Saturday, October 18, 2014

Slippery Squishy Spooky Slime

Have you jumped on the slime bandwagon yet? If not, today is the perfect day to give it a try. Most recipes only call for 3 or 4 ingredients and it's much easier to make than you are probably thinking.

Why slime?


First of all, slime is fun! It's an incredible sensory experience for the kids as they dig in and get gooey, but it doesn't leave a big mess behind for you to clean up. The sensation of slime being squeezed between fingers and toes, of stretching, pulling, and rolling the slime between palms can be very intriguing and also very relaxing for a child. (And an adult, too!)

Secondly, there is some awesome science to learn from making slime! When you mix borax and glue together you are making a polymer. You can think of a polymer like a chain or a ladder. It's lots of little chemical pieces (called monomers) that hook together to make a long, strong strand. Many synthetic materials are polymers such as plastic, nylon, and styrofoam. Polymers exist in nature, too, in the forms of DNA and proteins.

Below I have included the gooiest, slimiest, most tried and true recipes from across the interwebs. I tried to include several recipes that are each distinctly different from one another. You can experiment to come up with your own creations, too!
Standard GAK from Yours Truly
This 4-ingredient recipe is quick and easy to make and will delight the kiddos several times over.

Bat Slime from Little Bins for Little Hands
Slime with a Halloween twist! You could vary this according to the season or holiday so you have a festive slime all year round. ("Festive slime", that's really something I never thought I would write.)

Glow in the Dark Slime from Left Brain Craft Brain
Who doesn't love stuff that glows in the dark? Make the dough and then read the science behind what makes something glow in the dark here.
Lego Slime from Lemon Lime Adventures
A slightly different consistency than standard GAK, this is a must-try. Add some Lego pieces in there and you've got yourself a real party!

Galaxy Slime from Twodaloo
This is the most gorgeous slime out there! Plus it makes some pretty awesome gigantic bubbles!

Edible Slime from Fun at Home With Kids
Do you have a baby or toddler that wants to join in the fun? Make this edible edition and you don't have to worry about what happens if your little one taste tests your slime!

Bubbling Slime from Epic Fun for Kids
I seriously saved the best for last here. Apparently it bubbles for a solid 24 hours!

*If your slime doesn't come out exactly as expected head over to this trouble-shooting guide. Asia at Fun at Home with Kids is the slime goddess :) And yes, that's a HUGE compliment!

Saturday Science

Saturday Science
And now on to our Saturday Science linky party! Check out our wonderful co-hosts and link up your recent science activities:
Hands-On Learning About Fossils from Stir the Wonder
Science Activities Around the House from Little Bins for Little Hands

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Which Witch is a Real Witch?

A Lesson in Density and the Middle Ages

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy.
 
Our experiment today involves three suspected witches. We are going to scientifically determine how many of these suspected witches are actual, real life witches.
Salt Water Eggs Density Experiment Middle Ages Science According to the logic of the Middle Ages, a witch would float on top of a body of water while an innocent person would sink like a stone. We are using this same logic in our experiment today.

We obtained three fresh eggs and drew witches on each of them with a permanent marker. Then we filled up three cups of water (about 10 ounces each) and submerged each egg.
The results?

Well, I forgot to mention that we added salt to two of the cups. Minor detail, right?

Cup #1 (yellow) contained no salt and the egg sank like a stone = Innocent person!
Cup # 2 (black) contained 2 Tbsp of salt and the egg still sank = Innocent person!
Cup #3 (blue) contained 4 Tbsp of salt and the egg *DRUM ROLL, PLEASE* floated = WITCH!
Even when we tried to make Egg #3 sink, it kept bouncing back up to the top to float. So why did this happen?

At first Tommy thought it must be something to do with the egg. He hypothesized that the eggs that sunk were heavier than the egg that floated. We tested his hypothesis by trading Egg #2 and Egg #3. He was a little baffled by the fact that the egg in Cup #2 still sank and the egg in Cup #3 still floated. Hm, looks like it wasn't because of the egg afterall.

Then we talked about the difference in the water and voila! The light came on! It was because of the salt!

