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Brett’s Birthday Slurp!


  • 3 Liquids for viscosity experiment:

    • Maple syrup

    • Corn Oil

    • Shampoo

*enough to fill one graduated cylinder

  • 3 Graduated cylinders

* leave on the white plastic discs that go around the graduated cylinders; they are to stop the graduated cylinders from shattering if they are knocked over

  • 3-6 Marbles

*extra incase you need to re-do a marble drop

  • 1 Stopwatch

  • Paper towels

  • Sink to dispose of liquids and wash graduated cylinders


  • Ensure that all liquids used in the experiment are disposed of down the sink.

  • Ensure that the demonstration area is thoroughly cleaned.

  • Ensure that the floor surrounding the demonstration area is thoroughly cleaned, as the liquids could be slippery.

  • Be sure to thoroughly clean the graduated cylinders for safe future use.

  • This story may pose an ethical issue, as not all children come from families of a socioeconomic background that can afford to throw birthday parties.


  • Teacher Resources:

    • Learning outcomes/experiment:

      • Manitoba Education and Training. (2000). Grades 5 to 8 Science: Manitoba Curriculum Framework of Outcomes. Winnipeg: Manitoba Education, Training and Youth.

      • Manitoba Education and Training. (1996). Grades 5 to 8 English Language Arts: Manitoba Curriculum Framework of Outcomes. Winnipeg: Manitoba Education, Training and Youth.

      • Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth. (2008). Kindergarten to Grade 8 Mathematics: Manitoba Curriculum Framework of Outcomes. Winnipeg: Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth.

    • Viscosity definition:

      • Manitoba Education and Training. (2000). Grade 5 to 8 Science: A Foundation for Implementation. Winnipeg: Manitoba Education, Training and Youth.


  • Manitoba Science Curriculum:

    • Grade 8, Cluster 3: Fluids

      • Specific Learning Outcomes:

        • 8-3-01: Use appropriate vocabulary related to their investigation of fluids.

          • Include: viscosity

        • 8-3-03: Explore and compare the viscosity of various liquids.

          • Example: time the fall of a steel ball through various liquids.

      • General Learning Outcomes:

        • C2  demonstrate appropriate scientific inquiry skills when seeking answers to questions.

        • D3  understand the properties and structures of matter as well as various common manifestations and applications of the actions and interactions of matter.
        • E1  describe and appreciate the similarity and diversity of forms, functions, and patterns within the natural and constructed world.

  • Manitoba Mathematics Curriculum:

    • Number Strand:

      • 8.N.4: Demonstrate an understanding of rate.

    • Estimation, Problem Solving, and Reasoning are also outcomes targeted by this lesson. Estimation, Problem Solving, and Reasoning are spiraled throughout the Mathematics Curriculum.

  • Manitoba English language Arts Curriculum:

    • General Outcome 1: Students will listen, speak, read, write, view, and represent to explore thoughts, ideas, feelings, and experiences:

      • 1.1 Discover and Explore:

        • Explore diverse ideas to develop predictions, opinions, conclusions, and understanding.

        • Integrate new understanding with previous viewpoints and interpretations.

      • 1.2 Clarify and Extend:

        • Articulate, represent, and explain personal viewpoints clearly.

        • Structure and restructure ideas and information in personally meaningful ways to clarify and extend understanding.

        • Reconsider initial understanding in light of new information.

The narrative approach to learning science is highly effective for many reasons. The most valuable reason is that it gives students a context for their learning.

As stated by Osborne and Wittrock (1983), “children develop ideas about their world, develop meanings for words used in science and develop strategies to obtain explanations for how and why things behave as they do, long before they are formally taught science”. As a teacher, before you start teaching science it is important to understand that children have preconceived perspectives and knowledge bases related to science. These views can be both uninformed and informed, but it is most vital to remember that they are durable and not easily changed.

Teaching science through methods of note taking and memorization of rote information and facts will not disrupt the preconceived perspectives and knowledge bases maintained by students. However, using models, activities, stories, games, technology, and visuals, will allow for deep, intrinsic learning and the disruption of their existing knowledge. Narratives are a great example of a way to engage students by adding context to their learning. For students to learn effectively and deeply they must be able to connect to their learning through a relatable context. Allowing students to envision or relate a scientific experiment or concept to their life or to an experience they have had, through a narrative story, will guarantee more overall and everlasting understanding.
“Brett’s Birthday Slurp” narrative deals with a soon to be thirteen year old boy, who is planning his birthday party at the Corn Maze. I decided to center the story on a boy who is the same age as the grade eight learners, to allow students to connect to him, or even picture themselves in his position. I decided to write about a birthday because birthdays are easily relatable to all students. It is likely that as students read through the narrative they are not only picturing Brett’s birthday, but are also remembering a past birthday of their own, or of a friend, or thinking ahead to an up coming birthday. I also decided to only include a mother in the story in order to be inclusive to families who may not have two parents and allow those students to connect to Brett and his family situation.
Teaching is not to just convey information, it is also to provide students with the best learning experiences possible and make an impact on their knowledge base. Narratives offer an opportunity to provide a great learning experience by engaging all learners and teaching science in a fun, yet highly educational way.

