Seventh Graders Learn About Science and Safety

This week, the 7th graders in Tara Verenna and Robin O'Hara's science classes have been learning more about how to safely perform efficacious science experiments. In the “Burning Balloon” activity, the students learned about communication and design, as well as taking responsibility for their actions by safely performing lab experiments using the tools appropriately and following safety precautions. Their formative communication exercise was to write a testable question that explores the relationship between water and a balloon breaking when exposed to the heat of a small candle. The question had to be answerable by collecting data, be performed in the allotted time, and only use materials in the room. The materials available were a balloon, water, a small candle, and their own exhaled air. Students dove into the experiment with the expected enthusiasm. Their questions ranged from “How does water inside the balloon affect it popping?” to “How does blowing up the balloon more affect the time until popping?” Amid the sounds of balloons popping, students could be heard discussing their questions and affirming their results. This experiment will be followed by another one that includes camp stoves, exploring the heat capacity of water and its impact on burning rates. They will try to determine what made the lava tubes they will be exploring at their upcoming trip to Mt. St. Helen’s. They will collect data related to different burning times for paper cups filled with various amounts of water, and infer how their results might help them understand what happened in the Mt. St. Helens explosion 2000 years ago.