Science & Technology Challenges

Week of October 26, 2020

The goal of the NEWESD 101 Science Kit Cooperative is to send out bi-weekly science challenges to our members. The challenges will sometimes be tailored to a grade level, or a more general challenge which can be adjusted or added to based on the grade level you are teaching.

If you are needing additional support, please reach out so that we may assist you. I would love to hear what you think about the challenges!

Thank you,


Grades K-2: Your Body Rules! (Life Science)

How could scientists use a footprint to tell how tall someone was?

People come in all shapes and sizes. But scientists know a few rules that most bodies follow. They are rules about proportions, or how large one body part is compared to another. For example, it turns out that most people are about seven times as tall as the length of their foot! If forensic (detective) scientists find a footprint in the dirt, they will have some idea how tall that person was.

That’s not the only body rule. Look at the length of the inside of your forearm (from your wrist to the bend in your arm opposite your elbow) and at the length of your foot. Can you guess the rule about a size of people’s feet compared to their forearms? How about your forearm compared to your face? Try this activity to find out.


  • String/yarn, etc.
  • Scissors
  • A few friends or family members


  1. Find some friends or family members to work with if possible. Each of you can do the following: Place some yarn or string on the floor and step in it without your shoe on. Cut the string to be just the size of your foot. (This might be easier if someone else cuts it.)
  2. Use your foot-length string to make some measurements. How many foot-lengths is your forearm? How many foot-lengths is your face, from your hairline to your chin?
  3. . Now, stand up and ask a friend to cut a string to be the length of your body, from the top of your head to the ground. Lay the string out straight on a table or the floor. Use the foot-length string to “measure” the longer string. How many foot-lengths is it? Does your body follow the 7-foot-lengths body rule?

    Note: Bodies probably don’t follow the rules exactly. Six-and-a-half, or seven-and-a-half, foot-lengths are still pretty close.


Were you surprised by any body rules? Did you and your friends get the same results? Think of how these rules could be used by forensic scientists, artists, and others. What are some problems with using these rules?

Brain Blaster: If someone was 21 feet tall, what would be the length of their foot?

Grades 3-5: How Food Wrappings Affect Spoilage (Life Science)

Yuck, What Happened to My Apple? How Food Wrappings Affect Spoilage

Ever cut an apple into pieces and let some pieces sit out for a while? After a few hours, you may have found that the apple was less appealing than when you first ate it. The apple may have changed in appearance; it may have turned brown, shriveled up a little, felt and smelled different, and no longer been tasty.

Apples turn brown because of a chemical process called oxidation, which happens when oxygen interacts with another substance. In the case of the apple, when it is cut, oxygen can interact with certain proteins, called enzymes, in the flesh of the apple. These interactions cause many other interactions, which eventually lead to the forming of brown-colored chemicals. These chemicals are what make the cut apple turn brown over time.

As a piece of apple turns brown, you may have noticed that it can also shrivel up a little, or desiccate. Desiccation is the process by which something loses water and dries up. The skin of the apple helps keep liquid inside of the apple, but when the apple is cut open, its skin can no longer protect it, and it slowly loses water. Unless it is specially prepared, a desiccated piece of apple is not nearly as appealing as a plump, juicy piece of apple. Watch this time-lapse video to see what happens to two apple halves when they are left out in a room for six days.

If a piece of apple is left out long enough, it may spoil. Spoiled food can look, feel, and smell unpleasant, and can make you very sick if you eat it. Food becomes spoiled because microorganisms start living in the food. These microorganisms can include different types of fungus, such as mold and yeast, and bacteria. They can cause food to decay and develop unpleasant odors, tastes, and textures. Sometimes food can even look perfectly good to eat, but can harbor pathogenic microorganisms that can cause illness and are hard to detect. Examples of pathogenic microorganisms include Salmonella and some types of E. coli bacteria.

In this cooking and food science project, you will investigate which types of food wrapping keep sliced apples the freshest in the refrigerator: aluminum foil, wax paper, plastic wrap, or plastic sealable bags. Throwing away food is a waste of money. Save your family money by investigating how to keep your food fresh longer.

  • Which food wrapping do you think will keep your apple slices the freshest?
  • Why do you think some wrappings might keep an apple slice fresher than other wrappings?
  • Watch the time-lapse video from the Introduction again. Why do you think the skin of the apple curls around where the apple has been cut?
  • Why do you think some methods other than wrapping the apple slices, such as rubbing them with lemon juice, preserve the color and surface of the apple slices?

Grades 6-8: States of Matter (Physical Science)

Solid to Liquid to Solid

Watch the transition from solid to liquid to solid in this science project for kids on states of matter -- and make something good to eat. Solids can change into liquids, and liquids can change into solids. Make ice pops with orange juice, and you can see both transformations.

What You'll Need:

  • Can of frozen orange juice (or any other kind of juice)
  • Pitcher
  • Large spoon
  • Water
  • Paper cups
  • Wooden craft sticks


  1. Open a can of frozen orange juice, and spoon it into a large pitcher. Touch the frozen juice to feel that it is both solid and cold.
  2. Add water according to the package directions to make orange juice.
  3. Fill several paper cups about 2/3 of the way with orange juice.
  4. Put a craft stick into the liquid in each paper cup.
  5. Being careful not to spill, put the cups of juice into the freezer.
  6. Check them after two hours. Can you gently pull out the craft stick, or has the liquid orange juice frozen solid around the stick?
  7. Once the orange juice has frozen, peel off the paper cups. You and your friends can enjoy a frozen treat!

Grades 6-8: Sizing Up the Clouds (Earth Science)

In this activity, you will set up three simulated “clouds” representing three different cloud types. Students will use different methods to estimate the “precipitation” contents of each cloud type. Each method is roughly analogous to methods actually used in weather forecasting. Finally, the “precipitation” from each cloud will be released, and the students will compare their estimates to what is actually experienced on the “ground.” In addition to gaining an appreciation of weather forecasting issues and technologies, students will practice math skills, including estimating, percentages, ratios, and averages.

See attached lesson that includes the documents needed.

Technology Challenge


Now that you've had a couple of exercises to get a feel for how programming works and how it is important to think through each individual step, now is time to play with a robot! This is a simulation activity for the Ozobot robots.

There are 10 levels to this activity, increasing in difficulty as you progress. See if you can complete all the levels!

Other Science & Technology Information to Pass On

Spokane Aquifer Joint Board (SAJB) Virtual Science Fair Extravaganza
This virtual science fair offers different "booths" that students can enter with different activities related to that booth's category.