Teacher 2 Teacher Tips
See the list below to view the winning Teacher 2 Teacher Tips:
- Clean Your Glassware with Rice
- Compost Pet Waste
- Make Your Own Artificial Blood
- Use Science News to Improve Student Literacy
- Diatom Trap
- Organize Supplies with Plant Trays
- Easy Strainer
- Save the Leftovers
- Dot Tubes for Quick Identification
- Save the Empties
- Compost Tea
- Earth Day Seedlings
- Forensic Science
If you have original teaching tips that can help other science educators, Carolina's Teacher 2 Teacher Tips is your way to pass them on to the world.
- Ideas that help students learn/understand concepts more effectively
- Creative ways to use or extend our products
- Money-saving tips for classroom lab supplies and projects
- Creative lesson plan ideas or activities
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Clean Your Glassware with Rice
Here’s a way to clean those hard-to-reach spots in glassware. Add a little dry rice to some soapy water and pour it into the glassware. Agitate the glassware by hand, and the rice and soapy water will scour the inside clean. This works well for volumetric flasks, aquarium filters, narrow-necked bottles, and other glassware.
Compost Pet Waste
Submitted by Stacey Johnson
Junction City High School, Junction City, OR
Here’s a way to make your classroom a bit greener and show students that waste can be useful. Do you enjoy having guinea pigs or rabbits in the classroom, but feel guilty throwing out bags and bags of sawdust each week? Go green and start your own compost pile. The nutrients in the animal feces and carbon in the sawdust make great activators for a slow-going compost pile. Just remember to add some fresh greens, too.
Make Your Own Artificial Blood
Submitted by Susan A. Bender
Jim Hill High School, Jackson, MS
Forensics teachers take note. Here’s how to make realistic artificial blood for blood spatter labs: Pour one liter of water into a suitable container. Add 8 oz red food coloring and one 16-oz bottle of Karo® Light Corn Syrup. Mix thoroughly. You must use Karo® Light Corn Syrup; imitations don’t work. For more realistic color, add a pinch of Congo red indicator powder. If you want to examine the artificial blood under a microscope, add a tablespoon of dry yeast. The spheres that form around the yeast granules look just like erythrocytes.
Use Science News to Improve Student Literacy
Submitted by James P. Batten
Lake Gibson Middle School, Lakeland, FL
Here’s a way to help your students improve their literacy and learn about current events in science. Every week I have my students select a science-related article from a newspaper, magazine, or online source. Each student attaches a hard copy of the article to a piece of construction paper and does the following:
- Identifies the article’s main idea
- Identifies and defines 5 new vocabulary words
- Writes a 1- to 1½-page article summary
- Writes a paragraph or 2 stating his or her opinion of the article’s contents
To make sure my students understand the assignment, I walk them through it the first time. I select an article, print it on a transparency, and read it aloud. Then I demonstrate each of the steps above, so that students know exactly what to do. Finally, I give them a set of printed instructions along with an example of a completed article.
Submitted by Leone Broadhead
The Elon School, Elon, NC
Here’s an inexpensive way to trap and observe diatoms from local bodies of water.
- Take a 7-oz Styrofoam® cup and carefully press a standard microscope slide through it so that a small section of slide protrudes from both sides of the cup, thus securing the slide. This is your diatom trap.
- Place the trap in a river, lake, steam, or pond, inverting the cup so that the slide is immersed in the water.
- Leave the trap in the water for several days. Diatoms will settle on the slide during the time it is immersed.
- Retrieve the trap from the water and carefully remove the slide from the cup. Place the slide under a microscope to view the diatoms.
Organize Supplies with Plant Trays
Submitted by Alan Gardner
New Rochelle High School, New Rochelle, NY
To make sure that all equipment is returned at the end of a lab period, hand each lab group its equipment in a plastic plant tray. At the end of the lab all reagents and glassware initially handed out are placed back in the tray, allowing you to inventory the equipment and quickly clean, replace, and restock it for the next lab. Green plastic plant trays are inexpensive, durable, easy to wash and available in a variety of sizes from Carolina. I couldn’t keep equipment organized and my lab running efficiently without them.
Submitted by Kimberly Lewis
Wellston High School, Wellston, OH
Need an easy, inexpensive way to strain water from field collection containers or an aquarium? Here’s how to do it.
- Cut a piece of cheesecloth slightly larger than the opening of your lab sink.
- Place the cheesecloth over the sink and tape it securely at the edges.
- Pour the water through the cheesecloth, which will block any detritus and prevent it from clogging your sink.
- Discard the cheesecloth and detritus.
Save the Leftovers
Submitted by Pamela Zell
Academy Heights Elementary School, Pinehurst, NC
Don’t let your students throw fruit and vegetable leftovers in the trash. Instead, have them deposit their leftovers in the school compost bin. Then use the resulting compost in your class or school garden.
Dot Tubes for Quick Identification
Submitted by Mitzi Smith
Walkersville High School, Walkersville, MD
My students were having trouble telling the difference between a 20 x 150-mm test tube and an 18 x 150-mm test tube. Using permanent markers, I put a blue dot on the 20s and a red dot on the 18s. Now we can identify them at a glance using the dots. Some dots do wash off after a while and need to be redone, but it’s worth it.
Save the Empties
Submitted by Jack W. Richens Jr.
Christian Fellowship School, Columbia, MO
Keep a set of clean, empty reagent bottles on hand to inventory your chemicals. Here’s how you use them. Take your electronic balance with one of them and then weigh all bottles of the same size that contain chemicals, thus yielding the grams of chemical in each bottle. Repeat the process for each bottle size in your inventory.
Submitted by Patricia Richard
Locke Middle School, Billerica, MA
Here’s a quick, hands-on project for your next Earth Day Celebration or Sustainability Fair. Have your students make compost tea, a nontoxic alternative to chemical-based plant food and insecticide, by doing the following:
- Wrap a half gal of compost securely in cheesecloth.
- Place it in a 5-gal bucket filled with 2 gal of water that has been aerated with an aquarium pump for one hour to remove chlorine.
- Add a half ounce of unsulfured molasses to the water.
- Run the aquarium pump for several hours and then immediately pour the tea into small spray bottles. Label the bottles and add a warning that this “tea” is for application to plants and soil only; it’s not for drinking!
During your Earth Day Celebration, allow students to spray the tea directly on plant leaves or to apply it to the soil in the school garden. At your Sustainability Fair, students can give sample bottles of the tea to attendees.
Earth Day Seedlings
Submitted by Amy Stauffer
Lawrence-Lawson Elementary School, Sparta, WI
Here’s a fun way to prepare your class for Earth Day celebrations. Have your students plant some seeds in pots, place the pots on a windowsill, tend the seeds, and watch them grow. When the seedlings are ready to transplant (on Earth Day, weather permitting), plant them in the school garden for all to enjoy.
Submitted by Patricia A. Joseph
Bridgeport High School, Bridgeport, OH
When we are studying forensics, I have each student make a “case file.” In the file, the student places his or her hair sample (mounted on a slide), footprint (made on black paper with baby powder), fingerprint, writing sample, and “DNA analysis.” (For the DNA analysis, I read from a list of characteristics and each student answers on notebook paper with a black line for every characteristic that matches him or her. In the end it looks like a print from a DNA electrophoresis gel.) I then give each student another student’s case file. Students have to figure out who has who by only looking at the evidence given to them in the files. Some of the evidence is missing—as it would be in a real crime case.
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