Air Plant (Tillandsia) Holiday Ornaments

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Tillandsia, also known as Air Plants, come in many shapes, sizes and colors. In nature, you’ll find them living in trees in warm places like South America. They collect moisture from the air and rain, rather than pulling it up via roots like most plants, so you can care for them with a weekly misting.

Tillandsia ornament (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

Tillandsia ornament (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

Pick up a few clear, hollow “decorate your own” ornaments, and you can use these living wonders to make unique homemade decorations. We’re giving them as gifts this year.

You’ll need:

-clear ornaments with removable tops
-small Tillandsia that will fit through ornament tops (Air Plants are available at most nurseries. Ask for care instructions, if they have them.)
-needle nose pliars, or tweezers

Note: Choose plants that are small enough to fit through the openings of your ornament!

Tillandsia ornaments (Kitchen Pantry Scientist.com)

Tillandsia ornaments (Kitchen Pantry Scientist.com)

Mist your plants, or soak them in a bowl of clean water for 15 minutes or so, gently shake off the excess water, and carefully push them into the ornaments, bottom first so you don’t harm the plant. Put the top back on the ornament, leaving it loose enough for air to circulate.

Once a week or so, use needle nose pliers or tweezers to remove the plant from the ornament (bottom first) and water it by spritzing or soaking. After the holidays, it’s easy to move them to another vase, bowl or clear container for easier care.

Slime Kit: Homemade Science-y Holiday Gifts for Kids

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Buying gifts is fine, but it’s more fun to make them. This year, we decided to make botanical gifts for the adults on our list, and slime kits for the kids.

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To make a slime kit, you’ll need:
-glue
-glitter glue (optional)
-Borax laundry detergent
-small plastic sample cups or paper cups (optional)
-food coloring
-jars with lids
-a small plastic bin or shoe box
-plastic spoons
-extra glitter (optional)

Label the jars and fill as follows:

  1. Bouncy Ball Mix (fill with glue)
  2. Slime Mix (fill with equal parts glue and water, mixed well)
  3. Borax detergent (fill with powdered detergent)
  4. Cross-Linking Solution (leave empty)
  5. optional-Sparkly Bouncy Ball mix (fill with glitter glue)
  6. optional-Sparkly Slime Mix (fill with equal parts water and glitter glue, mixed well)

Make an instruction sheet for the kit. (Print out the info below, or copy it onto a card.)

To make slime:

  1. Fill Cross-Linking Solution container with warm water. Add about 2 tsp Borax per 1/2 cup water to the container. Mix well. (Don’t worry if all the Borax doesn’t dissolve!)
  2. Add a few spoonfuls of Ball Mix or Slime Mix to a small plastic cup or paper cup.
  3. Add a drop or two of food coloring to the cup. Stir.
  4. Add 3 spoonfuls of the Cross-Linking Solution to your ball mix or slime mix and stir well.
  5. If the slime still feels too sticky, add a little more Cross-Linking Solution.
  6. Remove your completed slime from the cup.

The Science Behind the Fun:

Glue is a polymer, which is a long chain of molecules linked together, like a chemical chain.  The polymer formed by water and glue is called polyvinyl acetate.

The Borax solution is called a cross-linking substance, and it makes the glue polymer chains stick to each other. Eventually, all the chains are bound together and no more cross-linking solution can be taken up.

To finish the slime kit, fill the plastic bin with the ingredients you put together, including jars of ingredients, instructions, plastic spoons, and mixing cups (optional.)

Slime (from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids -Quarry Books)

Slime from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books)

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Food Science: Cranberry Spy Juice

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

(Adapted from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids)

Grab an extra bag of cranberries this Thankgiving! Kids can use it to reveal invisible messages they write with baking soda and water.

You’ll need:

-around 2 cups of cranberries

-water

-baking soda

-printer paper

-small paintbrush, Q-tip, or lollipop stick

Safety tips and Hints:

Boiling the berries should be done by an adult. Keep the lid on the pan, since the air pockets that make cranberries float can also make them explode. Kids can take over once the juice is cool.

