End of the Year Science Lesson Ideas

You’ve made it. We are nearing the end of the school year. State testing is (finally) over and you have the time and flexibility in your teaching schedule to try some “out of the box” end of the year science activities. Personally, I always find this time of year to be exceptionally fun with my middle school students. One of my primary goals in the last month(s) before summer vacation is to leave my students with an experience of science class they will remember and enjoy. If you’re looking for a fun way to wrap up this past year with your students, here are some great end of the year science lesson ideas you’ll want to try!

SCIENCE UNITS FOR THE END OF THE YEAR

Depending on when your school actually finishes testing, you may have quite a bit of time left on your hands. There truly isn’t a better time to lead your groups of students through and in-depth exploration of science topics they might not otherwise have the chance to dig into. I’m talking about that science concept you’ve always wanted to teach, but it doesn’t show up on your grade level next generation science standards and state assessments.

Choosing a fun science unit for the end of the school year is not only an easy way to fill some of that free time leftover in the last days of school, it’s also a great way to build students’ interest in science! These end of the year science lesson ideas can be stretched to fill multiple weeks if you need it. Here are three of my go-to units for some end of the year science fun!

Astronomy

Astronomy is one of my favorite units to teach! There’s just something about the mysteries of outer space that captivate the minds of my so many students. Not only can you cover basic concepts, such as celestial bodies, gravity and orbits, stars, etc. it’s also the perfect opportunity to bring in some history! There are so many interesting historical figures and stories related to space exploration. You may even talk about a joint project with your grade level social studies teacher. If time and resources allow, this time of the year is also a great chance to incorporate a field trip to a local observatory.

I’ve put together resources for a full astronomy unit. Here are various materials and a few of my favorite activities from my astronomy unit. Check it out:

Engineering

The end of the school year is the perfect time to give students the chance to put their STEM hats on and try something new! In my engineering unit, students are not only introduced to the engineering process, but given a window into the wide variety of applications of this process and career possibilities available. In this unit, students will get hands on experience by executing the engineering design process. They will identify problems, brainstorm solutions, and determine tradeoffs and constraints. I teach engineering through a combination of hands-on activities (such as the spaghetti or foil tower stem challenge), direct instruction, and practical application activities.

Check out these engineering resources:

Forensics

If you want your students to have a great time in science class, start a crime scene investigation! There’s something about a good forensics lesson that keeps middle schoolers excited and engaged. Personally, I’ve used the forensic resources created by Science Spot and my students have loved these lessons time and time again.

Unit activities include:

  • Fingerprinting challenges
  • Investigating impression evidence
  • The basics of blood evidence
  • An introduction into chromatography

Depending on how much time you have available, you can pick and choose from this incredible free resource.

Inquiry

Let’s talk inquiry! When cultivating the minds of young scientists, it’s important to teach them how to think in creative ways. Essentially, it’s not enough for our students to be able to rattle off the steps in the scientific method, they must be able to put these steps into actionable practice!

Welcome to the science fair!

Conducting a middle school science fair is a perfect way to check for student comprehension while also reinforcing the key parts of the scientific method! This great activity is broken into four distinct parts that can be completed in about three weeks.

Part 1: Plan

Students will determine the question they will investigate and write a hypothesis. They will plan procedures and required materials as well as identifying independent variables, dependent variables, control group, and constants. Students will also predict possible sources of bias and experimental error.

Part 2: Execute

Students will complete their investigation. They will collect data and observations.

Part 3: Conclusions

Students will determine an answer to their question and defend their claim in a CER style response. They will also reflect on ways their experimental procedure could be improved.

Part 4: Report

Students are given the option (or you can choose one for them) to either write a lab report or create a visual display that details all the parts of their investigation. Samples of each are included along with a rubric.

MORE FUN SCIENCE ACTIVITIES

So maybe you aren’t looking for a multi-week unit to fill your time. Perhaps what YOU need are end of the year lesson ideas that can be completed in just a few days, or possibly, a single class period. I’ve got you covered! These end of the year science activities are sure to be a good time for both you and your students!

Paper Roller Coasters

One of my favorite stem activities, building paper roller coasters is a great way for students to apply their knowledge of potential and kinetic energy. For this activity, I recommend having students work in partners or in small groups of three to four students. Their task will be to create a roller coaster in which a marble is able to travel from beginning to end without stopping or falling off the tracks.

Supplies you will need:

  • Heavy duty paper (think cardstock or possibly construction paper)
  • Tape and/or staples
  • Marbles

Pizza Box Ovens

For this fun project, students will be tasked with harnessing solar energy to cook a delicious s’more! (Is your mouth watering yet?!) These solar ovens can be created using:

  • A pizza box
  • Aluminum foil
  • Black paper
  • Plastic wrap

Of course, the other important factor in a successful solar oven is the outdoor temperature. In order to cook s’mores, you’ll need sunlight and a fairly warm outside temperature (75 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.) For this reason, pizza box ovens are the perfect activity to add some excitement to the last week(s) of school.

Tetrahedral Kites

A tetrahedral kite is a kite that takes the shape of a 3D pyramid. Students can build their own tetrahedral kites using a few basic household materials. These include:

  • Tissue paper
  • Plastic straws
  • String
  • Tape or glue

After students have had the chance to build their kites, I recommend taking them outside for testing!

Scientist Wanted Posters

Want a quick and easy lesson idea for the last days of school? Look no further! For this activity, students will research a famous scientist and created a “WANTED” poster for their scientist. This fun activity is great for the art lovers in your room and can be done in partnerships or completed independently. Once the posters have been created, I recommend conducting a gallery walk or having students orally present their posters to the class.

Science Movie Day

Alright, let’s be honest…all of us need at least one good movie day at the end of the school year! When this day inevitably comes for you…I’ve got you covered! I’ve put together a list of high-quality, science-themed movies for your classroom movie day! Check it out!

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