There is a wealth of STEM curricula and classroom resources available to assist educators in developing in students thinking, reasoning, teamwork, investigative and creative skills that they can use in all areas of their lives. The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education is committed to providing relevant and complete materials to assist educators in engaging students in STEM subjects. Below you will find activities and free lesson plans that support classroom learning.
K-12 Lesson Plans
Teachers! Are you looking for fun ways to integrate STEM in your classroom? Below are dozens of free lesson plans to help your students embrace STEM education.
New! Featured Activity: Relating Photosynthesis & Cellular Respiration Using Algae
Using bromothymol blue as an indicator, students will observe the carbon dioxide in water being removed by spirogyra undergoing photosynthesis. Students will relate their observations to the larger carbon cycle. Inspired by the research of Terry Mathews, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Name Grade Subject Description 6th-12th grade Environmental Science
For this lesson, students will use their prior knowledge of identifying correlations on a graph to predict and design scatterplots to ask and answer important questions. Students will investigate data that primarily focus on women’s rights and health issues to examine factors that influence population growth rate across different countries.
5th grade Math
This is a project based lesson that encourages students to inquire about the historical cemesto homes in the Oak Ridge, TN community. Students will use their knowledge of fractions, measurement, scaling, and their own environment to investigate the structure of Type “A” cemesto Homes in Oak Ridge, TN. This lesson is intended to be used as an opportunity to review what they have learned and explore a real-world example. The expectation is to find the area of the home on the blueprint and then convert the measurements using scaling and multiplication to the actual size. Day two of the lesson requires students to complete an invoice for the price of new flooring in the home.
10th-12th grade Chemistry
The focus of these lessons is to explore how gases are different than the other states of matter and how gases react in response to changes in temperature, pressure, and volume. Students will interact with a lesson that they have not completed before, but a topic that they might have developed questions about in their real-life: What happened to all of the basketballs between the months of July and December? Students will construct a series of investigation using both online platforms and in-person labs. They will be required to work in both an individual and a group setting performing labs and creating a final poster presentation explaining the phenomenon.
6th grade Science
For this lesson, students will design a prototype to answer the question: How can I design a solution to mitigate the impact of an invasive species in my state? They will conduct research on their chosen species, contact experts, and follow the engineering design process to design their solution.
9th grade Art
This lesson plan can be completed fully online and is designed for distance learning. Students will follow along and engage with a Nearpod presentation on career infographics. Each student will then use various online resources to research and design an infographic for an art and design career of their choice.
4th grade Science
Working in groups, students will use the engineering design process to create a home using solar panel energy. Students will be able to reflect on the use of solar energy and relate it to their own homes.
10th grade Biology
For this lesson, students will investigate monomers and the bonds they make in different biological processes. Two investigations will be done: one using a saltine cracker to explain dehydration and the other using a sponge to explain hydrolysis. Next, students will collaborate together to create a model that explains the dehydration synthesis and hydrolysis of a macromolecule. They will present their models to the class and conclude with an exit ticket on what they learned.
9th-12th grade Geometry
This cross-curricular geometry lesson promotes the exploration of the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont through VR and geometric shapes. This lesson is best used as a small-group, station lesson. Students will utilize a VR headset to explore the Tremont VR Experience app.
6th-7th grade Math
In this lesson, students will learn about and get hands on practice with the coordinate plane. This will include learning about quadrants, graphing ordered pairs, drawing polygons based on ordered pairs, and finding the length of a side that joins two vertices.
6th-8th grade Physical Science
In this hands on, exploratory lesson of waves, students will learn about longitudinal and transverse waves. Through mathematical reasoning, students will describe relationships between aspects of waves and a wave’s relative amount of energy. Students will use questioning skills to push the lesson along and facilitate engagement and discovery. The use of hands on models will help the students to discover relationships and characteristics of waves and go on to create their own models. With this engaging lesson, it won’t be “trough” to get students on your “wavelength”!
10th-11th grade Chemistry
This lesson focuses on the phenomenon of a cooled water bottle instantly freezing once shaken. Students will engage in an online simulation and an interactive lab to observe water molecules at different temperatures. By the end of the lesson, students should be able to relate the phenomenon to a complete heating/cooling curve of water molecules.
6th grade Science
Students will investigate the phenomenon of iguanas freezing and falling from trees in Florida. To begin the investigation, students will research this phenomenon and cold blooded animals other than iguanas. Based on their research, using the engineering design process, students will create a device that will regulate heat and protect iguanas.
10th grade Biology
In this lesson, students will collaborate to complete a lab that allows the students hands-on experience with osmosis and diffusion in cells. Students will perform their investigations by adding concentrated salt water to samples of an onion and an Elodea. At the end of the lesson, students will model what they learned with a bottle top and string demonstration.
K-8th grade Science
In this activity, students will be able to interact with the magic (also known as science) of levitation! Students will use a ping pong ball, hair dryer, and Bernoulli’s Principle to make a ping pong ball levitate. This activity can be used as an introduction to the interactions between forces.
10th-11th grade Physics
In this lesson, Students will create a Science Talk over subjects involving force, friction, and energy. They will begin the lesson by traveling to different stations to get hands on experience with each topic. They will then develop their own experiments to support their claim of their given topic. To end the lesson, students will present their question, investigation, and evidence to the class to finalize a conclusion on a given physics topic.
1st grade Science
During this lesson, students will investigate sound waves. Students will make several observations of different instruments and the sounds they produce. While collaborating together, students will design their own noise making to investigate the effect of matter on sound waves.
