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Lessons

The Carbon Cycle

The carbon cycle is the biogeochemical cycle by which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere of Earth. Along with the nitrogen cycle and the water cycle, the carbon cycle comprises a sequence of events key to making Earth capable of sustaining life. In this lesson students will discover how carbon dioxide affects aquatic ecosystems.

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Chemistry's Rainbow

pH is a very important concept in chemistry. During this lesson, students learn about pH and how it affects us and the world around us. They will then use a universal indicator and concentrated acids and bases to create a rainbow of colored solutions. Before the solutions are discarded, the students will have to figure out how to neutralize each solution.

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CSI in a Wheat Field

Chemistry is everywhere, even in the soil beneath our feet. During this hands-on activity, students will learn about the importance of Earth's most valuable resource, soil, and its chemical properties. Students will then assume the role of a crime scene investigator and use a soil test kit to look at the chemical properties of various soil samples to determine if fictional suspects were at the scene of a crime.

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Corny Peanuts: An Introduction To Bioplastics

Plastics are everywhere. We use them in our houses, clothing, cars, etc. Plastics are polymers, which are large molecules consisting of many repeating subunits called monomers. The origin of most plastics used today is fossil fuel such as coal, natural gas and oil. These fossil fuels are nonrenewable resources that cannot be replaced in our lifetime once they have been used. Green, or bio-, plastics, are from a growing field of research that uses the starches (cellulose) in plants to produce a more environmentally friendly plastic. These “green” plastics are more biodegradable than petroleum-based ones and could be an alternative to the use of our limited fossil fuel resources. This could also reduce the amount of plastic in our society

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Digestion

The energy to keep our bodies functioning comes from the food we eat. This food provides us with nutrients our bodies then break down into smaller components for use as fuel and as building blocks to create other compounds needed for life functions. Nutrition is defined as the ingestion, digestion and absorption of nutrients from food. There are six classes of nutrients our bodies need: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water.

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DNA Bracelet

DNA is the blueprint for life and almost every living organism on Earth contains a unique sequence of nucleotide bases. During this lesson, students will learn about the basics of DNA sequences and base pairing by constructing a bracelet of DNA sequence from organisms including humans, chimpanzees, butterflies, carnivorous plants or flesh-eating bacteria.

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Egg Drop

Egg drop is a fun and dramatic way to involve students in agriculture safety, specifically ATV safety. Student-designed “helmets” cover and protect a “brain” (or an egg) subjected to an extreme test.

After a discussion of safety features, the student-designed packaging will be dropped from a considerable height (50-90 feet). The goal is to create a helmet that successfully protects your egg from … a tragic ending.

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Essential Enzymes

Living organisms produce biological chemicals which perform functions similar to chemical catalysts. These biological catalysts are proteins formed by specific sequences of amino acids, which fold and twist into unique shapes, corresponding to the shape of the molecules with which they react. These groups of biological catalysts are enzymes and are essential to the proper functioning of living organisms.

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Forces In Motion

One of the most basic scientific concepts is the interaction between forces and matter. Forces are observed around us in our everyday lives from the gravity keeping us on the ground to the wind blowing through the trees. There are only a five forces that are known to science. The first three — gravitational, electrical, and magnetic — are the forces that are most easily observed. The second two — nuclear and weak interaction forces — occur within the nucleus of an atom and are therefore, not observable to most people. While having a basic understanding of forces is important for your science grade, it is also important for your safety.

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Leaf ID

How are living things named and classified? During this exercise, students learn about how organisms are named and classified. They then learn about leaf anatomy and use a dichotomous key to identify unknown leaf samples.

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Let's Talk About the Weather

Agriculture is highly dependent on the weather. Ever since the first seed was sown, farmers have watched the sky and hoped for good weather. Many things we depend on to survive – the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the shelters we live in – are products of agriculture, and their production can be affected by the weather. Therefore, it is important to study, monitor and forecast the weather.

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Measuring Relative Humidity and Dew Point

The concepts of relative humidity and dew point are both part of the field of psychrometry, or the study of the principles of moisture in the air. The issue of moisture in the air affects all of us on a daily basis in the form of weather. Whether you live in an arid desert region or a lush tropical region, you experience the effects of dry air (atmospheric air comprised of nitrogen and oxygen) and water vapor in the form of humidity, rain, and frost.

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Molecules Matter! Photosynthesis

How do elements form compounds and what do these compounds look like? Students will learn about how elements bond to form compounds. They will also learn about the most important chemical reaction on Earth, photosynthesis, and will construct 3-D models of the compounds of photosynthesis using spice drops and toothpicks.

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Osmosis In Onion Cells

For living organisms to survive, nutrients, water, and waste must be able to move into and out of the cell. This process maintains homeostasis. The movement of materials into and out of the cell is regulated by the membranes that surround both the organelles within the cell and the outer plasma membrane. The simplest way molecules move is through diffusion, which is when substances move from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration. Diffusion does not require the expenditure of energy. Water also moves through membranes by diffusion in a process called osmosis. Water will move from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration.

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Plants Have Parents Too!

Biologists have known for a long time that heredity is associated with the nucleus of cells and in particular with the passing on of chromosomes. Plant breeders have taken advantage of this feature of heredity to help improve plants and create new varieties. The fact that even plants have parents means that one or more desired characteristics or traits from one plant can be crossed with desirable traits from another.

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Strawberry DNA Extraction

DNA is the blueprint for life. Almost every living thing on Earth contains DNA. In this experiment, students learn about DNA and extract it from a strawberry using common household chemicals.

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The Crayon Rock Cycle

Weathering and erosion of rock is a very important part of soil formation, one of Earth's most important geological processes. But, how are rocks formed? This lesson teaches students about the rock cycle by using crayons to model the formation of each of the different types of rock: sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous.

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There's Sugar in Grass

In this lab you will be investigating the sugar content of plant materials. Scientists and others (like you!) can use light to estimate the amount of sugars in a plant with tool called a refractometer. A refractometer measures how much light bends, or refracts, as it passes through a liquid. This angle is then used to estimate the sugar concentration in the plant, fruit or vegetable. Refractometers are used by agriculturalists, winemakers, fruit and vegetable buyers, food processers, beekeepers and many more. The refractometer uses a unit called a Brix value or score. This is one of the quantitative (numeric data) values used to determine if a plant product (fruit, vegetable, grass) meets the standard for harvesting.

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