List of science activities and planetarium presentations

Note:  in the following pages

  1. NGSS refers to the Next Generation Science Standards and
  2. CSS refers to the old California Science Standards

I. Science Activities

1. Movement and forces:  This activity is an exploration of the various forces that we encounter in everyday life and their influence on motion.  Students will start with the ancient theory of motion and see how inclusion of forces led Galileo to change that theory.  They will study what a force is and how forces can balance each other out.  They will look at a variety of forces and work with the electrical force and the magnetic force.  Time permitting they will measure the friction force and explore its dependence on weight and materials. 

  •  Science Standards: This activity addresses the force and motion component of the NGSS in Grade 3. 
  • Student Preparation: This activity is mostly self-contained and does not require much that students do not already know from daily life.  

2. Energy: This activity is an interactive presentation that focuses on energy, its forms, its transformation, its transfer from one place to another and its basic laws. Students engage in hands-on activities that explore various forms of energy such as energy of motion or “kinetic” energy, gravitational potential energy, heat, light, etc.  They will learn to identify these different forms of energy and they will explore several types of energy transformation such as those produced by various familiar instruments.  They will also examine ways in which energy is transferred from one place to another and they will study waves as a mechanism for such transfer. Time permitting they will investigate the different states of matter and look at the periodic table.

  • Science StandardsStudent Preparation: This activity is mostly self-contained and does not require much that students do not already know from daily life. Nevertheless familiarity with the basic mechanics will help.

3. Light and waves:  Students will show that white light can be spread into the colors of the rainbow, and they will look at the light and colors produced by different sources. They will learn about the wave nature of light, the properties of waves, and the relationship between color and wavelength. They will also show that the colors can be recombined to produce white light. They will explore the difference between emitted and reflected light and see that the color of an object depends on the light with which it is illuminated. They will explore other forms of electromagnetic radiation, such as infrared, and will observe that they all propagate in a straight line but are absorbed differently by various substances.

  • Science Standards: This activity can address the CSS on light for Grade 3 as well as the NGSS on waves and electromagnetic radiation in Grade 4.
  • Student preparation: This activity is self-contained and requires no special preparation although knowledge of the colors of the rainbow is helpful.

4. Electricity:  In this activity, students will experiment with static electricity and discover the two types of electricity and the laws of attraction and repulsion. They will test the electrical conduction properties of different materials. Then they will construct simple circuits with batteries, wires, light bulbs and switches, learn the function of these components and discuss applications of different types of circuits in real life.

  • Science Standards: This activity addresses the CSS on electricity in Grade 4.
  • Student Preparation: Students should know about atoms, protons and electrons.

5. Magnetism: In this activity, students will build a compass and then experiment with magnets and discover the two types of magnetic poles and their law of attraction and repulsion. They will map the magnetic field around a bar magnet and relate it to the earth’s magnetic field. They will test the magnetic properties of various metals. They will also investigate the relationship between currents and magnetic fields, and use that to build an electromagnet and a motor.

  • Standards: This activity addresses the CSS on magnetism in Grade 4.
  • Student preparation: Students should know about currents and circuits in electricity.
  • Note: This is a long activity, best done in 75 minute; a 60 minute version can be done but leaves out important components.


II. Planetarium Presentations

New for the 2019 - 2020 academic year, all planetarium shows will be aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and be grade specific.  

Grade One

Our grade one presentation introduces the youngsters to the motions of the Sun and the Moon and stars of the night sky (NGSS: 1-ESS1-1 & 1-ESS1-2).  Diurnal motion is showcased, with objects rising in the east and setting in the west.  Discussion and predictions of the seasonal changes in the length of the sunlit portion of the day bring the children back to Glendale and finish the presentation.

Grade Three:  

Our grade three presentation focuses on seasons, climate and weather (NGSS: 3-ESS2-1 & 3-ESS2-2).  The show begins with a discussion of the reasons why we experience seasons here on the Earth, and continues with a comparison of climate versus weather, on the Earth as well as on Venus and on Mars.  Tables and graphical displays will aid in student understanding of typical seasonal and weather conditions throughout the world and students' predictions using that gathered information will be encouraged.

Grade Four

Our grade four presentation focuses on two topics;  the effects of weathering the reflection of light (NGSS:  4-ESS2-1, 4-ESS2-2 & 4-PS4-2).  The show begins with a discussion of weathering and erosion and presents examples from southern California locations.  Images from farther away, from our world and beyond, show how widespread weathering is.  Causes of weathering and erosion are explored, as are maps that can be used to describe the patterns of these features.  

After the exploration of weathering, the presentation continues with a discussion on how these weathered formations are observable.  A discussion on light and the path light travels that allows us to see these weathered features rounds out the planetarium portion of the field trip.


    Grade Five:  

    Our grade five presentation will begin by observing the effects of gravity and illustrating that the force of gravity is always directed down towards the centre of the earth.  Students will observe the motions of the planets around the sun and consider how they would be different without gravity.  The presentation will continue by traveling away from the solar system and observing the stars.  Students will be asked to make observations about the brightness of stars including our sun as we travel nearer to them or farther away.  We will the return to our solar system and note the apparent brightness of our sun as we pass the different planets.  Upon returning to Earth we will observe the daily and seasonal changes in the amount of light at different locations and seasonal variations in the appearance of stars in the night sky.

    Middle School: 

    The Universe Fly Through starts with a presentation of the moon, planets and major constellations as seen in the sky (day and night) on the day of the visit. A three-dimensional tour of the solar system, including the planets, asteroids, dwarf planets and Kuiper Belt objects, is followed by an exploration of the near-by exo-planetary systems on the way to viewing the Milky Way from beyond its galactic confines. The culmination of the journey out through the Universe ends with a tableau of millions of galaxies as catalogued by the Sloan and 2df Digital Sky Surveys. The concepts of gravity and cosmic evolution will be investigated during this presentation.