Olive Oil Egg Marbling

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

It’s simple to make gorgeous marbled eggs using olive oil marbling. Simply dye your eggs with light coloed food coloring and then marble them with a darker color.

Oil-Marbled Eggs

KitchenPantryScientist.com

Hint: Wear gloves to avoid staining your fingers.

You’ll need:

-2 cups of warm water in a bowl

-hard boiled eggs

-olive oil

-vinegar

-food coloring (We used  Wilton Color Right food coloring: 2 drops blue mixed with one drop of yellow in about a cup of water to make robin’s egg colors, and brown for marbling.)

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1. Make base dye by adding a few Tbs. vinegar to two cups of water. To this, add a few drops of food coloring. Lighter colors work best for the base.

2. Dye the hard boiled eggs in the base color until they are the desired shade. Let them dry.

3. To a small bowl, add 1/2 cup water, a Tbs. of vinegar, darker food coloring, and 1/2 tsp olive oil. Add more oil if you want less dark color when you marble. Oil shouldn’t cover the entire surface.

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4. Swirl the oil with a toothpick or spoon and lower your egg into the water/oil mixture, swirling and spinning it. When you like the results, take it out and let it dry.

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5.When the egg is dry, remove the excess oil with a paper towel.

The science behind the fun: Food coloring is an acid dye, so the vinegar (acetic acid) helps it bond to the egg shell. Oil is less dense than water and floats on top. When you put the egg in the oil-colored water mixture, the oil coats part of the egg, preventing it from being stained.

 

Borax Alternative for Making Slime

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

If you prefer not to let your kids mix up slime using powdered detergent, contact lens solution containing boric acid makes a good Borax substitute, when combined with baking soda and glue. (Note: Most liquid laundry detergents in recipes for “Borax-free” slime contain Borax.)

What’s the science behind the fun? To make slime, you need a chemical called a crosslinker to make all of the glue molecules stick together. When you use contact lens solution, the boric acid in contact solution combines with baking soda to make borate, the same crosslinking solution that Borax contains.

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To make Borax powder-free slime, just add a pinch or two of baking soda per ounce of glue (around 1 tsp per bottle of clear glue), stir, add food coloring or glitter and then keep adding contact lens solution and stirring until the glue isn’t sticky any more. You can add water to the glue before adding the contact solution to change the consistency of the slime.

You can find more slime recipes here.

Slime versus Slime

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

A homemade slime craze is sweeping the nation, and glue is becoming a limited resource as stores are swarmed by school kids on a quest to make the perfect goo.

from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2014)

from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2014)

I’ve posted recipes and videos for slime-making on this website and included one in “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids.” For my most recent book, “Outdoor Science Lab for Kids,”  I invented a recipe for making slime that oozes from a bottle like a living thing.

From "Outdoor Science Lab for Kids" (Quarry Books 2016)

From “Outdoor Science Lab for Kids” (Quarry Books 2016)

But the other day, my 11-YO brought home a slime recipe featuring clear glue, baking soda, shaving cream and contact lens solution, and I was baffled. Which ingredient was the cross-linking chemical that would bind all of the glue molecules together into slime? I hadn’t had much luck using any cross-linker besides Borax laundry detergent.

Curiosity got the best of me, and a trip to Walgreens confirmed my suspicion that most contact lens solution contains boric acid, a cross-linking chemical related to Borax. In the glue aisle, I discovered a “Borax-free slime” recipe for slime made with Tide Free and Gentle. (Tide detergent does, in fact, contain the same chemical in Borax, so it’s not really Borax-free.)

A few days later, a friend called saying that the slime her kids were making with Borax and clear glue wasn’t turning out. That’s when I decided it was time for us to do some scientific sleuthing.

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From Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2014)

We tested two glues (clear glue and white school glue) with three cross-linking solutions (Borax laundry detergent, contact lens solution, and Tide Free and Gentle (which contains some Borax) to see how the end-products would differ.

Helpful hints: A bottle of glue contains 4 or 5 oz, which is a little more than half a cup. Mix glue with other ingredients BEFORE adding the cross-linker.  Keep slime away from toddlers, as ingredients may be harmful if consumed. Always wash your hands after playing with slime.

