Over the past few years, TOPS volunteers and their teacher partners have developed numerous laboratory procedures and worksheets that have been used in Middle School science classrooms.  These procedures are available to volunteers and web site guests in Adobe® pdf format files.  Brief descriptions of some of the procedures are shown below.  A list of all PDF files is shown at the bottom of this page. To access all 46 files, copy this link to your browser: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/pg6gem1fuowiwmz/AAAF8eqcauc9xHDakGIzyuIwa?dl=0

After you are directed to the list of files, move the cursor to the menu (...) on the far right and click DOWNLOAD to copy the file to your computer.  Open the file in your Adobe reader to view the procedure.

Laboratory Safety Demonstration

The importance of lab safety and the dangers of working  with certain chemicals is provided in this lab safety demonstration procedure. 

Balancing Chemical Equations

A worksheet that helps students learn to balance selected chemical equations from among synthesis, decomposition, single-displacement, and double-displacement types.

Boiling Water at Low Pressures

This activity enables students to explore the connection between pressure and boiling point by lowering the pressure.

Chemical Reactions that Produce Light (Chemiluminescence)

Chemiluminescence is a chemical reaction that produces light with little or no heat. Most students have seen this phenomenon in the from of  “light sticks.”  This procedure enables the volunteer to demonstrate an example of this reaction using luminol. 

Flame Tests to Identify Elements

In this lab activity, students observe the color produced when the salts of four different chemical elements are placed in a flame.

Floating Pennies and Archimedes' Principle

This hands-on activity by the students enables them to float pennies in a plastic cup and to calculate the buoyant force acting upon it. They then compare the buoyant force with the weight of the cup and pennies to prove Archimedes Principle that the buoyant force on an object is equal to the weight of the fluid the object displaces.    

Permanganate Volcano

This dramatic demonstration by a volunteer involves the oxidation of glycerol with potassium permanganate to produce white smoke and a violet flame.  

Clues to a Chemical Reaction  (Halloween Colors)

A chemical change is demonstrated using the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide and the
simultaneous reduction of chromium. Students recognize the evidence for a chemical reaction by observing the formation of new substances by the formation of a gas, an increase in temperature and a rapid color change from orange to black.

​Potential & Kinetic Energy Lab

This exercise enables students to understand the difference between potential and kinetic energy. 

Calculating Acceleration of Cars (Accel Calculations)

Students calculate the acceleration of eight automobiles with data taken from published articles.  

Simple Electrical Circuits (Hot Dog Circuits)

This demonstration by a volunteer helps students understand Ohm's Law and the relationship between power and current. A simple electrical circuit apparatus is used to pass an alternating electrical current through a hot dog held at its ends by two nails, which act as electrodes. The resistance of the hot dog enables it to heat up and cook.

Compare the Density of Ice and Liquid Water (Ice Water Density)

This activity helps students understand that the forces of attraction between the hydrogen and oxygen molecules are greater in liquid water than in ice. Thus, there are more spaces between the molecules in ice than in liquid water, so ice is less dense than liquid water. Keywords: Ice Water Density

Chemical Reaction - Synthesis (Mag Burning)

This procedure describes a demonstration that enables students to observe a synthesis type reaction involving burning of the element magnesium with oxygen in the air to produce a new substance, magnesium oxide.

The Laws of Conservation of Mass & Definite Proportions (Conservation of Mass)

This demonstration by a volunteer involves the reaction between sodium bicarbonate (“baking soda”) and acetic acid (“vinegar”) to produce sodium acetate, water and carbon dioxide.  A demonstration with a rigid bottle containing the reactants on a triple beam balance, proves that the mass of the products of a chemical reaction are equal to the mass of the reactants. The experimental procedure is available.  

Accompanying the experimental procedure is a PowerPoint lesson with calculations that prove Lavoisier's Law of Mass Conservation and Proust's Law of Definite Proportions.

