Mazes at Science Club

Mazes and Labyrinths

Introduction

Lots of printed mazes for children to complete.

Mazes can be difficult or easy to solve. But, there is a special kind of maze that doesn’t take any effort at all to solve, it’s called a labyrinth and only has one path. We’re going to make some labyrinth tokens today, but first, I’m going to show you how to draw a labyrinth.

Hand out sheets on drawing labyrinths. Help any children who struggle.

Main Task.

Following a labyrinth path has been a spiritual process for many people, they have been found on Ancient Greek coins, Indian temple walls and Medieval church floors. Even today, many people trace the path of a labyrinth as a calming activity.

Once the children can all draw labyrinths hand out clay and paintbrushes – they can mould the clay into discs, then mark out a labyrinth with the end of a paintbrush.
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Making a labyrinth is the same every time, but mazes are different every time. I’m going to show you an easy way to make your own maze.

Hand out sheets on drawing a maze, and squared paper so the children can draw their own mazes.

MazesWeek

There are lots of methods – or algorithms – for solving mazes.

If you can see the whole maze – as you can with all these paper mazes, a sure fire way to solve most mazes is to fill in the dead ends. If you take a pencil and colour in the way from each dead end to the next junction, you will eventually reveal the path.

If you can’t see the maze – like a hedge maze – a very easy way to solve it is to follow the wall and always turn either right or left. It doesn’t matter which direction you turn (either right or left), but once you’ve chosen your direction, you must stick with it throughout the maze!

Get the children to swap mazes and solve each others.

I’ve got some big mazes here, and I thought it might be fun to take it in turns to use the Beebot to solve the mazes.

Let the children take turns programming the Beebot to solve mazes. If they like, some children can make a new maze for the Beebot to solve.
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This was one of those activities that proved particularly popular. The children split into two teams and each team devised a maze for the other team to solve. They enjoyed it so much, that they had several goes at this.

 

Break for drink and snack.

 

Optional Extension.

We’re going to have a go at making some hidden mazes now.

The idea is that you draw a maze – using squares 2cm by 2cm – on a paper plate. Then glue plastic straws onto your plate to make walls.

When you are happy with your maze, take a second plate, cut flaps for the entrance and exit of your maze, and staple the second plate on top of the first. Put a marble into your maze and see if you can get the marble out of the maze by tipping the plate gently.

 

 

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Science Club – DNA

Arrival Craft:
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Colour, cut and stick cell pictures.

Cellpictures

Introduction:

Living things are made up of cells, just like houses are made of bricks or duplo models are made of duplo. I had some duplo bricks for the little ones to play with as they arrived, so this was a nice way to include them.

Inside every single cell is a special code: DNA (DeoxyriboNucleic Acid) which tells cells how to make that particular living thing. DNA looks like long white strings, and we’re going to try and extract some of our own DNA so that we can look at it.

  1. Pour two tablespoons of water into a cup.
  2. Add a quarter teaspoon of salt to your water and mix well.
  3. Gargle (do not drink) the salt water for one minute (this is a bit yucky, you could ask a grownup to do it for you).
  4. Spit the water back into the cup.
  5. Put a tiny drop of washing up liquid into the cup, stir gently, don’t let it bubble up.
  6. Get 100ml (about 6 tablespoons) of cold isopropyl alcohol and mix in a drop of food colouring in another cup.
  7. Pour the isopropyl alcohol slowly on top of the salt water mixture so that you have two layers in your cup.
  8. Wait about three minutes.
  9. You should see white clumps and strings forming. That’s your DNA separating out.

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The children enjoyed this activity a lot.

Break for drinks and snack.

DNA is made of little bits called nucleotides. Each nucleotide is composed of a nitrogen-containing nucleobase—either cytosine (C), guanine (G), adenine (A), or thymine (T) (as well as a monosaccharide sugar called deoxyribose and a phosphate group).

The Cs always pair with Gs, and the As always pair with Ts [show model]. We’re going to make some simple paper models, which will make something like the distinctive double helix shape of real DNA.

I used these templates, which I found online.

Teach Engineering have an activity you can download, so we can pretend to be forensic scientists using DNA evidence to solve a crime.

The children had a great time and managed this activity easily, with a little bit of help from parents.

 

 

 

Teeth at Science Club

Teeth

Arrival Craft

Simple pop-up cards with animal mouths inside, encourage children to try and give their cards appropriate teeth.
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Introduction

How many teeth do you have? There are 20 deciduous teeth, adults have 28-32 teeth.

Are they all the same? Talk about different shapes and sizes of teeth.

