Tag: STEAM’

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!

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

 

Homemade Water Bottle Insulator (Back to School Science)

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Combine science and art to engineer and decorate a custom water bottle jacket as unique as you are. Test different every-day insulators to see what works best to to keep water cold all day long!

water bottle jacket- KitchenPantryScientist.com

You’ll need:

-a washable plastic water bottle

-flexible insulating material, like craft foam, bubble wrap or fabric batting

-decorating materials, like stickers, ribbons or foam stickies

-a thermometer (optional)

-4 disposable empty water bottles or cans that are the same size (optional)

What to do:

(Optional) Test insulators by insulating each of the empty cans or bottles with different material. Fill each of them with the same amount of hot tap water and check the temperature of each periodically to see which material does the best job of slowing cooling of the water. The one that keeps water hot the longest is the best insulator, since it slows the movement of heat from one area to another.

Use the best insulator to build an insulating case for your water bottle. Make it big enough so that your bottle will slide out for washing. We used thick craft foam and covered it with adhesive craft foam. Shipping folders made of bubble wrap work well too! Here’s how we built ours…

 

Add some ice water to the bottle and you’re good to go! Just remove the jacket when you wash the bottle.

 

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!

 

Summer Food Science: Sorbet (No ice cream freezer needed!)

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Take your summer food game up a notch using… science! Sorbet recipe below. Vinaigrette recipe is in the post below this one.

&

Simple Freezer Strawberry Sorbet (adapted from Epicurious.com) 

30 minutes hands-on prep time, 8 hours start to finish

*Parental supervision required for boiling sugar syrup

You’ll need:

a shallow dish

1 quart strawberries 

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup orange juice

1 cup sugar

2 cups water

What to do:

  1. Make a sugar syrup by bringing 1 cup sugar and 2 cups water to a boil in a heavy sauce pan. Boil for 5 minutes.
  2. Puree strawberries in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  3. Add strawberries, lemon juice and orange juice to the sugar syrup.
  4. Pour mixture into a shallow dish and cool for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
  5. Put the chilled sorbet mix in the freezer for 6 hours, stirring every hour.
  6. Enjoy your sorbet!

The Science Behind the Fun:

In sorbet, sugar acts as an antifreeze agent, physically getting in the way of ice crystal formation to keep crystals small, so that you don’t end up with one big chunk of ice. Pre-chilling the mixture before freezing it allows it to freeze faster, which also encourages smaller crystals to form.

CD Bots from “STEAM Lab for Kids”

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Robots took over the driveway last summer when we were photographing my new book “STEAM Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Hands-On Projects for Exploring Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math”

With a few supplies from your junk drawer and a few inexpensive tech supplies available online, kids can easily make their own CD Bots! Grab a copy of “STEAM Lab for Kids” for easy instructions, or figure out how to do it yourself by attaching a toy motor (connected to a battery) to a CD with toothbrushes glued to the bottom!
Have fun!