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Making Scientific Tools: Activity for Elementary Students

written by: Kathy Foust•edited by: Beth Taylor•updated: 2/8/2013

Scientific tools don't have to be expensive to be impressive. This activity involves students making elementary science tools from every day objects found laying around the house or classroom.

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    Elementary Science Tools

    Go over the list below with your students to introduce them to these basic tools of science.

    • Magnifying Glass
    • Ruler
    • Measuring cup
    • Scales

    Discuss what each tool does before moving on.

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    Making the Tools

    After discussing the tools of science with your students, ask them if they have ever had to substitute one thing for another. For instance, when they are playing at sword fights, they don't actually have real swords, but instead use sticks or something else to satisfy the needs of the moment. Or perhaps they have used a stick to dig a hole when they don't have a shovel. There are many ways to modify items to use them as tools. In fact, that's what technology is actually about. Students are going to learn first hand how to modify objects to make them useful. Follow the instructions below to help your students in making elementary science tools.

    Magnifying Glass

    You will need an empty jar with a lid and some water. Fill the jar to the top with water so that there is no air in the jar. Place the lid tightly on the jar. Turn the jar on its side to use it as a magnifying glass.


    Items can be measured by comparison. Make a small scale by hooking two styrofoam cups to a stick or ruler by attaching one cup to either end. This is easily done by running a string through holes in the cups and tying the string to the ruler. Place the ruler evenly across the spine of a book so that the cups hang in balance. To measure things, place objects that are premeasured in the cup on one end and place the object to be weighed in the other cup. The cups will move and show which object weighs more.

    Measuring Cup

    Any clear object that holds liquid can be a measuring cup. Simply take an empty clear container and pour in premeasured amounts in the container. Then, mark the amounts on the side of the container using a magic marker or a strip of paper taped to the side that can be written on.

    Ask students making elementary science tools for more ideas on how thy can make their own tools.What are some things they use as tools at home that were not originally designed to be tools? Use your tools in your future science experiments.