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100+ labs, activities, and science experiments for middle and high school students

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Looking for fun and engaging lab ideas for use in your science class? You've come to the right place. Here's my list of practical activities and experiments you can try with your students, all in one place.

science experiments laboratory test tubes

Introduction


I've been teaching MYP science (grades 6-10) internationally for over a decade. I try to devote about a third of my class time to experimental activities, which means we do a lot of labs. I'm also the only lab technician at my current school, so I'm responsible for set-up and cleanup as well. Needless to say, I've accumulated quite a bit of experience in the lab and can confidently recommend all of the following experiments. I have personally tried all of them with my students and in most cases have been conducting them for years.


Where can I get these labs?


Although I have provided links to just about every activity on my list, some are much better than others. You will often need to adjust them significantly for your classroom depending on the classes and number of students you teach, as well as the materials you have access to. Additionally, free lab guides usually do not include much in the way of background info, student questions or handouts, and teacher prep notes. For these reasons, I've created my own resources for most of the labs I do, which I'm currently in the process of uploading to my TPT store. You can access my complete experimental resource collection here. I'm adding new experiments regularly, but early purchasers will have access to all future activities at no additional cost! As you can see from the list below, I have quite a few more to add! Links to my individual lab activities have also been provided in the relevant sections.


The following list of experiments is organized by grade and unit. Click on the links below to jump to the section you need.


You can also access unit plan outlines for each of the above units in my store.

 

List of Experiments

Grade 6


Scientific Method


1. Memory experiments - How many random words or objects can students memorize? Will students be able to identify a missing object (or classmate)? How reliable is eyewitness testimony? These are excellent activities for getting students to practice basic experimental design, as well as practical skills like collecting and analyzing data. As a bonus, many of these experiments require virtually no prep for you!

accuracy and precision target experiment

2. Accuracy and precision experiment - For this activity, all you need is a target and something that will stick to it. I've used a dart board, NERF guns with suction cup darts, or just a target drawn on the whiteboard with magnetic disks to throw at it. You could even make a target on the ground outside and have your students toss beanbags at it. Anything will do! Students take turns hurling things at the targets and recording the distance to the middle. Then they analyze the results in terms of accuracy (average distance to the center) and precision (range, standard deviation, and the number of decimal places).

myp science experiment grade 6 scientific method baking science

3. Baking science experiment - I've long been a fan of incorporating food science into science class. What better way to get kids excited about chemistry while also learning a useful life skill? I've done many versions of this activity, but it always involves baking something, like cookies or cakes, by modifying a recipe to learn about variables. There are also many opportunities here for unit conversion practice.


Chemical and Physical Changes

candle in jar oxygen experiment

4. Fire triangle oxygen experiment - For younger students who may not have had access to open flames before, this is a good place to start for developing safe handling practices. Students use candles and various glass containers to measure how long a flame will burn in a limited oxygen environment. You might as well demonstrate the rising water trick too since you're using all the same materials.


5. Bunsen burner temperature experiment - Students learn how the Bunsen burner works and attempt to find out what part of the flame is hottest. You'll need a temperature probe rated for high temperatures in order to get accurate data for this lab. Alternatively, you can just use a thin steel rod or a nail by holding it in different parts of the flame and recording any colour changes. Try comparing the orange and blue flames, as well as the top, bottom, middle, and sides of the flame. Almost all students fail to predict where the hottest region will be!

fire extinguisher safety experiment

6. Fire extinguisher safety activity - You'll need to get some safety approvals for this one, but I think it's worth it. Who knows when you might have a real emergency to deal with? Go outside and start a simple fire in a safe place like a metal tray. Then use one of the school fire extinguishers to put it out. Have a few students try it, too. Discuss the locations of fire extinguishers, different types of fires, exit strategies, and so on. You may even want to coordinate with the local fire department and see if they can send someone to talk to the students about fire safety.

flask lab glassware identification quiz

7. Lab equipment identification quiz - Another one for younger students who are just beginning to do lab work. Collect one piece of glassware or lab equipment for each student in your class (with a few extra, just in case). Put one on each desk before your students arrive. As students come in, give them a blank piece of paper and have them write down the name of the equipment in front of them. Then rotate to the next seat and repeat. Set a timer for ~30 seconds to keep things moving. You may also want to get students to draw the equipment as well, in which case they would need a bit of extra time. This works best as a review activity, but it can also be used as a chance to see what students already know.


8. Oobleck states of matter activity - After students have learned about solids, liquids, and gases, whip up a batch of oobleck (cornstarch + water) and have them explore its properties. Is it a solid, a liquid, or a bit of both? Have your students consider the particle interactions going on in this unusual fluid. A bit of research may be required on their part.

sugar crystals rock candy experiment

9. Salt or sugar crystal lab - Students dissolve and then evaporate a very small volume of concentrated salt or sugar solution to produce crystals. I prefer salt since it is less of a sticky mess, but you can do one or both. Check out the crystals under the microscope and compare them to mineral crystals if you have some to observe. You can also use this lab as a chance to explore saturation and give a really cool supersaturation demo using sodium acetate. Just Google 'hot ice'!

MYP science experiment grade 6 chemical and physical changes separation techniques experiment

10. Separating salt and sand mixtures experiment - Give students a sample containing salt, sand, and (optionally) iron filings. Then tell them to figure out how to separate each substance. This will involve a combination of magnetism, dissolving, filtration, evaporation, and so on. There is more than one way to accomplish this task, which is what makes it interesting. Add to the challenge by having students compare the mass of their sample to the total mass of each separated substance (you'll need to allow time for proper drying) to see who managed to preserve the most material. Discuss industrial and everyday applications of these separation techniques.


