Science Labs for Live/Synchronous Online Class

In spring 2020 when we as teachers all went online, we had to redesign the delivery of curriculum. I also became overly familiar with the terms synchronous and asynchronous. 

My school put forward grade level schedules that included: 

  • 1 hour whole class synchronous session in the morning for math, language arts, and community building/morning meetings
  • 1 hour office hours in the afternoon, intended for small group instruction where each student would be seen at least 1x a week in a small group
  • 1 hour lunch/recess break
  • 30 minute Specials (2 different sessions were offered to separate K-3 and 4-6)
  • The above was offered 4 days a week while Friday was designated for staff planning, meetings, and only asynchronous work for students.

Science and Social Studies as synchronous lessons were not a priority (and rightfully so) however my teammate and I swapped students for these classes. Since we taught one another’s homerooms, we wanted to try to maintain relationships with those kids throughout the next several weeks. Once we got over the most trying period of starting online classes and stopping and restarting and troubleshooting…we came up with the following schedule which included science and social studies as part of our synchronous sessions. 

MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday
Morning Synchronous Session 9:00-9:15 Morning Meeting9:15-9:40 Reading9:40-10:00 MathMorning Synchronous Session 9:00-9:15 Morning Meeting9:15-9:40 Reading9:40-10:00 MathMorning Synchronous Session 9:00-9:15 Morning Meeting9:15-9:40 Reading9:40-10:00 MathMorning Synchronous Session 9:00-9:15 Morning Meeting9:15-9:40 Reading9:40-10:00 Math9:00-9:30 Staff Meeting9:30-10:30 Team Meeting
Asynchronous Work 10:00-12:00Asynchronous Work 10:00-12:00Asynchronous Work 10:00-12:00Asynchronous Work 10:00-12:00Asynchronous Work for Students
Meetings and Planning Time for Teachers
12:00-1:00 Lunch and Recess break12:00-1:00 Lunch and Recess break12:00-1:00 Lunch and Recess break12:00-1:00 Lunch and Recess break
Afternoon Synchronous Session
Math Small Groups
A: 1:00-1:20
B: 1:20-1:40
C: 1:40-2:00
Intervention 1:00-1:30 with specialist
Afternoon Synchronous Session
1:00-1:30 Science
1:30-2:00 Social Studies
Afternoon Synchronous Session
Reading Book Clubs 1:00-1:30
Intervention Groups 1:30-2:00
Afternoon Synchronous Session
1:00-1:30 Science
1:30-2:00 Social Studies
2:00-2:30 Library 2:00-2:30 Music2:00-2:30 PE2:00-2:30 Art
2:30-3:30 Asynchronous Work2:30-3:30 Asynchronous Work2:30-3:30 Asynchronous Work2:30-3:30 Asynchronous Work
6th Grade Online Class Schedule for April-June 2020

The unit of science that we were getting into was chemistry (with a focus on water), and I was so excited to do all of the labs! The water testing labs were new this year, so I was really excited about using them. It was a bummer to not be able to do those labs with kids, but they loved being able to do some with me and see me model those they could not do at home. 

Below are the lessons I ended up modeling. Many I recorded and have now posted on youtube  (links are given below if applicable). They are live recordings of lessons, so they’re not as succinct as they would be otherwise. They have been mildly edited for clarity (I cut out repeats of directions) and confidentiality (I removed any student faces).

Chromatography
Mixing Water with Salt, Sugar, and Oil

The following are all experiments you could easily do at home with minimal, easy to access materials:

  • Water as a Universal Solvent
    • I show how salt and sugar dissolve in water, but oil does not. I also mix salt into oil to show how it does not dissolve. I discussed polar vs. nonpolar molecules.
  • Chromatography
    • I set up chromatography using water in the bottom of jars, strips of coffee filters, and colored pens. 
  • Oobleck
    • Oobleck is made using cornstarch and water. It’s fun no matter how many times I make it!
  • Water’s Surface Tension
    • I showed the classic comparison of drops of water on a penny vs. drops of rubbing alcohol on a penny. 
    • I also showed how the surface tension of water holds baby powder and then you can break that surface tension with liquid soap.
  • Ice in Rubbing Alcohol vs. Water
    • This is meant to compare the densities of water vs. ice. Ice is less dense than water (floats) but more dense than rubbing alcohol (sinks).
  • Cloud Doughs
    • Conditioner and cornstarch makes a flexible dough that smells nice
    • Flour and baby oil makes a sandcastle-like texture that smells nice
    • I tried baby oil and corn starch which is not nice, but it was interesting
  • Alka Seltzer “Lava Lamp”
    • Take ½ cup of water, ½ cup of oil, some food coloring, and alka seltzer tablets to watch a fun, bubbly reaction. I compared using baby oil and vegetable oil (vegetable oil works better; I just had the baby oil from the cloud dough).
  • Chemical Weathering (1 out of 2 parts recorded)
    • I set up different materials in different empty jars: cardboard, aluminum foil, pennies, rocks, chalk, etc. then covered them with vinegar. I let them sit between classes (Tuesday to Thursday) then shared the findings. I don’t have a recording of the reveal apart from the chalk which immediately reacts. The pennies and rocks have a reaction.

These required the use of some materials from my Science Kits at school:

Water Tests Immediately
Water Tests after waiting and shaking

Documents I used to support learning:

I heard from many parents and kids how much they loved having Science through distance/online learning. I hope this gives you some ideas of what you could model at home or record and post for students asynchronously.

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