Here’s what we found:

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Traditional Borax Slime: Add equal parts glue and water (for example, one 5 oz bottle of glue+5 oz water.) Add glitter or food coloring. Dissolve a few spoonfuls of Borax in a cup of water to make a Borax solution. Add Borax solution to glue, a little at a time, until it no longer feels sticky. 

-White school glue works best for this recipe and the result is smooth slime that can be rolled into long snakes.

-Clear glue doesn’t work well with this recipe and produces brittle slime. Save clear glue for the two recipes below. 

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Puffy Slime: Add 5 oz glue to a large bowl. Stir in 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 cup shaving cream and glitter or food coloring. Mix well. Add contact lens solution as a crosslinker and stir. Keep adding contact lens solution until your slime is no longer sticky and knead slime until it has the desired consistency. 

-White school glue works well with this recipe and results in a puffier, firmer product than clear glue. The slime has a strong shaving cream smell. 

-Clear glue works well for this project and produces nice, smooth puffy slime that smells like shaving cream.

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Tide Detergent Slime: Add 5 oz glue to a large bowl. Stir in 5 oz water and some glitter or food coloring. Add 1/4 cup of Tide Free and Clear laundry detergent. Mix well with a spoon and then hands to the desired consistency. 

-White school glue works well with this recipe and the soap in the detergent makes tiny bubbles in the slime. 

-Clear glue works well for this project and makes great , smooth slime that’s puffy from the soap in the detergent.

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Try adding cornstarch, lotion, or anything else you can think of to perfect your recipe.

What are you waiting for? Go make some slime!

The Science Behind the Fun:polymer is a long chain of repeating molecules, kind of like a string of pearls. The polymer in school glue is called polyvinyl acetate. Borax solution (sodium tetraborate) and boric acid (combined with baking soda to make borate), are cross-linking substances that make the polymer chains in glue stick together.  As more and more chains stick together, they can’t move around and the solution gets thicker and thicker.  Eventually, all the chains are bound together and no more Borax or boric acid solution can be incorporated into the slime.

 

Graphite Circuits

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Electrons (negatively charged particles) can flow through substances called conductors.

Graphite, used to make pencil lead, among other things, is a conductor and can be used to make a simple circuit on paper. A circuit is just a path for electrical current.

You have to do this experiment with a graphite pencil, rather than the kind you use at school, but you can pick them up at most art supply stores. You’ll also need a few small LED bulbs, 2 wires with alligator clips on either end, and a 9 volt battery.

Adult supervision recommended.

  1. Make a thick, black rectangle using a graphite pencil. We used a #9 graphite crayon.
  2. Hook the two wires up to the battery terminals.
  3. Clip the wire attached to the positive battery terminal to one wire of an LED bulb. (Don’t test it on the battery, or you may blow it out.)

IMG_58434. Touch the un-attached LED wire to the other (left) side of the graphite bar.

IMG_58445.Touch the alligator clip attached to the negative battery terminal to the right side of the graphite bar you drew.

6.If it doesn’t light, switch the positive alligator clip to the other wire of the LED bulb and try it again.

7. Move negative clip closer to the bulb. It should get brighter as you decrease the distance.

 

Lemon Batteries

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

To make a battery, you need two oppositely charged electrodes (materials that pass electrical current from one thing to another) and an electrolyte (a liquid that allows charged atoms to travel through it.)

If you stick a zinc (galvanized) nail and a copper wire side by side into a lemon, but not touching each other, they act as electrodes. The lemon juice acts as the electrolyte.

A chemical reactions occurs between the zinc electrode and the acidic lemon juice, resulting in a second chemical reaction at the copper electrode. If you attach the two electrodes to a metal wire, electrons from the chemical reaction will flow through the wire from the zinc to the copper, creating an electric current.  We used a tool called a mutimeter to connect the two electrodes and measure the current flowing through the wire.

To make a lemon battery, push a zinc nail and a piece of copper into a lemon, side by side, but not touching. You can use a copper wire or a penny.

Touch the two ends of a multimeter to each of the electrodes to see how much current you’re generating. (See image below.)

Lemons with zinc and copper electrodes

Lemons with zinc and copper electrodes.

Testing current produced by a single lemon using a multimeter.

Testing current produced by a single lemon using a multimeter.

 

Test how changing the distance between the two electrodes changes the current. What else could you try?