11. Diffusion of potassium permanganate - Another classic chemistry experiment that involves the movement of purple crystals as they dissolve in water. You can have students record the time it takes to produce a uniform solution and then compare this at different water temperatures or volumes. It's also useful to get your students to take photos, or better yet, videos of the process to compare.

dissolving cocoa hot chocolate experiment

12. Dissolving cocoa experiment - Students try to find the best way to dissolve a specific quantity of cocoa in order to make hot chocolate effectively. This is great for winter or during the holiday season, but as far as I'm concerned there's never a bad time for hot chocolate. Make this as open-ended as you can, but have students write down their reasoning and the method used. Is it better to use milk or water? Should you add the liquid first or the powder first? How does the temperature affect how easily the cocoa dissolves? Obviously, you wouldn't want to use typical chemistry glassware for this one, so plan ahead if you want to allow your students to drink their creations.


Characteristics of Living Things


13. Pond organisms microscope lab - Visit a local ecosystem and collect some water. It's better to get the 'chunky stuff' including mud, water plants, pond scum, and other organic material. Bring it back to the lab and have your students look for microorganisms under the microscope. With luck, you will be able to identify water fleas, vorticella, euglena, and other organisms in your samples. If you do this in the spring or summer, various insect larvae will likely be present as well.

human cheek cells microscope experiment

14. Specialized cells microscope lab - Sure, you can easily find prepared slides of specialized cells, but it's much more interesting for your students if they create their own. Collecting cheek cells is simple, and I think students get a kick out of seeing their own cells for the first time. Root hair cells and leaf cells are easy to locate as well, although the species you choose makes a huge difference. Try a few and see what works best.


Energy


15. Energy in food (calorimetry) experiment - I've found this lab to be notoriously difficult unless you have very good equipment, but it has the potential to produce lots of interesting results and is endlessly customizable for your students. The flexibility alone makes it worthwhile to try, even if the results don't end up being as useful as you'd hoped. Burning sugary or oily foods works best. Try potato chips or marshmallows.

MYP science experiment grade 6 energy comparing fuels alcohol burning experiment

16. Comparing fuels experiment - In this lab activity, students burn equal quantities of various fuels to determine which makes the best fuel. Alcohols including methanol, ethanol, and propanol should be easy enough to obtain. The experiment itself is pretty straightforward, but there are a lot of factors to consider. Which fuel burns the hottest? Which burns the longest? Which is the cheapest or easiest to obtain? What about other factors, such as the smell? There's a lot for students to explore here.

s'mores solar oven experiment

17. Design a solar oven - This is an excellent project for students to tackle that requires only a few simple craft and household supplies. As a summative assessment, students can make use of their physics knowledge to conduct, reflect, insulate, and ultimately cook simple foods. I prefer not to tell them the exact method so that they can find out what works and what doesn't. We like to make s'mores and cheese toast - things that are still delicious even if they don't cook properly!


18. Thermal conductivity experiment - This lab has many variations, but most involve comparing the ability of different metals to transfer heat. If you can find wires of equal diameter and length made of copper, steel, etc. then it is pretty easy to compare the conductivity of these substances by putting one end in hot water and then measuring the temperature along its length using a digital thermometer. Alternatively, put the other end of the wire in cold water and measure the temperature after a given amount of time. The warmest liquid should indicate the best conductor.

insulated hot drink experiment

19. Insulated drink experiment - This is a bit like the solar oven experiment, except that in this case, students are given a hot beverage and tasked with keeping it warm for as long as possible. Similar ideas and materials can be used, so it makes sense to do this as a follow-up experiment to that. Provide each group with a cup of boiled water and identical materials in order to make it a fair comparison. Then pop a thermometer in and see who has the warmest drink by the end of class.


Ecology

myp science experiments grade 6 ecology measuring populations simulation

20. Mark-recapture simulation - This mathematical exercise involves students estimating a population's size by 'marking' and 'capturing' beans or other small objects from a container. Various sample sizes are used to show how accuracy improves with the number of marked and captured individuals. Then discuss how accurate mark-recapture studies would be for different populations in the wild.


21. Quadrat study - Using square frames, students collect data on the plant or invertebrate species found in a local environment (the school playground will do!). They can use this information to estimate population sizes and species distribution, but it can also be used to identify possible community interactions, including competition, mutualism, commensalism, and predation.

peanut butter jar mesocosm experiment

22. Mesocosm experiment - Students set up small ecosystems in jars or soda bottles to observe nutrient cycling in action. If done well they can last for years. I've tried aquatic ecosystems with fish in the past, but for ethical reasons, we pretty much stick to plants and soil organisms only these days. I also like to keep it simple and do everything in large peanut butter jars. It can get pretty elaborate if you decide to make full eco-columns though.


23. Personal impact experiment - This is an open-ended investigation where students decide on a lifestyle change they will maintain for a few weeks in order to reduce their environmental impact. This could include things like reducing shower time, air drying their clothes, biking to school instead of getting a ride, and so on. They then attempt to estimate the impact they are making in terms of environmental and economic savings, both for the project duration and for a lifetime, if they were to keep it up indefinitely. Although most students quickly fall back into their regular routines, a few do recognize that small changes are manageable and decide to make compromises in the way they live.


Earth and Space Science

scale solar system model

24. Solar system scale model - This is a mathematical/visual investigation that shows kids the true scale of the solar system (it's mostly empty space!). We usually do this on two different scales - one that allows us to fit the solar system within the classroom, and another that requires us to go outside and cover some distance on the playground. Even at that scale, the largest planets are still only the size of a small ball and the Earth is minuscule.

chocolate rock cycle diagram

25. Chocolate rock cycle - The rock cycle can be a bit dull and abstract considering the time scales and forces students are expected to imagine. Spice it up a little with the delicious addition of chocolate! Through mixing, grating, melting, hardening, and other processes, you can mimic most of the changes in the rock cycle and give students a clearer understanding of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rock formation. Yum!


