Sunday, May 6, 2018

What is a QR Code?

QR Code is an abbreviation for Quick Response Code. It is a special kind of barcode that anybody can scan with a smartphone app that usually directs the user to a website. (You can download any number of free apps for iPhone and Android or for tablets)  QR Codes have gained a lot of popularity in commercial marketing because they are so easy! Rather than typing in an entire web address, the user merely scans the code and they are there! So easy.

They are free to make using a QR Code Generator like

They are free to scan using an app like these:

You just hold up your device with the app. The app reads the QR code with a scanner. The QR code tells your device where on the internet to go.

Many teachers are using QR codes for research in the classroom.  Students might participate in a scavenger hunt trying to find pieces of information.

Here are a couple of QR codes that you can scan and see where they take you.

So what does a QR code do?  It communicates with a device and sends that device to a particular url or website.  A QR code is a way to use patterns to transmit information. 

Fourth Grade Teachers, this blog post is part of a resource I have designed for NGSS 4th grade standard, NGSS 4-PS4-3 Generate and compare multiple solutions that use patterns to transfer information.

This blog post is one of the links I have students go to as they are learning about QR codes.  The rest of the unit can be found 

Lesson for NGSS 4-PS4-3
This resource includes four exciting hands-on activities to address this tricky standard.

Students will learn about Mores Code, how it works and how they can use it to send a message. They will also consider why it is no longer being used. Students will create their own simple telegraph machine using a simple electrical circuit and use it to send and receive messages. Materials needed for this include a battery, electrical wire, electrical tape and a light bulb. And of course students will learn about QR codes.  How to make them, what they do, how to scan them and how to use them. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Hatching Chicks - Science in My Own Backyard

I have been raising egg laying chickens for about 7 years.  I don't have a large flock.  I have about 6 hens.  I love this experience as a city girl transported to a country place and allowed to keep a few hens!

Where we live we lose a lot of chickens to predators.  We have fox, raccoon, bobcat and hawks, but I believe the most common predator is the neighborhood dog that someone lets run lose.

Last year my husband brought me home a surprise.  He brought me two bantam chicks.  I have never had bantams but they are darling.  Bantams are a breed that is smaller than your other chickens.  There are several varieties. The ones he brought to me had cute little feathers on their feet.
Bantams are a very tame breed of chicken.  They like to be cuddled and come when they are called!

One sad day one of my bantams disappeared.  I found her remains latter.  Looked like a hawk got her.

My one remaining bantam struggled to integrate with the rest of the flock and I ended up putting her in her own tiny coop.   My husband made her a tiny coop to live in.

That is when something interesting happened.My bantam started sitting on her eggs.  She became broody.

Not all chickens have the instinct to be broody.  Most modern chickens have had the broodiness bred right out of them.  This is because a broody hen will stop egg production in order to raise her babies.

Now my broody hen sat diligently on an egg that would never hatch because I have no rooster and it was unfertilized.

I decided to buy her some fertilized eggs to hatch.  I was not sure she would understand all of her duties.  Mamma hens must turn the eggs so that the chicks form correctly. And she must keep them warm.  But I am a science teacher so I decided to experiment with this instinct of hers and see what would happen.

I ordered fertilized bantam eggs on ebay.  My sister said to order twice as many as I would need since some might get damaged in transport. I ordered 4 and the seller sent me 8.  They all looked good when I got them so I decided to put all 8 tiny eggs under her.

Each egg I presented to her as she clucked excitedly and then rolled the egg towards herself and tucked it in.   She had to spread out kind of wide to cover them all, but she did it.

During the next 21 days my hen barely left her nest.  I would lift a handful of food or some water and she would drink hastily.  About once a day she would jump off her nest and quickly eat a little and poop.

She carefully turned her eggs and tucked them in.

When day 21 hit, just like clockwork, my first little chick appeared.   I said to my hen, "Can I see your baby?" And she lifted up her wing to show me!

It was about half the size as a normal chick. Tiny!  The next day another chick hatched. 

After a few days, we decided to candle the rest of the eggs. They remaining eggs were all all liquid. They had no chicks in them.  I think perhaps the yolks were damaged in the shipping.

Candling The Egg

I removed the rest of the eggs so that my hen could focus on her two chicks and she did.  Such a good little mamma!  My bantam kept them under her and if they got cold she would nestle down on them right there on the spot.  Neither chicks look like her.  They are other varieties of bantam.  But they all love each other and it is a good message about adoption.   Even in the animal world, mammas love the babies they raise!


As a teacher of course I am thinking about how I could do this in the classroom.  I think the first thing to consider is what would happen to the chicks when we are done hatching them.  Teachers need to have a plan or a farm or somewhere that these living things can go to live once they are hatched.

You would need an incubator and some fertilized eggs and you need to do some research.  Eggs need to be turned like the mamma does.  Many incubators will do this.  Also, please remember that newly hatched chicks can drown in a small bowl of water.  Please use an actual water device designed for chicks.

