Looking at Glass for National Science Week 13 – 21 August

  • Published on August 5, 2022

International Year of Glass and National Science Week

The theme for National Science Week, which runs from 13 – 21 August this year, is Glass: more than meets the eye.

The theme supports the UN International Year of Glass and links to the Chemical sciences curriculum looking at materials, their properties, uses and the ways they can be changed as well as technology and sustainability.

Glass was chosen for an International Year to celebrate its essential role in society.

The National Science Week website has a lot of information for schools, including a free downloadable book of resources produced by the Australian Science Teachers Association. The book contains First Nations activities with links to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures Cross-curriculum priority, and has five different activities for Foundation to Year 2 classrooms:

  • Sugar glass decorations
  • Explore with a magnifying glass
  • Turn a window into a mirror
  • Make a kaleidoscope
  • Glass at home

These activities bring fun and meaning to the science curriculum and encourage children to ask their own questions for further investigations.

You can even put in your postcodes to discover what events are being held near you.

Properties and uses of glass

There is a great video about glass available on YouTube at this link: https://youtu.be/A6ZEaWvlz6k?t=255

Although the video may be too long and at too high a level to show our F – 2 children, it is useful for reminding ourselves of the many amazing properties and uses of glass. There are speeches at the beginning and end of the video which you may wish to listen to. However, I have set the link to begin where the information about glass begins (about 4.15). The information ends at about 22 minutes.

Twelve facts about glass

  1. Glass is made of sand, soda ash and limestone.
  2. Glass is the most recyclable material. It is 100% recyclable and can be recycled to infinity times. Each time it is recycled, the cost of production is reduced, and the quantity of virgin material required is also reduced.
  3. Glass is the safest material for use in packaging food as it is natural and chemical-free.
  4. The story of glass dates back to 2500 BC and begins in Mesopotamia (now Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey and Syria).
  5. Glass helps us see back in time when used in telescopes like the Hubble and James Webb.
  6. Glass helps us see up close when used in binoculars, microscopes, magnifying glasses and eye glasses. (I even had a teacher once, who had an eye made from glass. We never knew where she was looking.)
  7. Fulgurites, or lightning glass, is formed when lightning strikes the sand. (There are some samples of fulgurites formed on Fraser Island at the Queensland Museum.)
  8. Some types of glassware can’t be recycled because they contain other materials that can’t be reused. These include microwave turntables, ovenware, crystal glass, mirrors and light bulbs. (Check your local council for details about disposal of these items.)
  9. Glass takes thousands of years to decompose naturally.
  10. Recycled broken or waste glass used in glass-making is called ‘cullet’.
  11. Recycling a glass jar saves enough energy to light a bulb for four hours.
  12. Glass is the name of a material. It is also the name of a drinking vessel, but not all glasses for drinking are made of glass.

Twelve lesson/activities ideas involving glass

  1. Read stories that feature glass or glass items.

I struggled a bit to think of some, but an internet search always helps.

I’ve chosen Cinderella and her glass slipper.

Language and Literature: Read the story aloud to children. Have them retell it, act it out or make props to put on a play.

Critical thinking: What would be the author’s purpose in giving Cinderella a glass shoe?

Science: What are shoes usually made from? Is a glass shoe practical? Why or why not?

There is also Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl.

  1. Made of glass.

Science: Look around the classroom or explore the school grounds to observe the types of items made of glass. Why was glass chosen for these items? What other materials could be used?

Think of items at home that are made of glass? Why was glass chosen for these items? What other materials could be used?

  1. Stained glass windows.

Art: Glue pieces of different coloured cellophane onto a clear sheet of firm plastic. (I used to use Overhead Transparencies. I’m not sure what might be available now.) Attach to the windows. (glass!) Check out the Stained glass butterfly activity.

use cellophane to make this beautiful stained glass butterfly for window decorations

  1. Imagine life without glass — without:
  • lightbulbs
  • phones
  • computers
  • the internet (glass fibres) …
  1. Vocabulary building. List words that can be used to describe glass; for example, tough, smooth, transparent, breakable, clear, coloured, reflecting.
  2. List similes and metaphors that could describe glass or be likened to glass e.g. as smooth as glass, as clear as glass, as fragile as glass, as sharp as broken glass.
  3. Discuss terms like: the glass ceiling; the glass is half-full or half-empty, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, rose-tinted glasses.
  4. Discuss the types of products that are purchased in jars and why glass is used.
  5. Ask children to bring in an empty jar from home to decorate with glass paints, make into a snow dome or a plant pot.
  6. Ask children to bring in a jar of food (unopened) from home to donate to Oz Harvest or other local charity.
  7. Play tunes on musical glasses. You need eight glasses or jars, exactly the same. Fill each with a different amount of water. Play tunes on them.
  8. Discuss messages in bottles that appear on beaches in stories (as well as real life). If you were on a desert island, what message would you write?

I hope you have a lot of fun finding out about glass during National Science Week.

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Post written on Yuggera and Turrbal Country


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