Mummy-making

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

When mixing up materials to make a mummy, don’t forget the salt!

Natron, which was used in Ancient Egypt to preserve mummies,  is a natural salt mixture containing sodium carbonate  decahydrate (soda ash), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium chloride (table salt), and another salt called sodium sulfate.  Salt is a dessicant, which is a chemical that removes water from things.  It also has anti-microbial properties, which means it kills bacteria and fungi.  When you remove water and microbes from the picture, mummies bodies’ don’t decompose.

Today on WCOO, we mummified some apples, hot dogs and even a game hen, which is like a small chicken. Here’s an old post on how to mummify apples. 

First, we’ll weigh everything we’re going to mummify, so we can see how much water weight they lose during the dehydration process.

We’ll rinse and blot the game hen with alcohol to kill some of the microbes on the outside, add aromatic spices like cinnamon and cloves, and put it in a container filled with a 50-50 mix of baking soda and salt (Kosher salt or table salt will work), where we’ll let it sit for about 40 days, changing the salts once or twice over  that time period.

Real mummies are coming to the Science Museum of Minnesota! Mummies: New Secrets of the Tombs opens at the Science Museum of Minnesota on February 19. The exhibition, which features mummies from the preeminent collection of the world-renowned Field Museum in Chicago, juxtaposes ancient specimens with the modern science that has given us new glimpses into ancient Egyptian and Peruvian cultures.

Edible Science: Ice Cream Games

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Brrr. It’s really cold here in Minnesota. Perfect for making ice lanterns by filling balloons with water and setting them outside the back door. I had a great time talking ice lanterns and homemade ice cream (an edible experiment in my new book) on WCCO MidMorning this AM. As promised, here’s the recipe for “Ice Cream Keep Away.” After all, it’s never to cold to eat ice cream.

Ice Cream Keep Away (from Outdoor Science Lab for Kids- Quarry Books 2015)

Materials

  • - 2 cups milk
  • - 2 cups heavy cream
  • - ½ cup sugar
  • -   2 Tbs. vanilla
  • -  quart or pint-sized plastic zipper freezer bags
  • -  gallon-sized zipper freezer bags
  • - 2 cups of rock salt or table salt
  •  -large bag of ice
  • -dish towels

Safety Tips and Hints

  • If the ice cream isn’t frozen when you check it, add more ice and salt to the outer bag and continue to throw it around for another five or ten minutes.
  • You make enough ice cream mix in this lab to make 4 ice cream footballs at a time, so there’s plenty of ice cream and fun to go around!

Step 1:  Make an ice cream mixture by combining 2 cups milk, 2 cups cream, ½ cup sugar and 2 Tbs. vanilla to a bowl and mix well.

Step 2.   Add one cup of ice cream mixture to a quart or pint-sized freezer bag, squeeze out some of the air and zip it closed.

Step 3.    Place the small bag of ice cream mixture in a second small bag, squeeze out the air and zip it closed as well.

Step 4.     Place the double-bagged ice cream mixture into a gallon-sized bag and fill the larger back with ice.

Step 5.    Pour a generous ½ cup of salt over the ice in the bag and zip the bag shut.

Step 6.    Wrap a dish towel around the bag of ice and place it in a second gallon bag. Zip the outer bag closed.

Step 7.   Play catch with the bag of ice and ice cream for ten or fifteen minutes.

Step 8.   Remove the bag of ice cream mix from the outer bag and enjoy your frozen treat.

Enjoy eating your frozen experiment! (From Outdoor Science Lab for Kids-Quarry Books 2016)

Enjoy eating your frozen experiment! (From Outdoor Science Lab for Kids-Quarry Books 2016)

The Science Behind the Fun:

 Making ice cream is a lesson in heat transfer and crystallization.

Water is the solid form of ice. When you add salt to ice, it lowers the freezing temperature of the water, melting it and allowing it to remain a liquid far below water’s normal freezing temperature of 32 degrees F (O degrees Celsius.)

 In this lab, adding salt melts the ice, making a really, really cold ice-salt-water mix. The icy salt water pulls, or transfers, heat out of the ice cream mixture, freezing the water molecules in the milk and cream into ice crystals.

