If you want to make any day better, perhaps the easiest way is to add bubbles to it. We have seen lots of different kinds of bubbles: big bubbles, small bubbles, bubbles that don’t pop, even colored bubbles. But my personal favorite is Ghost Bubbles. They’re not that hard to make and they are great fun to explore…especially at Halloween:
YOU WILL NEED:
- A large plastic container with a wide mouth
- A rubber sink sprayer designed to attach to a faucet with the sprayer cut off/removed. (regular wide tubing, 1 cm or wider will work as well)
- Small bowl of bubble solution. CLICK HERE for a recipe.
- Warm Water
- Dry Ice – Available at some grocery stores and ice suppliers
- A glove made of fuzzy fibers.
CAUTION!: NEVER touch dry ice with your bare hands.
Always wear thick gloves and keep away from children.
NEVER place dry ice in a completely enclosed container.
- Carefully drill a hole towards the top of the container that is just wide enough to fit the tube.
- Fit the tube into the opening with the wide (faucet end) out as shown in the top picture and secure with tape if needed.
- Fill the container with warm water about 1/4 full.
- Drop several pieces of dry ice into the water and cap the container loosely. Dry ice mist should now be coming out of the tube.
- Dip the end of the tube into the bubble solution and make ghost bubbles! If the mist is coming out too fast, loosen the container cap to adjust the flow.
MORE GHOST BUBBLE FUN:
- Try holding Ghost Bubbles with a fuzzy glove such as a wool glove. With some practice, you can toss and bounce the bubble.
- Allow the bubbles to fall onto a fuzzy surface, such as a towel. Try rolling them around by lifting different ends of the towel. Fuzzy surfaces keep the bubble from easily popping because they spread out the amount of pressure on the surface of the bubble, and keep it from touching a surface that would absorb the moisture and dry out the bubble, causing it to pop.
GHOST BUBBLE INFO:
Every soap bubble is made of a film that has 3 layers: Soap, then Water, then Soap. Because of the way that soap molecules are arranged, and the way they attract and repel from each other and the water, the soap creates bonds that give the water additional strength, and allow them to last much longer. The dry ice mist is a combination of water vapor and carbon dioxide gas from the dry ice. Because carbon dioxide is heavier than air, dry ice mist will always flow downward.
Bubbles may very well be the world’s first toy. From sea foam, to hand soap, to those bubbles you blow in your milk, it seems bubbles are part of our daily life. Soap bubbles way be the most fun off all bubbles and they are an inexpensive and limitless way to explore our bubbly world.
For years bubbleologists have perfected the solution for the longest-lasting and most durable bubbles. Perhaps the person who has studied the science of bubbles the most, is Keith Michael Johnson. And he recently shared his unlikely TOP-SECRET formula for the best bubble solution…
You will need:
- Water – many bubble enthusiasts are convinced that distilled water makes the best bubbles
- Liquid dish soap. Dawn dish soap has always been a favorite
- SurgiLube (available at medical supply stores) or K-Y Jelly (available at pharmacies)
- A clean plastic bottle to hold your bubble solution
What to do:
Simply pour all three ingredients into the bottle in the following ratio:
- 12 parts water
- 1 part dish soap
- 1/2 part SurgiLube
For example you would start with 12 ounces of water, add 1 ounce of liquid dish soap, and 1/2 ounce of SurgiLube. You can increase the amounts equally to make more.
- Shake the ingredients up well (don’t worry, the bubbles from shaking will go away)
- For best results, allow the bubble solution to sit overnight. Then you’re ready to go!
How do bubbles work?
Every soap bubble is made of a film that has 3 layers: Soap, then Water, then Soap. Because of the way that soap molecules are arranged, and the way they attract and repel from each other and the water, the soap creates bonds that give the water additional strength, and allow them them to last much longer. Bubbles will always be round when they are floating because the elastic nature of the soap bubbles allows air pressure to push equally on the entire surface of the bubble forming a sphere.
- You do not need bubble wands from the store to make bubbles. Simply dipping your hand in bubble solution and making a circle with your fingers makes a great bubble wand. Straws, plastic strawberry containers, fly swatters, and aquarium nets make great bubble wands.
- To make foamy bubbles, use a rubber band to secure a piece on cotton cloth over the end of a small section of plastic pipe. Soak the cloth in the bubble solution and blow from the other end.
- Pour a small amount of bubble solution onto a clean counter top and spread it out. Use a straw to blow a dome-bubble on the counter top. Keep blowing into the bubble to make it bigger and bigger. With some practice, you can get a bubble dome as big as a dinner plate!
I’ve always been a fan of science activities that you can eat. One of my favorites that I have been using for years is the Oreo Cookie Moon Phases activity. It’s almost as if Oreo cookies were made for this lesson, and it’s a great way to see how well students can match a moon phase name with a moon phase appearance.
