The Teaching Tank® and Science Lessons

Science teachers have always been looking for better ways to teach their science lessons and to make science experiments come alive in their classrooms, but the proper tools to do so haven't been available.

The recent introduction of The Teaching Tank® is a significant step toward changing that situation and enhancing the science curriculum. Teaching hands-on science lessons has just become much easier! The impetus to write these Teaching Tank® Discovery Books© and to develop The Teaching Tank® into the most dynamic hands-on science teaching tool in the schools today stems from our experience of over 30 years as classroom teachers, science coordinators, and college professors.

Through this experience, we have developed a sense of what motivates and excites students and what science teachers want and need in their hands-on science lessons and science experiments. The Teaching Tank® and the Teaching Tank® Discovery Books© are designed to stimulate students so that they can experience what science is, by allowing them to do what a scientist does. In addition The Teaching Tank® is easy to set up and easy to use. It provides a creative, hands-on, way for students to see and learn science. In the past, students were asked to view and perform science experiments in small test tubes or beakers. These students were very limited to what they could actually observe due to the size, shape, and visual distortion of those small containers.

Teachers were also having a very difficult time and were trying to perform science classroom demonstrations for the whole class using these small containers. Because of this, there was a need to develop a product that would be larger in size, exhibit greater visual clarity, have good depth of vision, and not use any more material than an ordinary beaker would hold. The Teaching Tank® is that product. It is the perfect hands-on teaching tool for every science curriculum. Students are able to explore more and receive immediate feedback, literally "right before their eyes." The large double-sided viewing surface gives students on both sides of the tank the same directly observable science experiment. Hands-on science lessons using the Teaching Tank Discovery Books© and The Teaching Tank® create a more exciting, and very visual way for teachers to demonstrate a science principle or for students to actually complete the investigation themselves and, they can do it safely.

Teaching hands-on science lessons has just become much easier!

This see-through tank is also easily cleaned and ready for the next science experiment in minutes. A perfect fit into any school or home school science curriculum!

The Teaching Tank Discovery Books© will add excitement to your science lessons, enhance student learning, integrate science disciplines, motivate students, lessen student discipline problems, and stimulate creative and critical thinking skills. These hands-on science lessons are not only observational, they are specifically written to foster student hands-on science experimentation. They are also written with an inquiry approach to discovery learning, specifically stressing the science skills of observing, measuring, calculating, interpreting data, formulating hypotheses, controlling variables, and experimenting.

Each hands-on lesson contains:

  • Clearly defined objectives
  • A materials list
  • A reference diagram
  • A detailed procedure
  • Thinking questions for students
  • Teaching notes for clarification.

A list of all materials used in Volume One and where they can be obtained is given in the Appendix to Teaching Tank Discovery Book Volume One©. These hands-on science lessons cover a variety of topics in the Life Sciences, Earth Sciences, and Physical Sciences. In one science lesson you can germinate seeds to grow plants and in another science lesson you could be determining dew point, or in yet another science lesson you could form stalactites and stalagmites, all using the same great teaching aid: The Teaching Tank®. The Teaching Tank® is especially well suited to use with your home school science curriculum.

Topographic Investigation


  • Teaching Tank Masking
  • Tape Construction Paper
  • Marker Ruler Stiff Wire (Old Hanger)
  • Sounding Stick 3/8 Inch Plastic Tubing.
  • Graph Paper Colored Pencils.
  • Graphic of a typical graph and a tank set-up.

NOTE: The format of this file differs from the actual format in the book because of the graphics used in the book, however, the content is the same.

Objective: The students will map the shape of an unknown surface.


Emphasized Skills: Data collection, measurements and the effect of increment size, graphing, problem solving.

Application to the Real World: Ships and river boats need to know the topography of the ground underneath them in order to avoid hitting the bottom.

Topographic Investigation


1. Advance Preparation:

..... a. Dismantle the tank.

..... b. Slide the wire inside the plastic tubing (they should be about 12 inches long).

..... c. Make a sloping shape with various geological "formations" by bending the wire.

..... d. Put the tank back together with the landscape inside (see diagram).

..... e. Cover the sides of the tank with dark construction paper.

..... f. Place a strip of masking tape on the outside along the top edge of the tank and mark it darkly in two-inch intervals. Mark it lightly (or with another color) in one-inch intervals. Label the two-inch interval marks 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8.

..... g. Make a sounding stick from a dowel by marking the dowel in ½ inch intervals from one end with indelible marker or pen. A clear straw could also be used. Make sure the sounding stick will fit into the tank and that it is long enough to reach the lowest point of the bottom surface.

2. Explain that depths of a river or sea were "sounded" in olden days by dropping a long line into the water and measuring its depth at any given place and that a profile map of the bottom can be drawn using a collection of data points.

3. Provide the materials to the students. Challenge them to construct a profile map on the graph paper by carefully poking down into the concealed tank with the sounding stick. Remind them not to look down into the tank.

4. Have them start a point zero at the top of the tank and slowly lower the sounding stick until it just touches the surface of the plastic tubing bottom. (Ask students why they should not push hard.) Count how many lines deep the landscape is at that point either by subtracting from the total number of lines on the sounding stick or by labeling it in advance. Mark a dot on the graph paper above the zero point with the depth of the stick at that point.

5. Repeat the procedure at 2, 4, 6, and 8 inches.

6. Use a pencil to connect the dots. Discuss the shape of the bottom that they have received from this initial probing.

7. Repeat the procedure, only this time find the depth at every inch across the top of the tank (take soundings at 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 inches).

