Creating Polymers

Creating polymers was simple and extremely entertaining.  I practiced the recipe (below) with my own kids before working with the 3rd graders in Brittney Royal’s class.  The reason for completing this recipe in class was to have the kids learn the importance of the procedure in the Scientific Method.  We put out the materials, posted the procedure on the web, and the groups were in charge of completing the experiment on their own.

Once the polymers were created a couple of questions were asked of the class:

  • Is your “Flubber” a solid? Why?
  • Is your “Flubber” a liquid?  Why?

These questions caused silence to fall over the class.  Because we created a polymer the students could see answers for both.  The looks on their faces (as they were moving their “Flubber” in their hands) were priceless.  Real critical thinking was taking place.  After class, the students were asked to research and define polymers and give two characteristics of their “Flubber” that led them to the conclusion that they had created a polymer.  They had to enter their answers onto our blog for this project.

Below are pictures from the project as well as the recipe we used.  The recipe produced enough for 5 students to go home with a handful of polymer.


  • Elmer’s Glue® (4 oz bottle of Elmer’s Glue-All)
  • Borax (a powdered soap found in the grocery store)
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Plastic cup (8 oz size works well)
  • Spoon
  • Measuring cup
  • Food coloring
  • Water
  • Clean up materials (paper towels, wet wipes, etc.)
  • Zipper-lock bag to store final product

Experiment 3- Procedure


1. This recipe is based on using a brand new 4 ounce bottle of Elmer’s Glue. Empty the entire bottle of glue into a plastic cup. Fill the empty bottle with warm water and shake (put the lid on first and then shake). Pour the glue-water mixture from the glue bottle into the cup and use the spoon to mix well.
2. Go ahead… add a drop or two of food coloring.
3. Measure 1/2 cup of warm water into the plastic bowl and add a teaspoon of Borax powder to the water. Stir the solution – don’t worry if all of the powder dissolves.
4. Carefully pour your glue and water solution into the plastic bowl. Be sure to watch the bowl as you are doing this. Once your entire cup has been emptied into the bowl, put your hands in the bowl and take some of the material out.  Be sure to leave enough for each of your group members.
5. Store the final product in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Do not leave the material on tables, floors, or clothing.  The food coloring that was used may leave a stain. Be sure to WASH YOUR HANDS!

Method27- Week 2

This is what learning is supposed to look like!

The third graders completed their first experiment during my time in Brittney Royal’s class last week.  The students completed a simple experiment that used the old school combination of vinegar and baking soda.  We followed the basic recipe found at However, we increased the amount of each ingredient to cause a larger and more dramatic reaction.

To make this simple experiment more “21st Century” we did the following:

  • The students worked with their teammates to record their hypothesis and conclusions using a GoogleDoc.
  • After the experiments were conducted the students had to use internet resources to research the reaction that they just witnessed.  The students had to enter their individual answers on to the Method27 blog.
  • The students were also challenged with an additional question.  The question would lead them to discover the teams endothermic and exothermic reactions.  Both of which are not covered in the current 3rd Grade curriculum.


The Scientific Method

Today was the beginning of a great extended project, Method27.  The entire project will be focused around matter.  At the conclusion of the project, it is our goal for the students to design experiments that will help others determine if they are dealing with solids, liquids, or gases.  I am working with Brittney Royal, 3rd Grade at Carver Elementary, over the next few weeks on building and modeling 21st Century Skills.  Throughout the lessons the students will be learning how to research, conduct experiments, design experiments, analyze data, and work collaboratively.

Review of Day 1 Activities:

  • Before visiting the classroom I built a website and a series of Google Docs that the students will use to enter the information they find during the research process.  While the groups were determined by the teacher, each group has a leader and the group determined the roles of each member.
  • The students met as a group to come up with a team name and record the members of the group on the GoogleDoc.
  • The students used their group’s GoogleDoc and a set of links 1 to compose the definitions of solids, liquids, and gases.  GoogleDocs allow multiple users to enter information on the same document at the same time.  Google Docs are great for online communication and collaboration.

Next week’s goals:

We will complete our first experiment next week.  We are going to work on making hypotheses and conclusions.  After the experiment is complete, the students will be researching the science behind what took place during the experiment.

