Science ‘Cause life is about fun, games and experiments

Objectives:

  • Learn how to tell the direction a river flows and how to read a topographical map.
  • Explore the scientific reasons for Earth’s seasons.
  • Get smart about the moon, including its shapes and phases, and what causes part of it to light up.

 

Science is a trip at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center
Teachers and students are encouraged to visit the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center on the USC Aiken campus. Topics and hands-on activities directly related to the South Carolina science standards are offered. Teachers may choose the single class option (one of the following topics: waves, minerals, maps) or the triple block (two of the following topics: waves, minerals, maps AND a tour of the Pickens-Salley House, also known as Edgewood). Click here for class programs by topic. 

Interested? Call Darlene Smalley at (803) 641-3313.

 

Lessons

Let There Be Light!
Grade 8: (60 minutes) Students explore properties of light using lasers, lenses, mirrors, ropes and their bodies! They discover how light waves are refracted, reflected and transmitted and how our eyes convert light into images. (RPSEC)


Minerals, Ores, & Fossil Fuels
Grade 7-12: (60 minutes) Students create a topographic map of a model mountain and discover how mountains, plateaus and other landforms are represented by specific contour patterns. Using topographic maps of our area, students will locate their school, the site of the Graniteville train wreck, Hitchcock Woods and more. They learn how to determine the direction of stream flow and how topographic maps are used by hikers, miners and air traffic controllers. Students develop math and graphing skills as they make a topographic profile. (RPSEC)


Mapping Landforms
Grade 7-12: (60 minutes) Students create a topographic map of a model mountain and discover how mountains, plateaus and other landforms are represented by specific contour patterns. Using topographic maps of our area, students will locate their school, the site of the Graniteville train wreck, Hitchcock Woods and more. They learn how to determine the direction of stream flow and how topographic maps are used by hikers, miners and air traffic controllers. Students develop math and graphing skills as they make a topographic profile. (RPSEC)


Phases of the Moon
Moon Phase DiagramMuch of life in the South during the 19th century revolved around the changing seasons, as plantation owners relied on their fields, crops and harvests for their livelihoods. Therefore, the changing of seasons was immensely important in the day-to-day operations of a plantation.

The phases of the moon can be explained by the motions of the Earth and the moon as they orbit the sun. Phases of the moon include waxing and waning gibbous and crescent, in addition to first and third quarter, full and new. (See diagram)

Activity:
Each student should complete the attached activity/model. (Appendix SC-1)


Earth’s Axial Tilt and the Changing Seasons
Much of life in the South during the 19th century revolved around the changing seasons, as plantation owners relied on their fields, crops, and harvest for their livelihoods. Therefore, the changing of seasons was immensely important in the day-to-day operations of a plantation.

The Earth rotates around an axis, called its rotational axis. This axis is tilted about 23.5 degree from vertical, and this tilt is the reason for the changing seasons. For example, when a hemisphere is tilted toward the sun, it is experiencing summer; conversely the hemisphere tilted away from the sun is experiencing winter.

The Earth completes one rotation every 24 hours, or once every day and is the reason for night and day. Furthermore, the Earth completes one full orbit around the sun every 365 days, or one year.

Earth Axial TiltActivity:
Perform the following experiment to further prove/understand the reasons for the Earth’s changing seasons.

Materials:

  • 1 lamp
  • 1 globe or large ball
  • 1 sticky note
  • 1 student

Procedure:

Part I

  1. Place the lamp (sun) on a table in the center of the room.
  2. Place the sticky note (as a reference point) on the globe.
  3. The student stands where he can be seen by the entire class. He should hold the globe at a 23.5 degree angle.
  4. Turn off the lights in the classroom. Cover any windows or doors that might let in light.
  5. The student stands close to the lamp, slowly rotating the globe on its axis. Pay attention to the sticky note as it completes one full rotation. This represents a 24 hour day.

Part II

  1. Place the lamp (sun) on a table in the center of the room.
  2. Place the sticky note (as a reference point) on the globe. Note the position of the sticky note at each seasonal position (steps 3-6).
  3. The student holds the globe at a 23.5 degree angle and stands in the winter position (farthest away from the Sun with the globe tilted away from the sun).
  4. Maintaining the same axial tilt, the student slowly begins walking counterclockwise around the sun, getting gradually closer to the Sun. This position represents spring.
  5. The student continues walking counterclockwise, gradually getting farther from the sun. This position represents summer.
  6. Finally, the student moves in a similar fashion to the autumn position, which is directly across from the spring position.

Distance/Time Graphs 
Have you ever seen a house move? Moving a house is not easy.

Edgewood was relocated two different times. The first time it was moved by mule-drawn sleds for 30 miles. The second time the house was divided into sections and trucks pulled each of the sections a distance of 3 miles.

Activity:
Complete the worksheet. Use the formula for the distance to find the speed, complete the charts, and draw distance-time graphs for each scenario. (Appendix SC-2)


Topographic Maps 
Topographic MapEdgewood was relocated two different times. The first time the house was moved by mule-drawn sleds for a distance of 30 miles. The second time it was moved, the house was divided into sections and trucks pulled each of the sections a distance of 3 miles.

