Monday, December 22, 2008

Dec 23rd--Happy Holidays

Today in class we watched a few more of the commercials and/or watched the original "How the Grinch stole Christmas".

Homework will not be due until January 9th--have a great holiday break and do just a little bit of studying because the chapter two test will be shortly after we return!

Dec 19th and Dec 22nd

Dec 19th I was absent! However the class worked on a conservation of mass lab. They took the mass of a denture cleansing tablet, a beaker, some water, and a ziplock bag. They then placed the water and the tablet in the bag, quickly sealed it and observed the reaction.

Finally, they weighed the bag, water and dissolved tablet, and then tried to determine if mass was conserved.

Dec 22nd we coated pinecones with molten wax, then sprinkled metallic salts on them. These can be thrown into wood burning fireplaces to create different colored flames. We also received our elements project grades and watched some of the elements commercials.

Dec 17-18 Burn, Baby, Burn!

We started off by taking notes on four types of chemical reactions. They were Synthesis, Decomposition, Single Replacement and Double Replacement Reactions. Synthesis means putting something together, Decomposition means taking it apart. Single replacement would be an element switching places with a part of a compound and double replacement would be two parts of two compounds switching places.

Then we completed the 'Burn, Baby, Burn" lab, complete with soundtrack courtesy of youtube. We weighed steel wool, then burnt it using a candle, then weighed it again. Many were surprised to see that the steel wool gained weight after it had been torched.

We discussed how this did not contradict the idea of conservation of mass. We realized that we had not weighed the oxygen that combined with the steel wool.

Finally, we balanced the equation Fe +O2-->Fe2O3 (this was the reaction we had completed).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dec 15-16, What's in a name

today we went over some basic rules for naming covalent molecules and ionic compounds. We discussed the latin prefixes mono, di, tri, tetra, penta, hexa, septa, octa, nona and deca.

We also spent more time balancing equations using this website

If you missed this class--try the ones on the website--if you do well, try the hard ones at

Bring in old candles and pine cones--we'll have something fun to do with them next week!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dec 12th--Balancing chemical equations

Today we had a C day, and we began to balance chemical equations--If you missed today's class check out the study help section of my website. There is a link to a website that will help you learn how to balance equations.

Balancing equations is in section one of chapter two. Good Luck!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dec 10-11--exploring chemical reactions

Today we dove into the chemistry. After a short set of notes on the clues to chemical reactions (hosted by Blue, from Blues Clues) we broke into groups and started experimenting.

We first mixed Ammonium Nitrate with water and found that as the chemical dissolved the test tube became very cold.

Secondly we mixed copper sulfate solution with washing soda and saw a white precipitate form.

For our third experiment we poured some manganese dioxide into hydrogen peroxide--we noticed bubbles of gas which we then tested with glowing splints. The glowing splint relit which told us that the gas was oxygen.

We then mixed baking soda with vinegar--again forming a gas. Our lit splint went out this time which led us to believe that the gas was carbon dioxide.

For our final experiment we dropped some Magnesium metal into a test tube of hydrochloric acid. We again saw bubbling. When we tested this reaction product the results were quite explosive!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dec 8-9 Starting chemical reactions

Today we modeled the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. We did this using the molecule sets and the instructions to the start up activity (found on page 27). If you missed this in class you can try it at home using marshmallows and toothpicks.

We also graded our chapter one homework, turned in our commercials, and found out our grades on the model. We took a few notes on products, reactants, the yields symbol and conservation of matter. We also discussed the difference between coefficients and subscripts in chemical formulae--and we counted the number of atoms in compounds.

Finally, we received the new take twenty homework handout--the first ten points will be due the 15th/16th, the second ten points will be due the 22nd/23rd.

Finally--we found out that the plasma ball can activate the musical chip in my holiday tie!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dec 3-4 Making Chemical Models

Today we went over our homework then completed a lab on making chemical models. We used the model kits provided to us from a grant from the PFA (thanks again, they were very useful!) and created ball and stick models of both ionic and covalent substances.

We modeled H2, Cl2, O2, N2, HCl, KCl, HBr, H2O, CO2, H2S, NH3 and CH4.

Remember--Test on Friday--Extra help every morning starting at 7:30 am.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dec 1-2, Post Turkey Day Review

Today we turned in our 3D model of our atom and also the chapter one homework. We then reviewed how to read the periodic table and how to figure out the numbers of protons, neutrons and electrons in an atom by looking at the periodic table.

