Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: Edible Edition

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Seven weeks from today, my new book “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: Edible Edition” hits shelves everywhere books are sold, and there are some great pre-order sales going on now! Kitchen Science Lab for Kids, Edible Edition gives you 52 delicious ideas for exploring food science in your own kitchen by making everything from healthy homemade snacks to scrumptious main dishes and mind-boggling desserts.

Here’s a sneak peek into the book….

When you step into your kitchen to cook or bake, you put science to work. Physics and chemistry come into play each time you simmer, steam, bake, freeze, boil, puree, saute, or ferment food.

Make boba smoothies to learn about tapioca science. (Image from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: Edible Edition 2019)

Use steam pressure to make delicious popovers expand like balloons! (Image from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: Edible Edition 2019)

Homemade pesto is a tasty emulsion! (Image from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: Edible Edition 2019)

Simple freezer sorbet is a mouth-watering way to explore crystal formation in sweet syrups! (Image from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: Edible Edition 2019)

Knowing something about the physics, biology, and chemistry of food will give you the basic tools to be the best chef you can be. The rest is up to you!

Ten Awesome Earth Day Science Experiments

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Monday April 22nd is Earth Day, so get outside and show our home planet some love! Whether you’re picking up trash or visiting a park, it’s always fun to throw some science into the mix.

Here are some of our favorite environmental science experiments. Just click on the experiment names for directions and photos. You can find more fun outdoor experiments in my books “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids” and Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books.)

from "Outdoor Science Lab for Kids" (Quarry Books)

from “Outdoor Science Lab for Kids” (Quarry Books)

Homemade Sweep Nets: Make a sweep net from a pillowcase and a hanger to see what arthropods are hanging out in your favorite outdoor spaces.

Window Sprouts: Plant a bean in a plastic baggie with a damp paper towel to see how plants need only water and air to sprout roots and leaves.  Here’s a short video demonstrating how to make a window garden.

Homemade Solar Oven: Using a pizza box, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and newspaper, you can harness the sun’s energy to cook your own S’mores!

Nature Walk Bracelets: Wrap some duct tape around your wrist (inside out) and take a walk, sticking interesting natural objects like leaves and flowers to your bracelet. It’s a great way to get outdoors and engage with nature. Bring a bag along so you can pick up any trash you find.

Carbon Dioxide and Ocean Acidity: See for yourself how the carbon dioxide in your own breath can make a water-based solution more acidic. It’s the same reason too much carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere can be bad for our oceans.

9781631591150

Plant Transpiration:  See how trees “sweat” in this survival science experiment.

Earthworm Experiment:  Do you know what kind of earthworms are living in your back yard?

Composting: Be a composting detective. Bury some things in your back yard (away from power cables) and dig them up in a few months to see how they look. Composting reduces methane gas emissions (a greenhouse gas) from dumps.

Diffusion and Osmosis: See for yourself how the chemicals we add to water, put on our streets to melt ice, and spray on our lawns and crops can move into our soil, ground water, rivers, lakes and oceans.

Solar Water Purification: This project illustrates the greenhouse effect and is a fun “survival science” experiment. Requires hot sun and some patience!

Citizen Science: Don’t forget about all the real environmental research projects you can participate in through Citizen Science programs all around the world!

For mores activities and games, check out NASA’s Climate Kids website, to see a kid-friendly diagram of the water cycle, click here or just get outside and enjoy the beautiful planet that sustains and nurtures us.

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.  

 

Leprechaun Pop Rocks (Carbon Dioxide Candy)

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Homemade pop rocks aren’t as fizzy as the ones you buy at the store, but they’re mighty tasty! Citric acid combines with baking soda to make carbon dioxide gas bubbles that get trapped in the candy. Adding extra citric acid and baking soda to the surface of the candy gives some extra fizz when you put them in your mouth. Trick your friends by adding a flavor that doesn’t match the color!

Leprechaun Pop Rocks (KitchenPantryScientist.com)

Warning: Ages 8 and up only. Extremely hot candy syrup. Adult supervision required. 

You’ll need:

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup corn syrup

candy thermometer

baking sheet

corn starch

a few drops of food coloring

1 tsp flavoring, like orange or cherry

1/4 cup citric acid + 1 tsp to sprinkle on in final step

1 tsp baking soda plus some to sprinkle on the candy

Step 1. Coat a the bottom of an inverted baking sheet with cornstarch.

Step 2. Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water, stirring until it reaches 300 degrees F.

Step 3. Remove the hot, melted candy from heat. Stir in food coloring, flavoring, 1/4 cup citric acid and 1 tsp baking soda.

Step 4. Very carefully, pour the mixture onto the baking sheet. Do not touch!!! Sprinkle 1 tsp. citric acid evenly over the surface of the candy.

Step 5. Let the mixture cool for at least 30 minutes and the break it into small pieces. Put some of the fragments in a plastic zip lock bag and use a hammer or rolling pin to crush them into tiny pieces or powder.

Step 6. Sprinkle on a little more baking soda and shake up in the bag.

Step 7. Enjoy the leprechaun pop rocks!

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.

 

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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