In this activity, students will explore how the Law of Conservation of Energy (the First Law of Thermodynamics) applies to atoms, as well as the implications of heating or cooling a system. This activity focuses on potential energy and kinetic energy as well as energy conservation. The goal is to apply what is learned to both our human scale world and the world of atoms and molecules.
In this experiment, two chemicals that can be found around the house will be mixed within a plastic baggie, and several chemical changes will be observed.
Bridges come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and lengths and are found all over the world. It is important that bridges are strong so they are safe to cross. Design and build a your own model bridge. Test your bridge for strength using a force sensor that measures how hard you pull on your bridge. By observing a graph of the force, determine the amount of force needed to make your bridge collapse.
Construct and measure the energy efficiency and solar heat gain of a cardboard model house. Use a light bulb heater to imitate a real furnace and a temperature sensor to monitor and regulate the internal temperature of the house. Use a bright bulb in a gooseneck lamp to model sunlight at different times of the year, and test the effectiveness of windows for passive solar heating.
A bungee jump involves jumping from a tall structure while connected to a large elastic cord. Design a bungee jump that is "safe" for a hard-boiled egg. Create a safety egg harness and connect it to a rubber band, which is your the "bungee cord." Finally, attach your bungee cord to a force sensor to measures the forces that push or pull your egg.
A zip line is a way to glide from one point to another while hanging from a cable. Design and create a zip line that is safe for a hard-boiled egg. After designing a safety egg harness, connect the harness to fishing line or wire connected between two chairs of different heights using a paper clip. Learn to improve your zip line based on data. Attach a motion sensor at the bottom of your zip line and display a graph to show how smooth a ride your egg had!
Earthquakes happen when forces in the Earth cause violent shaking of the ground. Earthquakes can be very destructive to buildings and other man-made structures. Design and build various types of buildings, then test your buildings for earthquake resistance using a shake table and a force sensor that measures how hard a force pushes or pulls your building.
There are two types of catalysis reactions: homogeneous and heterogeneous. In a homogeneous reaction, the catalyst is in the same phase as the reactants. In a heterogeneous reaction, the catalyst is in a different phase from the reactants. This activity addresses homogeneous catalysis.
Cellular respiration is the process by which our bodies convert glucose from food into energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Start by exploring the ATP molecule in 3D, then use molecular models to take a step-by-step tour of the chemical reactants and products in the complex biological processes of glycolysis, the Krebs cycle, the Electron Transport Chain, and ATP synthesis. Follow atoms as they rearrange and become parts of other molecules and witness the production of high-energy ATP molecules.
In this activity, students explore reactions in which chemical bonds are formed and broken. Students experiment with changing the temperature and the concentration of the atoms in order to see how these affect reaction rates. They also learn how to communicate what happens during a chemical reaction by writing the ratios of reactants and products, known as stoichiometry.
Explore a NetLogo model of populations of rabbits, grass, and weeds. First, adjust the model to start with a different rabbit population size. Then adjust model variables, such as how fast the plants or weeds grow, to get more grass than weeds. Change the amount of energy the grass or weeds provide to the rabbits and the food preference. Use line graphs to monitor the effects of changes you make to the model, and determine which settings affect the proportion of grass to weeds when rabbits eat both.
This interactive, scaffolded activity allows students to build an atom within the framework of a newer orbital model. It opens with an explanation of why the Bohr model is incorrect and provides an analogy for understanding orbitals that is simple enough for grades 8-9. As the activity progresses, students build atoms and ions by adding or removing protons, electrons, and neutrons. As changes are made, the model displays the atomic number, net charge, and isotope symbol. Try the "Add an Electron" page to build electrons around a boron nucleus and see how electrons align from lower-to-higher energy. This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology. The Concord Consortium develops deeply digital learning innovations for science, mathematics, and engineering. The models are all freely accessible. Users may register for additional free access to capture data and store student work products.
This interactive activity helps learners visualize the role of electrons in the formation of ionic and covalent chemical bonds. Students explore different types of chemical bonds by first viewing a single hydrogen atom in an electric field model. Next, students use sliders to change the electronegativity between two atoms -- a model to help them understand why some atoms are attracted. Finally, students experiment in making their own models: non-polar covalent, polar covalent, and ionic bonds. This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology.
