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Sunday, September 8, 2013


Science has certainly taken the back burner in education over the past decade.  The crazy thing is when you ask kids their favorite subject, they frequently respond, “Science!”  They LOVE science, but who has the time and energy to fit it in with all the other “rigorous academic” demands?

Several of my neighbors had grandchildren visiting when K.J. was at our house this summer.  I invited three groups of children over and played Mrs. Wizard and did science experiments with them.  I did my old tried and true (Hasn’t everybody done these a million times?) projects.  I was prepared for, “Oh, we did that one at school.” Or “I know that.”  However, out of the seven children, not ONE had ever seen any of these experiments.  I was delighted to “WOW!” them, but it made me a little sad to think of children missing these opportunities.

I’ve put “Scientist of the Week” and other science tips on my blog before, or you can go to my February, 2010, website for more experiments and activities.  Here are the ones I did for K.J. and his friends.  They are simple, easy, and can be done with things you already have in the kitchen cupboard.  You're sure to impress your new group of "scientists" with these!

Toothpick Trick
Materials:       wooden toothpicks
                        eye dropper, water
Directions:     Take 5 toothpicks and bend them in the middle.  Do not break them apart.  Place the bent edges together in the middle to make a 10 pointed star.  How can you turn it into a 5 pointed star without  touching the toothpicks.  (Let children brainstorm all the possibilities.)  Take the eye dropper and put a drop of water in the middle of the 10 pointed star.  Observe as the toothpicks move to form a five pointed star.  What made the toothpicks move?
*I promise I didn’t fake the picture!

Pepper Scatter
Materials:       clear bowl
                        liquid detergent
Directions:     Fill the bowl with water.  Sprinkle the pepper on top.  Squirt a drop of detergent in the middle of the bowl.  Observe what the pepper does.  What makes the pepper scatter?

Milk Explosion
Materials:       pie pan
                        whole milk  (room temperature)
                        food coloring
                        liquid detergent (Dawn works best.)

Directions:     Place a cup of milk in the pie pan.  (It must be whole milk and room temperature.)  Put several drops from each bottle of food coloring down the sides of the pie pan at different intervals.  Now, squirt a few drops of the detergent in the middle of the pan.  Patiently observe and the colors will explode in the pan. 

Shiny Pennies
Materials:       old pennies
                        vinegar, salt
                        cup and spoon
Directions:     Put ½ cup of vinegar in the cup.  Add 1 TB salt and mix to dissolve.  Drop the pennies in the cup and stir them around while you count to 25.  Take the pennies out of the cup and rinse them off in water.  Taaa Daaa!   What happened to the pennies?  What made them shiny?
*Experiment shining pennies with ketchup or lemon juice.

Happy Face Balloon
Materials:       balloon (Use a large balloon and blow it up first to make sure
                        it will inflate easily.)
                        permanent marker, empty bottle
                        vinegar, baking soda
                        spoon, funnel
Directions:     Blow up the balloon and draw a happy face on it with the marker. 
Put ½ cup of vinegar in the bottle.  Put several spoonfuls of baking soda in the balloon using the funnel.  Insert the end of the balloon over the mouth of the bottle.  Hold up the balloon so the baking soda falls in the bottle and watch what happens.  What made the balloon blow up?  Have children draw pictures in sequential order of how this experiment was conducted.  
In the Bag
Materials:       zip sandwich bag
                        sharp pencil
Directions:     Fill the sandwich bag with water.  Hold the pencil and say, “What do you think will happen if I stab this pencil in the bag?”  Take the pencil and quickly insert it through the bag.  What happened?  Why?

Tie in with standards by having children observe, label, record, and discuss science experiments.