"The students performed an investigation to identify an unknown and determine whether a physical change or a chemical change occurred," said Ms. Kenny.
Students used test liquids on different known powders and observed the reactions. Then the students used these characteristic chemical changes to help them identify the unknown powder.
Performing the experiments themselves had a profound effect on the students. Ms. Kenny can talk about a concept, they can read about it, and look at photos, but actually seeing it happen in real-time truly cements the idea in one's mind.
"I am a very visual learner," said 5th grader John B. "So the experiments that we did really helped me learn and see what all the stuff we were talking about in class actually was about."
The next day, Ms. Kenny had another experiment for the students regarding the three states of matter: gas, liquid, or solid.
She doled out portions of half-and-half, vanilla extract, sugar, rock salt, and ice. The edible ingredients went into a small plastic bag, which went into a larger plastic bag with the salt and ice.
The energetic 5th graders then had to shake it up. And then shake it up some more! Most wore gloves to keep their hands warm.
The result was a small portion of homemade ice cream, which they pronounced as delicious!
Ms. Kenny posited the question: is your ice cream a gas, a liquid, or a solid? Interesting question, since the ice cream has some properties of all three states.
The answer: ice cream is an emulsion — a combination of gas, liquid, and solid. It was a trick question, but the reward for discovering that knowledge was quite mouth-watering.