Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dec 14 and 15

Today in class we took a break from chemistry and learned how to analyze the international boiling point data. We practiced using excel to create graphs and look at trends.

Help in doing this is available on my website under the 'IBP' Page.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dec 7th and 8th

Today in class we learned about the elements project. In this project we will be creating a fact sheet, a small model and then a commercial about an element assigned to us.

Each class reviewed the rubric and the project and then saw an example of a successful commercial.

We then went to the computer lab and researched our element for our fact sheet.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dec 2nd and 3rd

Today we dug into the periodic table and reviewed the parts of an atom. We learned how to use the information on the periodic table to determine how many protons, neutrons and electrons were in different atoms. We also learned how to identify an elements name by looking at the number of protons.

This information can be found in chapter Five of the Introduction to Matter book, which is available online--see my website for the online textbook.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Nov 30th and Dec 1st

Our do now today was on the differences between physical and chemical changes. We discussed both, and gave examples of each. We then discussed that the do now questions would make good quiz questions (hint, hint). I would exoect a quiz on wednesday/thursday on this.

After the do now we built our fifth and final design, then explained the changes we made from design to design. Finally we tested and filmed our final designs-look for the films on youtube or in the class wiki.

We also started chemistry. We handed out a periodic table for each student then briefly discussed group 18, the Noble gases, and group 17, the Halogens.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nov 23-24, creating our posters

Today we spent our time working on our posters. We illustrated our four designs and then explained what we would do if we were to build another version of our thermal protective system.

We will present the posters on the 25th.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nov 20 The final design

Today we created one more thermal protective system. Kudos go to the group in period 5B that created a design that lasted 41 seconds--almost double what all other groups were able to do.

Be sure to check out the video footage on youtube--look for videos by beakernflask

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nov 18 and 19--Engineering Design Challenge Day

Today we first took care of our first marking period grades. I handed out a sheet to each student, the sheet showed every grade that they had earned in the 1st marking period. They then filled out a form titled "Why I got the grade I got" and wrote one sentence on what they could focus on in second marking period in order to do better.

Once this was out of the way we created two structures for our engineering design challenge. The first structure was made with just a 3 inch square of Al foil. This was tested (and the tests were filmed).

The second structure was made using a 3 inch square of copper mesh, a piece of Al foil, two nuts and one washer. These were also tested and filmed.

Film can be seen at;


Once on the website look at the right hand side of the screen. There should be several hotlinks, one for each class. Click on the hotlink, then download and view the video files.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nov 16th--Engineering Design Challenge

We are taking a short break from the textbook and are working on a design challenge created by NASA. It is called the Thermal Protective Systems design challenge and it models how engineers create protective systems for rockets.

We will be working this challenge until the Thanksgiving break. Our students are creating prototypes of thermal protective systems and then testing them on our very own test bench.

So far, the project has been both fun and informative!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nov 9th and 10th-Welcome back from break

Today's class theme was 'Pause and Reflect'. We are just about to finish the first marking period and it is a good time to look back at how we have done.

We discussed a demonstration on air pressure. We inflated a balloon inside a soda bottle, then pressurized the bottle and watched what happened to the balloon. We also felt the side of the bottle and noticed that it became warmer when air was added, and became colder when the air was released.

We then reviewed our chapter two test, and then received graded chapter two homework and also our graded lab reports.

Finally, we are done with our sound and light books--please bring them back in for the next class.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Oct 30th--Halloween Horrors

Today, a 'C' day for science, we completed the following seven activities:

Haunted rock--we witnessed what a 'rattleback' did. It's modeled after a river rock that spins in one direction only. Spin it the way it doesn't want to spin it will stop and then spin in the opposite direction.

Lasers O' Death--we set up a fog machine and several lasers. We created the normal to a plane (a line perpendicular to a mirror) then bounced a second laser off of the mirror. We saw that the angle between the normal and the incident beam (the beam going into the mirror) was the same as the angle between the normal and the reflected beam. We also witnessed light scattering in the fog.

Have some Plasma---we worked with a plasma ball, discussed the states of matter (solid, liquid, gas, plasma and a new one, the Bose-Einstein Condensate. We saw how a fluorescent bulb could be lit by touching it to the plasma ball.

