Tag: STEM’

Halloween Meringues

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Eggs and sugar have great chemistry. Mix them together to create these sweet, crunch Halloween treats with a recipe from my upcoming book “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: Edible Edition.

They’ll take a few hours to bake, so plan ahead for this fun, edible science project.

KitchenPantryScientist.com Halloween meringues

Meringues are simply egg whites whipped into sugary foams.  As you whip air into the mix, glue-like egg white proteins stick to the bubbles, stabilizing them to form a thick foam. The sugar you add combines with water from the eggs to form a sweet syrup.

When you bake meringue at a low temperature for a long period of time, the sugar and protein are transformed from an elastic goo to a glassy state, creating a crunch mouthful of bubbles.

Hard meringues are made using ¼ cup sugar per egg white, with a pinch of cream of tartar. Don’t skip the cream of tartar (an acid.) It helps stabilize the egg whites in the meringue.

To make Halloween Meringues, you’ll need:

3 egg whites from extra large eggs

1/8 tsp cream of tartar

¾ cup granulated sugar

1/4 tsp Vanilla

Food coloring (gel works best)

Toothpicks

Sprinkles or dusting sugar (optional)

Parchment paper

Stand mixer or hand mixer

2 baking sheets

Pastry bags or large plastic zipper bags with the corners cut off

Round piping tips for pastry bag, if you have them

 

Recipe:

1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees F.
2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
3. Beat three egg whites on medium until they start to foam.

4. Add 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar and continue to beat the egg whites, increasing the speed to high.
5. When the foam gets thicker enough to form soft peaks, add 3/4 cup sugar, a tablespoon or so at a time as you beat the eggs. Add vanilla.
6. Continue beating the mixture until stiff, glossy peaks with rounded tips form. Don’t over-beat the meringue.

7. Add a round tip to the pastry or plastic bag. Fill the bag with the meringue you made.

8.Use the bag and tip to pipe half of the meringue into blobs. You can color it with food coloring before piping it, if you wish.

9. Make some colorful streaks on the meringues by using a toothpick to smear food coloring on the inside of the pastry tip before putting it in the bag and piping the meringue. A small tip can be used to create eyes for the blobs, snakes and worms, or you can use sprinkles and dusting sugar to decorate.

10. Bake the meringues for 1-2 hours, until they feel dry and let them cool.

KitchenPantryScientist.com

 

Homemade Water Bottle Insulator (Back to School Science)

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Combine science and art to engineer and decorate a custom water bottle jacket as unique as you are. Test different every-day insulators to see what works best to to keep water cold all day long!

water bottle jacket- KitchenPantryScientist.com

You’ll need:

-a washable plastic water bottle

-flexible insulating material, like craft foam, bubble wrap or fabric batting

-decorating materials, like stickers, ribbons or foam stickies

-a thermometer (optional)

-4 disposable empty water bottles or cans that are the same size (optional)

What to do:

(Optional) Test insulators by insulating each of the empty cans or bottles with different material. Fill each of them with the same amount of hot tap water and check the temperature of each periodically to see which material does the best job of slowing cooling of the water. The one that keeps water hot the longest is the best insulator, since it slows the movement of heat from one area to another.

Use the best insulator to build an insulating case for your water bottle. Make it big enough so that your bottle will slide out for washing. We used thick craft foam and covered it with adhesive craft foam. Shipping folders made of bubble wrap work well too! Here’s how we built ours…

 

Add some ice water to the bottle and you’re good to go! Just remove the jacket when you wash the bottle.

 

Back-to-School Science Ideas for Parents and Teachers

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Hands-on science experiment books are a great way to ease kids back into creative learning!

I recently shared some of the fun, easy, inexpensive science project ideas from my two newest books, “STEAM Lab for Kids” and “Star Wars Maker Lab” with a group of teachers on Twin Cities Live. Check out the clip below to learn to make hoop gliders and grow gorgeous Epsom salt crystals!

You can find my books at your local library, or pick them up at your favorite online or bricks-and-mortar retailer!

 

Summer Food Science: Sorbet (No ice cream freezer needed!)

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Take your summer food game up a notch using… science! Sorbet recipe below. Vinaigrette recipe is in the post below this one.

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Simple Freezer Strawberry Sorbet (adapted from Epicurious.com) 

30 minutes hands-on prep time, 8 hours start to finish

*Parental supervision required for boiling sugar syrup

You’ll need:

a shallow dish

1 quart strawberries 

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup orange juice

1 cup sugar

2 cups water

What to do:

  1. Make a sugar syrup by bringing 1 cup sugar and 2 cups water to a boil in a heavy sauce pan. Boil for 5 minutes.
  2. Puree strawberries in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  3. Add strawberries, lemon juice and orange juice to the sugar syrup.
  4. Pour mixture into a shallow dish and cool for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
  5. Put the chilled sorbet mix in the freezer for 6 hours, stirring every hour.
  6. Enjoy your sorbet!