6th grade Math
Students will use their knowledge of fractions and decimals to plan and price out a party. Students will scale a recipe to feed the desired number of people. Then, they will price out how much their party will cost and create an advertisement for their event. Students will be multiplying fractions and mixed numbers. They will also have to compute with decimals in order to find the total cost of their party and how much they will earn.
5th grade Science
There’s been an invasion! Aliens have landed on earth and it’s up to your students to save the world! In this end‐of‐year, escape room science review, students will review science topics covered throughout the year. Students will answer multiple choice questions to unlock the puzzle and send the aliens back to their moon. This lesson is sure to be out of this world!
K-2nd grade STEM
Rapunzel has been trapped in a tower and she needs your help! In this interactive STEM lesson that combines engineering with literacy, students will work in teams to create a pulley system to help the princess escape the tower. The students will learn about simple machines, pulleys, and working parts. By working through the design thinking process, students will discuss ideas, draw blueprints, create a working model, and develop modifications after testing their designs.
6th-12th grade Life Science, Biology
The lesson will begin with a quick review of the functions of each of the major cell organelles. Students will then complete a card sort in which they will read medical scenarios to determine which organelle’s malfunction is responsible for the patient’s symptoms. In addition, they will also match each organelle with its corresponding picture and function. Finally, students will use the medical scenarios and their background knowledge on the function of each organelle to make an argument (claim-evidence reasoning) about which organelle is most important.
Presentation: Organelle Card Sort (.pptx)
3rd grade Science
How can we safely and affordably ship artifacts from excavation sites to labs and museums? After reading Days of Digging, by Holly Cefrey, students will create a model of a package that could be used to ship their fossil or artifact to a lab or a museum. The models will be tested to ensure the fossil will arrive dry and unbroken. After experiencing the effects of an 8 ft. drop and 20 seconds under water, students will use their results to improve on the packaging during further trials.
9th-12th grade Ecology
In this lesson, students will investigate the effect of ocean acidification on coral reefs through a hands-on lab, collect and analyze the data, and draw conclusions. Students will graph their data and use their graphs as evidence to justify their claims. Students will observe and compare the dissolving rates of chalk in differing concentrations of acidic water to model the increasing ocean acidification. Students can then analyze the data and compare the lab model data to the real-life scenario occurring in coral reefs.
Lesson PowerPoint (.ppt)
S’mores Solar Oven (activity plan)
K-12th grade Physical Science
Cook up student engagement with this solar oven activity! In this activity, students will make s’mores using their knowledge of solar radiation to transfer thermal energy through the system. As the energy flows through the device, the temperature rises and the s’mores cook! This activity using solar energy as a renewable resource, will leave your students wanting s’more!
K-8th grade Physical Science
Get ready to be amazed with this activity! In this activity, students will observe “magic” when an empty cup is able to extinguish a lit candle. Through a chemical reaction, students will be able to observe as the chemical properties of baking soda and vinegar change to form new substances and a gas. Students will be able to compare the physical properties of air and carbon dioxide as the reaction occurs and the candle is extinguished.
K-12th grade Science
This activity is “egg-citing”! In this activity, students will learn about solutes, solvents, and solutions, while discovering saturation and supersaturation. Students will be able to observe sedimentation causing crystals to form on the surface of the eggshell. The result is a phenomenal eggshell geode!
K-5th grade Science
Milk this activity for all its worth! In this engaging activity, students will create plastic from milk and vinegar. Students will learn about physical and chemical reactions and their reversibility. This reaction involves household materials and can be used to demonstrate environmentally friendly practices and renewable resources.
5th grade STEM
In this multi‐day lesson, students will set out to design a rocket to help NASA get back to the moon by 2024. They will investigate the best rocket fuel for the highest launch of an Alka‐Seltzer powered rocket and create an outer shell for the rocket to help it fly as straight as possible. The students will use makerspace supplies, computers, and a 3D printer (optional) in order to design and build their rocket. The students will gather and analyze data throughout the lessons and apply the data to improvements of their prototype. Student engagement is bound to blast off in this engaging, crosscurricular lesson!
K-1st grade Reading, Technology
Zac the Robot needs your help! In this three day, interactive lesson, students will learn color and shape recognition, matching of colors and the appropriate words, and coding! Through the use of the story book Zac the Robot by Stephanie Lanier, students will make connections between literature, real-world shapes and colors, and robots. This lesson will “program” the students’ love of literature and technology!
K-12th grade Science
Launch into engagement with this activity! Students will build their own miniature catapult! This activity can be used to teach kinetic and potential energy, simple machines, and forces. This activity includes an optional extension for students to explore the engineering design process, as well as experiment with the amount of force applied to the distance an object travels.
K-5th grade Science
The standards may be dense, but this activity isn’t! In this activity, students will be able to actively observe the different densities of common liquid substances. This activity can be done as a demonstration or can be made into an experiment! Students will learn about how density affects the layers of different substances.
8th grade Science
This 2-day lesson should allow students to review their understanding of physical and chemical properties and emphasize the difference between physical and chemical changes. Specific realworld examples of changes in matter should allow students to apply criteria that are used to differentiate between the changes. Students should then have the opportunity to assess their own level of understanding. This lesson should leave students knowing that physical and chemical changes matter!
