Archive for the ‘Science!’ Category

Peeps!

March 28th, 2012

It’s spring, Easter is almost here, and that means one thing… Peeps! Personally, I can’t stand the things.  I’ve never liked them.  My kids do not share my opinion though. Whether or not you think peeps are good eating, they can be used for a lot of fun science!  Here’s a few fun peep science […]

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It’s spring, Easter is almost here, and that means one thing…

Peeps!

Personally, I can’t stand the things.  I’ve never liked them.  My kids do not share my opinion though.

Whether or not you think peeps are good eating, they can be used for a lot of fun science!  Here’s a few fun peep science experiments for you.

  • Nuke a peep!  Throw a peep in the microwave – 30 – 60 seconds will do.  Make sure you watch while they’re heating, because that’s where all the fun is!
  • Mix some peeps!  Pour some water (or any other clear liquid you like) into a bowl, add 2 different colored peeps, and watch what happens.  This is a great lesson in color mixing, so keep on repeating with different peep color combinations.
  • Fry some peeps!  If it’s a sunny day, go outside with a peep and a magnifying glass.  Remember burning ants with a magnifying glass as a kid?  This is the more humane version.

Once you’re done with those, be sure to check out these fun peep links:

Then check out the creativity from past Washington Post Peeps Shows!

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Feed the Birds

March 14th, 2012

Recently, I posted about birdwatching.  And then I went and bought that coconut.  So here I was with 2 halves of a coconut shell, and I was wondering what to do with them.  I certainly wasn’t going to make a coconut bikini!  The coconut got me thinking though, and I decided to turn it into […]

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Recently, I posted about birdwatching.  And then I went and bought that coconut.  So here I was with 2 halves of a coconut shell, and I was wondering what to do with them.  I certainly wasn’t going to make a coconut bikini!  The coconut got me thinking though, and I decided to turn it into a birdfeeder!  A little string, a little creativity, and voila!  A coconut bird feeder!

I’m certain it’s not squirrel proof, but it’s also a lot easier to fill than my squirrel proof feeder.

Now I want to see your homemade feeders! Send me a picture, and I’ll post it in a future blog post!

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Leapin’ Lizards!

February 29th, 2012

It’s leap day, so how about a science experiment that leaps? Get a balloon, and blow it up and tie the end. Let your child pour about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper on the table (no need to measure!). Have her rub the balloon on her clothes for a minute or […]

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It’s leap day, so how about a science experiment that leaps?

Get a balloon, and blow it up and tie the end.

Let your child pour about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper on the table (no need to measure!).

Have her rub the balloon on her clothes for a minute or so.

Hold the balloon above the salt and pepper and slowly lower it.  When you get within about an inch of the pile, the pepper will leap up to the balloon!  (The salt will leap up too, when you get a little closer.)

What’s happening?  It’s all about static!  The same thing that gives you a shock when you touch a doorknob in the middle of winter, or makes your hair stand on end when you take your winter hat off.  When you rub the balloon on fabric, it gets a negative charge.  The pepper (and salt) is positively charged, so it’s attracted to the balloon!  (Salt is heavier than pepper, so the balloon has to be closer.)

When you’re done picking up salt and pepper, rub the balloon on fabric a little longer, and stick it to the wall.  No tape needed!

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Birdwatching

February 15th, 2012

My kids find birds fascinating.  When we had that fabulously warm weather a few weeks ago, we had several visits from a little guy now known as “our woodpecker friend”.  He was quite taken (apparently) with the 2 trees in our front yard, and Daniel and I both had a great time watching him and […]

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My kids find birds fascinating.  When we had that fabulously warm weather a few weeks ago, we had several visits from a little guy now known as “our woodpecker friend”.  He was quite taken (apparently) with the 2 trees in our front yard, and Daniel and I both had a great time watching him and checking out the holes he left in the tree.  Daniel likes watching birds, and while Noah does too, he really loves finding out what kind of birds they are, and what they do.

Birdwatching is such a great science activity.  There’s no mess, you can do it whenever you have time, and it takes very little equipment.  If you plan it right, you can even do it from the comfort of your home, which is especially nice in the middle of winter.

Little kids (most of them, anyway) don’t think much about tramping through the woods looking for rare birds.  Most of the time they make too much noise and scare all the birds off.  The best way to bird-watch with kids is by simply hanging a bird feeder and seeing who comes to visit.  Bird feeders are easy to find, and most stores carry them.  I recommend getting a squirrel proof model, because those hungry little buggers will steal all your seed.  But if you don’t want to buy a bird feeder, you can make one.