See, when salt is added to water it makes the water more dense. You can think of it like the water gets heavier. If you add enough salt you can actually make it more dense than an egg, which makes the egg float.
Does this mean that ocean water is more dense than fresh water? Yes, yes it does.

Want another example of density? Head on over to Color Bombs or the Lava Lamp to see how water is more dense than oil.

What do we do with witches? We cook 'em! Enjoy :)
This experiment came from 100 Science Experiments, a book we love and reference all the time!

Saturday Science Blog Hop

Saturday Science
It's time for our weekly Science Linky Party! I loved all the great ideas that were shared last week. Today I am featuring Spooky Sound Science from One Time Through. Grab some random objects from around the house and practice your spooky sounds for Halloween!
Check out our co-hosts:
Preschool Ghostly Bubble Science: Fun Ways to Play With Bubbles from Little Bins for Little Hands
Follow Sarah McClelland's board Science Experiments for Kids on Pinterest.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bubble Prints

As a follow up to our dry ice experiments post, I wanted to show you how to do bubble prints without the need for dry ice. I like the way the dry ice bubbles are so big and plentiful, but you can certainly make some awesome bubble prints without dry ice. Just grab a bowl full of water and some dish soap and you are good to go!
To do this art project well you want lots of bubbles. We turned this into an experiment to see which soap works the best. We used dish soap, hand soap, and bubble bath. Spoiler Alert: The dish soap works the best, at least it did for us. It created more bubbles that seemed to last longer than the other varieties of soap did.

All you need to do is mix some soap and water together in a bowl so that you get some good suds going. We found it worked best to pour the soap and water into the bowl together.

Once you have a good bubble dome going, grab some food coloring (NOT the gel kind) and put a few drops of your favorite colors on top of the bubbles. Then grab a piece of paper and lightly dab it onto the colored bubbles. It may take some practice to get this just right. If you press too hard you just get a smear of color without imprinting the bubbly texture. If you don't do it hard enough you don't get any color transferred to your paper. Experiment with different bowls of varying shape and size. See if you get better bubbles if you use hot water versus cold. Don't worry if you get some bubbles on your paper or if your paper gets wet. It will dry and contribute to the fun tie-dye pattern!
If your bubbles start to pop, simply pour out your water and start again with new water and soap. Repeat as much as you desire!

The food coloring on top of the bubbles is reminiscent of snow cone deliciousness from summertime.
Another fun part of this activity to watch is when the drop of food coloring drops from the bubbles into the water. As the drop falls it leaves a trail of color behind it that will slowly mix into the entire bowl of water, even if you don't stir it. Molecules are always in motion, something you can see as the color disperses itself through the water without any extra agitation. (See also Color Bombs.) Here at The Science Kiddo we can find the science in everything!
So what do you do with the bubble prints once they are dry? Well, your imagination is the limit! We made some Halloween decorations to hang in the windows. We made a little Halloween card. I found that a lot of our prints this time were very ghost-like, so we went with that and made a little Halloween picture with some ghostly visitors.
I know my readers are way more artistic and imaginative than I am. I would love, love, LOVE to hear and see what creations you dream up with your bubble prints. Tag me in a post to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest with the hashtag #bubbleprints and I will repost and highlight your artwork!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

7 Ways to Play with Dry Ice + Water

We are totally getting our mad scientist on up in here. Bwha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Last year we made our Magic Bubbling Potion for the first time, which was a huge hit. This year we added even more fun. SEVEN TIMES the fun.
Dry ice is extremely awesome, but you need to be careful with it. Safety Warning: Never touch it with your fingers, never put it in your mouth, never lock it in a closed container. Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide and it is very cold, even colder than regular ice. It is so cold it can actually burn your skin and give you frost bite. It also sublimes, or turns from a solid to a gas, quickly, which makes it dangerous when contained. If you put some dry ice in a bottle never put the cap on.

That being said, dry ice is nothing to fear when handled correctly. Just be sure you are wearing gloves when you pick it up, or use tongs, and you will be fine. We have used dry ice around our house often enough now that even my two-year-old knows how to handle it safely.

Ready for seven magical and spooky ways to experiment with dry ice? Let's get started.

