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General Science and Teaching

Halloween Science

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Sandy Gady Sandy Gady 43175 Points

Halloween is just around the corner and it’s always fun to tie Science to it. Many years ago, the whole Science Department decided to do a variety of really awesome hands-on investigations and demonstrations the students could go from room to room over the course of a period and experience Science. There were discrepant events that left students scratching their heads, and those that are just plain fun to do like, “Ghostly Can Crushing,” which is really the lab where you fill a bowl with ice and/or cold water, heat a little water in an empty pop can, then invert the can into the cold water. An example of this lab can be found on YouTube by the Sci Guys, A couple of resources available at NSTA include, “Tried and True: The Halloween Lab,” and “Tried and True: Spooky Suspects.” I also find a lot of my really fun labs and discrepant events on Steve Spangler Science website, Steve has totally redone his website. You can join for free and have a wealth of hands-on labs and videos to share with your students. Steve has a wonderful way of making everything sound spooky. I would love to hear what some of the rest of you use in your "ghostly and ghoulie" classrooms.

Halloween Science Collection (2 items)
Betty Paulsell Betty Paulsell 48560 Points

Thanks for sharing. This reminded me to review those NSTA articles and share them with several other teachers who will appreciate them.

Windy Smith Windy Smith 340 Points

Wow! I love this idea of Halloween Science and you gave great NSTA resources. I am going to check this out and thanks for the wonderful idea!! Windy Smith

Cinthia Rodriguez Cinthia Rodriguez 4505 Points

Thanks for posting this for us, the video was very informative and to the point. Great timing to read since it is October.

Michelle Mattern Michelle Mattern 1775 Points

I love the idea of connecting science to the holidays, especially Halloween because it really makes the kids interested. One idea that I think would be a very cool science experiment to do with some older elementary kids is Pumpkin Smashing, using homemade catapults! This project would probably start the week before Halloween. The students get into teams and each team gets 3 mini pumpkins and they have to go through the design and creation processes to make a working catapult to launch their pumpkins the farthest. At the end of the week, each team gets 3 (b/c they each have 3 pumpkins)and you measure which team got their pumpkins to launch the farthest. Obviously, just keep in mind that this will make a mess when the pumpkins smash, so be conscious of easy ways to clean up afterwards! Happy Halloween!

Elizabeth Epstein elizabeth epstein 370 Points

This is a fun way to tie everyday life (Halloween) to science. I think students are much more interested and invested when their activities are related to what's going on in their life.

Lydia Montero Lydia Montero 1055 Points

Wow this is awesome! I love this idea of Halloween Science, I hope to incorporate this with a class next year. Thank you!

Lydia Montero Lydia Montero 1055 Points

This is an awesome idea for Halloween Science! I hope to incorporate it next year. Thank you!

Sarah Garnett Sarah Garnett 3455 Points

I was recently part of a STEM camp. I worked with kindergartners. They investigated pumpkins. They measured them by seeing how tall and big around they were. They also weighed them. They compared different sized pumpkins. These were simple activities that could be done any time of the year with different objects, but the pumpkins used at this time of the year really got the kids engaged.

Caitlin Greene Caitlin Greene 1235 Points

I love this idea!

Robin Lee Robin LEE 775 Points

This reminded me of a great resource teachers in Maryland have. The Maryland state department of Agriculture actually sends educators that work for them to schools and they do mini experiments like these with students. One that was geared towards elementary students was all about pumpkins, seeds, types etc. The students were able to make all those observations about a mini pumpkin and even practice making data charts with the information they collected. It was awesome to be a part of!

Caryn Meirs Caryn Meirs 26235 Points

Hi everyone - this year for Safe Halloween my high school robotics club students will be creating little 'creepy density' vials our of old water bottles with elementary students who come trick or treating. The experiment is here at science-sparks.

A few conferences ago there was a 'Harry Potter Science'workshop that was wonderful. I have adapted many of the activities and used them with my 4th grade class - perfect review for the state science assessment - a potato spud launching catapult (gnome tossing in the garden), writing in invisible ink (chemical v physical change), a convection cell that mimics a swirling crystal ball and a compass that goes haywire whenever the kids bring it close to Hogwarts (mapping and grid coordinates, magnets).

I have also used many of the activities, books and suggestions from this collection in my classes - Happy Halloween everyone!

Pumpkin Science Collection (11 items)
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Jennifer Cooper Jennifer Cooper 2025 Points

I feel like any time you can incorporate a holiday or event into a lesson plan, the students are going to have fun with it. Especially with the younger grades. I plan to try and use this strategy when writing my lesson plans in the future.

Tara Cuzzart Tara Cuzzart 1055 Points

I really enjoyed the Sci Guys video. It is a great resource for the classroom when demonstrating the basics of an experiment. It could also be used in a classroom where there is nothing nearby to heat the can. The teacher can show a few minutes of the video and then pause it to ask students for predictions. I also loved how they explained how the experiment worked at the end with the illustrations!

Sarah Benton Feitlinger Sarah Benton 1775 Points

Holiday activities are always fun- I like to try to tie in whatever we're already doing. Pumpkins obviously work well in the fall and for Halloween. I've included some pumpkin resources today in my blog post: Another holiday related activity I am excited to have coming up is for Thanksgiving. I have my 4th graders (who study ecosystems and food webs) draw their 3 favorite Thanksgiving foods on 3x5 cards. I draw a blank trophic pyramid on the board. The kids tape their cards in the appropriate place based on Producer, Consumer, Decomposers. It leads to some great discussion about food ingredients, and our role in the food web. Happy Halloween!!

