Best ISU GK12 Lessons by TgH1xH8

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									Best GK-12 Lessons at ISU
                                         BIOLOGY
Macroinvertebrate Sampling of City Creek High School, Students started a class/school
database on the biodiversity of macroinvertebrates in City Creek. This project enables students to
make inferences about local water quality based on riparian biodiversity, study change overtime,
be engaged in the scientific process, and become active members of their community. This
project integrates several of the District # 25 standards: ecosystem interactions, comparisons of
simple and complex organisms; form and function of living things; and survey of the diversity of
species. Students collect macro-invertebrates from the creek using ‘kick net sampling’
techniques. The students return to the classroom with the insect samples and use microscopes to
observe and investigate the insects and organize them into groups based on similar physical
features. Students then quantify the data by counting the number of insects from various orders
and creating bar graphs of the number of insects discovered from each order at each sample site.
The next phase of the project involves splitting students up into groups, with each group doing
research on a particular insect order. Students are given questions on habitat preference, form
and function, adaptations, and life cycles to guide them in their research. Each group then
presents this data to the class. At the end of the project students are provided a questionnaire that
directs them towards analyzing their data and articulating any possible conclusions based on
patterns in the data that may relate to water quality.
For more information contact Robert Miron, New Horizons HS and Jason Jones, Biology MS

Winogradsky Columns High School, This lab generated excitement with a number of students
in the classroom. The lab can be used to discuss microscope procedures, biological kingdoms &
classification, trophic level interactions in an ecosystem, and ecological succession. Students
perform microscope observations of water samples taken from different layers of a ‘winogradsky
column.’ The ‘winogradsky column’ is made with a water sample from the Portneuf River.
Water and sediment from the Portneuf River are placed in a 2 litter bottle, along with a hard
boiled egg and newspaper buried in the sediment. The bottle is placed in a classroom window.
After about a week the bottle has considerable amount of growth. Warning, this project is stinky.
Students are first given a discussion of ecological succession as it may relate to deforestation.
Students then observe the winogradsky column right after the sample has been taken from the
river and are told to generate a prediction about the appearance of the samples over the next
several weeks. Students then make observations and sketches of prepared slides of Monera and
Protista. Later, they collect samples and make observations of the winogradsky columns after
considerable growth has occurred. Students observe movement, organisms ingesting other
organisms, and biological diversity on their slides. They are then asked to write a description of
the biological succession demonstrated in their activity and relate it to the previous class
discussion. This lab give students an appreciation of ecosystem interactions that exist at a
microscopic level and how this level influences the ecosystem at a macro level.
For more information contact Robert Miron, New Horizons HS and Jason Jones, Biology MS

Photosynthesis & Cell Respiration High School, We approached photosynthesis and cell
respiration with these lab activities to discuss the chemical equations of each and to demonstrate
that plants respire. Students first place a fish in one beaker, an elodea plant in a second beaker,
and only water in a third beaker as a control, they the cover each beaker with ‘parafilm’.
Students are told that after an hour we will check to see if cell respiration occurs by using the
indicator bromothymol blue and hydrochloric acid (The more drops of hydrochloric acid used to
change the color the less respiration). Students are then asked to generate a hypothesis to
determine which beaker will show the most respiration. After students set up this first lab we
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Best GK-12 Lessons at ISU
perform demonstrations to discuss the chemical reactants and products of photosynthesis. We
then have students use the vernier lab probes to measure and graph CO2 and O2 production of
spinach leaves under regular class room light and write if the data they gather demonstrates
photosynthesis or cell respiration. Once students analyze this first section we have them look at
white light through replica grating slides to observe the color spectrum that makes up white light.
They are then told to design an experiment to determine if spinach can photosynthesize under
various colors of light (or lack of light using tin foil). Colored film is used to cover the jars of
spinach. Once students have set up their own light/photosynthesis experiments we have them
return to the first lab with the fish and elodea. The results should demonstrate that plants do
respire. After they analyze the data and answer the conclusion questions they return to the
experiments they set up to analyze whether photosynthesis or cell respiration occurs under the
color of light (or lack of light) their experiment incorporated.
For more information contact Robert Miron, New Horizons HS and Jason Jones, Biology MS

Insect Lab: 5th-6th Grade, While on an overnight camping trip (a part of our school’s
curriculum) the students were challenged to hypothesize about the question “Which area has a
more diverse population of insects: the sage steppe or the riparian area of our camp site?” The
students followed our scientific design (it was early in the year and we wanted to model how to
conduct an experiment form beginning to end) and collected insects using several different
methods. They then back in the classroom sorted and classified the insects. They analyzed the
results, created graphs and charts and then made a final product of their findings. The students
loved the hands-on collection and had a successful experience with seeing an experiment from
start to finish. We are now requiring the students to develop their own projects and many of
them have chosen the insect field!
For more information contact Becky Lorig, Pocatello Community Charter School and Jon
Knudson, Biology MS

Mammal Tracking Activity: 5th-6th Grade, Being elementary students, there is a natural affinity
to mammals and animal life. Our students have been going on various hikes and observational
outings. They have been noticing signs of animals. Some of the students are planning on
conducting biodiversity studies of the local animals near the rivers we are studying. So to
prepare them for this, we had a series of different tracks laid out at each table in the classroom.
The students were instructed to make hypothesis about what kind of animal it was and to also
consider its locomotion. They spent time examining these and then were required to re-create
the animals locomotion according to how they left tracks. We will be following this activity up
by snowshoeing with the students and comparing what we find in the field.
For more information contact Becky Lorig, Pocatello Community Charter School and Jon
Knudson, Biology MS

Science Experiment Bad Question Activity: 5th-6th Grade, Like I said, each student is required
to design, and carry out a science project that follows the scientific method. We had noticed that
the kids had natural curiosity, but in the confines of an experiment had difficulty designing
questions that would be of high quality for a science experiment. We had the students go out and
observe along the Portneuf Greenway. They just noted observations and then questions that may
stem from those observations. We shared as a class and then attempted to categorize which ones
would be good for an experiment and which ones would be not so good. We had the students
come up with good “bad” questions. The students really excelled at designing poor questions---
it was great practice for thinking about the qualities of a worthy science experiment question.
For more information contact Becky Lorig, Pocatello Community Charter School and Jon
Knudson, Biology MS
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Best GK-12 Lessons at ISU

Skull Identification Lab High School, This was a collaborative project involving another GK12
Fellow working at the Pocatello Zoo. Students were provided with the opportunity to learn from
a lesson utilizing authentic Idaho animal skulls. After a brief overview about how to identify an
animal by its skull based on teeth and bone patterns, as well as with the use of a dichotomous
key, students were allowed to utilize this information to demonstrate what they had learned by
identifying as many skulls as possible.
For more information contact Sheel Bansal, Biology PhD and Markette Kelemente, Highland HS

Plant Germination Study High School, Students were provided with empty cd cases and three
seeds: Douglas Fir, Radish and a “mystery seed.” Using the cd cases and paper towels, students
created germination chambers and allowed the seeds the opportunity to sprout. After a
designated period of time, the seeds were planted and labeled whether they sprouted or not.
Growth patterns of each seed were monitored and data was recorded in their laboratory journals.
Once the “mystery seeds” began to show signs of growth, students were encouraged to use
identification guides to try and name each plant. In some instances this was successful, in some
it was not. The Douglas Fir seeds became the most interesting portion of the project because,
given identical conditions, only few actually germinated and grew. Various factors were
considered and documented as to why these variations occurred. This will continue to be an on-
going research project.
For more information contact Sheel Bansal, Biology PhD and Markette Kelemente, Highland HS

