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Science Books for Kids (Holidays 2020)

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

If you’re looking for holiday gift ideas for the young scientist on your list, here’s Science Magazine’s 2020 list of science books for kids and teens! They’re all finalists for the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science)/Subaru Science prize and I’m thrilled to have my latest book, Chemistry for Kids, included on the list.

Find the entire list here, along with descriptions and brief reviews of each book: https://blogs.sciencemag.org/books/2020/12/01/books-for-young-readers-2020/

From the Science Magazine review of Chemistry for Kids:
“If you were to choose 25 discoveries to document the progress of chemistry through millennia, what would you pick? In Chemistry for Kids, Liz Lee Heinecke takes us on such a journey, using familiar objects and simple scientific instruments to create straightforward chemistry experiments that chart the field’s evolution over time.
Each chapter is centered on a different experiment and begins with a vivid illustration that highlights a scientist and his or her work. A few paragraphs of engagingly written introduction are followed by colorful photographs of youngsters demonstrating the steps of the experiment. A brief explanation of the chemistry that underlies each experiment wraps up each chapter”


“If you were to choose 25 discoveries to document the progress of chemistry through millennia, what would you pick? In Chemistry for Kids, Liz Lee Heinecke takes us on such a journey, using familiar objects and simple scientific instruments to create straightforward chemistry experiments that chart the field’s evolution over time.
Each chapter is centered on a different experiment and begins with a vivid illustration that highlights a scientist and his or her work. A few paragraphs of engagingly written introduction are followed by colorful photographs of youngsters demonstrating the steps of the experiment. A brief explanation of the chemistry that underlies each experiment wraps up each chapter”

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.

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.

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.

Homemade Hand Sanitizer

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Handwashing is the best way to kill influenza and corona viruses, but it’s easy to make your own hand sanitzer for those times when you can’t get to a sink.

To make sanitizer, you’ll need 91% or 99% rubbing alcohol (isopropanol) and the kind of aloe vera gel used for sunburn treatment, which may have a little bit of water and alcohol mixed in already. Both are available over the counter at most stores.

Mix 3/4 cup 91% alcohol with 1/4 cup aloe vera gel, or mix 2/3 cup 99% alcohol with 1/3 cup aloe vera gel. (You need at least 60% alcohol in the final product.) Add to a dispenser or bottle and keep out of the reach of children, unless applying it to their hands!

Chemistry for Kids: Scientist Stories and Hand-On Projects Related to Their Work

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

I’m thrilled that my newest kids’ science book will be out this Spring and is available for pre-order wherever books are sold, including your favorite neighborhood bookstore, Barnes and Noble and Amazon!

Here’s the cover, and sneak peek of a photos from a few of the projects! The book features gorgeous illustrations by Kelly Anne Dalton and beautiful photographs by Amber Procaccini.

Marie Curie Experiment (Elemental Precipitation)
Chemistry for Kids- Quarry Books
Svante Arhennius Experiment (Reaction Rates)
Chemistry for Kids- Quarry Books
Joseph Priestly Experiment (Carbonation)
Chemistry for Kids- Quarry Books

Tapputi-Belatikallim (Fragrance Distillation)
Chemistry for Kids- Quarry Books

Edith Flanigen Experiment (Molecular Sieves)
Chemistry for Kids- Quarry Books

I’ll be demonstrating several of the projects on television over the next few months and will post the clips here for you to check out!

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?