We have a 3d printer now, so I made some plastic animal teeth for the next game. But, it would work equally well with drawings.
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Look at the plastic animal teeth, let the children try to guess what each animal is. Talk about their different teeth and see if the children know what these animals eat.

Sharp teeth – canines and incisors – work like knives, slicing into meat for carnivorous animals. Big, strong molars grind like a pestle and mortar, breaking down the cellulose in plants for herbivores.

Are humans carnivores or herbivores?

Most humans are omnivores, we have sharp canines and incisors and also big, strong molars.

 

Individual Task

Show children the big foam tooth and ask if they know the names of any of the parts of a tooth. Point out enamel, dentine, pulp, nerves and gum.
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Again, if you don’t have one of these (are there people who don’t keep giant foam tooth models lying around?), you could just draw a big picture.
Give out pictures of tooth and pieces of felt. Show the sample felt tooth. Encourage the children to cut out their templates, then use them to make felt pieces to build their own felt tooth puzzles.

toothtemplate
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Break for drink and snack

 

Second Half

Does anyone know why we need to brush our teeth? Hopefully children will talk about fresh breath, removing stains, brushing away food that can cause decay.

What makes a good toothpaste? Alkaline to neutralise acids, nice smell, slightly abrasive.

Give the children some toothpaste to look at, ask them what they think of the toothpaste’s smell, use pH strips to test the pH of the toothpaste.

We’re going to have a go at making our own toothpaste. I have salt – which is slightly abrasive – baking powder – which is a base – essential oils so you can select a flavour, and water to make it into a paste.

Give the children time to mix their own toothpastes.

What do we use mouthwash for? Killing bacteria and making our breath smell nice.

We’re going to have a go at making our own mouthwash. There are two choices for the basic mixture: plain water, or water infused with cloves – which are antibacterial. Then there are two choices of additional oils: myrrh or teatree, both of which are antiseptic. Think about what you want your mouthwash to achieve and which scents appeal to you.

Let the children mix their mouthwash recipes together and pour them into bottles.

Some children may wish to decorate their mouthwash bottles.

Science Club – Atoms and Molecules

We started by making simple models of atoms using paper plates. We looked at a periodic table to choose which atoms to illustrate, and made sure we had the correct numbers of protons, neutrons and electrons. We drew the protons with red pen and the neutrons with black pen on circles of paper, we used split pins to attach these circles to paper plates and drew electrons (with blue pen) around the edge of the paper plates so that we could turn the ‘electron shells’ as if the electrons were orbiting the nucleus.

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We then talked a bit about quarks. I mentioned that quarks make up protons and neutrons. We talked about ‘up’ and ‘down’ quarks, and I told the children that quarks come in three flavours: red, green and blue. We glued sequins onto our atom models to represent the protons and neutrons being made up of quarks.
I made a joke about quarks being held together with gluons and the children gluing on their ‘quarks’.
A quick note here: the children in Science Club are aged between three and thirteen, I don’t really think that they will remember everything we talk about. But, I believe that if you use technical terms from a you g age then when you are trying to study them for real, the terms won’t be intimidating. I am a strong believer in a drip feed effect of learning.
We did a simple experiment next. I poured half a cup of water into a measuring jug. I asked the children what would happen if I added another half cup of water. They predicted that I would have one full cup measure of water. I did this and showed them they were correct.
I emptied my measuring jug and started again. This time I poured in half a cup of water and asked what would happen if I added half a cup of alcohol. The children hesitated, guessing there must be some kind of trick 😉
I added my half cup of alcohol and the resulting liquid was just below the full cup measure.
We talked about why this had happened. Then I fetched dry cup measures and used polystyrene balls to represent water molecules and sand to represent alcohol molecules. The sand filled in gaps between the polystyrene balls, not raising the level of the mixture at all.
Next, I gave out polystyrene balls and cocktail sticks. I showed the children a model of a water molecule made with my Molymod kit. They made their own models using polystyrene balls and cocktail sticks. We talked about how water expands when it freezes and tried to model this with our ‘water molecules’. (I had this picture in mind, though I think we established the general principal rather than making a very good model ourselves).
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Our final experiment was a bit tricky. We tried to estimate the size of an oil molecule.
We measured one droplet of olive oil, then let it drop onto a big bowl of water. We watched the oil spread over the surface of the water, when it looked like it had reached its greatest size, we measured it.
We calculated the volume of our droplet of oil. Then we used that volume to calculate the height of our mini oil slick.
I suspect our measuring was a little inaccurate, but we calculated the height to be 0.00009mm, which isn’t completely crazy. You can see the experiment done more accurately here.