Individual Group Research Projects High School, As a requirement for the Academy, students
will become engaged in a long- term research project that they will share at the end of the year in
the form of a technical presentation to various school officials, industry personnel and parents.
This is considered to be their final exam with the emphasis being placed upon utilization of the
scientific method and experimental design. Attach is a copy of the projects presently underway.
For more information contact Sheel Bansal, Biology PhD and Markette Kelemente, Highland HS

Microbiology Food lab: We explained and demonstrated the importance of microbes in many
foods eaten by humans. The lab consisted of four different foods made or preserved by microbes
including yogurt, kim chee, bread and root beer. The groups of 2-3 students made one of the
foods and the root beer was used as a demonstration. The bread yielded immediate results, the
yogurt was ready in 24 hours, the root beer was ready in 4-5 days and the kim chee took 10-14
days. Students were encouraged to try only the foods deemed edible by the instructors.
For more information contact Rene Horton and Eric Rude

Astrobiology lab: We provided the students with soil samples that we said were from another
planet. We had spike the sand with bread yeast, thermophilic cheese starter and one antarctic
isolate. The students were asked to design a way to tell if there was life in their sample. We
encouraged the students to think about not contaminating their samples as well as how to look
for life. We provided the students with (Dr. Smith's) probes including the Oxygen, Carbon
dioxide, gas pressure, etc. Students could also use pH change, protein presence, gas evolution in
a balloon, visualization and any other methods they came up with. We encouraged them to keep
notes and at the end decide whether or not they had life and what their justification for the
answer was.
For more information contact Rene Horton and Eric Rude

ALU lab: We set up a lab where the students could extract samples of their own DNA from
cheek cells. Using the Polymerase Chain Reaction we then amplified a small fragment of their
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Best GK-12 Lessons at ISU
genomic DNA. The students then used gel electrophoresis to determine their genotype
(homozygous+, homozygous -, or heterozygous) based on the PCR amplification. The genotypes
could then be pooled to do a Hardy-Weinberg analysis of the class.
For more information contact Rene Horton and Eric Rude

Rainey Creek Project- assaying water quality and overall health of the stream using simple
chemical tests for concentration levels ( DO, phosphates, sulfates, turbidity, pH, etc.)
For more information contact James and Joe Timchak

Insect Abundance and Biodiversity: This activity contained three parts, a classroom activity, a
field activity, and a lab/tabulation activity. The classroom activity involve an introduction to
insects and their arthropod relatives. I brought insect collections of different Orders to the
classroom for the students to observe, and asked them "what is an insect." I then layed out a
field experiment, in which they collected insects in two habitats,riparian and upland sage, in
order to see relative abundance and insect diversity between them. The field experiment involved
teams of students, equipped with beat nets, aerial nets, and jars. They collected insects in both
habitats for 15 minutes apiece, and brought their specimans to me, who killed them in poison
jars. The lab activity included placing the dead insects which were collected in the field on the
students' tables and having them identify and categorize them by Order. After tabulating the
data, they graphed their results and had a group discussion about diversity and habitat.
For more information contact Jon Knudson and Becky Lorig

Mammal Tracking: this was another 3-part project which involved a classroom activity, a field
experiment, and a follow-up laboratory and discussion. The classroom activity was designed to
show students how we know that mammals have been there (sign), focusing particularly on
tracks. I layed paper cut-outs of Southeast Idaho mammal tracks on each table, or station, which
included ungulates, felines, canines, weasles, insectivores, rodents, bears, and lagomorphs. The
students had to go from station to station and guess 1)what the mammal was (who's the culprit?)
and 2)how they made the tracks. I later handed out track guides and gave the students another
shot at guessing what they were. At the end of the class, the students publicly made their
guesses, and a contest was created to see who could walk most like each animal. The field
activity involved actually tracking along City Creek trail, where the students brought cameras
and notebooks, and actively searched for mammal sign. This excersize proved fruitful, as there
was both snow and wet mud near the stream. The follow-up lab activity included student
compiling their tracks, and taking turns drawing what they found on the board. As a class, we
tried to discover what mammal had made the track.
For more information contact Jon Knudson and Becky Lorig

Plant Diversity: In lieu of our focus on biodiversity and the riparian area, we conducted an
experiment where we estimated plant diversity (excluding trees) in two habitats (riparian area
and upland sage). The students teamed up and threw hoolahoops, and looked at plant richness
within them. The students were also introduced to sample size, and how it was important in
determining the true mean diversity. This concept was introduced in the classroom, where I
posed the question "what is the average height of the class?" I then took a single sample (the
tallest person), brought him to the front of the room, and asked if this was an accurate
representation of the class. I then sequentially took more and more students, and averaged their
heights, until the students agreed that a larger sample size was important in estimating ecological
parameters.
For more information contact Jon Knudson and Becky Lorig

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Best GK-12 Lessons at ISU
Water Quality and Conservation: As a means of promoting scientific inquiry, increasing
scientific literacy, and developing a sense of place in our students, we lead a total of four field
trips to City Creek and two to the Portneuf River. Each class contributed to our ongoing
database by collecting habitat variables, estimating algal and macroinvertebrate abundance and
distributions, constructing biotic indices, comparing variation in different habitats, enlisting the
aid of local experts, and ultimately designing informational pamphlets to circulate to the
community. This larger “City Creek” project consisted of several labs and activities throughout
the entire school year. The labs varied from simple water chemistry (i.e. pH, conductivity) to
using macroinvertebrates as ecological indicators for stream health.
For more information contact Jason Jones and Robert Miron

Animal Behavior: Elk We carried out an animal behavior project at Yellowstone National Park
(YNP) and Jackson Hole National Elk Refuge (JHNER) with students from multiple high
schools. The objective of this project was to allow students to observe the behavior of American
elk at two sites and create independent hypotheses, collect data and graphically illustrate their
findings. We collected data at YNP on two occasions and JHNER on one occasion.
Students gathered information on herd size, gender-ratios, number of antler points of
bulls, number of cows with calves, and time spent foraging. Students participated in
classes at the Pocatello Zoo Educational Outreach Center prior to collecting data to learn
about scientific method, elk behavior and elk life-history traits. In the field, percent time
foraging was measured and estimated for 64 (25 bulls and 39 cows) elk by timing head
down foraging in a 300 second period. We held 2 classes at the ISU, in which we used
the Smart Board to teach students to compile and analyze their data. Students tested
multiple hypotheses (i. e., differences in foraging between gender or cows with and
without calves) and created explanation for their results using various sources including
peer-reviewed literature. Their findings will be presented to their class using Powerpoint
Presentation.
For more information contact Pete Coates and Bonnie Jakubos