This 90-minute activity features six interactive molecular models to explore the relationships among voltage, current, and resistance. Students start at the atomic level to explore how voltage and resistance affect the flow of electrons. Next, they use a model to investigate how temperature can affect conductivity and resistivity. Finally, they explore how electricity can be converted to other forms of energy. The activity was developed for introductory physics courses, but the first half could be appropriate for physical science and Physics First. The formula for Ohm's Law is introduced, but calculations are not required. This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology. The Concord Consortium develops deeply digital learning innovations for science, mathematics, and engineering.
This concept-building activity contains a set of sequenced simulations for investigating how atoms can be excited to give off radiation (photons). Students explore 3-dimensional models to learn about the nature of photons as "wave packets" of light, how photons are emitted, and the connection between an atom's electron configuration and how it absorbs light. Registered users are able to use free data capture tools to take snapshots, drag thumbnails, and submit responses. This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology.
This concept-building module contains a variety of simulations for exploring factors that cause molecules to attract each other. It was developed to help secondary students understand both polar and non-polar covalent bonding. Users can manipulate models to see how the strength of attraction is affected by distance from one molecule to another, by heating the substance, and by mixing polar and non-polar substances. Part II of the activity is devoted to hydrogen bonds, and explores why water is one of the most important molecules for life's existence. This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology.
In this interactive activity, learners explore factors that cause atoms to form (or break) bonds with each other. The first simulation depicts a box containing 12 identical atoms. Using a slider to add heat, students can see the influence of temperature on formation of diatomic bonds. Simulations #2 and #3 introduce learners to reactions involving two types of atoms. Which atom forms a diatomic molecule more easily, and why? The activity concludes as students explore paired atoms (molecules). In this simulation they compare the amount of energy needed to break the molecular bonds to the energy needed to form the bonds. This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology.
In this interactive activity, learners build computer models of atoms by adding or removing electrons, protons, and neutrons. It presents the orbital model of an atom: a nucleus consisting of protons and neutrons with electrons surrounding it in regions of high probability called orbitals. Guided tasks are provided, such as constructing a lithium atom and a carbon-12 atom in the fewest possible steps. The activity concludes with a model for building a charged hydrogen atom (an ion). Within each task, students take snapshots of their work product and answer probative questions. This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology.
Elementary grade students investigate heat transfer in this activity to design and build a solar oven, then test its effectiveness using a temperature sensor. It blends the hands-on activity with digital graphing tools that allow kids to easily plot and share their data. Included in the package are illustrated procedures and extension activities. Note Requirements: This lesson requires a "VernierGo" temperature sensing device, available for ~ $40. This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology. The Consortium develops digital learning innovations for science, mathematics, and engineering.
In this interactive activity, students view six models to investigate what a gas, liquid, and solid look like at the atomic level. Choose to view a gas or liquid made of atoms only, a gas made of diatomic molecules, a liquid made of triatomic molecules, or two types of solids. In each simulation, users may highlight an atom and view its trajectory to see how the motion differs in each of the three primary phases. Don't miss the extension activity: a side-by-side comparison of the atomic structure of a hot liquid and a cold liquid. If you click "Withdraw the Barrier", the two liquids mix. Which state of matter has stronger attractions between atoms? This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology.
Explore how populations change over time in a NetLogo model of sheep and grass. Experiment with the initial number of sheep, the sheep birthrate, the amount of energy sheep gain from the grass, and the rate at which the grass re-grows. Remove sheep that have a particular trait (better teeth) from the population, then watch what happens to the sheep teeth trait in the population as a whole. Consider conflicting selection pressures to make predictions about other instances of natural selection.
Explore the relationship between the genetic code on the DNA strand and the resulting protein and rudimentary shape it forms. Through models of transcription and translation, you will discover this relationship and the resilience to mutations built into our genetic code. Start by exploring DNA's double helix with an interactive 3D model. Highlight base pairs, look at one or both strands, and turn hydrogen bonds on or off. Next, watch an animation of transcription, which creates RNA from DNA, and translation, which 'reads' the RNA codons to create a protein.
Determine the dew point temperature for your classroom through a hands-on experiment. Use humidity and temperature probes to investigate the temperature at which it would rain in your classroom! Learn about water density and the conditions necessary to produce fog or rain.
Diffusion is the net movement of particles from areas of high concentration (number of particles per unit area) to low concentration. In this activity, students use a molecular dynamics model to view the behavior of diffusion in gases and liquids.
