My module began with 3 pre-lecture questions to jump-start the lesson. They were 1) name 2 elements and, 2) name one woman who’s helped the progress of chemistry.
The students and their families discussed the questions among themselves and wrote answers on their note-cards. I explained that by the end of my lesson they would have an answer to all of the questions and could look back on their original answers to see what they learned.
After this, I began the lecture portion of my module. I began by asking what they already knew about chemistry. Generally, I build off of whatever the students answer but this group was a little shy so I skipped over that part and ended up diving right into the discussion. I taught them about the importance of chemistry in the real world and we talked about what makes up an atom, inclusive of pictures of atomic structures, the periodic table and descriptions of neutrons, protons, and electrons. I went on to describe what it meant for an element’s atom to be radioactive.
We then went outside and played our own radioactive atom game!
In which everyone would run around the playground for an indeterminate amount of time and then I would yell out a number between 1 and 5. If it was 2-5 then everyone would have to get into groups of said number and those who could’ve find such numerical group would be “out”. If the number was 1 then everyone had to drop to the ground and the last person to drop down would be “out”. Those who were out represented the “excess” neutrons leaving as the atom becomes stable. I let those who got “out” pick the numbers from 1-5 and we played several rounds of this energizer before their atom was finally stabilized.
Then we went back inside and I talked about Marie Curie, detailing her life and accomplishments, and her impact on radioactivity, the periodic table, and chemistry/physics overall (as well as how she is the only person to have a Nobel Prize in both chemistry and physics)!
And then, we made our own radioactive ice cream. Everyone lined up as we gave them various ingredients to put in a bag such as milk and vanilla. Then we had everyone put their plastic baggies into a larger bag filled with salt and ice. We spent around 20 minutes shaking our bags.
Then everyone ate their ice cream! For some it turned out to be more like a milkshake while others were really solid. Equipped with chocolate sauce and sprinkles the students enjoyed their creations as I explained how the ingredients gave off energy into the ice, much like a radioactive atom giving off energy, and delved into the chemistry of both their ice cream and the atoms we’d been discussing!
In the end, no matter how the ice cream turned out, I believe the students and their families had a lot of fun! I had an awesome time watching the students learn, experiment, and better understand the power of chemistry.