Classroom Presentations

 class demo

Lincoln Laboratory scientists and engineers are available to give free presentations in local K-12 classrooms. Presentations and hands-on lab activities are available in general subject areas, and precise areas of study such as archaeology, engineering, chemistry, biology, math, Earth science, and physics. Most presentations can be adapted to different lengths and different grade levels. More topic descriptions will become available.

To arrange for a classroom presentation, please contact Chimaka Porter at Classrooms@ll.mit.edu.


classroom science show"How to Do a Science Project" demonstrates a variety of experiments.

General Topics

How to Do a Science Project

We explain the steps involved in doing a good science project, from choosing an interesting topic through conducting experiments to presenting the project with a display board and written paper. We also give several examples of projects to illustrate each step in the process. This presentation can be given to individual classrooms or large assemblies to motivate and introduce students to science fair projects several months before the school’s science fair. Our presenters speak from experience, having won extensive science fair awards when they were students and having spent many years judging science fairs at all levels since then. This presentation can be adapted to elementary, middle, and high schools.

Teacher Workshops

In addition to giving classroom presentations to students, we also run free workshops for teachers.  We can customize a workshop for any number of teachers, any grade level, and any topic or range of topics.  During the workshops, we offer suggestions for presentations, demonstrations, student lab activities, books, and equipment suppliers.

How to Become a Scientist
Women in Science and Engineering
Mad Science Show


Archaeology

Reading Ancient Egyptian Inscriptions

We present a brief introduction to archaeology and ancient Egypt, give students a list of common Egyptian hieroglyphs, and show the students how to use that information to translate common inscriptions. We then allow the students to spend most of the period translating ancient inscriptions for themselves, with supervision and help as needed. Finally, we allow students to examine and handle artifacts from various ancient civilizations around the world. Students should learn enough to be able to read common inscriptions on Egyptian artifacts in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. This presentation works well for upper elementary, middle school, and high school students.

Archaeology DemoThe "Archaeology" demonstrations bring real artifacts into the classrooms and prepare students for local museum visits.
Reading Ancient Mesopotamian Inscriptions

We present a brief introduction to archaeology and ancient Mesopotamia, give students a list of common Sumerian cuneiform symbols, and show the students how to use that information to translate common inscriptions. We then allow the students to spend most of the period translating ancient inscriptions for themselves, with supervision and help as needed. Finally, we allow students to examine and handle artifacts from various ancient civilizations around the world. Students should learn enough to be able to read common inscriptions on Sumerian artifacts in the Harvard Semitic Museum. This presentation works well for upper elementary, middle school, and high school students.

Reading Ancient Maya Inscriptions

We present a brief introduction to archaeology and the ancient Maya civilization, give students a list of common Maya glyphs, and show the students how to use that information to translate common inscriptions. We then allow the students to spend most of the period translating ancient inscriptions for themselves, with supervision and help as needed. Finally, we allow students to examine and handle artifacts from various ancient civilizations around the world. Students should learn enough to be able to read common inscriptions on Maya artifacts in the Harvard Peabody Museum. This presentation works well for upper elementary, middle school, and high school students.


Electrical Engineering

Demo for Electricity and Magnetism"Electricity and Magnetism" shows all ages that science can have surprising results.

Electricity and Magnetism

We present a brief introduction to electric circuits and magnetism, then allow students to spend most of the period working in small groups with supervision and help as needed. Students connect batteries to one or two light bulbs, run an electric motor, make an electromagnet, and test attraction and repulsion between various types of magnets. This presentation supports the MCAS Science Frameworks requirements for electricity and magnetism in elementary schools but can also be adapted for middle school students.

How Computers Work

How do computers use binary numbers? What are AND and OR gates? Why do computers have built-in clocks to time each step the computer makes?  This presentation uses lots of volunteers to demonstrate how computers work, and it works best for elementary and middle school students.

Robots

You've seen robots in movies, but what can real robots do? What kinds of robots can you buy now? How can you build your own robot? We have a variety of hands-on activities and demonstrations that can be tailored to elementary, middle, or high school students. This presentation supports the MCAS Science Frameworks requirements for technology and engineering.

How Radios Work
Digital Communications
Artificial Intelligence



science demoThe GPS seminar explains how GPS tracks a student running around the school.

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Rockets and Satellites

How do rockets work? How about airplanes? How can you build and launch your own rockets safely?  Why do satellites stay in orbit?  This presentation includes a variety of fun demonstrations and works well for elementary, middle, and high school students.  The presentation supports the MCAS Science Frameworks requirements for physics, technology, and engineering, and optional math can be included to tie it in with algebra and trigonometry if requested.

