Orchestraw Science

 - by KitchenPantryScientist


This is a simple, fun, extremely noisy experiment that will teach you a little bit about sound. All you’ll need are a straw and some scissors!

First, make a straw into a reed-like instrument by flattening one end and cutting off either side near the tip so that it looks like an arrow, but leave a small, flat area between the angled cuts (see photos.)

top view of straw instrument

side view of straw instrument

Now, put your lips around the straw, past where the point is, and blow hard. Be careful not to completely flatten the straw or air can’t go through. As the ends of the straw vibrate, they cause the air inside the column-shaped straw to vibrate, creating sound waves. The longer the column, the lower the sound, since longer sound waves sound lower! The shorter the column, the higher the sound.

Your straw instrument should sound like something between a squeaky oboe and a duck call.

Try making different length straw instruments.

NASA Soda-Straw Rockets

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

This fun activity will teach you a little bit about rockets. It is from one of NASA‘s educational websites and the great rocket template you’ll find below is provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.

All you’ll need is a plastic soda straw, some paper, scissors and tape.  For the body of your rocket, you can use this template or simply cut a strip of paper an inch or two wide. If using the template, wrap the rectangle of paper around a pencil and tape it into a tube.  If you’re using a strip of paper, wind it around a pencil (as pictured above) so it forms a tube. Tape it well, so it holds its shape.

Now, remove your rocket from the pencil, fold one end over and tape it down.  This will be the nose of your rocket.  To the other end, you can make fins using the template, or design your own fins to tape on. Fins work best at right angles, or near right angles.  Now you can decorate your creation.

Put your rocket  over the end of a straw and use the force of your breath to launch it!  How far does it go?  Try making longer and shorter rockets. What happens if you change the shape or number of fins?  Record your flight lengths.

What does this teach you?  Paper rockets demonstrate how real rockets fly through the atmosphere and some of the forces working on them!

Drag is the force of air getting in the way of your rocket.   Weight also drags your rocket down as gravity pulls on it.  The lighter you make your rocket  (less paper, less tape), and the less drag it has, the farther it will go!

Fins stabilize the rockets’ flight.  The size and design of the fins affect how well it can be controlled.

We launched some straw rockets at the Kare11 studio, if you want to see them in action!

Hard Candy Stained Glass- Edible Science

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Most clear hard candy has what scientists call a glass structure. It’s a disorganized jumble of three kinds of sugar: glucose, fructose and sucrose, which can’t assemble into organized crystals, so it remains transparent when you melt it and allow it to re-harden.

 

Hard Candy Stained Glass “STEAM Lab for Kids” Quarry Books 2018

To make stained glass for our gingerbread house windows, I adapted the crushed stained glass candy project from my book “STEAM Lab for Kids.” The challenge was figuring out how to create perfect rectangles. After some trial and error, I discovered that scoring the candy when it was still warm and soft created weak points, which allowed me to snap the candy into clean shapes once it had hardened.

Stained Glass Candy “STEAM Lab for Kids” Quarry Books 2018

You’ll need:

-Jolly Ranchers, Life Savers or another clear, hard candy

-a baking sheet (spray or grease the baking sheet, if not using a silicon liner)

-a silicon liner for the baking sheet, if you have one

-a metal spatula or dough scraper

-an oven

Safety tip: Adult supervision recommended. Hot, melted candy can cause burns. Don’t touch it until it has cooled.

What to do:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  2. Unwrap the candy and arrange the pieces on a baking sheet so that they’re close together, but not touching.

    Stained Glass Candy “STEAM Lab for Kids” Quarry Books 2018

  3. Bake the candy for 7 to 8 minutes, or until it has melted. 
  4. Remove the candy from the oven. Tilt the baking sheet, if needed, to fill gaps.
  5. Use the spatula to score (make lines in) the candy, creating whatever shapes/sizes you need.

    Stained Glass Candy “STEAM Lab for Kids” Quarry Books 2018

  6. When the candy has cooled, snap it carefully along the lines you made. (See photo at the top of this post.)
  7. Eat your creations, or use them to decorate some edible architecture.

    Stained Glass Candy “STEAM Lab for Kids” Quarry Books 2018

  8. Try crushing the candy before you melt it for different visual effects. What else could you try?

    Stained Glass Candy “STEAM Lab for Kids” Quarry Books 2018

 

 

 

Three DIY Home Science Experiments for the Holidays

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

It’s fun to bring a little science into the holidays! Here are three fun projects from my new book Sheet Pan Science. Click here to watch the segment and learn to make Ice Globe Volcanoes, Epsom Salt Crystal Ornaments and Gelatin Window Stickies.

