Dying Yarn (or Your Hair) using Kool-Aid

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

You can dye a rainbow of streaks in your hair using Kool-Aid drink mix. Practice on yarn first to perfect your technique!

Sheep’s wool and human hair are both made up of proteins called keratins, which can be dyed using chemical mixtures called acid dyes. These dyes are used to dye wool and alpaca, and some of the non-toxic ones can be used to dye human hair. Despite their name, they don’t actually contain acids. Instead, they require mild acid, such as citric acid or vinegar to be present in order for them to attach to proteins.

Kool-Aid drink mixes contain acid dyes that are perfect for dying keratin, and the color will wash away in a few washes. The mixes usually contain citric acid, but it helps to add vinegar as well to create an acidic solution. Colors will be most visible on lighter-toned hair or hair that has been chemically lightened, but you can dye dark hair too, by using more Kool-Aid mix.

Remember, Kool-Aid stains skin, fabric and other surfaces!

To dye yarn you’ll need:

100%  wool yarn (white or cream, not cotton or synthetic fiber)

Kool-Aid drink mixes (powdered or liquid concentrate)

vinegar

scissors

  1. Cut yarn into desired length and tie into bundles.

2. Soak yarn in warm water for 30 minutes.

3. In small containers, add enough vinegar to cover yarn and enough Kool-Aid to create intense colors.

4. After 30 minutes, put the wet yarn in the vinegar.

5. Soak for 30 minutes to overnight.

6. Remove yarn from dye, rinse well with cold water and hang to dry.

7. To make multi-colored yarn, soak yarn in vinegar and then squirt dye directly onto yarn. Let sit, rinse out and dry.

 

To dye streaks or the tips of your hair, shampoo and dry your hair. Skip the conditioner and put on an old shirt that can be stained.

Add the desired shade of Kool-Aid to vinegar in a bowl and soak the portions of your hair that you want dyed in the Kool-Aid mix for half an hour or so.

Rinse ends several times and dry. Remember that if your hair gets wet, it may transfer color to your clothes!

 

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!

Homemade Petri Plates

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Does hand-washing really get rid of germs?  Yes! Scrubbing your hands with soap and water for the length of time it takes you to recite the ABC’s will get rid of the majority of harmful microbes on your hands.

Image from “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids” (Quarto Books 2016)

Here’s a video on how to make Petri plates for a hand-washing experiment, where you touch labeled sections of the plates with your fingertips before washing, after washing with water alone, and after scrubbing with soap or hand sanitizer. You can also use the plates to swab and grow microbes from around your house or school!

Find the recipe for Petri Plates in my book Kitchen Science Lab for Kids, or click here for a link to the recipe on my original blog post, where you can also read more about the science!

Homemade Petri Plates from “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids” (Quarto Books 2016)

Sound Science

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Get ready to make some noise! Read on to find instructions for making two simple experiments.

The sound we hear every day is energy that travels through air molecules as vibrations. In fact, you can’t hear sound in outer space, since there’s no air.

When I play my trombone, air travels from my lungs to my buzzing lips, which make vibrations inside the horn. The vibrations travel through the trombone, and the tube the vibration travel through gets longer when I extended the slide, making the sound lower. My daughter plays the violin, which, like other string instruments, can make short sounds by plucking the strings or a continuous sound with a bow that keeps them vibrating. Shortening the strings by pressing them down makes the pitch higher as the string vibrated faster.

 

IMG_4294

We have a “drum” in our ears called an eardrum, or tympanic membrane that picks up sound vibrations in the air and transfers those vibrations to tiny bones in the middle ear, which then move them on to our inner ear, sending a message to our brain.

You can make a model “eardrum” out of a cup, saran wrap and sugar sprinkles that jump when you make a loud noise right next to it.

It’s also fun to make two simple musical instruments: a straw “clarinet” and a kazoo from a comb and tissue paper. Use the instruments to make the sugar crystals on a model eardrum jump around!

straw "clarinets"

straw “clarinets”

Click on this  link to learn how to make straw “clarinets.”

To make comb kazoos, fold a piece of tissue paper in half the long way (see photo), place it over a comb with the teeth towards the fold, and place your lips on the tissue paper. Sing doo doo doo doo into the paper (don’t blow.) The vibrations from your voice will make the thin paper vibrate and buzz. It will tickle if you’re doing it right!

 

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

 

 

 

Science-tastic Holiday Ornaments

 - 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.

Homemade Robotics Kit (Holiday Gift Idea)

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

With a few simple technology and art supplies, you can put together a simple kit that lets kids design and build bristle bots, art bots and light-up creatures.

The Science Behind the Fun: Hooking an unbalanced spinning toy motor  to a brush sends vibrations through the bristles. The vibrating bristles move the brush, and anything attached to it, around on a flat surface.  Make a disc robot by attaching toothbrushes to a CD and attaching a motor, or make a drawing robot with legs made of pens.

Art Bot from “STEAM Lab for Kids” (Quarry Books 2018)

Light Up Creatures from “STEAM Lab for Kids” (Quarry Books 2018)

CD Bot from “STEAM Lab for Kids” (Quarry Books 2018)

I’ve included ideas for items to put in a kit, along with a tech supply list and photos of the robots from STEAM Lab for Kids. Use your imagination for art supplies! Pair the kit with a book, like STEAM Lab for Kids (Amazon.com), which has instructions for making bristle bots, art bots and light-up creatures, or let tech-savvy kids take the reigns and start building!

