Measurements and Molecules Matter: Less Is More and Curriculum "Survival of the Fittest"by: Thomas O'Brien

Book ChapterDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

Many famous scientific discoveries have been made when an experimenter noticed something unusual or a mistake and followed up on the serendipitous discrepancy rather than ignoring it as others had done. This free activity serves as an engaging introduction to significant digits and the need for careful measurements as a means of making interesting discoveries. This approach stands in contrast to skills-only labs where students practice for future, potentially more interesting uses. Finally, the activity is one of many that can be used to convince students that the atomic and kinetic molecular theory really is a sensible (i.e., its effects can be experienced through the senses and are logical) and powerful explanatory and predictive model for a wide variety of macroscopic events. This free selection includes the Table of Contents, Introduction, a Science Education Topics section, and the Index.

  • Elementary
  • Middle
  • High
Publication Date

Community ActivitySaved in 1872 Libraries

Reviews (3)
  • on Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:39 PM

This book chapter is an excellent resource for elementary school teachers looking for an effective and simple activity to help students understand the relationship between molecules and matter. The author begins with a brief review of the science and science education concepts explored in the activity. In this activity students use BBs or marbles as pourable models of water and ethanol molecules. Additional activities, extensions, and internet connections are included at the end of the article.

Maureen Stover  (Seaside, CA)
Maureen Stover (Seaside, CA)

  • on Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:43 PM

Ponder this quote lifted from beginning statements of the author, “Great scientists-teachers of any era intuitively practice science teaching as a performing art.” Let it open an avenue to probe prior conceptions of students, in-service and pre-service teachers included, and bring excitement into the classroom by prodding thinking with discrepant but observable phenomena. Enliven communication as students write, draw, explore, and construct reasoning about measurement and molecules. The chapter presents extensive guidelines for inquiry and employs many of the many activity types identified as HOE, TD, etc. Overall it offers pedagogy, method, and assessment for how do students learn from something they see that is puzzling. This free resource in the LC includes Activity 15 in the book which constitutes a best practice lesson to adapt to your personal style of teaching and the learning environment of your students. Moreover, the introduction constitutes an accessible refresher that d

Patricia  (Arlington, VA)
Patricia (Arlington, VA)

  • on Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:54 PM

Another of those things that is intuitively obvious as adults, but children don't always understand that adding a solid to a liquid actually adds mass, even though it doesn't take space. Ever floated ice cubes on a cup of water? Does the cup overflow. Excellent extensions, and understandable written.

Jennifer Rahn  (Delafield, WI)
Jennifer Rahn (Delafield, WI)

Free Offering

Login or Create a Free Account to add this resource to your library.