You will need:
- An Oreo cookie for each student
- A piece of paper with a moon phase written on it for each student (I omit “Full moon” – that’s just too easy)
- A popsicle stick or other tool for scraping the frosting
What to do:
- Fold up each piece of paper with the moon phases written on it and hand one to each student as they enter the room – tell them not to open it yet. I will often have them store it in their shoe. They think that’s funny, and they won’t lose it.
- Demonstrate the proper way to slowly twist an Oreo to maximize the amount of frosting on one side when you separate the halves. (practice yourself, it can be tricky)
- Give each student a cookie and have them twist the halves open. Hopefully most will the frosting will be on one side or the other. They can always transfer frosting if needed.
- Have the student retrieve their moon phases while you hand out the craft sticks.
- Recreate the given phase in frosting!
I will usually tour the room and once they show me that they’ve got the phase right, they can eat the moon! Of course be aware of food allergies and such. If you try this out, let me know how it goes!
This project comes to us from Melissa Howard who is a Mom, Blogger, and photographer. This project nicely demonstrates how real-life geodes are formed in igneous and sedimentary rock. It also demonstrates super-saturated solutions and shows a nice variety of crystal shapes and formations.
YOU WILL NEED:
- clean eggshells
- a variety of soluble solids: table salt, rock salt, sugar, baking soda, Epsom salts, sea salt, borax, or cream of tartar
- small heat proof containers (coffee cups work well)
- food coloring
- egg cartons and wax paper or mini-muffin tins
WHAT TO DO:
- Crack the eggs for this project as close to the narrow end as possible. This preserves more egg to use as a container for the solution.
- Clean the eggshells using hot water. The hot water cooks the lining and allows you to pull the skin (egg membrane) out of the inside of the egg using your fingers. Make sure to remove all the egg membrane, if any membrane stays inside the shell it is possible that your eggshell will grow mold and your crystals will turn black.
- Use an egg carton lined with waxed paper or mini-muffin tins to hold the eggs upright.
- Use a saucepan to heat the water to boiling. .
- Pour half a cup to a cup of water into your heatproof container. If you poured half a cup of water into the container, add about a ¼ cup of solid to the water. Stir it until it dissolves. Likewise if you used a cup of water, add about ½ a cup of solid to the water. You wanted to add about half again the volume of the water as a solid to the mixture. When the initial amount of solid is dissolved continue adding small amounts of the solid until the water is super-saturated. Super-saturated simply means the water has absorbed all it is able to absorb and any solid you add will not dissolve.
- Add food coloring.
- Carefully pour your solution into the eggshell, filling it as full as possible without over-flowing it or causing it to tip.
Find a safe place to put your shells while the water evaporates. Crystals will form inside the eggshells as the water evaporates.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Dissolving the crystals in hot water created what is called a “super-saturated solution.” This basically means that the salts took advantage of the energy of the hot water to help them dissolve until there was no more space between molecules in the solution. As the solution cooled, the water lost its energy and the crystals are forced from the solution to become a solid again. Since this happens slowly along with the evaporation, the crystals have time to grow larger than they were when the experiment started. Natural geodes in rock are form in much the same way as mineralized water seeps into air pockets in rock. This is also how rock candy crystals are formed.
You can visit Melissa’s great blog and see more pictures HERE.
This may just be the easiest, messiest, and most fun science activity I know. It is a classic, and I have gotten several requests recently to post directions. You should know that if you try this activity and you are not smiling and messy with corn starch goo at the end, then you are definitely doing something wrong. Also keep in mind that this is not just about fun, there is some pretty amazing science going on here.
You will need:
- Cornstarch (a 16 oz. box is good for every 2-3 participants – but more is always better)
- Food coloring (we always say it’s optional, but it does make it more fun – don’t use too much or you could end up with colored hands…and clothes…and curtains)
- A large bowl
- A camera – you’re probably going to want to take pictures.
Everyone should roll up their sleeves and prepare for some gooey fun.
- This is easy. Pour the cornstarch into the bowl. Don’t rush to add water – take time to feel the cornstarch. Cornstarch does not feel like any other powder. It has a texture that can be compared to that of whipped cream. The grains of cornstarch are so small that they will fill into grooves of your fingerprints and make the prints stand out.
- After you’ve taken-in the feel of the powder, it is time to add water. (You should add the food coloring to your water before adding it to the powder.) There are no exact formulas regarding how much water to add, but it will end up being about 1/2 cup (120 ml) of water per cup (235 ml) of cornstarch. The secret is to add the water slowly and mix as you add it. Don’t be shy here – dig in with your hands and really mix it up. This is usually when you notice that this is not your average liquid. Add enough water so that the mixture slowly flows on its own when mixed. The best test is to reach in and grab a handful of the mixture and see if you can roll it into a ball between your hands – if you stop rolling it and it “melts” between your fingers – success!
