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Basketball Science for the Final Four

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Love basketball? Think you’re pretty good? Try taping some coins to a basketball, or covering one eye and shooting the ball. The coins change the ball’s center of mass, making it harder to shoot, and covering one eye messes with your depth perception! Try it!

I had fun thinking up these new basketball experiments that we tested on TV this week. Can you come up with one of your own? What could you try?

Olive Oil Egg Marbling and Epsom Salt Crystal Egg Geodes

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

It’s simple to make gorgeous marbled eggs using olive oil marbling. Simply dye your eggs with food coloring and then marble them with a darker color. (Epsom Salt Egg Geode instructions are at the bottom of this post.)

Oil-Marbled Eggs

KitchenPantryScientist.com

Hint: Wear gloves to avoid staining your fingers.

You’ll need:

-2 cups of warm water in a bowl

-hard boiled eggs

-olive oil

-vinegar

-food coloring (We used  Wilton Color Right food coloring: 2 drops blue mixed with one drop of yellow in about a cup of water to make robin’s egg colors, and brown for marbling.)

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1. Make base dye by adding a few Tbs. vinegar to two cups of water. To this, add a few drops of food coloring. Lighter colors work best for the base.

2. Dye the hard boiled eggs in the base color until they are the desired shade. Let them dry.

3. To a small bowl, add 1/2 cup water, a Tbs. of vinegar, darker food coloring, and 1/2 tsp olive oil. Add more oil if you want less dark color when you marble. Oil shouldn’t cover the entire surface.

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4. Swirl the oil with a toothpick or spoon and lower your egg into the water/oil mixture, swirling and spinning it. When you like the results, take it out and let it dry.

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5.When the egg is dry, remove the excess oil with a paper towel.

The science behind the fun: Food coloring is an acid dye, so the vinegar (acetic acid) helps it bond to the egg shell. Oil is less dense than water and floats on top. When you put the egg in the oil-colored water mixture, the oil coats part of the egg, preventing it from being stained.

Epsom Salt Crystal Egg Geodes:

Have an adult cut a raw egg in half lengthwise, using a serrated knife. Wash the shell and dry it. Dye if desired.

Use a glue gun or school glue to coat the inside of the egg. Sprinkle in Epsom salt crystals and allow to harden or dry. 

(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. Fill each half eggshell with Epsom salt solution. When long, needle-like crystals have formed, dump out the excess liquid and break the thin layer of crystals on top to reveal the ones in the shell.  

 

Crafty Microbe Zoo

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

It’s fun to make model microbes using sculpting clay and play dough! Put them in test tubes or other small clear containers glued to a clear frame to create a microbe zoo.

Bacteria can be shaped as spheres, rods and spirals. Some types of bacteria exist as single cells, but others form chains or clump together like grapes. Viruses are smaller than bacteria and come in lots of amazing, geometrical shapes too. Certain complex viruses look a lot like space ships.

Microbe Zoo (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

Hang the zoo by your bathroom sink to remind everyone to wash their hands!

Thanksgiving Science: Faux Cranberries (oil spherification)

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Spice up your holidays with delicious Faux Cranberries, using oil spherification. Because they are made using agar,which has a higher melting temperature than gelatin, faux cranberries can be suspended in melted yellow Jell-O without losing their shape. It doesn’t work to make them using real cranberry juice, because it is too acidic. 

Different recipes, same science! (Oil spherification from “STEAM Lab for Kids”-Quarry Books 2018)

To make Faux Cranberries, you’ll need:

1 package red Jell-O

 2 Tbsp. agar flakes

squeeze bottle or large syringe

Tall container filled with very cold vegetable or canola oil. 

*Adult supervision required for hot liquids.

1. Chill oil in freezer.

2. With adult supervision, make Jell-O, following the directions on the package, but don’t allow it to harden.

3. To 1 cup of red Jell-O, add 2 Tbs. agar.  Microwave and stir repeatedly until the agar or gelatin is completely dissolved.

2. Allow the Jello to cool slightly and add it to a squeeze bottle.

Drip juice through cold oil.

3. Drip the Jell-O/agar solution into a tall container of cold oil, a few drops at a time so it forms into marble-sized orbs and sinks. Allow the orbs to cool for 30 seconds or so and retrieve them with a slotted spoon or strainer. Rinse with water and repeat, re-chilling the oil as needed until you have as many orbs as you want.

4. Add faux cranberries to another batch of Jell-O before it hardens completely, or layer Jell-O and add the faux cranberries to a center layer.

The Science Behind the Fun:

Oil spherification is known to cooks as a “molecular gastronomy” technique, and takes advantage of the fact that water and oil don’t mix. Water-based droplets falling through chilled oil form into perfect spheres due to surface tension, and gelatin and agar added to the mix are colloids that solidify as they cool.

 

 

 

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!

 

Rainbow Science

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Yesterday, I demonstrated some fun rainbow science on The Jason Show. Click here to watch!

As part of the segment, I featured the “Rainbow Slime” experiment from my new book, “STEAM Lab for Kids,” which you can order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite online retailer. Here’s a sneak-peek at a few photos from the book.

