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Five Fun Ways to Add a Spring to Your Science Lessons
Spring is in the air and as it unfolds, students focus their attention outside the classroom. This is a great time to bring the outside in by incorporating natural science activities into lesson plans. Students and teachers alike want to stretch out in the sun and enjoy some excellent spring science.
Springing into science: Five spring lesson ideas for science classes
Here are five ways teachers can incorporate spring into science lessons and give students some hands-on ways to learn about the season.
1. Creating egg geodes
With bird and bug eggs hatching during this season, egg-themed projects can be a good addition to spring lesson plans. Consider having students create egg geodes. They can study the process of sedimentation and crystallization by blowing out eggs, coating their insides with alum, and putting them in an alum solution for about a day. If students blow out the eggs themselves, they can discuss the yolk structure as well.
2. The science of seeds and sprouts
Because most young people do not actively keep a garden, they have a significant disconnect between the foods they love and where those foods come from. Having students find seeds in their daily lives and work with them in the classroom can help them learn the science of seeds and show that, while they are different, they all have common structures and functions.
Break open seed packets for student favorites like sunflowers, watermelons, cucumbers, or tomatoes and explore what they look like outside and in. Once students have examined seeds and their structures, plant them. Have students make predictions for when the seeds will sprout, what the sprout might look like, and how each plant’s growth might compare to the others.
Students can explore more math by charting, measuring, and comparing predictions. Once the sprouts are up, some students might be interested in sprout dissection so they can see the seed in action. Teachers can end the lesson by creating seed balls to take home and grow on their own.
3. Spring pigments and paper chromatography
Spring is full of beautiful flowers; why not bring them into the classroom? Flowers use a variety of pigments to create their colorful petals and these pigments can be pulled apart using paper chromatography to investigate their natures.
Working with large flower petals (red tends to work best), students can complete an experiment that pulls the pigments out of the flowers. This allows them to compare like-colored flowers to see the different pigments they use to attract pollinators. Comparing flowers of different colors allows for even more chromatographic discoveries, some of which are very surprising.
4. Peeps experiments and dioramas
Everybody loves a Peeps diorama and spring is a great season for them. Students can use Peeps to study a variety of potential science topics like the effects of vacuums on marshmallows or the solvent nature of various fluids.
In a pinch, they could even use them to recreate scenes from their favorite science moments from history. Who wouldn’t love to see Peepernicus formulating the heliocentric model of the universe or Sir Isaac Peepton practicing his universal law of gravitation?
5. Exploring seasons with a sense of place
After teaching students about seasonal change and its effects on the weather, have them discuss seasonal differences between the northern and southern hemisphere as well as the equator. Students can step outside of their own experience and understand how and why these seasonal differences are relative to their global position.
Students can illustrate these differences, depending on their ages, through creative journaling, drawing, creating a multimedia project, or scouring the web for images of different geographic areas at the same calendar date.
Monica Fuglei is a graduate of the University of Nebraska in Omaha and a current adjunct faculty member of Arapahoe Community College in Colorado, where she teaches composition and creative writing.
Incredible Egg Geode, Steve Spangler Science
Are Seeds the Same? Science Investigation, Fantastic Fun and Learning
Seed Balls — Green Science, Steve Spangler Science
Springtime Science: Exploring the Pigments in Flowers, Science Buddies
Paige Williams, Learn the Scientific Reasons Behind Earth’s Seasons, NBCNews.com