Classification: We carried out a hands-on approach to teaching classification directed at multiple
grade levels (4-12). Our primary objective was to create an understanding of scientific
classification with a 3 short segments. The Pocatello Zoo purchased 32 skulls of various birds
and mammals for this lab. We placed the skulls in groups of 5-6 (depending on class size) on
separate tables throughout the classroom. We randomly divide the students into groups of 2-3 to
carry out the activities. During the first segment, students are to compare and contrast the skulls
within the group and decide which skull does not belong (the level of difficulty can vary). We
encouraged students to examine multiple characteristics (i. e., dentition, rostrum length, size of
eye orbits, etc.). During the second segment, students use their observations to determine the
food habits of the animal based on skull characteristics. For example, they conclude whether the
animal is an herbivore, omnivore or carnivore. High school students discover other life-history
traits. During the final segment, students use a dichotomous key, in which we constructed for
multiple age classes, to classify the skulls to their species. We administered a test before and 24
hours following the lab to evaluate their learning success. We are currently carrying out the lab
at multiple high schools. We will compile data from the test and conduct analysis later this
spring semester.
For more information contact Pete Coates and Bonnie Jakubos

Adaptations: We have recently developed an inquiry-based adaptations lab for use in high
school classrooms. The objective of this lab is to allow students to understand the theory of
natural selection, adaptations and the relationship between form and function. This lab consists
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Best GK-12 Lessons at ISU
of two activities. First, students work in groups of 3-5 at 5 individual stations. Each station
consists of a physical characteristic from multiple species (i. e. skulls, wings, feet, beaks, and
animal coverings). We designed a series of questions at each station that allows students to
understand how animals express adaptations related to their environment and the relationship
between form and function. During the second activity, students use a simulation game to learn
the concept of natural selection. Groups of students are specific types of predator with structural
differences (e. g. different instruments to capture prey) and the objective is to collect a certain
amount of prey to survive. However, the prey reproduces as it is not chosen per generation,
possibly due to camouflage or the predator’s physical limitations at capturing the prey. This
simulation results in a change of predator and prey form over time. Finally, we return as a class
and discuss what they learned about the relationships between mutation, environmental
conditions, adaptation and natural selection using the simulation game and hands-on
comparisons of animal characteristics
For more information contact Pete Coates and Bonnie Jakubos

Local Topography and the Watershed: Early in the Fall semester, Markette and I began a
series of activities revolving around understanding the local topography and watershed. Over the
course of a few days, students learned how to visualize the area. They were given several aerial
photographs of varying scales with complimentary topographic maps, and challenged to identify
specific buildings, streams, mountains, etc. Then, using the maps and photos, they constructed a
3-D map of the area encompassing the watershed using Playdough and props.
For more information contact Sheel Bansal and Markette Kelemente

GPS: Another activity, with a more real world application, involved using GPS. I first gave a
powerpoint on the history, technology, and mathematics behind the Global Positioning System.
Then, the students were given a day to wonder around playing with the GPS units. Despite
having a worksheet detailing the procedure of using the equipment, it was still necessary to
personally show each group how to use the units. Students were challenged to find out how
many paces measured 500 feet, point in the direction of cities, and see how fast they could run.
The following day, students had a treasure hunt around their campus, using coordinates and
waypoints on the GPS. Many students have asked to do this again.
For more information contact Sheel Bansal and Markette Kelemente

Collecting and identifying insects from the area around the school was another fun activity. I
put together a mini ppt showing video clips of insect collection methods by scientist. The
presentation also communicated about some of the real world jobs and organizations that revolve
around insects. Then, the students were cut loose with bug nets and jars. As expected, the
majority of the insects collected were bees (and luckily no stings). The following day, they
identified their bees using a dichotomous key.
For more information contact Sheel Bansal and Markette Kelemente

DNA extraction- Onion: We had the students extract DNA from an onion using a simple
kitchen recipe that was found on the internet. Before the lab the students reviewed what they
knew about DNA and I think this helped them understand what they were doing, instead of just
following instructions. The students that successfully extracted DNA were excited about it and
wanted to do something with the DNA they had.
For more information contact Jennifer Claypool or Teri Mitton

Insect collection: We divided the class into groups of two and gave each group a butterfly net
and a killing jar. After giving a brief demonstration on the use of the net we sent the students
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Best GK-12 Lessons at ISU
outside to catch as many insects as they could. The next day we had the students identify their
insects using a dichotomous key. The activity was very successful, the students were engaged
and enjoyed themselves. The Classes went into the field and using sweep nets did an invertebrate
count. Anytime students get out of the classroom it adds excitement to the lesson.
For more information contact Jennifer Claypool or Teri Mitton

Plant and animal transects: We placed six 3m square transects in the outdoor classroom. We
split the class into six groups and had them survey the plants and animals they found in their
transects. While the students did enjoy this activity I don't believe they learned as much as we
wanted them to from it, in the future it will be helpful to have the students practice doing surveys
before the main lesson begins so they can concentrate on the results rather than the methods.
For more information contact Jennifer Claypool or Teri Mitton

Duckweed Lab: Students we given petri dishes with three to four duckweed plants. After an
explanation of what duckweed is and their role in environment the students did a simple
experiment. They added various solutions to the duckweed and measured growth and changes in
the duckweed every other day for one week.
For more information contact Jennifer Claypool or Teri Mitton

Psuedoscience lab. In this lesson, we designed a laboratory that had students investigating the
responses of amphipods (raisins in soda pop) to sound. This lesson had two goals. We wanted the
students to critically and skeptically analyze the work they are conducting. In addition, we
wanted the students to understand how preconceived notions can influence observations (i.e., the
role of bias in science).
For more information contact Noah Anderson or Jay Loftin

Pitcher Plant Anatomy Lab The pitcher plant lab was a series of lessons devoted to inquiry
based learning. Students investigated three topics: First was the basic anatomy of the pitcher,
second was to observe how pitchers capture prey, the last was to test which types of
macromolecules pitcher plants digest. The basic goal was to engender scientific inquiry by using
a novel organism.
For more information contact Noah Anderson or Jay Loftin

Leaf Pack Analysis--Students constructed leaf packs from area trees. Once contructed,
they placed the pack into the Portneuf river. After two weeks, the leaf packs were pulled
and examined for macroinvertebrates and leaf decomposition.
For more information contact Markette Kelemente or Heather Bechtold

The Effect of Fuel Type on the Temperature of Fire--Students examined the effects of fuel
loading on fire temperature and soil properties.
For more information contact Markette Kelemente or Heather Bechtold

Global Warming: How much are you contributing?--Class members assessed the amount of
green house gases their car, and the cars of their household, emit. They collected data and then
went to a website which gave them information on how many Earth's they would need.
For more information contact Markette Kelemente or Heather Bechtold

Portneuf Water Quality: We worked for several weeks learning about different factors that
influence our local watershed. We then took a field trip to the river to test all these variables

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Best GK-12 Lessons at ISU
(with Vernier probes). We also took a field trip to the city of Pocatello’s waste water treatment
plant and Simplot to wrap things up.
For more information contact Markette Kelemente or Heather Bechtold

Leaf Decomposition: We used leaf packs to examine the rate at which different types of leaves
will decompose and will act as a food source for stream invertebrates. Students collected leaves,
filled leaf packs, inserted them into the Portneuf and retrieved the packs to weigh and count
invertebrates. This targets the scientific method and many other areas such as classification and
river health.
For more information contact Markette Kelemente or Heather Bechtold