Concepts you could teach:

Living Things
Life Cycle
Structure of Living Things
Growth and Development
What Living Things Need

Incubation reminders 
• Set the incubator in a room with a stable temperature, away from drafts and direct sunlight. 
• Incubate together only species with the same incubation period. 
• Keep a daily record of incubator data. Check the temperature daily to make sure it is 99.5°F (Table 2). Verify that the water trough is full and that the wet bulb temperature is 86°F. 
• Always wash your hands before touching eggs. Keep germs, dirt, and oil away from incubating eggs. 
• Turn the eggs three to five times a day for the first 18 days. 
• The large end of the egg should always be higher than the small end. 
• Do not turn the eggs for the last 3 days of incubation. 
• When the chicks hatch, provide a cloth or rough paper surface for them to walk on.

Thank you for reading this post.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Plate Tectonics and Middle School Science NGSS

Middle school science students need engaging experiences with science also! Students in 6th through 8th grade really benefit from having engaging labs, high quality nonfiction text to read and clever interactive notebook flaps and folds.  Recently I was asked how I plan science for older kids.  So, here I will share my process.
I was looking at the following science standards for NGSS

MS-ESS2-2. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth’s surface at varying time and spatial scales.
Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions

I found similar standards for Utah SEEd.

Utah SEEd
Standard 7.2.5
Ask questions and analyze and interpret data about the patterns between plate tectonics and:
(1)The occurrence of earthquakes and volcanoes.
(2) Continental and ocean floor features.
(3) The distribution of rocks and fossils.
Standard 7.2.2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how processes have changed Earth’s surface at varying time and spatial scales. Examples of processes that occur at varying time scales could include slow plate motions or rapid landslides. Examples of processes that occur at varying spatial scales could include uplift of a mountain range or deposition of fine sediments.

When I saw these I thought there has got to be a way to make this more engaging, integrate some literacy and language arts and involve the students in critical thinking. 

I thought to myself, what are the science concepts related to these standards:

  • Science Concepts Addressed Include:
  • Layers of the Earth
  • Plate Tectonics
  • Plate Boundaries
  • Divergent Boundaries
  • Convergent Boundaries
  • Transform Boundaries
  • Mid Ocean Ridges
  • Seafloor spreading
  • Subduction
  • The Continental Margin
  • Constructing and Explanation Based on Evidence
  • Research
  • Making Inferences
  • Looking at Fossil Evidence
  • Making an Argument from Evidence
  • Continent and Ocean Floor Features

I developed some nonfiction passages and aligned it with a CLOSE reading strategy.
I developed some response pages with text dependent questions and some clever interactive notebook inserts. 

I then put these together with some other meaningful activities like QR code Research and writing activities that align with CCSS for Reading informational text and Writing.

Here are two of the resources I have put together. The first one is a large unit on Plate Tectonics.  
 This unit aligns with NGSS MS-ESS2-2 and MS-ESS2-3 and Utah SEEd 7.2.2 and 7.2.5

The other one that I think aligns well with these standards is 

Thank you for visiting.  Remember, Middle school students need engaging materials and experiences too!  

Please share this post on social media!  

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Cloud Experiment by Guest Blogger Abbey Knight

I would like to introduce you to a fabulous teacher, Abbey Knight.  She has agreed to by my Guest Blogger this week.  Please enjoy this wonderful blog post.

Water Cycle Experiment
By Abbey Knight

The water cycle is a really fun science standard for second grade. I’ve done this experiment twice now, and it was quite a hit with both groups.

Materials you’ll need:
Clear plastic cups
Foamy shaving cream
Droppers (One per group)
Blue food coloring

I do this experiment with my kids after we’ve discussed types of clouds, what precipitation is, and the water cycle. I start with asking the kids how much water they think it takes for the clouds to rain. A really fun analogy a student brought to my attention this year was that clouds are like big sponges, a little bit of water won’t make it drip, but a soaked sponge will drip and can’t hold any more water.

For this experiment, I wouldn’t suggest having the students in groups of more than three. I had a few groups of two, and a few groups of three this past time and it was great. Everyone felt like they were a part of the experiment and got to put enough drops in. 

First, I give them only the cups of blue water with the dropper. As I pass them out I let them explore. “See how much water you can make come out in one squeeze.” Then, “How teeny tiny of a drop can you make?” This is good fine motor skill practice, and it gives them a chance to practice with the dropper. We discuss how tiny the water droplets in the clouds are and I have them estimate how many drops it will take to break through the shaving cream cloud.

Next, I give them their shaving cream cloud cup and we discuss how all of the water doesn’t come up and sit in one spot, but it spreads out across the cloud.

Then, I let them at it. I have them tally their drops as they go so they can remember at the end, but I also have some groups who count orally all together as each drop goes in. My rule of thumb is five drops, and pass it.

Once the first group has the blue coloring seep through I throw my hands in the air and say, “It’s raining!” They then record their results and draw their pictures on the page that will go in their science notebooks. If they’re all finished I let them play with the dropper and water until everyone is finished.

Teacher Tips for this experiment:
-Make sure the blue water is dark blue, this will make it easier for the students to see it “rain”.
-Remind them that one “drop” should really only be one drop, not three or four. Talk about gentle fingers.
-Don’t fill the cups all the way up. This will prevent spillage, and they just don’t need it.
-Use the fluffiest shaving cream you can find and make sure it spreads all the way to the edges. I usually just put a big glob in the middle and spread it with a toothpick.
-I prepare all of this before school because my prep always ends up being something different than I plan. The shaving cream does just fine sitting on top of the water for hours.

Thank you Abbey Knight for this great blog post.   

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