Electroscopes and Static Electricity

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Repost from Dec.19th, 2010 (Photos from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids, Quarry Books 2014)

Have you ever gotten a shock from a doorknob after shuffling across a carpet? The term “static electricity” refers to the build-up of a positive or negative electrical charge on the surface of an object.  In this case, the charged object is your body.  You feel an electric shock as the charge you’ve collected from the carpet jumps from your hand to the metal doorknob.

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Tiny particles called electrons have negative charges and can jump from object to object. When you rub a balloon on your hair, or a comb through it, many of these electrons are stripped from your hair and move to the balloon or comb giving it a negative charge (and often leaving your hair all positively charged and standing up as the strands try to avoid each other.)

The negatively charged balloon or comb then makes a great tool for making electrons jump around!

You can easily make a contraption called an electroscope using:

-a jar

-some thin aluminum foil or mylar (the shiny stuff balloons and candy wrappers are made from)

-cardboard

-a nail

-tape

-a balloon or comb.

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from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2014)

  1. Cut the cardboard to fit over the mouth of the jar, poke the nail through the cardboard, tape on two long, thin strips of foil or mylar (see photo) and place the whole thing in the jar so the foil strips hang down, touching each other.

 

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Electroscope from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2014)

 

2. Charge your balloon or comb by rubbing it on your hair or clothing to give it a negative charge.  Bring the charged object close to the nail head.  You don’t      even have to touch it!

From Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2014)

From Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2014)

 

What happened? Some negatively-charged electrons jump from the comb to the nail and into the strips of foil.  The negative charge on the comb will push electrons (which are also negatively charged) down to the foil/mylar and give both strips a negative charge. The two strips try to move away from one another as the like charges repelled each other.

What happens when you make the strips out of different materials like paper?  Are there other charged objects you can use to make your foil strips “dance”?

You can also bend a thin stream of water from the faucet by holding your charged comb next to it.  The water is uncharged and is pulled toward the negative charge of the comb.

Try making small pieces of tissue paper float or dance by holding a charged comb or balloon next to them!  We filled an empty soda bottle with tiny pieces of foil and made them jump around with a charged comb held close to the bottle.

 

Permanent Marker Tie Dye (Color and Chemistry)

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

(Re-post from April 14, 2016)

I love traditional tie-dye, but it’s fun to do this experiment that uses permanent markers and rubbing alcohol to make bright, gorgeous designs that mimic tie-dye, more easily, and with less mess.

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This experiment was created by Bob Becker, a chemistry and AP chemistry teacher at Kirkwood High School in Kirkwood, MO.  (To find a few of the original experiments I invented, check out Frankenworms, Sugar Cube Fizz Bombs, Homemade Window StickiesFoaming Slimeand Cornstarch Frescos.)

Here’s a video from my YouTube channel on how to do this experiment, so kids can “watch and do.”

To play with permanent marker tie dye, you’ll need:

-permanent markers (like Sharpies) 

-cotton items to decorate, like tee-shirts, socks, or dish towels

-rubbing alcohol (isopropanol)*Read warning labels. Parental supervision is required, since rubbing alcohol is poisonous if swallowed. Do this experiment in a well-ventilated area, and do not expose your artwork to heat until is is COMPLETELY dry, since rubbing alcohol and its fumes are flammable.

-rubber bands

-eye droppers

-containers like plastic cups or jars

To make your designs, stretch the cotton over the mouth of a jar or cup and secure it with rubber bands. (See video above.)

Use permanent markers to make several dime-sized dots of different colors on the stretched cotton.

Slowly drip rubbing alcohol onto the spots of color until the alcohol starts to soak outward, carrying the ink with it.

Allow your design to dry overnight. When completely dry, hang your shirt in the sun, or put it in the dryer for 15 minutes to set the color. Wash separately from other clothes, just in case!

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The Science Behind the Fun: Pigments are molecules that give things color. The pigments in permanent markers are trapped in ink compounds that are insoluable in water, which means that they won’t dissolve in water. However, if you add a solvent, like rubbing alcohol, or isopropanol, to permanent markers, it dissolves the ink. As the alcohol moves through the cloth you are decorating, it carries the pigments along with it. Small pigment molecules move faster than big ones, so the colors sometimes separate into their different color components as they move through the cloth. The alcohol evaporates into the air, leaving the ink in the fabric, and since it is still insoluable in water, it won’t come out when you wash it. 