6th-8th grade Science
This lesson is electric! In this engaging unit, students will discover what they can do for the environment. Students will learn about human impact, efficiency, climate change, renewable and nonrenewable energy, sustainability, and much more! Throughout these exciting activities, students will evaluate real-world applications of gasoline versus hybrid cars, battery power versus solar power, energy consumption, greenhouse emissions, evolving technology, and long-term effects, in addition to evaluating their own town’s energy consumption. In this cross-curricular unit, students will apply mathematical reasoning to graph, discover, average, predict, and evaluate data. Students will participate in data collection, investigation, research, argument, debate, application, modeling, and discussion. This unit will charge your students up to become informed environmental citizens!
K-12th grade STEM Clue: an awesome review game. Answer: Clue-ology! This end-of-year review game gives students an opportunity to interact with and review a wide range of concepts and terms that have been explored throughout a term or year. Students will make connections, engage in SEL practices, communicate through original thought with peers, and interpret ideas. This engaging review game will allow students to recall information from the entire course, while being competitive and having fun! K-12th grade STEM It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a buzzword review game! In this exciting review game, students will recall vocabulary learned in this year’s class in preparation for end-of-year testing. Students will alternate between defining the term and guessing. This memory game will help students to recall terms used throughout the year. With this review, students will be buzzing with excitement! 6th grade Science Students will apply their learning of energy and energy transfer in the design, build, and test of a solar oven. This lesson is a way of using a summative task as an assessment for learning. Students will work in small groups to solve problems, give quality feedback, conduct research, and build and test a prototype. 6th grade Science In this lesson, students will create and refine a model of the factors contributing to global climate change. They will use this model as the focal point for generating questions that will lead to research on the topic. Students will work to improve their questions by changing them from recall to extended thinking. Students will use these questions to conduct research, which will inform their revisions of their model. Bringing back the extinct 8th grade Science In this lesson, students will learn about the causes of extinction and how adaptations allow species to survive. The students will research extinct animals and determine what could have helped the animal to survive. Then the students will make a model of their organism and present their research to their peers. Elementary Epidemiology: Disease Investigation Using Basic Math Skills 3rd grade Math The main focus of this lesson is to allow students to apply their math skills to a real world problem in epidemiology. After an introduction to the science of epidemiology and an introduction to new terms, students will be work through a disease investigation. Using example data, groups of students (or individual students) will analyze a set of “data” to determine the cause of an infectious disease outbreak. If time permits, the students will also determine how best to communicate their results to others. Elephant Toothpaste K-8th grade Science
In this activity, students will observe a chemical change by combining a yeast mixture with hydrogen peroxide and dish soap. The resulting foam (“elephant’s toothpaste”) demonstrates a chemical reaction that can “explode” in student engagement!
Radiated Marshmallows 6th-12th grade Science In this activity, students will discover conduction and radiation through melting marshmallows. This activity could be used as a discussion starter for lessons on heat transfer, thermal energy, and Earth’s systems. Students can learn about convection currents through the Convection Currents activity. Convection Currents 6th-12th grade Science In this activity, students will discover convection currents through mixing hot and cold water. This activity could be used as a discussion starter on heat transfer, thermal energy, and Earth’s systems. Students can learn about conduction and radiation through the Radiated Marshmallows activity. Europa Rover Landing System Project 9th-12th grade Physics NASA is looking to send a rover to Europa to examine below the layer of ice for evidence of life! In this engaging physics lesson, students will construct a scaled model of a landing system and demonstrate its effectiveness. This new take on the classic egg drop challenge will require students to understand force, the engineering design process, and real-world problems. Students will minimize force on a macroscopic object during collision, which will maximize student engagement during instruction! Sand Sleuths: Solving the Mysteries of Sand Erosion 3rd-4th grade Science How does sand move? What affect does wind and water have on sand? How might a breakwater play a part in preventing erosion? Students will use observation skills as they investigate the movement of sand and discover how wind and water cause erosion and how a breakwater can help prevent erosion. Roller Coaster Math 4th-5th grade Math Students will use roller coaster data to discover how to convert measurements of length. Students will work in groups to analyze the data and generate a pattern that can be applied to other problems of the same nature. During this lesson, students will also collaborate on ideas, communicate their reasoning, and share their findings with others. Milk Polarity 6th-8th grade Science
This phenomenon driven demonstration is intended to teach students about the hydrophobic, hydrophilic, soluble, and insoluble characteristics of polar and non-polar molecules. This activity uses dish soap, milk, and food coloring to demonstrate the differences in polarity. Even though the food coloring disperses, your students won’t want to! Watch the activity video below:
Cloud in a Jar K-8th grade Science
In this activity, students will create a cloud inside of a glass jar. The benefit to this activity is that students are able to see the cloud forming and moving in the jar due to the hairspray. This activity could be used as an introduction to how clouds are formed and different weather systems. Watch the activity video below:
