Program Examples

8th Grade Science Teaching Module Development for Jackson Street Charter School

31.251 - Chemistry of Health & Environment I
31.252 - Chemistry of Health & Environment II
Semester: Fall 2005, Spring 2006
Instructor: John Warner
Partner: Jackson Street Charter School

Partnership Description: During the Chemistry of Health and the Environmental five modules for 8th grade science curriculum. The class collaborated with an 8th grade science teacher at the Jackson Street Charter School in Lowell. The students were given the Massachusetts frameworks and told to develop a module that would help towards teaching a specific framework (and, in turn this would help the students for their MCAS exams). Five groups of students developed modules according to five different frameworks. These modules will soon be available on-line for any teacher to download for free. The goal in this service learning exercise was to develop modules for science teachers to use in their day-to-day teaching activities. Teachers generally stress the need for materials that are relevant to the standardized exams, therefore the modules specific target these needs.

Project Description: The modules developed were as follows:

  • Energy and Ice Cream – Students make their own ice cream from cream, sugar, ice and salt. They use their own energy to make the ice cream. This allows for a discussion about different forms of energy and the difference between kinetic and potential energy. This exercise even allows for topic such as alternative energy to be discussed.
    • MA Framework Description: Forms of energy. Differentiate between potential and kinetic energy. Identify situations where kinetic energy is transferred into potential energy and vice versa
  • On the Fencity with Density – Students learn about volume and mass and density. They are able to make their own phases and test out the density of materials using safe, benign materials.
    • MA Framework Description: Properties of Matter. Differentiate between volume and mass. Define density.
  • Differentiate between an Atom and a Molecule – This exercise utilized students as the atoms. It was a demonstration of how atoms can combine to make different molecules. The students were able to move around the room and arrange so that they could see how molecules can be made.
    • MA Framework Description: Elements, Compounds and Mixtures. Differentiate between an atom (the smallest unit of an element that maintains the characteristics of that element) and a molecule (the smallest unit of a compound that maintains the characteristics of that compound).
  • Rockets to the Moon – In this module, students were able to construct their own rocket with simple materials. They were able to have some fun and set their own rocket off (using air pressure, no explosives required) while learning about the motion of objects, calculating position and speed.
    • MA Framework Description: Motion of Objects: Explain and give examples of how the motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion and its speed
  • How much do you weigh on Saturn? – Students were able to calculate their own weight on different planets. This exercise allowed students to learn about the planets and gravitational pull. They learned that gravity is different on each planet, which also makes weight different. They also learned how mass is constant and will not change regardless of the planet.
    • MA Framework Description: Properties of Matter. Differentiate between mass and weight recognizing that weight is the amount of gravitational pull on an object.

In addition, John Warner envisioned an Earth Day fair where students from his research group and courses would explain their research in Green Chemistry to the general public. This was done through development of interactive exhibits, posters and hands-on activities where anyone could learn and participate. On Earth Day, April 22, 2006, the Center for Green Chemistry students, faculty and staff fulfilled this vision by hosting the first annual Green Chemistry/Earth Day event at the Revolving Museum in Lowell. It was titled “Green Chemistry: The Next Industrial Evolution”.