When playing with cranberry juice, aprons or old clothes are a good idea, since it stains!

Directions:

Step 1.  Cut a cranberry in half and observe the air pockets that make it float.

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Step 2. Boil the cranberries in about three cups of water for 15 to 20 minutes, covered. Listen for popping sounds as the air in the cranberries heats up and they explode.

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Step 3. Crush the cooked berries and push the liquid through a sieve or colander to collect the concentrated cranberry juice.

Step 4. Allow the juice to cool and pour it into a casserole dish or cake pan big enough to hold a piece of paper.  If your cranberry juice seems thick and syrupy, add a little water, so that it’s thin enough to soak into paper!

Step 5. Test the paper you want to use by cutting a small piece and soaking it in the cranberry juice. If it stays pink, it will work, but if it turns blue or gray, try some other paper.

Step 6. Add a few teaspoons of baking soda to 1/3 cup of warm water and stir well. Don’t worry if you can still see some baking soda.

Step 7.  Using a Q-tip, paintbrush, or a homemade writing tool, use the baking soda solution as ink to write a message on your paper.  It may take a little practice, so don’t get frustrated.

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Step 8. Let your message air dry, or speed things up with a blow dryer.

Step 9. To reveal your message, place your paper in the cranberry juice and see what happens!

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*What other natural acid/base indicators could you use to do this experiment? What else could you use as ink.

The Science Behind the Fun:

Cranberries contain pigments called anthocyanins (an-tho-SY-a-nins,) which give them their bright color. In nature, these pigments attract birds and other animals to fruit.  This is important because animals eat the berries and spread plants seeds from one place to another.

These pigments, called flavanoids, change color when they come in contact with acids and bases.  Cranberry juice is very acidic, and the pigment is pink in acids, but when you add it to a base, it turns purple or blue.

Baking soda is a base, so your baking soda message will turn blue when it comes into contact with the pigments in the cranberry juice.  Eventually, when enough cranberry juice soaks into the paper, it will dilute the baking soda, turning the pigment back to red and your message will disappear!

There are over 300 kinds of anthocyanins which are found in many fruits and vegetables including blueberries, red cabbage, grapes and blueberries.  Scientists believe they may have many health benefits.

Science with Thanksgiving Food: Potato Porcupine

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

As a kid, I was always fascinated by stories of pieces of straw from a field being driven into  wooden planks in barns and houses by the swirling winds.

With a potato, plastic drinking straws and a glass of water, you can see for yourself how this happens.  Like drinking straws, real straw is hollow and although a potato is much softer than a piece of wood, you’ll get the picture.

You’ll need a potato and some sturdy plastic drinking straws.

Begin by soaking a potato in a glass of water for about 30 minutes to soften the skin.  We used a red, boiling potato, because that’s what I had on hand.

Then, grasp a straw tightly, near the middle and stab it into the potato as hard as you can. Try starting at different distances from the potato to see whether it makes a difference in how far the straw goes in. (You can mark it with a Sharpie and pull it out.)

We were surprised to find that, instead of breaking or bending, the straw can be driven surprisingly deep into a potato .  This happens because objects in motion, like the straw, tend to stay in motion and objects at rest, like the potato, tend to stay at rest.  (Newton’s First Law of Motion) This is called inertia.  In addition, the paper-thin edges of a drinking straw don’t offer much resistance, and potatoes are composed of around 90% water.

Candy Experiments

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

We have bags full of candy at our house, and I’d like to see them disappear as quickly as possible. Here are a few science experiments we tried, substituting candy for other ingredients:

Candy Chromatography: We put candy in water and used coffee filters to separate out the colors, via capillary action.

Skittles in water with coffee filter strips between cups...

Skittles in water with coffee filter strips between cups…

Coffee filters on cups, with water dripped onto a piece of candy.

Coffee filters on cups, with water dripped onto a piece of candy.

Candy-drinking plants? We dissolved candy in warm water and added white carnations with cut/split stems to see whether they’d  change color as the flowers drew the water up into their petals.

