New Experiment! Foaming Slime Monster in a Bottle

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

When I do science outreach with kids, I encourage them to get creative and try different ratios of ingredients in experiments like Mad Scientist’s Green Slime, to see how their results will vary. Will they get stretchy goo, or bouncy balls?

Foaming Slime Monster- KitchenPantryScientist.com

Foaming Slime Monster- KitchenPantryScientist.com

This morning, I decided to explore the kid in me and see what fun new experiment I could come up with, using the ingredients for polymer slime. After lots of giant failures, I came up with a fun way to combine two experiments: Mad Scientist’s Green Slime and Paper Bag Volcano. My kids gave it a big thumbs up and gave the experiment a fun name. Hope you like it too!

For this experiment, you’ll need: Borax laundry detergent (powder), baking soda, glue, vinegar and a full small 8oz plastic water bottle.

1. Remove the label from the bottle, take the lid off and pour out about 2oz of water.

2. Add 1 tsp. Borax and 5 tsp. baking soda to the water in the bottle (we used a paper funnel.) Put lid back on and shake well. Label bottle Borax/Baking soda.

IMG_4363

3. Mix together 2 Tbs. vinegar, 2 generous Tbs. glue and a few drops of food coloring. Mix well and transfer to a pouring container, like a paper cup with one side pinched into a spout.

IMG_4368IMG_4372

4. Shake the bottle of Borax/Baking soda solution up again and set it in a large bowl. Remove the lid from the bottle.

5. Pour the glue/vinegar solution into the water bottle very quickly, all at once.

IMG_4380

 

IMG_4383

6. When your bottle has stopped “erupting,” squeeze the foamy slime out of the bottle into the bowl and mush it all together.

IMG_4390

7. Enjoy your foaming slime monster! What would happen if you added glitter? Does the amount of glue you added make a difference? What if you added more?

The science behind the fun: Polymers are long chains of molecules, like a long string of beads on a necklace. In fact, polymer means “many pieces!” Glue contains a chemical called polyvinyl acetate, a polymer that is runny when you mix it with water or vinegar. However, if you add Borax detergent, a crosslinker,  it makes all of the glue molecules stick (or link) together in a big glob.

When you mix together baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar (acetic acid), you’re doing a chemical reaction. One of the products of this reaction is carbon dioxide gas.

In this experiment, when we pour the glue/vinegar into the baking soda/Borax solution, we mix baking soda and vinegar at the same time as we link glue molecules together, trapping gas bubbles inside our gluey polymer slime. Your “slime monster” escapes as the slimy bubbles push their way out of the bottle under increasing pressure.

Feel free to share this experiments with your friends. If you’re sharing it on a website, please link back to this post though, since it’s an original experiment! 

Spring Science Eggsperiments

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Spring is egg season. You may prefer dyed eggs, hard-boiled eggs, deviled eggs, or even dinosaur eggs.

IMG_6679

No matter what kind of eggs you like best, you’ll love these eggsperiments that let you play with the amazing architecture of eggs, dissolve their shells and even dye them with the pigments found in your refrigerator. Just click on experiments for directions and the science behind the fun!

Dissolve eggshells with vinegar and play with osmosis when you make “Alien Monster Eggs.”

Dye eggs with spices, fruits and vegetables,

or dye them with red cabbage juice and use lemon juice and baking soda to paint them.

You can stand on a carton of eggs to test their strength.

For a fun physics experiment, throw eggs at a hanging sheet.

Make egg-eating monsters and watch atmospheric pressure push eggs up into a bottle.

Egg drops are a fun way to test your engineering prowess. 

Grow alum crystals in eggshells to create beautiful geode-like works of art. 

Finally, here’s a little more about the science of hard-boiled eggs.

_DSC5628-b

 

Rocketing into Spring

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Last week, on Twin Cities Live, we headed outside to launch some water rockets and see how high we could make Diet Coke Mentos geyser rise! You can click here to watch the segment or here for directions.)

This video shows Halloween Soda Geysers, but you can decorate them any way you want to!

We even chatted about Thursday night’s NASA rocket launch to study magnetic reconnection.

It was a fun way to celebrate the great weather. Try making your own geyser and water rocket!

 

Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for Kids in Grades 5-8

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

I don’t typically write sponsored posts, but I love this contest so much that I’m more than happy to spread the word about it! Last year, I was lucky enough to hear the ten Young Scientist Challenge finalists present their innovations and was blown away by their creativity, their knowledge, and their passion for helping create a better world for everyone to live in.