Tiny House Design 6th-12th grade STEM In this lesson, students will use the engineering design process to design and construct a prototype of a tiny house. This lesson utilizes the math skill of proportions, and also employs research and problem solving. The activity allows students to be creative, while working within tight size constraints. This lesson also has the benefit of students solving real-world problems, like engineers! Developing Franken Toys 9th-10th grade Visual Arts Students will create a Franken Toy by utilizing the engineering design process. This engaging art activity will allow students the opportunity to be creative while developing a potential product. The students will present the final product to the class while focusing on the brainstorming, sketching, developing, and problem solving processes to get to the final Franken Toy product. 3,2,1… Natural Disaster 6th grade Science This engaging lesson gives students a chance at an authentic use of engineering design. Students are tasked to build a house that is able to withstand six different natural disasters. Students engage in designing, building, testing, data collection, and improvement of the homes. Students not only use engineering practices, but learn about natural disasters as well. Middle School Epidemiology: Disease Investigation Using Basic Math Skills 6th-8th grade Math The main focus of this lesson is to allow students to apply their skills to a real world problem in epidemiology. After an introduction to the science of epidemiology and an introduction to new terms, students will work through a disease investigation. Using example data, groups of students (or individual students) will analyze a set of data to determine the cause of an infectious disease outbreak. If time permits, the students will also determine how best to communicate their results to others. License to Code: Pro-bots 3rd-5th grade Technology, STEM In this lesson, students will learn simple coding by using Pro-bot car robots. Students will do a variety of activities such as code the car through a maze, write their initials with code, and draw a snowman using code. This lesson offers a fun alternative to programing on a computer, and it gets kids out of their seats and active! Cell Membrane: The Gatekeeper of the Cell 7th grade Science In this engaging, three-day day lesson, students will learn about homeostasis through a lab activity, several hands-on models, and a class discussion. Students will then have the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of how the process works by creating their own working model of the cell membrane in the makerspace. View the accompanying presentation: cell membrane lesson presentation Diving into Makerspace (With Sharks!) 2nd grade STEM Students are introduced to the dangerous work of scientists who study great white sharks. They work in engineering design teams to select appropriate materials from a makerspace to design a shark cage that will help a diver submerge safely into a tank of sharks. Iggy Peck Bridge Design and Build Challenge K-5th grade Visual Arts Using the story Iggy Peck Architect, students will engage in a makerspace design challenge to get Iggy and his classmates safely across the river. Within the challenge students will be engaged in design, engineering, collaboration, and being introduced to new materials in the makerspace. Deciphering Chromosomal Mutations Caused by Radiation 9th-12th grade Biology This biology lesson plan involves the exploration of real-world applications of genetics. Students will review vocabulary related to chromosomes, learn about the effect of radiation exposure on chromosomes, and evaluate a chromosome assay for dicentric chromosomes. See the accompanying presentations: chromosomal mutations lesson and pair share dicentrics activity. Coding Constellations 6th grade Math This math lesson is truly cross-curricular as it includes aspects of technology, science, social studies, and math! Students will learn about ancient mythology and its connection to constellations while practicing coordinate pairs. They will design their own constellation on a coordinate plane, and then code a Sphero robot to run the constellation. In the end, the teacher will capture the robot running its course to create a beautifully lit slow exposure photo of the constellation. See a sample constellations example project. Walking Water 1st-8th grade Science
In this activity students will have the opportunity to experiment with a tuning fork and observe how sound travels through air. The water will help serve as a visual aid for students when the tuning fork is used in conjunction with it. The waves produced by the vibrations of the tuning fork represent how sound waves travel through the air.
Hurricane in a Bowl 2nd-8th grade Science In this activity, students will observe the characteristics of a hurricane through a mini-model in a clear glass bowl. Students will be able to describe the characteristics of how this relates to a rotating storm. A Great Race 5th grade Science In this kinesthetic lesson students will learn how to measure speed, surface area, and record data correctly. Students will be given the task of participating in a foot race with each other after learning how to calculate speed. This lesson provides a fun opportunity for students to put their new knowledge of speed to the test, making it meaningful and memorable. United States 3D 3rd-5th grade Social Studies, Technology Students will use the website Thingiverse to 3D print state manipulatives. Each student will be assigned a number corresponding to an assigned state and create a 3D model of that state. At the end of this lesson students will be able to piece together their models of their states to form the whole shape of the country. Stars and their attributes 2nd grade Science This lesson gives students the opportunity to expand their knowledge on stars and construct a model of the life cycle of stars. By the end of this lesson students will be able to identify different types of stars in the universe, describe physical attributes of stars, and model the star’s life cycle. Mystery Rock Rock Classification 3rd grade Science This fun science lesson gives students the opportunity to use their five senses in characterizing rock samples into their different categories (sedimentary, igneous, metamorphic). Resources are provided in this lesson to order your rock set. By the end of this lesson students will figure out the names of each mystery rock. The handout is provided and ready to print to hand out to your students. Plant Life Cycle 2nd grade Science In this hands-on science experiment students will have the opportunity to build their own terrarium. They will be tasked with observing how a plant’s life cycle works and recording their data. The data collection sheet is provided in the materials section of this lesson ready to print and pass out to your students. Mouse Trap Car 4th grade Science, ELA In this interactive multidisciplinary lesson students will build their very own mouse trap car and write a informative essay. This model will help students understand that the design of a model has an impact on it’s speed. At the end of this lesson, students will write an informative essay on the way their car is built such as the size of the wheels, lever, and amount of tension will all play a role in how much energy their model will produce. A rubric is provided for both the project and informational essay. Let’s Make Paper 3rd grade Science, Art This lesson will have students review the importance of recycling on the environment and how humans have an impact on its process. By the end of this lesson student’s will have produced their own paper from recycled paper found in the school. This hands-on experiment not only shows students the real steps to recycling paper but leaves a lasting impact on how they view the environment. Bridge Understanding 5th grade Social Studies In this Social