Brett’s Birthday Slurp!
Brett’s birthday was around the corner, he was going to be turning thirteen on October the 25th. Like most kids, Brett looked forward to his birthday every year. He had been counting down the days since summer holidays! This year he was especially excited, because his mom was allowing him to throw a party. She felt thirteen was a very important age, as Brett was going to be an official teenager.
A few weeks prior to Brett’s birthday his mom asked him what he would like to do for his party. Brett ran off to his room to give it some thought. Lately Brett and his friends all loved going to movies, but this was Brett’s special day, and he wanted to be able to talk and laugh with his friends.
During the summer Brett visited the Corn Maze with his mom and loved it. He saw other kids his age throwing parties, and they all looked like they were having so much fun. The maze was exciting and a challenge. Brett also thought it would be great to hang out around a bonfire with his friends after they finished the maze. He knew this idea was different and would be a hit!
Brett came running from his room and yelled for his mom. His mom gasped, “Whoa! Brett! You seem excited about something…you must have come up with an idea for your party!” Brett replied “I sure did! The Corn Maze!” Brett’s mom thought that it was a great idea. She also thought it was fantastic for the kids to spend time outside before the cold Winnipeg weather set in for the winter.
Since Brett was going to be thirteen, he really wanted to help out with some of the party planning. He asked his mom what he could do. She suggested that he could decide what kind of drink to serve when the kids came out of the maze for a break.

“Remember Brett”, she said “the Corn Maze only allows drinks if they are in a cup with a lid and a straw.” Brett’s mom also wanted to give his friends the most time possible in the maze. She felt that the faster they drank their drinks, the faster they could get back to the fun! With this in mind she said to Brett, “you must think of a refreshing drink your friends can slurp quickly up a straw.”

Brett was confused. He replied, “but mom, drinks are drinks, they are all runny, and they can all be slurped up at the same speed, that’s why they are classified as a drink! I don’t understand why it matters what I pick?” Brett’s mom shook her head, “Brett, some drinks very thick and some drinks are very runny. The thicker drinks will not be easily slurped up through a straw, whereas the runnier drinks will slurp right up!”

Brett was still confused, and his mom could see that. She decided to show Brett what she meant. She asked Brett to choose three different drinks out of the fridge that he may want to serve at his party, and she went and gathered three tall glasses and a stopwatch from her gym bag. She also asked Brett to find a paper and pencil and three dark colored marbles of equal size from his marble collection.
Brett ran off to get all the supplies his mom had asked for. He then selected a fruit smoothie, chocolate milk, and purple Kool-Aid as his three drink options for his party. Once all the items were gathered, Brett ran to meet his mom in the kitchen. He was excited to get a lesson from someone other than his teacher at school!

In the kitchen Brett’s mom lined up the three glasses side-by-side. She filled the first to the top with fruit smoothie, the second with chocolate milk, and the third with purple Kool-Aid. She then had Brett get the stopwatch and the pencil and paper ready.

“I am going to drop a marble into each glass from the same level. When I let go start the stopwatch” Brett’s mom said. “When the marble reaches the bottom of the glass, stop the stop watch and write down the time. Be sure to pay close attention!” she reminded Brett.
Brett couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen.


Which liquid do you think will the marble drop through with the fastest rate of speed?


Which liquid do you think the marble will drop through with the slowest rate of speed? Why?

REMEMBER! Rate of speed is how long it takes for an object to move over a set distance.

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Perform teacher directed experiment demonstration as per the description above.

  • Use:

      • Three graduated cylinders – to represent the tall glasses

      • Shampoo – to represent the fruit smoothie

      • Maple syrup – to represent the chocolate milk

      • Corn oil – to represent the Kool-Aid

*Use little signs to denote what liquids represent each drink

    • Have three marbles of equal size, a stop watch, and a place to record times ready

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Record the results of each marble drop in the chart below:


TIME (seconds : milliseconds)

Maple Syrup (Chocolate Milk)

Corn Oil (Kool-Aid)

Shampoo (Fruit Smoothie)

After their little experiment was complete, Brett analyzed all the times he had written out for each drink. He was surprised by the results. “I really expected the marble to drop through each drink at the same speed!” he exclaimed.


Using the chart you filled in above, which liquid did the marble drop through with the fastest rate of speed?

His mom told him that all liquids are different, some can be extremely runny, some can be extremely thick, and some can be anywhere in between. “There is a neat word that is used to describe this”, his mom said, “it is called viscosity”. Brett had never heard that word before, “what do you mean by v…v…viscosity?” His mom gladly answered, “viscosity is a word used to describe liquids, when a liquid has high viscosity it is thick and sticky and will not flow easily”. “Like honey?” Brett asked. “Yes, exactly!” his mom replied. “And on the other hand, something has low viscosity when it is not thick, it’s very runny, and will flow easily”. “Like water or apple juice?” Brett said. “You got it!!” said his mom.

After running this experiment, which drink do you think would be the perfect choice for your party?” Brett’s mom asked. Brett began to think. He reminded himself of what his mom had said to him earlier. The drink must be quickly and easily slurped up a straw.


Which drink would you tell Brett to choose? Explain why?
I got it!” Brett yelled. “Purple Kool-Aid! The marble dropped through it the quickest, so it would also be the easiest to slurp up a straw. It was the runniest drink, the one with the lowest viscosity. By serving my friends purple Kool-Aid they could come out of the maze, take a quick slurp, and get back to the fun in no time!” His mom smiled, “sounds like a great plan to me Brett! I am so glad you came to this decision on your own.”
The party planning was now in full swing. Getting one job crossed of the list really made Brett excited for his very special day.

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Summary Questions
1a) According to the data, which liquid was the most viscous?

1b) According to the data, which liquid was the least viscous?

2) In one or two sentences explain viscosity in your own words.

3a) List three examples of viscous liquids:



3b) List three examples of non-viscous liquids:



4) How do you think you could change the viscosity of a liquid?

5) Viscosity is a very important property. List some fluids where you think the level of viscosity matters with respect to how the fluid is used.

6) If you got to plan your perfect birthday celebration where would you have it and what kind of drink would you serve to your guests?

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