Classroom Activities and Demonstrations

Intermediate level

Welcome educators!

Click the topics below to find hands-on activities for your classroom that relate to Windows to the Universe content. Some of the activities in this section were developed by our team of content developers and expert teachers. Others are ones that we use and recommend.

Windows to the Universe Educator Members - login to get access to free copies of PDF versions of activity descriptions, worksheets, assessments, and associated powerpoints.

Non-members can purchase PDFs and powerpoints (click on "purchase" in the right hand column). Alternatively, you can get access to these resources for only $20/yr (a $230 value) by joining as an Educator Member today!

Free html versions of activities and worksheets are available for most activities - links to these are available in the table below, in the left hand column.

These activities are appropriate (or could be easily adapted) for middle school (i.e. grades 6-9). The Science Standards addressed are on each activity page.


Find activities about...

Science and Literacy

Our Solar System

Atmosphere and Weather

Geology

Geography

Climate and Global Change

Water

Life

Sun and Spaceweather

Physics and Chemistry

Science and Literacy

Title of activity Brief description Bookmark (Members only) PDF/PPT (Educator Members Only) Purchase PDF/PPT (Non Educator Members)
Snapshot ExerciseA great activity to use on field trips or class outings - have students write a "snapshot" of their experience. PDF
Sensory Detail Word Bank
Sensory Observation Sheet
Purchase
The Scientist ProjectStudents research a given scientist and then present interviews to the class. PDF
Worksheet
Suggested Assessment
Purchase
Using Current Event Articles in the Science Classroom Various ideas for using current event articles in your classroom. PDF Purchase
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Our Solar System

Title of activity Brief description Bookmark (Members only) PDF/PPT (Educator Members Only) Purchase PDF/PPT (Non Educator Members)
A Solar System Coloring BookA ready-to-use coloring book applet! PDF Purchase
Clay PlanetsUsing clay models to learn about the solar system  
Great Planetary DebateStudents research a given body in the solar system and then defend their planet or moon in a Great Debate! PDF
Worksheet
Suggested Assessment
Purchase
I don't know my solar system. . .please ex-planet! An activity that leads students in researching a given planet or moon of the solar system PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Lunar LollipopsLearn the phases of the Moon!  
Terrabagga ActivityUse a homemade magnetometer instrument to learn about planetary magnetic fields. PDF
Worksheet
Instructions for Students:
Purchase
The MagnetometerBuild your own magnetometer, use this to learn about planetary magnetic fields. PDF Purchase
Windows to the Universe Scavenger Hunt Questions that have students explore the Space Missions, Solar System and Sun section of the Windows to the Universe site  
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Atmosphere and Weather

Title of activity Brief description Bookmark (Members only) PDF/PPT (Educator Members Only) Purchase PDF/PPT (Non Educator Members)
Combining Clouds and Art in the ClassroomAn interdisciplinary lesson plan combining landscape painting and cloud identification PDF
Powerpoint Presentation
 