We also went over the chapter one study guide (given out today in class and available online at my website). The chapter one test will be this Friday, December fifth.

Finally we created atomic bonding skits. Each group was given the names of two elements, the group then had to determine if the elements bonded, then create a skit to show how they would bond.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nov 21st--Our First Video Conference

Today was a great day!

Four of our classes had the opportunity to participate in an online video conference with a private school in Pennsylvania. Students in both classes had completed the International Boiling Point Project and the reason behind the conference was to discuss the shared experiences while completing the project. We used Skype to create the VC and it worked very well.

The video conference went off with only minor hitches--sound was a problem but we were able to work through it. Students from both schools were able to ask questions about the project, as well as more personal questions such as "was the school food good?", "have you seen anyone from Jon and Kate, plus eight?" to "do you like your science teacher? (I left the room for that one).

Our students were most surprised about how few students were in the other school, plus they could not comprehend not being able to wear jeans and t shirts to school. I can't answer for the other school but I believe that they could not believe how many students we had.

This was the very first video conference students at our school have ever participated and their behavior and questions were excellent. Hopefully we will be able to schedule more video conferences.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nov 19-20 The Official First Day of Chemistry

Today we finished refreshing our atoms and then started with chemical bonding.

First we completed the from glue to goop activity (page 2 in the textbook). We mixed watered down glue (50/50 mix of water and elmers) with a dilute borax solution (4 grams of borax to 100 mL's of water). It made a silly putty like material.

We then drew lots of Bohr models of atoms--we did hydrogen, helium, lithium, sodium, chlorine, neon and potassium.

Finally, we filled a balloon full of hydrogen gas and blew it up--and we have film to prove it!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Nov 17-18 Gathering Information

Today we went to either the media center or the computer lab and began working on gathering the info for our elements project. We used multiple sources (three minimum including one book source) to determine the key facts on our element. This part of the project will be due this friday.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nov 13-14 Starting Chemistry

Today in class we had a whirlwind refresher on sixth grade chemistry. We touched on the parts of an atom (Protons, Neutrons and Electrons). We talked about the difference between atoms (no charge) and ions (have charges).

We then reviewed the periodic table, talked about how protons made the atom--any atom with one proton was a hydrogen atom (number 1 on the periodic table), any with 2 protons was Helium (number two on the table). We pointed out the noble gases and the halogens, or salt formers.

All this information can be found in the introduction to matter book (see my website for the online version of the book).

Finally, we discussed our elements project--We will be creating fact sheets, 3-D models and a commercial about an element. We saw sample commercials from previous classes.

This project will have three parts, and three due dates. Please see the Elements project page on my website for the specific due dates.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Nov 10th and 12th--still working on the data

We spent another full day in the computer room and by now our data should be thoroughly crunched! We'll be turning in our project lab reports later this week. I've added to my homework page our class introduction letter with our original hypothesis. Please cut and paste it into your lab report.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Nov 3rd and 5th--Crunching the Data

Today in class we began the analysis of the international boiling point data. This was a very intense day and the students all worked extremely hard. To get a better idea of what was done, head back to my website and look at the homework post for October 29th. This will give you the basic idea of what type of analysis we did.

You may download the project data from my homework page--you may also look at two mini movies that show how to use excel to analyze the data.

Oct 31st, Halloween

Today we did a C day and presented our concept maps--I have to admit, watching students in costume present concept maps was a lot of fun--imagine someone dressed as a chicken explaining wave interactions...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

October 27th/28th 29th and 30th Color Mixing Lab


We completed the color mixing lab on page 84--however we used the following websites to complete the color addition part of the lab

Additive color mixing

Fun with color filters

If you missed this class try both of these websites--play with the software and take notes on what happens when you play with different colored lightbulbs, canvases and filters.

On the 27th and 28th we went over light interactions We demonstrated the ideas of regular and diffuse reflection, light scattering, angles of incidence and angles of reflection--all with two laser pointers and a fog machine--These demonstrations match up with chapter 3, section 3 in our textbook. Finally we worked on our concept maps which we will be presenting to the class on halloween.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oct 23-24, Why are you wearing that? Won't you be hot?