  1. Links were given to them to help expedited the initial research period.

Angry Birds in 2012

Being that 2012 is a mudslinging election year, I am officially joining the campaign1 for Angry Birds to be on every device possible.  I know it is a game, but since when are games banned from classrooms, especially strategy games?2  Out of all of the apps and potential I have my devices, Angry Birds draws me in every time.  I am OK with this addiction. It is not just a game in which you hurl colorful birds towards cowardly and sometimes awkwardly dressed pigs.  In order to receive full credit for destroying the pigs dream of world domination, you have to do some serious thinking.  The popularity of Angry Birds will help teachers introduce different types of projects that will be used throughout the school year.  Here are some ideas for using Angry Birds in your classroom.

A level a day:

Classroom teachers, especially at the elementary level, have daily morning work assignments.  These assignments usually include a daily math or language arts problem. Why not include a screen shot of a level of Angry Birds?  Look it as a puzzle instead of a game.  The students could write the directions, or sketch, what they think would be the best order to complete the level with the highest score possible.  Because it usually takes more than one bird to complete a level, the students have to think a couple of steps ahead.  Teaching the students to think ahead is not just a skill that is needed to be successful at this game, but it is important skill to have in many academic areas and life.  If you have an interactive whiteboard, this would be great way for kids to display their ideas for a successful high score. There are more than enough levels to do one a day.

Language Arts:

I see a lot of potential for using Angry Birds in Language Arts.  I would love for there to be a Three Little Pigs: Pigs vs Birds.  Sure the Big Bad Wolf couldn’t blow the houses down, but the individual characteristics of each bird could certainly get the job done.

Since each of the birds has it’s own personality, biographies are another potential way to incorporate Angry Birds into writing.  Unleashing students to document the life stories of the birds would be an entertaining read.

The 4 Icon Challenge originated from the DS106 class offered at the University of Mary Washington.  The 4 Icon Challenges makes creators think about how they can summarize a story, book, movie, or in this case a game using just four icons.  This is a tough task for many students, but it can be practiced using stories that they are already familiar with like The Three Little Pigs or Angry Birds.

Art and Language Arts can go hand-in-hand with Minimalist Movie Posters, also a potential DS106 assignment. Minimalist Movie Posters make students streamline a summary from four icons to one overall theme.  This will challenge students to truly think critically about the what they read or watched in order for one clean poster to be created.  Because the posters are meant to be minimalist, great art skills aren’t required.  Again this idea can be used for topics (including historical events), stories, novels, and movies that are studied in your classroom.



There are many different ways to use Angry Birds in science.  There are topics, such as physics, that I have no business talking about that can integrate the use of Angry Birds.  The scientific method and the skills of data collection, data analysis, and experimentation can be practiced with the use of Angry Birds.  There are videos and links below that will take you to examples of the use of Angry Birds in science.

Angry Birds and Physics


Having just worked with 5th graders on mean, median, mode, and range, Angry Birds would be a great way to study these topics.  However, since the scores generated on certain levels can be quite high, a calculator or spreadsheet that uses formulas, may be a handy tool to have available.  Students could find the average number of points scored by each bird.  The mean, median, mode, and range of each class member’s attempt is another potential activity.  Older students could determine the speed that the birds reach during their flights.

While I know that the chances of seeing Angry Birds in every classroom across the country is low, the potential is there for a couple of educators to use it effectively in their classroom.  Just the mention of Angry Birds in a Kindergarten classroom generated cheers and excitement, why not sneak some learning in….

Additional Angry Birds ideas:

  1. This campaign is completely fictional and only exists in my head.
  2. When I had a classroom of my own, I had a class set of chess boards.

4 Icon Challenge

The 4 Icon Challenge is an assignment that was submitted to the Digital Story Telling course (ds106) offered through the University of Mary Washington.  DS106 is a unique class because you don’t have to be a UMW student to participate.  Anyone can join and create art for the class. 1  This would be a great way for a student to sum up a novel, film, or historical event.  The idea behind the 4 Icon Challenge is to create an images that represent the main ideas or events for the topic you have covered.  This type of challenge would work well in the “Creativity and Innovation” and “Critical Thinking and Problem Solving” sections of the TIP-Chart.  The example below is my 4 Icon Challenge that represents the book/film The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton.  I read the story in Middle School and observed a teacher using the book with her students during the Reflective Friends process.  I was glad to see that it was still being used. I used the drawing tools in Keynote to create my “icons”, but any drawing program, even crayons and markers, that you have available would work well.

  1. Interested in joining, check out