Create a Cloud in a BottleStudents learn how clouds form by making a model cloud form in a bottle. PDF Purchase
Create a TornadoCreate a tornado in a bottle!  
Create Your Own FogAn activity on making fog  
Create Your Own Lightning An activity on making lightning  
Create Your Own Thermometer An activity on making a thermometer starting with a straw  
Feeling the HeatStudents explore the urban heat island effect by collecting and interpreting data. PDF
Data Collection Worksheet
Los Angeles Data Cards
Powerpoint presentation
Purchase
Hurricanes and ClimateStudents investigate maps and data to learn about the connections between hurricanes and climate. PDF
Hurricane Map
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 2
Map of Hurricanes
Sea Surface Temperatures
Purchase
Introduction to Ozone Reading ActivityAn article to read with an accompanying worksheet for students PDF
Worksheet
Answer Key
Purchase
Latent Heat and CloudsA hands-on exploration of latent heat and its relation to clouds  
Let's Make OxygenShow the presence of oxygen and how to burn steel. PDF
Beginner Worksheet
Intermediate Worksheet
Purchase
Make it Rain! A rain activity  
Our Poetic Planet An interdisciplinary lesson plan combining observations of clouds and weather with writing poetry PDF
Powerpoint presentation
Purchase
Reading Graphs with a Logarithmic Scale Read logarithmic graphs of atmospheric gases PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Shadows...Shadows and their relationship to the time of day/season  
Temperature and the Earth's AtmosphereInterpret graphs to learn how temperature varies through the atmosphere PDF
Worksheet
Layers of Earth's Atmosphere
Purchase
The NCAR Cloud Viewer Print and use to identify cloud types (760K PDF)  
Three Clouds ActivityOne demonstration and two hands-on activities - all about clouds!  
Thunder and LightningA simple activity  
Using the Very, Very Simple Climate Model in the ClassroomThrough a simple online model, students learn about the relationship between average global temperature and carbon dioxide emissions.
Selected by CLEAN!
PDF Purchase
Watch the Sky A great activity to get your students thinking about what they see in the sky  
Weather and Careers Exercise A lesson that looks at how weather affects different jobs  
Weather Crossword PuzzleA reading and puzzle exercise available at three levels  
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Geology

Title of activity Brief description Bookmark (Members only) PDF/PPT (Educator Members Only) Purchase PDF/PPT (Non Educator Members)
Changing Planet: Permafrost Gas LeakStudents investigate permafrost borehole data to learn about recent changes in the permafrost and correlate them to the changing concentrations in atmospheric methane. PDF
Worksheet
Data Sheet
Purchase
Dante's Peak Movie ReviewHave students watch and then write a movie review for this popular movie. PDF
Worksheet
Assessment Rubric
Purchase
Layers of RockCreate and investigate a model of sedimentary layers. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Let's Take a Rock Apart! A hands-on exploration of the minerals that make up a rock.
Worksheet
Teacher Key
Purchase
Magnetometer Extensions ActivityUse your homemade magnetometer to learn about sea floor spreading and finding ore deposits. PDF
Worksheet for Seafloor Spreading Model
Worksheet for Ore Deposit Model
Purchase
Making Sedimentary Rocks! Students make a model of sedimentary rock layers to understand how rocks form layers and represent ancient environments. PDF Purchase
Model a Moving GlacierStudents make a model of glacier motion and then experiment with it. PDF Purchase
Pangaea PuzzleA fun activity that explains plate tectonics  
Roger the RockWriting and artwork exercise where students create a children's book to show the rock cycle PDF
Worksheet
Assessment
Purchase
Shake, Rattle and Roll An easy way to show how surface area affects weathering  
Snack Tectonics Students create a tasty model that illustrates plate tectonic motions. PDF Purchase
Take a Stab!Model-building activity that will help students visualize what lies below a surface PDF Purchase
Tetrahedron ModelStudents build a tetrahedron model using simple materials. Activity focuses on silica tetrahedron. PDF Purchase
The MagnetometerBuild your own magnetometer, use this to learn about planetary magnetic fields. PDF Purchase
Thirsty Rocks Investigate porosity and permeability using sandstone. PDF Purchase
Who's on First? A Relative Dating Activity From the Learning from the Fossil Record Module  
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Geography

Title of activity Brief description Bookmark (Members only) PDF/PPT (Educator Members Only) Purchase PDF/PPT (Non Educator Members)
Changing Planet: Sea Levels RisingStudents review topographic maps and use that knowledge to explore the impact sea level rise will have on coastal communities. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Cookie MappingIn this yummy activity, students make a geologic map of a chocolate chip cookie! PDF
Grid
Purchase
Geographic Regions and Backyard Geology with the USGS Tapestry MapStudents investigate maps in class or online! PDF
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 2
Purchase
Introduction to Maps This quick lesson exposes students to a variety of types of maps. PDF Purchase
Mapping Ancient Coastlines Explore bathymetric contour lines and sea level change! PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Mapping Potato Island Students make a contour map of a potato! PDF Purchase
Mapping Your Classroom Students construct a map of the desk locations. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
The Land Plan Challenge Students plan towns and learn how planning affects the environment and the larger community. PDF
Activity and Worksheet
Template 1
Template 2
Template 3
Purchase
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Climate and Global Change