The easiest way is to coat a pine cone (or even a toilet paper tube!) in peanut butter and then roll it in bird seed.  You can make them with gelatin, or get really fancy and make bird seed cookies (a quick google will yield many recipes for bird seed cookies)!  Whatever method you choose, hang them on the nearest tree, and in a few days, you should have some visitors!

Once you’ve got feathered visitors, head over to Project Feeder Watch and you can print your own bird identification posters so you know who’s visiting!

Happy  birdwatching!

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Ice and Water

February 1st, 2012

There are a lot of things that are totally obvious to adults, but completely bewildering to kids.  Our recent ice storm gave the perfect example of this.  As we were climbing in the car on a sunny day, Daniel remarked that the sun melts the ice.  Yes, it does.  But then he wanted to know […]

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There are a lot of things that are totally obvious to adults, but completely bewildering to kids.  Our recent ice storm gave the perfect example of this.  As we were climbing in the car on a sunny day, Daniel remarked that the sun melts the ice.  Yes, it does.  But then he wanted to know if the sun melted water too.  I explained that the sun melted the ice into water – that ice was frozen water, but he just didn’t believe me.  (And really, who can blame him – they look really different!)  I told him we’d melt some ice when we got home so he could see, but he wasn’t happy with the idea of waiting.  Then, inspiration struck.

I ran inside and grabbed a tiny clear rubbermaid container.  I put an ice cube in it, snapped the lid on, and handed it to him in the car.  He saw the ice, and as we drove, he watched it melt.  And lo and behold, it turned into water!  He was amazed, especially at the end, when I proved to him that it was indeed water – by opening the container and letting him drink it!

Sometimes science is big and fancy.  And sometimes it’s completely simple.  And it’s still equally amazing.  Daniel was truly blown away that ice and water are the same thing.  He never believed me when I told him, but when he watched the transformation himself, it became completely concrete and believable.

So give it a try.  Give your preschooler a container with ice, and let them watch what happens.  The easiest way to learn science is by doing science.

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Hot and Cold

January 18th, 2012

Let’s continue the balloon theme from last time.  Your kids will love this one, because, if your bottle is plastic, they can do it over and over, all by themselves. You’ll need: a bottle, like a 20 oz soda bottle, or similar a balloon a bowl of hot water and a bowl of ice water […]

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Let’s continue the balloon theme from last time.  Your kids will love this one, because, if your bottle is plastic, they can do it over and over, all by themselves.

You’ll need:

  • a bottle, like a 20 oz soda bottle, or similar
  • a balloon
  • a bowl of hot water and a bowl of ice water

Leave the bottle empty, and place the balloon over the top.  Hold the bottom of the bottle, or let your child do it, if the bottle is plastic, in the hot water.  Leave it for a minute or so and watch what happens.  Then, move it to the ice water and see what happens.

What’s going on?  Heat excites molecules and makes them move more and take up more room.  When you place the bottle in the hot water, the air in the bottle expands, filling up the balloon.  When you place the bottle in the cold water, the molecules calm down and take up less space – deflating the balloon.  And the best part is you can do it again and again!

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Blowing up a Balloon….with science!

January 4th, 2012

Your kids will love this one, because it seems like magic! You’ll need: a bottle – like a 20 oz soda bottle or something similar in size a balloon (or several, because your kids will want to do this again and again) vinegar baking soda Put some baking soda in the balloon – about a […]

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Your kids will love this one, because it seems like magic!

You’ll need:

  • a bottle – like a 20 oz soda bottle or something similar in size
  • a balloon (or several, because your kids will want to do this again and again)
  • vinegar
  • baking soda

Put some baking soda in the balloon – about a teaspoon or so – no need to measure.  Then, pour a few ounces of vinegar in the bottle.  Now’s the tricky part – put the mouth of the balloon over the top of the bottle, without pouring the baking soda out of the balloon and into the bottle.  In other words, you’ll want the balloon bent, so that the baking soda stays put, for now.  Then, when you’re ready for amazement, lift up the bottom of the balloon so the baking soda pours into the bottle and mixes with the vinegar (don’t pull – you want the balloon to stay on the bottle).  Watch what happens!

What’s happening?  Vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base, and as you might remember from your high school chemistry days, when you mix an acid and a base, a chemical reaction occurs!  The by-product of this reaction is carbon dioxide, which blows up the balloon.

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Rock Candy

December 21st, 2011

This one is an exercise in patience, but your kids will love the end result! You’ll need: sugar water a small saucepan a wooden spoon a clean glass jar cotton string a weight (like a paperclip or a washer – give it a good wash first!) waxed paper a pencil or dowel food coloring (optional) […]

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This one is an exercise in patience, but your kids will love the end result!

