Simplified Ocean Zones in a Bottle (3 Zones)

If you’ve ever tried the liquid layers in a jar, here is a great twist for showing your superheroes the layers in the ocean.  This is the simplified version of Ocean Zones in a Jar but has only the top 3 ocean zones (layers) where much of the well-known marine life exists.  It is also easier for the youngest superheroes to do.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Light Karo syrup (corn syrup) – tinted black or dark purple OR Dark Karo Syrup (no tinting needed)
  • Water tinted light blue
  • Vegetable oil – tinted blue-green (if possible)
  • Dropper
  • Funnel
  • food color (or liquid watercolors)
  • empty water bottle

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First add about 2-3 inches of corn syrup to the bottle.  Add some black/dark purple color to it and mix well.  (For my Tiny Tot class, I tried the dark Karo syrup and it worked great since we didn’t have to tint it black) This represents the deep ocean zone known as the Midnight Zone

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Carefully add the blue water on top (don’t tint it too dark) until you have about the same thickness as the corn syrup.  You should see the 2 distinct layers.  This represents the Twilight Zone of the Ocean.

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The top layer is the oil.  Food color and watercolor will not dissolve in oil since they are water based and oil and water don’t mix.

Regular food color will NOT mix with oil

Regular food color will NOT mix with oil

For this layer, you have 2 options: leave it yellow OR if you have candy food color (oil-based food color) then you can use that to tint the oil.

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Either way, you will definitely get a distinct layer on top of the water.  I used the candy color to get a greenish-bluish color.

Oil-based candy color WILL mix with oil

Oil-based candy color WILL mix with oil

This layer represents the Sunlight Zone, the part of the ocean where most marine life exist.

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All done!  You can also add labels to the outside of the jar to show your superheroes the layers.

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Visually you can see how the layers (ocean zones) get darker as you go deeper.   You can discuss with your little ones what effect this might have on the marine life that lives in each layer.

Extension: This activity goes really well with my Exploring Life in the Ocean Zones activity.

Extension for older kids: For older kids with a bit more hand control (and less likely to shake the bottle!) try the full version of Ocean Zones in a Jar  with all 5 layers of the Ocean.

The Science behind the Activity:

There’s all sorts of awesome science in this activity!  This is a great visual representation of how the layers of the ocean have varying amounts of light reaching them.  This can open up an entire discussion of why there are so many more organisms in the Sunlight Zone and the Twilight Zone versus the Midnight Zone.  You can even research what types of organisms exist in each layer.

In reality, there are 2 more zones below the Midnight Zone: the Abyss and the Trench.  For obvious reasons, there aren’t many known organisms that live there.  And the ones that do are unfamiliar to young children.  But for older children, it would be great to show them how deep the ocean really goes.

The other awesome science in this activity has to do with the different densities of various liquids.  Liquids that are more dense (more mass per volume) will sink and liquids will lower densities will float on top of denser ones.  If you have ever tried to mix oil and water, well, you know why that won’t work because oil is less dense than water.  This is why you have to shake your favorite salad dressings before pouring.

Here’s where I got my original idea from and then I shortened it to make it easier for toddlers and preschoolers: http://www.icanteachmychild.com/make-ocean-zones-jar/

 

 

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Cranberry Science

It’s almost Thanksgiving and it’s time to make the cranberry sauce and why not throw in a quick bit of science while the kids help you make the sauce?  Cranberry sauce is quick and easy to make at home and we took some time to explore some fun with cranberries.  (When I mentioned this to my mother, she groaned and said, “Why do you have to find science in everything?”  To which I replied, “Because science is in everything we do!”)

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • fresh cranberries
  • dried cranberries
  • glasses (I used some old jam jars)
  • ginger ale (or any carbonated clear drink)
  • knife (for adult use only)IMG_4174

Fresh vs. Dried Cranberries:

I had the boys compare the dried and fresh cranberries.  They held it in their hands and noticed that the fresh ones were round, smooth, shiny and hard.  The dried ones were “bendy”, wrinkled, bumpy and darker in color.  Then they tasted them.  You should have seen my son’s face when he tasted the fresh cranberries! (He spit it out so quickly that I couldn’t get a picture!)