Title of activity Brief description Bookmark (Members only) PDF/PPT (Educator Members Only) Purchase PDF/PPT (Non Educator Members)
Blooming ThermometersA graphing activity that allows students to discover how the timing of blooming has changed as climate changed  
Carbon Dioxide - Sources and Sinks Find out about sources and sinks of carbon in the environment.
Selected by CLEAN!
PDF Purchase
Changing Planet: Adaptation of Species (Birds and Butterflies)Students investigate how shape and structure of bird beaks affects the type of food that birds are able to eat, and view how global climate change is affecting many species of animals. PDF
Worksheet
Class Summary
Powerpoint Presentation
Purchase
Changing Planet: Bark Beetle OutbreaksStudents learn about the role of the mountain bark beetle in a forest ecosystem along with how and why beetle infestation has grown to be an epidemic. They use research, play a game, and analyze maps in this multi-step lesson. PDF
Worksheet
Game
Beetle Spread Maps
Powerpoint presentation
Purchase
Changing Planet: Black Carbon - a Dusty Situation Students investigate the climate effects of increasing amounts of black carbon on the absorption of solar radiation on the Earth's surface. PDF
Worksheet
10 Percent Dot Paper
50 Percent Dot Paper
80 Percent Dot Paper
Purchase
Changing Planet: Changing Mosquito GenesStudents investigate the topics of evolutionary adaptation and phenotypic plasticity to understand how species respond to the impacts of global climate change. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: Disappearing LizardsStudents review the nature of ecosystems and food webs and investigate the role of global warming on the extinction of lizards. PDF
Worksheet
Powerpoint presentation
Purchase
Changing Planet: Fading CoralsStudents learn about coral ecosystems and use online tools to understand the impacts that a warming ocean has on these ecosystems. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: Grapevines and Drought (Climate Change and Your Breakfast!)Students explore weather and climate data and correlate this to the production of maple syrup. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: Infectious DiseasesStudents will learn about how infectious diseases spread, and how climate change is affecting the impact of these diseases. PDF
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 2
Powerpoint presentation
Purchase
Changing Planet: Melting GlaciersStudents sort photographs of glaciers and measure glacial retreat to observe how alpine glaciers have retreated over the past century.
Classroom Activity Kit available!
Selected by CLEAN!
PDF
Worksheet
Photo Pairs
Purchase
Changing Planet: Ocean Acidification - The Chemistry is Less than Basic!Students use a pH indicator solution to detect the presence of carbon dioxide and changes in acidity, and to model ocean-atmosphere interactions. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: Permafrost Gas LeakStudents investigate permafrost borehole data to learn about recent changes in the permafrost and correlate them to the changing concentrations in atmospheric methane. PDF
Worksheet
Data Sheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: Rising Ocean Temperatures - Rising Sea LevelsStudents investigate how thermal expansion of water affects sea level PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: Sea Levels RisingStudents review topographic maps and use that knowledge to explore the impact sea level rise will have on coastal communities. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: Survival of TreesStudents investigate the role of gases in plant growth, and how proxy records, field work, and controlled experiments assist scientists in understanding Earth processes. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: The Case of the Leaky GyreStudents model circulation in ocean gyres, explore characteristics of ocean gyres found around the world, and predict the climate impacts of changes to the circulation in these gyres. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: The Warming of Our Large LakesStudents observe models of water stratification, then analyze and interpret temperature profile data from the Great Lakes. PDF
Worksheet
Temperature Profiles
Purchase
Changing Planet: Withering Plants - Stressing Over Lost WaterStudents learn about how plants exchange gases and materials with their environment, then extract leaf stomata and examine them under the microscope