Today in class we dove deeper into the electromagnetic spectrum, looked at additive color mixing and answered the question why darker colored clothes get hot quicker than lighter colored ones.

We discussed and looked at how white light is composed of the colors of the rainbow (roygbiv), also known as the visible spectrum, and how ultraviolet (uv) light is above violet, infra red (IR) is below red. We discussed that we experience different frequencies of EM radiation as color--just as we experience different frequencies of sound as pitch.

Finally, we completed the 'which color is hotter lab'--though we did not follow the procedure in the book--instead we made up our own because we wanted to use our nifty digital temperature probes.

Reminder--ten points of HW are due on Monday the 27th for A days, Tuesday the 28th for B days.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oct 21st and 22nd; What Light through yonder window breaks?

Today we started chapter three--all about light.

It was a busy day, we first took care of some general classroom business by looking over our graded chapter two tests and also self graded our chapter two homework portfolios.

We then viewed some slides of rainbows, sundogs and halos--then looked at light being broken up by a prism. Some classes looked at copper giving off green light during intense heating--other classes were not so fortunate as unfortunately the gas valve in room 121 became stuck in the off position.

We finished off the day by looking through spectroscopes at both fluorescent and incandescent lights, then had a brief discussion about the speed of light and the light year. We looked at the galaxy Andromeda and discussed what was happening on earth when the light that we see today first left the galaxy 2 1/2 million years ago.

We also received a hardcopy of the chapter three take twenty homework assignments. Not bad for 80 minutes!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oct 13-14, constructive interference with sound

Today we finished up our concept maps on waves and sound then we started the tuneful tubes lab (page 131 in the textbook).

In this lab we created constructive interference with sound waves. We knew we had created constructive interference because the sound of the tuning fork became louder.

We also turned in the next set of homework assignments.

Remember--Test on Friday--extra help this week is during lunch hour.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

October 8th-10th

Today we looked at the doppler effect with the help of an neat little program found at

We then played a virtual piano through a virtual oscilloscope and listened and compared how the instruments sounded and looked.

Following this we completed the good vibrations lab on page 30, the sounding board lab on page 39; we sketched the inner ear, played with the tin can telephones and demonstrated resonance using a matched pair of tuning forks.

At the end of class we went back to talking about pressure--we put a balloon in a bottle, pressurized the bottle and watched the balloon shrink--we also pulled a vacuum on a marshmallow and watched the marshmallow expand.

Remember--the rest of the homework points are due on Monday for B day classes--tuesday for A day classes and the next test will be on Friday the 17th of October.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Oct 6-7, Ear ye, Ear ye

We are into chapter two today--we started off with a demo model of the eardrum--we played music and bounced a laser beam off of the surface of the eardum and on to the smartboard--we watched the vibrations of the music cause the laser beam to create some very interesting patterns.

We then demonstrated what happens to sound waves when you remove air. We rang a bell inside a bell jar--then removed some of the air with a vacuum pump. We found that the sound of the bell became fainter.

We then discussed air pressure, scuba diving and balloons. We saw that if you put a balloon into a low pressure area the balloon expands. We found the same thing happened to marshmallows--put them in low pressure and they expand.

Finally, we used inspiration software to start the creation of a concept map for chapters one and two.

Note: Ten points of homework were due today.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

October 2-3--What's that sound

Due to the nice weather this week and the rain forecast for next week we moved up our speed of sound lab--we went outside with large cymbals and timers and determined how fast sound travels. The lab for this activity is on page 130 in our textbook.

We also experimented with the doppler effect using our buzzing frisbee. We found that as the annoying sound went away from us it dropped in pitch--when it was thrown toward us it rose in pitch. We also determined that Mr. J can still throw a frisbee...

Back in the classroom we looked at our experimental data and discussed the areas where error could have entered our data.

Reminder--ten points of homework are due on Monday/Tuesday October 6th and 7th

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

9/29-10/1 finished collecting data and reviewed ch 1 homework

We had a busy two days. We collected data for day three of the international boiling point project. Everyone had a chance using the digital temperature probes--following the lab we discussed the graph that was created by the data.

We reviewed our chapter one homework and self graded the homework portfolio. Following that we completed the start up activity on page 29--making homemade guitars using shoeboxes and rubber bands. We discussed how the thickness of the rubber band and the length impacted the sound that the band made.

