Science Jokes Explained

H2SO4

This shirt from ThinkGeek reads: “Johnny was a chemist’s son, but Johnny is no more. What Johnny thought was H2O was H2SO4.”

The science: H2O is, of course, water. H2SO4 is sulfuric acid, a highly corrosive acid. It’s a clear liquid just like water, so it’s no wonder poor Johnny got them mixed up.

Heisenberg and the Cop

Heisenberg argued that you can know either the precise location or the precise momentum of a particle, but not both. Even though this sounds like our measuring tools or technology is limited, the Heisenberg principle actually means that you cannot measure (no matter how good your technology is) the precise location or momentum of a particle.

May the Mass Times Acceleration Be With You

May The Mass x Acceleration

This shirt, from Snorg Tees, mixes science with geekery.

In physics, the force of an object is equal to the mass multiplied by the acceleration of the object. Therefore force = mass times acceleration. This image simply replaces “May the FORCE be with you,” from Star Wars with mass times acceleration.

Sodium Jokes

Chemistry is fun, but this one is more of a play on words. In the periodical table of elements, Sodium is represented by the symbol Na which looks like the word “Nah,” meaning “No.”

I found this Humerus

i found this humerus Organic Women's Fitted T-Shir

Another t-shirt, another play on words. The humerus is the long bone in your upper arm, but the word sounds like “humorous,” as in “funny.” So the joke sounds like it says both “I found this humerous (funny),” and “I found this bone.”

Lost electron

Atom humor

If an electron has more positrons than electrons, it has a positive charge. This joke takes advantage of the double meaning of “positive,” meaning both “positive charge” and “are you sure?”.

Carbon Dating

Did they form a covalent bond?

While it looks like these two carbon elements are out on a date, carbon dating is a method to estimate the age of organic materials.

 How it works: plants absorb carbon dioxide. But there are actually two types of carbon: carbon-12 and carbon-14 . Carbon-12 is ordinary, stable carbon. Carbon-14 has two extra neutrons and is a bit unstable. Eventually, carbon-14 will lose those two extra neutrons and become carbon-12. The rate that carbon-14 loses half its neutrons is called a half life. It’s a constant, predicatable time frame (5,740 years for carbon) and so can be used to estimate the age of organic materials like the Dead Sea Scrolls.

This joke is twofold: carbon dating can mean “two carbons on a date” or “using the decay of carbon to determine the date of organic materials.” The other line, “where half you been all my life?” sounds like a romantic line, “where have you been all my life?” but also refers to the half life of these carbon-14. All in all, it looks like a rather unstable relationship.

Here’s a final, self-explanatory one for you:

Sound proof, if I ever saw it.

How to turn a lesson into Halloween magic

How to turn a lesson into halloween magic

You’ve seen it–that magical moment when you students just clicked with your lesson. They were engaged, even if just for a few brief moments, instead of daydreaming or wishing they could be texting their friends.

Adapting your lesson to a Halloween theme is more likely to engage them. Kids are already fascinated by Halloween. Connect your science lesson to it, and they will be more engaged and interested.

The holiday becomes a catalyst for engagement.

How to adapt your lessons

Three simple steps:

Step 1. Look at the lessons you have planned for the next two weeks.

Are there any demonstrations you will do? A small modification may be all you need to turn it into a Halloween-based science lesson.

Step 2. Look for connections to Halloween: pumpkins, smoke, goo, colors, or mixtures.

Pumpkins

Can you do the experiment inside a pumpkin? I’ve seen the classic baking powder + vinegar demonstration called a Halloween experiment because it was done inside a pumpkin.

Witches’ Brew and Potions

Does the demonstration involve mixing anything together? That can be called witches’ brew or potion.

Smoke, Goo, Glow, and Colors

Does it involve anything along the lines of smoke, goo, something glowing, or the colors orange, black, or red?

Orange and black are classic Halloween colors. (Here’s a demonstration with black dry ice.) Red can bring up imagery of vampires or (for older kids) blood. (Here’s a simple density demonstration using Halloween colors.)

Mad Scientist

As a science teacher, you always have the option to pull the catch-all theme: mad scientist.

Step 3. Make it more than a label

For themes like this to work, they need to be more than a silly label placed on an ordinary experiment. Most kids will see through superficial labels.