BO0I7714 (1)

The Discovery 3M Young Scientist Challenge “targets students in the years when research indicates their interest in science begins to fade and encourages them to explore scientific concepts, apply those concepts to everyday life and creatively communicate their findings.”

My 8th grader fits this description. He loves science, but hasn’t had opportunity to do much hands-on experimentation at school, and he’s bored. Last year, he entered the Young Scientist Challenge and came up with a tornado protection blanket made using a non-Newtonian fluid. He didn’t make it to the finals, but the fire was kindled. He was blown away by the finalists’ presentations and how much his peers knew about science and technology. Now, he tells me that he thinks about the 3M Young Scientist Challenge almost every day and seems determined come up with an idea that will take him to the finals this year for a shot at the $25,000 grand prize!

Whether he makes it to the finals or not, I couldn’t be happier. He’s engaged, he’s excited, and he’s working to think creatively.

Anyone in grade 5-8 can enter! Share the science behind a possible solution to an everyday problem in a 1-2 minute video at www.YoungScientistChallenge.com.  Entries are due by April 21, 2015!

Hints for kids entering the contest: First of all, watch the finalists’ entry videos from last year! Then, think about a problem that needs solving, which is always a great exercise, whether you’re thinking locally or globally! If you’re stuck, read the news, make a list of problems and choose the ones you’re most interested in. Then, read more about the issues and brainstorm solutions. Remember, you’re not being graded and that there are no wrong answers.

Hints for parents: You’re only there to guide your kids, and remind them that some ideas (i.e. new ways to kill Ebola) may be too unsafe to investigate at home. You’ll be amazed at how smart they are!

The ten finalists in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge will each be paired with a 3M scientist mentor. The mentors will help guide finalists to create an innovation that will be presented to a panel of judges at the final competition at the 3M Innovation Center in October.

Follow the competition on Twitter at @DE3MYSC  and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/YoungScientistChallenge 

On Twitter? Join in Thursday evening, March 5 at 9 PM Eastern for the March #STEMchat. TheMakerMom.com is partnering once again with the premiere science competition for middle school students, the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. This year, the theme for our chat is applying science to everyday life. (This post is sponsored by #STEMchat.)

Science Sticks!!!

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

This morning my 9 YO came down the stairs and told me she does the soap science experiment every time she washes her hands.

“Which one?” I asked.


soap experiment cropped

“The one where the soap jumps!” she said, demonstrating for me by pouring a thin stream of liquid hand soap from one palm to the the other. “Sometimes it jumps clear out of the sink!”

Over a year ago, my daughter and some of her friends helped me do this “Kaye Effect” experiment  (shared with me by  Dr. Greg Gbur) for my book “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids,” but I had no idea that it stuck in her mind, or that she’d figure out a new way to do the experiment.

Lab 28 from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids

Lab 28 from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids

Maybe some day in the future, she’ll remember that shear-thinning fluids like soap can “jump” and it will help her solve a problem, or even create something new!

Here’s my original post on the Kaye Effect.

Sound Science

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

This week, I did some sound science experiments with the kids at my daughter’s school and it was literally a blast (of noise.) Here’s how it sounded (times 50.)

The kids had already done some cool experiments with their teacher, and told me that the sound we hear every day is energy that travels through air molecules as vibrations. We talked about the fact that you can’t hear sound in outer space, since there’s no air.

When I pulled out my trombone, the kids could see that the tube that carries the air from my lungs and the vibrations from my buzzing lips got longer when I extended the slide, making the sound lower. My daughter played her violin, and we heard how string instrument can make short sounds by plucking the strings and continuous sound when a bow makes them keep vibrating. We also saw that shortening the strings by pressing them down made the pitch higher as the string vibrated faster.

 

IMG_4294

The kids told me that we have a “drum” in our ears called an eardrum, or tympanic membrane that picks up sound vibrations in the air and transfers those vibrations to tiny bones in the middle ear, which then move them on to our inner ear, sending a message to our brain.

We made a model “eardrum” out of a cup, saran wrap and sugar sprinkles, and then made two musical instruments: a straw “clarinet” and a kazoo from a comb and tissue paper. Finally, we made the sugar crystals on our model eardrums jump around using sound vibrations from our kazoos.

straw "clarinets"

straw “clarinets”

Click on this  link to learn how to make straw “clarinets.”

