Science Center Labs

Contact Us

Michael McCambridge
Director of Student Enrichment
michael.mccambridge@greenbush.org
620.724.6281

Kindergarten Labs

Basic Needs of Living Things (4 hrs)
Essential Question: What are the needs of living things?
Utilizing the Greenbush Rainforest, students explore how plants and animals work together to meet each other’s needs to survive. They will investigate using the medium of live plants and animals.
  • K-LS1-1 Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.
  • K-ESS3-1 Use model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals (including humans) and the places that they live.
Kansas Weather (2 hrs)
Essential Question: Why is it important to know weather patterns where you live?
In this lab, students will learn about patterns of weather over time, the types of weather we see in Kansas and the sun’s role in producing weather. They will explore various types of severe weather experienced in Kansas including thunder, lightning, and tornadoes. They will also get the opportunity to use the engineering design loop to build a structure that reduces sunlight on an area.
  • K-ESS2-1 Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time.
  • K-PS3-1 Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface.
  • K-PS3-2 Use tools and materials to design and build a structure that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight on an area.
  • K-2-ETS1-1 Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
  • K-2-ETS1-2 Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
Playground Engineering (2 hrs)
Essential Question: What causes an object to move?
Students will investigate how objects move by building and exploring with playground equipment. Using the Engineering and Design Process students will apply the concepts they learned to engineer a “Rube-Goldberg” invention.
  • K-PS2-1 Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object.
  • K-PS2-2 Analyze data to determine if a design solution works as intended to change the speed or direction of an object with a push or a pull.
  • K-2-ETS1-1 Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
  • K-2-ETS1-2. Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
  • K-2-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.

1st Grade Labs

Sun, Moon, and Stars (2 hrs)
Essential Question: What patterns are in the sky?
What kinds of patterns do we see in the stars? Why do we experience seasons and differing amounts of daylight? Students will explore the night sky and the patterns of the Sun, Moon and stars.
  • 1-ESS1-1 Use observations of the sun, moon and stars to describe patterns that can be predicted.
  • 1-ESS1-2 Make observations at different times of year to relate the amount of daylight to the time of year.
Engineering and Literacy (2 hrs)
Essential Question: What makes a sturdy structure?
With literacy as a foundation, students will design and build their own structures using the Engineering Design loop. They will explore what kinds of materials can be used to create sturdy structures and why other materials fail.
  • K-2-ETS1-1 Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
  • K-2-ETS1-2 Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
  • K-2-ETS1-3 Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
Sound & Light (4 hrs)
Essential Question: How can we use sound or light to communicate over a distance?
Students will explore the role of vibrations in the creation of sound. What causes different sounds? What do these sounds “look” like? They will also explore the concepts of light, illumination, and communication.
  • 1-PS4-1 Plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate.
  • 1-PS4-2 Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that objects can be seen only when illuminated.
  • 1-PS4-3 Plan and conduct an investigation to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light.
  • 1-PS4-4 Use tools and materials to design and build a device that uses light or sound to solve the problem of communicating over a distance.

2nd Grade Labs

Mastermind: Finding Real-World Solutions (4 hrs)
Essential Question: What features make a product or design successful?
During this day of engineering, students will have the opportunity to learn how the Engineering Design Process is used in real-world situations to make or improve products.
  • K-2-ETS1-1 Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
  • K-2-ETS1-2 Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
  • K-2-ETS1-3 Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
  • 2-ESS1-1 Use information from several sources to provide evidence that   earth events can occur quickly or slowly.
Properties & Changing States of Matter (4 hrs)
Essential Questions: How can materials be alike and different? What changes do heating and cooling cause?
Through exploration, students will learn how to distinguish properties using solids and liquids. They will then apply this knowledge to engineer the perfect slime recipe. Students will also explore how heating and cooling affect various forms of matter. They will perform a variety of experiments to support or refute that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed.
  • 2-PS1-1 Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.
  • 2-PS1-2 Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.
  • 2-PS1-4 Construct an argument with evidence that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed and some cannot.
  • K-2-ETS1-1 Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
  • 2-ESS2-3 Obtain information to identify where water is found on Earth and that it can be solid or liquid.
Plants & Animals (4 hrs)
Essential Question: How do plants and animals work together?
In this lab, students investigate structures of an assortment of insects and “non-insects” to determine what makes an insect an insect. Then using that knowledge, they engineer one of their own. Students also examine the usefulness of plant structures to conclude what plants need to survive and how they are interdependent with insects.
  • 2-LS2-1 Plan and conduct an investigation to determine if plants need sunlight and water to grow.
  • 2-LS2-2 Develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.
  • 2-LS4-1 Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.
  • K-2-ETS1-2 Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.

