Sarah Toney homeschools four active boys ages 2, 4, 6, and 8 in Tennessee. She recently tried out a simple experiment to help her boys observe a cool chemical reaction.
For Sarah’s experiment you will need:
- 1 tsp (5ml) dry yeast
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) hydrogen peroxide (should be handled only by adults)
- stirring stick
- Record the temperature of the hydrogen peroxide and place it in a small bowl.
- Add the dry yeast to the peroxide and stir
- Watch for changes in the mixture and the temperature
“The goal of the experiment was to observe a chemical change that produces heat. My boys got to see the different indicators that a chemical change was taking place- bubbling, fizzing and the temperature on the thermometer was going up. They were actually pretty amazed by this one. I keep listing the ways to tell if a chemical reaction has taken place….they’ve seen the bubbling, they’ve seen the gas given off…..I guess they didn’t really believe that heat could actually be created by just mixing 2 things.”
Another great part of this experiment is that the bubbles produced contain oxygen. This can be demonstrated by lighting and blowing out a wood match or splint. When the smoking match is brought near the bubbles, it re-ignites from the oxygen.
How does it work?
Hydrogen peroxide is H2O2. Than means it is water with an extra oxygen. The yeast contains a chemical called catayse that releases the oxygen creating the bubbles and it also releases heat (an exothermic reaction.) This is a simple version of our Fantastic Foamy Fountain experiment. The instructions for that experiment can be found HERE.
You can make this a true experiment by adjusting the amount of yeast and peroxide to try to get the greatest increase in temperature. You can also dissolve the yeast in water before adding it to the peroxide to see if that has an effect.
Visit Sarah’s blog post HERE.
Today we were playing around with some balloons (which we often do when things get slow) and we had an idea to add a Halloween twist to a familiar static experiment. It is really quite a lot of fun and super simple. For this bit of spooky science you will need:
- A piece of tissue paper
- A balloon
- A head of hair
- Spooky Music (optional)
- First cut out a ghost shape in the tissue as shown about 1.5 inches (4 cm) long and add some eyes with a marker. If you are using 2-ply tissues, peel apart the 2 layers to get the tissue as thin as possible. Cut out a few ghosts for more fun and place them on a flat surface. You might want to make some out of regular paper to compare. (Some readers found slightly heavier ghosts easier to control.)
- Blow up the balloon and tie it. Then rub it really fast through your hair for about 10 seconds. This will add a static charge.
3. Slowly bring the balloon near the ghost, and the ghost will begin to rise toward the balloon. (Our ghost “arms” actually reached toward the balloon as we got it near.) If the balloon is charged enough, the ghost will rise and float right up to the balloon, even when it is several inches away. With a little practice, you can get the ghost to rise, float, and even dance around.The easiest way to make the ghost rise without it sticking to the balloon is to tape the
very tip of the bottom of the ghost to a table. The ghost will rise and move along with the balloon. With a good charge, the balloon can control the ghost from several inches away.
How’s it work?
When you rub the balloon through your hair, invisible electrons (with a negative charge) build up on the surface of the balloon. The electrons have the power to pull very light objects (with a positive charge) toward them – in this case, the tissue ghost!
Try it out and let us know how it goes.
GLOWING DRINKABLE BEVERAGES
Did you know that tonic water will glow under a blacklight? We didn’t either. The quinine in the tonic water glows a very cool looking blue color that we really like. If you’re not crazy about the taste of tonic water, try making ice cubes using the tonic water and then add them to a glass of Sprite or another light colored citrus drink. Switch on the blacklight and you have the perfect Halloween beverage. After a few minutes the entire drink will start to glow. (see photo) It works for making glowing Jello as well.
Slime and Halloween go together like, well, slime and Halloween. Here’s 2 ways to add a little slime to your October.
DO IT YOURSELF SLIME - If you’ve got a little glue and some powdered borax, you can mix up some slime by following the instructions HERE.
