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THE BLACK BOX

Using Scientific Method

The total box dimensions are about 15"wide by 15"deep by 24"high with 3" legs. It is made with a 3/4" plywood. There is a door hinged with two hinges and some kind of clasp, hook or lock keeps the door closed and the innards away from the sight of the students. The door makes one side of the box. In the center top is a 4" funnel with a hose/pvc pipe that bends at a 45 degree angle after it enters the box. This funnel can be turned while you pour the water in it and the students never notice that you are turning the bottom tube to one of four hidden funnels below.

These hidden funnels are held in place with a 1/4" plywood, each funnel evenly spaced . This plywood sheet is about 8" from the top.

  1. One funnel goes straight down, with tigon tubing which empties into a beaker (Cool whip dish). When the water goes into it, nothing comes out of the box. (Unless you pour more water than the dish can hold.)

  2. Another funnel goes straight down though tigon tubing which exits out the front/bottom of the box. You can put Koolaid in a paper towel and put this in the funnel, and water poured into the top funnel comes out purple or red after going through the hidden funnel.

  3. The next two funnels are connected using a T shape PVC pipe. I leave one funnel plain (no Koolaid), and in the other funnel I load another flavor of Koolaid. The PVC pipe is connected to tubing and the end of this tube exits out the back/ bottom of the box.

  4. Funnels have a little notch in the side and the hole that the top funnel goes through needs little notches so you can feel the place the funnel is without looking inside or giving much effort to what direction it is facing.

Now, never, ever, let the students see inside. You pour the water in many times turning the top funnel. The students observe, make a hypothesis, perhaps include a drawing and turn in their work. Pour water through many times, but remember the capacity of your Cool Whip dish. You can make the water disappear, turn purple or red, or come out clear. Expect frustration and pleas to tell them how it works. You can relate their frustration with all of the work of scientists trying to figure things out by observations. You can make comments, or give them to other students to comment why their idea doesn't work. I have my students test their hypothesis at least twice.

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Good luck and have fun.
Reva Beth Russell
Lehi High School
180 N. 500 E.
Lehi, Utah 84043


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