Simple Machines: Science Activity for Kids 3

This week for STEM Friday we have physical science activities inspired by the new book:  The Kids' Book of Simple Machines: Cool Projects & Activities that Make Science Fun!by Kelly Doudna.

The Kids' Book of Simple Machines is the perfect hands-on science book for early elementary-aged children. It has concise explanations of the science of simple machines,  clear step-by-step instructions, and enticing colorful photographs of the projects. In addition, the background information in the different sections introduces children to famous scientists and inventors, from Archimedes to the Wright brothers.

The six simple machines covered are the lever, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, wheel and axle, and screw. After a brief introduction to each type in the front, the following chapters give more in-depth information, numerous examples of the different simple machines, and several activities and projects to explore the concepts more fully.

Whether you are teaching science in the classroom, after school, or at home, The Kids' Book of Simple Machines is a well-designed and useful resource. The young makers of the world are going to have hours of fun trying out the activities in this book.

Related Activities:

1. Archimedes Screw

One of the simple machines from the book is the screw.

(Public domain image from Wikimedia)

A screw is an inclined plane wrapped around some sort of central core. In addition to holding pieces of metal or wood together, screws can also be used to move objects. Propellers are types of screws that help move boats through water or airplanes through the air.

One of the earliest examples of a screw being used to move things was invented by the Greek scientist Archimedes. We all know that water moves down slope because of gravity. Archimedes figured out a way to move water against gravity using a device that now bears his name, the Archimedes screw.

Check out this video of a simple Archimedes screw made by a young girl:

Instructions for making an Archimedes screw may be found at:

2. Simple Machines Quiz

After reading this introduction to simple machines at Idaho Public Television,  figure out what kind or kinds of simple machines are illustrated here  (Public domain images are from Wikimedia).

Answers are at the bottom of the post.

A. What kind(s) of simple machine(s) are these scissors?

C. What kind of simple machine is an adze?

Learn more with The Kids' Book of Simple Machines: Cool Projects & Activities that Make Science Fun!by Kelly Doudna

Age Range: 5 - 9 years
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Mighty Media Kids (August 25, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1938063597
ISBN-13: 978-1938063596

Disclosure: The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

A. Scissors:  You are correct if you answered lever or wedge. Scissors are complex machines consisting of double levers and wedges (the blades).

B. Wheelbarrow:  Also a complex machine, a wheelbarrow combines a wheel/axle with a lever.

D. Press:  The simple machine found in this press is a screw.

16 Pioneering Women in Science and Medicine 1

This week for STEM Friday we were inspired by a book, Magnificent Minds: 16 Pioneering Women in Science and Medicine by Pendred E. Noyce. It is a collection of biographies of women who made important discoveries in fields of STEM and health care.

Moving chronologically from the birth of midwife Louise Bourgeois Boursier in 1563 to the death of chemist and drug discoverer Gertrude Elion in 1999, the author has taken a novel look at the accomplishments of these women. For example, Florence Nightingale is known for her nursing skills, but Noyce suggests those skills were improved by Nightingale's reliance on statistics and evidence-based research.

The book is organized into chapters that are separate biographies of each of the women. Because the chapters stand alone, readers can easily page to an individual subject of their choice. Also, at the beginning of each chapter is a well-researched timeline that gives details of not only that woman's life, but also with significant events that occurred during her lifetime. For example, the first Impressionist exhibition in Paris and Bell's invention of the telephone occurred during Sofia Kovalevskaya's lifetime. The timelines help tremendously to add context.

Magnificent Minds will thrill those interested in history, particularly the history of STEM and medicine. It would also make a good choice for encouraging girls and young women to pursue STEM careers.

Related Activity:

Why highlight women scientists? Let's take a quiz.

A. Do you recognize this woman who made important contributions to STEM? What was her contribution?

(Public domain image from Wikimedia)

(Public domain photograph retrieved at Wikimedia)

She was born in 1863.

C. Do you recognize the scientist below? She was born in 1902.

(Acc. 90-105 - Science Service, Records, 1920s-1970s, Smithsonian Institution Archives Persistent URL:Link to data base record Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives View more collections from the Smithsonian Institution.)

How did you do? Did you struggle to identify them? These women were groundbreakers with great passion for their subjects of study. People are now beginning to appreciate their unique contributions.

A. Augusta Ada Byron, Countess Lovelace

Showing a talent for mathematics, Augusta Byron helped with and wrote about some of the early analytical machines that were precursors to computers. She was thought to have published the first computer algorithm. Her work was cut short by illness and her death at a young age. Her biography is featured in Magnificent Minds.