Finally, we received the chapter two homework assignment. Ten points will be due on Monday/Tuesday October 6th/7th, the remainder of the points will be due on Monday/Tuesday October 13th/14th. As always--turning things in early is appreciated!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

September 19-24 Started the IBP Project

We have completed our first chapter on waves and are also in the middle of collecting data on the International Boiling Point project. To read more about this project go to

Today in class (September 23-24) we collected data from the project using both thermometers and digital temperature probes. We graphed the data using the software provided by the probes and looked at the boiling point on the phase change graph.

We then reviewed the wave properties of reflection, refraction and diffraction. For diffraction we looked at an online ripple tank demo. To try it at home go to
Choose single source and then play with the frequency. Have fun!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

September 17th-18th

Today we continued our discussion on waves. We sketched in a longitudinal wave and examined rarefactions, compressions; and learned how to determine the wavelength of this type of wave. We learned that this type of wave needs a medium in order to travel.

Next we measured the time it took for large and small water (surface) waves to travel across a one meter space. We looked at the data and found out that many people looking at the same thing came away with very different measurements of time. We also used excel to graph and analyze the data.

We discussed our big project--the International Boiling Point Project--starting on Friday, and then we finished off by examining the effect frequency had on the wavelength of a transverse wave--we did this with the industrial strength slinkies.

Remember--the first ten points of homework are due tomorrow, Friday the 19th

Monday, September 15, 2008

September 15-16--making waves

Today in class we scheduled our homework--remember ten points are due by friday.

We then started in on the first chapter--the nature of waves. We sketched a transverse wave and added in labels for crests, troughs, the amplitude and the wavelength.

After that we learned and then practiced the SQ3R reading method (see my website for links that explain it). We then practiced the method on chapter 1, section 1 for a short while.

We then had a few minutes of choice time to work on whatever it was we felt needed working on.

Finally, we closed with a demonstration of transverse and longitudinal waves using a large slinky in the hallway.

Friday, September 12, 2008

September 12th Safety Quiz day

Today we did our first C day which is a 40 minute class. We reviewed for a few minutes then took and corrected our safety quiz. We also received back our first lab reports with comments. If you received a lab report with questions you should try to answer them over the weekend.

We will be starting chapter One of the Sound and Light book on Monday.

Monday, September 8, 2008

September 8th-9th--Safety, Scientific Method and Observations

Today we took care of some business--went over the rubrics for homework, lab reports and our notebook check. These rubrics are available on the class website.

We then went over safety equipment. A copy of the class notes are at the end of this blog entry.

After safety we discussed observations and then did an activity called 'What's in the Box'. We used observation skills to describe many different items.

Finally we discussed the scientific method (can be found on pages 138-141 in our textbook) then reviewed the take twenty homework.

Safety Notes

Know where the safety equipment is located.

Eyewash Station
Safety Shower
Fire blanket
Fire extinguisher
First Aid Kit
Emergency cut off switches.

Keep the equipment clear!

Know where to go during a fire or evacuation drill’

Know your personal gear—gloves, goggles

Be personally safe:

Long hair tied back during labs
No long flowing clothes during labs—they could knock things over or catch on fire
When working with electricity or heat—no dangling jewelry—it gets hot!
No eating or drinking in the lab—no gum, candy. Never drink out of the lab glassware and don’t taste the chemicals.

In the lab:

Always label your experiments—and always read the labels!

When heating test tubes—point them away from everyone. Hold test tubes with test tube clamps. Hot test tubes go in the wooden racks.

When heating beakers—use the beaker tongs.

Never grab glassware without making sure it is cool—use the back of your hand—place it near the glass. If it is hot you will feel the heat on the back of your hand.

If you break or spill something—tell the teacher—don’t try to clean it up yourself.

When smelling chemicals—waft the aroma to your nose—do not stick your nose in a test tube or beaker.

Don’t touch electrical appliances with wet hands.

Don’t reach across a hot plate to turn it off.

Unplug hot plates when not using them.

Pour powders and liquids at arms length—not under your nose!

When finished with an experiment—clean up. Return excess materials to the teacher.

Finally—wash your hands after labs!

Lab equipment

We went over the beaker, the Erlenmeyer flask, the test tube and the graduated cylinder. Know how to read a graduated cylinder and know what the meniscus is. Know how to use the Graduated Cylinder.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sept 4-5, Welcome Class of 2009!

