What it teaches: Life cycles
What you need: 500 mealworms ($5.00 at PetCo), oatmeal ($1.00), small plastic containers ($3.00), carrots ($0.80).
Total cost: $9.80 per class
What to do: Fill each container with oatmeal and a piece of carrot for the mealworms’ home. Give groups of students three mealworms. These will be their “babies” to raise to adulthood. Chart the progress of the mealworms weekly. Notice changes in length, shape, and color. Discuss metamorphosis.
Then read: A Mealworm’s Life, by John Himmelman
What it teaches: Air as a force
What you need: Plastic grocery bags, cut to 12" x 12" squares (free), box of sandwich bags ($1.50), packing tape ($1.50), roll of yarn ($0.99), bag of candy ($1.00).
Total cost: $4.99 per class
What to do: For each parachute, cut four 12" pieces of yarn. Tape the yarn to each corner of the grocery bag square. Place candy inside the sandwich bag. Tie the yarn to the sandwich bag, closing it. Test the parachutes by dropping them from various heights.
Then read: Bernie Magruder and the Parachute Peril, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Amazing Ziploc Bag
What it teaches: Properties of water
What you need: Sealable sandwich bags ($2.00), sharpened pencil from the supply box (free), water (free).
Total cost: $2.00 per class
What to do: Fill a sandwich bag with water and seal it. Carefully push a sharpened pencil into one side of the bag. Continue to push the pencil through and out the other side. Stick more pencils through the bag. Have students speculate why the water does not leak. Discuss the cohesion properties of water.
Then read: The Lemonade Trick, by Scott Colbert
The Edible Atom
What it teaches: Structure of an atom
What you need: Two boxes of gum drops ($5.00), bag of mini-marshmallows ($1.50), toothpicks ($0.75), tape ($0.50).
Total cost: $7.75 per class
What to do: Tear off a piece of plastic wrap that is 10" x 10". Place six green gumdrops (neutrons) and six red gumdrops (protons) on the plastic. Gather together the ends of the plastic wrap and twist it around the gum drops. Cut off the tail and tape down the extra. Stick six toothpicks into the “nucleus” of the model so it makes a circular pattern. Add one marshmallow to each toothpick to represent the electrons.
Then read: What’s Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew?, by Robert E. Wells
To Decay or not to Decay
What it teaches: Decomposition of organic and inorganic matter
What you need: Knee-high hose ($0.50), trash from home (free), Fruit Roll-Ups ($1.25), twist ties (free), shovel from home (free)
Total cost: $1.75 per class
What to do: Ask kids to bring in one item they think will decay over time and one they think will not. Place “decaying” matter in one knee high and “non-decaying” matter in the other. Separate each item with a twist tie. Add the Fruit Roll-Up to the “decaying” knee high. Write down each item included. Bury knee highs outdoors. Unearth at end of school year to discover what has decomposed.
Then read: Archaeologists Dig for Clues, by Kate Duke