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The Physical Science Toolbox

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 1/5/2012

What's in your physical science toolbox? Students need to have the appropriate tools so that they can perform the required measurements in physical science. Use this lesson plan to teach them about these tools and the progress they have made.

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    The Tools

    Physical science is the study of non-living things in, and including, the universe. There are a variety of tools that are useful in this science. The better the tool, the more accurate the measurement. Measurements are vital to physical science. Begin this lesson plan by providing the students with the information you have just read. Ask them to list the tools used in physical science, then provide them with the list below as some of the tools used in physical science.

    • Yard stick or tape measure.
    • Calipers
    • Scale
    • Telescope
    • Calculator
    • Stop Watch
    • Measuring Cup
    • Thermometer (wet bulb and dry)

    Explain to students how each tool can be used in physical science. Let the students have a comparison of the tools and discuss how the tools are alike and different. Which ones use numbers? Which ones are containers? Does size affect its usage? Have the students discover their own comparisons and answer any questions they have about the tools, then move on to the activity listed below.

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    History of Tools

    It's important that your students realize that these tools were not always available and that the projects that these tools are used for are only as accurate as the tools themselves. In this section, your students will research different types of tools used in physical science and learn not only about their history, but about their current uses and the strides made in developing them.

    Ask your students to pick a tool from the list above and include any tools that you use which were not included in this list. Ask students to write a report on the tool and include the following information.

    • What were the first versions of this tool?
    • How is this tool used?
    • What are the current versions of this tool?
    • How accurate were the previous versions of this tool compared to today?
    • Who were the first people to use this tool?
    • How could the current version of this tool be improved upon?
    • Before this tool was created, how were the measurements taken?

    Ask students to consider ancient races such as the Mayans. Their calender was actually more accurate than ours, but how is this possible when they did not have access to the tools used in physical science that we have today? It's a mystery that has yet to be solved. Schedule class time for the students to give presentations about their findings.