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Hands-On Labs currently available at the BLSC:

Please note that the BIG Little Science Centre may not be able to provide all combinations of modules, due to complications involved in setting up the experiments in the time frame available to us. Please discuss your preferences with BLSC Staff beforehand.

Simple Machines (Grade 5 to Adult)

  • Module A Balancing a lever. more...
  • Module B Three Kinds of Lever. more...
  • Module C Experimenting with Pulleys. more...

Chemistry

  • Module A Solids (Crystals under a Microscope) (Grade 4 to Adult). more...
  • Module B Properties of Gases (Grade 5 to Adult). more...
  • Module C Properties of a Special Liquid (Water) (Grade K to Adult). more...
  • Module D Chemical Reactions (Grade 6 to Adult). more...
  • Module E Measuring Mass and Volume (Grade 7 to Adult). more...
  • Module F Measuring pH (Grade 7 to Adult). more...
  • Module G Chemistry and Electroplating (Grade 7 to Adult). more...
  • Module H Kitchen Chemistry (Grade 1 to 3). more...

Electricity

  • Module A Make a Simple Battery (Grade 5 to Adult). more...
  • Module B Simple Electric Circuits (Grade 4 to Adult). more...
  • Module C Experimenting with Permanent Magnets (Enrichment) (Grade 4 to Adult). more...
  • Module D Static Electricity (Requires a ‘dry’ day to be effective) (Grade 4 to Adult). more...
  • Module E Make a Simple Generator (Enrichment) (Grade 6 to Adult). more...
  • Module F Make a Lifting Electromagnet (Enrichment) (Grade 6 to Adult). more...

Biology

  • Module A Stream Bugs (Grade 2 to 4). more...
  • Module B Stream Invertebrates (Bugs) (Grade 5 to Adult). more...
  • Module C Water Quality 1 - Turbidity (Grade 4 to Adult). more...
  • Module D Water Quality 2 - Temperature & Oxygen Level of Water (Grade 6 to Adult). more...

Earth And Space Science: Earth’s Crust

  • Pangaea and the Structure of the Earth (grade 7 and up). more...
  • Plate tectonics (grade 7 and up) more...
  • BLSC Starbright Science (grade 3 and up) more...

Other Topics

  • Light Shadows and Images (Grade 4 to Adult). more...
  • Properties of Matter 1 (Grades 2-3). more...
  • Properties of Matter 2 (Grades 2-3). more...
  • Adventures in the Science of Colour (Grade 4 to Adult). more...
  • Dino Detectives (Grade K to 3). more...
  • Sand from around the world (Grade 4 to Adult). more...
  • Structures - spaghetti vs linguini (Grade 3 to 4). more...
  • Weather lab (Grade 4).more...

Simple Machines

Balancing a Lever
Participants work with a simple lever and a set of equal weights. They experiment to see what the conditions are for the lever to be balanced. Vocabulary: fulcrum, lever arm, load, torque.
Time required: 20 to 30 minutes. back...

Note: When Module 1 is set up in the teaching room, we always put out an assortment of household items that are simple machines or combinations of simple machines. Examples are available of wedges, wheels-and-axles, pulleys, levers, gears, an hydraulic lift, screws and inclined planes.

Three Kinds of Lever
Participants work with a metre stick, a weight and a fulcrum (pivot) and experiment to see the differences between first class, second class and third class levers. Vocabulary: fulcrum, first-class lever, second-class lever, third-class lever, load, effort force.
Time Required: 15 to 20 minutes.back...

Experimenting with Pulleys
In groups of four, participants work with four different pulley arrangements to see how pulleys allow us to lift heavy loads with small effort forces. Vocabulary: load, effort, mechanical advantage.
Optional: Using a System of Simple Machines. Participants combine a pulley with an inclined plane to see the advantage of using a combination of simple machines to move a heavy load up a ramp.
Time Required: 15 to 20 minutes.  back...

