Tabletop Science Trick- Balancing Forks on a Toothpick

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Every object on earth, whether it’s a boat, a person on a bike, or two forks attached to a toothpick, has a single point called the center of gravity (or center of mass) which gravity acts on. This fun trick demonstrates how you can balance the mass of two forks and a toothpick sitting on the edge of a wineglass. The center of gravity on a curved glass exists in the space between the glass and the forks! Amazing!

If you light the toothpick inside the glass on fire, it will burn out when the flame hits the cooling glass. Because the toothpick is so light (has very little mass), the center of gravity doesn’t change much, so the forks remain balanced.

Thanksgiving Food Science: Cranberry Spy Juice

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

(Adapted from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids)

Grab an extra bag of cranberries this Thankgiving! Kids can use it to reveal invisible messages they write with baking soda and water.

You’ll need:

-around 2 cups of cranberries

-water

-baking soda

-printer paper

-small paintbrush, Q-tip, or lollipop stick

Safety tips and Hints:

Boiling the berries should be done by an adult. Keep the lid on the pan, since the air pockets that make cranberries float can also make them explode. Kids can take over once the juice is cool.

When playing with cranberry juice, aprons or old clothes are a good idea, since it stains!

Directions:

Step 1.  Cut a cranberry in half and observe the air pockets that make it float.

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Step 2. Boil the cranberries in about three cups of water for 15 to 20 minutes, covered. Listen for popping sounds as the air in the cranberries heats up and they explode.

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Step 3. Crush the cooked berries and push the liquid through a sieve or colander to collect the concentrated cranberry juice.

Step 4. Allow the juice to cool and pour it into a casserole dish or cake pan big enough to hold a piece of paper.  If your cranberry juice seems thick and syrupy, add a little water, so that it’s thin enough to soak into paper!

Step 5. Test the paper you want to use by cutting a small piece and soaking it in the cranberry juice. If it stays pink, it will work, but if it turns blue or gray, try some other paper.

Step 6. Add a few teaspoons of baking soda to 1/3 cup of warm water and stir well. Don’t worry if you can still see some baking soda.

Step 7.  Using a Q-tip, paintbrush, or a homemade writing tool, use the baking soda solution as ink to write a message on your paper.  It may take a little practice, so don’t get frustrated.

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Step 8. Let your message air dry, or speed things up with a blow dryer.

Step 9. To reveal your message, place your paper in the cranberry juice and see what happens!

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*What other natural acid/base indicators could you use to do this experiment? What else could you use as ink.

The Science Behind the Fun:

Cranberries contain pigments called anthocyanins (an-tho-SY-a-nins,) which give them their bright color. In nature, these pigments attract birds and other animals to fruit.  This is important because animals eat the berries and spread plants seeds from one place to another.

These pigments, called flavanoids, change color when they come in contact with acids and bases.  Cranberry juice is very acidic, and the pigment is pink in acids, but when you add it to a base, it turns purple or blue.

Baking soda is a base, so your baking soda message will turn blue when it comes into contact with the pigments in the cranberry juice.  Eventually, when enough cranberry juice soaks into the paper, it will dilute the baking soda, turning the pigment back to red and your message will disappear!

There are over 300 kinds of anthocyanins which are found in many fruits and vegetables including blueberries, red cabbage, grapes and blueberries.  Scientists believe they may have many health benefits.

Science with Thanksgiving Food: Potato Porcupine

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

As a kid, I was always fascinated by stories of pieces of straw from a field being driven into  wooden planks in barns and houses by the swirling winds.

With a potato, plastic drinking straws and a glass of water, you can see for yourself how this happens.  Like drinking straws, real straw is hollow and although a potato is much softer than a piece of wood, you’ll get the picture.

You’ll need a potato and some sturdy plastic drinking straws.

Begin by soaking a potato in a glass of water for about 30 minutes to soften the skin.  We used a red, boiling potato, because that’s what I had on hand.

Then, grasp a straw tightly, near the middle and stab it into the potato as hard as you can. Try starting at different distances from the potato to see whether it makes a difference in how far the straw goes in. (You can mark it with a Sharpie and pull it out.)

We were surprised to find that, instead of breaking or bending, the straw can be driven surprisingly deep into a potato .  This happens because objects in motion, like the straw, tend to stay in motion and objects at rest, like the potato, tend to stay at rest.  (Newton’s First Law of Motion) This is called inertia.  In addition, the paper-thin edges of a drinking straw don’t offer much resistance, and potatoes are composed of around 90% water.

Halloween Candy Lava Lamps (Use chemistry to test whether candy contains citric acid.)

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Make mini “lava lamps” from water, baking soda and oil to test whether candy contains citric acid!

The science behind the fun: Oil floats on water because it is less dense. When citric acid in candy combines with baking soda, a chemical reaction occurs which produces carbon dioxide gas bubbles. As the bubbles move up through the oil, they carry water and food coloring with them. Once the gas escapes into the air, gravity pulls the water and food coloring back down through the oil.to the bottom of the container.

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 the “Science Behind the Fun.” Several of these projects can be found in my book “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids,” if you’re looking for a gift for your young mad scientist!

Click on

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– 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.

edible fake blood

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

Coffee Filter Volcano

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

(Re-posting one of our favorite experiments!)

Last spring, I went into my daughter’s first grade classroom to do the famous volcano experiment that involves mixing baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar (acetic acid). Unfortunately, with our hectic schedule there was no time to create a “work of art” volcano from paper mache or clay. So, we made one out of a paper bag. It was a smashing success. Note: It works just as well to use a coffee filter instead of a paper bag.

Paper bag volcanoes (image from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids- Quarry Books 2014
Paper bag volcanoes (image from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids- Quarry Books 2014

To make your own paper bag volcano, you’ll need a brown paper lunch sack (or a slightly bigger one like we used), an empty plastic water or soda bottle, a cup of vinegar, red food coloring and about a fourth of a cup of baking soda. *Cone coffee filters make great volcano cones too and work well on small plastic bottles! 

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Remove the lid from the bottle, invert the brown bag over it, and tear open the bottom of the bag, along the flaps. Then, loosely tape the paper sack so that it fits around the mouth of the bottle. Don’t tape it to the bottle. If you like to draw, you can decorate the bag with markers.. We squashed and tore the bottom of the bag a little, to make it look more mountain-like.

Now, remove the bottle, fill it with the vinegar and add several drops of red food coloring for your “lava.” Place the bag bag over the bottle to hide the lava container.

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Place the volcano on a tray or something that will contain overflow and you’re ready for eruption!

Using a folded piece of paper or a small paper cup with the lip pinched into a spout, quickly dump all of the baking soda into your bottle to start the chemical reaction. You’ll see the volcano erupt as the baking soda combines with the vinegar to produce carbon dioxide gas, which is one of the gases spewed by real volcanoes.

From Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2014)
From Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2014)
From Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2014)
From Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2014)

If you liked this experiment, try making fizzy balloons with the same ingredients (plus a balloon, of course!) If you want to learn more about carbon dioxide gas and the carbon cycle, here’s a link to a cool video from NASA that explains it using a banana and a chunk of coal.

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!