READY TO GO SLIME KITS - If you want to make LOTS of classic slime as an activity for a party or science lesson, or if you have trouble finding Borax, a kit is the way to go. You can find some great slime making kits by clicking HERE.
Ghost Bubbles are regular soap bubbles filled with dry ice mist. If you know the secret you can even hold them in your hand without them popping. Find out how to make Ghost Bubbles by clicking HERE.
All your neighbors will have Jack-O-Lanterns that glow orange, but you will impress them with a Jack-O-Lantern that glows green! Best of all, the green glow is simple and safer than traditional candles. Purchase one or two large glowing light-sticks per pumpkin at a party store or hardware store.(We like green, but there are many colors to experiment with) Activate the light stick and simply drop them into the pumpkin, or, to conceal the glow sticks, attach them to the inside of the pumpkin lid by unbending large paperclips to secure them. Place your pumpkin outside on Halloween night and admire the “Oooos” and “Ahhhhs” of Trick-Or-Treaters.
MAKE A HAUNTED, SCREAMING CUP
If you think haunted houses are scary, wait until to hear…haunted drinkware! First, check out our Chicken In A Cup experiment, but instead of pulling along the string in short bursts to sound like a chicken (it really does, trust us) pull in one continuous motion. The result is an eerie screaming cup! The only thing better than than trying the screaming cup yourself, is trying the screaming cup with LOTS of your friends all at once. Parents especially seem to enjoy that. The instructions can be found HERE.
Every mad scientist needs some bubbling potions. While dry ice may be the ultimate bubbling potion, the effect tends to be short-lived, and dry ice can be dangerous around younger Halloween party goers. The solution is a simple aquarium pump. Purchase an inexpensive aquarium pump and some tubing at your local pet store along with a line splitter (if you want more than one bubbling potion.) Set up the pump to send bubbles into various large food jars through the tubes. Add some food coloring, plastic bugs or fake body parts, and you’ve got the sights and sounds of a mad scientists lab that will last all night. For added drama, light up the jars from below using flashlights. You can also create floating eyeballs by drawing an iris and pupil onto ping-pong balls with permanent markers. Make a few that will float around by drilling two very small holes in the ping-pong balls and allowing them to fill with water until they sink. For an added glowing black light effect add our Glow-Bright Concentrate.
GHOST BUBBLE SPHERE
If you have got some dry ice around this Halloween, gather your friends and family and try making a Dry Ice Bubble Sphere. It’s easy, and the result will wow anyone at your party. Get all the instructions HERE.
THE STATIC DANCING GHOST
Make a paper ghost seem to rise at your command an even dance around
CLICK HERE for instructions to make a static powered dancing ghost.
THE SCREAMING QUARTER EXPERIMENT
If you have some dry ice from the Ghost Bubble Sphere left over, you might want to try this fun little demonstration. Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide. As it sublimates, (turns back into a gas) the carbon dioxide gas escapes around the quarter causing the quarter to vibrate and make a rather spooky shrill along with occasional humorous sounds. Always wear gloves when performing this demonstration.
Goat a few minutes? Here is a simple experiment that has impressed both students and adults that have tried it. It is also a great way to observe Newton’s First Law in action.
You will need:
- A Lincoln penny (or other small coin)
- A piece of card stock or stiff paper
- A film canister (baby food jar, juice bottle, other container with a mouth that is a bit wider than a penny)
- Pencil or pen
- Cut the cardstock paper into a long strip about .75 inches (2 cm) wide and form it into a hoop as shown. The paper should be stiff enough to hold the hoop shape on its own and the hoop works best when it is between 3-4 inches (8-10 cm) across.
- For dramatic effect, fill the film canister with water and place on a level surface.
- Place the hoop on the film canister as shown and balance the penny on the top of the hoop.
- Time for Lincoln’s big moment! Place a pencil through the center of the hoop and in one swift motion fling the hoop off to the side. If you do this correctly, the hoop will fly out of the way, and the penny will fall straight down into the canister with a splash. 10 points for Lincoln!
This is science?