The Science Behind the Fun:

In sorbet, sugar acts as an antifreeze agent, physically getting in the way of ice crystal formation to keep crystals small, so that you don’t end up with one big chunk of ice. Pre-chilling the mixture before freezing it allows it to freeze faster, which also encourages smaller crystals to form.

CD Bots from “STEAM Lab for Kids”

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Robots took over the driveway last summer when we were photographing my new book “STEAM Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Hands-On Projects for Exploring Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math”

With a few supplies from your junk drawer and a few inexpensive tech supplies available online, kids can easily make their own CD Bots! Grab a copy of “STEAM Lab for Kids” for easy instructions, or figure out how to do it yourself by attaching a toy motor (connected to a battery) to a CD with toothbrushes glued to the bottom!
Have fun!

Supercool! Ice Science for Kids

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Under the right conditions, purified water can get much colder than 32 degrees before it freezes into a solid. This “supercooled” water will instantly freeze when it touches an ice crystal.

You don’t need a special lab to make supercooled water. In fact, you can make it in your own freezer!

Image from Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2016)

1. Place three 12 oz bottles of water (caps loosened and re-tightened) in the freezer. Two should be filled with purified water and one with tap water.

2. Wait 2 hours and then check them every 5 minutes. When the tap water is frozen, gently remove the other two bottles from the freezer. (Tap water freezes first, because it contains some impurities that help ice crystals form more easily.)

3. Carefully open one bottle of purified water and pour it onto a few ice cubes on a plate. The supercooled water from the bottle will instantly crystallize into ice when it hits the cubes, making slush. Try it with the second bottle. There may be some freezing time variation between freezers, so you may have to experiment to find the perfect amount of time it takes your freezer to supercool water!

You can do the same thing by putting bottled water in a cooler full of ice, salt, and water. Salt lowers the melting temperature of ice, which makes the salty ice water cold enough to freeze bottles of liquid. Try the same experiment using soda to make a slushy! (From Outdoor Science Lab for Kids-Quarry Books 2014)

Image from Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2016)

Rainbow Icicles -Winter Science for Kids

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Grab your coat and head outside to try this fun winter science project!

Rainbow Ice (kitchenpantryscientist.com)

 

You’ll need:

A large plastic zipper bag

Cotton kitchen twine

a toothpick or wooden skewer

ice-cold water

food coloring

a spray bottle

a squeeze bottle or syringe (optional, but helpful)

a very cold day (below 10 degrees F works best, but you can try it on any day when it’s below freezing)

 

Note: This experiment takes lots of playing around and results will vary depending on how cold it is outside. Remind your kids (and yourself) to be patient and try it on a colder day if it doesn’t work the first time around! If the bag leaks too quickly, try making one with smaller holes around the string.

Rainbow Ice (kitchenpantryscientist.com)

What to do:

  1. Use a toothpick or skewer to poke 3 small holes in the bottom of a zipper plastic bag. Make one in the middle and one on each end.
  2. Cut three long (3 feet or so) pieces of kitchen twine and knot them at one end.
  3. Carefully thread the twine through the holes in the bag so that the knots are inside the bag to keep the strings from falling through. Try to keep the holes from getting too big, since the bag will be filled with water and you’ll want it to drip out very slowly around the string.

Rainbow Ice (kitchenpantryscientist.com)

4. Attach two more pieces of twine to each top corner of the bag (above the zipper) to use for hanging the bag

5. Go outside and hang the bag from a low tree branch or railing.

6. Tie each of the three strings to something on the ground, like a rock, piece of wood, or the handle of an empty milk carton filled with water to weight it down. Arrange the objects so that the strings loosely radiate out at around a 45 degree angle. (See photo)

7. Add food coloring to some ice-cold water in a pitcher.

8. Fill the spray bottle with ice-cold water.

9. Add the cold colorful water to the zipper bag hanging outside. Zip the top of the back to slow the rate of leaking.

10. Immediately spray the strings with water to guide the leaking water down the strings.

10. Wait for the water on the strings to freeze. Use your syringe to add a little bit more water to the strings (same color) and wait for them to freeze again. Repeat until you have a nice layer of ice/icicles.

11. Refill the bag, using a different color of ice-cold water. Spray the strings lightly again. Repeat step 11.

12. Add layers of color to the icicles until you’re happy with the way they look!

Rainbow Ice (kitchenpantryscientist.com)

The science behind the fun:

Icicles form when dripping water starts to freeze. Scientists have discovered that the tips of icicles are the coldest part, so that water moving down icicles freezes onto the ends, forming the long spikes you’ve seen if you live in a cold climate. When you add different colors of water to icicles in sequence, the color you add last will freeze onto the tip of the ice.

Here’s a cool article on icicle science by an expert, and another great article on “Why Icicles Look the Way They Do.”

You’ll find more fun ice science experiments in my book “Outdoor Science Lab for Kids” and in my upcoming books “STEAM Lab for Kids” (Quarry Books April 2018) and “Star Wars Maker Lab” (DK- July 2018)