B. The second scientist is ornithologist and writer Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey.

Augusta Bailey is known for writing some of the earliest field guides to birds. She also campaigned against the widespread use of bird feathers in fashion. She is not covered in Magnificent Minds, but you can read more about her at this Women of Courage profile.

C. The last scientist is Nobel Prize winner, Barbara McClintock.

McClintock studied the genetics of corn and uncovered gene movement, or the so-called "jumping genes." Her biography is also covered in the book and our previous post.

Check our list of 21+ Children's Books about Women Scientists at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 12 and up
Hardcover: 180 pages
Publisher: Tumblehome Learning, Inc. (March 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0989792471
ISBN-13: 978-0989792479

Disclosure: The books was provided electronically for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

Weather: Evaporation Activities for Kids 1

Our post today was inspired by Clouds: A Compare and Contrast Book by Katharine Hall.

Young readers explore the concept of comparing and contrasting, while at the same time learning about different kinds of clouds and how to describe them.

Some clouds are big and fluffy;
others are thin and wispy.

The simple picture book book is illustrated with a series of two-page spreads filled with gorgeous color photographs of different types of clouds, like the one on the cover.

The real treasure, however, is the "For Creative Minds" in the back matter. This section has four pages of interactive activities to reinforce learning. Examples include experiments with evaporation, a cloud match exercise, and information about how clouds are connected to weather prediction.

Because evaporation is the source of water that ends up in clouds, let's try some evaporation experiments of our own.

Water Evaporation

Evaporation is a chemical process that involves a change of state from liquid to gas.

1. Observation opportunity for youngest scientists

To study evaporation, you will need water, sponges or paint brushes, and a sidewalk or other flat surface on a sunny, hot day. Simply paint the water onto a flat surface and watch it evaporate. Try different surfaces, different amounts of water, different patterns of application, etc. Use sidewalk chalk to draw around a large wet patch and then revisit the site to emphasize how the wet area has been reduced over time.

If the children ask, explain that the liquid water is turning into a gas or vapor as it disappears and is rising up into the air.

2. Simple evaporation experiment for young scientists

Can you prevent evaporation with plastic wrap?

Gather:

• Water
• Measuring cup
• Plastic wrap
• Timing device (optional)
• Level, flat, hard surface like sidewalk or driveway
• Rocks to hold down plastic wrap (optional)

Create two similar-sized and similar-shaped wet areas by pouring a measured amount of water onto a flat, level surface (1/4 cup of water works well). Note:  If the surface is sloped, the water will tend to roll off and form irregular shapes.

Cover one of the spots with plastic wrap and hold down with rocks, if necessary.

Wait a few minutes (time will vary with temperature, sunlight, and humidity).

Return and assess which spot has evaporated the most.

Why?

3. Evaporation challenge for middle-grade scientists

Gather:

• Shallow plates or bowls
• Bottles or jars, preferably with narrow necks
• Measuring cup(s)
• Timing device(s)
• Thermometer(s)
• Cotton balls or tissues
• Markers
• Paper
• Scales to weigh bowls and jars

Challenge the children to come up with questions about evaporation and then generate a hypothesis. Using the materials provided, design and carry out an experiment to test their hypothesis.

Some suggestions:

• Measure the rate of evaporation of 1/4 cup of water in a shallow plate or bowl versus in a narrow-necked jar (For example:  weigh the bowls and jars with water before and after evaporation).
• Measure the rate of evaporation in a shallow dish in the sun versus in a shady location (mark the levels before and after evaporation with a marker).
• Measure the rate of evaporation of 1/4 cup of water open in a shallow dish versus 1/4 cup of water soaked into tissue or cotton balls in a shallow dish.
• Take the temperature with the thermometer on a sunny surface. Then place a wet tissue or cotton ball over the base of the thermometer. How does the temperature change over time?

Discuss their results.

Older engineers will likely enjoy the evaporation-powered engine we discussed in the STEAM festival post about engineering.

Further resources:

The book publisher, Arbordale Publishing, offers a number of resources, including a free 17 page Teaching Activities Guide to accompany Clouds (see right sidebar).

We have a growing list of weather-related children's books at Science Books for Kids.

Children interested in weather? They might enjoy this wind map of the U.S. How would the amount of wind effect evaporation?

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Disclosures: The book was from our local library. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.