#1 - Dry Ice + Water

The first in any good dry ice demo is plopping a chunk of it into a container filled with warm water. This creates some pretty impressive "smoke" that the kids love. The "smoke" is really just carbon dioxide, the same stuff we exhale when breathing. Dry ice sublimes, or turns directly from a solid to a gas, which is what creates the bubbles you see in the water. Kids always want to put their hands in the "smoke" and feel it, which is totally safe and fine. Add some food coloring to your water for extra pizzazz :)

#2 - Inflate a Balloon

Put a deflated balloon over the opening of one of your bottles and watch it grow bigger and bigger! The balloon catches all the carbon dioxide gas as it sublimes. Draw a ghost or a spider on your balloon for extra Halloween credit. Be sure to take your balloon off before it gets too big. If you leave it on there too long it could potentially overfill the balloon and explode it, which would be bad. And loud.
We filled up a balloon and then tied it off and played with it. I was amazed to feel how much heavier it was than a regular balloon! Carbon dioxide is more dense than air, which means it will always settle as low to the ground as possible. Fill up a balloon with carbon dioxide on one of your bottles and then blow up another balloon by blowing into it and you to feel the difference for yourself.

#3 - Blow a Big Bubble

We got this idea from Steve Spangler, who has really great detailed instructions on how to make your own special bubble tube. The kids love popping the giant bubble to watch the carbon dioxide fog escape.

#4 - Put out a Fire

We already know that fire needs oxygen to burn. Deprive a fire of oxygen and it will go out instantly. We tested this by simple lighting a match and holding it in the carbon dioxide fog. Sure enough, it went out immediately! Safety Warning: Don't let your kids play with matches. Only adults should be playing with matches here :)

#5 - Dry Ice + Water + Dishsoap

This is where the real magic begins. Add a squirt of dishsoap to your dry ice and water and watch as thousands of bubbles full of fog overflow onto the table. We also got this idea from Steve Spangler, who has an awesome description of what is going on. This is a demo that your kids won't be able to keep their hands out of :)

We experimented a bit with the shapes and sizes of the containers we used. It was pretty cool to see how the bubbles erupted out of each container so differently. We used one bottle with a narrow neck, which make the stream of bubbles tumble out like a snake. Tommy wanted to try using a larger bowl, which make the bubbles grow and simmer like a big white brain. It was pretty cool!

#6 - Dry Ice + Water + Dishsoap + More Food Coloring + Paper

I'm going to call this bubble prints. Once you get your bubbles erupting in experiment #5, add a drop of food coloring on top of the bubbles. The color kind of sits right on top. Then grab a piece of paper and lightly dab it over the colored bubbles. It makes this really cool bubble tie-dye pattern on the paper. Once dry, use it to make cards and decorations, or just hang it up on your art wall!
If you want to make bubble prints without using dry ice check out my easy instructions here!

#7 - Carbonate Your Own Beverage

Plop a few chunks of dry ice into a pitcher full of Kool-Aid or lemonade, wait until the dry ice has completely sublimated (around 20-30 minutes), and voila! You have your own sparkling soda. This is a fun treat to enjoy after all your hard work experimenting. The fizz will stay in your drink for a couple of hours before it goes flat again.
I hope you enjoy these experiments as much as we do. One of our Halloween traditions is spending a couple of hours one afternoon doing all of these experiments. The kids get totally into it every single time. And the adults have just as much fun experimenting and coming up with new ideas to try.

*You can buy dry ice at most grocery stores. Call ahead first to see if they sell it or if they know where to get it. The store may ask for your ID, since minors aren't allowed to buy it. I usually buy about four pounds of it, which keeps us playing for at least 2-3 hours.