Welcome to another exciting year in room 121.

We have lots to do this year. We'll be touching on physics, chemistry, earth science and environmental sciences and we have several new projects to try!

Today in class we went over the classroom rules and worked on what it was to work as a team. We also received our first textbook (Sound and Light) along with a textbook scavenger hunt sheet.

There are three parts to our homework for the weekend (due Mon/Tue September 8/9).

Part one is to complete the scavenger hunt sheet. Doing so will help you to find important information in our textbook.

Part two is to review my website with your parents, then review your answers to the scavenger hunt with them.

Part three is to have your parents sign the scavenger hunt sheet once parts one and two have been completed.

I'm looking forward to a great year!

Mr. Jacoves

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

long division help

Watch this video for help in long division

Uploaded on authorSTREAM by killinge

Monday, June 23, 2008

Closed for Summer Break

We're on break--check back here in late August for information about 2008-2009 at Thompson Middle School!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Intro to authoring triple play podcast

Just finished my very first podcast--click it if you dare!

Act 1 Audacity tutorial result

Act 2 The Garden Oasis

Act 3 Mark Twain's earthquake experience

Friday, April 18, 2008

April 10th-21 Earthquake project

We have been hard at work completing our earthquake webquest. We should be finishing up the last part of it towards the middle of next week. Please go to my homepage and download the webquest for further details.

4/16-4/21 Clean up and then study cells

On the 16th and 17th, in honor of the upcoming earth day celebatrion we watched the Lorax and then went outside to clean up the upper and lower fields. We found many items including an old car battery charger and a glass gatorade bottle.

On the 18th and 21st we went back into the cells book and learned about Cell theory, surface to volume ratios and why you don't find cells the size of elephants. We dove back into the pond water and saw single celled organisms including cilliates, stentors and even an aomeba!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April 14-15 Cells, Cells, Cells

Today we started the new book, Cells, Heredity and Classification. We used the microscope to look at cells of the water plant Elodea. Some classes also looked at pond water (affectionately known as pond scum). We saw single and multicellular organisms.

We read section one together and took notes on cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, organisms, populations, communities and the ecosystem!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

April 8 building robotic arms

Today our A classes read about working and living in space (section 4 of chapter 5). We then completed the lab on page 148 (entitled Reach for the Stars).

Following the lab we worked on our water rockets. Weather permitting we will launch them on April 9th and 10th.

April 8-9 Earthquakes continued

Today we read the last section of chapter 5 'Earthquakes' then worked on our webquest. Each group should be finishing up with task 1 and 2 at this point in time.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

April 2nd-3rd Satellites are out tonite

Today in class we read the section on satellites and discussed how technology from the space race benefits us.

Following this we launched several water rockets and then came back inside and began to design our own rockets. We'll be doing this over the next 2 classes.

April 2nd-3rd: Starting Earthquake webquest

Today in class we began to work on our earthquake webquest. We'll be researching the causes of earthquakes, how they are measured and how we build structures that can survive them. We'll also learn about some of the world's major earthquakes.

A copy of the webquest can be found on my webpage in the 8th grade homework section

Monday, March 31, 2008

March 31st-April 1st: Space, the final frontier...

Welcome back!

Today we started our unit on space exploration. We will be very busy on several projects. We'll be building water rockets, straw rockets, robotic arms and who knows what else.

For a great website on water rockets, try

March 31st-April 1st--Shake it, Don't Break it!

Welcome back from Spring Break!

We have a busy month ahead of us--the marking period ends in 2 weeks, and the NJ ASK 8 tests are at the end of the month.

Today in class we started our unit on Earthquakes. We will be doing several projects--check the homework page on my website to download the Thompson earthquake webquest document. It is the guide for this unit.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March 19-20 Nobody's fault but mine

Quick Recap

March 17-18: We created a foldable that showed the different layers of the earth according to composition (crust, mantle and core) and physical properties (lithosphere, aesthenosphere, mesosphere, outer core, inner core). We then watched a demonstration of a geyser, and also looked at a non newtonian fluid--a material that acts like the plastic mantle.

March 19-20: We took some notes on the different types of faults (normal, reverse, strike-slip) and then completed the lab on page 110. In the lab we used playdough to recreate mountains folding during compression, then we showed both normal and reverse faults.

