Thursday, August 14, 2014

Science at home: three FUN project ideas for parents and kids

Recently announced after school: Amelia wants to be a science teacher when she grows up! Thanks to the ongoing efforts of our school foundation, our children can experience hands-on science in the Science Lab each week. Amelia always comes home from science day enthusiastically recounting her experiences. She admires the teacher's lab coat, she loves the lab tables for interactive group activities, and she gets very interested in whatever it is they learned that day.

She now wants a science lab in her playroom. While that isn't going to happen anytime soon (if ever!), I do have a few fun at-home science experiments we can do together. These are classic activities that I remember doing as a kid. Timeless learning fun for everyone.

#1 -- Grow sugar crystals
Growing sugar crystals is easy, and what is better than a project you can eat?!

You need:
Granulated Sugar
Glass Jar
Pencil (or 6"ruler)
Liquid Food Coloring
  • Tie the string to the pencil or ruler, then place the pencil or ruler across the top of the jar or container so the string hangs down into it. Set the pencil/ruler and string aside.
  • Cut the string so it hangs without bunching at the bottom.
  • Boil 1 1/2 cups of water. Add a drop food coloring to color the water.
  • Pour 3/4 cup of granulated sugar into the boiling water and mix well.
  • Pour the sugar water into the jar/container, then replace the string to hang down into the solution.
  • Wait several days. The sugar crystals will begin to form and grow up the string.

#2 -- Liquid "Fireworks"
Watch the colors dance and play in a dish of milk!

You need:
Small baking dish or tray
Whole milk (not skim or 2%)
Liquid food coloring, multiple colors
Liquid dish soap
  • Pour whole milk into the dish so it fully covers the bottom
  •  Add 2-3 drops each of a few colors of food coloring, randomly around the dish
  • Add a few drops of the dish soap onto the food coloring spots
  • Watch the colors move and dance around the dish!

#3 -- Mini Volcano
The beloved bubbly volcano, just a smaller size!

You need:
1/2 or 1 full can of Play-Doh type clay (Note: to be thrown away when finished)
Baking soda
Liquid dish soap
Liquid food coloring (optional)
  • Make a small mountain from the Play-Doh, at least 3-4 inches high, place on a tray with some paper towels for easier clean-up (or do this outside)
  • Using a finger, poke a hole down the center of the clay mountain, being careful not to poke any holes in the sides of the structure
  • Place two spoonfuls of baking soda in the hole 
  • Add about one spoonful of liquid dish soap
  • If desired, add red food coloring (for red "lava")
  • When you are ready for the volcano to erupt, pour in about an ounce of vinegar
  • Enjoy the bubbly flow

Happy creating, science fans!
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