 

Homemade robotics kit- kitchenpantryscientist.com

 

LEDs, alligator clip test leads, toy motors and batteries let kids assemble simple circuits. (Supply list below photo)

tech components for robot kit- kitchenpantryscientist.com

Basic 3mm and 5mm through-hole LEDs (Art Bot, CD Bot, Light-Up Creature)

Small alligator clip test leads (Art Bot, CD Bot, Light-Up Creature)

AA battery holders (Art Bot, CD Bot )

AA batteries and 9V batteries (Art Bot, CD Bot )

9V battery clip snap-on connectors (battery snaps)  

3V coin cell batteries (Light-Up Creature)

Mini electric motor for DIY toys (1500 rpm) for Art Bot, CD Bot

(Find these supplies at your favorite bricks and mortar location, like Axman Surplus stores, or get them online at Amazon.com or another tech retailer.)

USA https://www.amazon.com Canada https://www.amazon.ca

 

Paper and plastic cups, brushes, toothbrushes, duct tape, zip-ties, and CDs all make great building supplies, and a glue gun always comes in handy.

building components for robotics kit- kitchenpantryscientist.com

Use your imagination for the art supplies.

art supplies for homemade robotics kit- kitchenpantryscientist.com

And if you’ve got a kid who likes to sew, it’s fun to add supplies to make sewable circuits!

Sewable electronics: coin cell battery holders, sewable LEDs, snaps and conductive thread  

USA https://www.sparkfun.com/lilypad_sewable_electronics and https://www.adafruit.com

Canada https://www.amazon.ca

Europe https://www.amazon.co.uk

Here are instructions for building a simple bristle bot.

Have fun!

Thanksgiving Science: Pumpkin Spice Bath Bombs

 - by KitchenPantryScientist


To make a holidays version of the fizzing bath tablets in the video, we scented them with pumpkin pie spice and added a little more oil to incorporate the extra ingredients.

1 cup baking soda

¼ cup cream of tartar

3 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted to liquid

food coloring

rounded tablespoon

1 tsp. pumpkin spices

-Whisk together baking soda, cream of tartar and pumpkin spices. Slowly drizzle in coconut oil, mixing immediately. Stir for several minutes until you get a nice even mixture that holds together when you press it between your fingers. Add a little more oil if it is too powdery.

-Add a few drops of food coloring and mix again until the color is incorporated.

-Press the bath bomb mixture into a tablespoon and tap in on a tray to remove the bath tablet. If they don’t hold together, try adding a little more oil and mixing again. Dry the bath fizzies on a plate or cooking sheet and package them in cellophane bags or pretty baking cups for friends and family. Use the fizz bombs within a few weeks for maximum fizziness!

You can make larger “bath bombs” using molds for round ice cubes (which we found at Target.) Double or triple the recipes, gently press some mixture into each side of the mold, and mound a little extra on each side. Press the mold together to compress the bath bomb mixture into a single ball. Tap one side gently with the back of a spoon and gently open the mold to release that side of the sphere. Hold it in your palm and repeat with the other side to release the entire bath bomb from the mold.

 

The science behind the fun: The chemical name for baking soda is  sodium bicarbonate , and cream of tartar is an acid called potassium bitartrate, or potassium hydrogen tartrate . When you mix them together in water, you create a chemical reaction that forms carbon dioxide gas bubbles! It’s interesting to note that at temperatures below 76 degrees F (25 C),  coconut oil is a solid, but that at temperatures above this, it melts into a clear liquid. How does this affect your bath fizzies? Will they work in cold water as well as they do in warm water? Try it!

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.

 

 

 

Halloween Meringues

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Eggs and sugar have great chemistry. Mix them together to create these sweet, crunch Halloween treats with a recipe from my upcoming book “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: Edible Edition.

They’ll take a few hours to bake, so plan ahead for this fun, edible science project.

KitchenPantryScientist.com Halloween meringues

Meringues are simply egg whites whipped into sugary foams.  As you whip air into the mix, glue-like egg white proteins stick to the bubbles, stabilizing them to form a thick foam. The sugar you add combines with water from the eggs to form a sweet syrup.

When you bake meringue at a low temperature for a long period of time, the sugar and protein are transformed from an elastic goo to a glassy state, creating a crunch mouthful of bubbles.

Hard meringues are made using ¼ cup sugar per egg white, with a pinch of cream of tartar. Don’t skip the cream of tartar (an acid.) It helps stabilize the egg whites in the meringue.

To make Halloween Meringues, you’ll need:

3 egg whites from extra large eggs

1/8 tsp cream of tartar

¾ cup granulated sugar

1/4 tsp Vanilla

Food coloring (gel works best)

Toothpicks

Sprinkles or dusting sugar (optional)

Parchment paper

Stand mixer or hand mixer

2 baking sheets

Pastry bags or large plastic zipper bags with the corners cut off

Round piping tips for pastry bag, if you have them

 

Recipe:

1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees F.
2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
3. Beat three egg whites on medium until they start to foam.

4. Add 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar and continue to beat the egg whites, increasing the speed to high.
5. When the foam gets thicker enough to form soft peaks, add 3/4 cup sugar, a tablespoon or so at a time as you beat the eggs. Add vanilla.
6. Continue beating the mixture until stiff, glossy peaks with rounded tips form. Don’t over-beat the meringue.

7. Add a round tip to the pastry or plastic bag. Fill the bag with the meringue you made.

8.Use the bag and tip to pipe half of the meringue into blobs. You can color it with food coloring before piping it, if you wish.

9. Make some colorful streaks on the meringues by using a toothpick to smear food coloring on the inside of the pastry tip before putting it in the bag and piping the meringue. A small tip can be used to create eyes for the blobs, snakes and worms, or you can use sprinkles and dusting sugar to decorate.

10. Bake the meringues for 1-2 hours, until they feel dry and let them cool.

KitchenPantryScientist.com