Studies lesson students will be provided with a location of a remote village/population. They will be tasked with designing and creating a bridge that will allow their people to have greater access to resources such as education, medical care, and economy. Students will use the website Tinkercad in order to build their prototype. Fun in the Sun 1st grade Science, Literacy This one day lesson has students learn about solar energy from reading a book as a class, and then engage in a hands-on activity outside. Students will observe and measure solar energy’s effect on various objects within a pie tin. Using Geometry to Create a Nationally Recognized Symmetrical Landmark That can be Used to Combat a Community Problem in India 3rd-5th grade Cross-curricular This exciting PBL lesson puts a Social Studies spin on Geometry standards. Students will learn about India (and other places home to the 7 Wonders of the World), work on map skills, and build a monument all while practicing their geometry vocabulary. Heating up with Soda Cans-Solar Energy Heaters 4th grade Science, Language Arts In this hands-on lesson, students will learn about solar energy through questioning, research, and ultimately by designing and building their own Soda Can Solar Heater. English Language Arts can be integrated by asking them to write an explanatory text prior to the activity. How do Shapes Make Pictures? Pre-K In this Pre-K lesson, students will participate in an engaging hands-on lesson about shapes. In the culminating activity, students’ will create shape pictures that will then be 3D printed to create sculptures. Where in the World Would you Like to go? 3rd grade Technology In this interactive lesson, students become a travel agent. They will research and plan a travel commercial, website, or brochure for a vacation spot of their choice. Students will use VR headsets to travel to their destination to explore attractions in order to complete the assignment. That’s A”MAZE”ing 2nd grade Technology This lesson has students not only using the basics of coding, but also math skills of measuring and estimating. Students will build a tape floor maze with specific dimensions, then learn how to code a Bee-bot to make it’s way through the maze to save the dog Marvin who is stranded on a deserted island! Saving our Community from Rising Water K-5th grade This severe weather unit plan is designed to be implemented over several weeks and incorporates a problem-based approach. The PBL encompasses all subjects through research, reading, writing, observing, experimenting, designing, modifying, and analyzing data. Is Oobleck a solid or a liquid? Kindergarten In this lesson, students will have the opportunity to use the scientific method to investigate Non-Newtonian fluids. Non-Newtonian fluids may act as a solid or liquid depending on the force applied to them. Therefore, students are able to experiment with different states of matter and classify the matter as a solid or a liquid based on its physical properties. What Does an Animal Eat? 2nd grade Students will be able to sort animals by the types of food they eat and develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of the ecosystem. Sports Collisions: What Makes a Player Great? 4th grade Students will use various sports equipment to investigate the transfer of energy and the transfer is impacted by different types of materials. Catapulting into Denmark 5th grade This two-day lesson integrates engineering design, mathematics, English-language arts, and the fifth grade science standard on motion. Students will design, create, and test a catapult which will launch a plastic army man. Students will use their experience with the catapult to collect and analyze data about the motion of the launched army man. Specifically, students will use observations and measurements to understand how force and mass affect the motion of an object. The Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017 5th grade This lesson includes links to many resources for teaching about solar eclipses including videos and web articles. Students will create a model to illustrate the motion of the moon and Earth around the sun and use the model to illustrate solar and lunar eclipses. Students will create a pinhole camera to calculate the diameter of the sun and use powers of 10 to compare the size of the sun and Earth. Bobsledding into the Olympic Games 5th grade Science In this problem-based lesson, students work in groups to design a bobsled prototype, test and re-test their prototype, and communicate their findings. This lesson focuses on the engineering design process while enhancing students’ reflection, collaboration, and communication skills. View the accompanying presentation. Lighting a Snow Globe 3rd grade Science This 60 minute hands on lesson lets students physically see how light travels through the air. They will examine different objects and record what the beam of light does as it hits the object such as a mirror, cookie paper, and snow globe filled with water. Planets From the Sun 4th grade Language Arts, Science In this 90-minute lesson, students will be evaluating the different characteristics of each planet in our solar system. The teacher will upload a form to google classroom and the students will add information about their assigned planet as they research it. At the end of this lesson students will write a narrative essay using details on information they have learned about the planets. Snowman Survival Challenge 3rd grade Language Arts, Science In this 3 day, 40 minute lesson, students will be asked, “What makes a good insulator?” Students will use the Engineering Design Process as they collaborate to design and test a home (insulator) to keep their snowman from melting. The “Snowmen”, are ice cubes are inside of a plastic bag. A Better Fort for George 3rd-4th grade Science, ELA, Social Studies, Math In this 3-5-day cross-curricular unit plan, students are challenged to build a model wall of a fort that could have spared Washington this defeat. Students may choose from a variety of materials from which to construct their wall, which will be tested using modeled musket and cannon fire. Forts will be scored based on the dollar amount spent as well as a damage scale score determined when testing. Solar Energy 5th grade Science In this hands-on 3-day lesson, students will investigate and record how water is cleaned through thermal energy over the course of 3 days. Students will be given the materials to build their own display of water and how it gets dirty. Designing Product Packaging: The Criteria of Volume and Constraint of Surface Area 8th grade Geometry The purpose of this cross-curricular project is for 8th grade students a.) to design and model a product container that minimizes surface area while maximizing volume using one piece of poster board and b.) to develop and deliver a pitch that mathematically defends their design. Statistics Unit Lesson Plan 7th grade Math
This lesson melds the engineering design process with statistics. Students will build a zip line car to fulfill an engineering challenge. Data will be taken from the zip line runs.
Using the data from the zip line runs, students will work with measures of central tendency, histograms, and circle graphs.