**If you have a bunch of dry ice in a bottle for awhile sometimes it will cool down the water so cold that the dry ice stops subliming and just starts freezing the water around it instead. If this happens, simply dump out the cold water in the sink and refill your bottle with warm water. The dry ice will immediately begin bubbling vigorously again :)

Saturday Science Blog Hop

I am thrilled to be joining a group of talented bloggers to bring you fun science activities each Saturday! Check out our amazing co-hosts and leave a link below to a science activity or experiment that you have done recently!
Saturday Science
Weighing and Measuring Water Science Experiment from Little Bins for Little Hands
Vortex from Suzy Homeschooler
10 Terrifying Ghost Science Experiments from Lemon Lime Adventures
Follow Sarah McClelland's board Science Experiments for Kids on Pinterest.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Halloween Window Gel Clings

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy.

Back in April I posted a recipe for making your own window gel clings. The ones we made in April caught the warm rays from the sun all spring and summer until my five-year-old decided it was time to start decorating for Halloween. We replaced our spring window jellies with a spooky Halloween version this week.
Please note: This is the first time I have EVER decorated my house for Halloween. You are witnessing something special here, folks :) I'm usually much lazier than this. Last year my son wanted to decorate our house so bad, so I sent him to the neighbor's house to help them decorate their house for Halloween instead. I didn't get off so easy this year :)

We used orange, black, red, and green food coloring this time. We used the gel food coloring instead of the regular food coloring we used last time, and I can honestly say I didn't notice a difference. Both work just fine. I left out the glitter this time around. It will probably come back out for our winter/Christmas themed jellies :)
We had four cookie cutters - a ghost, a pumpkin, a cat, and a bat. The window jellies turned out wonderful and the kids loved playing in the leftovers. The gelatin is cold and squishy - a great sensory experience for the kiddos!
Also, don't look too close at my dirty windows! They are clean on the inside, I swear. And if I clean the outside, they just get dirty again and that's not good enough for me!

Be sure to check out my previous post for the entire easy how-to and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Film Canister Explosion

I love explosions. In my opinion, if you want a kid to get interested in science, explode some stuff. And then explode more stuff.
Here is a simple demo to get you started. We did this in connection with our unit on volcanoes, but it would be perfect for a rocket/space unit as well. You can do it any old time you want! I wanted to show my kids what happens when pressure builds and finally exceeds the confines of the container it is in, be that a plastic bottle, a space ship, or a mountain of rock and dirt. The result: EXPLOSION!

It is probably best to do this experiment outside, but you can definitely get away with doing it inside like we did. It's just a bit of a mess to clean up :) We minimized the mess by putting a baking sheet underneath our rocket.

So what makes the explosion happen? It is the same chemistry that happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar together. An acid plus a base mix to form carbon dioxide gas, which are the bubbles you see. When enough carbon dioxide has been produced the pressure builds until the container can no longer contain it, at which point the top pops off and the gas and liquid explode out.

Alka-Seltzer is made of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), which acts as a base. When the tablets are solid and dry the acid and base don't react, but as soon as they are immersed in water they react to form carbon dioxide. This is what causes the explosion.

Total Time: Less than one minute
Safety Concerns: Depending on how much head space you have in your bottle, this can actually cause a pretty violent explosion. The thing to be worried about is getting hit in the eye with the bottle. Be sure to stand back at least a few feet and wear protective eyewear if you have it.

Materials You Need:
A plastic bottle with a snap top. The little black canisters that hold 35 mm film work great, but I couldn't dig any of those up. I just used a different snap top bottle and it worked fine.
Water
Alka-Seltzer tablets

Directions:
  • Fill up your bottle with water leaving about 1/2 inch of head space at the top.
  • Drop in one Alka-Seltzer tablet and quickly snap the bottle closed.
  • Stand back! You'll see it start to fizz and leak a little bit, then the cap will bulge, then EXPLOSION!
  • If one tablet wasn't enough to make it explode, try it again with two tablets. Or fill the bottle up with more water. Some experimentation may be necessary, but that's all part of the fun!
  • You can always experiment to compare how it works with cold water versus hot water, how it works right side up versus turning the bottle upside down, etc. Record your findings and leave a comment letting me know what you found!
Print These Instructions

Monday, September 22, 2014

You Can Learn Anything

How many times has somebody praised you for being smart or for being good at something? How does it feel?

When I was a kid I was known for being good at lots of things. I was athletic. I was smart, always at the top of the class. I was tall and had long blonde curly hair. I had lots of friends. From the outside, I had it all.