26. Rock and mineral identification with dichotomous keys - Once students have a grasp of the rock cycle, it's time to get them familiar with some of the more common rocks and minerals. This can be done outdoors with field guides and cameras, or inside with samples and a dichotomous key. Even with a key this can be pretty challenging and there is quite a bit of terminology to understand, but I still think it's worthwhile. Some kids get really into it!

27. Flashlight moon phases activity - With a couple of balls, a flashlight, and a darkened room, you can put small groups of students to work trying to simulate the movements of the Sun, Earth, and Moon as they orbit around each other. It is pretty funny watching kids trying to move everything correctly and position themselves to see the phases properly, but I think it gets the concepts across quite well. You can also simulate eclipses, and if you're feeling really ambitious, you can get Mars involved and demonstrate retrograde motion.

Grade 7


Objects in Motion

myp science experiments grade 7 objects in motion systems of measurement investigation

28. Human body systems of measurement activity - I use this exercise to teach students about units and what they are based on. In ancient times, a lot of measurement standards were based on the distances between or across body parts, including the hand, fingers, and arms. Most of the metric units in use today are based on much more complicated standards, but it can be surprising for students to realize that measuring devices can't really be made without standards of some kind.

ptolemy's historic ancient map

29. Comparing ancient and modern maps - In the age of discovery (~1400-1600) a lot of early mapping was accomplished by Europeans. It wasn't all accurate, however, for a variety of reasons. This activity gives students a good crash course in cartography, which you might argue is more appropriate for geography and social studies, but it works well for this unit because it devotes a significant amount of time to understanding how we determine our location in space. Graphing using GPS coordinates is a significant part of this investigation.

gps mobile phone map pathway

30. GPS pathways activity - Since practically all of your students have access to an accurate GPS device of their own, this once-expensive activity is now easier than ever. You can use one of a handful of apps to track students as they walk various pathways around the schoolyard and elsewhere, which can then be analyzed and compared in terms of distance, time, acceleration, and changes in elevation. It can be particularly fun to compare the pathways students take to get to school. I couldn't find a good link for this activity, unfortunately.


31. Determining the acceleration of gravity using a pendulum - This lab always produces consistent results, provided students perform the calculations correctly. Since we use the acceleration of gravity so often in physics, I think it helps students to see that it can be determined with a relatively simple setup. Students will have only tiny pendulums to work with at their desks, but if you plan ahead, you can make a huge one that hangs from the ceiling to show that it works at larger scales, too.


Atoms and Elements


32. Metals and non-metals identification - Depending on what materials you have available, this can be a really great introduction to the periodic table of elements. Chances are your lab already has a good selection of metals, as well as some non-metals like carbon and sulfur. Provide small samples of each material and allow students to rotate to different stations where they attempt to identify the materials using some simple techniques (like magnetism). You can do this entirely visually if you like, or give some obscure facts about each element to help them out.

metal displacement reactions experiment

33. Metal displacement reactions experiment - Students observe whether reactions occur between pure metals and various salt solutions in order to create a simple reactivity series. It's reasonable to test four or five metals in order to introduce the concept, but you'll need to explain that very reactive and unreactive metals are not realistic to test in school due to prohibitive costs and safety concerns. The reactivity series can then be used to discuss why certain metals are chosen for particular uses and why precious metals are so valuable and long-lasting.

red cabbage pH indicator experiment

34. pH indicator lab - There are many kinds of indicators that can be used to determine pH. Teach students about acids and alkalis, then give them a selection of common household substances like vinegar and soapy water to test with universal indicator. They can then use the results to create their own coloured pH scale in their notebooks and label each substance accordingly. If you want to go a little further, consider making your own indicator solution with purple cabbage!


35. Titration of NaOH with HCl - This classic chemistry experiment involves the neutralization reaction between hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide. A small sample of NaOH containing the indicator phenolphthalein is given to each group (this is best done in pairs). Students slowly add acid to the pink alkali solution until it goes clear, at which point it should be neutral. If you have digital pH probes, get students to measure the changes throughout the experiment and plot them on a graph. You can also evaporate the resulting solution to show that salt (NaCl) crystals are formed in the process.


Inheritance

myp science experiments grade 7 inheritance fruit dna extraction

36. Fruit DNA extraction - In this simple lab activity, students use common household ingredients to isolate and observe the DNA found in fruits such as kiwis, bananas, and strawberries. The similarities should help illustrate the fact that DNA is a universal code common to all organisms. Although you can't see the molecular structure of the DNA in this exercise, it's still fun to have a look at your extracted nucleic acids under a microscope.


37. Life cycles investigation - There are a few ways to show students how various plants and animals complete their life cycles. For plants, beans grow quite quickly and the seeds are easy to collect and save. If you have some space and a bit more time, sunflowers are really fun to grow at school, too. Depending on the season, it may be possible to collect some tadpoles from a local pond and observe them as they grow and develop. Insect larvae and caterpillars are fun to watch as well, but a little less exciting until their final metamorphosis. You might even be able to contact a nearby chicken farm and get ahold of some fertilized eggs to incubate. Be sure to provide food and a decent living space for whatever creatures you investigate, of course, and have a plan for what to do with them after you are done observing them.

eye colour phenotype investigation

38. Phenotype investigation - Collect class data for a variety of common genetic traits and compare these to national or global averages. Blood type is ideal, but some students might not know theirs (everyone knows their blood type in Japan so this is an easy one for me!). Other possibilities include eye colour (here's a VERY detailed article on eye colour genetics), dominant hand, hair colour, or earlobe shape. Avoid things like height, which might single out or embarrass some students. Also, don't do tongue rolling, because despite what you may have heard, the ability to roll your tongue is either mostly or entirely NOT determined by genes.