Mar 19-20--Galaxies and Stars

Gearing up for spring break! Here is a quick recap

March 17-18 We used the Hubble Deep Field images to classify galaxies according to their shape, size and color. We worked in groups and found that sometimes it was very difficult to agree on just what shape that fuzzy blob of stars was!

March 19-20 We created a scaled model of the big dipper and reviewed light years, red giants and blue dwarf stars.

No homework over break! enjoy!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

March 13/14 Test Today

Today we reviewed and then took our test on the rock and fossil record. Students that finished early got a jump on the reading for the next chapter.

March 13/14 the Life and Death of the Stars

Today we spent most of the class in the computer room/media center researching the life and death of stars. We are using this information to create a poster on the subject--this poster will be turned in on Monday/Tuesday the 17th/18th. Check my homework page for more of a description of the poster as well as an excellent website on the topic of star life cycle.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

March 11-12 Geologic time travels

Today we discussed the concept of geologic time--time measured in major changes in the Earth's history.

We read about the 4 eons, then created mnemonics to remember their names. We also used mnemonics to remember the eras in the Phanerozoic eon. See pages 73-77 if you missed today's class.

We finished up by watching a brainpop movie on geologic time, and another on radiometric dating.

Don't forget--test on chapter 3 next class!

March 11-12 We've got Stars on Ours

Today we did a little bit of reading (pages 98-100), spoke a bit about the Hubble Deep Field image and then split into three groups.

Our groups went through three activities:
  1. We did the Hot or Not lab on page 118--using battery eliminators instead of D cells. This lab was turned in at the end of the period.
  2. We viewed the emission spectra of several gases (hydrogen, iodine, Carbon DiOxide) and noted the different lines emitted by these gases.
  3. We read pages 102-103 and did the quicklab on 103--it discussed how the concept of Parallax was used to measure the distance to the stars. We also looked at a website that demonstrated this idea. The website can be found at

Today was a busy day--be sure to read pages 98-104 if you missed today's class

Friday, March 7, 2008

March 7th/10th Fossil Cookies

Today in class we brainstormed ways to create different types of fossils using sugar cookie dough and various items such as gummy worms, pretzels, etc. On monday we will create and bake our cookies then explore them scientifically (okay, we'll eat them).

March 7-10 Stratigraphy

Today in class we finished up our 'do you stack up' labs on the geologic column and then we worked on figuring out stratigraphic puzzles. We announced that the next test will be next thursday/friday--please check the main website for the study guide.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

March 5, Comets

Today in class we took a short quiz on the planets and some moon facts (phases of the moon, eclipses).

After the quiz we created a comet nucleus in class. To do this we mixed together dry ice, water, ammonia, a little cornstarch and some rocks and dirt. It was very interesting when the brew started to bubble and froth!

No homework today--hooray!

March 5 Fire and Ice

Today in class we took a break from Earth Science and went on an in class field trip. We experimented with dry ice and reviewed the concepts of pressure, density, sublimation, solids, liquids and gases, combustion and other things.

We froze a gummi worm and then shattered it. we froze a super ball and saw how it no longer bounced. We played with carbon dioxide soap bubbles, blew up balloons, launched film cannister rockets and generally had a good time.

As an added bonus--no Homework!

Monday, March 3, 2008

March 3/4 relative dating

We reviewed our easy bake oven grades then looked at how geologists use layers to decide which parts of the earth are older or younger. Today's class followed closely the information listed on pages 59-63 so if you missed today's class please review these pages.

March 3/4 Moon Dance

Today we explored the major moons in our solar system. We toured Luna, Phobos and Deimos (Mars), the four Galilean moons, Saturns Titan and Mimas (the death star moon), Uranus' sideways spin, Neptune's Triton and lonely Pluto and Charon.

We then modelled the phases of the moon using an extremely bright lightbulb and some styrofoam mini moons. We saw waxing crescents, quarter moons, waxing gibbous moons, full moons and then waning gibbous and crescent moons. We also created solar and lunar eclipses.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Feb 28-29, Solar System Walk

Today in class we walked a scale model of the solar system and took down facts about each planet and dwarf planet. If you missed today's class please review chapter 3 pages 64-74 and page 84.