Rainbow Slime from “STEAM Lab for Kids” by Liz Lee Heinecke

Rainbow Slime from “STEAM Lab for Kids” by Liz Lee Heinecke

Rainbow Slime from “STEAM Lab for Kids” by Liz Lee Heinecke

Seed Science: Homemade Chi Pets

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

I grew up hearing the Chi Chi Chi Chi song on TV, but our family never actually purchased a Chi Pet, so I never realized the dream of sprouting green hair from a clay animal. Until now.

Chia Creature (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

Chia Creature (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

With the emergence of chi seeds as a new health fad, it’s easy to get your hands on some chi seeds (of the sprouting variety) with a click of the mouse, or a trip to the Co-op. Chia seeds are quick-growing members of the mint family called Salivia hispanica, hailing from Central and South America where they have served as a food source for humans for well over a thousand years. And although studies have shown that they probably won’t help you lose weight, they are chock full of protein, fiber, fatty acids and anti-oxidants.

When you give these tiny seeds the signals they need to sprout: water, light, warmth and air, they grow very fast, so you should see tiny white roots poking out in a few days, soon to be followed by a shoot and leaves.

Since most people don’t have any way to fire clay in their homes, I decided to keep it simple. These homemade chia pets are basically clay (or Play-Dough) animals formed around seed starter pellets (also available online.) Add a few pre-soaked chia seeds, wait a few days and Voila! Your homemade animal will be sprouting living green hair.

You’ll need:

-2 Tbs chia (sprouting) seeds

-dirt or seed starter pellets

-clay or playdough

-a fork or toothpick

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1. Soak 2 Tbs. chia seeds in 1/2 cup water overnight. The mixture will get slimy as it sits and water is trapped by tiny fibers on the seeds to form a gel-like substance.

2. The next day, soak your seed starter pellets per the instructions on the package.

3. Create a clay or Play-Dough animal big enough to hold the expanded pellet or some dirt inside, wherever you want the green sprouts to appear.

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4. Put the dirt/seed starter pellet into to space you created and scratch the surface with a fork or toothpick.

5. Add 1/2 tsp or so of seeds to the dirt and use the fork or toothpick to mix them into the soil.

Chia Puffer Fish (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

Chia seeds sprouting in our Chia Puffer Fish! (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

6. Wait for the seeds to grow, keeping the soil damp at all times. (You can speed growth by covering your chia pet with a plastic bag to hold in heat and moisture.) Watch for roots and leaves to emerge and draw or photograph them.

Homemade Chia Pet -KitchenPantryScientist.com

Homemade Chia Pet -KitchenPantryScientist.com

“No risk is more terrifying than that taken by the first root. A lucky root will eventually find water, but its first job is to anchor an embryo and forever end its mobile phase, however passive that motility was….it assesses the light and humidity of the moment, refers to its programming and quite literally takes the plunge.” -Hope Jahren “Lab Girl”  (My favorite new book. Read it!)

 

 

 

Slime Kit: Homemade Science-y Holiday Gifts for Kids

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Buying gifts is fine, but it’s more fun to make them. This year, we decided to make botanical gifts for the adults on our list, and slime kits for the kids.

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To make a slime kit, you’ll need:
-glue
-glitter glue (optional)
-Borax laundry detergent
-small plastic sample cups or paper cups (optional)
-food coloring
-jars with lids
-a small plastic bin or shoe box
-plastic spoons
-extra glitter (optional)

Label the jars and fill as follows:

  1. Bouncy Ball Mix (fill with glue)
  2. Slime Mix (fill with equal parts glue and water, mixed well)
  3. Borax detergent (fill with powdered detergent)
  4. Cross-Linking Solution (leave empty)
  5. optional-Sparkly Bouncy Ball mix (fill with glitter glue)
  6. optional-Sparkly Slime Mix (fill with equal parts water and glitter glue, mixed well)

Make an instruction sheet for the kit. (Print out the info below, or copy it onto a card.)

To make slime:

  1. Fill Cross-Linking Solution container with warm water. Add about 2 tsp Borax per 1/2 cup water to the container. Mix well. (Don’t worry if all the Borax doesn’t dissolve!)
  2. Add a few spoonfuls of Ball Mix or Slime Mix to a small plastic cup or paper cup.
  3. Add a drop or two of food coloring to the cup. Stir.
  4. Add 3 spoonfuls of the Cross-Linking Solution to your ball mix or slime mix and stir well.
  5. If the slime still feels too sticky, add a little more Cross-Linking Solution.
  6. Remove your completed slime from the cup.

The Science Behind the Fun:

Glue is a polymer, which is a long chain of molecules linked together, like a chemical chain.  The polymer formed by water and glue is called polyvinyl acetate.

The Borax solution is called a cross-linking substance, and it makes the glue polymer chains stick to each other. Eventually, all the chains are bound together and no more cross-linking solution can be taken up.

To finish the slime kit, fill the plastic bin with the ingredients you put together, including jars of ingredients, instructions, plastic spoons, and mixing cups (optional.)

Slime (from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids -Quarry Books)

Slime from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books)