(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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Made corn starch frescoes from my book “Outdoor Science Lab for Kids” on @fox9morning today! Mix 2 parts cornstarch with 1 part water, pour out on baking sheet or sidewalk and paint with watercolors or food coloring! (Wear old clothes if painting with food coloring) Let frescoes dry, or wash away with a garden hose.
Here are some fun projects you can do using dry ice! Dry is is frozen carbon dioxide, and you can use it to carbonate drinks, make fizzy fruit, or even blow giant bubbles!
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!
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!
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!
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?
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.)
Hint: Wear gloves to avoid staining your fingers.
-2 cups of warm water in a bowl
-hard boiled eggs
-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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hang the zoo by your bathroom sink to remind everyone to wash their hands!
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.
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.
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.