Design Thinking Challenge: Design a Game 6th-8th grade Science This hands-on experience allows students to experience the engineering design cycle through the lens of Design Thinking. Students are using the Design Thinking process to create a content based board game for younger students to enjoy. View the accompanying design a game presentation. How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse: Building a Water Filtration Plant 6th-8th grade Science In this lesson students will create a water filtration system in order to survive during the “Zombie Apocolpyse.” At the end of this lesson students will be able to take their filtration systems home to test and see if they can make water from other places cleaner. Students will be working the principals of engineering, design, and real world problem solving. Energy from Chemical Reactions 6th-8th grade Science Over 3 days, this lesson plan will engage your class in several hands-on activities to really discover chemical energy transformations. Students will spend time investigating how energy is released through combustion reactions, such as that which occurs in the engine of a car. Design a Shipping Container 6th-8th grade Science, Technology In this 60-minute lesson, students will design and create affordable homes for families that have been hit by a natural disaster. These homes need to be easily built for a quick reaction time to the disaster. With this assignment students will be able to practice engineering skills while gaining understand of events that are happening in the everyday world. The Yolks on You! 8th grade Math, Physical Science In this five-day lesson, students will be tasked with utilizing mathematics and modeling to predict when to release a raw egg from the top floor of the stairwell so that it can strike the head of the instructor walking on the bottom floor. Experiments will be carried out to build a mathematical model of an object falling toward the ground as well as an object walking at a constant pace. This lesson serves to teach students the power of collecting data to build a model to predict future data points while utilizing mathematics as the means to accomplishing the goal of the problem. View the accompanying "yolks on you" spreadsheet. Math in Ancient Civilizations 6th-8th grade Math, Social Studies In this 70-minute lesson, students will create their own blue print after researching dimensions of Ancient Greek structures. They will be draw geometric figures and create a scale for the structures they create. Project Earth 6th grade Science Over the course of 5 class meetings, students will learn about the environmental issues surrounding our planet. Students will learn about pollution and the effect of their own environmental footprint on our planet’s sustainability. Students will create a prototype that will have the potential to reduce the amount of pollution on earth. Additionally, students will create a final project that will address an environmental issue, find a solution, and explain what steps were taken in their project design process. Oreo Lunar Models 6th-8th grade Science
In this activity, students will have a hands-on experience that allows them to create visualizations of the phases of the Moon. They will be identifying not only what the moon likes like from earth, but also where each phase occurs relative to the Moon’s position with the Earth and Sun.
3D Printing Earth 6th grade Cross-curricular 3D printing can provide students with opportunities to collaboratively use 21st Century skills in order to become civically engaged in solving local and global problems. This lesson will be taught during math, in collaboration with Language Arts, social studies and science lessons on current and ancient civilizations’ systems of freshwater ecology. Open source 3D printing plans can be used to create products that provide usable resources. Additionally, in conjunction with 3D printing, students can make a difference in the world by innovatively using the Design Thinking Process to Define, Ideate, Prototype and Create their own 3D printed products. Wind Turbines 6th grade Science Students will be building a wind turbine, create movement using a renewable resource, and construct blades that move the axle with the wind. They will first research the different types of turbines (vertical vs horizontal) and then continue to look at designs online. Using their ideas, and what they know, they are presented with a goal of having their wind turbines (powered using a fan to replicate wind) lift up 10 pennies Ozobot Meets 3-D Printing (Art Challenge) 6th-12th grade Technology, Art This is a hands-on lesson that brings together problem solving, 3D design, coding, and art! Students should already have background in coding Ozobots. They will get to design and 3D print an add on to the Ozobot that holds a writing utensil. Then they will bring in their coding skills to create a piece of art! Printed Egyptian Alphabet Stamp & Clay Cartouche 6th-8th grade Social Studies, Art In this lesson, students will learn how to create things using 3D modeling app Tinkercad to make a Egyptian Alphabet stamp. Students will print their stamp. This lesson allows students to work through the process of 3D designing while creating a tool that will ultimate use to make a clay cartouche, like was done in ancient Egypt. Students will love this engaging lesson, and will have a cool product to take home. Waste Free Lunch 6th grade Science In this three-day lesson, students investigate the impact humans have on the environment. Students learn methods of monitoring their actions and learn ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. After engaging with the content individually and as a school, students describe how a waste-free lunch at the Olympics would minimize the negative impact on the environment. View the accompanying "waste free lunch" presentation. Breakout Box Hurricane Activity 6th grade Science Influenced by recent extreme weather, this highly engaging activity on hurricanes uses a “Breakout Box” to motivate students. Students complete multiple steps using hints to solve hurricane-related questions. This activity can be used as an introduction to weather topics such as atmospheric conditions, analysis of data, and prediction of probable weather. Potential & Kinetic Energy 6th grade Science This lesson provides students with the opportunity to conduct an investigation demonstrating the transfer of energy from potential energy to kinetic energy. Students will draw conclusions from the data to understand the relationship between kinetic energy, the mass of an object in motion, and the speed of the object. A teacher created excel calculator is used in this lesson to demonstrate the relationship between potential and kinetic energy. Weather Alert! Did We Do That? 7th grade Science This multi-dimensional lesson plan sharpens students’ reading, writing, and debate skills. The lesson scaffolds students to form their own opinions of weather and climate based on evidence. Just Breathe: An Introduction to Photosynthesis 7th grade Science In this lesson, students compare the chemical compounds that make up the reactants and products of photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Students will construct a model of the chemical compounds using different colored marshmallows. Then, students rearrange the marshmallows to represent how reactants transform into the products during the processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Students will also explain how oxygen and carbon are exchanged between living organisms and the environment. Fermentation Challenge…How Plants Matter 9th-12th grade Biology This lesson uses an understanding of the process of fermentation as a basis of discussing the production of ethanol as a biofuel. Through research, pre-work, and a lab, students will be able put themselves in the shoes of biofuels researchers to discuss why certain techniques and stocks are better for the production of biofuels than others. It’s Electric! 