# Ice Science: Lifting an Ice Cube Using Salt and a String

`December 19, 2017 - by KitchenPantryScientist`

Have you ever wondered why putting chemicals like salt on a road makes the ice melt?

To see how NaCl (table salt) melts ice by lowers the melting temperature of water, you’ll need an ice cube, a glass of water, and a piece of kitchen twine or string about 6 inches long and salt.

What to do:

Drop an ice cube in a glass of ice water.  Try to pick the ice cube up without your fingers by simply placing the string on it and pulling up.  Impossible, right?

From Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2014)

Now, dip the string in water, lay it across the ice cube and sprinkle a generous amount of salt over the string/ice cube.  Wait about a minute and try again to lift the cube using only the string.  What happens?

From Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2014)

It may seem like magic, but it’s only science. Here’s a video from my KidScience app where I demonstrate the experiment.

Salt lowers the temperature at which ice can melt and water can freeze.  Usually, ice melts and water freezes at 32 degrees Farenheit, but if you add salt to it, ice will melt at a lower (colder) temperature.

The salt helps the ice surrounding the string start to melt, and it takes heat from the surrounding water, which then re-freezes around the string.

Different chemicals change the freezing point of water differently.  Salt can thaw ice at 15 degrees F, but at 0 degrees F, it won’t do anything.  Other de-icing chemicals they add to roads can work at much colder temperatures (down to 20 degrees below zero.)  If it’s cold enough, even chemicals won’t melt the ice.

Brrr.

Pressure can also make ice melt at colder temperatures.  This is why ice skates glide on rinks.  The pressure is constantly melting the ice a where the blade presses down on it so the blade glides on a thin layer of water!

`December 14, 2017 - by KitchenPantryScientist`

Image from “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids” (Quarry Books 2014)

There are few gifts more fun 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.

Here are some ideas for 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 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 (white or clear) for making Mad Scientist’s Slime
-contact lens solution for making Borax-free Slime
-gummy worms to transform into Frankenworms
-baking soda: Can be used for a number of experiments likemagic potion . Or just 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 balloons.
-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 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.

To take it up a notch, throw in a copy of one of my book! You can find them on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and anywhere else books are sold!

Happy Experimenting!

# Holiday Science: Candy Cane Art

`December 11, 2017 - by KitchenPantryScientist`

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

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 wire cooling rack

-an oven

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.
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

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!

If you’re looking for holiday gifts for a science-loving kid, my books Kitchen Science Lab for Kids and Outdoor Science Lab for Kids include over 100 fun family-friendly experiments! They’re available wherever books are sold.

# Think #STEAM! Homemade Holiday Window Stickies

`December 5, 2017 - by KitchenPantryScientist`

Gelatin is the substance that makes Jell-O jiggle. See what happens when food coloring molecules move, or DIFFUSE through Jell-O.

This creative science experiment that my kids and I invented lets you play with floatation physics by sprinkling glitter on melted gelatin, watch colorful dyes diffuse to create patterns and then use cookie cutters to punch out sticky window decorations.  Water will evaporate from the gelatin, leaving you with paper-thin “stained glass” shapes.

You’ll need

-plain, unflavored gelatin from the grocery store or Target

-food coloring

a drinking straw

-water

-a ruler

-glitter

*You can use the recipe below for two pans around 8×12 inches, or use large, rimmed cookie sheets for your gelatin. For a single pan, cut the recipe in half.

Step 1. Add 6 packs of plain, unflavored gelatin (1 oz or 28 gm) to 4 cups of boiling water. Stir well until all the gelatin has dissolved and remove bubbles with a spoon.

Step 2. Allow gelatin to cool to a kid-safe temperature. Pour the liquid gelatin into two large pans so it’s around 1-1.5 cm deep. It doesn’t have to be exact.

Step 3. Sprinkle glitter on the gelatin in one pan.  What happens?

Step 4. Allow the gelatin to harden in both pans.

Step 5. In the pan with no glitter, use a straw to create holes in the gelatin, a few cm apart, scattered across the surface. It works best to poke a straw straight into the gelatin, but not all the way to the bottom. Spin the straw and remove it. Then, use a toothpick or skewer to pull out the gelatin plug you’ve created. This will leave a perfect hole for the food coloring. Very young children may need help.

