Biomimicry: Can we waterproof sneakers?

Scientists and engineers use nature for inspiration to solve problems in our everyday lives. In the ebook How do we stay dry? students explore how plants and animals stay dry. The author asks— Can we mimic plants and animals to keep our things dry? The book provides a simple experiment for students to discover a solution by testing materials to see if they can waterproof paper sneakers. Instructions, student handouts links and supplies list are provided. 

For more general books on biomimicry see: "Nature Did It First" and "Mimic Makers Biomimicry Inventors Inspired By Nature".

NGSS: 1-LS1-1 Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.

Kinder Light Exploration

Elementary students carry out the scientific practices to explore the behavior of light. Students predict and investigate: Does light bend?, Is light made of many colors?, Can light travel through objects?, Do we need light to see an object?—using flashlights, lenses, prisms and child-safe lasers.

NGSS: 1-PS4-2 Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that objects in darkness can be seen only when illuminated. 1-PS4-3 Plan and conduct investigations to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light.

The Water Cycle

This ebook describes the water cycle and provides a simple activity that allows students to observe the parts of the water cycle.

NGSS: 2-PS1-4 Construct an argument with evidence that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed and some cannot. 

Chemical Reactions: Hatch a Rubber Egg

This ebook provides an overview of solids, liquids and gases and offers a simple activity which allows students to detect a chemical reaction.

NGSS: 2-PS1-4 Construct an argument with evidence that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed and some cannot. 

Lava Lamp Lab: Solids, Liquids and Gases

During the Lava Lamp Lab, students experiment and learn how some liquids interact and how some chemicals can cause an irreversible chemical reaction. 

Students make predictions, test materials and observe results. They conclude some liquids do not mix together (like oil and water), some liquids are heavier (denser) and Alka-Seltzer creates bubbles (gas) when it is added to the mixture.  Students are delighted as they capture the CO2 gas with a balloon as it escapes the Lava Lamp. Students recognize that this is a irreversible chemical reaction.

NGSS:  4-PS3-4 Construct an argument with evidence that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed and some cannot. 

Salmon Hatchery

Studying the development of Atlantic salmon — eggs to fry — provides a model for the study of life cycles, traits, behavior and natural selection. Students participate in the conservation of Atlantic salmon and connect to the natural world as they release salmon fry into a local river. This project is made possible by the University of New England, the Saco Salmon Restoration Alliance and Fish Friends.

NGSS: 3-LS1-1 Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death. 3-LS3-1 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. 3-LS3-2 Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment. 3-LS4-2. 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. 

Elementary Paper Circuits

Engineering a paper circuit introduces students to engineering practices while learning how chemical energy stored in batteries is transformed into light energy. This unit inspires youth engineering maker projects.

NGSS:  4-PS3-4 Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.

Engineering Hand-Pollinators

Students become agricultural engineers while creating hand pollinators, which pick up and drop off pollen to help plants make fruit and seeds. For more information see Engineering is Elementary.

NGSS:  2-LS2-2 Develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.

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