While Labor Day marks the unofficial start of fall, the first official day of fall is on September 22. Ahead of the first day of autumn, we found three fall equinox experiments perfect for the middle school classroom.
The Balancing Egg
The art of balancing an egg on a hard surface is a popular fall equinox experiment. It’s also easy and inexpensive to do with your class! All you need is a raw egg and some salt.
First, try to balance the egg on a hard surface. Because the sun appears directly overhead at the equator, making the length of night and day nearly equal worldwide, the egg may just balance! If not, make a small mound of salt and balance the egg on it. Gently blow away the salt and you should achieve a standing egg!
Learn more about this experiment at National Geographic Kids.
To demonstrate how latitude and the sun’s angle affect the length of shadows, go outside! Have students partner up to measure and record each other’s shadows. On or around the same day at the same time each month, repeat the experiment, at least through the winter solstice.
Have students use their findings to create a graph that explains how their shadow length changes over time as the sun moves around the earth.
Learn more about shadow measures at Envision Experience.
What better time of year than fall to teach students why leaves change colors? This photosynthesis experiment does require some prep time (about 48-hours) to de-starch plants, so make sure to plan ahead on this one.
To begin the experiment, place the de-starched plans in a windowsill for 24-hours. Then, have students remove leaves and trace them onto a piece of paper, showing the pattern of white and green patches that has appeared. Test the leaf for starch using iodine, then draw the leaf again, this time showing the pattern of starch-containing cells. Compare the two drawings.
For more detailed instructions, and for additional experiments on photosynthesis, visit the Nuffield Foundation’s website.
Do you have a great science experiment your students love? We want to hear about it! Email us at email@example.com.