3rd Grade Labs

Motion and Stability (4 hrs)
Essential Question: How do equal and unequal forces on an object affect the object?
Get physical with physics! Students will have the opportunity to learn about balanced and unbalanced forces through a variety of interactive experiments. Using the engineering and design process students will design and create a rocket that must land within a designated area.
  • 3-PS2-1 Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.
  • 3-PS2-2 Make observations and/or measurements of an objects motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion.
Parachute Engineering Challenge (4 hrs)
Essential Question: What design features make a parachute successful?
In this engineering design challenge, students will work in cooperative groups to purchase supplies to build a parachute. Teams will learn how to use the engineering design process to plan, create, test, and perfect a parachute that can safely carry cargo when dropped from the top of the PSU/Greenbush Astrophysical Observatory.
  • 3-5-ETS1-1: Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specific criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
  • 3-5-ETS1-2: Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • 3-5-ETS1-3: Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Weather and Its Impacts (4 hrs)
Essential Question: Why is weather different around the world?
Storm struck? Students investigate several different climate and weather conditions across the world. What causes these types of weather? How can we observe and measure weather conditions? Students then use this knowledge to engineer a house that is capable of withstanding the powerful winds of a “hurricane.” Weather permitting a lab activity will take place outdoors. Please have students wear tennis shoes and dress appropriately for weather conditions.
  • 3-ESS2-1 Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season.
  • 3-ESS2-2 Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world.
  • 3-ESS3-1 Make a claim about the merit of a design solution that reduces the impacts of a weather-relate hazard.
  • 3-5-ETS1-1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
  • 3-5-ETS1-2 Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • 3-5-ETS1-3 Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

4th Grade Labs

Sound and Light (4 hrs)
Essential Question: How does energy travel?
Using light and sound energy, students will learn how energy travels. What do these waves of energy look like? How can we change the shapes and sizes of the waves? Students will investigate sound waves and pitches, while also experimenting with reflection, lenses, and gas light emissions.
  • 4-PS3-2 Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
  • 4-PS4-1 Develop a model of waves to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength and that waves can cause objects to move.
  • 4-PS4-2 Develop a model to describe that light reflecting from objects and entering the eye allows objects to be seen.
Plants and Animals: Structure and Function (4 hrs)
Essential Question: How do plant and animal structures help them survive?
Plants and animals have a variety of internal and external structures. Through dissection, students will attempt to uncover the function of numerous internal organs. Also, students will observe structures that help in survival of plants and animals.
  • 4-LS1-1 Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
  • 4-LS1-2 Use a model to describe that animals receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways.
Alternative Energy (4 hrs)
Essential Question: What are ways we obtain and use energy?
What are the differences between renewable and non-renewable resources? This lab investigates the various sources of our energy. Students will learn about circuits while experimenting with different types of alternative energy sources, including hydropower and wind power.
  • 4-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment.
  • 4-PS3-1 Use evidence to construct an explanation relating the speed of an object to the energy of that object.
  • 3-5-ETS1-1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
  • 3-5-ETS1-2 Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • 3-5-ETS1-3 Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
  • 4-PS3-2 Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
Erosion (4 hrs)
Essential Question: How can we prevent the unwanted movement of soil?
To examine the role of water, ice, wind, animals, and vegetation on landscape, students will design and test an erosion experiment. How is erosion amplified? What can be done to prevent erosion? Finally, students will investigate various intervention techniques to counteract the unwanted movement of soil.
  • 4-ESS1-1 Identify evidence from patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers to support an explanation for changes in a landscape over time.
  • 4-ESS2-1 Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.
  • 4-ESS2-2 Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features.
  • 3-5-ETS1-1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
  • 3-5-ETS1-2 Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • 3-5-ETS1-3 Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