Step 6. Add a drop of food coloring to each hole in the gelatin.

Step 7. Let the gelatin pans sit for 24 hours. Every so often, use a ruler to measure the circle of food coloring molecules as they diffuse (move) into the gelatin around them (read about diffusion at the bottom of this post.)  How many cm per hour is the color diffusing?  Do some colors diffuse faster than others? If you put one pan in the refrigerator and an identical one at room temperature, does the food coloring diffuse at the same rate?

Step 8. When the food coloring has made colorful circles in the gelatin, use cookie cutters to cut shapes from both pans of gelatin (glitter and food coloring), carefully remove them from the pan with a spatula or your fingers, and use them to decorate a window. (Ask a parent first, since some glitter may find its way to the floor!) Don’t get frustrated if they break, since you can stick them back together on the window.

Step 9. Observe your window jellies each day to see what happens when the water evaporates from the gelatin.
When they’re dry, peel them off the window. Are they thinner than when you started? Why? Can you re-hydrate them by soaking the dried shapes in water?
The Science Behind the Fun:

Imagine half a box filled with red balls and the other half filled with yellow ones.  If you set the box on something that vibrates, the balls will move around randomly, until the red and yellow balls are evenly mixed up.

Scientists call this process, when molecules move from areas of high concentration, where there are lots of other similar molecules, to areas of low concentration, where there are fewer similar molecules DIFFUSION. When the molecules are evenly spread throughout the space, it is called EQUILIBRIUM.

Lots of things can affect how fast molecules diffuse, including temperature.  When molecules are heated up, they vibrate faster and move around faster, which helps them reach equilibrium more quickly than they would if it were cold. Diffusion takes place in gases like air, liquids like water, and even solids (semiconductors for computers are made by diffusing elements into one another.)

Think about the way pollutants move from one place to another through air, water and even soil. Or consider how bacteria are able to take up the substances they need to thrive. Your body has to transfer oxygen, carbon dioxide and water by processes involving diffusion as well.

Why does glitter float on gelatin? An object’s density and it’s shape help determine its buoyancy, or whether it will float or sink. Density is an object’s mass (loosely defined as its weight) divided by its volume (how much space it takes up.) A famous scientist named Archimedes discovered that any floating object displaces its own weight of fluid. Boats have to be designed in shapes that will displace, or push, at least as much water as they weigh in order to float.

For example, a 100 pound block of metal won’t move much water out of the way, and sinks fast since it’s denser than water. However , a 100 pound block of metal reshaped into a boat pushes more water out of the way and will float if you design it well!

What is the shape of your glitter? Does it float or sink in the gelatin?

Here’s a video I made for KidScience app that demonstrates how to make window gellies

Credit: My 11 YO daughter came up with the brilliant idea to stick this experiment on windows. I was just going to dry out the gelatin shapes to make ornaments. Kids are often way more creative than adults!

# 14 Freaky Halloween Science Projects for Kids

`October 2, 2017 - by KitchenPantryScientist`

Turn your kitchen table into the coolest mad science lab in the neighborhood. Click on the project name for link to written how-to instructions and the science behind the fun!

1. Frankenworms– Bring gummy worms to “life” using baking soda and vinegar.

2. Alien Monster Eggs– Make creepy, squishy monster eggs.

3. Oozing Monster Heads– Combine science and art to create Halloween fun.

4. Bag of Blood– Amaze your friends with this magical science trick.

Vampire Rock Candy (kitchenpantryscientist.com)

Jell-O Eyeballs
kitchenpantryscientist.com

Vegetable Vampires kitchenpantryscientist.com

9. Magic Potion– Make a color-changing, foaming potion using red cabbage and water.

10. Halloween Soda Explosion– Halloweenize the classic Diet Coke and Mentos explosion

11. Foaming Alien Blood– Bring the X-Files to your kitchen with this creepy green fake blood

12. Mad Scientist’s Green Slime– Because everyone loves slime

13. Homemade Fake Blood– It’s simple to make non-toxic fake blood in your kitchen.

14. Fizzy Balloons– Draw scary faces on balloons and blow them up using baking soda and vinegar.

# Rubber Band Car

`September 29, 2017 - by KitchenPantryScientist`

It’s fun to make a rubber-band powered car from cardboard, straws, and wooden skewers!

