 bag of candy corn - 2 single-serving bags of M&M candy - plastic shoebox with lid - stop watch to time the activity - classroom graph


- Mix the candy corn with the M&Ms in the container. - Copy the graph master for students and make data chart for classroom information

LET’S GET STARTED 1. Tell the students that you will time them to see how quickly they can select an M&M from the container. They must select an M&M and not a candy corn. Once they are ready, have a helper quickly pass the container around the room to allow students to get an M&M. Determine the time required. 2. Next, have students graph their results by marking the colors of M&Ms they selected on the classroom graph. Once the class results are recorded, they should transfer the information to their individual graphs.

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED WHAT CAMOUFLAGE IS REALLY ABOUT? IT’S A LOT SWEETER THAN YOU’D THINK! 3. Look at the results and have students discuss their observations. The results typically show a smaller number of yellow and orange, if any at all. Students suggest that these colors are removed or that the candy corn camouflages the colors. Once they have discussed their thoughts, share that the orange and yellow M&Ms were not removed. In fact, their next task will be to select an orange or a yellow M&M from the container. 4. Again, time the students as they select only one yellow or one orange M&M each, and have a helper quickly pass the container. Determine the time required. 5. Compare the times of the two trials and lead into a discussion fo the benefit of coloration in the natural world.



materials (per student) - 1 paper butterfly Click here for Butterfly PDF - markers, crayons, or map colors - scissors - tape

advanced preparation - Copy the butterflies for students - Set up a center of supplies if students do not individualy have the required materials - Assign the job of “bird” to a student or teacher. (The student does not particiapte in coloring and hiding the butterflies.)

1. Have each student color and cut out a butterfly to camouflauge in the room. Once the butterflies are finished, have students hide them in the room. Use tape (on backside) to secure the butterflies. 2. Ask a student from another room or a teacher to visit the classroom as a bird. The bird will fly around the room looking for food. It must find 4 butterflies within 1 minute to survive. 3. After one minute, stop the search. If the bird has not found 4 butterflies they will fly of or die. If the bird does find 4 butterflies, give them another minute to find 4 more. Students can repeat the activity for another minute if they want to bring in another bird. After the search, ask the students to show the locations of their butterflies. 4. Compare the butterfly patterns to see the adaptations that were useful in survival. Have the students share their observations in a classroom discussion.


COLORFUL CHEMISTRY of egg dying purpose To investigate the effect of different pH solutions on egg dying.

materials - food coloring - vinegar - baking soda - warm, distilled water - 3 plastic spoons

- 3 boiled eggs - 3 16oz. cups - pH test paper - labeling marker - paper towels

advanced preparation - Hard boil the eggs - Heat distilled water - Set up a supply station - Label the three paper cups as shown


Cup 1

Acid (pH 2-3)

Cup 2

Neutral (pH 6-7)

Cup 3

Base (pH 11-12)

let’s get started 1. Fill each cup half full of warm water. 2. The pH is the variable in this activity. Adjust the pH of

the water to the values given.

- Cup 1: Add 1 tsp of vinegar with a spoon. Test with the pH test paper.

- Cup 2: Do not adjust the pH. Test the pH test paper.

- Cup 3: Add 1/2 tsp baking soda with a second spoon.

Test with the pH test paper.

3. Add 8 drops of one food color (ex: red) to each cup. Use only one color per experiment to avoid adding another variable. 4. Add one egg to each cup. 5. Let the eggs sit for 10 minutes. 6. Remove the eggs and let them dry on paper towels. 7. Record your observations in the data chart. Color the eggs to show your results.

Acid (pH 2-3)

Neutral (pH 6-7) Base (pH 11-12)

Wonder trial  
Wonder trial  

Engaging activities for the elementary science classroom