Publication No. 11965
What was it like to imagine the nature of the atom? How difficult is it to produce a model of something that can’t be seen? The Think Tube allows students to appreciate the challenges associated with understanding things we can’t see, such as atoms. As the instructor performs a series of simple manipulations with the Think Tube, students record their observations and later develop a hypotheses to explain the construction and inner workings of the tube.
Cord, nylon, neon, 36 inches, 2
Think Tube Worksheet
Tube caps, 2
Washer, ¾" diameter
White tube, 18" long, 1½" diameter, with 4 holes
Wood bead, ¾" diameter, blue
Wood bead, ¾" diameter, green
Wood bead, ¾" diameter, red
Wood bead, ¾" diameter, yellow
The Think Tube is considered nonhazardous. Follow all normal laboratory guidelines.
The think tube may be reused from class to class and year to year.
Red and yellow beads on left end appear to be connected by a single string.
Red and green beads appear to be connected by a single string.
Demonstration 3 (see Figure 4)
Yellow and green beads appear to be connected.
Repeat any and all demonstrations and review what was observed.
Review should show that:
Demo 1: The red and yellow beads appear connected and the blue and green beads also appear connected.
Student Worksheet PDF
Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)†
Science & Engineering PracticesDeveloping and using models
Constructing explanations and designing solutions
Disciplinary Core IdeasMS-ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
HS-ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
Crosscutting ConceptsSystems and system models
Cause and effect
Structure and function
MS-ESS1-1: Develop and use a model of the Earth-sun-moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons.
The demonstrations presented in this activity are designed to create discrepancies in the minds of the viewers. In the first demonstration, it appears that the red and the yellow beads are directly connected together and that the blue and green beads are connected. In the second demonstration, the red and green beads seem to be attached to each other. The third demonstration seemingly illustrates that the yellow and green beads are also attached. Repeat the three demonstrations as many time as necessary for your students to develop a model. Some students may be able to describe in words better than draw what is occuring. Encourage both words and drawings to record observations and the model.
Special thanks to Robert Lewis, Downers Grove North High School, Downers Grove, IL, and Jeff Hepburn, Dowling High School, West Des Moines, IA, for providing the idea and instructions for this activity.