Fall is an excellent time for hands-on activities and a great way to get kids outside in nature while learning science concepts. Demos and labs in the science classroom enhance students’ understanding of the material, facts, and concepts. When they are presented in a memorable way, students are more apt to remember and engage in the material. In addition, research shows that hands-on experiences enhance learning, improve investigation skills, meet various learning styles, and connect science to life in a real and meaningful way.
The Science of Applesauce
When I think of fall, I think of apples and then I think, how can I use them to teach science? Go apple picking, or ask students to each bring in an apple (the variety will be amazing), then use them to teach physical and chemical properties and changes while making a warm, fresh batch of applesauce to share with your them.
Ask your students if they think making applesauce is a physical or chemical change. Have students create a chart for physical and chemical properties and physical and chemical changes.
Follow the recipe below and have them complete their chart as you show them all the ingredients and steps to making applesauce. Then, if you want, have them join in (after they wash their hands, of course) and help you peel and cut up the apples. Ask them questions along the way, like “why it’s better to chop the apples into smaller pieces?”
This will be a tasty lesson they won’t forget!
- Hot plate
- Immersion blender
- Paring knife
- Large pot
Ingredients: (This recipe has been adjusted for 28 servings)
- 28 Apples – peeled, cored, and chopped
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
In a saucepan combine the apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes over medium-high heat. You can use a fork to determine if the apples are getting soft. Allow to cool and then mash with a fork, masher, or blender.
In the fall, the leaves stop their food-making process because of changes in the length of daylight and temperature. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible, making the leaves part of the fall splendor.
In this science station activity from Nitty Gritty Science, found in the Cell Processes Unit, students will learn about chromatography, a technique in which the pigments in plant cells, including chlorophyll, can be separated from one another. When a drop of pigment is placed on the paper and dissolved in a solvent, different substances move at different rates. Chlorophyll is a green pigment that absorbs red and blue light and aids in photosynthesis. Other pigments found in plant leaves are orange carotenes and the yellow xanthophylls. These pigments absorb wavelengths of light that are not absorbed by chlorophyll and can be seen more in the autumn months.
The Science of Football
For some students, the fall season means two things–back to school and back to football. To celebrate both events, NBC teamed up with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Football League (NFL) to release the “Science of NFL Football,”–an informative, 10-part video series that explores the science behind America’s most beloved sport which you can access by clicking the link below:
How to Preserve a Spider Web
- empty spiderweb
- talcum powder
- black construction paper
- Gently tap on the web to ensure its builder is not using it.
- Very carefully sprinkle talcum powder all over the web. It will stick to the silk, making the web easier to see.
- Spray hairspray on a piece of black construction paper. Moving quickly, place the sprayed tacky piece of paper behind the web and gently bring it into contact with it.
- Spray the web on the paper with a little more hair spray.
- Carefully cut the strands of the web that are supporting it.
- Set the paper and web aside to dry.
- If you want to preserve the web, spray it with a coat of varnish in a well-ventilated area.
The Pumpkin Battery
Working on electricity and series circuits? The pumpkin battery is a great way to reinforce these concepts.
- small pumpkins
- galvanized screws or nails
- something copper (wire, nail)
- alligator clip
- Put galvanized screws into each pumpkin, leaving a little bit of the screws sticking out. Place the copper material in the pumpkins as well on the opposite sides.
- Connect the galvanized screw in one of the pumpkins with the copper material of the other pumpkin using an alligator clip.
- Connect the multimeter to the remaining screw and copper piece.
- To see how powerful your pumpkin battery is turn on the multimeter and record findings.
Have a fantastic fall, full of all the cozy sweaters and pumpkin spice you can handle!