9th-12th grade Physical Science The central focus of this lesson is to create a design to remember simple circuits and understand material related to electricity. This includes but is not limited to Ohm’s law and various problems to solve for electricity. Bond…Enzyme Bond 9th-12th grade Biology The goal of these lessons is to build upon the student’s previous knowledge of enzymes by hitting on topics such as homeostasis, structure/function, and denaturing. The lessons culminate in a debate on the ethics of enzyme inhibition. Making Music Physics Lab 9th-12th grade Physics The students will design a wind instrument that will be 3-D printed. Using the instrument and their prior knowledge of waves, students will predict the natural and fundamental frequencies of the waves produced by their instrument. Controlling the Lionfish Population Graphing Lab (Invasive Species) 9th-12th grade Ecology This lab will allow students to hypothesize and make inferences regarding how the population of a specific invasive species may change once culling takes place and whether or not this method has been an effective method of population control. Students will analyze and explain the impact and effectiveness of the culling control methods specifically towards the lionfish species using evidence from web resources, student-created graphs, and completion of lab questions. Egg Drop Device 9th grade Engineering, STEM In this engineering lesson students will learn the principles of momentum and how to use the engineering design process to create a product. The challenge is to minimize the momentum of an egg while falling to keep it from cracking when it hits the ground. Civil Engineering: Tower Construction 9th-12th grade Engineering, STEM In this engineering design activity lesson, students will first learn about Civil Engineers. Then, students will be given an engineering challenge to design a tower with specific constraints. They are constrained by time, materials, and will also have to budget for materials to keep the cost as low as possible. Students must use the Engineering Design Process in building their towers. Superconductivity 9th-12th grade Physics Following a presentation based on the work of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, students will write an article that explores the construction and benefits of superconductors. Conservation of Energy Lab 9th-12th grade Physics Students will use this lab activity to drop objects of different mass from the same height to calculate their final velocity. They will determine if the mass of the object affects it’s velocity or not. While this may be a familiar lab activity, this lesson puts a spin on it by using drones to drop the objects. Topics addressed in this lab are the Law of Conservation of Energy, transfer of energy, and kinematics. See accompanying conservation of energy presentation. Rainbow Science 9th-12th grade Geometry, Physics Students will conduct a series of activities which illustrate how scientists investigate natural phenomena by using appropriate models. Students will be prompted to think about ways the models used in this lesson serve as good representations for rainbow production, and what the limitations of the models might be. Batteries and the Flow of Charge or “How to Power your Smartphone for a Week” 9th-12th grade Physics Students will construct fruit batteries, use multimeters to measure the current and voltage of their batteries, and calculate the power. View the accompanying "how to power a smartphone for a week" presentation. What Factors Correlate to Olympic Success? 9th-12th grade Algebra This extended cross-curricular lesson combines the ideals of scientific inquiry with statistical data. Students predict the factors that may contribute to overall Olympic success of a country, design a way to assess the correlation of those factors, execute their design, and interpret the results. After the 2018 Olympics is completed, students compare their predictions to the results. Box Plot Analysis of Forest Growth in a Pellet Mill Region 9th-12th grade Algebra Students will create and compare box plots for forest area data. Data analysis will include five number summaries, range, interquartile range and outliers. Inspired by the research of Esther S. Parish, Center for BioEnergy Sustainability, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Statistical Analysis of Forest Growth in a Pellet Mill Region 9th-12th grade Algebra Students will using graphing calculator technology to find mean, median and standard deviation for two sets of forest area data. They will use the values they find to compare the two data sets. Inspired by the research of Esther S. Parish, Center for BioEnergy Sustainability, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Linear Regression of Forest Growth in a Pellet Mill Region 9th-12th grade Algebra Students will create scatter plots and use their graphing calculator to find regression models for two sets of forest area data. They will interpret the slope, y-intercept and correlation coefficient from their models. They will also use their models to predict values that within and outside the provided timeframe. Inspired by the research of Esther S. Parish, Center for BioEnergy Sustainability, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Unit Conversions in Biofuel Applications 9th-12th grade Algebra Students will calculate common quantities used in agriculture. Emphasis is placed on unit analysis. Inspired by the research of Erin Webb, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Comparisons of Future Biomass Production by Region 9th-12th grade Algebra Students will find and compare linear regression equations for expected biomass production by regions of the country. This lesson has a link to an interactive visualization tool. Both teachers and students can explore data and create extension to the lesson. Inspired by the research of Michael Hilliard, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Bio-engineering for a Cure 9th-12th grade Biology In this exciting lesson, students take on the role of Bio Engineers. They are posed with the problem of trying to remedy a disorder that causes a specific cell organelle. Students have to work together to not only come up with a solution, but do so with material and monetary constraints. Students should come away from this lesson with a clear understanding of the function of the organelles and the impact that the malfunction has on the disorder. What’s in the Water, Anyway? 9th-12th grade Biology In this one class period lesson, biology students will get to tour local water sources using Google Tours from the comfort of their classroom. Students assess the water quality of water samples based on organisms contained within them. This lesson brings local environmental issues, geography, and biology together as one! Should the Olympics be Divided into Men’s and Women’s Games? 