Ice Volcanoes, Epsom Salt Crystal Ornaments and Gelatin Window Stickies

For more detailed instructions, more science and more sheet pan science, click here to order the book ($19.99) from Amazon, here to order from other online retailers or grab a copy at your favorite brick and morter bookstore!

Sheet Pan Science

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last posted, but I’ve been busy writing new books! My latest, Sheet Pan Science, comes out on Sept.13 and is available now everywhere books are sold.

My motto for Sheet Pan Science is “Contain the mess, not the fun!” and I invented “Ice Globe Volcanoes” just for this book. (You can see the volcanoes on the cover below!) Amazon ordering link here.

Check out some of the projects from Sheet Pan Science that I demo’d on television by clicking here or here.

The Kitchen Pantry Scientist- Physics for Kids

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

I’m thrilled that the third book of my Kitchen Pantry Scientist series will be released on Feb.8th and is available for order everywhere books are sold (link here.)

Yesterday, I went on Twin Cities Live to demonstrate some projects from the book and show some videos of whales, whale sharks, plankton and scorpions from a trip I just took to Baja Sur in Mexico. Watch the short segment here!

Homemade thermometer from Galileo Lab in The Kitchen Pantry Scientist- Physics for Kids (Quarry Books)

Think #STEAM! Homemade Holiday Window Stickies

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

 

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

IMG_3674

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 or toothpicks

-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?
IMG_3623
Step 4. Allow the gelatin to harden in both pans.

Step 5. In the pan with no glitter, use a toothpick dipped in food coloring to make designs in the gelatin. Alternately, use 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.
IMG_3628
Step 6. If you poked holes with a straw, add a drop of food coloring to each hole in the gelatin.
IMG_3640
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.
IMG_3641
Step 9. Observe your window jellies each day to see what happens when the water evaporates from the gelatin.
IMG_3688When 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?
IMG_3691The 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 Fun Halloween Science Projects for Kids

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Turn your kitchen table into the coolest mad science lab in the neighborhood. Click on the project name for a link to instructions and to read about the “Science Behind the Fun.” Most of these projects can be found in my book “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids,” if you’re looking for the perfect gift for any young scientist!

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.

5. Vampire Rock Candy

Vampire Rock Candy (kitchenpantryscientist.com)

6. Cornstarch Goo

7. Jell-O Eyeballs

Jell-O Eyeballs
kitchenpantryscientist.com

8. Vegetable Vampires

Vegetable Vampires kitchenpantryscientist.com

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

10. Halloween Soda Explosion– The classic Diet Coke and Mentos explosion is perfect for Halloween.

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.

edible fake blood

14. Fizzy Balloon Ghosts– Draw scary faces on balloons and inflate them using baking soda and vinegar.

Homemade Holiday Light-Up Ornaments and Crystal Snowflakes

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Use science to make your holidays shine! Here are a few fun ornaments adapted from projects in my book “STEAM Lab for Kids.” Basic instructions can be found below. Buy your own copy of “STEAM Lab for Kids” anywhere books are sold to learn more about the “Science Behind the Fun!” Happy Holidays!

LED ornaments (or jar globes) made using circuit from Light-Up Creatures (STEAM Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2018)

Epsom salt crystals from STEAM Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2018)

LED Ornaments and Jar Globes:

To make LED ornaments, buy plastic jars or ornaments with removable bases. Use sculpting clay (the kind that won’t harden) to design a scene and add LEDs connected to a coin-cell battery to light your creation. LEDs can be ordered online. See images below.

supplies for building LED-lit ornaments

Connect the legs of the LED so that each leg touches a different side of the battery to complete the circuit. If it doesn’t light, try switching the legs to the opposite sides. (Image from STEAM Lab for Kids-Quarry Books 2018)

Hide the battery in the clay, keeping the connection tight so the LEDs stay lit. You can have more than one LED on a single battery. Put the bottom back on the jar and Voila!

Epsom Salt Crystal Ornaments:

(Warning: Hot liquids require adult supervision.) To make the Epsom Salt crystals, dissolve 3 cups of Epsom salts in 2 cups of water by heating and stirring until no more crystals are visible. This creates a supersaturated solution. Allow the solution to cool slightly. Hang pipe cleaners formed into snowflakes in jars or hollow ornaments and pour the solution in. When long, needle-like crystals have formed, remove the pipe cleaners from the jars. You can leave them in the ornaments, and drain the liquid.

Hang pipe cleaners in supersaturated Epsom salt solution, or add them to ornaments and fill them with solution.

Wait for the crystals to grow. (4-12 hours.)

 

 

Remove the pipe cleaners from the solution. Knock off excess crystals.