Category:Biology Experiments’

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.

 

 

Time Lapse of Monarch Butterfly Emerging from Chrysalis

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Our eight Monarch caterpillars were in chrysalises when we returned from our vacation, and yesterday the first of them emerged! We were lucky enough to catch it on our iPhone time-lapse, which makes everything look faster than it actually happens. You’ll be amazed at how the butterfly pumps fluid from its body to expand its beautiful orange and black wings.

Outdoor Science Apps

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

It’s almost summer! Whether you’re heading to the back yard, a park or a nature center, here are a few of our favorite free apps to enhance your next outdoor adventure…

Merlin Bird ID (free) The Cornell Lab of Ornithology makes it easy to identify that mystery bird in your back yard. http://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/

Leaf Snap: (free) Take a photo, identify a plant.http://leafsnap.com/

Bee Friendly: (free) Be a citizen scientist with this cool app that lets you identify and tracking pollinators like bees in your area. http://earthwatch.org/scientific-research/special-initiatives/bee-friend-your-garden

Starmap: iOS (Starmap Lite is free.) Use this app to easily find and identify constellations in the night sky. http://www.star-map.fr/

ISS Spotter: (free) It’s cool to watch the International Space Station fly across the horizon at night. This app will help you spot it, and even has an alarm so you don’t miss it. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/iss-spotter/id523486350?mt=8

Magnificent : (free version) Magnify leaves, bugs and anything else you want to take a closer look at. http://habitualdigitalsoftware.com/

8 Spring Science Eggsperiments

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

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

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

Egg Geode from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books)

Egg Geode from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books)

Dye eggs with spices, fruits and vegetables,

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

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

Alien Monster Eggs from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books)

Alien Monster Eggs from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books)

 

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

Standing on Eggs from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2015)

Standing on Eggs from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2015)

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

From "Kitchen Science Lab for Kids" Quarry Books

From “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids” Quarry Books

Make egg-eating monsters and watch atmospheric pressure push eggs up into a bottle.CZ1A9811p

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

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

 

 

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)

 

 

 

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 Invisible Ink and Sherlock Science

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Write spooky messages for your friends with invisible ink! Just paint lemon juice on printer paper with a Q-Tip, let it dry and reveal the message using heat from a candle flame via oxidation!  Adult supervision is required when using candles. You can also reveal your message using a very hot light bulb, but we had better luck with a flame.

You can see how it looks in the segment below. We also dusted for fingerprints on glasses with chalk and cocoa powder to get ready for the Science Museum of Minnesota’s upcoming Sherlock exhibit.

Summer Changelings

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Summer surrounds us with science. We’ve been catching tadpoles and capturing caterpillars and releasing them as frogs and butterflies. It’s nothing short of amazing to watch these creatures move through a process called metamorphosis, which changes them from one form to a completely different one as they become adults. This is a great survival tactic, since the youngsters and adults live in different areas and eat different things, so they’re not completing for food or space!

You can look for monarch caterpillars on milkweed and swamp milkweed, which you see in the video above. Bring plenty of food home for them to eat as they grow (the plants you found them on.) Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillars prefer a diet of dill! If you have trouble finding caterpillars, plant some milkweed and other butterfly-friendly flowers in your garden! The monarch population is in trouble due to lack of milkweed, which once grew everywhere. Click here for more information raising Monarchs.

Monarch caterpillar preparing to form a chrysalis

Monarch caterpillar preparing to form a chrysalis

 

Newly-formed Monarch butterfly chrysalis

Newly-formed Monarch butterfly chrysalis

We caught tadpoles in a local fountain (with permission, of course) and brought them home to observe. When they became tiny toads, we released them in the same fountain where we caught them. Before catching tadpoles, check local regulations to make sure it’s allowed and ALWAYS return them to the exact spot where you caught them, to avoid the spread of deadly fungi and invasive species! If you can’t return them to the same spot, don’t bring them home! Keep them in water from the source where you caught the them, and never add tap water to their habitat, since chlorine will kill them. Be sure there is a rock for them to crawl onto when they become frogs or toads. They’ll eat water plants and algae from their original habitat, but you can also boil green lettuce in bottled water and chop it finely to feed your tadpole. Release them immediately when they hop out of the water, since it may be difficult to know what to feed them once they’re mature.

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mature frog with nearly-mature tadpole in background