Julia Osuna Julia Osuna 420 Points

I am trying to do a pumpkin life cycle activity with my kinder students and the website you provided was very helpful! Thanks for sharing

Stephanie Barrera Stephanie Barrera 2405 Points

Thank you for sharing! This looks like a really great lesson for Halloween!

Heather Brown Heather Brown 2125 Points

Than you for sharing! I am definitely going to share this idea with my mentor teacher in my field placement. I think that this would be an awesome idea to try and get halloween into a science lesson the day before halloween. I believe that even my fifth graders would love this!

Stefanie Donnelly Stefanie Donnelly 1415 Points

I am actually trying to come up with a STEM project with Bats. I figured Halloween would get them in the mood to learn about bats. I wanted to build a bat sanctuary and stress the importance of bats in the animal kingdom with regards to them keeping the population of insects down. I wanted to build bat roosts and maybe install a camera in one so that way we could have a live stream going. The children could observe the bats and take notes, and formulate further questions they have. I am just starting the thinking process on this but I am super excited about it. Halloween is my favorite holiday and I want my future students to be as excited about it as I am! Thank you for sharing this post I love all the ideas that have come from it! -Stefanie Donnelly

Asya Ammons Asya Ammons 1065 Points

I love how your department implemented the the holiday into the lesson. It is a great way for all the students to get involved and have fun while learning. I will defiantly have to keep this in mind to implement something into my future classroom. Maybe have the students dress up as little mad scientist and e able to explore different stations and maybe even invite the parents in to see what the kids have done or are doing like they are actual scientist. I love the activities that were in this forum and I as well have attached some that maybe of some help to others. Kids learn best I feel when they are hands on and remember more when they are learning and don't even see that they are learning. I hope you all continue to do this every year for it seems like something that all the students can look forward to. - Asya Ammons

Amanda Ferrer Amanda Ferrer 1320 Points

I am a huge fan of integrating the holiday into the lesson we are learning. I feel like it provides more of a real-world connection to the students and it helps them better understand what they are learning, as well as, engages them in the lesson. I planned to do a lesson with the Kindergartners, on the 5 senses. After a lesson on our 5 senses, the students will be given popcorn. They will have to observe the popcorn and provide observation on the smell, taste, feel, look, and sound of the popcorn. After their observation is complete, they will be receiving a transparent poly gloves and candy corn. Students will have to place the candy corn on the tips of each of the fingers of the glove and then fill the glove up with the popcorn. They were making "Monster Hands". The kids love it because they are allowed to eat what is in the glove after class and they enjoy doing something fun after they do a classwork. This year I was not able to do this activity because of school events, so I have modified it and I'm now turning the popcorn glove into a thanksgiving turkey.

An Nguyen An Nguyen 995 Points

These are great ideas! They will definitely engage and motivate the students. 

Thy Van thy van 1565 Points

I love this science idea. I will have to share this with the science teachers at my school. 

Hanna Neff Hanna Neff 240 Points

This is a very interesting idea! There could be so many ways that you can incorporate science into different holidays. I love all of the ideas you listed and look forward to trying these in my future classroom. Along with these things, I think you could use these activities and then have your students write different things about them so it could tie into literacy activities as well.  Thank you again!

Kate Thomson Kate Thomson 365 Points

A Chemistry teacher from Yale schools in Michigan shared this idea from their school for meaningful Halloween Science, and I've done it for several years with middle school students.  Can be adapted for most any age group. 

A Scientist Graveyard

Students research famous accomplishments, contributions and area of expertise of an assigned accomplished scientist and create a tombstone for their scientist.  I encourage kids to be creative with the design and materials used for their tombstone - some use cardboard, wood, foam; some are large, small - different shapes and sizes.  They include name, dates lived, country of origin, and an engraved inscription that describes their main field of study and contributions on their tombstones.  I also require students to write a small paper to share more specifically about their scientist.  

We set up the tombstones before school, the morning of Halloween.  Each class takes a little time to tour the graveyard, and students share about their scientist.  I have made it a required assignment for the entire class, and other years made it extra credit and still got reasonable participation.  We've set it up outside several years, and due to high winds and inclement weather, inside in our commons as well.  I now prefer inside, because there is more foot traffic and admiring from wider school audience (although parents appreciated seeing them displayed outside).

Mollie Niblo Mollie Niblo 1230 Points

Hi, I am going to school to become a teacher and I was in a 1st grade classroom last semester for my practicum and they did something really awesome for Halloween. They had gone to a pumpkin patch a week before. On the Friday before Halloween my mentor teacher and another 1st grade teacher made different stations for the kids to go to all having to do with pumpkins. One was seeing if a pumpkin would float or sink. They had the kids wieght and measure different size pumpkins at a station. I was helping at the station where they kids had to predict how many seeds were in the pumpkins and then count the seeds. There many more. The kids had so much fun I don't even think they realized they were doing science. It was really fun. I would love to do this when I get in my classroom in the future.

Glenda Ibanez Glenda Ibanez 2665 Points

These are some great resources to use for Halloween. I like that it is totally different from what I have experienced when in school during Halloween. Most teachers only do a reading activity and/or a movie, which I believe is the easy way out of it. 

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