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Science & Nature

The Science Challenge Series Part 1: You Vs. Science

In this on-going, semester class, students explore a new scientific concept each week by attempting a variety of interactive, hands-on STEM experiments, activities or games.
Michael Barr, M.Ed
276 total reviews for this teacher
71 reviews for this class
Completed by 312 learners
  There are no upcoming classes.
year olds
learners per class


Charged weekly
Meets 1x per week
Runs week after week
50 minutes per class
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Class Experience

Students will improve their understanding of scientific concepts through interactive experiments and discussion, while focusing on the role each concept plays in our lives.
I used these challenges throughout my teaching career to teach a variety of scientific concepts. The students were excited to do the challenges and this helped them to retain these concepts.
There will be no homework assigned, however, I will encourage students to complete the "Bonus Challenges" that I will explain in each class. These extra challenges are an excellent opportunity to continue their hands-on exploration of the weekly topic. Students will be able to share any of their successes (or failures as these help with growth as a learner) at the beginning of class the next week or they can send me a message, pictures or video clips through our Outschool classroom portal.
*If you do not have a particular material, feel free to substitute something similar (make a paper funnel if you don't have a plastic one, etc.). I may also have suggestions for quick and easy to find substitutes during my instructions for each challenge. If a partner is needed, but one is unavailable for challenges, I will give students suggestions on how to complete the activity alone. As always, feel free to message me with material questions. Forces 1. a partner (a parent, sibling, etc.) for some of the challenges 2. five pieces of paper (8.5x11) 3. scissors 4. a broom Gravity 1. a sheet of paper 2. a small chair (an adult sized chair can be used too if needed). Air Pressure 1. a sink (to get water and to catch water that may spill) - As a substitute, use a tub and bring enough water to fill the plastic cup. 2. a plastic cup 3. an index card (or thicker paper - like tagboard or file folder or poster board or thin cardboard (like from a cereal box) cut to index card size) that will completely cover the top of the plastic cup 4. a dry, empty plastic bottle (any size) 5. a piece of paper 6. 2 straws Air Pressure's Revenge 1. 2 pieces of paper 2. a kitchen funnel 3. a clear, plastic cup 4. scissors 5. a sink (for water and to catch any water that may spill) 6. a large bowl or small tub (that you could fill with water during class) 7. a balloon (regular sized, NOT a small, water balloon size) 8. a disposable water bottle ( 16oz., 24 oz. or a 2 liter will work, as long as the end of a balloon can be wrapped around the lip of the bottle). IMPORTANT... have a parent help you cut (or punch) a hole in the side of the bottle near the bottom (pea sized will work). 9. a small ball that fits in the funnel (a paper ball could be used as a back-up) Friction 1. 2 magazines (same size) or 2 paperback books (same size, about 50 to 150 pages) 2. cookie sheet or another flat, smooth surface (cutting board, large metal pan, etc.) 3. a small paper ball (marble-sized) 4. a large paper ball (fist-sized) 5. 1 paper clip (any size) 6. 1 coin (any size/type) 7. a fork The Touch Challenge 1. 2 pencils (sharpened) 2. a partner (parent, sibling, etc. for a couple of challenges) 3. a ruler (at least 12" or 30 cm long) 4. 2 identical containers that you can fit your hands into - up to (at least) your wrists (boxes, bowls, paper bags, etc.) 5. 2 identical coins (any type) 6. 2 large paper clips (you can substitute 2 identical items similar in size to a large paper clip (large bottle cap, etc.)) 7. 2 small paper clips (you can substitute 2 identical items similar in size to a small paper clip (small legos, etc.)) 8. 2 small paper balls 9. 2 pen caps (or substitute 2 identical items similar in size to pen caps) The Sight Challenge 1. paper tube (paper towel or toilet paper, a straw will also work) 2. 2 sharpened pencils 3. 3 pennies or any other coins (3 identical) 4. plastic cup 5. a ball that is soft or a small pillow The Hearing Challenge 1. a metal pan with raised sides (6 inch x 6 inch/15 cm X 15 cm or larger) - a metal cookie sheet also works 2. 5 different small objects (for example, paper clip, eraser, coin, small ball, spoon, fork, or pencil) 3. 10 pennies (or any 10 coins that are the same type) 4. 2 spoons 5. a paper towel tube (toilet paper tubes also works) - if you don't have an empty roll, just bring a roll that still has paper on it The Taste and Smell Challenge 1. 2 small portions of 3 different foods - (for example, 2 banana pieces, 2 cheese pieces, 2 pieces of lunch meat, 2 cookie pieces, etc.) 2. 4 Q-tips or a straw (for dipping and tasting) 3. lemon juice (we will use just a squirt) - orange juice or a very small amount of vinegar will also work 4. salt water (we will only need a small amount - about 25 ml to 50 ml) - make sure the salt is at least partially dissolved 5. sugar water (same directions as the salt water) 6. small piece of orange peel - anything bitter can be substituted (like a very small amount of black tea or coffee) 7. This one is strange, but fun... 4 unlaundered (the dirtier the better!) pieces of clothing from family members (we will need to use clothing from at least 2 different family members) - for example 1 shirt from the student, 1 from a sibling and 2 shirts from an adult(s) 8. 2 paper towels or a clean washcloth The Energy Challenge 1. small toy car (Matchbox style, Lego car, etc.) 2. a flat surface to be used as a ramp (cookie sheet, longer piece of cardboard, cutting board, etc.) 3. 6 thicker books (when the books are stacked, the total height should be at least 9 inches (20 cm)) 4. 6 feet (2 m) of string (or dental floss or sewing thread (which may need to be doubled to make it stronger) 5. 6 feet (2 m) of string (yup... a second length of string for a different challenge) 6. a large ball (basketball or soccer sized) 7. a small ball (baseball or tennis ball sized) 8. a balloon 9. tape (lighter tape is best) 10. a straw The Laws of Motion 1. a plastic cup or bowl 2. a piece of paper or index card large enough to cover the opening of the cup 3. 10 to 15 coins (any type/size is okay, but it will be easier if they were the same type) 4. a large book (big enough to completely cover both of your hands if you were holding it) 5. a balloon 6. a small coin (penny, nickel, etc.) 7. 2 objects that weigh about 5 pounds each (2.5kg each) 8. a timer or stopwatch (to time yourself in a challenge) Newton's Revenge (Inertia) 1. a quarter (or any large sized coin) 2. a long, sharpened pencil 3. a piece of bread (We will be spearing this item on the pencil, so other types of food (half a banana, small orange, slice of cheese, etc.) will work). Some students have used a play-dough ball for this as well. 4. a piece of paper 5. a plastic cup (6 oz. / 250 ml or larger)
50 minutes per week in class, and maybe some time outside of class.
Students will be using scissors for multiple challenges.


Michael Barr, M.Ed
Lives in the United States
276 total reviews
209 completed classes

About Me

Hello! My name is Michael Barr. I have been teaching all subject areas for over 25 years with students in grades K through 8.

My Outschool classes focus on mathematics tutoring and hands-on science classes. For each class, my goal is for students... 
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