Electric chair--we used the Van de Graff generator to create electrical fields and then sparks. Some classes also saw how the fluorescent bulb would light when touched to the generator.

Celebrity Peep Cage Match--we placed a cat peep and a ghost peep under the vacuum jar and had them experience the low pressure of a partial vacuum.

Pumpkin Peril--We reacted Calcium Carbide with water inside a pumpkin, then added a spark to see what happened.

Death to Gummy Bears--we melted a small sample of Sodium Chlorate and deposited one gummy bear into the liquid--the results were spectacular.

Extra credit opportunity--take one of the above--write what we did and witnessed in class, then research the scientific principles behind the activity. Create a one page (single spaced, 12 font) explanation and be prepared to teach it to the class when we return from fall break.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wed and Thursday October 21st and 22nd

Yesterday was the orientation trip to the high schools. All classes met yesterday for varied amounts of time so we met our new class creatures and then watched a video from the planet earth series.

Wed and Thur we completed the Tuneful Tubes lab activity on resonance and then signed up for Gizmos--an interactive website that we will be incorporating into our lessons and HW.

Gizmos are online interactive simulations. To access them at home you will need to have full installations of both shockwave and java applications. Both are free. If you don't have them the gizmos home page will provide a link to get them.

Note: you will need to turn off your pop-up blocker in order to use gizmos.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October 13th and 14th

On these days we will determine the speed of sound via an experiment. We will go outside with cymbals and stopwatches and measure how long it takes sound to reach us from varied distances. We will then graph the data in a scatterplot, do some trend analysis and then calculate the speed of sound using the equation velocity equals distance divided by time. As part of this exercise we will also need to convert feet into meters.

Students will need to turn in the scatter plot, the math work used to determine the speed of sound and a two paragraph analysis of the calculated speed of sound in comparison to the published speed of sound of 343 meters per second in air at 20 degrees C

October 12th and 15th

It is an odd week as the classes are off schedule. On the 12th and 13th we will do an activity using the mosquito ring tone. We will see who can hear the different ring tones. We will also do a lab that shows how different frequencies travel through the air.

Friday, October 9, 2009

October 9th

Today we had a C day and worked on both Units Conversion and the relationship between frequency and pitch.

We started off with this question. If speedy the turtle can 'run' two feet every five seconds, how many feet per minute can he travel? How many miles per hour is that?

We then took a short quiz and then did the quicklab on page 39.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October 7th and 8th--starting sound

Today in class we started chapter two in our sound and light book. We first built shoebox guitars and observed how the thickness of the string affected the sound.

We then put a bell inside a vacuum chamber and listened to the change in sound of the bell as we removed some of the air from the chamber. We also put balloons and marshmallows in the vacuum chamber and saw what happened to them.

We then bounced a laser off of a model of an ear drum and saw how different sounds created different laser patterns.

After these demonstrations we completed the good vibrations quick lab on page 30. We experimented with a tuning fork and saw how sound was vibration.

At the close of class we reviewed our recent test.

Note: new homework is available on the resource table.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Oct 1-2

Today in class we finished up collecting data for the international boiling point project. We reviewed our procedure which we will use when we write our lab report.

After that we worked on wave interactions (interference and diffraction, refraction and reflection.

Remember--our chapter one test is Monday for A days, Tuesday for B days.

Friday, September 25, 2009

September 24th and 25th

Today we turned in our first ten points of homework and then began the International Boiling Point Project. We got into groups and discussed four possible factors that could affect the boiling point of water.

These factors were 1) the temperature of the room, 2) the amount of water to be boiled, 3) the altitude of the boiling location and 4) the type of stove used to heat the water.

Each group came up with their hypothesis based upon what they thought was the most important factor--we then practiced performing the experiment.

We will do the experiment for real on Tuesday/wednesday.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sept 18th and 21st

Today we diagrammed and labelled compressions, rarefactions and wavelengths of a longitudinal wave. We then worked on two labs, the quicklab on page 12 and the wave speed lab on page 20. We also completed our puzzle piece for our classroom posters.

Students who missed this class should read sections one and two of chapter one and complete the section review questions.

