Simple balances can be made from a variety of materials. You can make substitutions for materials
suggested here as needed.
- Cut a piece of stiff cardboard into a rectangle that measures 12 in. long by about 1 in. wide. Draw a line across the
width of the cardboard at its center. Draw lines across the width of the
cardboard 1 in. from each end.
- Use a thin nail to punch a hole on each of
these lines, 1/4 in. from one long edge of the cardboard. On the center line,
punch a second hole 1/4 in. from the other long edge of the cardboard. (A piece
of pegboard with approximately these dimensions and having two rows of nine holes
each can be substituted for the stiff cardboard.)
- Invert two tall plastic-foam drinking cups. Make a shallow groove across the center of the bottom
of each cup.
- Push a thin nail through the second center hole that you made
in the cardboard. Use the drinking cups as support stands by fitting the ends of
the nail into the grooves on the cups. (If you are using pegboard, make a support
stand by attaching a wooden dowel to a wood base. Then put a nail through one of
the center holes of the pegboard and into the dowel near its top.)
- Unbend two paper clips to form hooks. Attach the hooks to the holes at the ends of your
balance beam. Use string to hang a small paper cup from each hook.
- Small washers can be used as masses. Or, use the smallest masses from an actual set of
Small graduates can be made from tall, thin jars made of plastic or
- Obtain a suitable jar (such as as olive jar) and clean it thoroughly.
- Cut a piece of paper about 1/2 in. wide and about 1 in. less than the height
of the jar.
- Tape the paper strip along the side of the jar. One end of the
paper strip should be even with the bottom of the jar.
- Use a standard
graduate to add water in 10 mL increments (or equal increments of your choice) to
the jar. Make a line and record the volume on the paper strip in waterproof
marker each time.
- Place a piece of clear, waterproof tape over the paper
Students can make their own temporary magnets, using a variety of
materials found in the home or classroom.
- Obtain knitting needles, nail files, or bobby pins made from iron or steel.
- Hold the metal object to be
magnetized in one hand.
- Hold a strong bar magnet in the other hand.
- Stroke the metal object 30 times with the same end of the magnet.
- Always stroke the object in the same direction.
- Do not bang or drop the objects once they are magnetized.
Students can make magnifiers using a
clear glass jar and water.
- Olive jars and instant-coffee jars work best.
- Fill the jar completely with water, so that there will be no air space when
the lid is put in place.
- Screw the lid on securely.
- Lay the jar on its
side on a sheet of newspaper and look through the jar at the print.
Remind the students to be careful not to drop the glass jars.
Planters can be made in various sizes, depending on your needs. Soil can be varied as
- Select a container of a suitable size for the purpose (a paper cup, a
plastic gallon milk jug, a plastic seedling tray, or other container). Wash the
container thoroughly. If necessary (as with a plastic milk jug), cut off the top
section so that the planter is 4-5 in. deep.
- Punch one or more holes in the
bottom surface of the container to provide drainage. The planter can be placed in
a pan, on a pie plate, or on a piece of aluminum foil turned up at the edges.
- Add layers of soil as follows:
About 1/2 in. of gravel
About 3-4 in.(depending on the depth of the planter) of loam
A sprinkling of very fine soil
- Moisten the soil before planting seeds.
Seeds, minerals, rocks, and other small samples can be organized and
stored in a simple specimen box.
- Obtain a clean cardboard egg carton.
- Use a marker to number the pockets, 1-6 along the unhinged edge and 7-12
along the hinged edge.
- Cut a rectangular-shaped piece of paper that will fit
on the inside cover of the carton.
- Mark a grid on the paper that is 6
squares in length and 2 squares in width. Number the boxes to correspond to the
pockets in the egg carton. (The numbers should be written small and in one corner
of each box.)
- Tape or glue the paper to the inside cover of the egg carton.
- As you store specimens in the box, write the name of each specimen on the
grid in the appropriate box.
Test-tube stands can be made from blocks of wood of various sizes
and from other materials.
- Obtain a block of wood that is at least 2 in.
deep. The length of the block of wood can vary, depending on how many test tubes
you want the finished stand to hold.
- Drill 1 in. deep holes in the wood at about 2 in. intervals. The diameter of each hole should be slightly larger than
the diameter of the type of test tube that you will be using.
- A more elaborate test-tube stand can be made by drilling holes through a 1/4-1/2
in.-thick block of wood and attaching this to a support stand made from two
vertical blocks of wood attached to a wooden base.
- A simple test-tube holder can be made from a clean, 1/2 gallon milk container. Lay the container on its
side and cut several X-shaped slits in the carton. Test tubes pushed through the
slits will stand upright in the container.