9th-12th grade Biology In this heredity lesson plan, students make a claim on the genetic grounds for having male and female categories in the Olympics. Students explore the inheritance of biological traits and defend their claims based on evidence. View the accompanying "should olympics be divided" presentation. Growing Algae 9th-12th grade Biology Students will explore the carbon cycle by growing algae and measuring the biomass using a colorimeter or dry weight. After learning the procedure for growing algae, students can use critical thinking to develop and test a plan to increase the amount of biomass grown. Increasing algal biomass is a currently researched topic to lead to larger amount of bioenergy. Inspired by the research of Terry Mathews, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Relating Photosynthesis & Cellular Respiration Using Algae 9th-12th grade Biology Using bromothymol blue as an indicator, students will observe the carbon dioxide in water being removed by spirogyra undergoing photosynthesis. Students will relate their observations to the larger carbon cycle. Inspired by the research of Terry Mathews, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Macromolecule Manipulative Review 9th-12th grade Biology Students will arrange manipulative cut outs to test their knowledge of the four macromolecules: lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, and nucleic acids. This activity can be done individually, in pairs, or in groups. Calculating Average Distance Biomass will Travel to a Biorefinery – Calculus based 9th-12th grade Calculus Students will solve a biomass transportation problem by creating an integral to find the volume a solid of revolution. They will then use calculus to derive a generalized formula that can use to find the average distance between all points in a circle and the center for any size circle. Inspired by the research of Michael Hilliard, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Ethanol Production: Bioconversion of Sugars to Ethanol 9th-12th grade Chemistry Students will use stoichiometry to determine how much ethanol is produced as they measure the volume of Carbon Dioxide gas produced from various feedstocks by yeast. Inspired by the research of Brian Davison, Chief Scientist, Biotechnology, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Catalysts and Reaction Rates 9th-12th grade Chemistry Students will investigate Catalysts and Reaction Rates in the framework of bioenergy. Inspired by the research of James Parks, Energy and Transportation Science Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Nuclear Chemistry Card Sort 9th-12th grade Chemistry Students will complete a Venn diagram using manipulative cards to compare and contrast Fission, Fusion, and Nuclear Decay. Utilizing X-ray Diffraction and Computer Simulation to Determine the Structure of the Protein Lysozyme 9th-12th grade Chemistry Students will follow a lab procedure to create crystals of the protein lysozyme and then complete a web quest to learn how Molecular Dynamics Researchers would use their crystals to learn more about the structure of lysozyme. Building Materials to Study Heat Transfer 9th-12th grade Chemistry Students will conduct a series of three experiments to investigate heat transfer in a variety of materials. Experiments include examining how the temperature of water affects the movement of food coloring in water; exploring the effect of cup type on the temperature of the liquid inside over time; and investigating the temperature and light intensity on opposite sides of different types of panes of glass. Extreme Weather: Hurricanes 9th-12th grade Ecology, Environmental Science Via a multi-strategy instructional approach, students investigate the formation of hurricanes, the Coriolis Effect, and the relationship between extreme weather and our society. Calculating Average Distance Biomass will Travel to a Biorefinery – Geometry based 9th-12th grade Geometry Students will utilize a complex, solid geometry model to calculate average distance travel distance of all biomass in a circular area. Students will then create a generalized formula for this problem. Inspired by the research of Michael Hilliard, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Density and Properties of Wood 7th-12th grade Physical Science, Math Students will use density cubes and different types of wood to investigate density and physical properties that are beneficial in bio-derived materials for large-scale additive manufacturing (3D printing). Inspired by the research of Erin Webb, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Algae Shape and Sinking Rate 9th-12th grade Physical Science Students will investigate how different shapes of algae sink at different rates as they compare position-time and velocity-time for student-engineered algal shapes. Inspired by the research of Terry Mathews, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Shedding Light on Solar Energy 9th-12th grade Physical Science Following instruction on solar energy, students will construct a moving Solar Cockroach using a 2V Solar Cell and construct a solar oven that can be used to cook s’mores. Data on the internal temperature of the solar oven can be collected and graphed. Micro:bits Art Bots 9th-12th grade STEAM This STEAM lesson has students Coding, 3D printing, using the design cycle, and creating artwork all at the same time. Students will use Micro:bits to create a moving Art Bot to create artwork. Lastly, students will create a reflection video to document their journey in the process. Winter Paralympics 9th-12th grade Physical Science Because there is not currently a luge event offered for Paralympic athletes, this three-day STEM lesson challenges students to design a novel luge sled. Students must engage with the engineering design process to meet the athlete’s specific classification requirements. Students strengthen their research, problem-solving, and collaborative skills throughout this physical science lesson
The Harnessed Atom middle school STEM curriculum provides teachers with non-biased information on energy science and nuclear energy for classroom instruction. Developed under a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, the curriculum covers the essential principles of energy and matter and provide teachers with an engaging platform to excite students’ learning about these topics.
The Harnessed Atom Activities
- Build an Atom: Desktop version | Accessible and Smartphone version
- Power It Up: Desktop version | Accessible and Smartphone version
- Fermi Feud: PowerPoint version
The Harnessed Atom Lessons
- The Harnessed Atom - Student edition (7.7 MB PDF)
- The Harnessed Atom - Teachers' edition (19.3 MB PDF)
The Harnessed Atom Teacher Presentations
This document contains links to hundreds of websites with a variety of resources for educators. Websites are hyperlinked, annotated, and listed by subject and grade. The document includes a table of contents to help you quickly find what you are looking for whether it is an academic competition for your students, professional development opportunities, or an amazing E-Resource that can be used in your classroom.