Waves

MYP science experiment grade 7 waves calculating the speed of sound experiment

39. Determining the speed of sound experiment - This one requires some space, and by space, I mean distance. You'll want at least 200m with a clear line of sight for good results. Have a few students position themselves at 100m increments away from a group of observers (the rest of the class). These students will be equipped with some kind of noise-making device that can also serve as a visual cue. We use two blocks of wood clapped together above the head. The observers use a stopwatch to measure the time between when they see the blocks touch and when they hear the sound. This is then used to calculate the speed of sound. If you get really lucky on a stormy day, you can do a variation of this exercise using lightning (from indoors, of course). In that case, your students would be finding the distance of the lightning using an accepted speed of sound.


40. Create a pinhole camera - It's not really an experiment, but it's still a classic physics exercise and for good reason. Nothing more clearly illustrates the function of the eye and retina and the concept of light moving in straight lines than this ancient device. A small cardboard box or similar container forms the basis for the pinhole camera, along with a few other craft materials. Then look at a bright object like a lightbulb or candle to see the inverted image.

colour sensitivity test

41. Hearing or colour sensitivity experiment - For this activity, students will use different videos or apps to determine how well they can differentiate between similar shades of a colour or hear high-pitched sounds. Have the whole class perform the tests and then analyze the results. Students love learning about themselves!


42. Reflection investigations - Using lasers and different types of mirrors, students observe the behaviour of light and construct ray diagrams. This is good practice for drawing clear and detailed diagrams. This can take a while, so it's probably best to split it into two lessons and keep plane and curved mirrors separate.

musical water glasses sound frequency experiment

43. Playing a song with glasses of water - This is a pretty silly activity that I decided to do a few years ago, but there's some solid science behind it. Students can obviously make music on glasses of water without learning anything, so be sure to indicate (and possibly calculate) how and why the pitch changes with volume. Put on a concert at the end of class and get your cameras ready!


Earth Systems and Cycles

water cycle simulation experiment

44. Water cycle simulation - With just a few simple materials you can easily show many of the processes involved in the water cycle. Get a fish tank and fill it with a small amount of water. Place some sand or a rock on one side to represent mountains. Cover the tank with a clear sheet of glass or plastic so you can still see what's going on. Put a tray of ice above the mountain to represent cold air in the upper atmosphere. Finally, place a heat lamp near the tank to represent the sun (you can also just use the actual sun!). A 'cloud' should form below the ice with lots of condensation which will drip down the mountains and back into the 'ocean'. If you want to speed up the process, try adding warm water to the tank.


45. Weather comparison investigation - Students look up weather information for a number of different cities and record things like temperature, wind speed, humidity, pressure, and so on for a week or two. Then they analyze the data and prepare a report or presentation on the similarities and differences between the chosen locations. They must use their knowledge of air and ocean currents, elevation, latitude, and other factors to explain any observed differences. This works best as a summative assessment comparing where you live to a selection of other cities chosen by the students themselves.

graham cracker tectonic plate fault simulation experiment

46. Plate tectonics simulation - I've tried several different materials to simulate the movements of tectonic plates, and each has its pros and cons. Slowly pushing crackers over a peanut butter or jam 'mantle' until they collide is pretty fun and shows some fault interactions reasonably well. I also like smashing layers of towels or paper into each other to show how mountains and unusual strata patterns can form. You can also try freezing the top few centimeters of a large container of water (just leave it outside if it's cold enough in winter!). Use a hammer to smash the surface and form a few 'plates'. Then move them across the surface to show plate movements and interactions. You can also use this to illustrate how the continents were once connected as a single land mass.


Senses

myp science experiments grade 7 senses human sense perception lab

47. Human sense perception lab - This is one of my personal favourites. Students move around in pairs visiting a variety of stations that put their senses of hearing, touch, taste, sight, and smell to the test. In total students do 13 interactive sense activities that are easy to set up and fun to experience.


48. Plant tropism experiments - Use a fast-growing plant like beans to show how plants grow towards the light (phototropism) and away from gravity (gravitropism). Students can get a bit creative with this one by coming up with modifications to test. Some possibilities include growing a plant sideways or upside down, rotating a plant away from the sun every few days, or covering different parts of a growing shoot with various materials to see how phototropism is controlled.

wood lice choice chamber experiments

49. Invertebrate stimuli and response experiments - Unlike mammals, invertebrates such as insects, worms, and snails exhibit mostly predictable responses to specific stimuli. Go outside and collect whatever tiny creatures you can from your local ecosystem. Then bring them back to the lab to test their responses to things like temperature gradients, moisture, light, sound, movement, and so on. Use this opportunity to discuss the ethical treatment of laboratory animals and make it clear that your students must do their best to avoid harming the creatures in their care. Release them where you found them after the experiments are done!


Grade 8


Energy, Work, and Power


50. Human power experiment - Get your students running up flights of stairs to see how much power a human can generate! I like to kick off this activity by discussing horsepower and its origins as a unit of measurement. Inevitably students want to see how they compare to a horse (and each other), so this always gets competitive. Spoiler alert - your students can't beat a horse! To end the activity, we discuss situations in which a horse can be defeated by a human, focusing on an annual marathon that pits the two species against each other held in the UK. As it turns out, humans perform best when it's hot.

marble flour impact crater experiment

51. Impact crater experiment - This is good messy fun with applied physics! Students drop marbles into trays of flour from different heights and compare the diameter and depth of the impact craters. Use marbles with different masses and calculate the potential energy for each trial. This should equal the kinetic energy on impact. How does the kinetic energy affect crater size and depth? Graph it and find out!

myp science experiments grade 8 energy work and power principle of moments experiment

52. Principle of moments lab - Students use a balance beam to solve problems and investigate the principle of moments. This is the idea that when two opposing turning forces act equally on either side of a pivot, they are balanced and no movement occurs. I like this activity because it can be completed in a number of ways, including trial and error, calculation, or a combination of both.