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Candy Vegetable Vampires: We tried the same experiment with Napa Cabbage, via the Vampire Vegetables experiment in Kitchen Science Lab for Kids.

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We’re also going to freeze candy in ice and make Tie Dye milk with Skittles!

What could you try with your candy?

10 Fun Kitchen Halloween Science Experiments for Kids

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Here are ten quick and easy experiments to make your Halloween even more fun and memorable!

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Click on these links for instructions on how to make:

Oozing Monster Heads (from Outdoor Science Lab for Kids)

Frankenworms (from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids)

Cornstarch Goo (from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids)

Mad Scientist’s Green Slime (from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids)

Alien Monster Eggs (from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids)

Magic Potion (from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids)

Bags of Blood (from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids)

Fake Blood 

Scary Jell-O Eyeballs

Vegetable Vampires (Scholastic.com/Experiment from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids)

Here are a few of my favorites!

You can find more experiments by scrolling down on my website!

Dry Ice Science

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

We had a great time playing with dry ice on WCCO TV this morning. I showed viewers how to make spooky Halloween decorations (hot water, food coloring and dry ice), carbonate beverages, inflate a balloon, and even make a spoon “sing.”

Dry ice is literally really cool, which is why you have to wear gloves to handle it. It’s made from frozen carbon dioxide gas, and as it warms up, it goes from the solid to liquid state instantly, skipping being a liquid altogether in a process called sublimation. As it becomes a gas, it cools water molecules in the air around it, making fog. And if you add it to a liquid, it carbonates the liquid with bubbles.

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To make dry ice, you have to get carbon dioxide gas really cold and put it under pressure so that it goes instantly from the gas phase to the solid phase in a process called deposition.  Here’s a video of a machine that makes dry ice pellets:

Foaming Alien Blood

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

If you’ve ever seen the X-Files, you know that foaming green alien blood is pretty scary.

It’s simple to use kitchen table chemistry to mix up your own batch of green alien blood with corn syrup, green food coloring, water and baking soda.

Just add vinegar (tell your friends it’s water) to make it foam.

Mix together:

2 Tbs corn syrup

1 tsp baking soda

green food coloring

1/2 tsp water

When you want to make your slime foam, add a few tsp of vinegar.

You could make the same thing with red food coloring and call it vampire blood!

The Science Behind the Fun: When you add baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to vinegar (acetic acid), there’s a chemical reaction that creates carbon dioxide gas bubbles! 

Experiment created by Liz Heinecke at KitchenPantryScientist.com

Halloween Science: Non-Toxic Fake Blood

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Unlike the foaming green alien blood in the X-Files, the blood pulsing through our veins is red, thanks to iron-containing hemoglobin molecules loaded with life-giving oxygen.

edible fake blood

fake blood

To make fake blood that looks like real blood,  you’ll need to concoct a mixture of  liquid, thickeners and red pigment (tinted with blue and brown.) Kids will have a great time coming up with their own concoctions. Have a creative chemistry contest to see who can come up with the most realistic fake blood, or use it to make scary Halloween props.

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Here’s a recipe to start with, but kids can work with smaller amounts and mix their blood in bowls, rather than a blender. Fake blood stains everything it touches, so be prepared for messy hands and wear old clothes! Naturally red plant pigments, like the ones in pomegranate juice and raspberry jam won’t stain fingers as much as food coloring and taste yummy. However, red food coloring will give you a more realistic color.

Blend together:

1/3 cup pomegranate juice (like POM) or fruit punch

2 Tbs corn starch 

1 Tbs chocolate syrup (or 1 Tbs cocoa powder)

1 Tbs red food coloring 

1 cup corn syrup

Tint with a tiny bit of blue food coloring. (optional)

Other ingredients to try: seedless raspberry jam, cocoa powder, Kool-Aid, Jell-O, flour, maple syrup

Here’s a fun TV segment where meteorologist Matt Brinkman was game enough to try out one of the blood capsules we made!

We made the edible blood capsules you see in the video by filling empty gelatin and vegetarian capsules with a mix of raspberry jelly, corn syrup and chocolate syrup.

 

 

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!