We’ll get the the science soon, for now just dig in and explore. Notice that the goo does not splash (or even move) if you hit it quickly. Squeeze it hard and see what happens. How long can you get the strands of goo to drip? What happens if you let the goo sit on the table for a minute and then try to pick it up? How does it feel? Hows does it move? Try bouncing a ball on the surface of the cornstarch. You get the idea – explore!
30 minutes later…
So now goo is everywhere and you’re thinking you should probably start cleaning. Actual clean up of the goo is a snap. A bucket of warm water will quickly get it off your hands. It will brush off of clothes when it dries, and it is easily cleaned off surfaces with a wet rag. Important: Make sure you do not dump the goo down the drain – it can get caught in the drain trap and take the joy out of your day of science. Dump it in the trash, or even mix it into soil in the garden.
Now for the science…
Our cornstarch goo (sometimes referred to as “oobleck” from the Dr. Suess book) is what scientists call a “Non-Newtonian” liquid. Basically, Sir Issac Newton stated individual liquids flow at consistent, predictable rates. As you likely discovered, cornstarch goo does NOT follow those rules – it can act almost like a solid, and them flow like a liquid. Technically speaking, the goo is a SUSPENSION, meaning that the grains of starch are not dissolved, they are just suspended and spread out in the water. If you let the goo sit for an while, the cornstarch would settle to the bottom of the bowl.
So why does this concoction act the way it does? Most of it has to do with pressure. The size, shape, and makeup of the cornstarch grains causes the cornstarch to “lock-up” and hold its shape when pressure is applied to it. People have filled small pools with oobleck and they are able to walk across the surface of it (as long as they move quickly.) As soon as they stop walking, they begin to sink.
I hope you get to try this out. Let us know how your day with non-newtonian liquids went. Comment here, or, even better, send us pictures to email@example.com . Have fun exploring!
Testing for bacteria (germs) can be a great idea for a science fair experiment since there are so many possibilities for science questions, and because carrying out the experiment is pretty easy using widely available bacteria growing kits. Besides, who doesn’t like checking out bacteria and fungus?
All good science experiments start with a question – this is what you want to find out by experimenting. Here are a few example questions to get you started using the scientific method for growing bacteria:
- Is a dogs mouth cleaner than a humans mouth?
- Who has the cleanest mouth in the class?
- Do antibacterial soaps really kill bacteria?
- Which door handle in the school has the most bacteria?
- Does toothpaste kill bacteria in your mouth?
- Do dark socks create more bacteria in a shoe than white socks.
- Do hand sanitizers work to kill bacteria?
- What location in the school contains the most bacteria?
- Is there more bacteria in tap water, bottled spring water, rain water, or pond water?
Step 1 – Ask A Question: Let’s imaging that you want to answer the question, “Which door handle in the school has the most germs?”
Step 2 – Research: You can’t just jump in and start experimenting. It’s important to do a little research. Ask the school nurse which door handle he or she thinks the most germs (bacteria) are. Observe and chart which door handles get the most use, survey friends and family to get opinions and write down the results. All this information will help you narrow down which door handles are the most likely to contain germs – and which ones you should choose to use in your experiment.
Step 3 – Make a Hypothesis: This is when you make a prediction based on your research. This is not an “I think…” prediction, it is a statement that will either be proven true or false based on experimenting. An example would be, “The handle to the nurse’s room contains the most bacteria.”
Step 4 – Experiment: This particular science experiment requires a simple bacteria testing kit. You would choose several door handles that you think might contain the most bacteria. These door handles are considered the Independent Variable in your experiment because each handle is independent and you control which ones are chosen. In a typical kit you would touch a separate cotton swab to each door handle, and then touch it to the bacteria growing Petri dish so that you would have one dish for each handle. Take good notes that would include when you collected each sample and where you collected the sample, and be sure to label everything well in any experiment.
Step 5- Collect Data: In this experiment, bacteria will start to grow in the Petri dish over the next few days, and you may be surprised by just how much gross bacteria is lurking in your school. Take good notes each day and determine which dish has the most bacteria growing in it.
Step 6 – Make Your Conclusion: This is when you decide if your hypothesis is correct. If your hypothesis was, “The handle to the nurse’s room contains the most bacteria,” your experiment will show if your hypothesis was right. It is not bad at all if your hypothesis is incorrect, what is important is that you answered your question from step 1. Now pat yourself on the back for your fine scientific discovery using the Scientific Method.
CLICK HERE for information about Bacteria Growing Kits.
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.
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.
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.