This summer as I was trying to find a good answer to a particular science question, I found a lesson plan that really did a great job answering the given question and giving a hands on activity that illustrated the concept well. Then I realized the lesson plan was part of an entire set of Atmospheric Science lesson plans from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research designed for middle school teachers. The more of the plans and activities I read through the more I thought – “These will be great to use with the boys! ” There are lots of suggestions for hands on activities that will appeal to a variety of learning styles.
Today we started out with the boys telling me what they already knew about the atmosphere. Then we read through about the first half of the Intro to the Atmosphere lesson. After that we were ready to start with one of the suggested hands on activities.
What could be better for the first day of school than counting M&Ms?
First we counted out 78 Blue M&Ms to represent the amount of nitrogen in Earth’s atmosphere. Then 21 green M&Ms to represent oxygen and 1 brown piece to represent Argon. There is a fleck of red in there somewhere to represent the 0.03% carbon dioxide.
Next we used the same color system to represent the make up of the atmospheres of Venus and Mars.
In addition to the planned topics, we had some great discussions about the contribution of plants to our environment, the water cycle, and ozone. Then it was time for the best part:
Eating some of the M&Ms!