Native Seed Project: We had the students research 3 plants and write profiles of each for
distribution, traditional uses, names, tolerance range and description. They each then wrote a
letter to greenhouses in the area to ask for these seeds, along with the profiles. Seeds will be
grown in the classroom greenhouse and planted in the spring.
For more information contact Markette Kelemente or Heather Bechtold

Metrics Olympics: students participated in Olympics-style games (ie. Javelin (straw) throw,
marble grab) and measured results in metrics.
For more information contact Chris Lenihan or Denim Jochimsen

State Reptile campaign: Students selected a reptile indigenous to Idaho to research and prepare
a campaign to get their choices selected to be the state reptile.
For more information contact Chris Lenihan or Denim Jochimsen

Chromatography lab: to demonstrate how some elements in solutions separate, students used
coffee filters to test the separation rate of eight different solutions
For more information contact Chris Lenihan or Denim Jochimsen

Photosynthesis and Respiration Lab: We set up this lab using probe ware and lap top
computers from Dr. Rosemary Smith, designed specifically to conduct a variety of experiments.
We used spinach leaves that were kept in a bowl of water in a darkened closet throughout the
day. The students set up an experiment to measure oxygen and carbon dioxide gas production of
spinach leaves in both light and dark conditions by following the directions that accompany the
computers. The program allows the students to create graphs that follow the change in oxygen
and carbon dioxide over time. We then discussed the equations of both processes to help students
see the connection between the two.
For more information contact Chris Lenihan or Denim Jochimsen

Osmosis and Diffusion Lab: We set up four different experiments to demonstrate these cellular
processes at various stations around the classroom. Each station had a print out that described the
experimental design. We asked students to read over the design and write hypotheses concerning
the results they expected for each experiment. The simplest experiment required that the students
add food coloring to a beaker of water. One station had two beakers; one filled with water the
other with corn syrup, each containing a raw egg that had been soaked in vinegar to remove the
shell. A scale was available to record any weight change of the eggs and the beakers were
graduated to allow for measurement of the liquids. The third station had four smaller beakers
filled with saline solution of various concentrations and one with water; we then added a variety
of vegetable pieces to each beaker. Finally, we set up one station with three large beakers filled
with 1%, 25%, and 50% sucrose solutions. To each we added a dialysis tubing bag filled with a
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Best GK-12 Lessons at ISU
25% sucrose solution. Having a variety of stations with similar experiments to demonstrate
osmosis was an effective way to teach the students this process.
For more information contact Chris Lenihan or Denim Jochimsen

Translation Lab: I constructed complete kits containing a ribosome, mRNA, tRNA, and amino
acids using paper that I color-coded according to the nitrogenous bases. Each mRNA strand was
15 codons long and students were instructed to pass the strand through the ribosome (that had a
slit cut through it) to correctly identify which tRNA corresponded to the code. Each tRNA was
attached to its associated amino acid (a simple circle with a name on it). By decoding the strand,
students constructed an amino acid chain. The mRNA strands were different for each kit,
requiring students to work through the problem. This exercise worked really well, as students
performed the best on questions concerning this process on their final exam.
For more information contact Chris Lenihan or Denim Jochimsen

Animal Behavior Field Exercise: We took a field trip to the Pocatello Zoo so that students
could gain experience in observing animal behavior. The week before the trip, I explained how a
scientist records behavior data in the field, and what types of behavior to look for. We assigned
small groups of students to the various animals, and then instructed them to research the ecology
of their animal to determine its natural habitat, food, and life history information. We also
created the data sheets before hand, in the classroom. Students filled out ethograms and gained
experience recording observational data when we exposed their animals to a stimulus (food items
or toys).
For more information contact Chris Lenihan or Denim Jochimsen


pH (Acids/Bases) Lab: We gave a brief lecture to expose students to the properties of acids,
bases, and pH measurement. Students then were given a list of 10 different household solutions
and asked to hypothesize where they would fall on the pH scale. In groups, the students were
then allowed to test the solutions using both pH paper, and cabbage juice indicator. I made the
cabbage juice the night before by boiling a red cabbage in water for twenty minutes. This
exposed the students to two different methods of measuring pH with various degrees of
accuracy. Finally, once measurement was complete, the students were encouraged to predict
what would happed if we combined the acids and bases, e.g. what color and pH changes would
occur.
For more information contact Chris Lenihan or Denim Jochimsen

Leafpacks: Ecology and the scientific method. This was set up by Jess, but we both worked on it
over a three-week period. The students designed their own experiments with the leafpacks,
choosing a wide variety of variables. They also wrote scientific papers about their discoveries.
Small mesh “packs” are filled with leaves and secured in a stream for several weeks. Students
measure the rate of leaf decomposition, invertebrate abundance and richness, and physical
characteristics of the stream.
For more information contact Eric Rude or Jessica Delmonte

The Portneuf River Project. In my applied biology/chemistry class, this is a 6 to 8 week unit.
The students perform 9 water tests to determine the health of the Portneuf. Although I have been
doing this project for years, Jess was able to provide the students with lots of great information
and got them thinking about why we should be concerned about our rivers.
For more information contact Eric Rude or Jessica Delmonte

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Best GK-12 Lessons at ISU
Forensics: Solving the murder(s): This is the culmination of an 8 week forensic science unit in
my Applied Biology/Chemistry class. Groups of students have to solve a simulated murder, in
which they can find such clues as fingerprints, shoe prints, hair and writing samples, etc. When
they have enough evidence, they "arrest" the faculty member who committed the crime.
For more information contact Eric Rude or Jessica Delmonte

Goundwater investigation: Students are introduced to groundwater and the Pocatello aquifer
through a discussion, demonstration, and slide show. Small groups of students complete a
laboratory exercise to investigate TCE contamination in the Pocatello aquifer by “testing” a
number of “wells” to measure the TCE level. Each student then creates a map of the
aquifer showing the contamination plume.
For more information contact Eric Rude or Jessica Delmonte

Evolutionary relationships among the animal phyla: Each student represents a different
animal. The class creates a phylogenetic tree of 9 of the animal phyla by arranging themselves
around the room according to their evolutionary history. String is used to connect each group to
its common ancestor.
For more information contact Eric Rude or Jessica Delmonte

Extracting DNA from cheek cells: The students were excited to do the activity. They were able
to perform the work of getting the cell samples, preparing the lyseing solution, and winding out
the DNA on a glass stirring rod. They loved learning the lab techniques, working with the lab
equipment, and it gave them a real experience with both the cells and the DNA.
For more information contact Leah Potter or Jack Shurley

Scientific Method: Working with the Inquiry Cubes: This lesson took a lot of preparation
time for Jack. It was worth every minute. The students were quite lost at first, but his explanation
was excellent, and they caught on quickly. As a science teacher, I found this activity to be very
adaptable for getting the students to identify the steps of the scientific method. Some students did
not even try to solve the cubes, but most of them experienced “Aha!” moments. It was also a
great opportunity to show Jack that it was my job to get the unmotivated students to try.
For more information contact Leah Potter or Jack Shurley

Heredity: Playing the “Traits” Bingo Game: Students and teachers love any kind of games.
This was an especially good activity because the students had to assess their own traits, and
prove them. The game allowed them to break any embarrassment barriers by focusing their
attention on their own uniqueness. This provided an opportunity for me to explain how no
individual has perfect genes. It also made the students note characteristics about themselves and
others that they had not noticed before.
For more information contact Leah Potter or Jack Shurley