You’ll need:

-heavy cardboard

-rubber bands

-glue (a glue gun works best)

-a plastic straw

-wooden skewers

-a CD (or a compass)

-a ruler

-screwdriverCu

-pipe cleaner (optional)

Hints: Parental supervision recommended for hot glue gun use.

Here’s what you’ll be building:

Rubber Band Car kitchenpantryscientist.com

What to do:

1. Wrap cardboard around a large spice bottle so you can see how it bends. Cut a piece of cardboard about 9 inches (22cm) long to wrap around the bottle. Trim off the excess cardboard and tape it to create a tube.

kitchenpantryscientist.com

2. Trace a CD or use a compass to make 8 circles that are around 4 and 1/2 inches (12 cm) in diameter. Use a ruler to make a square around each circle and then diagonal lines to mark the center of each circle. Cut them out and glue two circles together until you have four wheels. Use skewers to poke holes through the center of each wheel.

kitchenpantryscientist.com

3. Poke skewers through each end of the cardboard tube, about 1 and 1/2 inches (4 cm) from the end of each tube. Make sure that the skewers are parallel and that they line up when you look through the end of the tube.

kitchenpantryscientist.com

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4. Use a screwdriver to make the holes larger.

kitchenpantryscientist.com

5. Cut 4 pieces off of a straw that are about 1/2 inch (1.5cm) long. Glue them to the outside of each hole in the tube. Use a skewer to help align them. The skewer should spin freely.

kitchenpantryscientist.com

6. One at a time, put wheels on the skewers and glue the OUTSIDE of the wheel to the skewer. Make sure that the wheels are parallel to the car, and to each other as they dry. Cut off excess skewer.

kitchenpantryscientist.com

kitchenpantryscientist.com

7. Poke a skewer down the center of one end of the car, parallel to the wheels so that it’s sticking out about 1 inch (3 cm.) See image above.
8. Decorate the car!
9. Tie three thin rubber bands together and hook them over the skewer that’s sticking out. If you have a pipe cleaner or wire, hook it onto the other end of the rubber bands. Drop the rubber bands down through the center of the tube.

kitchenpantryscientist.com

10. Grab the rubber bands from the end opposite where they are attached to the car. Remove the pipe cleaner hook and wind them around the skewer to create tension in the rubber bands. Wind them until they’re tight.

kitchenpantryscientist.com

11. Set the car down and let the wheels start to spin to see what direction the car will go. When you’re ready, let go!
12. Measure how far the car traveled.

Enrichment: How can you make the car go faster or farther. Try using different kinds and numbers of rubber bands. How could you redesign the car to make it work better?

The Science Behind the Fun:

In this experiment, you use your body’s energy to twist rubber bands around the wooden skewer axle of a cardboard car. The energy is stored as elastic energy in the tightly-stretched rubber bands. When you let the car go, the rubber bands apply enough force on the axle to turn the wheels on the car and elastic energy is transformed into the energy of motion, which is called kinetic energy.

# Mirror Image Plant Prints

`September 7, 2017 - by KitchenPantryScientist`

Yesterday on Twin Cities Live, I demonstrated some fun botanical science projects for learners of all ages, including Vegetable Vampires and Leaf Chromatography.

This fun art/science project lets you transfer plant pigments to cloth, creating beautiful prints of your favorite leaves and flowers. It’s especially great for fall, when there are so many colorful leaves around.

Mirror Image Plant Prints- kitchenpantryscientist.com

You’ll need:

-Fresh leaves and flowers (Dry leaves won’t work.)

-A hard, smooth pounding surface, like a wooden cutting board or carving board

-Wax paper or plastic wrap

-Mallets or hammers

-Untextured cotton cloth, like a dishtowel. Heavy cloth works better than very thin cloth.

-*Alum and baking soda to treat cloth (This is optional. I don’t pre-treat my fabric, but the treatment step will help bond and preserve color, if you want to frame your prints. You can also buy fabric that’s pre-treated for dyeing.)