Each time the house was moved, the topography (geographic features) of the land had to be taken into careful consideration. When the house was moved from Edgefield to Aiken, it actually crossed from the Piedmont Region to the Sandhills Region of South Carolina.

Activity:
Topographic maps are maps that allow you to identify mountains and valleys on a flat sheet of paper. This special kind of map can be used to help build roads or to plan for climbing a mountain. Topographic mountains indicate where the land changes elevation, letting you see the height of the hills or mountains and the depth of the mountains.

Create your own topographic map following the directions below.

Materials:

  • Play-Doh or clay (about the size of a coffee mug)
  • Piece of cardboard (at least10x10 inches)
  • Piece of dental floss (about 2 feet long)
  • Ruler
  • Sheet of 8.5×11 white paper
  • Long pencil
  • Two toothpicks

Procedure:

  1. Place the lump of clay on the cardboard and mold a mountain about 4 inches tall. The map will be more fun to make if the mountain is not symmetrical. The mountain needs to have a flat bottom.
  2. Use the long pencil to make two holes in the center of the mountain. Make sure that the holes go all the way through the mountain from top to bottom.
  3. With the ruler, measure about an inch from the top of the mountain and make a small dent in the clay with the pencil.
  4. Make two more dents each an inch apart the rest of the way down the mountain. This should divide your mountain into four sections about equal in thickness.
  5. Wrap the floss around your fingers and pull it taut. Use the floss to cut straight through your mountain sideways at the dent closest to the top of your mountain.
  6. Take this slice of clay and place it on your white paper. Carefully trace around the edge of the clay. Stick the pencil through each of the holes in the slice of clay to make two dots on your paper. Set the slice of clay to the side but do not destroy it. You will need it again later.
  7. Cut another slice at the next dent in your clay. Lay this slice over the shape you traced from the first slide. Make sure you line up the two holes with the two pencil dots on your paper. (To do this, poke the two toothpicks through the holes in the slice of clay and line them up with the pencil dots on the paper.)
  8. Carefully trace around the second slice of clay. The line should encircle the first tracing you made. (Note: if your mountain had “outcroppings,” this second tracing could cross or overlap your first tracing in some places.)
  9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 with the remaining two slices of clay. You should have four tracings on your sheet of paper.
  10. Restack the slices of clay on the cardboard. Make sure the holes line up.
  11. Congratulations! You have just made your very own topographic map. Share your map with your teacher or a classmate or share it with your entire class.

Consider:
Compare the topographic map you just drew on your paper to the clay model of your mountain. Why are some of the lines you traced closer together than the others? What kind of slope makes your lines be close together? What kind of slope allows your lines to be farther apart? On your topographic map, identify the locations of your steepest slopes. Looking at your map, where would be the best place for you to make a trail to the top of your mountain? Where would be the hardest place for you to make a trail to the top of your mountain?


Exploring Waves    
Since the time of Edgewood’s construction, technology has changed in many ways. Back then, communication occurred through telegraphs while today people communicate through the use of telephones. Just as communication has improved in efficiency since the 19th century, so has the technology behind light. Oil lamps have since been replaced with electric lights, bringing with this evolution a whole new field of science. However, while technology has changed, the fact that both sound and light are transmitted and travel as waves has not.

Activity:
Complete the worksheet exploring the transmission of light and sound waves. The information needed to answer the questions can be found on the websites provided. (Appendix SC-3)

Teacher-to-teacher suggestion:
If students do not have access to a computer/internet at home, plan to reserve a school computer lab for a class period and allow the students to complete the worksheet individually or in pairs/small groups.

Educational Standards

Grade 8: South Carolina Science

 

Standard 8-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of materials that determine the structure of Earth and the processes that have altered this structure. (Earth Science) 

Indicator:

  • (8-3.9) Identify and illustrate geologic features of South Carolina and other regions of the world through the use of imagery (including aerial photography and satellite imagery) and topographic maps.

 

Standard 8-4:  The student will demonstrate an understanding of the characteristics, structure, and predictable motions of celestial bodies. (Earth Science)

Indicators:

  • (8-4.4) Explain the motions of Earth and the Moon and the effects of these motions as they orbit the Sun (including day, year, phases of the Moon, eclipses, and tides).
  • (8-4.5) Explain how the tilt of the Earth’s axis affects the length of the day and the amount of heating on Earth’s surface, thus causing the seasons of the year.

 

Standard 8-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the effects of forces on the motion of an object. (Physical Science)

Indicators:

  • (8-5.1) Use measurement and time-distance graphs to represent the motion of an object in terms of its position, direction, or speed.
  • (8-5.2) Use the formula for average speed, v = d/t, to solve real-world problems.

 

 Standard 8-6: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the properties and behaviors of waves. (Physical Science)

Indicators:

  • (8-6.1) Recall that waves transmit energy but not matter.
  • (8-6.2) Distinguish between mechanical and electromagnetic waves.
  • (8-6.3) Summarize factors that influence the basic properties of waves (including frequency, amplitude, wavelength, and speed).
  • (8-6.4) Summarize the behaviors of waves (including refraction, reflection, transmission, and absorption).