You’ll need:

  • sugar
  • water
  • a small saucepan
  • a wooden spoon
  • a clean glass jar
  • cotton string
  • a weight (like a paperclip or a washer – give it a good wash first!)
  • waxed paper
  • a pencil or dowel
  • food coloring (optional)

Put 2 cups of water in the saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add 4 cups of sugar and stir continuously, until the liquid is clear and reaches a rolling boil.

Carefully pour the solution into the jar.  Be careful, as the liquid will be very hot.  Cover the jar with waxed paper.

Tie one end of the string to the weight, and the other end to the pencil or dowel.  The string should be about 2/3 the depth of the jar.  Dip the string into the sugar solution, lay it on a piece of waxed paper and let it dry for a couple days.

Once dry, gently place the string in the jar and rest the pencil across the top of the jar.  Let the jar sit, undisturbed, for several days at room temperature.  Don’t touch the jar until the experiment is finished – though you can look every day and see what’s going on.  Your crystals should be grown after about 7 days.  The longer you leave the string, the larger the crystals will be.

Eat and enjoy!

What’s happening?  First, when we dipped the string in the sugar solution and allowed it to dry, tiny sugar crystals (or seed crystals) formed on the string.  Then, when we placed the string in the sugar solution, these seed crystals provide spots for larger crystals to start growing.  The sugar solution is called a supersaturated solution – it has so much sugar in it, it can’t hold any more.  The solution is unstable, so the sugar can’t stay in solution.  Once you put in the string with the seed crystals, the sugar starts coming out of the solution – forming crystals.  (Delicious crystals!)

If you still have your magnifying glass around from the nature walk a few weeks ago, use it to look at your crystals before you eat them!  Mom and dad can also use the sugar crystals to sweeten their coffee!

 

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Sharpie Tie Dye

December 7th, 2011

I love sharpies.  I don’t know why, but they’re fabulous.  This week’s science tip is the perfect excuse to go buy that mega pack of colored sharpies you’ve been eyeing.  (Or maybe that’s just me.  Am I the only one who lusts after cool writing implements?) You’ll need: colored sharpies rubbing alcohol a plastic cup […]

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I love sharpies.  I don’t know why, but they’re fabulous.  This week’s science tip is the perfect excuse to go buy that mega pack of colored sharpies you’ve been eyeing.  (Or maybe that’s just me.  Am I the only one who lusts after cool writing implements?)

You’ll need:

  • colored sharpies
  • rubbing alcohol
  • a plastic cup
  • a white t-shirt (or other white cotton fabric)
  • rubber band

Smooth a section of the shirt over the plastic cup.  Secure it with a rubber band.  Use the sharpies to make dots of color in a circle in the middle of the section of fabric on the cup.  The circle should be about 1″ in diameter.  You don’t have to always make circles – any shape or design will do!  You can use more than one color.

Place a few drops of alcohol (a straw with your finger on the end works well as a dropper) in the white center of the circle.  After a few drops, the alcohol will begin to spread out towards the sharpie ink.  Add more drops until you like the pattern.  Allow the alcohol to dry for a few minutes and then move on to another section of the shirt.  Make as many circles as you like!

Let the shirt dry completely, then put it in your dryer on high for 15 minutes.  This will set the dye and allow you to launder the shirt as usual without washing away the dye.

How’s it work?  The sharpie ink is alcohol soluble, but not water soluble.  The alcohol dissolves the ink from the sharpie and spreads it out.  Once the shirt dries, you can wash as usual, since the ink isn’t dissolved by water.

 

Here’s our sharpie tie dyes.  Aren’t they fun?

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Nature Walk

November 23rd, 2011

Give each of your kids a magnifying glass (a plastic one – this science experiment isn’t about watching glass break!) and go out for a nature walk.  This is not a time to stay clean!  Get down on your hands and knees (you too, grown ups!) and really examine everything with the magnifying glass.  Look […]

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Give each of your kids a magnifying glass (a plastic one – this science experiment isn’t about watching glass break!) and go out for a nature walk.  This is not a time to stay clean!  Get down on your hands and knees (you too, grown ups!) and really examine everything with the magnifying glass.  Look at the leaves, the bark, and any bugs you might find.  Nature is cool when you’re outside, but it’s really cool when you magnify it!

A great place for this is the nature trail at the Robinson Nature Center.  Though, your backyard also has plenty of nature just begging to be examined with a magnifying glass.

(Not all science lessons have to be experiments!  You’ll be amazed how much a kid will discover if you just turn them loose to observe what’s around them.)

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