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Pink diamonds

Colliding tectonic plates might make your diamond blush. Learn how differences in crystal structure give rise to distinctive physical differences, such as the rare pink diamonds of Western Australia. Answer questions about the value of skepticism in science and discuss how uncovering the history of our planet can give us a treasure-hunting lead.

Applying the ideal gas law

Summary: Students will review the ideal gas law and use a simulation to explain the assumptions made in a recent study about how climate change is impacting baseball. Learning Outcomes: Exploration of the cause and effect of manipulating conditions of a gas using a simulation, identifying relationships of variables using a mathematical equation and application of theoretical concepts to real-world examples.

How heat and home runs are connected

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “Baseball’s home run boom is due, in part, to climate change,” which explores how increases in temperatures boost home run numbers. A version of the article, “Climate change spikes baseball homers,” appears in the May 6, 2023 & May 20, 2023 print issue of Science News.

Building bread reveals physical and chemical changes

Many of the things people make — from concrete to bread — undergo physical and chemical changes during production. While making bread, students will learn more about the differences between chemical and physical changes and how the two are related.

Chemists Crack the Code to Ancient Roman Concrete

The ancient Romans built concrete structures that have stood for thousands of years. In this Guide, students will learn how scientists experimented to make Roman-style concrete — without causing explosions!

Concrete physical and chemical changes

Use a real-life example to give students a deeper understanding of physical and chemical changes and properties of substances.

Write a scientific question based in history

In this quick activity, students will write a scientific question to learn more about a historical artifact. Learning Outcomes: Asking scientific questions

Mix concrete like a Roman

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “These chemists cracked the code to long-lasting Roman concrete,” which explains the process scientists used to re-create the Romans’ superb building material. A version of the article, “Chemists Crack the Code to Ancient Roman Concrete,” appears in the February 11, 2023 issue of Science News.

Form fits function in extreme environments

From buildings to machines to household objects — and even in the natural world — the structure of something relates to its function. Sea urchin skeletons, for example, have a recurring geometric design called a Voronoi pattern that also shows up in honeycombs and dragonfly wings. The pattern probably strengthens the skeleton and could inspire the creation of strong, lightweight materials. In this activity, students will explore aspects of structure and function in everyday objects before applying the same concepts to the natural patterns found in sea urchin skeletons. Inspired by the sea urchin, students can use an engineering design process to brainstorm solutions to real-world problems.

Exploring materials

After reading a journalistic article about materials science and engineering over the last century, students will discuss and research why and how new materials are developed and how they transform society. Student groups will develop museum-style exhibits to communicate what they learned to the rest of the class.

Ice cream under the microscope

Students will analyze and write a caption for microscope images of crystals in an ice cream–like solution, discuss how molecules behave as ice cream freezes and thaws, and pose scientific questions about one of their favorite frozen desserts.

Chemistry of wildfire smoke

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “Wildfire smoke may ramp up toxic ozone production in cities,” which explores new research into the interactions between wildfire smoke and air pollution in cities. A version of the article, “Wildfires may boost urban ozone levels,” appears in the January 15, 2022 issue of Science News.