Thinking Questions:

....... What difference, if any, did you see between the shape of the landscape using two- inch increments and the shape using one-inch increments?

....... What does this experiment suggest about data collection for scientific accuracy?

....... What practical applications can you think of for this method of measurement?

Teaching notes:

The smaller the increment, the more detailed and true to the real surface the model will be. They could try ½ inch increments for even better results. Another use may be to use sound for the measuring stick and to determine distances by measuring echoes.

River boat captains on the Mississippi River used a sounding method to keep track of the depth of the river. "Mark Twain" was the call when two fathoms (about 12 feet) of water were under the boat. Samuel Clement chose that phrase as his pen name when he wrote Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.

Bubbles - Using Controls

NOTE: The format of this file differs from the actual format in the book because of the graphics used in the book, however, the content is the same.

Objective: To determine the best amount of glycerin for producing the largest soap bubbles.

Emphasized Skills: Predicting, observing, measuring, experimenting, using controls, calculating areas, graphing data.

Application to the Real World: Soap and detergent producers formulate products differently according to their purpose. Bubble bath requires lots of large, strong bubbles. Laundry detergents try to minimize the bubbles. Using controls and graphing data are common scientific methods.


  • Glycerin
  • Water
  • Plastic Cups (small)
  • Transparency Sheets
  • Water Soluble Markers
  • Tape
  • Centimeter Graph Paper
  • Flex Straws
  • Medicine Droppers
  • JOY Liquid Detergent
  • Graduated Cylinder


1. Tape two flex straws together to make one straw approximately 40 centimeters in length.

2. Darken the lines on a piece of centimeter graph paper. Make clear transparency copies of this page and save for future activities.

3. Tape one transparency graph page to one side of the tank.

4. Add 10 mL of water to the tank. A graduated cylinder would be best here, but any measuring device that could give the same amount each time will work.

5. Add two drops of JOY Liquid Detergent.

6. Insert the flex straw and gently blow through the straw to make some bubbles. Try to make the largest bubble that lasts for at least 15 seconds and record its size. What was the diameter of the largest bubble? Record your observations in a table.

7. Using a dropper add one drop of glycerin to the solution and slowly stir with the straw.

8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until the diameters of the bubbles do not increase.

9. Using your table, graph the diameter of the bubble on the y-axis and the drops of glycerin on the x-axis.

Thinking Questions:

Would your results change if a different amount of water was used?

Would your results change if a different amount of detergent was used?

Why did you continue to use the same solution instead of changing the water and detergent each time?

How many variables are possible in this experiment?

How many variables did you change in this experiment?

Teaching Notes:

The bubbles are formed due to the interactions between detergent molecules. The glycerin strengthens those interactions. You can also try sugar, corn syrup, or other sweeteners to determine their ability to strengthen the detergent interactions.

Since there are three variables in this experiment, but only one (the glycerin) is changing, the students will quickly be able to see the effect of glycerin on bubble size. It is expected that the experiment Bubbles - Trial and Error would be carried out differently after this experience.



  • Teaching Tanks
  • Elodea Plants
  • Water
  • Funnel
  • Clay
  • Straws
  • Bromthymol Blue

Do Plants Really Use Carbon Dioxide?

NOTE: The format of this file differs from the actual format in the book because of the graphics used in the book, however, the content is the same.

Objectives: To have students observe that plants use carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.

To have students perform an experiment to show that carbon dioxide is used by plants during their food making process.

To have students use controls during scientific investigations.

Graphic of the Teaching Tank



1. Set up four teaching tanks, two sets of those depicted above.

2. Fill tanks to about two inches from the top with water that has been allowed to set for about two days. Add 10 drops of the bromthymol blue indicator and mix gently with a stirring rod.

3. Place about 10 Elodea sprigs in two of the tanks using your stirring rod.

4. Tape two plastic straws together to make one long straw. Slide one long straw into each tank next to the hose gasket on one side of the tank until one end of the straw reaches the bottom of the tank.

5. Gently blow through the straws for a few minutes or until the carbon dioxide from your breath turns the blue colored water yellow. A yellow color indicates that carbon dioxide is present. Take some plasticine clay and seal the top of the tanks so that no air can enter. Be sure to seal all of the tanks (even those without plants in them).

6. Place one Elodea tank and one "no plant" tank in "direct sunlight" . Place the other two tanks in a dark room.

Thinking Questions:

What did you observe happen in the tanks that were placed in the sunlight?

Why did the blue color turn clear?

For what purpose were two tanks placed in the dark?

Why were there two tanks without plants?

Teaching Notes:

After about an hour the blue color will reappear in the tank with Elodea plants that are exposed to direct sunlight. When the tanks are sealed with clay, there is no way for the carbon dioxide to escape or be used up, except by the plants. This indicates that carbon dioxide has been used up by the plants during photosynthesis.

No change should take place in the tanks with only water or in the tank with Elodea plants that was placed in the dark. These tanks are being used as "controls" in this experiment. The tanks with only water show that plants are needed and the tank with plants that was put in the dark, shows that light is needed. Since light is needed, it seems likely that photosynthesis is responsible for taking the carbon dioxide from the air.

Bromthymol blue can be used in this situation as an indicator for carbon dioxide. Since our breath has a high concentration of carbon dioxide, when we blow into the tank through the straw we put carbon dioxide into the water. This is indicated by the yellow color. When the plants use enough of the carbon dioxide from the water the color will change back to blue.

Curriculum Guide
Sample Lessons
Sample Lessons

View three exciting sample lessons and see why the Teaching Tank is such a great product.

Lesson Plans include:

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