53. Gear ratios experiment - You'll need access to some specific equipment for this one. A bicycle should be easy enough to obtain (or borrow), but I use LEGO technic. Students build simple LEGO cars and switch out different gears to compare the force and speed produced. This takes a while and is definitely more complicated than just demonstrating with a stationary bicycle or similar setup, but it's far more hands-on. This is best for smaller classes or science clubs.

fixed and movable pulley experiment

54. Pulley experiment - Here's another activity that requires you to have some materials on hand, although they can be easily purchased from a local hardware store for a reasonable price. Give students an object of known mass and a force meter. Then give them the pulley materials and set them to work on reducing the force needed to lift the mass by as much as possible. If they have already studied the theory behind pulleys, this should be doable, but the reality of setting up a working block and tackle is much more complicated than it seems if you've never done it before.


Human Impacts on the Environment

myp science experiments grade 8 human impacts on the environment greenhouse effect simulation

55. Greenhouse effect simulation - Using sealed jars or other containers, students modify atmospheric conditions to see how temperature is affected. There are many ways to conduct this experiment, so I recommend letting each group of students try something different. Start with a simple control (usually an empty container) and go from there. You can try adding different quantities of water, soil, or ice, or if you can get your hands on it, chunks of dry ice to increase the CO2 concentration.


Nutrition


56. Chemical tests for macromolecules - This is a well-documented set of biochemistry procedures for identifying starch, simple sugars, proteins, and fats in small samples of common foods. You only need a few reagents which should be readily available in most middle or high school science labs. The results involve various colour changes that are pretty fun to observe. Get your students to predict which foods will contain each macromolecule and then test their predictions to see if they are right.

plant nutrient deficiencies

57. Plant nutrient deficiencies investigation - Teach your students how to recognize signs of nutrient deficiencies in plants. These can be seen by examining leaf growth and colour. Then go outside and see if your students can find examples of nutrient-deficient plants around the school. Beware of plants that are naturally red/purple in colour, which could be mistaken for phosphorous deficiencies, and definitely don't try this in the fall for obvious reasons.

digestion simulation cereal experiment

58. Digestion simulation - In this activity, students take a sample of food and put it through a series of processes in order to simulate the stages of digestion. This doesn't sound that fun, but it involves a lot of smashing, squishing, and messy fun. Crush the food inside a plastic bag, add some water and hydrochloric acid, filter it through a pair of socks or stocking 'intestines', and then compact the leftover chunks to make 'poop' (kids love it). Combine this activity with the chemical tests from experiment 56 above for a more in-depth analysis. I like using cornflakes or a similar cereal as the carbs are pretty easy to break down and there is enough iron for you to actually extract and see.


59. Digestive system dissection - If your students aren't too squeamish, consider dissecting something to view its digestive system. Whole fish are easy to obtain here in Japan so that's what I use. Rather than opting for a class set, if you splurge for a big one, you can cut open the stomach and examine the contents. I did this several times with carp in college and there was always lots to see. If you happen to know a hunter, you might be able to get something much larger. Enjoy!

fruit protease gelatin experiment

60. Protease enzyme experiment - Some fruits, such as pineapples, naturally contain protein-digesting enzymes. If you attempt to make gelatin with a sufficient quantity of these fruits, it won't solidify. Try a bunch of different fruits and see which ones contain enzymes and which don't. Make sure you use fresh fruits as canned varieties can be unreliable. Then discuss enzyme activity and its importance in digestive processes.


61. Cell respiration experiment - Use germinating beans or yeast to indirectly measure the rate of cell respiration at different temperatures. You can accomplish this by placing these organisms inside a sealed system called a respirometer and measuring their CO2 production. It's a little complicated to set up for students, but you can prepare some of the materials ahead of time yourself. This experiment encourages accurate measurement techniques and can be used on invertebrates as well!

Electromagnetism

bar magnet iron filings magnetic field lines

62. Magnetic field investigation - Put a magnet on a piece of paper and sprinkle with iron filings. Then draw the resulting magnetic field lines. Try different magnet shapes, or add multiple magnets in different arrangements to see how the magnetic field changes. If you have clear sheets of plexiglass or even just a blank laminated sheet you can put the magnets underneath and make cleanup MUCH easier.


63. Make a compass activity - Float a magnetized needle on water and watch it point north. Everyone has probably done this one at some point, but for younger students, this is still a tried and true way to observe the Earth's magnetic field. Apparently, you can also just suspend a bar magnet on a string and accomplish the same thing, but I've never tried that. Might be worth a go!

pumpkin battery electricity experiment

64. Fruit and vegetable battery experiment - Use a lemon or potato to generate electricity and power a simple device like a fan or light bulb. That's the basic version, anyway. You can make it more of an experiment by comparing how pH affects the voltage produced or by adjusting the distance between the electrodes. Obviously, you can also compare different fruits and vegetables to see which works the best. Some of them might surprise you (try a pumpkin!).


65. Series and parallel circuits investigation - Build different kinds of circuits and compare the voltage and current at different points. You'll need quite a few materials for a full class activity, including batteries, components, and a lot of wire, so consider doing this as part of a station activity if supplies are limited. You can also get kits that simplify and streamline the building process, but I like making students do it the hard way!


66. Electrical conductivity experiment - Compare the resistance of various materials using a multimeter. It's as simple as it sounds and generates really good data. The hardest part is finding similar materials for a fair test, as your wires need to be the same length and diameter if you are comparing different metals. One version of this activity involves using graphite from pencil drawings to compare conductivity. Simply draw two large dots on paper and connect them with a line. Then measure by placing your multimeter on the dots. Try making long or short lines, waves, or other shapes. Increase the thickness of your lines to see if that makes a difference.


