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Make Lava Lamp and Learn About Density

We have all seen it!  The flashy science experiment that really is very exciting and certainly gets students to observe, but somehow falls short when it comes to actually teaching a concept.

I tell my beginning teachers, make sure you think about what concepts, skills or ideas you want to teach first and then come up with a great experiment to go with it.  

Take the Lava Lamp.  It is spectacular and easy to do.  The students love this one!  It is colorful! It happens fast!  It uses simple household materials!  But what are we actually teaching?


I think there are several great science concepts within this activity.  To me the most obvious one is the opportunity to talk about density.  Simply put, water is more dense than oil.  That is why the oil is on the top.  Another concept that you can teach through this exciting activity is polarity (why oil and water do not mix).



There are also skills that you can teach or have students practice:
Making observations
Making inferences
Reading informational text to learn new information
Arguing from evidence
Recording data
Comparing and Contrasting

Here is my procedure:
I have the students fill a bottle  3/4 full with vegetable oil.
I have them fill the rest with water.
(Even this much ends up looking really cool as the water and oil separate). Observe and Record Observations

Add three or four drops of food coloring.  Observe and Record Observations
Break up Alka-Seltzer Tablets into smaller pieces.  Add a few to the bottle. Observe and Record Observations
Give students a flashlight to shine on the bottle. 

Now that I have the students curious and excited.  I have them read some informational text to find out the science behind what is happening!  This works great.  They are suddenly interested in reading some technical reading because they have had this exciting hands-on experience and they want to know how it works. 
We have a great discussion and I then have them record their findings in their interactive notebook.
Here are couple of the folds I use.
Now I have really made sure my students did not just experience science magic!  I made sure they actually learned something and practiced important skills.  
This entire lesson plan including the Informational Text article that explains the science behind it and All the Flaps and Folds is available for purchase. 




Also available in this Density Bundle at a 20% savings!




https://teachingscience.us/landing-page/

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I am so impressed with this unit which manages to be distance learning and hands-on at the same time.  Really well thought out and engaging activities that allow students to practice each of the eight Science and Engineering Practices.  Really no prep for me!

 
Science and Engineering Practices Distance Education Unit

Tina S

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
5
2016-05-03T18:05:39-06:00

Tina S

I am so impressed with this unit which manages to be distance learning and hands-on at the same time.  Really well thought out and engaging activities that allow students to practice each of the eight Science and Engineering Practices.  Really no prep for me!   Science and Engineering Practices Distance Education Unit
The elephant article was excellent but I also thought the lab on dissecting a flower was broken down so easily, even telling me where to get inexpensive flowers!  This resource helped me teach this challenging standard in an engaging way.  Worth every penny!

 
Structure and Function NGSS 4-LS1-1 and 4-LS1-2

Richard S

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
5
2016-05-03T18:07:52-06:00

Richard S

The elephant article was excellent but I also thought the lab on dissecting a flower was broken down so easily, even telling me where to get inexpensive flowers!  This resource helped me teach this challenging standard in an engaging way.  Worth every penny!   Structure and Function NGSS 4-LS1-1 and 4-LS1-2
As always, Lynda provides perfect alignment with the standards.

 
Age of the Earth and Geologic Time Scale NGSS MS ESS1-4

Sharon M

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
5
2016-05-03T18:24:44-06:00

Sharon M

As always, Lynda provides perfect alignment with the standards.   Age of the Earth and Geologic Time Scale NGSS MS ESS1-4
Thank you so much for creating this resource! It is such a fun and engaging activity for my students, especially during distance learning.

 
Honey Bee Digital Escape Distance Learning

Expedition Fourth

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
2020-11-03T20:44:55-07:00

Expedition Fourth

Thank you so much for creating this resource! It is such a fun and engaging activity for my students, especially during distance learning.   Honey Bee Digital Escape Distance Learning
My students loved this unit. I was able to present different elements of it throughout the month. It is hard to find interesting non-fictional, age-appropriate text for my students that they will enjoy. This was a great unit that aligned well for my students who have very different goals within the same group.

 
Compare and Contrast Two Texts on Reindeer

Heidi J

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
2020-11-03T20:45:49-07:00

Heidi J

My students loved this unit. I was able to present different elements of it throughout the month. It is hard to find interesting non-fictional, age-appropriate text for my students that they will enjoy. This was a great unit that aligned well for my students who have very different goals within the same group.   Compare and Contrast Two Texts on Reindeer
5
3
Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams