Activity Book 2: Intermediate Level

The activities in this section are applicable for individuals aged 11-15.

Please note that some of the activities in this section may require adult supervision and assistance.

Table of Contents

  1. How can I make paper?
  2. Building the Biosphere
  3. Composting
  4. Blubbery bodies, whales and scales
  5. Agriculture Quiz
  6. Hot Light: Exploring the Infrared
  7. The Vitality Quiz
  8. Answer Key: Agriculture Quiz
  9. Answer Key: The Vitality Quiz

How can I make paper?

Natural Resources Canada

Paper making is an ancient process that has retained its methods for over 2000 years. Ts'ai Lun, a member of the Chinese court, was the first person recorded to make paper in 105 AD. In 1150 the first papermaking mill (in Spain) was opened. Since then, paper has spread all over the world and has many uses.

Did you know that a cord of wood (3.5 m2) can produce almost 700 kg of paper?


  • Scrap paper
  • Egg cartons, or other tree-based products
  • Newspaper
  • Water
  • Towels
  • 8 x 8 inches (20 cm) window screening
  • Scrap wood
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Scissors
  • Large plastic tub
  • Blender

What to do

  1. Make a mould by framing a piece of screen with scrap wood.
  2. Tear scrap paper and egg cartons into small pieces.
  3. Fill blender half-full of water.
  4. Add a few pieces of paper and mix at low speed.
  5. Add more paper until the mixture is a pulpy soup.
  6. Pour pulp in the dish tub (3/4 full).
  7. Petals, small leaves or glitter can be added to the pulp for extra interest.
  8. Dip screened mould into pulp.
  9. Move the screen back and forth in a sifting motion to form an even layer of pulp on the screen.
  10. Hold the mould over the tub to drain excess water.
  11. Slip the screen between layers of newspaper.
  12. Slide the newspaper between folded towels.
  13. Press evenly to remove water from the pulp paper.
  14. Open the towel and newspaper from the pulp paper.
  15. Place a dry sheet of newspaper over the pulp paper.
  16. Carefully turn the pulp paper onto the dry newspaper.
  17. Set in a warm place to dry.

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Building the Biosphere

Canadian Space Agency

In this project the main idea is to design and build a stable ecologically-closed system called a biosphere. You cannot "open" a biosphere to add material, remove material or otherwise modify the system.

A terrarium, on the other hand, is kept "open" so that environmental conditions within the terrarium can be adjusted as required to keep the system healthy and prosperous.

Note: A biosphere is not a terrarium.


  • A large wide-mouth condiment jar (about 4 L or larger), with lid (label removed). The kind that cafeterias or restaurants use for pickles or mustard is ideal.
  • Crushed limestone or gravel.
  • Charcoal in barbeque briquettes or wood fragments.
  • Peat moss or humus-rich soil.
  • An assortment of green plants, mosses, and fungi.
  • Water.
  • A small amount of general purpose plant fertilizer.
  • An identification label (see below).

Experiment Module number ______________________ Content (plant types and number)
Setup date ____________________________________ ______________________________
Designed by ___________________________________ ______________________________
Water volume__________________________________ ______________________________
CAUTION: Temperature sensitive environment. Avoid long exposure to direct sunlight or frost

What to do

  1. Place a 2-4 cm layer of stone in the bottom.
  2. Overlay the stone with 2-3 cm of charcoal. (Crush big chunks into smaller pieces first).
  3. The soil layer should be rich in humus. About 5-6 cm depth should suffice.
  4. Select a wide variety of small green plants. Small moss and fungi covered sticks can be included.
  5. Create a solution of water and plant fertilizer according to the directions on the fertilizer container. Add enough to just cover the stones in the bottom of the jar.
  6. Seal the container, create a label itemizing the contents of your biosphere, and glue the label to the lid.
  7. Set the biosphere in a moderately warm and bright location.
  8. Record observations.


1. Your biosphere needs energy.

Energy, in the form of visible (short wavelength) sunlight, must enter the biosphere at the same rate at which infrared (long wavelength light) energy is radiated out by your biosphere. If this does not happen your biosphere will get hotter and hotter (the amount of energy in exceeds the amount of energy out) or colder and colder (the amount of energy out exceeds the amount of energy in).

2. The total amount of material within the biosphere is constant

This biosphere requires water, oxygen and carbon dioxide for its survival. Because the biosphere is a closed system the total amount of material in the system never changes. This can be verified by occasionally weighing the biosphere. However, the plants inside this biosphere are consuming carbon dioxide, water, and nutrients from the soil. The green plants are using these materials to produce oxygen and complex organic molecules such as sugar. If the green plants do this for a long enough time they will eventually run out of at least one of these ingredients.

While the green plants are using up water and carbon dioxide, bacteria and non-green plants such as fungi are using up oxygen and the complex organic molecules created by the green plants to release carbon dioxide and water.

3. The biosphere needs to achieve a state of dynamic equilibrium

In a perfect biosphere the aerobic (oxygen consuming) bacteria and non-green plants are using the plant produced oxygen to release water and carbon dioxide at the same rate that the green plants are consuming it.

Whenever all the materials being consumed by various species in a system are exactly replaced by other species, the system is said to be in equilibrium, or more exactly, in ecological equilibrium.


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Environment and Climate Change Canada

Organic kitchen scraps, such as vegetables and fruits and their peelings, coffee grounds, tea, egg shells, etc. and yard wastes, such as grass clippings, leaves and plant trimmings, make up almost a third of our garbage. Composting can keep all this out of our overloaded landfill sites and produce a finished product called humus that returns valuable nutrients to the soil.

Composting is a natural process where kitchen and yard wastes decompose into a dark, nutrient-rich, sweet-smelling soil conditioner.

Organic waste in landfill sites create methane: one of the gases that contributes to the greenhouse effect. Methane is produced by organic waste decomposing without air (anaerobic condition). Landfill sites produce about 38 percent of the methane generated by Canadians. Composting can keep most of our organic waste out of landfills.

Composting is one way to help return fertility to the soil. According to the Worldwatch Institute, about 25 billion tonnes of topsoil are lost from croplands around the world each year. Nutrient-rich humus can be added to gardens, lawns and potted plants to help make up for this loss.


  • Organic material
  • Air
  • Moisture
  • Soil
  • Container or a hole in the ground

What to do

Fill up your container or hole with your organic material, soil and a little bit of water.

After a few days take a look at how your organic waste has decomposed to form humus.


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Blubbery bodies, whales and scales

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

What makes whales different from fish? Whales and humans are warm-blooded mammals. Most fish are cold-blooded and cannot heat their bodies.

Use this "blubber mitt" experiment to discover the warm-blooded difference!


  • Plastic sandwich or freezer bags
  • Lard or vegetable shortening
  • Bucket or sink filled with cold water and ice cubes

What to do

  1. Smear a 1 - 2 cm thick coating of lard on the outside of one plastic bag, leaving 5 cm at the top bare.
  2. Slip another plastic bag around the lard layer on the outside of the first plastic bag, sandwiching the lard between layers of plastic.
  3. Fill a bucket with cold water from the tap, add ice cubes.
  4. Put one hand into the middle of the "blubber bag" and shape the bag around your hand.
  5. Dip both hands into ice water, making sure that water does not spill inside the blubber bag/mitt.
  6. Compare how each hand feels in the icy water. Is one hand colder than the other?


  • How does blubber help to keep whales warm in cold water? It provides an insulating layer.
  • How do scales help fish? Scales are used for protection, fish do not need to stay warm because they are cold-blooded.
  • Think about having your whole body submersed in water - how would you breathe? People must come to the water's surface and breathe air into their lungs.
  • How do fish breathe? They use their gills in the water.
  • How do whales breathe? They inhale air through their blowholes into their lungs at the water's surface.

Thanks to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre for sharing the above experiment
©Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre 2006


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Agriculture Quiz

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

What to do

Answer the following questions.

1. Where is most of the maple syrup produced in Canada?
a) Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia
b) Yukon, Newfoundland, British Columbia, Quebec
c) Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta, Prince Edward Island
d) All provinces

2. On average, how many eggs does a hen lay in a year?
a) 52
b) 200
c) 300
d) 365

3. Farms in Canada are mostly owned by:
a) fast food outlets
b) farm equipment companies
c) families
d) fast food outlets, families and farm equipment companies

4. The average Canadian drinks about 92 litres of milk in a year. Approximately how many days would it take the average Canadian dairy cow to produce this amount of milk?
a) 2 days
b) 6 days
c) 9 days
d) 18 days

5. Peanuts are:
a) nuts
b) legumes
c) roots
d) Grains

6. Which agricultural crop can be used to make environmentally friendly fuels for vehicles such as cars?
a) corn
b) wheat
c) barley
d) corn and wheat

7. Which of the following Canadian provinces and territories have the largest proportion of their land used for agriculture?
a) Ontario and Quebec
b) Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan
c) Yukon and the Northwest Territories
d) British Columbia and Nova Scotia

8. How do you tell the age of a horse?
a) By the length of its tail
b) By the height of its shoulders
c) By looking a the rings on its hooves
d) By looking a the length of its teeth

9. Which province grows the most soybeans?
a) Alberta
b) Ontario
c) Quebec
d) Saskatchewan

10. Durum wheat is one of the many types of wheat grown in Canada. When durum wheat is milled, or ground, it turns into semolina, a gritty type of flour that feels and looks like sand. Semolina flour is used to make:
a) bread
b) cake
c) tacos
d) Spaghetti

11. What is a vegan?
a) someone who doesn't eat anything animal-related
b) someone who doesn't eat vegetables
c) someone who doesn't eat dairy products
d) someone who doesn't eat meat

In the 1920s, a Canadian came up with a really cool idea that is now common in many homes today. What was it?
a) ice cream
b) refrigerator
c) frozen foods
d) popsicles

13. What is the only mammal that constantly sings to her young while nursing?
a) dog
b) pig
c) snake
d) Robin

14. Why do onions make you cry?
a) The skin of the onion makes your mouth and eyes water
b) Oils are released from the onion when cut
c) Onions cause an allergic reaction to your nose
d) Everyone has bad days

15. Which of the following is NOT a good source of fibre?
a) pasta
b) brown rice
c) eggs
d) bread


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Hot Light: Exploring the Infrared

National Research Council Canada

Remote controls, night-vision goggles, CD players and supermarket checkout scanners all use infrared light in their operation. Although students are generally very familiar with the colours of the rainbow - the components of visible light - they are less familiar with the concept of "invisible" light and have few opportunities to explore this part of the electromagnetic spectrum.


  • Glass prism (plastic prisms do not work as well)
  • 3 Alcohol thermometers
  • A sheet of card stock
  • A sheet of blank white paper
  • Shallow cardboard box
  • Clear adhesive tape
  • Scissors
  • Flat black paint and brush
  • Watch with a second hand or a stopwatch

What to do

A good spectrum is rarely achieved with an artificial light source, so this experiment is best performed outside on a bright sunny day.

  1. Paint the bulb of each thermometer using flat black paint (try to use the same amount of paint for each thermometer) and let them dry. This will ensure that the thermometers absorb as much heat as possible.
  2. Attach the thermometers to a piece of card stock with clear adhesive tape so that the temperature scales line up.
  3. Place the thermometers in the shade to measure the ambient air temperature while setting up the rest of the experiment.
  4. Line the box with a sheet of white paper.
  5. Cut a notch, slightly narrower and deeper than the prism, from the top of the narrow edge of the cardboard box. This will hold the prism in place. Place the prism in the notch and rotate it gently to produce the widest possible spectrum on the sheet of paper.
  6. Recreate the chart below in a science notebook or journal.
  7. Record the temperature in the shade for each thermometer on your experimental results chart.
  8. Place the thermometers inside the box so that one bulb is in the blue region, one in the yellow and one just beyond the red region. Predict the temperature you expect to observe for each colour and record it on the chart. Justify your prediction.
  9. Wait five minutes and then take the temperature reading on each thermometer. Do not remove the thermometers from the spectrum or block the light during the reading. Write down each reading on your experimental results chart.
  10. Graph the results. Create a Venn diagram to compare the properties of visible light and the properties of infrared
    radiation based on what you learned in this experiment, what you already know and any further
    investigations you could do.


  1. What does the prefix infra mean? Why do you think it is called infrared?
  2. Why is the Herschel experiment historically significant?
  3. How else could you prove the existence of infrared radiation?
  4. What hypothesis could you make about the temperature of ultraviolet light based on your graph?
  5. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this experiment?
  6. Was this a fair-test? Why or why not?
Temperature in the shade
  Thermometer 1 Thermometer 2 Thermometer 3
Temperature in the shade      
  Thermometer 1
(blue region)
Thermometer 2
(yellow region)
Thermometer 3
(beyond red)
Predicted temperature after 10 minutes      
Temperature after 1 min.      
Temperature after 2 min.      
Temperature after 3 min.      
Temperature after 4 min.      
Temperature after 5 min.      
Temperature after 6 min.      
Temperature after 7 min.      
Temperature after 8 min.      
Temperature after 9 min.      
Temperature after 10 min.      

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The Vitality Quiz

Health Canada

What to do

See how much you know about vitality.

1. Losing weight is a good way to improve your health.

True False

2. Dieting is the best way to lose weight.

True False

3. Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends complex carbohydrates as our main source of food energy.

True False

4. Almost half of Canadian women who have a healthy weight or are underweight are trying to lose weight.

True False

5. Calisthenics or "spot-reducing" exercises are the best way to reduce body fat and tone muscles.

True False

6. Self-esteem - how worthwhile you feel - is strongly affected by the people around you.

True False

7. Women tend to score higher than men on measures of self-esteem.

True False

8. Almost half of young males who use steroids say they are using them to change their appearance.

True False

9. Physical activity has a positive effect on self-esteem.

True False

10. VITALITY promotes a vigorous, disciplined approach to improving your lifestyle.

True False


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Answer Key: Agriculture Quiz

1. Where is most of the maple syrup produced in Canada?

a) Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia

Eighty-five per cent of the world's maple syrup is produced right here in Canada. In fact, maple syrup producers ship it around the world where it is considered a luxurious treat.

2. On average, how many eggs does a hen lay in a year?

a) 300

Even chickens deserve a few days off! The average Canadian eats 14 dozen eggs a year. Eggs are also used in other products such as mayonnaise, pet foods and even throat lozenges.

3. Farms in Canada are mostly owned by:

c) families

Farming is still a family business in Canada. In fact, about 98 per cent of all farms are still family owned and operated.

4. The average Canadian drinks about 92 litres of milk in a year. Approximately how many days would it take the average Canadian dairy cow to produce this amount of milk?

b) 2 days

It would take a cow approximately two days to produce enough milk for one person to drink in a year. A cow produces 40 litres of milk a day. However, a lot of cow's milk is turned into what is called "industrial milk" to make ice cream, yogurt, cheese and butter.

5. Peanuts are:

b) legumes

Peanuts, generally thought to be nuts, are actually called legumes. Like meat, legumes, such as beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils, are an excellent source of protein in your diet. As well, farmers are environmentally friendly and often use legumes to add nutrients to the soil when they rotate crops.

6. Which agricultural crop can be used to make environmentally friendly fuels for vehicles such as cars?

b) corn and wheat

Both corn and wheat are the most popular crops used to make ethanol - an alcohol that is blended with fossil fuels. Many Canadians are using ethanol-blended gas and are helping the environment.

7. Which of the following Canadian provinces and territories have the largest proportion of their land used for agriculture?

b) Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan

Prince Edward Island is well known for growing potatoes in its red fertile soil. Saskatchewan's climate and soil conditions are perfect for growing crops such as wheat, canola, barley and specialty crops such as sunflowers, herbs, spices and beans.

8. How do you tell the age of a horse?

c) By looking a the length of its teeth

Veterinarians and horse owners use teeth as a guide to age. The expression "long in the tooth" means old age because as a horse ages, its teeth get longer.

9. Which province grows the most soybeans?

b) Ontario

Soybeans are used in the production of solvents, paint, wood glue, cattle feed, printer's ink and even diesel fuel.

10. Durum wheat is one of the many types of wheat grown in Canada. When durum wheat is milled, or ground, it turns into semolina, a gritty type of flour that feels and looks like sand. Semolina flour is used to make:

e) spaghetti

Spaghetti. Spaghetti needs flour that has a lot of gluten in it. Gluten is a bonding agent that makes flour stretch and stick. Semolina flour has lots of gluten and makes the pasta sticky like gum. This prevents the pasta from falling apart in a pot of boiling water. You can test the gluten in your pasta by tossing some spaghetti on the wall to see if it sticks!

11. What is a vegan?

c) someone who doesn't eat anything animal-related

Vegans are very strict vegetarians who eat nothing that comes from animals. Vegetarians and vegans usually eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, pasta, rice, beans and nuts.

12. In the 1920s, a Canadian came up with a really cool idea that is now common in many homes today. What was it?

c) frozen foods

Frozen foods were an instant success when a Canadian decided to freeze fresh strawberries and raspberries and sell them at Christmas. Before frozen food, fresh food would have to be purchased almost every day. It also meant fresh fruit and vegetables were pretty scarce in the winter. Today, the frozen food industry is a multi-million dollar industry in Canada.

13. What is the only mammal that constantly sings to her young while nursing?

b) pig

A mother pig, or sow, grunts a variety of different sounds while feeding her piglets. Because her milk supply only lasts 15 to 20 seconds per feeding, she must cue her babies to pay attention and suckle because supper is on the way.

14. Why do onions make you cry?

b) Oils are released from the onion when cut

Onions contain oils that irritate our eyes. These oils escape into the air when the onion is cut and your eyes must tear to get rid of them.

15. Which of the following is NOT a good source of fibre?

c) eggs

Eggs are full of good stuff like protein, but they don't contain fibre. Fibre is very important in your diet because of what it doesn't do, it cannot be digested, but it does give your gut something to grip on to when moving food along inside you. Canadian farmers grow a lot of crops such as wheat, beans, peas and barley, which provide fibre for people all over the world.


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Answer Key: The Vitality Quiz

1. False. Losing weight will not necessarily improve your health. If you are at a healthy weight, losing and regaining
weight (yo-yo dieting) is more harmful to health than maintaining a steady weight. Eating well, being active and
feeling good about yourself is a good way to stay healthy.

2. False. Dieting is seldom successful in keeping lost weight off. Most people gain back about half of what they have
lost within one year and they regain most lost weight within five years.

3. True. Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends eating more complex carbohydrates such as starch
and fibre. These foods include cereals, breads, rice, pasta and other grain products, vegetables and fruit. The Food
Guide suggests that you eat less fat and replace your food energy by eating foods with more complex carbohydrates.

4. True. Four out of ten Canadian women with a healthy weight and one in ten women who are underweight are
still trying to lose weight. Even though 35% of men are overweight (compared to 26% of women), men do not
demonstrate the same desire to lose weight.

5. False. Calisthenic exercises do not "spot reduce" body fat. Aerobic activities such as brisk walking can help
reduce your body fat, but it is lost throughout your body, not from one place. Exercises for a specific body part,
for example sit ups, will tone and strengthen underlying muscles but they will not reduce the layer of fat on top of
the muscles. So enjoy being active, your way, everyday.

6. True. Self-esteem (how worthwhile you feel) is strongly affected by people in your life. When your partner, family
and friends communicate love and respect, you will maintain a good sense of self-worth. And by helping and
accepting others, you can encourage self-esteem in them.

7. False. Studies have shown that males have higher self-esteem than females at all ages. The difference is especially
great during the teenage years.

8. True. One study found that as many as 83,000 young Canadians between the ages of 11 and 18 have used steroids
in the last 12 months. Fifty-four per cent of male users say they use steroids to be better in sports; almost half say
that they use steroids to improve their looks.

9. True. Studies have shown that active people have higher self-esteem than people who are inactive. Improving your
level of physical activity helps you feel strong and capable.

10. False. VITALITY does not urge you to "go for the burn," restrict the foods you eat or give up television forever.
VITALITY is about eating tasty, nutritious meals, staying active, sharing happy times with people you care about and
believing in your own self-worth.


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