Selected by CLEAN!
PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
CO2: How Much Do You Spew?Students analyze the energy consumption of a hypothetical household to determine the amount of carbon dioxide they are adding to the atmosphere each year. PDF
Worksheet and Scenarios
Purchase
Dark Skies: Volcanic Contributions to Climate Change Discover how volcanoes can alter the Earth's climate  
Feeling the HeatStudents explore the urban heat island effect by collecting and interpreting data. PDF
Data Collection Worksheet
Los Angeles Data Cards
Powerpoint presentation
Purchase
Glaciers: Then and NowStudents compare photographs of glaciers to observe how Alaskan glaciers have changed over the last century.
Selected by CLEAN!
PDF
Worksheet
Photo Pairs
Purchase
Graphing Sea Ice Extent in the Arctic and AntarcticCheck the pulse of the seasons, compare opposite hemispheres, and see whether long-term trends in ice cover are changing as global temperatures rise.
Selected by CLEAN!
PDF
Monthly Graphic Worksheet
Yearly Graphing Worksheet
Data Tables
Student Instructions
Purchase
Hurricanes and ClimateStudents investigate maps and data to learn about the connections between hurricanes and climate. PDF
Hurricane Map
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 2
Map of Hurricanes
Sea Surface Temperatures
Purchase
Irradiation ExperimentACCENT Climate Change Curriculum, also available in German and Italian  
Living During the Little Ice Age Discover how modest climatic cooling changed life for Europeans during the Little Ice Age  
Looking into Surface AlbedoStudents investigate how color affects heat absorption. PDF
Worksheet
Bhutan: Land and Glaciers
Sea Ice and Ocean
Greenland Land and Glacier
Purchase
Making Sedimentary Rocks! Students make a model of sedimentary rock layers to understand how rocks form layers and represent ancient environments. PDF Purchase
Mapping Ancient Coastlines Explore bathymetric contour lines and sea level change! PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Model a Moving GlacierStudents make a model of glacier motion and then experiment with it. PDF Purchase
Natural Records of Climate Change: Working With Indirect EvidenceStudents play a game to learn about indirect evidence, like those that record ancient climate changes.  
Ocean Circulation ExperimentACCENT Climate Change Curriculum, also available in German and Italian  
Paleoclimates and PollenConduct a classroom paleoclimate study! PDF
WA Teacher's Key
WA Student Guide
WA Study Conclusions
CO Teacher's Key
CO Student Guide
CO Study Conclusions
Purchase
Plugged in to CO2Students investigate various appliances and electronics, discovering how much energy each uses and how much carbon dioxide (CO2) is released to produce that energy.
Selected by CLEAN!
PDF
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 2
Fuel Mix Data Graphic
Purchase
Resources for Teaching about Biogeochemical CyclesA collection of resources for teaching about biogeochemical cycles including links to content, activities, podcasts, and scientist profiles.  
Solar Radiation ExperimentACCENT Climate Change Curriculum, also available in German and Italian.  
Sunspots and ClimateStudents investigate data to discover how Earth's climate is affected by changing quantities of sunspots.  
The Difference Between Weather and ClimateStudents graph weather and climate data to learn the difference  
The Land Plan Challenge Students plan towns and learn how planning affects the environment and the larger community. PDF
Activity and Worksheet
Template 1
Template 2
Template 3
Purchase
The Little Ice Age Students investigate multiple pieces of data to learn about the Little Ice Age  
Thermal Expansion and Sea Level RiseDiscover how thermal expansion of water might affect sea level! PDF Purchase
Trees: Recorders of Climate ChangeCollect and analyze tree ring data to discover when the Little Ice Age occurred.  
Using the Carbon Cycle Interactive Game in the Classroom Through an online game, students learn how carbon cycles through the Earth system PDF Purchase
Using the Very, Very Simple Climate Model in the ClassroomThrough a simple online model, students learn about the relationship between average global temperature and carbon dioxide emissions.
Selected by CLEAN!
PDF Purchase
Where Have All the Glaciers Gone?Compare "then and now" photographs to see how much glaciers have changed over the last century.  
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Water

