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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this activity the temperature of a reaction is monitored for different concentrations of reactants.
Repeated motion is present everywhere in nature. Learn how to 'make waves' with your own movements using a motion detector to plot your position as a function of time, and try to duplicate wave patterns presented in the activity. Investigate the concept of distance versus time graphs and see how your own movement can be represented on a graph.
Meiosis is the process by which gametes (eggs and sperm) are made. Gametes have only one set of chromosomes. Therefore, meiosis involves a reduction in the amount of genetic material. Each gamete has only half the chromosomes of the original germ cell. Explore meiosis with a computer model of dragons. Run meiosis, inspect the chromosomes, then choose gametes to fertilize. Predict the results of the dragon offspring and try to make a dragon without legs. Learn why all siblings do not look alike.
Monitor the temperature of a melting ice cube and use temperature probes to electronically plot the data on graphs. Investigate what temperature the ice is as it melts in addition to monitoring the temperature of liquid the ice is submerged in.
This initial module from the GENIQUEST project introduces the dragons and the inheritance of their traits, then delves into meiosis and its relationship to inherited traits. Students examine the effects of choosing different gametes on dragon offspring, and learn about genetic recombination by creating recombination events to generate specific offspring from two given parent dragons. Students learn about inbred strains and breed an inbred strain of dragons themselves.
In this activity, students interact with 12 models to observe emergent phenomena as molecules assemble themselves. Investigate the factors that are important to self-assembly, including shape and polarity. Try to assemble a monolayer by "pushing" the molecules to the substrate (it's not easy!). Rotate complex molecules to view their structure. Finally, create your own nanostructures by selecting molecules, adding charges to them, and observing the results of self-assembly.
Created by the Concord Consortium, the Molecular Workbench is "a modeling tool for designing and conducting computational experiments across science." First-time visitors can check out one of the Featured Simulations to get started. The homepage contains a number of curriculum modules which deal with chemical bonding, semiconductors, and diffusion. Visitors can learn how to create their own simulations via the online manual, which is available here as well. The Articles area is quite helpful, as it contains full-text pieces on nanoscience education, quantum chemistry, and a primer on how transistors work. A good way to look over all of the offerings here is to click on the Showcase area. Here visitors can view the Featured simulations, or look through one of five topical sections, which include Biotech and Nanotechnology. Visitors will need to install the free Molecular Workbench software, which is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac.
Study the motion of a toy car on a ramp and use motion sensors to digitally graph the position data and then analyze it. Make predictions about what the graphs will look like, and consider what the corresponding velocity graphs would look like.
What do plants eat? This unit explores plants and how they make food.
Many factors influence the success and survival rate of a population of living things. Explore several factors that can determine the survival of a population of sheep in this NetLogo model. Start with a model of unlimited grass available to the sheep and watch what happens to the sheep population! Next try to keep the population under control by removing sheep periodically. Change the birthrate, grass regrowth rate, and the amount of energy rabbits get from the grass to keep a stable population.
Delve into a microscopic world working with models that show how electron waves can tunnel through certain types of barriers. Learn about the novel devices and apparatuses that have been invented using this concept. Discover how tunneling makes it possible for computers to run faster and for scientists to look more deeply into the microscopic world.
How does energy flow in and out of our atmosphere? Explore how solar and infrared radiation enters and exits the atmosphere with an interactive model. Control the amounts of carbon dioxide and clouds present in the model and learn how these factors can influence global temperature. Record results using snapshots of the model in the virtual lab notebook where you can annotate your observations.
Measure relative humidity in the air using a simple device made of a temperature sensor, a plastic bottle, and some clay. Electronically plot the data you collect on graphs to analyze and learn from it. Experiment with different materials and different room temperatures in order to explore what affects humidity.
Use a virtual scanning tunneling microscope (STM) to observe electron behavior in an atomic-scale world. Walk through the principles of this technology step-by-step. First learn how the STM works. Then try it yourself! Use a virtual STM to manipulate individual atoms by scanning for, picking up, and moving electrons. Finally, explore the advantages and disadvantages of the two modes of an STM: the constant-height mode and the constant-current mode.
Explore your own straight-line motion using a motion sensor to generate distance versus time graphs of your own motion. Learn how changes in speed and direction affect the graph, and gain an understanding of how motion can be represented on a graph.
Semiconductors are the materials that make modern electronics work. Learn about the basic properties of intrinsic and extrinsic or 'doped' semiconductors with several visualizations. Turn a silicon crystal into an insulator or a conductor, create a depletion region between semiconductors, and explore probability waves of an electron in this interactive activity.
Investigate what makes something soluble by exploring the effects of intermolecular attractions and what properties are necessary in a solution to overcome them. Interactive models simulate the process of dissolution, allowing you to experiment with how external factors, such as heat, can affect a substance's solubility.
What happens when an excited atom emits a photon? What can we deduce about that atom based on the photons it can emit? A series of interactive models allows you to examine how the energy levels the electrons of an atom occupy affect the types of photons that can be emitted. Use a digital spectrometer to record which wavelengths certain atoms will emit, and then use this knowledge to compare and identify types of atoms. Students will be abe to:
Transistors are the building blocks of modern electronic devices. Your cell phones, iPods, and computers all depend on them to operate. Thanks to today's microfabrication technology, transistors can be made very tiny and be massively produced. You are probably using billions of them while working with this activity now--as of 2006, a dual-core Intel microprocessor contains 1.7 billion transistors. The field effect transistor is the most common type of transistor. So we will focus on it in this activity.
All cells, organs and tissues of a living organism are built of molecules. Some of them are small, made from only a few atoms. There is, however, a special class of molecules that make up and play critical roles in living cells. These molecules can consist of many thousands to millions of atoms. They are referred to as macromolecules (or large biomolecules).
Windmills have been used for hundreds of years to collect energy from the wind in order to pump water, grind grain, and more recently generate electricity. There are many possible designs for the blades of a wind generator and engineers are always trying new ones. Design and test your own wind generator, then try to improve it by running a small electric motor connected to a voltage sensor.