Osmosis and diffusion lab: The students made predictions as to what they thought would occur
then they carried out the experiments. A carnation was split down the middle of the stem then
placed into two graduated cylinders containing colored water. pieces of potato were placed into
beakers with water and two different concentrations of salt water. Dialysis tubing was filled with
sugar water and placed in a beaker with a differing concentration of sugar water. The students
enjoyed this lab. They liked the hands on experience and learned that their observations may not
match what they had predicted.
For more information contact Leah Potter or Jack Shurley

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Phenotypes: Facial characteristic lab: Students learned about phenotypes. They put into
groups of two. Each person fliped a coin for each characteristic. Heads, head-tail and tails
imparted characteristics. They then made drawings of their offspring based on the characteristics
that were determined by random chance.
For more information contact Leah Potter or Jack Shurley

Phenotypes: Rebop lab: Again phenotypes were determined, but this time the students made
creatures that fit their characteristics. Some interesting and creative creatures arose from our
classroom.
For more information contact Leah Potter or Jack Shurley

Evolution: More offspring are born that can survive: As described by Beardsley (2004),
during the first activity we had students count the seeds removed from an individual fruit. If we
assumed all seeds survived, students were asked to calculate how many seed and plants would be
produced over several years. With the use of some simple calculations, students observed that if
all seeds germinate and all plants survive, that over 4 to 5 generations more tomato or pepper
plants would exist than there is space available on earth. An extension that we added to this
activity was following up with one group of students planting seeds that they removed (and
presumably enumerated). Seeds were planted in potting soil, watered daily, and kept under grow
lights. After approximately 3 weeks, students counted the number of plants and compared that
with the number of seeds planted. This extension reminded them of the original activity and
resulted in another piece of evidence which proved more offspring are born than can survive.
For more information contact Andy Ray or Cara Sonnemann

Genetics: Heritable variation exists within all populations of organisms:We followed
recommendations from Beardsley (2004) and had students describe the variation in length
observed from approximately 20 shelled peanuts. Students enjoyed the activity and were
impressed with the amount of variation observed. More importantly, students were able to
consume the specimens when finished.
For more information contact Andy Ray or Cara Sonnemann

Evolution/Population Genetics: Some variations lead to individuals that survive and reproduce
better than others: which can lead to changes in a population. We followed recommendations
from Beardsley (2004) and used an application of a classic variation study by Kettlewell (1955).
We had paper cutouts of butterflies and placed these on different colored backgrounds. We had
students act as bird predators and select butterflies. After several iterations, we had students
examine how the butterfly population changed over time. This demonstration provided an
opportunity to demonstrate natural selection but also a chance to discuss a paper that is now
considered a foundation of evolutionary ecology. Beardsley, P. M. 2004. Middle school student
learning in evolution: are current standards achievable? The American Biology Teacher 66:604-
612. Kettlewell, H. B. D. 1955. Selection experiments on industrial melanism in the Lepidoptera.
Heredity 9:323-342.
For more information contact Andy Ray or Cara Sonnemann

Photosynthesis: I used an activity at both Shoshone Bannock High School and Highland High
School to demonstrate Photosynthesis and have students consider how light intensity is
correlated to photosynthesis. We modified an activity from one published by TERC’s Center for
Earth and Space Science Education (TERC 2000); the modified activity is described below. Two
aquatic plant species were used to consider the relationship between light intensity and
photosynthesis. We used a 40 W grown light positioned just above a work space and suspended
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Best GK-12 Lessons at ISU
with a ring stand. The light was oriented so that light was produced parallel to the surface of the
desk or table. Four centimeter sections of the aquatic plants (Myriophyllum spp. and Elodea
canadensis) were placed in test tubes and held vertical by placing them into test tube racks. We
placed one test tube of each species at 4 different distances from the light source. Students were
asked to make observations on photosynthesis and all concluded that we could document rates of
photosynthesis by looking at bubble formation. Students counted the number of bubbles that
emerged from the plants and rose to the surface. Students were then asked to summarize their
results in both tabular and graphical form. An extension of this activity is to bubble CO2 into the
test tube before exposing it to light and adding a plant. The addition of CO2 increases the
concentration of carbonic acid and makes the solution more acidic. When the plant is added to
the test tube and placed in proximity to the light source, CO2 will be removed and the solution
will become more basic. With addition of a pH indicator (e.g. bromocresol purple) students can
observe a color change, denoting a change in pH and ultimately carbonic acid content, and this
can indicate that plants are actively removing CO2 from solution. TERC. 2000. Light Energy for
Life: On Earth and Other Worlds? 23(1).
For more information contact Andy Ray or Cara Sonnemann




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                               GEOLOGY LESSONS
Solar System Lab: The best lab I did was the solar system lab I discussed with the group. We
had all the students name objects in the solar system, wrote them on the board, and discussed
them. We had to get a solar system for each person in the class. We then had each student get a
nametag with their objects name, and I went through and discussed each object with the whole
class (this might work better if the students had to research their project at home). We then lined
up the students and had them orbit one another, teaching them location of planets and things,
how they orbit, and how the position of the planet affects the speed of orbit.
For more information contact Garrett Bayrd or Diane Stinger

Age of the earth. We began by discussing pivotal events in the formation of the earth, and when
they happened (first life, first multicellular life, first oxygen, first land animals, etc). One of the
students would write each event and the date it happened on a post – it note. We got the ages of
these, and discussed how scientists get the ages. I then said that each step was going to be 10
million years, and we wondered around the school putting up post-it notes when the events
happened – it averages to be about 450 steps, and really gave the students a good idea of how
young humans are.
For more information contact Garrett Bayrd or Diane Stinger

Get to know you exercise. I had the students all come up with difficult science questions that
they wanted to know the answer to, and next time I came into the class, I had the students ask me
the questions and try and stump me.
For more information contact Garrett Bayrd or Diane Stinger

Rocks For this activity, the students will learn about the different types of rocks and how to
identify them. The students are told the three classifications of rocks, igneous, metamorphic, and
sedimentary. Next, each type of rock is described. Explain how the rocks are formed, basic
characteristics and identifying factors, and how the rocks could be used. After the students
understand the types of rocks and some characteristics, pass around some samples and have to
students try to identify them. This activity may be broken into three days, one day for each type
of rock.
For more information contact Corban Christensen or Janet Cook

Star Station One The SSOne program was initiated in 1998 with the inception of the
Interational Space Station, and although the program finished up three years ago, I still find an
audience because of the appeal of the topic. Particularly, I enjoy this lesson because I have the
opportunity to dispel some of the misconceptions people have about space: a) is there gravity, 2)
what changes occur in the human body when living long term in space, c) the immense size of
the universe, d) weightlessness, e) and the all time elementary favorite - using a toilet in space –
elementary children are very practical. The lesson utilizes information from NASA through the
internet and engaging activities in which I include the children...the science is combined with
laughter, imaginative play, and a strongly motivated interest. Most often the parents are the most
involved, and they ask questions...so not only the children, but the parents leave with a better
understanding of why we are exploring the universe around us.
For more information contact Rebecca Thorne-Ferrel or Brandon Mijal

