Fourth and Fifth Grade

“Fact of the Matter” is a program where students examine, and act like, solids, liquids, and gasses! When you set a solid on the table, or put two solid in a beaker, what happens?  Not much -molecules in a solid don’t get around.  Students acting like molecules in a solid will have to sit quietly!  But what happens when some liquid gets in on the action?  Students acting like liquid will wriggle and squirm like slimy worms, illustrating that liquid can FLOW.  Once molecules are in motion, we can get reactions.  Students will observe “magic milk” to witness motion in fluids.  But the real excitement begins with gases – expanding and contracting, moving excitedly about like energetic kindergartners at recess after a morning of tests! How can such energy be contained?  What happens when it comes up against a closed container (like a film can rocket) or a stretchy container (like a ballooon)?  (This show can use a compressed-air potato launcher in an outside field, if permission is granted by the school principal). Teachers are encouraged to bring their cameras to take photos of students acting as matter to print and hang in their classrooms.

Duration Cost Grades levels Audience size
60 -70 minutes extra Materials fee
3-5 32 max.
Comments: A good companion to 4th grade study of properties of matter

Matter three-part series (45 minutes each)(call for special pricing when booking the series):

Solid: Solid, Man, Real Solid  Using unusual solids, like jell-O, sand, and corn starch, students will attempt to discern what properties truly make a solid a solid.  We will even melt a solid without heat; and turn a solid directly into a gas – how sublime!

Liquids: Go with the Flow students will explore the shape-shifting feats of water by examining volume in different types of containers.  Students will build a density column, examine a Galileo thermometer, and wonder at the movement of Brownian motion as a stationary liquid appears to flow, revealing an explosion of color!  The grand finale will allow students to try the cartesian diver trick for themselves, and learn how it works.

Gas: Contents Under Pressure may also be booked as a separate program or performance, as an advanced alternative to “Fact of the Matter.” see description below.

Contents Under Pressure Students will explore the nature of gasses, air pressure, and kinetic energy (heat) through a variety of “magic tricks” using balloons, pop bottles, pop cans, and other common household items. Students experiment for themselves to find indirect proof that gasses contain molecules; use a hands-on activity to observe gas pressure from a chemical reaction; and will observe a demo on the pressure created from gasses as their kinetic energy rises.  We can even “pour” some of the invisible gasses we create over a lit candle to extinguish a flame!  (This show can use a potato launcher in an outside field, if permission is granted by the school principal).

Duration Cost Grades Audience size
60 minutes extra materials fee
4-6 Can be done as “demos only” show for larger audiences
Comments: best done in a room with no carpet in case of spills

 

You’re in Charge an exploration of static and current electricity.  Welcome to wizarding 101: students will use statically charged “magic wands” to play a “young wizards game” of steal-the-can.  Then we hold hands in magic circles to test our power to light up a giggle tube.  Show can include a hypothesis testing segment, in which students determine the best “wand” and “magic cloth” materials.  To explore what electricity really is and why does it flow we will compare distilled water versus salt water versus a sports drink to complete a circuit (If the teacher requests a biology tie-in, we can talk about ion channels in nerves and the body’s need for salt/electrolytes – source of positive charges that are safer than protons.)  A plasma globe demonstrates the movement of electricity through air.  And students will build an electrophorus to examine the shift between static and current electricity.  Program ends with a shocking experience!

Duration Cost Grades levels Audience size
60-70 minutes extra materials fee
4-6 30 max.
Comments: schools wishing a shorter program can book one of the 50-minute options below

Static Cling an exploration of static electricity.  Students will explore the idea of static electricity as a force by using it to push or pull an assortment of objects.  We will build a take-home device to measure the strength of static charges.  Students will use statically charged “magic wands” to play a “young wizards game” of catch.  Program ends with a shocking experience!  In addition to student goody bags, the teachers may ask to keep a set of  magic wands for classroom use.  Current Events an exploration of  current electricity.  To explore what electricity really is and why does it flow we will compare distilled water versus salt water versus a sports drink to complete a circuit (If the teacher requests a biology tie-in, we can talk about ion channels in nerves and the body’s need for salt/electrolytes – source of positive charges that are safer than protons.).  We will compare AC and DC currents using a fun analogy.  Students will construct a primitive battery using household items, then use it to compare conductors and insulators.  Students will get a goody bag with supplies to make a simple battery at home.

 

 “Advanced Plants on the Move” builds on the ideas presented in Plants on the Move, but students choose from a menu of activities to design the program they want to see.  Teachers can participate in directing the focus of the program as well.  Choices include:

“ROOT to FRUIT” is a relay race: teams of 7-9 must race to complete each of the jobs performed by the parts of a plant.

“FAIL or FOOD”explores the idea that plants may look helpless but employ numerous defenses against herbivores.  Some students will be plants, others the herbivores who attempt to find a safe lunch. Based on the question “Why is the world green?” by Hairston, Smith and Slobodkin.

“LIGHTS, CAPILLARY ACTION!”  has students make their own tie-dye looking bookmark via paper chromatography as we examine how water can be transported up a tree despite the absence of a heart.

“A FRUIT IS A SUITCASE FOR SEEDS” reviews the amazing journeys of plant seeds by building “fruits” as transportation.

“FLOWER TOWER POWER” is a game where students try to stack balloons as cells to create a plant stem – can boxes or poles make the task easier?

“WHY I AM AN HERBIVORE” we can discuss my vegetarianism using food pyramids and lost calories

Duration Cost Grades levels Audience size
60  minutes Standard Rate 4-6 32 max.
Comments: works well with 5th grade curriculum unit on living things

 

Simply Compound Machines building on the ideas presented in Simply Simple Machines, this program offers an introduction to compound machines stressing the way that the simple machines work together.  Students go on a scavenger hunt among the “junk” I bring in, to find different pairings of simple machines.

Duration Cost Grades levels Audience size
60  minutes Standard Rate 4-6 32 max.
Comments: works well with 5th grade curriculum unit on forces

 

A Better Solution  a more advanced version of our introductory solution assembly that includes demonstration of a Supersaturated solution and a demo of Brownian Motion.

Duration Cost Grades levels Audience size
60  minutes extra Materials Fee
4-6 32 max.
Comments:

 

tie dye math while waiting for their shirts to soak in an activating solution**, students learn about the chemistry and environmental choices of recycling old shirt using a 2-step dye process.  The significance of the spiral tie-dye pattern is discussed in terms of geometry, mathematical series, biology, architecture, art, and astronomy, including an intro to the Fibonacci series and the golden ratio. **If you would like to book this show for 50-60 minute length shows, I can pick up the shirts a day in advance and pre-soak them at home.  This alleviates the need for volunteers to help wring out all of the shirts during the show (which is quite time consuming).  But students must remember to bring in their shirts the day before the show!!!

Duration Cost Grades levels Audience size
90 minutes own pricing schedule
5-8 32 max.
Comments: Requires access to a water spigot; requires at least 2 classroom parent volunteers per show; class must provide newspapers to work on – approx. 4 full size sheets per shirt.  Best when done outside on blacktop surface in warm, dry weather.  In case of rain, can be done indoors on a large tarp spread on non-carpeted floor; or a rain date can be scheduled.