Communication

total internal reflection laser fish tank

67. Total internal reflection experiment - Shine a laser into a semi-circular transparent block at different angles until it reflects back rather than refracting through. You can use a small clear container or fish tank as well. Get students to use a protractor to find the critical angle, which can be calculated and compared for that substance as well. There are better ways to observe total internal reflection, including streaming water and the use of fiber optics, but those work better as demos.

mp3 wav audio comparison sound waves

68. Audio format sound quality experiment - Convert lossless quality music files to MP3s at different bit rates and see if your students can hear the differences in quality. You can do this with a free music editor such as Audacity. It's harder than you think, even with good headphones. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read the linked article about file formats and audio quality. Compare WAV files to 320 kbps VBR MP3s and 192 kbps CBR MP3s. Let your students choose their favourite songs if you like, or give them some music education by choosing yours!

myp science experiments grade 8 communication wireless signal experiment

69. Wi-fi signal strength experiment - See how different variables affect the signal strength of wi-fi signals, such as the distance, number of connected devices, or physical obstructions. Download a free signal strength app that measures in dBm to compare signals and collect data. Since this is a logarithmic scale you can take the opportunity to teach students about that, too. This is a super practical experiment that students find quite relevant to their needs.


Body Systems

sheep brain dissection diagram

70. Sheep/pig brain dissection - Another dissection, this time with a medium-sized brain. In order to get the most out of this lab, it's best to frontload a lot of the terminology and be sure students are familiar with the main brain regions and their functions. I like to get kids to follow along with a video dissection, pausing as needed, or just use a document camera to guide them through it yourself if you're confident to do so. One word of wisdom - don't freeze your brains prior to dissection. I do this with hearts and thought it would be fine, but nope! Brains turn to mush when you thaw them out.


71. Properties of bone experiment - Cook and soak bones in acid to remove the substances that give them strength. Chicken bones are the easiest to obtain, especially if you plan to have enough for a full class (there might be a wing night or two in your future!). You can combine this lab with a microscope investigation of bone tissue, or look at cross-sections of bones from avian and non-avian species (images are fine).

antagonistic muscle groups arm model for kids

72. Antagonistic muscle groups activity - Construct a model of an antagonistic muscle group (the biceps/triceps arm pair is almost always used) and observe how the bones and muscles work during flexion and contraction. There are many different materials that can be used to make this work. It can be as simple as popsicle sticks and elastic bands, or more complicated models using wood or PVC to represent the bones and stretch cords or balloons for the muscles.

bone tissue microscope image

73. Observing body tissues microscope lab - Students look at a variety of human tissues under the microscope and attempt to identify them. It's not that hard to create mounts of different plant tissues, but animal tissues are a lot less practical. For these, I like to get a good set of prepared slides and have students do an ID quiz by rotating around the room. I'll usually give them a list of possible tissue types to choose from, but I don't always teach them what to look for ahead of time. The reasoning behind their choices is usually very good and worth writing down.


Grade 9


Organization of Life

biological drawing of paramecium caudatum

74. Microscope / biological drawings lab - In this lab, we revisit some properties of cells from earlier courses and refresh the students' memories on proper microscope use. In the process I have them create very detailed microscope drawings of protists - usually paramecium at 400x. The goal is to draw for accuracy and scale. I also need to regularly emphasize that students draw what they see, not what they expect to see.

free printable life-size body organs cutouts

75. Organs diagram activity - Students are given cutouts of human organs and have to place them in their correct positions on a blank torso. You can do this at the beginning or end of a topic (or both!), but either way, it's pretty hilarious to observe at times. After students are fairly confident with their choices, I have them label and annotate their diagrams explaining what each organ does. Finally, we look at the actual diagram and make corrections where necessary (I usually use a student exemplar from someone who knows what they're doing!). I've also done a whole class version of this exercise where I draw a life-sized torso on the whiteboard and have students take turns placing organs on it. There's a lot of communication from the 'audience' and it's always entertaining.


75. Dichotomous key activity - Students create a dichotomous key to differentiate and identify a selection of everyday objects. Sure, you could do this with images of actual species, in which case I would stick with a group of closely related organisms (turtles, sharks, cats, bears, etc.), however, I find that this is much more engaging when done with objects that have nothing to do with biology. Save yourself time and money by using whatever you have on hand, like candies, school supplies, or weird and random objects from your 'junk' drawer!


Chemical Reactions and Bonding

flame test metal identification experiment

76. Flame test lab - Always a student favourite, this lab involves burning small quantities of metal salts to produce coloured flames. These can be used to identify specific metals. It is also the basis for the colours seen in fireworks. While that connection is easy to make, it's much harder for students to understand why each metal produces a different colour, but this is actually a good opportunity to introduce electron configurations. Let your students use their phones for this lab and they'll enjoy taking lots of cool photos and videos.


77. Properties of ionic and covalent compounds experiment - There are lots of ways to do this (and lots of compounds to test), but the simplest one I know of is to compare salt (sodium chloride), sugar (sucrose), and paraffin wax. Students can examine a number of properties, including melting point and conductivity, to determine the typical features of ionic and covalent substances. A much more interesting version of this experiment involves giving students a bunch of unknown substances and asking them to determine whether they are ionic or covalent. This is most easily accomplished by testing for conductivity, but let them figure that out for themselves!


78. Properties of metals lab - Students test a bunch of common metals to investigate their properties. This can include both a qualitative (describe the colour and other physical features) and quantitative analysis (measuring the conductivity, density, and so on). I find it best if you can get equally sized samples of each metal, whether that be cubes, wires, or strips. I usually have students fill out a table of all the properties. I also include a few rare metals (like gold, platinum, iridium, etc.) that they have to research and add to the table themselves).

myp science experiments grade 9 chemical reactions and bonding electroplating experiment

79. Electroplating experiment - Students use a zinc solution and electricity to coat a copper plate with a thin layer of zinc. I make this a seasonal activity by drawing holiday-themed designs on the copper using a permanent marker. When removed, it creates a nice contrast between the dull grey zinc and shiny orange copper metals. Heat it lightly in a Bunsen burner and you'll create brass instead. Then punch a hole in the top and you've got a unique ornament for your Christmas tree.

preventing rust iron nail corrosion experiment

80. Preventing rust experiment - Take a selection of iron nails and coat them with different protective substances before placing them in water. Leave them in there for a few days to see how much they rust. The goal is to learn about the factors that contribute to corrosion and to see if we can prevent it with readily available materials. You can also do a follow-up experiment where you use things like acid to remove the layer of rust.