Idaho's Native People Teaching children about Native Peoples and their use of the land and
resources is always fun and intellectually engaging for me as well. We explore the geology of
Idaho and the formation of the land, then progress to a discussion, including real objects and
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exhibits of how prehsitoric People used those resources. Given the size of the group, I will bring
out the spear and atlatl, spear point, sewing kit, tool kit and perhaps my personal collection of
Bannock-Shoshoni beadwork to carry their thinking into more hypothethical areas such as the
need for color and design in the human experience.
For more information contact Rebecca Thorne-Ferrel or Brandon Mijal

Compare Idaho to Egypt and explore with the children the similarities in the landscapes and the
differences in the use of the land by the Native Peoples. In this case, we include an investigation
of how prehistoric People in Egypt developed a great civilization based on thier resources and
why civilization in Idaho was different due to the scarcity of resources needed to grow into a
complex civilization. This lesson incorporates technology, real objects, and slides from my travel
to Egypt to visit museums.
For more information contact Rebecca Thorne-Ferrel or Brandon Mijal

Avalanche Lesson: We learned about how snow moves the power of friction and the physics of
avalanches. We used flour, sugar and potato flakes to simulate personal avalanches, on a variety
of terrains (rocky, burlap, slick, semi slick) and learned at what angles each of these terrains will
have a slide on. This was a hands on activity that really got them messy and thinking (even if
they didn’t know it) about our local areas and how this phenomenon occurs.
For more information contact Markette Kelemente or Heather Bechtold

Global Climate Change: We used PowerPoint lectures to talk about the physics of climate
change, the greenhouse effect and melting of ice caps etc. We then watched “The Day After
Tomorrow” and analyzed the movie to see if it was actually scientifically based or fiction. They
liked the movie, and it was a great motivator to pay attention and take notes on the subject.
For more information contact Markette Kelemente or Heather Bechtold

Tsunamis: We used real life stories from the recent Indonesian tsunami and learned the physics
behind ocean waves and how tsunamis are created and a brief history. We then developed an
improved escape plan and warning systems for citizens in areas that were hit and discussed the
ramifications of tsunamis on the land, plants, animals and people.
For more information contact Markette Kelemente or Heather Bechtold

CALDERAS Grades 5-6th, We had been discussing earthquakes and their effects. Amy did
some research and created a slide show of various types of calderas. We had a class discussion
and then the students classified several pictures of volcanic calderas. A “caldera” was then made
by placing a balloon under several inches of dirt in a large container. A bicycle pump was used
to blow up the balloon until it burst and the soil collapsed forming a “caldera”. This activity
provided a very good visual demonstration of how calderas are formed.
For more information contact Denece Schwartz, Chubbuck Elem or Amy Jolley, Engineering BS

LAB/ Convection: Middle School Garrett and I both found labs to help students understand the
concept of convection currents. Garrett had a demonstration called “The Atmosphere in a Cake
Pan” which explained how convection redistributes atmospheric heat energy from the equator to
the poles and correctly stated whether rising air is characterized by low atmospheric pressure or
high atmospheric pressure and why. He modeled the air movements that occur when air is cold
in one place (for example, at the poles) and hot in another (for example, at the equator). He used
water to represent air in the lower part of the atmosphere (i.e. the troposphere) because it’s easier
to observe the motion of water than it is to observe the motion of air. The concept of convection
current is difficult for seventh graders to master. With the reading they did, drawing models of
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convection currents and Garrett’s demonstration I think students gained a greater understanding
of convection.
For more information contact Diane Stinger, Irving MS or Garrett Bayrd, Geology MS


LAB/Solar System for Science Olympiad: Middle School Students were involved in the
Science Olympiad this year. Idaho State University sponsored a regional competition in late
February. There were thirteen events that the students had to prepare for. Solar System was one
of the events students needed to have a good understanding of. Garrett had the students all
become a body in space. Students became the Sun, planets, and their satellites, comets,
asteroids, the Oort Cloud, the Kuiper Belt, meteoroids, meteorites, and meteors. Research was
required about their space object. After the research, students became their heavenly body for a
day. In a very large space, preferably a gym, the students stood in correct order from the sun to
outer space. When first asked to get in the correct order students needed some help. Then they
were asked to rotate around the sun or correct planet. The students started by all walked at the
same pace. Garrett stopped their movement and gave a quick lesson on how fast the solar system
bodies should be moving in relationship to each other. Students began rotating again trying to
demonstrate their body’s correct movement. This interactive lesson was very effective and the
students enjoyed learning by doing instead of by reading and doing a worksheet. Students
improved their understanding of the solar system from this research and great activity.
For more information contact Diane Stinger, Irving MS or Garrett Bayrd, Geology MS

Map Reading- GPS: High School, One of the best activities (labs) we did was in relationship to
map reading, compass use/reading, and GPS. The students had had very little experience with
any of the topics so it was a lot of work for both of us to go around to the small lab groups and
teach the concepts. It really made it fun for the students to have two perspectives on ways to use
the compass and GPS systems. Jason added so much to the discussion on the difference between
true north and magnetic north. He also helped many groups read the contour maps and work
there GPS units. The students really benefited from the increased one on one we could offer
because we both were helping them. The end activity was to find a golf tee on the football field
using the GPS coordinates given them.
For more information contact Mike Zaremba, Engineering MS or Vince Wray, Shelley HS




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                          LEGO LEAGUE LESSONS
LAB/Robotic Programming: Middle School Programming is the key to success in the
Robotics’ Project we did with our GATE students this year. Garrett set up a projector connected
to a computer to demonstrate how to program the computers to run the robots. Students were
asked interactive questions as he demonstrated on the computer connected to the projector for the
class to see. After demonstrating the programming program, students were assigned classroom
computers to try the programming on their own. Garrett and I roamed around the room to help
individuals with simple programming. Students were then given simple tasks for their robots to
complete. In groups, they programmed their robots through the classroom computers to do
increasingly more complicated tasks. I know this lesson was successful because the students
were able to program after this.
For more information contact Diane Stinger, Irving MS or Garrett Bayrd, Geology MS

LEGO LEAGUE 2 Grades 5-6th, After the Lego League competition was over, there were a lot
of students who still wanted to participate in the program. Amy designed four mini lessons to
give the students a “little” Lego League experience. We have limited the groups to nine students
and they attend four two-hour sessions after school. The first session is devoted to building the
robots. The students get some programming experience during the second session and they
complete the challenge of programming their robots to travel in a square. Speed and gears are
the topics in the next session. The students participate in a race and also a competition to see
how much weight their robots can push. The final session includes a challenge course where the
students use sensors to complete the task. The students are excited about participating in the
after school program and they leave with a new appreciation of Legos.
For more information contact Denece Schwartz, Chubbuck Elem or Amy Jolley, Engineering BS
Hands on exploration of gears:. The students were asked to build different gear combinations
and expriement with weight and speed to see what combinations provide more torque and what
combinations will provide more speed.
For more information: Carrie Thomason, Hailey Campbell, Netty DeGarlais, or Doug Alder

Structural soundness of an object. The students were given a challenge to create a solid
structure from their Lego Kits. They would be told ahead of time what kind of stress the structure
would face. The students had to incorporate previous lessons in their design. This lesson would
have a great impact on future construction of the robots.
For more information: Carrie Thomason, Hailey Campbell, Netty DeGarlais, or Doug Alder

