Three Fun Science Activities for Kids: Balloon Rockets, Bristle Robots and Evaporation Art

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

If you have balloons, straws and string, you can send a balloon rocket shooting up a string to watch Newton’s third law of motion in action. As the air escapes the balloon in one direction, it sends the balloon rocket in the opposite direction! Art lovers will have fun making beautiful evaporation rings using vinegar, food coloring and cornstarch, and if you’re into engineering, order a small motor and some alligator clips to make a bristle robot!

Soapy Science: Giant Bubbles

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

From surface tension to evaporation, science come into play every time you blow a bubble. Here’s some bubble science, along with a recipe for making giant bubbles from my book Outdoor Science Lab for Kids!

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Water molecules like to stick to each other , and scientists call this sticky, elastic tendency  “surface tension.” Soap molecules, have a hydrophobic (water-hating) end and (hydrophilic) a water-loving end and can lower the surface tension of water. When you blow a bubble, you create a thin film of water molecules sandwiched between two layers of soap  molecules, with their water-loving ends pointing toward the water, and their water-hating ends pointing out into the air.

As you might guess, the air pressure inside the elastic soapy sandwich layers of a bubble is slightly higher than the air pressure outside the bubble. Bubbles strive to be round, since the forces of surface tension rearrange their molecular structure to make them have the least amount of surface area possible, and of all three dimensional shapes, a sphere has the lowest surface area. Other forces, like your moving breath or a breeze can affect the shape of bubbles as well.

The thickness of the water/soap molecule is always changing slightly as the water layer evaporates, and light is hitting the soap layers from many angles, causing light waves to bounce around and interfere with each other, giving the bubble a multitude of colors.

Try making these giant bubbles at home this summer! They’re a blast! (It works best a day when it’s not too windy, and bubbles love humid days!)

To make your own giant bubble wand, you’ll need:

-Around 54 inches of cotton kitchen twine

-two sticks 1-3 feet long

-a metal washer

1. Tie string to the end of one stick.

2. Put a washer on the string and tie it to the end of the other stick so the washer is hanging in-between on around 36 inches of string. (See photo.) Tie remaining 18 inches of string to the end of the first stick. See photo!

This bubble wand is a little longer than 18 inches on a side.

This bubble wand is a little longer than 18 inches on a side.

For the bubbles:

-6 cups distilled or purified water

-1/2 cup cornstarch

-1 Tbs. baking powder

-1 Tbs. glycerine (Optional. Available at most pharmacies.)

-1/2 cup blue Dawn. The type of detergent can literally make or break your giant bubbles. Dawn Ultra (not concentrated) or Dawn Pro  are highly recommended. We used Dawn Ultra, which is available at Target.

1. Mix water and cornstarch. Add remaining ingredients and mix well without whipping up tiny bubbles. Use immediately, or stir again and use after an hour or so.

2. With the two sticks parallel and together, dip bubble wand into mixture, immersing all the string completely.

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3. Pull the string up out of the bubble mix and pull them apart slowly so that you form a string triangle with bubble in the middle.

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4. Move the wands or  blow bubbles with your breath. You can “close” the bubbles by moving the sticks together to close the gap between strings.

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What else could you try?

-Make another wand with longer or shorter string. How does it affect your bubbles?

-Try different recipes to see if you can improve the bubbles. Do other dish soaps work as well?

-Can you add scent to the bubbles, like vanilla or peppermint, or will it interfere with the surface tension?

-Can you figure out how to make a bubble inside another bubble?

Essential Oils and Chemical Precipitation from “Chemistry for Kids”

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Here’s a segment I did for TV last week, featuring of projects from Chemistry for Kids, which pairs the story of 25 scientists with hands-on projects related to their work! In the clip, I demonstrate how to collect essential oils from flowers, citrus or herbs using a crock pot and how to do a precipitation experiment similar to one Marie Curie used to extract radium from mining waste.

45 How-To Science Experiment Videos for Kids

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Physics! Biology! Chemistry! Yeah!

Great job staying isolated to help keep everyone safe! Keep up the good work! Scientists and medical workers are busy testing anti-viral drugs and creating vaccines that will help us to help get life back to normal as soon as humanly possible. They are the superheroes we need right now!

