Young Scientists Club

The Young Scientists Club is a science enrichment program for children in grades 1-6 held at Carmel Creek elementary. During the monthly club meetings, students and their parents participate in hands-on interactive activities that demonstrate key scientific concepts. The club is run by Ms. Tiffany Farnsworth (STREAM teacher at Carmel Creek) and Dr. Elena Koslover (physics professor at UCSD), with the aid of graduate students and postdocs from the UCSD physics department. It is funded as an outreach activity through a grant from the National Science Foundation.


For the 2020-2021 school year, the Young Scientist Club will be held virtually, over Zoom. Everyone is invited (there is no wait list). If you are interested please fill out the form below to sign up for our mailing list:
Sign-up form available here


If you are a Carmel Creek / Solana Pacific parent or a UCSD student or scientist and would like to help organize, create, or run the YSC activities, please contact Lena Koslover.

Worksheets for prior and upcoming activities can be found below.

Activity Worksheets

Forces and Flight

Taking Off with Paper Airplanes

Students explore the forces produced by moving air that help an airplane fly. They will experience drag and lift forces directly by moving objects through water and will discover Bernoulli's principle by directing air flows. They will then make their own paper airplanes and explain how different control flaps affect the behavior of the plane.


Activity dates: 5/14/2021


Note: This activity is being run virtually in 2021. You will need to provide your own supplies.

pdf worksheet
pdf discussion slides
Required equipment:



Titration

Color-changing Acids and Bases

Students will measure the pH of different house-hold substances using a home-made red cabbage indicator. THey will then carry out a titration to compare two acids with similar pH. Predictions of relative acidity will be tested by measuring the total gas produced in an acid-base reaction and collected with a balloon.


Activity dates: 4/16/2021


Note: This activity is being run virtually in 2021. You will need to provide your own supplies.

pdf worksheet
Required equipment:



Reflection and Refraction

Making Images with Light Beams

Students will visualize light beams by shining laser pointers through juice. Light beams will reflect of straight and curved surfaces, demonstrating convergence and divergence. Refraction will be explored by tracking the path of the beam at the air / juice interface, and observing the effect of a converging lens. Students will also get a first-hand look at images formed by curved mirrors and lenses.


Activity dates: 3/12/2021


Note: This activity is being run virtually in 2021. You will need to provide your own supplies.

pdf worksheet
Required equipment:



Center of Mass

The Amazing Floating Butterfly

Students will discover how the center of mass serves as the "balance point" of an object. They will measure the center of mass of a cut-out butterfly and learn how to shift that center so that the butterfly can be balanced on its extreme tip. They will also explore how placing the center of mass underneath the support allows an object to be in stable equilibrium.


Activity dates: 2/12/2021


Note: This activity is being run virtually in 2021. You will need to provide your own supplies.

pdf worksheet
Required equipment:



Camouflage and Natural Selection

Evolution of the Skittlefish

Students will simulate how visual predation on an animal species can provide evolutionary pressure that leads to adaptations such as camouflage and mimicry. Skittles of different colors will be used to explore natural selection, demonstrating how traits in a population can change over time without any individual animal changing its characteristics.


Activity dates: 1/6/2021


Note: This activity is being run virtually in 2021. You will need to provide your own supplies.

pdf worksheet
Required equipment:



Standing Waves and Sound

Visualizing string vibrations and sound

Students will investigate traveling waves by sending pulses through a stretched slinky, and try making standing wave patterns by shaking the slinky with the right harmonic frequencies. They will then have a chance to "see" sound by singing into a resonating cavity and watching how the resulting air vibrations make sugar grains dance. Finally, we'll make our own rubber-band guitars to translate string vibrations into sound.


Activity dates: 12/9/2020, 12/7/2018


Note: This activity is being run virtually in 2020. You will need to provide your own supplies.

pdf worksheet
Required equipment:



Diffusion and Mixing

How do particles inside our cells move and mix?

Students will explore the concept of diffusion, both by watching the spreading of a drop of color and by simulating a randomly moving particle. We'll discover just how slow diffusion can be over long distances. We'll also observe the effect of material properties on diffusion, the difficulty of mixing viscoelastic materials, and the way active chemical reactions can aid in mixing. Living cells rely on all these mechanisms -- diffusion, forced mixing, and active chemical churning to spread molecules throughout the cell.


Activity dates: 11/18/2020


Note: This activity is being run virtually. You will need to provide your own supplies.

pdf worksheet
Required equipment:



Buoyancy

What determines whether an object floats or sinks?

Students will test common hypotheses for what properties determine whether different objects float (is it size? weight?) and learn about concepts of density and buoyancy. In Part 1, we explore why Legos float while playdoh sinks. In Part 2, we compare the density of eggs, water, and oil.


