Physical Science

Activities for NGSS PS1-6

Hi, everyone!
I'm a PhD student that has volunteered at my local school district to help write the science curriculum for their K-6 teachers. In each grade, I am trying to write-in at least one investigative lab that students can do so that they have opportunities to do science before they reach high school. However, I am really stuck on finding a suitable investigative lab for the performance expectation of the following NGSS physical science standard:

Undertake a design project to construct, test, and modify a device that either releases or absorbs thermal energy by chemical processes.

Any projects or ideas on this one that you could suggest?
I had originally thought I could have students design and create chemical heat packs, but the math and background knowledge both students and teachers would need for it would be over their heads. These students are in sixth grade, with teachers that have a background in social science, but not physical science (I'm providing the science support for them until they are more comfortable with NGSS).

Thank you so much for your help and guidance!!!

Yen Verhoeven
Yen Verhoeven
925 Activity Points

I agree that the "baggie lab" is a great jumping off point for elementary science students. I would approach this standard with a design challenge. Ask the students to imagine themselves hiking in the woods. They fall and would like an ice pack to put on their sore ankle, but they don't have ice. Show them some of the items that they do have on hand, include the kitchen chemistry items for the baggie lab. Remind them that they learned that ice melting is a physical reaction. Talk about evidence of a chemical reaction, including temperature change. Demo the temperature change with equal amounts of the reactants. Show them examples of ice and heat packs that work using chemical reactions. Allow students to work in groups to try to decrease the temperature. (only simple measurements needed) I feel that this approach is great for 6th graders and teachers with less comfort using scientific inquiry.

Susan Farmer
Susan Farmer
1520 Activity Points

Hi Yen, I often do some variant of the "Baggie Lab" with my physical science students. A Google search for "baggie lab" will several versions of the lab. It uses easy to find household reagents - baking soda, sidewalk salt and water- and there are both endothermic (absorbing thermal energy) and exothermic (releasing thermal energy) processes. Students investigate the different combinations of reagents. The traditional lab uses an acid-base indicator as well, but I would leave this out for the younger kids. Students investigate the combinations of reagents and then put all three together, recording observations as they go. They should feel one combination get colder (absorb energy) and one get quite warm (releasing energy) plus some bubbling as a gas is produced. I add a design challenge at the end. Students are charged with creating a self-inflating balloon or air bag (baggie) that must fully fill without exploding (this can get messy) and using the least amount of reagents. The lightest full balloon wins. Rebecca Falin


Rebecca Falin
Rebecca Falin
71430 Activity Points

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