Forces and Structures


81. Newton's 3rd law skateboard experiment - There are lots of versions of this, but I like to get kids up and moving a bit using rollerblades or skateboards if possible (safety first!). Get a student to sit on the skateboard and then toss a medicine ball. Measure how far they threw the ball and how far they rolled, and then repeat this with different masses of medicine balls (and students!). Do lots of trials to smooth out inconsistent data. If you don't have skateboards you can always just use balloon-powered rockets or cars to show the same concepts.

Hooke's law spring constant experiment

82. Hooke's law elastic spring constant experiment - With nothing more than a few small weights and an elastic band, you can investigate Hooke's law. This is so simple and quick that I would recommend doing it more than once with either different elastics or springs. As the name implies, springs produce better data, but you might not have enough for a full class, and once they're stretched out, that's pretty much the end of them.


83. Center of gravity experiment - Students try to find an accurate way of locating the center of gravity for irregularly shaped objects. I don't tell them how to do it at first to see if anyone can come up with a decent method. We might even test a few ideas if they seem reasonable, but otherwise, we'll go to the prescribed lab to complete the activity. All you need is a thick paper cut into irregular shapes. I use pieces of cardboard or old greeting cards.

myp science experiments grade 9 forces and structures engineering challenges activity

84. Engineering challenges activity - Create and test towers and bridges using craft materials or building sets, then test them for strength and efficiency. Normally I do this at the end of our unit on forces and structures, but this year we did it twice - once at the beginning and then again after they had learned some more about construction and engineering. The results were greatly improved! My resources for this particular experiment are freely available here, by the way.


Pure Substances and Mixtures


85. Types of mixtures lab - This is another great example of an experiment that makes use of what you have, saving you time and hopefully a shopping trip. Students mix household solids and liquids to explore different types of homogeneous and heterogeneous mixtures. Use small quantities as this lab can generate a lot of waste that needs to be cleaned up. You can also illustrate the Tyndall effect by shining a flashlight through your mixtures to see if they scatter the light.


86. Dialysis or potato osmosis experiment - Use dialysis tubing to illustrate the concept of osmosis, typically with sugar, salt, or starch solutions of varying concentrations. Unfortunately, I rarely have dialysis tubing on hand, so we do the potato version with saltwater instead. I've been keeping our data for many years, however, so we compare and combine the data to arrive at much better results. My big breakthrough with this method has been to use cookie cutters when preparing the potato samples. It makes the sizes and surface areas much more consistent, although you still have to weigh each sample. 24 hours is a perfect amount of time to leave your samples in solution.

boba bubble tea molecular gastronomy spherification

87. Molecular gastronomy spherification lab - Students make bubble tea using fruit juice. This is a fairly challenging experiment, but the result is often worth the effort (plus, you can eat it). Molecular gastronomy has a lot more to explore and honestly I wish I knew more about it. I've always wanted to try an activity to have students create and taste unusual flavour combinations based on similar chemical compounds, but I've never gotten around to it.

paper chromatography ink separation experiment

88. Chromatography crime lab - Separate the pigments in marker ink using various solvents in order to solve a 'crime'. You can go full CSI on this one if you're inspired to do so, and I think kids appreciate it. The experiment itself is not that thrilling, so you really have to play up the forensics angle and focus on the practical aspects of the technique.


Health and Disease

myp science experiments grade 9 health and disease infection simulation

89. Infection simulation - Give each student a solution that represents their body fluids. One student is 'infected' with a different solution. Students mingle around sharing fluids for a few rounds before testing the liquids to see who else is now infected. The cups containing the infected solution turn bright pink when phenolphthalein indicator is added. This is one of my favourite activities for exploring immunity, vaccination, and viruses. It also lends itself very well to discussions on STIs.


90. Graveyard survivorship and life expectancy investigation - Visit a local graveyard and collect as much data as you can. Then analyze it over the next couple of lessons. This is very location dependent, but luckily you can access similar records online using sites like Find A Grave. I still think going to the actual site where people are buried is much more meaningful, but it works either way. Use the results to create survivorship curves, compare life expectancy over time, and look for specific birth and death events. Try doing this as an interdisciplinary activity with social studies!


Electricity

electron flow current diagram

91. Electron flow student simulation - Kids act out an electrical circuit by pretending to be electrons. It sounds stupid, but it works beautifully and even older students usually come around once they try it. Increase the voltage by having students move faster. Add components and batteries using chairs or levels to show gaining and losing energy. Add switches to stop and start the flow of students. Then create a series or parallel circuit and get students to adjust their movements accordingly. Surprisingly I couldn't find a decent online version of this, so I guess I need to upload mine soon!


92. Fuse wire experiment - Use fuse wires of variable thickness to explore the relationship between current and resistance. You'll need a low-voltage power supply and the wires themselves, as well as other standard electrical circuit materials. This has the potential to be slightly dangerous, so be sure to prepare students adequately beforehand and make safety requirements clear.


Grade 10


Environmental Chemistry


93. Water quality investigation - There are many aspects of water that can be tested in schools, including hardness, pH, and the presence of nitrates. Purchase water quality testing kits to save yourself a ton of effort. I send each kid home with a small container and tell them to get some water. Most kids will bring their tap water, but some get creative and scoop a sample out of a puddle, pond, stream, or toilet (ew...). Label everything accordingly and then start analyzing those samples! I really love showing the film Erin Brockovich in combination with this activity as it's directly related and based on a true story.

acid rain plant growth experiment

94. Acid rain plant germination and growth experiment - Various concentrations of acidified water are used on germinating seeds and healthy plants to observe the effects on their growth and general health. You can use vinegar as the experiment here suggests, but I make a more realistic batch of 'acid rain' by combining nitric and sulfuric acids in order to get a pH below 5. We then dilute this solution as necessary to use on our plants. I like to use radishes since they grow so quickly and require very little space/depth. You can grow them right in the classroom with a few trays or planters.