To make comb kazoos, fold a piece of tissue paper in half the long way (see photo), place it over a comb with the teeth towards the fold, and place your lips on the tissue paper. Sing doo doo doo doo into the paper (don’t blow.) The vibrations from your voice will make the thin paper vibrate and buzz. It will tickle if you’re doing it right!

 

Creative Science

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

If I give you glue, water and Borax, can you come up with a recipe for perfect polymer slime based solely on what you know about the science?

IMG_5874[1]

 

Last week, I did hands-on science with 150 third graders at Success Beyond the Classroom’s Creativity Festival at the University of Minnesota. As they came into the room, I asked them to draw a picture on chalkboard of anything related to science. They drew test tubes, trees, volcanoes, and even scientists!

IMG_5881[1]

Then we dug into the science. After doing my favorite large group hands-on experiment with purple cabbage juice to warm them up, I announced that we’d be making polymer slime, but that they would have to invent the recipe for the perfect goo.

To begin with, I talked about the science. We learned that one ingredient in the slime is glue (polyvinyl acetate), which is a polymer, or long chain of molecules. Then, we talked about the fact that adding water to the glue makes it less viscous, or thick. As usual, I had them repeat the vocabulary after me. Finally, I explained that the sodium tetraborate in Borax laundry detergent is a cross-linking substance that makes glue molecules stick together, and that we’d mixed up some Borax and water for them to use as a crosslinker for the slime.

IMG_5871[1]

Their challenge was to come up with one “recipe” to make a gooey, soft slime and a second recipe for a harder, rubber-like slime that could be rolled into bouncy balls. They each had a note card and pencil to keep track of their work, plastic teaspoons as measuring tools and paper cups for mixing slime. First, they’d stir up different proportions of glue and water, and then they’d add the Borax solution as a cross linker and mix it all together with a popsicle stick. To make it a little more colorful, they could add a drop of food coloring or some cabbage juice.

Needless to say, there were failures and successes and the kids had a blast.  We talked about the fact that experiments often don’t work on the first try, and each kid explained to the group how they’d made their perfect slime as they demonstrated how it bounced and stretched.

Try it!

 

 

 

Homemade Magic Orbs

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

My 8-YO loves Orbeez, those water-thirsty polymer balls that go from the size of cookie sprinkles to the size of marbles after a quick soak.

 

I wondered whether we could make something similar from gelatin or agar.

Homemade Magic Orbs- KitchenPantryScientist.com

Homemade Magic Orbs- KitchenPantryScientist.com (agar orbs on left, gelatin orbs on right)

A quick search online showed me that some chefs use a technique called oil spherification to make tiny round morsels using everything from balsamic vinegar to fruit juice, mixed with gelatin and agar.  It’s known to cooks as a “molecular gastronomy” technique, and takes advantage of the fact that water and oil don’t mix. Water-based droplets falling through chilled oil form  into perfect spheres due to surface tension, and gelatin and agar added to the mix are colloids that solidify as they cool.

 

Magic Orbs forming in cold oil (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

Magic Orbs forming in cold oil (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

We made some fun (inedible) orbs of our own, using the technique: standard orbs (from gelatin or agar and water), floating orbs (with agar and vinegar) and color-changing acid/base indicator orbs (from red cabbage juice and gelatin or agar.) Adult supervision is required for this project, since it involves hot liquids. The orbs may also be a choking hazard, so keep them away from toddlers. I demonstrated how to make them on Kare11 Sunrise News.

To make magic orbs, you’ll need

-unflavored gelatin or agar*

-water

-vinegar

-food coloring

-cold vegetable oil in a tall container. Chill oil in freezer or on ice for at least an hour, or until it is cloudy, but still liquid.

HINT: Orbs made with vinegar and agar shrink better than those made with gelatin (see floating orb recipe below!)

Standard colored orbs:

1. With adult supervision, dissolve 5 packets unflavored gelatin or 2 Tbs. agar in 1 cup hot water. Add 2 tsp. vinegar. Microwave and stir until completely dissolved.

2. Pour into smaller containers and add food coloring. When cooler, but not solid, add the melted, colored gelatin or agar to an empty glue container or squeeze bottle.

3. Drip gelatin or agar solution into the cold oil, a few drops at a time so it forms into marble-sized orbs and sinks. Drip two colors together to make multi-colored orbs! Allow to cool for 30 seconds or so and retrieve with a slotted spoon or strainer. Rinse with water and repeat, re-chilling the oil as needed until you have as many orbs as you want.

