Mixtures are every where around us. We spend our waking lives in contact with them. Then we teach students how those mixtures are put together, what traits they share, what properties they have. We explain to them the separation techniques used to pull mixtures apart. Students write them down, but they don't internalize them. This lab aims to correct that. It forces them to use every day items: magnets, filter paper, sauce pan on a stove, to refine a mixture of materials. It gets them to start thinking about physical properties, and how they relate to separating mixtures. It helps establish the idea that science can happen at home just as much as it does at school.
My students find the activity frustrating, but when they figure it out, they enjoy it immensely. I always have positive feedback from parents about how their son or daughter turned into a scientist for a day, researching, planning, and experimenting in their kitchen to solve the problem I gave them. It is one of my favorite activities all year.
This is part of a series of lessons on the Mixtures and Properties from No More Boring Science.
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