Gears and Torque---This lesson actually came from the curriculum that we
have been using to guide instruction in the Robotics content area. The students built a
gear box and basket, and then loaded up penny by penny to discover the amount of
torque that different gear/gear ratios exhibited. They predicted the amount and then
tested. The students discovered many things about the relationship between torque and
gears and also had a great time trying to overload the basket.
For more information contact Becky Lorig, Hailey Campbell, Netty DeGarlais, or Doug Alder

Taking Scientific Notes---This lesson I was intending to just overview the basics of gears and
kinds of gears. However, when we got started we quickly realized that many of the students had
very poor skills in note-taking. Since Lego League requires detailed notebooks and journals, I led
a lesson on the Smartboard that modeled how I would take notes (as we went through a pre-


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developed Powerpoint) and had the students take their own notes in their journals. The students
critiqued and shared their notes with their fellow students.
For more information contact Becky Lorig, Hailey Campbell, Netty DeGarlais, or Doug Alder

Building the Bull in the Ring Robot---This was an ongoing project, since we really do project-
based learning at the Charter School, where the students were expected to brainstorm, design,
and build a robot that would meet a certain challenge. It was fantastic to see the teamwork, the
constant revision, and the challenges that they faced during the project. The students went
through a series of lessons where they developed individual designs and then moved on to
creating a team design.
For more information contact Becky Lorig, Hailey Campbell, Netty DeGarlais, or Doug Alder

Technical Drawing. This lesson is consists of showing the students an object and having them
draw it. Then going through a process of showing them ways of improving their sketches.
For more information contact Dan Hunzeker Janet Cook or Brenda Scheer

Power Sequences. Teaching the students to follow the flow of power from the beginning to end
and not just explaining things with magic. Example from the plug in cord to the light from the
bulb.
For more information contact Dan Hunzeker Janet Cook or Brenda Scheer

Problem Solving. Gving the students different challenges and then showing the different
methods that they can choose to solve the problem and then increasing the difficultly and
watching their ability to apply what they know.
For more information contact Dan Hunzeker Janet Cook or Brenda Scheer




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Best GK-12 Lessons at ISU
                       High School Robotics LESSONS
The design process: I first had students brainstorm about all possible solutions to a design
problem. They then discussed the advantages and disadvantages of each (including feasibility in
the design). I then had them do the math mathematical calculations to verify there design would
meet all the design goals, and modify as needed. This last part is where they needed
the most help (as expected).
For more information contact Randy Hoover

Electrical Measurement Lab - Set up five different stations for the students to visit. Stations
covered basic direct current (dc) and advanced alternating current (ac) topics. Lab gave both
beginning and advanced students topics of interest.
For more information contact Jason Marenda

Introduction to Programming - Gave lecture on basic C++ (a programming language) topics.
Students broke up into groups and developed flow charts for a simple programming problem.
Some students had no interest in programming and barely participated.
For more information contact Jason Marenda

C language programming. The teaching format was classroom instruction with each student
having their own computer. The lessons were self-paced and consisted of 20 projects. During
class one of the students familiar with programming language was used as an assistant to help
students complete their projects. I would introduce the projects and run a sample of project’s
code to show the expected results. Homework was assigned to measure the student’s
comprehension of the programming concepts.
For more information contact Mike Zaremba or Vince Wray

A VEX robotic challenge High School, to Pocatello High School’s robotic class was proposed
by two AMI engineers. The challenge consisted of building a VEX robot to collect racquet balls
from the floor and stack them in a designated base along an angled wall. A complete stack of
balls would be ten balls with 4 balls as the base along the bottom row. The competition involved
three minute matches pitting two teams against each other. The competition arena contained
twenty racquet balls placed throughout the playing field and two designated team stacking areas.
There were four robots at the competition, two from AMI engineers and the other two from high
school students. The initial competition involved two robots at a time competing against each
other in a round-robin fashion. The top two robots from the qualifying rounds played a
championship match. Karstan, an AMI engineer was crowned champion. Afterwards all four
robots competed at the same time as teams. This competition involved team Pocatello vs. team
AMI in a best two out of three matches. The Pocatello high school students were victorious.
Parents, mentors and teachers were in attendance and had a good time.
For more information contact Mike Zaremba or Vince Wray

The FIRST regional competition High School, at Portland was a good learning platform for
students to work and play as a team. The students were able to mingle and share ideas with other
students at the competition. They even shared parts and offered their assistance when needed to
fix a problem. They learned about fair play and gracious professionalism. Many students
learned how to handle themselves in a stressful situation such as needing to fix a part of the robot
before the next scheduled round of competition. The FIRST program is a unique training
platform that challenges students in many engineering disciplines. During the two days of
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Best GK-12 Lessons at ISU
competition the students applied their knowledge of computer, mechanical and electrical
disciplines to keep the robot functional. FIRST makes science and math come to life in the form
of a robot. The positive and rewarding experience that FIRST provides students will help mold
our future generation of scientist and engineers.
For more information contact Mike Zaremba, Engineering MS or Vince Wray, Shelley HS

Building the Robot. High School, Jason added so much that I could not have added to the
programming and electronics parts of the robot. His ability to take two or three students and give
them some programming assignments, then to follow through with them to find out how they had
done was a great help to me but mostly to the students who will be choosing the careers of
computer programmer of engineering. He started with the group seventh hour and gave them
small little challenges to program something to make some small thing happen and then he
would give a little more information and a little harder assignment until we had enough of a
background to do some of the programming for the robot. The students had access to some
computers with the compiler on them for the program that the engineering dept. loaned us also
which they could take home with them.
For more information contact Mike Zaremba, Engineering MS or Vince Wray, Shelley HS

The electronics activity High School, was a great success. Jason had some of the young people
who had no background in wiring and electronics working on that part for the robot. They
learned to do some basic wiring skills that they can now use in their homes. The simpliness of
the task made it fun and good learning for all of the students who worked on it. They each did
some of the wiring for the electric circuits on the robot. They had to go though a mock circuit
board and make it out of wood draw on the wood the place of each component and mark which
ones were wired to where. Then they build the two boards out of Plexiglas to the map of the
wood mock boards. They are in use on the robot now.
For more information contact Mike Zaremba, Engineering MS or Vince Wray, Shelley HS




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                                  Physics LESSONS
Unbroken Ring Activity - This is a simple open-ended, inquiry based lab for 9th graders or
lower. Have students break into groups of 2 or 3. Hand out a sheet of regular paper and a pair of
scissors. Question: Can a piece of paper be cut in such a way that you can make a continuous
(unbroken) "ring" big enough that a student can step through it? Assignment: With your partner,
brainstorm ideas. You are allowed to ask other groups for ideas. Allow 5 - 10 minutes. Stop the
class and let each group stand up and show the rest of the class what they have come up with so
far. Resume. As soon as someone comes up with a solution, present a harder challenge: Can you
cut the paper so that the ring is big enough to pass TWO students through? How about THREE?
In our class, one group cut the sheet in such a way that they could pass TEN students through it!
For more information contact Mark Edwards