Making magic orbs on Twin Cities Live with Lindsey Brown and Steve Patterson (photo by Glenn Griffin)

Making magic orbs on Twin Cities Live with Lindsey Brown and Steve Patterson (photo by Glenn Griffin)

 

Lindsey Brown and Steve Patterson making orbs on Twin Cities Live (photo by Glenn Griffin)

Lindsey Brown and Steve Patterson making orbs on Twin Cities Live (photo by Glenn Griffin)

4. Rinse orbs with water. Dry them out by setting them on a plate overnight if you want to see them shrink and then re-hydrate them with water. Orbs can be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. (Keep away from small children, since they may be a choking hazard.)

To make floating orbs, follow directions above, but make with 1 cup white vinegar and 2 Tbs. agar. They will sink and float when added to water with a few tsp. of baking soda mixed in as the vinegar and baking soda react to form carbon dioxide gas.

IMG_4056

To make color-changing orbs, dissolve 2 Tbs. agar or 5 packs unflavored gelatin in 1 cup red cabbage juice (magic potion) and follow directions for making orbs. Then drop them in vinegar to watch them turn pink or in water containing baking soda to watch them turn blue!

IMG_4048

 

Could you make homemade jelly beans using flavored gelatin using this same method? Try it!

*Agar, or agar agar flakes can be found in the Asian food section of many grocery stores!

 

Frozen: Crystallize Your Holidays

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

IMG_4144

With the touch of her bare hands, “Frozen’s” Elsa coats the world with ice. It takes a little longer, but with your imagination, you can use alum crystals to make ordinary objects extraordinary with science!

IMG_4142

We coated pipe-cleaner snowflakes, styrofoam snow people and even an evergreen branch with gorgeous ice-like alum crystals. We demonstrated how to make these on Kare11 Sunrise News.

Here’s how to grow your own alum crystals:

Ingredients: alum (spice section of grocery store. 3 small containers for half recipe, 5 containers for 4 cup recipe. Alum is relatively expensive, so you might want to cut the recipe in half and crystallize smaller items! See below.) glue, water, paintbrush,small items you’d like to coat with crystals.

1. Using a paintbrush, brush glue on the surface you want to “freeze”. One option is to twist 3 pieces of pipe cleaner together to make a snowflake. If you have beads, add them to your snowflake before crystallizing!

2. Before the glue dries, sprinkle the object with alum. These are your seeds for crystallization. Allow object to dry.

IMG_4100

3.With adult supervision, dissolve about  1 1/4 cup alum in 4 cups in hot water (we use the microwave), reserving some alum to sprinkle on other objects you may want to make later. (One 1.9 oz. container of alum is around 1/4 cup, so you’ll need 5 of them.) Liquid will be cloudy and some crystals will sink to the bottom. This is your supersaturated alum solution.

4. Allow liquid to cool.

5. Suspend objects in alum solution until crystals are the size you’d like them to be. This may take an hour for small crystals or overnight for large one.  Remove the crystals from the jar and dry your crystallized object. We grew big crystals on our snowflakes and then scraped them off the beads, but left them on the pipe cleaners.

IMG_4102

6. To crystallize more objects, reheat alum solution, stir up crystals to dissolve as many as possible, and cool before adding the next thing to be “frozen.”

The Science Behind the Fun: Some crystals, like alum, will form from supersaturated solutions, like the one you used in this experiment. A supersaturated solution is one that is forced to hold more atoms in water (or another solute) than it normally would.  You can make these solutions using heat or pressure.  Crystals can form when a supersaturated solutions encounters a “seed” atom or molecule, causing the other atoms to come out of the solution and attach to the seed.

What else can you think of to crystallize?

Give Kids The Gift of Science

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

At home science offers an opportunity for kids to have fun and be creative thinkers. This holiday season, help your kids take a break from screens with an activity they’ll love, like blowing up balloons with baking soda and vinegar!

Wrap up Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (available wherever books are sold) with a box of baking soda, a bottle of vinegar and some balloons for an instant holiday hit.

IMG_4598[1]

 

 

 

 

IMG_1732

 

 

 

 

 

Better yet, put together a homemade science kit for the kids on your list and let them choose and experiment a day to do over break. (Many of them are easier than baking cookies.)

 

 

Put kids in charge of the experiments. Let them try whatever they want, as long as it’s safe, even if you don’t think it will work. We learn to be creative when we’re given freedom to make mistakes and go beyond the instructions.