Metric System Fundamentals

The metric system is reviewed and simple problems are presented.  Metric scale units and a brief history of the temperature scales are also available.  

The Concept of pH to Measure Acidity & Basicity (Orange Juice pH)

Starting with a batch of orange juice made from a can of frozen concentrate, students prepare four separate dilute solutions each with a different concentration and measure their pH using Precision pH Test Strips. Students then plot the data on semi-logarithmic paper to show that  each whole value of pH above 1 is ten times less acidic than the next.

Speed & Velocity

This exercise, which includes problems, helps students learn that Speed is a measure of how fast an object is moving or traveling, while Velocity is a measure of how fast an object is moving or traveling in a specific direction. Both speed and velocity include the distance traveled compared to the amount of time taken to cover this distance.

Chemical Reaction (Sugar Decomposition)

Students observe the acid-catalyzed decomposition of common table sugar (sucrose). Students
recognize the evidence for a chemical reaction by observing the formation of new substances by a color change, increase in temperature, and the formation of a gas. The decomposition of white sucrose, catalyzed by concentrated sulfuric acid, results in the formation of a black solid, carbon, and a gas, water liberated as steam.

DNA from Strawberries (DNA Spooling)

This hands-on experiment provides a good introduction to biology.  After the teacher explains what DNA is and why it's important, students then extract and isolate DNA from strawberries.

Chemical Reaction (Instant Milk)

In this simple demonstration, students are taught two clues to a chemical reaction: change in color and precipitate formation.  When 100 ml of a 3% clear, colorless solution of silver nitrate is added to 100 ml of a 1% clear, colorless solution of sodium chloride, a white milky-like mixture is immediately formed and minutes later a heavy white precipitate of silver chloride settles to the bottom of the flask.  

​Periodic Table of the Elements Review (PTOE Review)

Students review the fundamentals that they learned about organization of the periodic table.  This review consist of 25 questions including a chart where they fill in the period number, family names, number of family members, and number of energy levels.

Star Element Crossword & Super Nova Crossword Puzzles

Another activity that students enjoy is solving crossword puzzles.  Students can use their textbook and online searches to learn the relationship between elements from the periodic table and their uses in products and everyday life .   One puzzle focuses on the elements derived from stars (up to iron) while the other includes only the additional elements created in a supernova.  

Magnetic Linear Accelerator - The Gauss Rifle

This simple experiment uses a magnetic chain reaction to launch a steel marble toward a target at high speed.  The device is relatively simple to build and the concept is easy to explain. Students learn about the relationship between kinetic energy and velocity.

Hofmann Electrolysis of Water

Another example of chemical change is water electrolysis, which shows both the decomposition of water and the synthesis of hydrogen and oxygen gases.  This experiment requires a Hoffman Apparatus with platinum electrodes and a 12 volt DC power supply.  Students are taught about the gain (reduction) and loss (oxidation) of electrons in an electrochemical reaction as well as the Law of Conservation of Mass.

Simple Water Electrolysis

A procedure for the demonstration of water electrolysis that uses a simple set-up is also available. The gases cannot be measured or collected, but students can see many more bubbles of hydrogen than oxygen being released from the electrodes.

Newton's Third Law of Motion (Procedure & Student Worksheet)

Students use a set of dowel pins, a small wooden cart with a rubber band and three blocks of wood, each with a different mass to see Newton's Third Law of Motion in action.

Gravitational Force

Students are introduced to the law of universal gravitation and asked to solve problems related to the concept.

Pennies Radioactive Half-Life Lab

Students use 100 pennies to create a graph of half-life that simulates the half life of radioactive isotopes.

Acknowledgement: Many thanks to Mrs. Hope Oliver and Michael Berwald, Bret Harte Middle School, San Jose, California, for creating and helping to improve many of the laboratory procedures described above.


TOPS of Santa Clara Valley

Teaching Opportunities  for  Partners  in Science