Depending on how fast ice cream freezes and what ingredients it contains, the ice crystals will be different sizes. If you freeze the mixture very fast, you will probably get big ice crystals that make the ice cream grainy. Ingredients like gelatin encourage smaller crystals to form, making smoother frozen treats.  Adding emulsifiers like eggs to the mix helps the fats and water combine better, creating ice cream that thaws more slowly.  

  • Try added less salt to the ice to freeze the ice cream more slowly. How does this change the texture of the final product?
  • What happens if you add a Tbs. of gelatin to the mix?

Epic Star Wars Themed Jell-O

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Did you know you can use science to make amazing works of art in Jell-O? I created this experiment to make Star Wars Jell-O, but you can take it in whatever direction you want. Remember, you’ll need agar, lots of Jell-O and some coconut milk to start experimenting! If your agar figures break, you can fill in the cracks with more melted agar! I ordered the silicone Star Wars molds on Amazon.com.

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Star Wars Themed Jell-O : Educational Science Experiment created by KitchenPantryScientist.com

Here’s the science part: Agar is a substance extracted from the cell walls of red algae. It’s often used in cooking and science experiments. Agar has a higher melting temperature than the gelatin used to make Jell-O. So, if you put a piece of agar gel into melted Jell-O, the agar won’t melt unless the Jell-O is really hot (about 150 degrees Fahrenheit or 65 degrees Celsius!) That means you can create works of agar art to embed in your favorite Jell-O.  We used silicone molds, cookie cutters and a molecular gastronomy technique called oil spherification to make our agar decorations. To make the orbs using spherification, you simple drip coconut milk agar through cold oil, forming perfect spheres that solidify as they fall. We talked with Astronaut Abby on Kare11 Sunrise about how you could make these orbs in space. Click here to see the segment.

Vegetarians like to eat agar, since it’s made from algae and not animals. In labs, scientists use agar to make petri dishes for growing microorganisms, since it won’t melt at high temperatures in incubators. They also use it to make gels for electrophoresis, to separate DNA and RNA molecules by size! 

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Snowflake and Storm Trooper Jell-O (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

*If you want to make white orbs from the coconut milk agar, you’ll need to plan ahead and chill tall jar or glass of vegetable oil in the freezer until it is thick and almost frozen. You’ll also need some squeeze bottles or clean eyedroppers.

Coconut Milk Agar -To create your white decorations and mini orbs, mix up this coconut milk agar dessert.

2 1/2 cups water

4 Tbs Agar flakes from Asian section of grocery store or COOP

1 cup coconut milk (not lowfat) Mix the coconut milk well before you measure it.

4 Tbs. sugar

 In a sauce pan or the  microwave, heat 4 Tbs. agar in 2 and 1/2 cups water until the agar is completely dissolved. Adult supervision required. 

To the agar mixture, add 1 cup coconut milk and 4 Tbs. sugar. Mix Well. Pour into molds, pour into a pan to cut shapes out with cookie cutters, or pour some into a squeeze bottle to make white orbs. 

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Coconut Milk Orbs (optional cool science experiment

Slowly drip melted coconut milk agar (above) through ice-cold vegetable oil. As it fall through the oil, it should harden and form orbs. Collect the orbs with a slotted spoon and rinse before adding to your Jell-O.

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Jello-O

Follow the directions on the package for the speed set method. If you make a double batch, pour half of it into the bottom of a large, glass casserole dish or bowl. If it’s a single batch, pour the whole thing in. If you made coconut milk orbs, put some in the melted Jell-O to see whether they float or sink. Let the Jell-O solidify and arrange your agar decorations on the Jell-O.

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Set the coconut milk agar decorations on the first layer of Jell-O (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

 

Make or remelt more Jell-O. When it’s cooled down a bit, pour it over your decorations to trap them in the Jell-O. You may want to leave them sticking out a little, or cover them completely with Jell-O over them for effect.

What else could you try? What Jell-O masterpiece can you create?

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Han Solo got a little cracked when we took him out of the mold, but we fixed him with some melted coconut milk agar! (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

 

 

 

Frozen: Crystallize Your Holidays

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

 

 

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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 grow alum or Borax crystals on almost anything and make ordinary objects look extraordinary! (Directions for growing Borax crystals on pipe cleaners is near the bottom of this post. Borax crystals grow much faster than alum crystals and you can make snowflake ornaments overnight!)