Chemistry

Module A Solids (Crystals under a Microscope) (Grade 4 to Adult)
Each individual participant is able to work with a microscope, and observe a variety of interesting crystals. We ask participants to sketch an example of a well-formed crystal of each of six samples. Using polarizing filters, they observe spectacular colour effects with some of the crystals. They observe iodine crystals forming from a solution of iodine in alcohol. They also watch pure silver crystals forming around a copper wire dipped into a drop of silver nitrate solution.
Time Required: 30 minutes. back...

Module B  Properties of Gases (Grade 5 to Adult)
Participants observe how air can be shown to have mass (inertia) using a large garbage bag full of trapped air. They experiment with pressure exerted on air enclosed in a pair of joined syringes, and with a ‘test tube submarine’ (Cartesian Diver). They also learn how to use a bag of air to lift a heavy load.
Time Required: 15 minutes. back...

Module C  Properties of a Special Liquid (Water) (Grade K to Adult)
Participants experiment with water to observe cohesion of water molecules. They add soap to water drops to see how soap reduces the cohesion and makes it possible to have large sheets of water (as in a soap film or soap bubble). They go outside and make very large soap bubbles!
Time required: 30 minutes. back...

Module D:  Chemical Reactions (Grade 6 to Adult)
Each pair of participants are given a set of chemical solutions in dropper bottles. Each individual participant is given a spot plate. The various solutions are reacted with each other in a certain order, and participants observe a variety of chemical reactions: colour changes, precipitates, or gas bubbles are evidence that a reaction has occurred.
Time Required: 30 minutes. back...

Module E: Measuring Mass and Volume (Grade 7 to Adult)
Participants work in larger groups due to the limited number of balances. Participants learn how to use a centigram balance to measure mass. They determine the mass of a variety of small objects (marbles, coins, etc.) They also learn how to measure volumes of solids and liquids. Volumes of liquids are measured directly using a graduated cylinder. Volumes of solids are calculated from their dimensions, or determined by displacement of water in graduated cylinder.
Time Required: 60 minutes. back...

Module F: Measuring pH (Grade 7 to Adult)
Participants experiment with four different acid-base indicators, and measure the pH of approximately 12 samples. The experiment is done using a kit consisting of 2 spot plates and  16 dropper bottles.
Time Required: 30-40 Minutes. back...

Module G: Introduction to Electroplating (Grade 7 to Adult)
Participants electroplate a brass screw or a carbon rod using the copper from another brass screw.
Time Required: 20-30 Minutes. back...

Module H: Kitchen Chemistry (Grade 1-3)
CHEMISTRY is the way we learn about what chemicals are, how they behave and how they change into different chemicals.
OBJECTIVES: “Learn by doing” – in hands-on activities, participants will be able to understand what a chemical reaction is, and recognize that a chemical reaction has taken place by using observations

Participants role-play to understand the difference between “Mixture” and “Chemical Reaction”.
Participants discover how we can tell that a chemical reaction is happening by looking for signs - “evidence” - using our senses.
Experiments performed by the participants include:
a)     Looking for colour changes, b)    Looking for bubbles being formed, c)     Feeling for a change in temperature d)     Observing different chemicals being formed
The final activity uses the skills they have learned to solve a ”Chem-Mystery”.
Participants record their observations on a simple data sheet, an excellent way of assessing what they have learned. This topic fits well with Grade 2 Matter.
Time Required: 60-90 Minutes. back...

Electricity

Module A: Make a Simple Battery (Grade 5 to Adult)
Each pair of participants is provided with a beaker, some fruit juice, a multimeter, wires and a selection of metal and non-metal ‘electrodes’. Participants experiment to see what combination of metals produces a ‘battery’ with the highest voltage. They use their best ‘battery’ to run a wall clock.
Time Required: 30 minutes. back...