We announced that there will be a quiz on diagramming both transverse and longitudinal waves on the 22nd and 23rd and we announced that the chapter one test will be October 5th and 6th.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 14th-17th

On the 14th and 15th we took our safety quiz, then reviewed our lab activity by sharing and comparing our data. Finally we experimented with our film cannister cannon.

On the 16th and 17th we began to work in chapter one of the "Sound and Light" book. We looked at examples of transverse and ocean waves, and diagrammed a transverse wave. We defined crest, trough, wavelength and amplitude.

We also practiced using the sq3r reading method as we started to read chapter one, section one.

Finally, we did a human wave, and pointed out crests, troughs and wavelength, then we switched gears and worked on the helium hoop activity.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

September 10th-11th--our first lab

Today we received our textbooks (Sound and Light), read pages 138-139 about the scientific method, and then worked on a lab that investigated pendulums. We looked at the effects on the period of vibration of a pendulum when we changed 1) the mass on the pendulum, 2) the arc length we swung the pendulum and 3) the length of the pendulum itself.

The lab will be due on Monday for A day classes, Tuesday for B day classes and it must be in our class lab format.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Welcome to the new year

Welcome students and parents of the class of 2010. I'm looking forward to the start of this year as I have planned many new and interesting activities that I learned about at Space Camp this summer.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

June3-4 Environmental science

We've been busy doing activities centered around environmental science.

In the last week we have explored food chains and webs, and have seen how animals high on the food webs need many more food items lower than them --else they don't survive for long. We have seen how toxins get concentrated in higher order animals (such as ourselves).

We have also completed a lab that modeled wolf survival both with and without human intervention.

Most recently we discussed the importance of clean, safe drinking water and then worked as epidemiologists to discuss factors that affect diseases in populations. We learned that 80% of all diseases are waterborne, that is they spread by the contamination of water. We also learned that less than 100 years ago, many households in the US did not have piped in drinking water--they had to gather water from wells and carry it to their houses.

On Friday we will use the game pandemic 2 to look at disease vectors and how people try to combat the spread of infectious diseases.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May 18-22--Build a better building (out of spaghetti?)

This week we have started the construction of our earthquake resistant spaghetti buildings. On the 18th and 19th we formed our companies and began to research and design.

Please check the website for the details of the spaghetti webquest. There is also some extra credit available--due by friday the 22nd.

To get some practice in building structures, play the game "Cargo Bridge" at http://onemorelevel.com/game/cargo_bridge

Be sure to check out the advantages of triangles over squares and rectangles.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May 5/6 Starting our projects

Today starts several days of research and project writing. We will be in the media center/computer lab and working on our poster and digital story. Both will be due on Wednesday May 13th for B classes, Thursday May 14th for A classes.

Don't forget your thumbdrives--we'll need them for the next two weeks.

Monday, May 4, 2009

May 4 Welcome back from Ask Testing

We are back into the game after the previous week of testing. We are starting our earthquake project--please check out the earthquake project webpage on my class website.

Today in class we used the earthquake shaker table to explore how buildings fail during earthquakes--remember, for extra credit you can build a model of a building with earthquake resistant technology, then test it on our shaker table. Please be prepared to explain how the technology works!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April 20-27 The week before NJASK

This week we will be doing short reviews of topics previously learned.

Monday we reviewed plate tectonics.
Tuesday we took our chapter test on plate tectonics.
Wednesday we celebrated Earth Day
Thursday we reviewed physical science with dry ice
Friday we reviewed genetics and punnet squares

Thursday, April 16, 2009

April 16th and 17th, the layers of the earth and plate boundaries

Today we covered lots of ground. We created a foldable to organize the layers of the earth. We looked at the layers as defined by its composition, then looked at it as defined by its physical properties. The information for this was found on pages 88-91. Interested students can complete questions 1-4 on page 94 to check their understanding.

We then read about different plate boundaries (divergent, convergent and transform) and also looked at two types of crusts (oceanic and continental). We then completed an activity that used graham crackers to model these different boundary interactions. Read pages 99-101 to refresh your memory about this information.

Remember--test on Tuesday.

April 14-15--welcome back from Spring Break

Hope everyone had fun during their time off!

Today in class we started plate tectonics and also did a bit of review for the State tests (they are in two weeks time).