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We coated pipe-cleaner snowflakes, styrofoam snow people and even an evergreen branch with gorgeous ice-like alum crystals.

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! It’s cheaper to buy it in bulk at your local COOP.) 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.

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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.

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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.”

 

To make Borax crystals, dissolve 10 Tbs. Borax in 3 cups of hot water and immerse pipe cleaners cut and twisted into snowflake shapes in the liquid. You don’t even need seed crystals to do this, since the Borax crystals will form on the pipe cleaner fibers on their own!

 

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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, or another impurity in the solution (like a pipe cleaner fiber) causing the other atoms to come out of the solution and attach to the seed. The more molecules attach, the larger the crystal will grow.  Here’s how to make rock candy with sugar crystals.

What else can you think of to crystallize?

Holiday Science: Homemade Science Kit

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

There are few gifts that are more fun (and less expensive) than a homemade science kit. Give a kid a bottle of vinegar and a box of baking soda and you’ll make their day. Throw in a bottle of Diet Coke and some Mentos mints, and you may be their favorite person ever. Make a kit for your kids or grand kids. Make one for your favorite niece or nephew. Encourage kids to make kits for friends and siblings. Make one for yourself!

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When kids do science at home, there are no rules, there are no time limits, and no one is judging their results. It’s the perfect opportunity for them to explore, make guesses about what will happen and try new things. In other words, they’re learning to be creative. What could be better than that?

Below are some ideas for great items to include in your kit. I’ve highlighted links to the experiments on my website (just click on the blue experiment name) in case you want to print out directions to add to your kit.

You can also find these experiments, and more,  in my book Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (available wherever books are sold online and in stores), on my free KidScience app for iPhones/iPads/iPods and on my Kitchen Pantry Scientist YouTube channel!

composition book: Makes a great science notebook to draw, record, and tape photos of experiments into.
clear plastic cups to use as test tubes and beakers
measuring spoons and cups 
school glue for making Mad Scientist’s Green Slime
Borax detergent to use as a cross-linker for the Green Slime
gummy worms to transform into Frankenworms
baking soda: Can be used for a number of experiments like fizzy balloons and magic potion. Mix with vinegar to make carbon dioxide bubbles.
vinegar Great for fizzy balloons , alien monster eggs and magic potion.
balloons for fizzy balloons
dry yeast for yeast experiment
white coffee filters: can be used for magic marker chromatography, in place of a paper bag for a coffee-filter volcano or making red cabbage litmus paper.
cornstarch:Lets you play with Cornstarch Goo, a non-newtonian fluid. Here’s the video.
marshmallows with rubber bands and prescription bottle rings you have around the house can be used to make marshmallow catapults. My kids used theirs to make their own Angry Birds game.
Knox gelatin and beef bouillon cubes can be used to make petri plates for culturing microbes from around the house. You can also use the gelatin for cool osmosis experiments!
Food coloring Helps you learn about surface tension by making Tie Dye Milk. Here’s the video. You can also easily make colorful sugar-water gradients that illustrate liquid density!
Mentos mints will make a Mentos geyser when combined with a 2L bottle of Diet Coke.
drinking straws are great for NASA soda straw rockets and a carbon dioxide experiment.

Happy Experimenting!

 

Culture

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Today on WCCO MidMorning, I’ll be talking microbiology! According to the CDC, hand washing is the best way to remove microbes from your hands.

You can see what bacteria and fungi are hanging out on your fingertips by touching homemade petri plates to grow colonies. Test your fingers before and after washing with water alone, soap and water, and finally hand sanitizer. You can find the experiment in my book, Kitchen Science Lab for Kids, and here on my website. The video below shows you how to make plates.

Kitchen Pantry Scientist’s Homemade Bath Fizzies

 - by KitchenPantryScientist


My 9 YO and I did some fun experimenting yesterday to figure out the best way to make bath bombs. As a starting point, we tried a few recipes off of the internet. The first was was crumbly and smelled too strongly of olive oil, and the next one was equally tricky to work with. After our first two failures, we looked at our results and decided to omit the water in the recipes, using just coconut oil to hold the mix together.  It worked well! Here’s the recipe we came up with. You may have to  tweak it a little by adding a tiny bit more oil to make the perfect bath bomb mixture!