Module B: Simple Electric Circuits (Grade 4 to Adult)
Each pair of participants are provided with two 1.5 V cells in battery holders, switches, light bulbs, connecting wires and holders and a small electric motor. We ask them to make one light bulb light at full brightness, then two, and then make the motor work as well using just two cells. Instructions are available, but we find that this activity is very intuitive, and young people ‘catch on’ very quickly.
Time Required: 30 minutes. back...

Module C: Experimenting with Permanent Magnets (Enrichment) (Grade 4 to Adult)
Participants do basic investigations using iron filings, compasses, bar magnets. They can ‘map’ magnetic fields using bar magnets, a sheet of cardboard, and a shaker filled with iron filings. They can test various materials to see which ones are magnetic.
Time Required: 60 minutes. back...

Module D: Static Electricity (Requires a ‘dry’ day to be effective) (Grade 4 to Adult)
Participants experiment with a variety of combinations of materials to see which ones produce the most static charge when rubbed together. They experiment with attraction and repulsion of charged objects. They test an unknown object (a balloon) to see whether the charge on it is positive or negative. The hands-on experiment is followed by demonstrations with the Van de Graaff static electricity generator.
Time Required: 60 minutes. back...

Module E: Make a Simple Generator (Enrichment) (Grade 6 to Adult)
Participants make a very simple generator using a coil of 50 turns of wire and a bar magnet. They make an improved generator using a toy electric motor.
Time Required: 20 Minutes. back...

Module F: Make a Lifting Electromagnet (Enrichment) (Grade 6 to Adult)
Participants make a simple solenoid by wrapping many turns of wire around a pencil. They test for magnetism using a compass. They replace the pencil with an iron spike, and test to see how many small nails they can lift with their electromagnet.
Time Required: 20 Minutes. back...

Biology

Module A: Stream Bugs (Grade 2 to 4)
Each group of 4 participants is provided with a basin of stream bugs, some bug collecting tools, a bug sorting basin, a couple of magnifying lenses, a magnifying box and a bug checklist. Participants collect bugs from the basin and separate them into groups of similar looking bugs. After the sorting is complete they look at some adaptations of the bugs and use the bug numbers and types to determine if they came from good or bad water.
Time Required: 45 minutes. back...

Module B: Stream Invertebrates (Grade 5 to Adult)
Each group of 4 participants is provided with a basin of stream invertebrates (bugs), some collecting tools, a sorting basin, a couple of magnifying lenses, a magnifying box, an aquatic insect key and a data chart. Participants collect invertebrates from the basin and separate them into different taxonomic groups by species. After the sorting is complete they look at some adaptations of the invertebrates and use the taxon numbers and invertebrate species to determine the water quality of the site where the sample was taken from.
Time Required: 60 minutes. back...

Module C Water Quality 1 - Turbidity (Grade 4 to Adult)
Participants try several methods of measuring water turbidity as well as look at turbid water under a microscope. The impacts of turbidity on water quality are discuss in relation to human and  animal usage. Sources of turbidity are also demonstrated.
Time Required: 45 minutes. back...

Module D Water Quality 2 - Temperature & Oxygen Level of Water (Grade 6 to Adult)
Participants learn about the relationship between water temperature and water Oxygen content. They sample water from different sources and at different temperatures, to determine the Oxygen content and Oxygen Saturation of each source. The samples demonstrate how water can hold Oxygen and what impacts the level of oxygen in water.
Time Required: 45 minutes. back...

Earth And Space Science: Earth’s Crust

Pangaea and the Structure of the Earth (Grade 7 and up)
Students will discover how a large supercontinent, known as Pangaea was fragmented into several pieces. By using fossils and geomagnetic evidence, students place "fun foam" continents into the positions they occupied 200 million years ago and gain an understanding of the “Continental Drift Theory”. Students then learn about seafloor spreading and geomagnetic reversals. By examining the structure of the Earth beneath our feet and the movements in the Earth's layers, students learn what causes the Earth's magnetic field, why continents drift and why they “float”, and how the Earth's crust is broken into moving plates. Finally, students start at the creation of the Earth and then move forward 200 million years into the future to see how the shapes of continents change.