Click HERE for 45 Watch-and-Do Videos for Kids. Some, like cornstarch goo and tie-dye milk are perfect for the younger crowd, while older kids can tackle the tougher projects.

For more detailed instructions, go to kitchenpantryscientist.com and search for the experiment in the search box! You can also order my books online wherever books are sold.

Marker Tie-Dye (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

Ten Environmental Science Projects for Earth Day 2020

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Wednesday, April 22nd is Earth Day, but there’s no reason we can’t celebrate all month long. Besides hiking and exploring, here are some of our favorite environmental science projects. Just click on the experiment names for directions and photos. You can find more fun outdoor experiments in my books “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids” and Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books.)

Homemade Sweep Nets: Make a sweep net from a pillowcase and a hanger to see what arthropods are hanging out in your favorite outdoor spaces.

Homemade Sweep Nets from Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books)

Window Sprouts: Plant a bean in a plastic baggie with a damp paper towel to see how plants need only water and air to sprout roots and leaves.  Here’s a short video demonstrating how to make a window garden.

Window Sprouts from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids Quarto Books

Homemade Solar Oven: Using a pizza box, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and newspaper, you can harness the sun’s energy to cook your own S’mores!

Nature Walk Bracelets: Wrap some duct tape around your wrist (inside out) and take a walk, sticking interesting natural objects like leaves and flowers to your bracelet. It’s a great way to get outdoors and engage with nature. Bring a bag along so you can pick up any trash you find.

Carbon Dioxide and Ocean Acidity: See for yourself how the carbon dioxide in your own breath can make a water-based solution more acidic. The project illustrates why adding too much carbon dioxide to Earth’s atmosphere can be harmful to ocean creatures.

Ocean Acidification Experiment from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books)

Plant Transpiration:  See how trees “sweat” in this survival science experiment.

Plant Transpiration experiment from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids

Earthworm Experiment:  Do you know what kind of earthworms are living in your back yard?

Earthworm Eruption from Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2018)

Composting: Be a composting detective. Bury some things in your back yard (away from power cables) and dig them up in a few months to see how they look. Composting reduces methane gas emissions (a greenhouse gas) from dumps.

Composting Experiment from Outdoor Science Lab for Kids

Diffusion and Osmosis: See for yourself how the chemicals we add to water, put on our streets to melt ice, and spray on our lawns and crops can move into our soil, ground water, rivers, lakes and oceans.

Diffusion Experiment from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books)

Solar Water Purification: This project illustrates the greenhouse effect and is a fun “survival science” experiment. Requires hot sun and some patience!

Solar Water Purification from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids

Citizen Science: Don’t forget about all the real environmental research projects you can participate in through Citizen Science programs all around the world!

For mores activities and games, check out NASA’s Climate Kids website, to see a kid-friendly diagram of the water cycle, click here or just get outside and enjoy the beautiful planet that sustains and nurtures us.

Five Ways Kids Can Decorate Eggs Using Science

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

It’s fun to create colorful, swirling marbled designs on eggs, and there’s science behind the fun! Here’s a brief description of each. Click on the blue titles for more instructions and science explanations.

Olive Oil Marbling: You’ll need hard boiled eggs, olive oil, vinegar, and food coloring. We used green, yellow and brown food coloring to make robin’s egg colors.

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Whipped Cream Faux Marbling: You’ll need hard boiled eggs, a shallow container, cool whip or whipped cream, food coloring, and a toothpick. (Project from Star Wars Maker Lab -DK Books)

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Lemon-Painted Eggs: Dye eggs with cabbage juice and use lemon juice and backing soda to “paint” pink and blue designs on the purple eggs. (Project from STEAM Lab for Kids- Quarry Books)

Natural Dyes: Experiment with fruit, coffee, tea, spices, veggies and even onion skins to create beautiful, natural egg dyes.

Nail Polish Marbling: This one is obviously inedible, but it’s a fun craft project! You’ll need eggs with the yolks and whites blown out, a container that can be thrown away, nail polish in two or more colors, and water. (Project from STEAM Lab for Kids-Quarry Books)

nail polish marbled eggs

The science behind the marbling fun: Egg dyes and food coloring require an acidic environment to form bonds. That’s why you add vinegar (also called acetic acid) to water and dye when coloring eggs. Things that are less dense than water, like olive oil and nail polish, float on top of water, allowing you to create designs that can be transferred onto your eggs.