Feb 28-29 Easy bake fossil bake off

Today we completed our homemade ovens and proceded to create our fossil cookies--No homework this evening. If you missed this class please review chapter 3 pages 68 to 70.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Feb 26-27 Family O' Planets

Today we did independent research on the planets, dwarf planets, asteroid belt and Kuiper belt. We pulled together facts and created posters which we will use in our next class when we go out and walk the solar system.

Feb 26-27 This will go down on your Fossil Record

Post snow day we created the worlds first (well Thompson's first) xerox paper box oven and verified that yes, we can bake cookies in class with a lightbulb and some Aluminum foil. We also did some research on the various types of fossils--and we passed around a coprolite fossil--much to the chagrin of most students once they realized what it was.

We also briefly discussed two theories on the changing earth--Catastrophism and Uniformitarianism.

Homework is to read pages 56-58 and to do the section review questions on page 58

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Feb 14 Igneous Rocks

Today was a 40 minute class due to yesterday's Diversity day schedule.

We discussed briefly that one of the features of igneous rocks is their crystal size. We also said that if the rock cooled quickly--like lave falling into the ocean or bursting up on land--then the crystals did not have time to get very large. If the magma cooled slowly then the crystals did have time to grow larger before the rock solidified.

We followed this up with a lab--we dissolved Magnesium Sulfate into distilled water and then allowed crystals to form both rapidly and slowly. We will review our results during the next class.

Our homework was to read pages 33-36 and complete the three section review questions on page 36.

Feb 13-14 Birth of the Solar System

We continued our exploration about the birth of our solar system.

We watched an animation found at this website:

This animation showed the various stages of the formation of a solar system. Similar illustrations are found in our textbook on pages 36 and 37.

We also discussed gravity--and we did asked and then answered the question "What if you dropped a rock into a tunnel that went through the earth? What would happen?"

At the end of class we looked at the flash game orbit found at the following website (or google Orbit Game)

We investigated Keplers 1st and 2nd rule, then drew and labelled ellipses.

Our homework was to read pages 39-42 and complete the section review on page 42

Friday, February 8, 2008

Feb 8/11 The rock cycle continued

Today we reviewed the rock cycle, then took a quiz on it.

After the quiz we completed a lab that modelled the rock cycle. We used chocolate chips to model the effects of erosion, deposition, cementation, melting and cooling and heat and pressure on rocks.

Our homework was to complete the lab handout.

Feb 8/11 How the Solar System Formed

We took our quiz on telescopes (chapter 1, section 2-3) the Big Bang (chapter 4, section 4) and then discussed gravity and gas laws--two ideas that helped explain how the solar system formed and heated up. Some classes viewed a demonstration of the fire piston--a device that compresses air causing it to heat up to 210 degrees C--causing a piece of cotton to burst into flame.

We then got into groups and gathered facts about the planets. We then used a computer simulation program to look at the orbits of the inner, rocky planets and the outer gas giants.

Finally we viewed several slides that showed the relative sizes of the planets, our sun and other larger stars.

Homework was to read pages 34-38 in the astronomy textbook, then complete the section review questions on page 38.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Feb 6-7 What is a Rock?

No, it isn't a country we went to war against.

Today we worked on understanding the rock cycle. We discussed classifying rocks into igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary based upon how they were formed.

These formation processes were;
  • Melting and Cooling-for igneous rocks
  • Being subjected to heat and pressure-for metamorphic rocks
  • Rocks turning into sediment via erosion and weathering, then being cemented together--for sedimentary rocks.

We drew the rock cycle from memory--several times.

At the end of class we took time to observe rock samples from each of the three categories.

Feb 6-7 The Beginning of it all

Today in class we discussed the Big Bang theory about the origin of the Universe.

We read pages 114-115 then sketched stars onto a balloon and measured the distance between them. We then blew up the balloon and remeasured the distance. We found that the distance between each star became greater. This modelled how astronomers observed that all the stars and the galaxies we see are getting further apart from us and each other.

Finally we worked on a critical thinking worksheet entitled "Fleabert and the amazing watermelon seed". A copy of this worksheet can be found on my website.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Feb 1-4 Telescopes, how they work

Today in class we reviewed our notes, then took a quiz on sections 1 and 2 of chapter 1 in the astronomy book.

We then did an activity called the mysterious floating penny. This activity demonstrated the property of refraction.