Activity dates: 10/15/2020


Note: This activity is being run virtually. You will need to provide your own supplies.

pdf worksheet
Required equipment:



Newton's Laws

Understanding forces and inertia with balloon rockets.

Students create balloon rockets that zip across the room. We discuss how jet propulsion works, and explore the effect of mass on how quickly the balloons move. A pendulum is used to see the effect of inertia as the balloon rockets speed up and slow down.


Activity dates: 6/4/2020


Note: This activity is being run virtually. You will need to provide your own supplies.

pdf worksheet
Required equipment:



Solar System

Modeling Planets

Students put together scale models of the solar system, to explorethe distances between the planets and their relative size. We discuss why scale models are useful and what sort of information they can convey. Students will develop an intuitive sense of size for the planets and the vastness of interstellar distances.


Activity dates: 5/21/2020


Note: This activity is being run virtually. You will need to provide your own supplies.

pdf worksheet
Required equipment:



Gravity and Projectiles

Time and Range for Projectile Motion.

Students explore what factors affect how long it takes an object to fall and how far it flies while falling. A sound recording app is used to precisely measure times of flight. We learn that gravity makes heavier and lighter objects fall vertically at the same rate, regardless of how far they move horizontally.


Activity dates: 5/7/2020


Note: This activity is being run virtually. You will need to provide your own supplies.

pdf worksheet
Required equipment:



Surface Tension

Exploring the effect of surfactants on surface tension.

Students observe how surface tension can hold a large drop of water together and how the effects of surface tension are reduced by the addition of soap. They also experiment "popping" the surface layer of water: making currents by forming a sufrace tension gradient. These currents are used to make tie-dye patterns in milk.


Activity dates: 4/23/2020


Note: This activity is being run virtually. You will need to provide your own supplies.

pdf worksheet
Required equipment:



Fluids

Investigating properties of fluids.

Students will see how to change whether an object sinks or floats (density), what sets the speed of squirting water (pressure), and the changes in pressure that arise with fast air flow (Bernoulli effect).


Activity by: Michelle Chen

Activity dates: 4/16/2020


Note: This activity is being run virtually. You will need to provide your own supplies.

pdf worksheet
Required equipment:



Viruses

Modeling virus spread

Students make a model of a virus and its lytic lifecycle, as well as simulating the spread of infectious diseases.


Activity by: Natalie Nady

Activity dates: 4/2/2020


Note: This activity is being run virtually. You will need to provide your own supplies.

pdf worksheet
Required equipment:



Pendulums

What sets the regular ticking of a pendulum?

Students make pendulums and explore which variables affect their swinging frequency. They also observe resonance in action with coupled pendulums.


Activity dates: 3/26/2020


Note: This activity is being run virtually. You will need to provide your own supplies.

pdf worksheet     docx worksheet
Required equipment:


Polymers of Life: Protein and DNA

Exploring material and chemical properties of proteins from an egg and DNA from strawberries

Students learn about the physical properties of polymer solutions (viscoelastic fluids). We examine the consistency of egg whites (a dense protein solution) and how it changes when proteins are cut up by pineapple juice or unfolded by alcohol. Students then extract DNA from a strawberry using alcohol precipitation and examine its similar "slime-like" consistency.


Activity dates: 2/27/2020



Diffraction Spectra

Making Dot Patterns and Rainbows with Diffraction Glasses

Students use a diffraction grating (diffraction glasses) to bend laser beams and make diffraction patterns, noticing how different color laser beams make slightly different patterns. They then use the glasses to look at several sources of white light, noting the varying spectrum of colors in each. The discrete spectrum of a fluorescent light is noticeably different than the continuous rainbows formed by incandescent bulbs or candles.


Activity dates: 2/27/2020



Refraction and Lenses

Bending light with lenses cut from jello

Students use red jello to bend laser pointer beams via refraction. Convex and concave lenses are cut from the jello to see how beams focus or splay apart, with discussion of the optical properties of human eyes. Students also use jello strips as "fiberoptic cables" to bounce laser beams around a corner.


Activity dates: 11/19/2019, 12/17/2019



Acids and Bases

Blowing up balloons with chemical reactions

Students use pH strips to measure the pH of solutions with different concentrations of citric acid. They add the solutions to baking soda, generating carbon dioxide gas which is collected in a balloon. The extent to which the balloon inflates depends on the initial pH of the solution. Measuring pH afterwards shows whether or not all the baking soda was used up during the reaction.


Activity dates: 11/19/2019, 12/17/2019



Complex Fluids

Exploring viscoelastic materials with oobleck

Students create a viscoelastic substance ("oobleck") out of cornstarch and water. They then explore how viscous (water), elastic (sponge), and viscoelastic (oobleck) materials respond to fast and slow forces and how paints mix in the different substances.


Activity dates: 5/2018, 3/2019




Several of the above activities were modified from those developed as part of the LabSci project at Stanford University.