Dry Ice Investigations

Grades 68

Written by Jacqueline Barber, Kevin Beals, and Lincoln Bergman

Who isn't mesmerized (and mystified!) by the billowing "smoke" of dry ice?

This groundbreaking GEMS unit harnesses the vaporous, real-life properties of this substance to help students develop inquiry abilities that research shows are very difficult to teach. Students learn that science is about wondering why, asking questions, observing, coming up with possible explanations, and then designing investigations to test those explanations.

In a series of 11 sessions, students plan and conduct their own investigations into dry ice, while gaining age-appropriate knowledge of the particulate theory of matter, phase change, chemistry, and the history of science.

The dual goals of this book are to develop independent inquiry abilities and present strong scientific content. These objectives speak directly to the recommendations of leading science education reform efforts, such as the National Science Education Standards, New Standards Project, and Benchmarks for Science Literacy.

This book, the only one of its kind, thoroughly addresses perceived logistical problems in obtaining and storing dry ice. It helps teachers meet these challenges by providing complete lists of resources, storage suggestions, and necessary safety precautions—all thoroughly tested in classrooms across the country.

The GEMS guide Chemical Reactions makes a great companion unit to this book. For younger students, Involving Dissolving is an engaging and accessible introduction to some of the chemical properties addressed in Dry Ice Investigations.

Praise for Dry Ice Investigations:

"Dry Ice lives up to the high standards set by the other excellent guides developed by GEMS. … This is truly a standards-based guide that focuses on the processes of science and systematic observation and investigation. I found this guide to be among the most comprehensive and well-planned materials for teachers I have seen. The book provides an excellent introduction to the nature of science and guided inquiry sorely missing in the cookbook investigation books usually found on the market."

—National Science Teachers Association Recommends

"Dry ice has provided eerie special effects for a variety of visual media over the years. In this book, dry ice becomes the equally engaging focus for scientific investigation at the middle school level. … The activities are carefully written and sequenced and have been classroom tested and refined. … An additional strength of this teacher's guide is the wealth of supporting and supplemental information. Actual student journal entries, pictures, diagrams, and limericks enhance this guide and provide creative suggestions for the receptive teachers. Because of its scope, this book would make an excellent addition to a teacher's personal or professional library."

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ISBN: Grade Level Format Price


Grades 68

4 Activities,
212 pages


Lawrence Hall of Science    © 2004 UC Regents. All rights reserved.    Contact GEMS    Updated June 20, 2020