Science Express Activity Summaries

Elementary, Middle and High School Activities

PTC Revisited (3-4 days of 50 minutes or longer class periods, Grades 10-12): Students begin by determining their ability to taste PTC, then isolate their own cheek cell DNA and then using PCR, isolate part of the gene responsible for bitter tasting. Restriction enzyme analysis is used to determine whether students have the GGCC or GGGC sequence. Advance notice required for this lab.

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Diatom Microscopy (1 Day, 30 minutes or longer class period, Grades 4-8): Students use stereoscopes and compound microscopes to look at models of Diatoms along with fixed slides of Diatoms. One objective of this lab is for students to use lab grade microscopes to see how each scope has different capabilities along with similarities. Other objectives include being able to match model Diatoms with Diatoms on fixed slides and discussing how structure and function of Diatoms benefits survival.

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ELISA (1 Day, 50 minutes or longer class period, Grades 10-12): Students use ELISA techniques to diagnose disease exposure (demo only- students are not exposed to any disease). Advance notice is required for this lab. Suggestion: Pipetting 101 is a great activity that will help prepare students for this lab.

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Intro Physiology (1 Day, 20 minutes or longer class period, Grades pK-12):Depending on age group, students are introduced to:

  • Dynamometer (a device used to test hand or finger strength)
  • Three-lead EKG (device to measure electrical impulses that control heartbeat)
  • Heart-rate monitor
  • UV (A&B) sensors
  • Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide sensors

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Laser Diffraction (1 Day, 50 minutes or longer class period, Grades 9-12): Students use laser pointers to determine the thickness of their hair by diffraction

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Phonebook Physics (1 Day, 50 minutes or longer class period, Grades 9-12): Based on the Mythbusters episode students explore the physics and mechanics underlying the amazing strength of interleaved phone book pages

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Looking into Lactase (1 Day, 50 minutes or longer class period, Grades 9-12): In the 45-minute version they are introduced to lactose intolerance, sugars, and enzymes.Students test the effect of lactase on unknown milk substitutes and milk. In the 90-minute version, additional concepts such as temperature and pH stability of the enzyme are explored.

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DNA from Fruit (1 Day, 40 minutes or longer class period, Grades 5-10): Students will be able to purify DNA from strawberries while learning about plant and animal cell differences and similarities

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Nixtamalization (2-3 day lab, 40 minutes or longer class period, special permission required, Elementary based): This lab is food science at its core! Students will have an amazing opportunity to experience the ancient process of “nixtamalizing” maze. Students and staff together will be able to “taste science” as the finished product.

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Spectroscopy (Single or Multi-day)

The Intro lab is the PREREQUISITE for Plant Pigment, Colorimetric Analysis of Bacterial Enzymes in Saliva, and Kool-Aid Katastrophe Spectroscopy

Intro (Day 1, 50 minutes or longer class period, Grades 4-12) – Students are introduced to the basic concepts of absorbance spectroscopy including the visible spectrum, absorption vs. transmission, absorption maxima, serial dilution and Beer's law

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Kool-Aid Katastrophe – Spectroscopy (DAY TWO, 50 minutes or longer class period, Grades 4-8): This is a follow up activity to Intro to Spectroscopy. Students are members of an analytical team charged with figuring out which two Kool-Aid flavors accidentally got mixed. Absorbance spectroscopy is used to analyze standards and the unknown. Prerequisite is Intro to Spectroscopy

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Plant pigment (DAY TWO, 50 minutes or longer class period, Grades 7-12) - Students apply the principles of day one to the real world by extracting pigments from spinach, red cabbage and carrots

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Colorimetric Analysis of Bacterial Enzymes in Saliva (DAY TWO, 50 minutes or longer class period, Grades 10-12) - Students will analyze their saliva for alkaline phosphatase (a bacterial enzyme) and test various mouthwashes for their ability to reduce enzyme activity.

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Mystery of the Broken Beaker (1 Day, 50 minutes or longer class period, Grades 7-12): Students use DNA techniques (restriction digests, electrophoresis) to prove which of three suspects left their DNA at the scene of the crime.

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Pipetting 101 (1 day, 45 minutes or longer class period, Grades 4-12): This activity introduces students to adjustable pipettors (Pipetmen) through fun activities including precipitation reactions, color-change reactions, the relation between weight and volume (1 ml H2O = 1 gram), serial dilution and Beer's law.

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Pipetting 201 Density (1 Day, 45 minutes or longer class period, Grades 8-12): This lab expands on the concepts and skills introduced in Pipetting 101 and adds inquiry-based activities that allow students to investigatedensity of liquids, acid and base titrations using indicators, and data collection concepts such as accuracy, precision and error.

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Pipetting 201 Alkalinity (1 Day, 45 minutes or longer class period, Grades 8-12): This lab expands on the concepts and skills introduced in Pipetting 101 and adds inquiry-based activities that allow students to investigatedensity of liquids, acid and base titrations using indicators, and investigates how different lake regions of Minnesota are affected by acid rain.

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Speedy Burger Mystery (1 Day, 50 minutes or longer class period, Grades 5-12): Students use an antibody to determine if Speedy's burger is 100% beef or whether soy additives caused a customer's allergic reaction. Suggestion: For 5th grade students, Pipetting 101 is an activity that prepares students for Speedy’s Beef.

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Kool-Aid Katastrophe – Chromatography (1 Day, 40 minutes or longer class period, Grades K-5): Students are members of an analytical team charged with figuring out which two Kool-Aid flavors accidentally got mixed. Paper chromatography is used to separate the dyes in standards and the unknown.

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Microscopy (1 Day, 20 minutes or longer class period, Grades pK-9): Students are introduced to research grade stereo or compound microscopes through grade-level activities selected in consultation with the classroom teachers.

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Soil Forensics (1 Day, 45 minutes or longer class period, Grades pK-6): Students use stereoscopes to analyze suspect soil samples (from tires or shoes) to determine which suspect sample matches the soil from the crime scene.

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Soil Forensics with pH (1 Day, or 2 days when combined with Fingerprints and Chromatography of Ink, 40 minutes or longer class period, Grades 3-8): Students will analyze suspect soil samples (from tires or shoes) to determine which suspect sample matches the soil from the crime scene. Students will do this by using lab grade microscopes and chemical reactions.

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Pond Water- Seasonal (1 Day, 30 minutes or longer class period, Grades 3-12): Using compound light microscopes students can explore and watch little “critters” that live in pond water along with interesting Diatoms and Algae. This activity is great for Environmental Science classes or Aquatic Ecology classes.

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Minnows (1 Day, 40 minutes or longer class period, Grades 7-12): Anatomy and Physiology Students will enjoy using compound light microscopes to study the flow of blood through a living minnows tail. This lab is paired well with Intro to Physiology and can be done in the same hour.

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Fingerprints and Chromatography of Ink (1 Day, or 2 days when combined with Soil Forensics with pH, 40 minutes or longer class period, Grades 3-8): Students will use stereoscopes to analyze and determine their own fingerprints. Then students will be given suspect prints and will need to match one print to fingerprints lifted from a crime scene. Once this has been achieved, students will be introduced to Chromatography of Ink. During this section of the activity students will be given different ink samples retrieved from suspect pens. Using Chromatography, students will determine what ink sample matches the crime scene sample.

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STEM Activities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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