Evolution

myp science experiments grade 10 evolution natural selection simulation

95. Natural selection simulation - Students act as predators to capture prey using a variety of utensils. Both predator and prey populations change with each 'generation', but only the strongest survive! I really like this activity for introducing or reviewing the concept of natural selection, and it pairs well with the board game Evolution.


96. Hominid migration mapping activity - This website is awful, but the activity is great. Students use hominid fossil data to plot locations on a map and then suggest migration routes our ancestors might have taken. There is one typo in the data but I always forget to write down which one it is. Don't worry, your students will find it! When finished you can refer them to this updated interactive which helps explain human migration patterns.


Space Exploration


97. Kepler's laws investigation - This is really a collection of experiments to explore the laws of planetary motion outlined by Johannes Kepler about 400 years ago. Students will be drawing and performing calculations related to ellipses and learning about centripetal force. There's a decent amount of geometry and other maths involved, so you might want to coordinate with the math department if that's something that interests you.

optical bench lenses experiment set

98. Lenses investigation - Using a series of lasers and lenses, students refract light and produce images on a screen to find focal lengths. This can be difficult without the proper equipment so I think it's worth investing in a couple of decent optics sets for your lab. Treat them well and they should last practically forever.


99. Eye dissection - Cow eyes are typically used for this investigation of eye structure and function. It's simple enough, but I haven't done it in years since it's hard to get the materials where I live. If you want to avoid the mess, there are many virtual options or videos you can use instead.

phyphox doppler effect graph

100. Doppler effect experiment - A simple smartphone app is used to explore the way motion affects sound frequencies. The experiment itself is pretty easy to do, but it's important to then link these concepts back to light and the expanding universe, which is responsible for the red-shift observed with very distant objects.


101. Night sky investigation - Another set of app investigations that use star-gazing software on your phone or tablet to explore the locations and movements of celestial objects. The good thing about these apps is that you can complete them in broad daylight, but I still think it's worth organizing a star-gazing event at night with telescopes so that students can view actual planets and moons. If you aren't confident running this yourself (I'm not), ask a physics teacher or contact your local astronomy club/observatory.

DIY spectrometer instructables

102. DIY Spectrometer experiment - Got a pile of useless CDs? Use them to create your own spectrometer to observe the spectral lines from different light sources. There are far more complicated designs available online if you are a tinkerer, but I find that this one works well enough for our purposes. There are some apps that will analyze a photo of spectral lines and suggest what elements might be present, but there isn't a single one that I would really recommend at this time. Explore what's available on your device as apps are constantly changing.


Organic Chemistry

alpha and beta glucose organic chemistry models

103. Molecular modeling activity - I'll take any excuse to get out the modeling kits. For this activity, students practice making various organic functional groups. I sometimes give each group equal components and see what kinds of different isomers they can come up with. It's easy to get caught up with complicated naming procedures in organic chemistry so I find that this hands-on activity helps to put some of the theory in perspective without being too demanding. If you want to challenge your students on a rainy afternoon (or whenever) give them something really big to make, like a phospholipid, or a section of DNA.


104. Esters investigation - Making esters by combining carboxylic acids with alcohols is relatively straightforward, if you have access to the necessary reactants. Students get to smell a bunch of things and relate this to compounds found naturally in foods and those artificially added to perfumes and other products. This lab makes use of concentrated sulfuric acid, which only you should handle for safety reasons.

myp science experiments grade 10 organic chemistry polymer slime activity

105. Polymer slime activity - Making slime is fun for all ages, but you might wonder why I do it with grade 10 as it's more of an elementary school type of activity. Although younger students love to make and play with slime, they can't really appreciate the chemistry behind it, so that's why I toss this in at the end of a tough organic chemistry unit. You don't have to make the usual borax / PVA slime, but I find that it is simple and flexible enough to illustrate all of the concepts I want to hit. We also use this as a jumping-off point to discuss the use of plastics and other polymers as well as their effects on the environment.


106. Identifying plastics lab - Not all plastics are created equal in terms of their suitability for recycling. In this experiment, students will use the density of various plastic samples to identify them. We often watch a documentary associated with this experiment, such as Plastic Problem or Plastic Wars, both from PBS.


Genetics and Reproduction


107. PCR and gel electrophoresis experiment - If your school has a PCR and electrophoresis machine, you're good to go and can begin examining samples of DNA without much effort, but if you don't, you'll need to connect with another organization that does. In the past, I've taken students to local universities in order to make use of their equipment, which they are usually happy to share for educational purposes. Sometimes they even prepare the lesson for us!

lily flower anatomy

108. Flower anatomy investigation - If you plan to teach this unit in the warmer months you'll have access to all kinds of flowers you can dissect and examine. If you want to leave them on the plants you can just take photos I guess, but you'll miss out on exploring what's inside. Large flowers such as lilies are among the best and most straightforward examples of flower anatomy, but be sure to have a look at other flower types, including composites like sunflowers to see if your students can still identify all of the structures. Don't just look at flower structure, however. Make sure you discuss the functions of each part, and more importantly, why each species has evolved in a particular way. This is a good chance to talk about pollination as well.


Radiation and Radioactivity

myp science experiments grade 10 radiation and radioactivity radioactive decay simulation

109. Radioactive decay simulation - This is a statistics activity using dice to determine radioactive decay events. The experiment involves graphing, half-life calculations, and discussions on nuclear waste, so it's a well-rounded activity for any unit on radiation.








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