You betcha. For this demo, Newton’s first laws says, in general, that an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. The energy of your movement with the pencil was passed on to the hoop, making it fly out of the way, but the hoop was moving too fast and there was not enough friction to affect the penny (at rest) on top of the hoop. The penny ended up above the film canister with nothing to hold it up. It was about then that gravity took over, and pulled the coin straight down into the waiting water. Yep, Issac Newton and Abraham Lincoln, together in the name of science.
Try it out and post here to let us know how it goes! Experiment with various hoops and objects to make it different.
Many florists sell colored carnations, but I think it is more fun to make your own! And you can learn a little something about plants in the process. Best of all, you can make the flowers just about any color you want. Start off with some white carnations from your local florist. We paid about $1.oo each here in the US. (If you just want to demonstrate how plants transport water, and watch color move through leaves, you can also perform this experiment using celery.) You will also need:
Some small cups
Decide what colors you would like the flowers to be and then add that color to your glass. You will need to add enough food coloring to create a strong color in the water, just a few drops of coloring will not have much of an effect. (Our blue looked more like black after adding enough color.)
Snip the last centimeter of your carnation steam and place the stem in the colored water. Now just wait. Over the next day you will see signs of the coloring emerge in the petals, and even in the leaves. Our experiments have shown that sometimes the color emerges within a few hours, other times it takes a day or two. You can make green flowers for St Patrick’s day, red for valentines…you get the idea.
Mulitcolor? We tried splitting the stem with a razor (adults only, for that part please) and we then placed each stem into a different color of water. Sure enough the flower became multicolored (see above)…pretty cool. We wonder if it would work with three colors. If you try it, let us know.
So how does it work??
This is the science of TRANSPIRATION. It basically means that the plant draws water up through its stem. The water is then evaporated from the leaves and flowers through openings know as stomata. As the water evaporates, it creates pressure that brings more water into the plant – similar to drinking from a straw. Some trees can transpire dozens (even hundreds) of gallons of water on a hot day. How fast a plant transpires depends on temperature, humidity, and even wind. You may want to set up an experiment that tests the transpiration rate of the flowers by placing your plant-coloring set-up in different areas (sunny & dark, windy& still, dry & humid) and see which flower ends up with the most color – more color=more transpiration.
By the way, most flower shops do not color their flowers this way. There are many different breeds of flowers that are capable of producing a wide variety of flower colors. But we still think this way is more fun. If you try this out with your kids or your class, please let us know how it went.
As we get ready to open up our new on-line science store later this month, we have had a lot of fun testing products. We recently received a box full of fluorescent minerals which we will make available in small kits. In the name of quality control, we decided to set them up and see how well they fluores under your typical, run of the mill, party store blacklight. As you can see, the effect was beautiful.
A blacklight is a great item to have in your science collection. Here is a great nightime science activity that you can try with your kids. Get an inexpensive battery powered blacklight, They are available on our web site or at many party stores or hardware stores. Go into a dark room and switch the UV light on. Now start looking around. Open drawers like toy drawers, clothes drawers, and closets. Many surprising objects are likely to start glowing. White clothing, “neon” colored paper, glow-in-the-dark-objects, even tonic water will glow under a blacklight.Try writing notes using a highlighter marker under the blacklight.
How does it work?
The light waves from an ultraviolet light (blacklight) excite the molecules of certain materials enabling them to reflect back light. In the case of fluorescent minerals, the light that is reflected back is often an entirely different color than the original mineral. Minerals such as calcite, wernerite, and willemite emit a bright colorful glow. Depending on where you live, you might be able to go out at night and find some fluorescent minerals of your own. Did you know scorpions glow under ultraviolet light? Get out and see what you can explore with a blacklight!
Our mineral sets are now available! To learn more, click HERE.
Kim Fogarty is the parent of an 8 year old science enthusiast, and when it came time for her daughter’s birthday party, there was no questions as to what the theme was going to be. The party was billed as an event with, “cool chemical reactions, wacky experiments and explosive fun.”