Movement of ions in and out of cells is crucial to maintaining homeostasis within the body and ensuring that biological functions run properly. The natural movement of molecules due to collisions is called diffusion. Several factors affect diffusion rate: concentration, surface area, and molecular pumps. This activity demonstrates diffusion, osmosis, and active transport through 12 interactive models.
The interactions of electrons with matter have great explanatory power and are central to many technologies from transistors, diodes, smoke detectors, and dosemeters to sophisticated imaging, lasers, and quantum computing. A conceptual grasp of the interactions of electrons in general allows students to acquire deeper understanding that can be applied to a very broad range of technologies.
Use a series of interactive models and games to explore electrostatics. Learn about the effects positive and negative charges have on one another, and investigate these effects further through games. Learn about Coulomb's law and the concept that both the distance between the charges and the difference in the charges affect the strength of the force. Explore polarization at an atomic level, and learn how a material that does not hold any net charge can be attracted to a charged object. Students will be able to:
Explore the concept of evaporative cooling through a hands-on experiment. Use a wet cloth and fan to model an air-conditioner and use temperature and relative humidity sensors to collect data. Then digitally plot the data using graphs in the activity. In an optional extension, make your own modifications to improve the cooler's efficiency.
In this activity, students study gas laws at a molecular level. They vary the volume of a container at constant temperature to see how pressure changes (Boyle's Law), change the temperature of a container at constant pressure to see how the volume changes with temperature (Charles’s Law), and experiment with heating a gas in a closed container to discover how pressure changes with temperature (Gay Lussac's Law). They also discover the relationship between the number of gas molecules and gas volume (Avogadro's Law). Finally, students use their knowledge of gas laws to model a heated soda can collapsing as it is plunged into ice water.
The Geniverse software is being developed as part of a five-year research project funded by the National Science Foundation. Still in its early stages, a Beta version of the software is currently being piloted in six schools throughout New England. We invite you to try the current Beta version, keeping in mind that you may encounter errors or pages that are not fully functional. If you encounter any problem, it may help to refresh or reload the web page.
Build your own miniature "greenhouse" out of a plastic container and plastic wrap, and fill it with different things such as dirt and sand to observe the effect this has on temperature. Monitor the temperature using temperature probes and digitally plot the data on the graphs provided in the activity.
Explore how the Earth's atmosphere affects the energy balance between incoming and outgoing radiation. Using an interactive model, adjust realistic parameters such as how many clouds are present or how much carbon dioxide is in the air, and watch how these factors affect the global temperature.
Make your own miniature greenhouse and measure the light levels at different "times of day"--modeled by changing the angle of a lamp on the greenhouse--using a light sensor. Next, investigate the temperature in your greenhouse with and without a cover. Learn how a greenhouse works and how you can regulate the temperature in your model greenhouse.
Discover how electricity can be converted into other forms of energy such as light and heat. Connect resistors and holiday light bulbs to simple circuits and monitor the temperature over time. Investigate the differences in temperature between the circuit with the resistor and the circuit using the bulb.
Being able to control the movement of electrons is fundamental for making all electronic devices work. Discover how electric and magnetic fields can be used to move electrons around. Begin by exploring the relationship between electric forces and charges with vectors. Then, learn about electron fields. Finally, test your knowledge in a fun "Electron Shooting" game!
Use the Sound Grapher to create visualizations of sound and learn about the frequency, wavelength, amplitude and velocity of sound waves.
The microscopic world is full of phenomena very different from what we see in everyday life. Some of those phenomena can only be explained using quantum mechanics. This activity introduces basic quantum mechanics concepts about electrons that are essential to understanding modern and future technology, especially nanotechnology. Start by exploring probability distribution, then discover the behavior of electrons with a series of simulations.
In this investigation, students will explore the question: Can there be life outside of Earth? Students will use planet hunting models to discover how scientists find new planets and perform simulated spectroscopic measurements to determine if the chemical requirements for life are present.
Isaac Newton's famous thought experiment about what would happen if you launched a cannon from a mountaintop at a high velocity comes to life with an interactive computer model. You are charged with the task of launching a satellite into space. Control the angle and speed at which the satellite is launched, and see the results to gain a basic understanding of escape velocity.
This NetLogo model of leaf photosynthesis shows the macroscopic outcome of the reaction.