Enrichment: What happens if you draw lines, concentric circles or different shapes on your designs? Can you layer colors and watch them separate? What if you add rubbing alcohol next to the color, instead of directly on it? How many drops of alcohol do you have to add to a dime-sized color spot before it starts to expand?

 

 

 

 

Seed Science: Homemade Chi Pets

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

I grew up hearing the Chi Chi Chi Chi song on TV, but our family never actually purchased a Chi Pet, so I never realized the dream of sprouting green hair from a clay animal. Until now.

Chia Creature (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

Chia Creature (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

With the emergence of chi seeds as a new health fad, it’s easy to get your hands on some chi seeds (of the sprouting variety) with a click of the mouse, or a trip to the Co-op. Chia seeds are quick-growing members of the mint family called Salivia hispanica, hailing from Central and South America where they have served as a food source for humans for well over a thousand years. And although studies have shown that they probably won’t help you lose weight, they are chock full of protein, fiber, fatty acids and anti-oxidants.

When you give these tiny seeds the signals they need to sprout: water, light, warmth and air, they grow very fast, so you should see tiny white roots poking out in a few days, soon to be followed by a shoot and leaves.

Since most people don’t have any way to fire clay in their homes, I decided to keep it simple. These homemade chia pets are basically clay (or Play-Dough) animals formed around seed starter pellets (also available online.) Add a few pre-soaked chia seeds, wait a few days and Voila! Your homemade animal will be sprouting living green hair.

You’ll need:

-2 Tbs chia (sprouting) seeds

-dirt or seed starter pellets

-clay or playdough

-a fork or toothpick

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1. Soak 2 Tbs. chia seeds in 1/2 cup water overnight. The mixture will get slimy as it sits and water is trapped by tiny fibers on the seeds to form a gel-like substance.

2. The next day, soak your seed starter pellets per the instructions on the package.

3. Create a clay or Play-Dough animal big enough to hold the expanded pellet or some dirt inside, wherever you want the green sprouts to appear.

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4. Put the dirt/seed starter pellet into to space you created and scratch the surface with a fork or toothpick.

5. Add 1/2 tsp or so of seeds to the dirt and use the fork or toothpick to mix them into the soil.

Chia Puffer Fish (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

Chia seeds sprouting in our Chia Puffer Fish! (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

6. Wait for the seeds to grow, keeping the soil damp at all times. (You can speed growth by covering your chia pet with a plastic bag to hold in heat and moisture.) Watch for roots and leaves to emerge and draw or photograph them.

Homemade Chia Pet -KitchenPantryScientist.com

Homemade Chia Pet -KitchenPantryScientist.com

“No risk is more terrifying than that taken by the first root. A lucky root will eventually find water, but its first job is to anchor an embryo and forever end its mobile phase, however passive that motility was….it assesses the light and humidity of the moment, refers to its programming and quite literally takes the plunge.” -Hope Jahren “Lab Girl”  (My favorite new book. Read it!)

 

 

 

Winter Science: Mouthwatering Maple Syrup Snow Candy

 - by KitchenPantryScientist
Maple Snow Candy from Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2016)

Maple Snow Candy from Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2016)

Remember this homemade snow candy from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic “Little House in the Big Woods?” You can make the same amazing maple treats using heat evaporation and quick cooling in the snow, or on crushed ice cubes.

Here’s how to make the candy, along with some candy-making science, straight from the pages of my new book, “Outdoor Science Lab for Kids,” which you can order from your favorite book retailer by clicking here.

You’ll need:

-1 cup pure maple syrup

-sauce pan

-candy thermometer

-fresh, clean snow

Safety Tips and Hints:

-Hot sugar syrup can cause burns. This experiment must be done with adult supervision.

-Allow candy to cool completely before tasting.

-Only use pure maple syrup for the best results.

Directions:

Step 1: Go outside and scout out a spot with some clean snow several inches deep for making your candy. Alternately, collect and pack down a few inches of fresh snow in a large, flat container, like a casserole dish. (You can use crushed ice cubes if you don’t have snow.)

Step 2.  Boil the maple syrup in saucepan, stirring constantly until it reaches around 235-240 degrees F (soft ball stage.)