Electricity and Motors This lesson was a very short lesson to 5th graders. More time could be
taken with older students who would understand some of the principles behind it. Talk with the
students about how electricity works. Define some key terms such as current, voltage, and
resistance. Next, show the students how a magnet works and how opposite poles attract each
other and similar poles repel each other. Show the students how an electro magnet works
(usually copper wire wound into a loop several times with a current flowing through it). Finally
show them the model electric motor (made of two paper clips, batter, magnet, and copper wire
wound into a loop with two ends acting like an axel), Dr. Shropshire has one which you could
borrow. Split the model into sections and explain how the electromagnet (copper wire and
battery) is attracted by the permanent earth magnet causing the copper wire loop to rotate. Once
the students understand how the motor works, you can talk about using the same setup as a
generator to generate electricity.
For more information contact Corban Christensen or Janet Cook

Liquid nitrogen and the kinetic theory- using demonstrations on how very cold objects react in
every-day situations, such as a normal raquetball shattering on hitting the wall. That was our
warm-up lab to the kinetic theory and worked on that for several weeks to have the students
understand the behavior of energy in the enviroment and how atoms behave.
For more information contact James and Joe Timchak

Water balloon launcher lab: (will be done in mid to late May) After students are introduced to
simple velocity and acceleration labs, we will introduce tension, energy, some simple
areodynamics while using water balloons. Students will compete with each other (or other
hours) for the optimal volume of water, angle degree of launch, tension in the launcher, etc. Still
working on ironing out kinks on this project.
For more information contact James and Joe Timchak

Water conservation andxeriscaping. High School, Our physical science class mapped the
entire high school grounds and proposed a garden plot to the school’s administration. The next
stage involved the general biology class. Our field ecology students obtained native seeds by
applying for “mini-grants” and sending several companies formal letters, requesting aid in the
form of seed donations. Based on their results from corn, bean, and pepper seed experiments,
general biology students designed lab experiments to determine what temperature native seeds
need to successfully germinate. The final stage in our native seed garden involves the planting of
the native grasses and sagebrush into planters or into a section of planting of these seeds in a


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student proposed. Assuming time permits, students involved in the environmental science class
will plant the native garden before the spring’s end.
For more information contact Jason Jones and Robert Miron

Water as a means of propulsion. High School, Building upon their knowledge of propulsion
and resistance, our astronomy students designed bottle rockets to launch at the end of the
semester. The bottle rockets were measured to determine overall length, mass, and center of
mass. These measurements were then placed in an equation that allowed the students an
opportunity to compare their rocket’s predicted maximum height to the actual height their rocket
obtained.
For more information contact Jason Jones and Robert Miron

Simple Machines and Gears Grades 5-6th We started by asking the kids questions to see what
they already knew about gears and to see what misconceptions they might already have. Once
the level of understanding was established we discussed (using a bicycle) what gears they would
select on there own if they were going to climb a steep hill, then what would they shift to if they
wanted to go really fast. This helped to introduce the idea of high and low ratios. Next the kids
were put into small groups each have a small amount of lego parts that would allow them to
experiment with gears. A sheet of paper was used to keep track of their observations: directions
that each gear turned, number of rotations relative to other gears etc, they were encouraged to
add multiple gears to this train and observe how the system changed. To finish each group got a
chance to share what they learned during the last twenty minutes.
For more information: Brad Schroeder, Engineering MS & Cathy Kratz, Gateway School

Simple Machines and the Inclined Plane Grades 5-6th After a brief discussion to let the kids
share their ideas about inclined planes the class was split into five groups and each group
received a Newton scale, weights, adjustable height ramp and some string. The students first
weighed the masses and recorded the dead weight. Next they picked an incline to set the ramp at
and they as steadily as possible pulled the weights up the ramp. The weight shown on the scale
during this process is then recorded. This is done for a number of different inclines and then all
of the students are asked to share what they learned about how incline planes (ramps) make work
easier for us.
For more information: Brad Schroeder, Engineering MS & Cathy Kratz, Gateway School

Simple Machines and Pulley’s Grades 5-6th A weight of around 30 lbs. is used for all of the
demonstration. The kids are asked questions about how they feel pulley’s can make the task of
lifting easier. Different configurations of pulleys are drawn on the board and the kids are asked
to guess what the effect of each situation will have on the amount of weight felt at the other end
of the suspended mass. First the smallest kid in the class is picked and asked lift the weight off of
the floor, if they can do this asks them to hold it in the air and they will soon be struggling. Then
use one pulley to eliminate half of the weight and let them suspend the weight in the air again
and feel the difference. Next attach the weight to a small block and tackle (I used one sold to aid
in field dressing big game) and allow the child to hold the block in the air and it is extremely
easy. In a small enough class I had the kids all come up and do each of these exercises and then
they were to guess how much lighter the weight felt each time. Once all of this was done we
went through a quick lesson in the math behind this lesson and computed how much weight
really was shown at the end of the rope.
For more information: Brad Schroeder, Engineering MS & Cathy Kratz, Gateway School


Includes year 1 and year 2: Updated March 13, 2012
Best GK-12 Lessons at ISU
SPAGHETTI STRUCTURES Grades 5-6th, The students were assigned to build a structure out
of spaghetti and marshmallows that would withstand an “earthquake”. The groups could choose
whether they wanted to use 100 pieces of regular spaghetti or 300 pieces of “angel hair”. They
were also given 40 miniature marshmallows to assemble their buildings. The structure could not
be more than 8” x 8” at the base. The students quickly discovered that the structure needed to be
reinforced and braced. Teamwork and cooperation were essential to complete the project. After
the structures were built, Amy tested them on a “shake table” that she made. The students were
excited to see if their structures were “earthquake proof”. The project led to a very good
discussion about building structures in areas where earthquakes are more likely to occur.
For more information contact Denece Schwartz, Chubbuck Elem or Amy Jolley, Engineering BS




Includes year 1 and year 2: Updated March 13, 2012
Best GK-12 Lessons at ISU
                                        Chemistry
Who Put the Wham a Lamma Ding Dong? Students gain familiarity with using chemistry lab
equipment as they analyze a variety of household chemicals.
For more information contact Leah Potter

Elements and Liquid Nitrogen. For this activity, the students will learn about different
elements and how materials and gases are affected by extreme cold. First, the students are shown
the periodic table and are told some information about how and why they are grouped the way
they are on the periodic table. The students are then asked to define element, metals and non
metals. You can ask the students if certain materials are classified as elements, metals or
nonmetals. Talk about how all the matter is made up of only these elements. Next, ask the
students how they think gases behave when cooled or heated. While talking about the gases,
take a couple balloons and put them into the liquid nitrogen. As the lecture continues, keep
placing more and more balloons into the liquid nitrogen. If the students don’t know what
happens to gases as they cool, tell them and pull out a balloon which was placed into the liquid
nitrogen (the balloon should be very small). As you hold the balloon in the air have to students
watch the balloon as it starts to warm up. Many objects can be placed into the liquid nitrogen but
some of my favorites are: candy, bouncy balls, racket balls, and grapes. You can talk with the
students about how extremely cold temperatures can make almost all materials very brittle and
weak. Bounce a racket ball a few times and then try bouncing a frozen racket ball. If the racket
ball hits the floor with enough force it will shatter into many small fragments.
For more information contact Corban Christensen or Janet Cook




Includes year 1 and year 2: Updated March 13, 2012

								
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