1 cup baking soda

¼ cup cream of tartar

2 Tbs. coconut oil, melted to liquid

food coloring

empty contact lens case

metal spoon

-Whisk together baking soda and cream of tartar. Slowly drizzle in coconut oil, mixing immediately. Stir for several minutes until you get a nice even mixture that holds together when you press it between your fingers.

-Separate the mix into 3 or 4 bowls, and add a few drops of food coloring to each bowl. Mix again until color is incorporated.

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-Press the bath bomb mixture into empty contact lens cases and gently tap the backs with a spoon to remove fizz tablets. It may take a few tries to get the hang of it! If they don’t stick together, try adding a little more oil and mixing again. Dry the bath fizzies on a plate or cooking sheet and package in cellophane bags or pretty baking cups for friends and family. Use your fizz bombs within a few weeks for maximum fizziness!

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-Older kids can make larger “bath bombs” using molds for round ice cubes (which we found at Target.) Double or triple the recipes, gently press some mixture into each side of the mold, and mound a little extra on each side. Press the mold together to compress the bath bomb mixture into a single ball. Tap one side gently with the back of a spoon and gently open the mold to release that side of the sphere. Hold it in your palm and repeat with the other side to release the entire bath bomb from the mold.

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The science behind the fun: The chemical name for baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, and cream of tartar is potassium bitartrate, or potassium hydrogen tartrate. When you mix them together in water, you create a chemical reaction that forms carbon dioxide gas bubbles! It’s interesting to note that at temperatures below 76 degrees F (25 C), coconut oil is a solid, but that at temperatures above this, it melts into a clear liquid. How does this affect your bath fizzies? Will they work in cold water as well as they do in warm water? Try it!

 

 

Six Quick and Easy Halloween Science Experiments

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Here are some great last-minute experiments to make your Halloween more fun and spooky! Watch the TV segment I did to see how much fun they are, and look for links to directions below the video.

Click on these links for instructions on how to make Frankenworms, Cornstarch Goo, Mad Scientist’s Green Slime, Alien Monster Eggs, Magic Potion and Bags of Blood. You can find more experiments by scrolling down on my website!

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Science: Magic Potion

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

It’s simple to stir up some Halloween magic with a head of red cabbage and some baking soda and vinegar.

Magic Potion, from “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids” Quarry Books -photo by Amber Procaccini

Chop us half a head of red cabbage (with adult supervision, of course), put it in a sauce pan, cover it with water and boil for 10 minutes or so, until the water turns purple. Let it cool, strain out the cabbage and save the purple juice, which is your Magic Potion.

Pour about half a cup of the purple juice into each of two clear cups or bowls.

To one cups, add 2 tsp. baking soda and stir. What happens?

To the other cup, add 1/4 cup vinegar. Amazing!

Now, put the two cups on a tray or cookie sheet and pour the pink cup into the blue cup quickly. Woo Hoo!

Here’s a video, if you want to see how the experiment works.

What happened?

Everything in our world is made of very tiny pieces called atoms. When atoms bond to other atoms, they form groups of linked atoms called molecules.

Purple cabbage juice is called an acid-base indicator. The molecules in the cabbage juice magic potion change when exposed to an acid or base, making the potion change color.  Vinegar is an acid (acetic acid), which turns the potion pink and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a base, which turns it blue or green.

When you mix the vinegar potion and baking soda potion together, a chemical reaction occurs and you make Carbon Dioxide gas.  That’s why you see bubbles!

Soak coffee filters in leftover cabbage juice (if you have any) to make Homemade Litmus Paper!

Have fun experimenting! Happy Halloween!

Halloween Science: Oozing Monster Heads

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

IMG_4912Combine science and art in this awesome experiment!

You’ll need 8 oz water bottles, glue, Borax detergent, baking soda and vinegar.

First, decorate full 8 oz water bottles with tape, marbles and whatever else you can find.

Then, follow these directions to make foaming slime ooze out of their heads, using a simple chemical reaction! You’ll love it!