5th Grade Labs

Light and Stars (4 hrs)
Essential Question: What determines the strength of light?
In this lab, students will explore the connection between light, light intensity, and heat. Students will get a chance to experiment with light sensors, infrared thermometers, and solar panels to answer various questions. What happens to light intensity over a distance? How does the sun’s intensity affect the temperature of planets within the Solar System?
  • 5-ESS1-1 Support an argument that differences in the apparent brightness of the sun compared to other stars is due to their relative distances from Earth.
  • 5-ESS1-2 Represent data in graphical displays to reveal patterns of daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky.
Matter and Its Interactions (4 hrs)
Essential Question: How does matter respond to the things around it?
What happens to matter when it is heated or cooled? What happens when you mix substances? Students will investigate various properties of matter and learn how matter is made up of particles too small to be seen.
  • 5-PS1-1 Develop a model to describe that matter is made of particles too small to be seen.
  • 5-PS1-2 Measure and graph quantities to provide evidence that regardless of the type of change that occurs when heating, cooling, or mixing substances, the total weight of matter is conserved.
  • 5-PS1-3 Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.
  • 5-PS1-4 Conduct an investigation to determine whether the mixing of two or more substances results in new substances.
Waters of the Earth (4 hrs)
Essential Question: How does water tie Earth’s systems together?
To investigate the role of water on Earth, students will explore connections between the biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. How much water is available on Earth and where is this water? How can pollution affect Earth’s water? What else affects Earth’s waters and what causes tides? Students will analyzing water to discover what “healthy” waters look like.
  • 5-ESS2-1 Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.
  • 5-ESS2-2 Describe and graph the amounts and percentages of water and fresh water in various reservoirs to provide evidence about the distribution of water on Earth.
  • 5-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
  • 5-PS2-1 Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down.

Middle School Labs

Energy and Motion
Many people are familiar with the thrill of making twists, turns, and loop-the-loops on roller coasters. But how many know how those roller coasters work? Students will explore the use of Newton’s Laws of Motion as they build and test a miniature roller coaster, complete with a ball bearing coaster cart. They will also use photogate technology to calculate and graph changes in potential and kinetic energy.
  • MS-PS2-2 Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.
  • MS-PS3-1 Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object.
  • MS-PS3-2 Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.
Engineering on the Ropes Course
Put your students’ engineering skills to the test! Students will spend the day on the Low Ropes Course, working together in small groups, to find a creative answer to an unusual challenge. Through the implementation of the Engineering Design Process, students will experiment with different tools and techniques to conquer the course.
* Please note that the Engineering Ropes lab requires 1 extra Session per 24 students, due to our Ropes Course Facilitator needing to be On-Site.
Cells, Cells and MORE CELLS!!
In this lab, we will delve into the amazing, microscopic world of cells. Students will investigate cell theory by comparing and contrasting characteristics of protist, animal, and plant cells. As time allows, we will examine applications of cell theory by considering asexual regeneration in certain plants and planaria and its relation to tissue regeneration and repair.
  • MS-LS1-1 Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells; either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.
  • MS-LS1-2 Develop and use a model to describe the function of a cell as a whole and ways parts of cells contribute to the function.
  • MS-LS1-3 Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells.