Bad news, all y’all:  I don’t have a ton of time to write tonight.  My 2.5 year old daughter — who is completely beautiful, by the way — is sick as can be, which means my wife and I are juggling work schedules.  That automatically puts me behind.

The good news, though — particularly for my #scichat homies — is that I’ve got a few activities that I can share with you quickly!  Not sure if they’ll be useful for everyone, but if you’re a middle grades science teacher, my bad luck may just be your good luck.

Here they are:

Scientific Method Lab Handout

Download Handout_LabReportOverview

One of the biggest challenges for sixth grade science teachers is introducing kids to a process for working through an experiment.  While kids are naturally curious and great at asking questions, they’re not always great at answering their own questions systematically.

This is the handout that I use with my kids early in the school year to help them to learn about the kinds of steps that scientists take when experimenting.  I love how direct it is — and think it really works.


Spaghetti Tower Challenge

Download Handout_SpaghettiTowerChallenge

Late last year, Jonathan Martin wrote about a neat activity that the kids in his school were working on.  Essentially, groups of kids were given spaghetti and told to build a tower that could support a marshmallow.  Tallest tower wins.

It seemed to me to be a great way to get groups thinking and working together on an engineering type challenge that didn’t require a ton of materials — so I whipped up this handout and turned my kids loose.


The SUPERTUBE Challenge

Download Handout_PaperTowelTubeColumn

After watching my kids get completely geeked by the chance to design a spaghetti tower together, I decided that I needed to whip up another quick, materials-light design challenge.

That’s what this activity is.  Essentially, groups had to modify a paper towel tube to get it to hold up as many textbooks as possible.  The record on our team currently stands at 23.



Anyway — hope these activities help someone out!  I gotta go and check on my kid.

Rock on,


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