We discussed gravity, then demonstrated the phases of the moon.

We started chapter four and discussed the break-up of Pangea, then read about continental drift theory on pages 92-93 and 95-98.

We will have a short test on chapter four on April 21st--check the website for the study guide.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April 1-2 Pompeii

Today in class we watched the Discovery Channel movie Pompeii: The Last Day. It re-enacted the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79.

Monday, March 30, 2009

March 30-31 Volcanoes!

Today in class we started a short unit on volcanoes. We watched two short clips on youtube--they can be found at

and at


We then watched a demonstration of a volcano erupting and then another of a geyser erupting. Following the demonstrations we worked on the lab "Some go pop, some do not". This lab can be found on page 163 of our textbook. It will be turned in at our next class.

Friday, March 27, 2009

March 27th--Ate the cookies, on to the geologic column

We finished our oven project--and judging by the number of cookies baked, it was very successful. Today we started a lab on the geologic column and will finish it for homework--the lab is on page 78 in our textbook and is due monday for B classes, tuesday for A classes. Next week we will work on volcanoes and then it is spring break. After that it is 4th marking period and before you know it, graduation.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 24--finished our ovens

Both a and b classes have finished our ovens and will be baking our fossil cookies on Wednesday and Thursday. Be sure to know exactly what you need to do when you get into class because we won't have much time to set everything up and get them started cooking!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 18-19 Easy Bake Ovens

Today in class we started to build our easy bake ovens. We will be creating ovens out of light bulbs and photo copy paper boxes--then we will be using the ovens to make models of six different types of fossils--using sugar cookie dough as the substrate. The types of fossils are:

Carbon film (or carbonization) fossils
Cast Fossils
Mold Fossils
Simple Burial Fossils
Permineralization (or petrification) Fossils
Replacement Fossils

We will be graded on how well we work together, whether or not our oven works, and how well we model and describe our different fossil cookies.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March 11th and 12th--Modelling the Rock Cycle

Today we modelled the rock cycle by using either food or crayons. We created igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks and so far, no one has set off any fire alarms.

We also created posters telling how we created our models. We will go over the posters on Friday the 13th and then will have our test on Monday the 16th.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March 9/10 Sedimentary Rock

We've been working on chapter two, the rock cycle and the three classifications of rock: Sedimentary, Metamorphic and Igneous. Our test will be Monday March 16th and will be all short answer questions--Check out the study guide on the website (go to the tests and quizzes page) at http://www.freewebs.com/extremescience/testsandquizzes.htm

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

2/24 and 2/25--whodunnit

Today in class we did a brief review (test on friday) and then got into the mystery minerals lab. Students were given samples of 18 different minerals, and then used different physical properties to identify them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Feb 18th and 19th--The start of Earth Science

Today we dug into chapter one and started learning about minerals. We talked about four questions we use to determine if something is a mineral and then we talked about the major classes of minerals (silicates and non-silicates). We also discussed how minerals and chemistry were related.

We then used magnifying glasses to look at several different items, and we determined if they were mineral in nature.

We went over the mineral composition of the earth's crust, and then talked about carbonates, sulfates, native elements, sulfides and halides.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Feb 10-11--finally finishing our projects

It has been a while since my last post. We have been busily working on our atomic energy projects and will have the 10th and 11th to finish them in class. Those that don't finish will need to complete them at home, or come in early and work on them before school.

We will be switching books--so please bring back your interactions of matter book. We will start on Earth Science on Monday the 16th

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Feb 2-3-4

We are still working on our atomic energy digital stories. We've had some problems saving the files on our wiki, and the latest news from Microsoft is that we need to save our files on our thumbdrives.

So, bring them in folks!

We will not have a test on chapter four, so please also bring back your textbooks.

If you saw the news today about the earthquake in New Jersey--excellent timing, we will be starting our unit on earth science, and will be covering earthquakes.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jan 27 and 29

Snow day January 28th.

Today in class we started on our digital stories on atomic energy. In brief, students need to create a short story (~2 minutes in length) on an aspect of atomic energy. You can download the rubric and an explanation of the project by clicking through to http://www.freewebs.com/extremescience/atomicenergyproject.htm.