Title of activity Brief description Bookmark (Members only) PDF/PPT (Educator Members Only) Purchase PDF/PPT (Non Educator Members)
Build a Model WatershedStudents construct a model land surface and use the model to explore basic concepts of watersheds. PDF Purchase
Changing Planet: Fading CoralsStudents learn about coral ecosystems and use online tools to understand the impacts that a warming ocean has on these ecosystems. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: Melting GlaciersStudents sort photographs of glaciers and measure glacial retreat to observe how alpine glaciers have retreated over the past century.
Classroom Activity Kit available!
Selected by CLEAN!
PDF
Worksheet
Photo Pairs
Purchase
Changing Planet: Ocean Acidification - The Chemistry is Less than Basic!Students use a pH indicator solution to detect the presence of carbon dioxide and changes in acidity, and to model ocean-atmosphere interactions. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: Rising Ocean Temperatures - Rising Sea LevelsStudents investigate how thermal expansion of water affects sea level PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: Sea Levels RisingStudents review topographic maps and use that knowledge to explore the impact sea level rise will have on coastal communities. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: The Case of the Leaky GyreStudents model circulation in ocean gyres, explore characteristics of ocean gyres found around the world, and predict the climate impacts of changes to the circulation in these gyres. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: The Warming of Our Large LakesStudents observe models of water stratification, then analyze and interpret temperature profile data from the Great Lakes. PDF
Worksheet
Temperature Profiles
Purchase
Exploring Density of Salt and Fresh Water: Par 5 A fun activity that involves the interaction between fresh water and salt water PDF Purchase
Graphing Sea Ice Extent in the Arctic and AntarcticCheck the pulse of the seasons, compare opposite hemispheres, and see whether long-term trends in ice cover are changing as global temperatures rise.
Selected by CLEAN!
PDF
Monthly Graphic Worksheet
Yearly Graphing Worksheet
Data Tables
Student Instructions
Purchase
Mapping Ancient Coastlines Explore bathymetric contour lines and sea level change! PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Ocean Circulation ExperimentACCENT Climate Change Curriculum, also available in German and Italian  
The Land Plan Challenge Students plan towns and learn how planning affects the environment and the larger community. PDF
Activity and Worksheet
Template 1
Template 2
Template 3
Purchase
Thermal Expansion and Sea Level RiseDiscover how thermal expansion of water might affect sea level! PDF Purchase
x