I distinctly remember coming home from school in tears one day when I was about 10. My mom quickly embraced me, asking me what was wrong. She was braced for a tale of being bullied or teased, or maybe a story of having forgotten to study for an important test or presentation. What came out of my mouth both shocked her and tested her ability to keep from laughing in the face of her upset daughter.

In between tears I wailed, "I'm so sick of everybody saying, 'Crystal, you're so smart. Crystal, you're so pretty. Crystal, you're so tall.' I wish they wouldn't say that."

My poor mom tried to comfort me and said with a smile, "I'm sorry they say those things, Sweetheart. I love you."

She still teases me about this experience today. I have to admit it is pretty funny now, but at the time, I was genuinely upset. Being labeled "smart" or "pretty" doesn't seem like a bad thing, but it can damage someone just as much as any other label out there.

Why?

Labels, even labels that are supposed to be positive, reinforce what is called the fixed mindset. This is defined basically as a belief that a person's ability or intelligence is given to them and has finite limitations. So either someone is smart or dumb, talented or not, nice or mean, etc. This dumps a whole lot of pressure on the "haves" and severely handicaps the "have nots". It is an incorrect view of what our brains are capable of. My wise mother understood that it wasn't about what the teachers and kids were saying, it was about the pressure I felt from being labeled. It was about me being afraid to fail because I didn't want to lose the respect of my peers and teachers who knew me as The Girl Who is Good at Everything.

In reality, our brains are muscles that grow and change as we use them. Nerve connections are made and strengthened as we practice a task over and over again, be that playing the piano, practicing a soccer kick, or studying algebra. As we learn and study and struggle and practice our brains get stronger and we get smarter. This is called the growth mindset. With this mindset, a person can literally learn anything.

So what does this have to do with you? Well, everything.

If you work with children as a teacher, a coach, or a parent (which I think most of you do if you are reading this blog :) you need to be careful about how you praise and encourage those children. Carol Dweck at Stanford has done extensive research on fixed mindset versus growth mindset and the results are astounding. Children who are praised for their intelligence, for being smart, for being good at something, are far more less likely to tackle difficult problems because they are afraid of failing (fixed mindset). If they attempt a new or difficult task and fail they are afraid they will lose their value as being smart or talented or whatever. They are more likely to play it safe and stick to tasks that are easy that they know they can do.

Children who are praised for their effort, for working hard, for trying a new task, for persevering through a tough problem, are far more likely to want to try hard things in the future (growth mindset). They are more likely to tackle difficult problems or to reason through a new way of doing something because they aren't afraid of failure. They are more interested in the process and in learning something new along the way, rather than in completing the task perfectly the first time. They actually enjoy the struggle in learning something new.

Here is a video that summarizes Dweck's findings and give you phrases you can use to change your child's mindset today:
And guess what? This applies to adults, too.

Did you know that you can learn anything? Literally. It doesn't matter how old you are or what your background is. If you want to learn something, you can do it. Your brain is wired to grow and change, even when you are old. Want to learn a new language? Or pick up the algebra you didn't grasp in high school? Or learn how to program a computer? You can.

My background is in chemistry. Until I founded this website I had never done any programming or graphic design or anything like it. I wasn't sure I could learn everything I needed to know. But you know what? I started muddling along and I tried a thousand things that didn't work, but I stuck with it and I learned a ton in the process. And it has been one of the most thrilling  projects I have ever undertaken. I could almost feel my brain expanding as I persevered and learned hard things. And I know it's not perfect and I still have thousands of little improvements to make and things to learn, but that's all part of the process.

Sal Khan over at Khan Academy wrote a wonderful article on this subject entitled, "Why I'll Never Tell My Son He's Smart". I am posting his video below as a perfect summary of the beauty of the growth mindset.
Want to read more on this fascinating subject? Check out Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck or Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell. (This is the book I read a few years ago that sparked my interest in this subject. It not only changed the way I praise my children, but it gave me a whole new perspective on the infinite ways they can become geniuses and masters in any field of their choosing.)
What are your thoughts and experience? Do you really believe you and your children can learn anything?