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Colorado Jr Scientists League

University of Colorado, STOMP Program


Below are the educational activities that we designed as well as resources that we used and drew from for teaching the four-day CU Junior Science League Camp. The first three days focused on students developing a particulate model of matter and the fourth day featured a field trip to CU to meet CU scientists and see their labs.

You can access day-by-day activity outlines and worksheets or the complete camp outline and all the worksheets below. Click on the links below for worksheets, instructor notes, outlines, resources, key vocabulary, suggested modifications, etc. Please note that all documents are in pdf format.

Jump to the activities for the following:

Day 1: Is it a solid, liquid or gas?

Day 2: Properties of gas and phase changes

Day 3: Using Stop Action Movie as an assessment tool

Day 4: Field Trip to CU-Boulder

Entire Camp


Educational Activities

Day 1 Outline: Is it a solid, liquid or gas?

Key vocabulary

We focused on using key vocabulary to introduce and reinforce science concepts.

Click here for the Day One Key Vocabulary and definitions.

Introduction and "wow" demo

Activity 1: Nature of Science Survey

We used a subset of modified questions taken from the CLASS and EBAPS surveys to present to the students.

Click here for the survey and our analysis.

Activity 2: Describe solids, liquids and gasses

Individuals each draw two pictures of different states of matter one 'life size' and one 'zoomed in'. This was used as one form of content pre/post-assessment. Then the students brainstorm and share ideas in groups using large white boards to present to the class.

Click here for the pre-assessment and the data and analysis.

Activity 3: Mystery Matter

Students categorize different materials inside balloons as solid, liquid or gas. Group members have defined roles (recorder, equipment manager, skeptic, spokesperson). The balloons will be numbered so that balloons with the same number have the same unknown substance in it for each group. The materials range from familiar objects that should not present much of a challenge for students to unfamiliar or ambiguous materials that will likely be difficult for the students to categorize. This activity led the student groups to come up with defining characteristics for each state which will be discussed as a class.

Click here for the group worksheet and click here for a sheet for the entire class' reported results.

Activity 4: Student Molecules

Students investigate the particle nature of matter by being a molecule in “student matter” in which the students act out various states of matter.

Click here for the student molecules movie and more details of this activity.

Activity 5: What State of Matter is Oobleck?

Through experimentation with Oobleck (amixture of cornstarch and water) the students come up with a list of ‘tests’ or experiments that you could perform on a substance to determine its state.

Click here for the worksheet and the recipe for Oobleck.


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Day 2 Outline : Properties of gas and phase changes

Key vocabulary

We focused on using key vocabulary to introduce and reinforce science concepts.

Click here for the Day Two Key Vocabulary and definitions.

Class reflection and review

Activity 1: PhET Simulation

Students use their understanding of states of matter to form a microscopic picture of temperature with respect to gases. PhET simulations explicitly model the particle nature of matter. Additionally, we used this activity to gauge the students' comfort level with technology.

Click here for the worksheet and click here to link to the PhET website where you can download free educational software.

Activity 2: Imploding Pop Can Demo

This activity is useful to introduce the idea that the same amount of stuff in a gaseous state takes up much more space than in liquid state. It can also be a good activity for introducing the concept of pressure.

Click here for more details about the demo.

Activity 3: Heavy Air

This activity enables the students to have a hands on experience that enables them to see that air, a gas, is made up of matter and therefore weighs something.

Click here for the worksheet.

Activity 4: Liquid Nitrogen Demo

This demo is a good activity for introducing phase change.

Click here for more details about the demo in the outline.

Activity 5: Introduction to SAM

The educators demonstrated using the SAM software by creating a story board of the Student Molecules activity and then capturing a reenactment of that activity on SAM according to the story board. The students then brainstormed all of the activities that we had done together from the two previous days. This list would serve as a starting point for choosing their group’s movie topic on the following day.

Click here for more details in the outline and for more information about the software visit the SAM website.


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Day 3 Outline: Using Stop Action Movies as an assessment tool

Class reflection and review

To begin the day, we asked the student to brainstorm the big ideas of the camp. In this discussion, we were interested in the students focusing on identifying the main concepts the activities related to and coming up with a list of slightly more abstracted ideas based on their brainstorming of activities the day before.

Activity 1: "Powers of Ten" video

We used this video because we realized from glancing at the preassessments that the students were unclear how much we wanted them to "zoom" in. We used it as a tool to help the students visualize zooming in and for developing a sense of scale.

Additionally, here is a website that has a good representation of the powers of 10.

Activity 2: Using SAM (Stop Action Movie Making)

See the student worksheet for more details about the SAM activity and the SAM website for more information about the software.

Activity 3: Time to story board

Activity 4: Production of the movie

Student Movies (opens in Quick Time)

The Sanchez Class Using SAM

Imploding Pop Can

Solid, Liquid and Gas

Student Molecules

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Day 4 Outline: Field trip to CU-Boulder

Students arrive at CU-Boulder at 10:30am

Gave a post-assessment (the same as the pre-assessment given on Day 1).

Introduced JILA, the rules for the day, how to act in the Labs and Machine shop.

JILA Lab Tour / Machine Shop Tour

One class went to Labs to tour and the other to the Machine Shop for 15 minutes tours. Then, the classes switched and took the other tour. The Machine Shop tour centered around the glass blowing technologies.

Lunch at 12:30pm

(After lunch we made the 'world's fastest ice cream' using liquid nitrogen)

Gave students the Nature of Science Survey for post-assessment

Student Presentations of Movies in JILA Auditorium

Each group will introduce themselves, talk about the movie they made and then we will show their movie with the Auditorium projector.

Physics Wizard show presented by Physics Professor Mike Dubson

Click on the following link for more information about future CU Wizard shows.

Students leave CU at 3:00pm

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Here is a comprehensive outline for the entire summer camp and all the worksheets:



Stop Action Movie Making SAM

From the SAM website: "SAM is software designed to give students the power of making stop-action animations to share their ideas and understanding. The environment provides an alternative expressive medium to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education that allows students to match their learning styles to the way the present and communicate ideas. SAM is very much a project in development and thus feedback, discussion, and ideas are welcome. To contact the Tufts Center for Engineering Educational Outreach (CEEO) about SAM, please email Brian Gravel at or call 617-627-2681."


Physics Education Technology Group: PhET Physics Simulations

We used the following simulation...

Gas Properties Simulation: Pump gas molecules to a box and see what happens as you change the volume, add or remove heat, change gravity, and more. Measure the temperature and pressure, and discover how the properties of the gas vary in relation to each other.

For many more physics simulations please see their website.

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2006 CU@Boulder PER@C For information contact C.Turpen or N. Finkelstein