Time Required: 45 minutes. back...

Plate Tectonics (Grade 7 and up)
Students learn how Plate Tectonics distorts the Earth's crust. The three ways in which plates can move relative to each other are examined and students learn how Plate Tectonics causes earthquakes, tsunamis, ocean trenches, volcanoes and mountain building. Other topics covered are the Pacific Ring of Fire, hot spots and the creation of the Hawaiian Islands, and the role of Canadian scientist John Tuzo Wilson in developing the theory of Plate Tectonics

Time Required: 45 minutes. back...

BLSC Starbright Science
Students role play the positions of the planets as they travel around the Sun to show the order and relative sizes of the planets. Students demonstrate using a flashlight to represent the Sun and show day and night positions when shining on the Earth. Students build a Constellation viewer using a given constellation and attempt to locate that constellation on an overhead transparency reflected on a screen.

Time Required: 45 minutes. back...

Other Topics

Properties of Matter 1 (Grades 2-3)
Participants learn what ‘matter’ is, and investigate properties of solids, liquids and gases. They observe that water exists in all three states and can easily change from one state to another. Participants develop an understanding that solids, liquids and gases take up space and have mass. Some solids will dissolve in water, while others will not. Participants discover what happens when solids and liquids are mixed together, they predict and test to see if the substance dissolves and record their results. A solid, a liquid and a gas can exist together.
Time Requires: 40 minutes. back...

Properties of Matter 2 (Grades 2-3)
Participants investigate the interactions of liquids and solids; they interpret and record their observations. Participants discover that solids can sink or float in liquids depending on density (“heaviness”) and shape. Students investigate the characteristics of liquids and discover that liquids will float on top of other liquids if they are less dense. Participants observe that gases “float” on top of liquids (bubbles rise) because they are less dense or “lighter”.
Time Requires: 40 minutes. back...

Light [Shadows and Images] (Grade 4)
Participants will work in groups of two or four. They investigate the consequences of the fact that light travels in straight lines by examining shadows from a small light source, and images formed using a pinhole. They also observe images formed by mirrors and images formed by lenses.
Time Required: 90 minutes. back...

Adventures in the Science of Colour (Grade 4)
Participants visit a number of stations, where they investigate a wide variety of fascinating colour phenomena.
Time Required: 60 minutes. back...

Dino Detectives (Grade K-3)
Participants become palaeontologists to investigate the characteristics of dinosaurs and learn how they might have lived.
Students will discover:

  • How we know Dinosaurs once lived on our earth
  • How palaeontologist extracts bones from soil and rock
  • What we can learn from dinosaur footprints
  • What a dinosaur ate by its footprint
  • How we know what colour dinosaurs might have been

Participants will be doing activities that real fossil hunters do – they will make their own footprint fossil, design a dinosaur’s head by giving them teeth and eyes, dig for fossils and put together dinosaur bones to assemble a free standing dinosaur.

Time Required: 60 minutes. back...

Sand from around the World (Grade 4 to Adult)
Participants use microscopes to study and compare sands from different locations around the world. They look at colour, texture, shape, translucence, etc. They also use their observations to discover the collection location of some unknown samples.

Time Required: 45 minutes. back...

Structures - spaghetti vs linguini (Grade 3 to 4)
Participants construct two support structures of spaghetti and marshmallows. They then run a strand of spaghetti or linguini across a span between the two supports and add weights until the strand breaks. They record their results and test single and double strands. If time allows they also can experiment with other structures made with spaghetti and marshmallows.

Time Required: 45 minutes. back...

Weather Lab (Grade 4)
Students study various aspects of weather such as temperature, wind speed, and clouds, and begin to recognize the role these aspects play in weather systems. Students construct and test weather instruments for temperature and wind speed and record their findings on a worksheet.

Time Required: 45 Minutes. back...

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10:00 to 4:00

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