Life

Title of activity Brief description Bookmark (Members only) PDF/PPT (Educator Members Only) Purchase PDF/PPT (Non Educator Members)
Adaptation InvestigationInvestigate how shape and structure of beaks affects the type of food that birds are able to eat. PDF
Student Data Table
Class Summary
Powerpoint presentation
Purchase
Carbon Dioxide - Sources and Sinks Find out about sources and sinks of carbon in the environment.
Selected by CLEAN!
PDF Purchase
Changing Planet: Adaptation of Species (Birds and Butterflies)Students investigate how shape and structure of bird beaks affects the type of food that birds are able to eat, and view how global climate change is affecting many species of animals. PDF
Worksheet
Class Summary
Powerpoint Presentation
Purchase
Changing Planet: Bark Beetle OutbreaksStudents learn about the role of the mountain bark beetle in a forest ecosystem along with how and why beetle infestation has grown to be an epidemic. They use research, play a game, and analyze maps in this multi-step lesson. PDF
Worksheet
Game
Beetle Spread Maps
Powerpoint presentation
Purchase
Changing Planet: Changing Mosquito GenesStudents investigate the topics of evolutionary adaptation and phenotypic plasticity to understand how species respond to the impacts of global climate change. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: Disappearing LizardsStudents review the nature of ecosystems and food webs and investigate the role of global warming on the extinction of lizards. PDF
Worksheet
Powerpoint presentation
Purchase
Changing Planet: Fading CoralsStudents learn about coral ecosystems and use online tools to understand the impacts that a warming ocean has on these ecosystems. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: Grapevines and Drought (Climate Change and Your Breakfast!)Students explore weather and climate data and correlate this to the production of maple syrup. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: Infectious DiseasesStudents will learn about how infectious diseases spread, and how climate change is affecting the impact of these diseases. PDF
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 2
Powerpoint presentation
Purchase
Changing Planet: Survival of TreesStudents investigate the role of gases in plant growth, and how proxy records, field work, and controlled experiments assist scientists in understanding Earth processes. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Changing Planet: Withering Plants - Stressing Over Lost WaterStudents learn about how plants exchange gases and materials with their environment, then extract leaf stomata and examine them under the microscope
Selected by CLEAN!
PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Food Chain Checkers Model dynamics of a simple food chain PDF
Worksheet and Game Pieces
Gameboard
Purchase
Growing Penguins TimelineStudents make a timeline of Adelie penguin development PDF
Penguin Photos
Purchase
Polishing the PetoskeyStudents will wear away and then polish a Petoskey stone.  
The Evidence of Evolution Exploratour An in-depth examination of the science of evolution  
The Traveling Nitrogen GameBecome a nitrogen atom and travel through the cycle!
Classroom Activity Kit available!
PDF
Dice Codes and Reservoir Station Signs
Stamp Templates
Worksheet
Teacher Key
Purchase
Using the Carbon Cycle Interactive Game in the Classroom Through an online game, students learn how carbon cycles through the Earth system PDF Purchase
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Sun and Spaceweather

Title of activity Brief description Bookmark (Members only) PDF/PPT (Educator Members Only) Purchase PDF/PPT (Non Educator Members)
Exploring the Dynamic Nature of the SunCompare and contrast pictures of the Sun.  
Graphing Sunspot CyclesHelps your students determine sunspot number cycles and make predictions in the near future.  
Plotting Sunspot ActivityA comprehensive activity that will help your students understand sunspots  
Solar Concentration Game A great game to be played on the internet!  
Solar Radiation ExperimentACCENT Climate Change Curriculum, also available in German and Italian.  
Sun-Earth Flip BooksA fun, easy way to learn about the Sun.  
Sunspots and ClimateStudents investigate data to discover how Earth's climate is affected by changing quantities of sunspots.  
The Magnetic Sun A variation of our magnetometer extensions activity to explore the magnetic fields of sunspots  
Tracking an Active Sunspot RegionAn activity that will help your students understand how a single sunspot moves across the Sun  
Ulysses Solar Word Search Game A different game for each level! The words chosen are ones that have to do with the Ulysses solar mission.  
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Physics and Chemistry

Title of activity Brief description Bookmark (Members only) PDF/PPT (Educator Members Only) Purchase PDF/PPT (Non Educator Members)
Diving Raisins An activity dealing with density  
Exploring Density of Salt and Fresh Water: Par 5 A fun activity that involves the interaction between fresh water and salt water PDF Purchase
Floating Golf BallA demonstration dealing with density  
Frozen FilmA hands-on activity dealing with light interference  
Is Air a Fluid? Discover how gases can flow!  
Magnetic Levitation Learn basic concepts of magnetism and forces via magnetic levitation. PDF
Worksheet
Purchase
Printable Activity Page about Magnetism Includes a wordsearch, connect-the-dots and coloring activity.  
Spectral SurpriseA model that displays the rainbow colors of the spectrum  
Spectral Surprise ExtensionsIncludes an Electromagnetic Spectrum power point presentation and a student worksheet  
Tetrahedron ModelStudents build a tetrahedron model using simple materials. Activity focuses on silica tetrahedron. PDF Purchase
The MagnetometerBuild your own magnetometer, use this to learn about planetary magnetic fields. PDF Purchase
Weightlessness Demonstration Uses everyday materials!  
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