How GPS Knows Where You Are

We present a simple model of how GPS functions, along with illustrations of GPS hardware and performance results.  Following the brief talk, we can give students an outside demonstration of two GPS receivers,  one simple and one sophisticated. An underlying theme of the presentation is that careers in engineering can be intellectually interesting and challenging. This presentation works best for 11th and 12th graders but can also be given to 9th and 10th graders.

Engineering Activities and Competitions

Students can learn engineering concepts by carrying out any of several different projects during a class period. Students can learn about tension and compression by building gumdrop towers with structural integrity. The concepts of flight, lift, gravity, thrust, and drag are tested by designing different types of paper airplanes and measuring their flight distance. The relationship between buoyancy and displacement are proven by various designs of aluminum foil boats filled with strategically-placed pennies and styrofoam. With 25 straws and 1.5 feet of masking tape, students can practice building cantilever bridges applying the principles of torque and center of mass. This presentation supports the MCAS Science Frameworks requirements for technology and engineering and works well for elementary and middle school students.

Fluids and Aerodynamics
Radio-Controlled Airplanes


Chemistry

Liquid Nitrogen Show

What is cold? What is the coldest temperature possible? What happens to various objects and gases when they get very cold? In this presentation, students can see a liquid nitrogen cannon, watch frozen pennies shatter, and volunteer to help with other demonstrations.  This presentation works best for middle and high school students.

Slime and Flubber

How do you make sticky green slime? Would you like to mix up some flubber to make bouncing balls? Polymers are more than just plastics—they are formed naturally within the earth. They are also "grown" by living things like plants and people. We can synthesize some of them in laboratories, form others in furnaces, and even grow slimy ones in the back of refrigerators (Yuck!). Ever seen a non-Newtonian fluid in action? This presentation shows all of the strange things that plastics and polymers can do.  It is suitable for elementary, middle, and high school students.

Nuclear Chemistry

This presentation covers the structure of atomic nuclei, types of radioactive decay, and fission and fusion reactions.  It also covers applications of nuclear physics, ranging from smoke detectors and radioactive dating to X-ray machines and nuclear reactors.  This presentation supports the MCAS Science Frameworks requirements for nuclear chemistry for high schools.

Everyday Chemistry
Chemistry of the Elements
Chemistry Magic Show


Biology

Fossils

science demo K-12The "Fossils" presentation brings a variety of samples directly to the classroom.

We present a brief introduction to geological eras and types of fossils, then allow students to spend most of the period working in small groups to identify a variety of real fossils, with supervision and help as needed. This presentation may be combined with some of the material from the evolution presentation if the school would like and the class period is long enough. This presentation supports the MCAS Science Frameworks requirements for fossils and works well for elementary, middle school, and high school students.

Evolution

We present a brief introduction to the evolutionary family tree and transitional fossils, then allow the students to work in groups to examine and compare replica skulls and tools from several different fossil hominids. We then use what the students have found to discuss hominid evolution in more detail, and conclude with developmental and genetic evidence for evolution. This presentation supports the MCAS Science Frameworks requirements for evolution and works well for middle school and high school students.

Demo for Electricity and MagnetismStudents are amazed at the results when they test chlorophyll in the "Biotechnology" demonstration.

Biotechnology

This presentation guides students through hands-on activities that demonstrate major biotechnology techniques using common household supplies. Techniques include DNA extraction from onions, assays for glucose from lactase-treated milk, the effects of antibiotics on yogurt bacteria, chromatography of chlorophyll from leaves, etc. The specific activities can be tailored to suit the academic needs and class periods at different schools. If the school has enough microscopes, we can do additional activities. We discuss how versions of these methods are used in actual biotechnology research labs. This presentation supports the MCAS Science Frameworks requirements for biology and works best for upper elementary, middle school, and high school students.

Forensics DemoIn "Forensic Science," real tests are done just like on a popular television show.

Forensic Science

This presentation covers forensic laboratory techniques, with hands-on activities for the students to make and categorize fingerprints, dust surfaces for latent fingerprints, extract DNA (from an onion), and match printouts of DNA profiles with those from "suspects."  The students can also examine various fabric and hair samples under the microscope if the school has enough microscopes. We discuss how similar techniques are used in real forensic science laboratories.

 

 





Math

MathBusters!

