In this hands-on activity, visitors explore the structure of seashells and learn that seashells are a composite material made of both inorganic and organic materials. Visitors compare the mechanical properties of plaster bricks and dried sheets of glue, which helps them discover that both toughness and hardness are important mechanical properties. To see what a shell would be like if it were not so tough, visitors try to break normal shells and shells that have been either baked or soaked in bleach.
Audience7 and up
Tagsshell, shells, seashells, nacre, hardness, toughness, strength, composite material, mechanical properties, ocean
K-4: Characteristics of organisms
5-8: Structure and function in living systems
9-12: Matter, energy, and organization in living systems
K-4: Properties of objects and materials
5-8: Properties and changes of properties in matter
9-12: Structure and properties of matter
Science as inquiry:
K-4: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
5-8: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
9-12: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
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