We will be using photostory 3 software at school to complete our digital stories. This software is free to download from microsoft.

We also learned how to use our class wiki. We will be using this to gather our information, get organized, and then complete the project. You can see the wiki at http://www.sciencerocksroom121.pbwiki.com/

We could use additional computer microphones for this project--if anyone has any to spare, we would love to borrow them!


Mr. J

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jan 23 and Jan 26

Today was silly hat day. We discussed Alpha and Beta Particles, and Gamma Rays. I wore a paper hat to illustrate the fact that Alpha particles are stopped by paper. I then wore an aluminum foil hat to show that Beta particles are stopped by thin sheets of metal or about a meter thickness of air. Finally I wore a cinder block hat to discuss Gamma Rays.

We also discussed the concept of half life and we performed the Headsium start up activity on page 79 of our textbook. If you missed this class you can do this activity on your own. All you need is 100 pennies.

Be sure to check my website, we will be starting our atomic energy project next week.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jan 22-23, the birth of atomic energy (and paranoia)

Today in class we started the final chapter of our interactions of matter book. We are now in the atomic age.

To start off we looked at the world in 1953, when atomic energy was brand new. We watched the civil defense film "Duck and Cover" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0K_LZDXp0I

Then we watched film of an actual nuclear blast at

Following this we compared life in 1953 with life today, then we watched excerpts from the film A is for Atom which can be found here.

Finally we discussed our new project. We need to think of some aspect of atomic energy that might interest us--it can be fallout, use in war, cold war, reactors, use in medicine, etc. We will be creating digital stories that help tell the story that we wish to tell.

We'll be doing this in class--however all should start doing some research now--come into class with a good idea on what you want to work on.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20th--Attack of the Killer Cabbages

What happened to the time?

Sorry, I was out on Thursday and Friday January 15th and 16th. On the 14th and on the 20th we completed the cabbage patch indicators lab on page 70 of our textbook. Period 5th-8th on the 20th watched the inauguration instead of the lab.

Monday, January 12, 2009

January 12-13 Acids and Bases

Today we started chapter three--note that we will not be in this chapter very long!

We reviewed the properties of ionic and covalent compounds and then discussed in depth the property of conductivity. We found that ionic solutions conducted electricity and many covalent compounds did not.

We then looked at Acids and Bases. We noted that acids produce H+ ions in water (also known as hydrogen or hydronium ions). Bases produced OH- ions or Hydroxyl ions. We then found that if you add an acid to a base you get a salt and water.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Jan 7th-8th, May we have your liver?

Today in class we completed the famous 'Liver Donor Lab'. In this lab we used an enzyme in chicken livers to decompose hydrogen peroxide. We looked at the effect of surface area on reaction speed by grinding up one portion of liver and comparing it with whole pieces. For the control we used a test tube filled with just Hydrogen Peroxide.

We found out that the ground up liver created a more vigorous reaction due to the greater surface area caused by the grinding up of the liver.

Remember, our test on chapter two is Friday, January 9th.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Jan 5th and 6th, Welcome to the new year!

Today in class we slipped back into our school routine after being away for 12+ days. Hopefully everyone had a good break and is ready to dig in to the schoolwork for these next few months.

Today we learned that our chapter three test will be this friday (January 9th) for all classes. Our homework due date has been moved up to Wed the 7th for the A day classes, Thur the 8th for the B day classes.

We received a study guide today--if you have lost it, head over to my website and check out the test and quizzes webpage for another copy of it.

In class we reviewed balancing chemical equations, the four clues that chemical reactions are occuring, and four different types of chemical reactions. We also went over the differences between chemical symbols, formulae and chemical equations and we talked again about the differences between exothermic and endothermic reactions.

Finally we started on section three. We demonstrated activation energy by dragging a match over a striker until it ignited, then we ignited some magnesium with a bunsen burner.

To end the class we looked at three factors that affect reaction rates: concentration of a solution, the starting temperature of a reaction and the surface area of the reactants. We cut a denture cleanser tablet in half, pulverized one half and then timed the amount of time required to dissolve the tablet and the powder in water. We then demonstrated the effect temperature had by dropping one tablet in room temperature water and another tablet in hot (almost boiling) water.