So how do you take a demonstration, mix it with your theme, and come out with something to engage the kids?

How you Present it Matters

A man was once showing non-teachers how to teach. He had a delicious cake with the lesson topic written on top with icing. “Anyone want some?” he asked. Of course everyone did. When the first volunteer came up to get his delicious piece of cake, the teacher describes what happened:

“I then sank my fingers into the top of the cake and tore out a large piece. I was careful to clench my fist after tearing it out so that the frosting would ooze through my fingers, and then as [they] sat in total disbelief, I threw the piece of cake to [him], splattering some frosting down the front of his suit. ‘Would anyone else like some cake?’ I inquired. For some reason, there were no takers.”

The teacher then brought out a fancy plate, silver fork, and napkin, and carefully cut a slice of cake from the non-destroyed side and offered it to the class. (Source: Teaching, No Greater Call.)

How you present your Halloween-themed demonstration makes an enormous difference. You can put a shallow label on an ordinary experiment. Or you can present it well, with the details that impress. Maybe dress up as a mad scientist or maniacal witch and brew a concoction of magical science.

Get inspiration

Here are some effective ways others have incorporated Halloween into their lessons. Launch your ideas from these inspiring demonstrations:

Halloween Science: Fluorescent Chlorophyll Halloween Science Fun   Candy Potions ~ Invitation to play with Halloween Candy

See my Halloween science Pinterest board for more ideas!

How do you adapt your lessons?

Share with us what you have done to adapt your lesson to a holiday theme. What makes it successful? Do the kids love it? Do they learn more?

Participate in cutting-edge science with Citizen Science

At Heath Scientific, we’re all about hands-on learning. And what better way to learn than to participate in actual, cutting-edge science inquiries?

Citizen science allows ordinary people–like you, me, and our kids–to participate in science. For example, The Lost Ladybug Project asks people to find and photograph ladybugs, in an attempt to find rare ladybug species. A 10 and 11 year-old boy and girl made the first major breakthrough in the project when they found a rare 9-spotted ladybug–the first seen in the eastern United States in 14 years!

Can you imagine the power behind citizen science? Students aren’t just learning about science, they’re participating in it! They are making science happen. Along the way, they’ll learn observational skills and apply the scientific method, as a matter of course. They’ll also learn about the topic at hand, whether it’s neutron stars or backyard birds.

Are you ready? These fantastic websites have curated lists of citizen science projects for you to participate in!

Cool Cat Teacher lists 17 citizen science projects for schools, teachers, and parents
Hack Education describes 5 apps that encourage citizen science
The Daily Green has a slideshow of 25 citizen science projects
SciStarter indexes hundreds of projects including Moon Zoo and a DIY Laser Harp

We’ve also made a Pinterest board tracking citizen science opportunities.

Engage Students with Creepy Crawly Hands-on Science

Launching your lessons with a hands-on activity is a great way to get kids re-engaged in your classroom after Spring Break!

Our most popular items for your students’ return are bugs and critters. Kids of all ages love exploring the world of creepy crawly bugs. Explore metamorphosis! Or teach about the critters’ roles in the ecosystem. Gather a variety of critters and host a bug show.

If you prefer to not have live critters, consider life cycle models for a hands-on, but not creepy-crawly, way to explore the life cycle of insects.

Caterpillars and butterflies.

We also provide classroom and individual student kits

Ants.

Harvester ants are HUGE and easy to observe. Keep them contained in a habitat.

Ladybugs.

Don’t forget a habitat!

Mealworms.

We also provide a growing kit with food, burlap, mealworms, pupae, and beetles; as well as an experiment kit to explore the mealworms’ sensitivity to light.

Praying Mantid egg case and habitat or individual egg case.

Pill Bugs.

These harmless roly poly bugs are a great choice for those of us who might be a tad bit squeamish about other bugs.

Snails: land and pond


Earthworms

Crayfish

Water Fleas

Crickets

Desert Millipede

Redworms

Hydra

Milkweed bugs and eggs

Planaria

Silkworms

Tenebrio Beetles

Vinegar Eels

Drosophila Fruit Flies

Brine Shrimp.

Shh, here’s a secret: Sea-Monkeys are actually brine shrimp.

 

What are your students’ favorite critters to explore?