Mirror Image Plant Prints- kitchenpantryscientist.com

Safety tips: Protective eye wear is recommended. Young children should be supervised when using mallets and hammers.

What to do:

*If treating cloth: The day before you do the project, add 2 quarts water to a large pot. Add 1 Tb alum and 1 tsp baking soda to the water. Add the cotton and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 hours, turn off heat and soak for at least two hours. Let fabric dry.

The next steps are the same, whether you’re using an untreated piece of cotton or treated cloth.

1. Take a walk to collect colorful leaves and flowers. Choose plants that can be flattened. Flowers with huge centers, like coneflowers don’t work as well, but petals may be removed and pounded.
2. Cover the pounding surface with waxed paper or plastic wrap.
3. Cut a piece of cloth that will fit on the pounding surface when folded in half. Iron the fold.
4. Open the cloth and lay it on the pounding surface. (See image above)
5. Arrange leaves and flowers on the cloth.

Mirror Image Plant Prints- kitchenpantryscientist.com

6. Fold the cloth over the plants and pound it with the hammer or mallet. If you’re using a hammer, pound more gently.
7. Pound until you can see the forms of the leaves through the fabric. As the pigment leaks through, you’ll see the outlines of what you’re smashing. Hint: Hammers work better than mallets for fall leaves. For juicy leaves and flowers, use a mallet or hammer gently.

Mirror Image Plant Prints- kitchenpantryscientist.com

8. When you’re finished pounding, unfold the fabric to reveal the print you created. Remove the leaves and petals.

Mirror Image Plant Prints- kitchenpantryscientist.com

9. Label the image with plant names, enhance it with paint or markers, or leave nature’s design to speak for itself.

The Science Behind the Fun:

Pigments are compounds that give things color, and many of them are found in nature. Flowers, leave, fruits and vegetables are full of brilliant pigments. In this experiment, we transfer plant pigments to cloth by bursting plant cells using pressure from a hammer or mallet.

The green pigment found in leaves is called chlorophyll. In the fall, many trees stop making chlorophyll, and the red, yellow and orange pigments inside the leaves become visible.

Although you create a mirror image of leaves and flowers, you’ll notice that the color may be more intense on one side of the print. A waxy covering called a cuticle covers leaves, and is sometimes thicker on the top than on the underside of the leaf. It may affect the transfer of pigment to the cloth, making it easy to see structures like veins on the leaf print.

Enrichment:

What parts of the leaf can you identify in the print you created?

# Six Cool Facts about the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

`August 7, 2017 - by KitchenPantryScientist`

In less than two weeks, the kids and I will hit the road to venture into the path of totality of the August 21st total solar eclipse. We’re hoping for clear skies in St. Joseph, MO, so that we can stand under the moon-darkened sky and catch a glimpse of the Sun’s corona.

Pinhole Solar Viewer- Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books)

NASA’s website is one of my favorite science resources, and they have tons of great information on the upcoming total solar eclipse. Check it out to learn when and where you can watch the eclipse, and how much of the Sun will be covered up in your back yard.

To safely watch the eclipse without damaging your eyes, you’ll need If you don’t have glasses, you can easily view it indirectly by making a pinhole viewer. Here’s a link to an article I wrote for Scholastic Parents on how to build a solar viewer using a shoe box and some aluminum foil.

The Exploratorium in San Francisco has a fantastic Total Solar Eclipse 2017 app that you can download for more resources and to watch the eclipse live.

Here are some of the coolest things I learned about total solar eclipses from NASA’s website:

1: During a total eclipse, it’s possible to see bright stars and planets, even in the middle of the day. (I knew it would get dark, but that’s amazing!)

2. The Sun is 400 times wider than the Moon, but it’s 400 times farther away, so they appear to be the same size if you’re looking at them from Earth. That’s why the Moon can completely cover the sun. Scientists describe this by saying that they have the same angular size.

3. If you’re in the path of the total eclipse and place a large sheet of white paper on the ground, you may see dancing “shadow bands” moments before and after the eclipse, which are created by tiny slivers of sunlight passing through the currents of Earth’s atmosphere.