Step 3.  Remove the maple syrup from the heat and carefully pour it into a heat-resistant container with a spout, like a Pyrex measuring cup.

Step 4. Pour wiggly candy lines into the snow to freeze them into shape.

Maple Snow Candy from Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2016)

Maple Snow Candy from Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2016)

 

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Alternately, make snow candy in a casserole dish filled with fresh snow or crushed ice.

Step 5.  When you’re done, remove the candy from the snow with a fork.

Maple Syrup Snow Candy from "Outdoor Science Lab for Kids" (Quarry Books 2016)

Maple Syrup Snow Candy from “Outdoor Science Lab for Kids” (Quarry Books 2016)

Step 6. Eat your candy right away, or let it warm up and wind it around sticks or skewers to make maple lollipops. Enjoy!

Maple Snow Candy from Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2016)

Maple Snow Candy from Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2016)

The Science Behind the Fun:

Maple syrup is made from watery tree sap boiled to evaporate most of the moisture it contains when it’s first tapped from a tree. Following evaporation, the syrup that remains is mostly made up of a sugar called sucrose, but it also contains smaller amounts of glucose and fructose.

Naturally, other organic compounds are also present in tree sap, giving syrup from different areas unique flavors. Syrup collected earlier in spring when it is cold tend to be light in color and have a mild flavor. As the days get warmer, microbes ferment some of the sugar in the syrup, making it darker and giving it a more robust taste.

In this experiment, you heat maple syrup, evaporating even more water. A super saturated solution forms, which holds more sugar molecules in the liquid than would be possible if you evaporated the water at room temperature.

When you pour the supersaturated sugar into the snow, it cools quickly, forming some sugar crystals to give the maple candy a soft, semi-solid consistency. Heating the syrup to a higher temperature will evaporate more water, resulting in even more crystal formation in the cooled syrup, making it harder to bite. If you carefully evaporate all of the water from maple syrup, you’ll be left with pure maple sugar crystals.

Creative Enrichment:

-Try collecting some syrup from your pan at several different temperatures and compare the resulting snow candy for texture, color and consistency.

-Can you do the same experiment with other sugar syrups, like molasses or corn syrup?

-Try to make maple sugar.

 

 

Holiday Science: Candy Cane Art

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Crying over broken candy canes? Cry no more. Make art!

Candy Cane Art- image KitchenPantryScientist.com

Candy Cane Art- image KitchenPantryScientist.com

My publisher recently sent me a copy of “Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science,” by Andrew Schloss. There are tons of fun experiments in the book, but Candy Cane Origami seemed like a perfect one to try during the holidays.

*Melted candy can get dangerously hot, so parental supervision is required!

You’ll need:

-candy canes (broken or whole), wrappers removed

-heavy-duty aluminum foil

-a cookie sheet

-a wire cooling rack

-an oven

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What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 250F.
  2. Cover cookie sheet with foil
  3. Place candy canes on foil, not touching each other
  4. Bake candy canes for around 10 minutes and have an adult check them. They should be stretchy, but not too hot to touch.img_5761
  5. When the candy canes are ready, bend, fold, twist and pull them into cool shapes. Try pulling one long and wrapping it around a chopstick to make a spiral. What else could you try?
  6. If the candy gets to brittle to work with, put it back in the oven for a few minutes to make it soft again.
Candy Cane Art- image KitchenPantryScientistcom

Candy Cane Art- image KitchenPantryScientistcom

The science behind the fun:

If you looks at the ingredients of candy canes, they’re usually made of table sugar (sucrose), corn syrup, flavoring, and food coloring. Glucose and fructose are sweet-tasting molecules that stick together to make up most of the sugars we eat, like table sugar (sucrose) and corn syrup. You can think of them as the building blocks of candy.

At room temperature, candy canes are hard and brittle, but adding heat changes the way the molecules behave. Both table sugar and corn syrup contain linked molecules of glucose and fructose, but corn syrup has much more fructose than glucose, and the fructose interferes with sugar crystal formation. According to Andrew Schloss, “the corn syrup has more fructose, which means the sugar crystals in the candy don’t fit tightly together. The crystals have space between them, which allows them to bend and move without cracking.

Here’s a great article on the science of candy-making!