Kim writes: I used ideas garnered from the Internet, including ScienceBob.com (thanks, Bob), and I compiled a party agenda full of active, fun experiments, all which went over very well with the ten girls. As a teacher, I was fortunate enough to rent my school’s science classroom to have the party, but it can be done anywhere you have room to prepare and no worries about a few spills.
For the cake, I made a flask cake that was featured in the March 2009 Family Fun magazine. I also made “lab coats” using t-shirts that were cut down the middle, and we gave each party-goer a pair of kid-sized safety goggles as they arrived. As for experiments, we did Color Symphony, which was a big hit, and also the Fantastic Foamy Fountain (I varied the experiment and used regular hydrogen peroxide and still got exciting results as you can see in the photo.) We also mixed up a batch of “Super Slime” purchased from sciencebob’s site. (My daughter is still playing with the slime a month later – currently, she is investigating what happens when you put it in the freezer.) We also played with instant snow and explored some bubbling mystery solutions that they enjoyed. The finale was the Mento’s geyser that made everyone scream.
For goody bags, I made fabric drawstring bags that could be reused (going green, you know) and they were filled with test tube experiments – like growing spheres and insta-snow. Guests also got to take home their “lab coats” (each with a custom name tag) and their goggles. I also included a booklet filled with the experiments and the science behind them, as well as the Internet links to their sources and a couple of sites that promote science for girls – check them out: braincake.org and iwaswondering.org. I highly recommend a science party – everyone who was invited came and had a good time.
Got other great ideas for a science birthday party? Post a comment or submit the ideas for a new blog page by clicking HERE.
A Fun Flier With An Interesting Twist
Almost everyone has made a paper airplane at some point in their lives, but this plane is a little different. It may look unusual, but it flies surprisingly well. It is also safe to fly indoors or out. All it takes is some stiff paper and drinking straw. (We haven’t tried it with bendable drinking straws yet, so post a comment if you get to try that out.)
A PLASTIC STRAW & PAPER HOOPS = PLANE!
All the instructions are written out at the link below. We tried this today by linking 2 straws together for a super long plane. With some trial and error, we got it to fly over 30 feet. Let us know how it works out for you!
7 year old Sarah of Tennessee wondered if all bubble gum was created equal and which of the many brands of bubble gum in the candy aisle would giver her the largest bubble? All this wondering led to a science fair entry that won first place.
Sarah made great use of The Scientific Method to answer her sugary suspicions. Sarah’s hypothesis was, “Gum that is harder, stickier, and has more sugar will make bigger bubbles than gum that is softer, not sticky, and less sugary.” She carefully tested 6 popular brands of bubble gum being sure to chew them all the same and keep careful notes. She measured carefully (with help from Mom) and charted her results. After the sugar rush subsided, she reviewed her data and she was a bit surprised by her conclusion. So what is the most bubbly of the bubble gums? Try it out yourself and find out. Besides any time you can mix candy and science, it’s a good thing. Congratulations on your experiment Sarah!
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Lara runs a homeschooling blog from her home in Arkansas. One day, she gathered her kids and all the materials to make slime but she did not tell them what they would be creating. Using a familiar recipe, the boys were soon measuring, mixing, stretching, and yes, even learning about types of matter and polymers. Here’s Lara’s proportions for her large batch of slime. (See link below for smaller batches and to get some information about the science of polymers)
- 1 8-ounce (240 ml) bottle of glue
- 2 cups of (480 ml) warm water, divided
- food coloring
- 1 1/2 (8 ml) teaspoons Borax powder
- bowls for mixing
Pour the whole bottle of glue into a big bowl then fill the empty bottle with 1 cup of warm water and add that to the glue. Stir it up until it thins out.Then add several drops of food coloring and mix that in.In a separate bowl mix the Borax and the second cup of warm water until the Borax dissolves.Stirring CONSTANTLY, slowly pour the Borax into the bowl of glue. Stir and stir and stir until it forms into a goopy, slimy, mass. Remember to store it in an airtight container or it will dry out.