4. The temperature in areas of the Moon’s shadow will briefly drop as the Sun’s light is blocked.

5. The only popular song that refers directly to an actual solar eclipse is Carly Simon’s song “You’re so Vain.” (1970 total solar eclipse in Nova Scotia) (Around 3:05 in the song.)

6. Just before a total solar eclipse, you can see flashes of light called “Bailey’s Beads”around the edges of the dark circle of the Moon. They’re caused by sunlight flashing through canyons on the Moon’s surface.

Will you be watching? The next total solar eclipse won’t traverse the continental United States until April, 2024.

# Elemental Science: Gallium

`August 2, 2017 - by KitchenPantryScientist`

Gallium is a soft metal related to other metals in Group 13 of the periodic table, including aluminum. It doesn’t exist as a free element in nature, but can be purified from other metallic ores, like zinc. Each gallium atom has 31 protons in its nucleus, so its atomic number is 31.

You’ll find it around you in thermometers, semiconductors, and even some LED lights, and one property that makes it so cool is that it melts from solid to liquid at low temperatures (around 85.6 degrees F or 29.8 degrees C.) This makes it easy to play with the liquid metal simply by melting it in a glass of hot water, or in the palm of your hand.

You can see the crystal structure in the side of the gallium “Lego” we created in play dough! KitchenPantryScientist.com

*Not for small children! Wearing gloves and safety goggles is recommended when observing gallium. Although is is fairly safe, gallium will coat hands with a lead-like substance. (Wash with soap and water to remove.) Gallium can also damage other metals, so keep it away from jewelry, like rings. I always recommend doing your research, as well as checking out the MSDS (Material Data Safety Sheet) of a new substance before using it to know what precautions to take.

We ordered 99.99% pure gallium on Amazon. It arrived in plastic tubes,in crystal form, but by placing the tubes in hot tap water, it melted easily. Eye droppers work well for moving the melted metal around. I’d recommend using a rimmed paper plate to contain the mess.

Try imprinting a Lego or toy car in play dough and pouring the molten gallium into the imprint. When it solidifies, you’ll have a cast of the item you imprinted! (It takes a while.) Gallium coats glass to create mirrored surfaces, so you can pour some into a small jar and use it to coat the sides. If you leave some in a puddle on the bottom of an upside-down jar, you can watch crystals form.

In other words, it’s pretty awesome!

# Kid-Friendly “Elephant Toothpaste”

`July 19, 2017 - by KitchenPantryScientist`

I’ve been hearing about this science demonstration for years, and finally decided to try it! If you do it at home, kids should wear safety goggles or sunglasses to protect their eyes, and adults should pour the 3% hydrogen peroxide into the bottles.

You’ll need:
3% hydrogen peroxide (available at most pharmacies and discount stores)
liquid dish soap
dry yeast (2 packets)
food coloring
empty 16 oz bottle

What to do:
1. Pour 1 cup hydrogen peroxide into an empty 16oz bottle. (A funnel helps!)
2. Add 2 Tbs. liquid dish soap to the bottle and mix well with the hydrogen peroxide.
3. Put 8 drops of food coloring into the bottle and swirl to mix.
4. Position the bottle on the tray.
5. Pour 2 packets of yeast into a paper cup and pinch the cup’s lip to make a pouring spout.
6. Quickly pour the yeast into the bottle, while swirling the liquid vigorously to mix well. The better you mix it, the better the experiment will work!
7. Set the bottle down on the tray before the foam emerges from the top.
8. Watch the chemical reaction between catalase in the yeast and the hydrogen peroxide create oxygen bubbles in the soap!
9. When the reactions has stopped, have an adult clean up the mess by pouring everything down the sink and rinsing the tray with water. (Normally kids should clean up, but for this one, I’d recommend an adult do it.)

The Science Behind the Fun:

Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) is a common household chemical that is often used to disinfect wounds and bleach hair. Certain chemicals can break it down into water (H2O) and Oxygen (O).

Dry yeast is a living fungus that produces a molecule called catalase. Catalase is very good at breaking down hydrogen peroxide quickly. When you add yeast to hydrogen peroxide that’s been mixed with liquid soap, the soap traps the oxygen and makes bubbles that push their way out of the bottle.

You may notice that the bottle feels warm. That’s because the chemical reaction produces heat and is called an exothermic reaction.