MathBusters is a demonstration of mathematical concepts in the style of the TV show Myth Busters. MathBusters introduces topics such as logic, number theory, geometry, topology, sequences, and probability, and is designed to be both appealing and accessible to younger audiences. The presentation is audio/visual using PowerPoint slides, and relies on audience participation to solve the "math myths." Afterwards, students will be able to continue their explorations of these topics, either in the classroom or at home, by downloading the free software tools presented during the show, Logo, QGoo and Yafe. This presentation works best for upper elementary and middle school students.

Calculus Made Easy
Powers of 10 (from subatomic particles to the universe)


science outreachIn the "Identifying Rocks and Minerals" presentation, students learn a new skill and put it to immediate use.

Earth Science and Astronomy

Identifying Rocks and Minerals

We present a brief introduction to rocks and minerals, give students a handout depicting common rocks and minerals, and then allow the students to spend most of the period working in small groups to identify specimens with supervision and help as needed. Students learn to identify 15 rocks (covering igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) and 15 minerals (rock-forming, major sources of metals, and major sources of non-metals), with supervision and help as needed. We wrap up by discussing what the students have found and demonstrating particularly interesting specimens such as fluorescent rocks and rocks that float in water. This presentation supports the MCAS Science Frameworks requirements for rocks and minerals in elementary schools but can also be adapted for middle school students.

black holes class demoThe "Black Holes and Wormholes" slideshow is a basic explanation introducing relativity.

Black Holes and Wormholes

We give a nonmathematical introduction to special and general relativity using PowerPoint slides and video clips. This presentation is best for high school students.

Weather Forecasting DemoThe "Weather and Forecasting" presentation is as entertaining as it is informative.

 

Weather and Forecasting

Can you make lightning? How do tornadoes form? What causes fog? How does air pressure affect weather, and how can you measure it? We give demonstrations of these and other effects. This presentation supports the MCAS Science Frameworks requirements for weather in elementary schools but can also be adapted for middle school students.

From the Big Bang to Now

This presentation covers the history of the universe, over 13 billion years, within one class period, using PowerPoint slides with diagrams and video clips. The presentation discusses the Big Bang, expansion of the universe, formation of elements, galaxy formation, and the origin of the sun, earth, and rest of the solar system. This talk supports the MCAS Science Frameworks requirements for the origin and evolution of the universe for high schools, but it can also be adapted for middle schools.

Solar System

What space probes have visited the planets and other objects in our solar system, and what have we learned?  How do rocks on the moon and Mars compare to those found on earth?  How much damage can a meteorite do when it hits the earth?  Would you like to hold a real meteorite—something that has drifted through space for millions of years—in your hand?  Our tour of the solar system uses PowerPoint slides, DVD clips, demonstrations, and hands-on activities, and it can be adapted to elementary, middle, and high schools.

Earth's Interior and Plate Tectonics
Global Warming
Water and Soil Testing
Astronomy and Telescopes
Terraforming for Tots


Forms of Energy DemoThe "Forms of Energy" demonstration offers many types of hands-on activities for students.

Physics

Forms of Energy

In this guided, hands-on lab activity, students test radiometers, drinking bird toys, windup toys, electric circuits, balloons, and other simple items to explore the different forms of energy and how one form of energy can be converted into another form. This presentation supports the MCAS Science Frameworks requirements for forms of energy in elementary and middle schools.

Heat and Thermodynamics

What is heat? How is it measured? How is it transferred from one object to another? How can it be used to run an engine? How can you keep heat out of your house during the summer and keep heat in during the winter? This presentation supports the MCAS Science Frameworks requirements for heat energy and heat transfer in middle schools and technology and engineering in high schools.

Sound Waves and Acoustics

What are sound waves? How does sound travel? Is there sound in space? Why do different musical notes or different musical instruments sound the way they do? Can a laser "record" sound? Find out how human vocal chords work and use our software to transform your voice to male, female, child, or adult! This presentation supports the MCAS Science Frameworks requirements for sound and waves and can be adapted for elementary, middle, or high school students.

Optics and Lasers

How can you bend light? What are lasers good for? Why is the sky blue? What are fiber optics? What can a Slinky teach you about polarization? This presentation demonstrates the properties of optics, lasers, and light. It supports the MCAS Science Frameworks requirements for light and electromagnetic radiation and can be adapted for elementary, middle, or high school students.

Newton's Laws
Simple Machines
Gyroscopes
Infrared Imaging
Quantum Physics
Antimatter

 

Electricity and Magnetism Demo

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