We also made a water lens which further showed how refraction can be used to magnify objects.

Finally we took brief notes on refracting and reflecting telescoptes. We noted how they were different and why most large telescopes are not refracting ones.

This finished chapter 1, we will start on Chapter two on Wed Feb 5.

There was no homework assigned, however students may read ahead in chapter two.

Feb 1-4 Mineral Detectives

Today in class we reviewed mineral properties then took a quiz (similar to the online quiz given as homework the previous class), and finally completed a lab named mineral detectives.

To complete the lab we were given 10-12 mineral samples, a flowchart and some tools such as streak plates, glass slides, sandpaper and Hydrochloric acid. By using the properties of minerals we were able to identify each sample.

We also took notes on metamorphic rock and the differences between surface and deep mining.

This ends chapter 1.

There was no homework assigned today.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jan 30-31 Identifying Minerals

8th Grade

Today's theme was identifying minerals using physical characteristics.

Today in class we went over the difference between fracture and cleavage in minerals. Following this brief discussion (and a story about a meat cleaver) we broke into groups and went through six stations that demonstrated each physical characteristic used to ID minerals.

We touched on smell, taste, feel, chemical reactivity, radioactivity, optical properties, density, hardness, color, luster, magnetism and fluorescence.

If you missed this class please review pages 8-11 in our Inside the Restless Earth textbook

Jan 30-31Finding and Understanding the Stars.

7th Grade

Today we found out how to find the north star by using the Big Dipper.

We then discussed the ancient and current use of the constellations, then talked about what the motion of the stars would do to the constellations as time passed.

In the second portion of class we talked about and demonstrated the use of Declination and Right Ascension to create a coordinate system to map the stars.

In the third portion of class we looked at the scale of the universe by watching the movie "Powers of Ten"

Monday, January 28, 2008

Jan 28/29 Ancient Observatories and 4 clues its a mineral

7th grade

We took brief notes on the the theories or famous deeds of astronomers Ptolemy, Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Galileo and Isaac Newton. We then broke into our groups and built our ancient observatories. Students build models of Stonehenge, Maya pyramids, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Sun Dagger at Chaco canyon and others.

8th grade

We discussed four questions used to decide if something is a mineral then we broke into groups and used the four questions to determine if shells, bones, fossils, concrete and other samples were minerals.

We then got back and learned the phrase OSiAlFe which stands for Oxygen, Silicon, Aluminum and Iron, the most common elements on the earth.. We also learned to draw a box and estimate the amount of each element on the earth.

Finally we took some notes on Silicate and Non-Silicate minerals.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jan 24th-25th Ancient Astronomers and Half Life

7th Grade

Ancient astronomers and the calendar.

Today we defined the day, the month and the year in terms of the movement of the Earth, Sun and Moon then we discussed and then viewed a video on how the Anasazi used buildings and windows as calendars. We also read page 6-7 in our astronomy book and then discussed why early civilizations needed astronomy.

For next class we need to research an ancient astronomy site of our choosing (like Stonehenge, the Great Pyramids, etc), then bring in craft supplies. We will build a model of our site in our next class session.

8th Grade

Radiation and Half Life

We finished our presentations on radioactivity then worked on an activity that explored half life. This was the last activity for our Interactions of Matter book. We will start on Minerals with our next class.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jan 22-23 Radiation Presentations and Extinction Event

January 22-23

8th grade--Presentations on Radiation

We presented our slides on radiation problems and solutions. We will finish up presentations and review the concept of half-life next class then work on a lab on half life. Our books will be collected on January 24th and 25th.

7th grade--We started Astronomy off with a bang!

We viewed meteor craters on the moon, in Arizona and in Peru then debated whether or not large meteors could still impact the earth today. We then watched a video simulation of a large meteor hitting the earth and destroying all life.

Finally we created Astrolabes out of protractors, straws and small weights (page 3 in the astronomy textbook) then took turns shooting the altitude of different objects.

Interested students can look up Near Earth Objects at

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Welcome parents and students

My goal with this blog is to briefly summarize the daily occurrences in my classroom, room 121 at Thompson Middle School.

This blog is not a substitute for finding out what a student may have missed during an absence. As per Thompson school recommendations each student should choose a homework buddy and then check with that buddy in order to gather makeup work and class notes.