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Then I asked them what they thought would happen if we put both kinds of cranberries in water.  My middle son guessed that they would both sink.

IMG_4178 So, why do the fresh cranberries float and the dried cranberries sink?  We decided to cut a fresh cranberry open to see if that might give us any clues.

IMG_4180 Aha! If you look closely, you can see that cranberries are filled with air pockets.  This allows them to float in water.  The dried cranberries don’t have any air in them and so they sink.

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My eldest son decided to keep a record of our experimentation and our results.

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After observing the cranberries in the water, my middle son wondered if the cranberries would “dance” in soda like raisins do.  (Check out my “Dancing Raisins” and “Hopping Corn and Cranberries”  5-minute activities to see what he’s referring to.  Super easy and perfect for the holidays when there’s plenty of soda around!)

So, of course, I grabbed a can of ginger ale and we added fresh cranberries and dried cranberries and observed what happened.

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The cranberries DID dance, but not the same way as the raisins did.  I LOVE that my son was able to make the connection to an experiment we did awhile ago.  I guess they DO pay attention to their mom… sometimes.

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Making Cranberry Sauce:

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I asked my sister-in-law if I could make the cranberry sauce, specifically so I could justify buying a bag of fresh cranberries to use to investigate.  So, I had my middle son help me make the sauce.  Measuring  is a great math skill and pouring and mixing carefully are great to develop fine motor skills.  I try to include my kids in cooking/baking whenever I can, even if it takes me 3 times as long to complete my task.

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The fun part came when we added the cranberries to the sugar/water mixture.

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As my son mixed, he heard some “popping” sounds.  As we looked carefully at the pot, he noticed the cranberries were “exploding”.

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So I asked him why that might be happening.  This was a great way to bring back the concept that cranberries are filled with air pockets and when the air heats up, they have to get out of the cranberries so they “explode”.

He also noticed the sauce getting thicker and not so watery.  We talked about how the water was evaporating into steam and the cranberries were also helping to thicken up the sauce.

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And now we’re ready for some turkey to go with our sauce!  Happy Thanksgiving!

The Science behind the Activity:

Who would have thought there was so much learning to be had from cranberries? Cooking/baking are great ways to expose children to how things can change when heated up, mixed, etc…  It’s a great time to bring in math concepts such as measuring and for the little ones, fine motor skills such as pouring and mixing.

Comparing the dried and fresh cranberries brings in the concept of observing changes and comparing/contrasting different items.  By cutting open the cranberry, we were able to explain why fresh cranberries float in water.

 

Mayflower Boats

Here’s a super easy craft that you can make with your kids that also allows for some science exploration.  I call these Mayflower Boats because we made them during Thanksgiving, but really you could adapt this for anytime of the year.  There are SO many ways you can use these little boats and so much learning to be had.  I had a chance to do this with my son’s class and the kids had a BLAST!  So grab a few supplies and let the kids busy themselves while you get some of that Thanksgiving cooking done!

Materials Needed per boat:

  • 2-3 wine corks  (If you are a parent, I’m SURE you can easily go through a bottle or 2 of wine on those “trying” days!)
  • 1 rubber band
  • coffee stirrer, wooden skewer, or craft stick
  • paper, cardstock or foam sheet to make the sails
  • scissors
  • glue
  • Straw
  • Bin with water (we added blue water color for fun)

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To make the Boat:

Place a rubber band around 2 to 3 pieces of cork to make the base of the raft.

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Using white paper, card stock or foam sheets, cut out sails to make it look like the Mayflower (for Thanksgiving) or any shape you want at other times of the year.  Attach them to the mast with glue.  Allow the glue to dry.

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Add a a craft stick or coffee stirrer to create the mast.  We just tucked ours in between 2 pieces of cork but you could certainly use a wooden skewer to stick it into the cork to make it more secure.

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Voila! There’s your little Mayflower boat.  Now it’s time for some science exploration!

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To explore with the boats:

We talked briefly about the pilgrims who journeyed across the ocean from England to America on the Mayflower.  I told them that our boats represented the Mayflower and the Bin with water represented the ocean that they traveled across. (You can totally omit this for a non-Thanksgiving lesson)

I then gave each child their own bin with blue water (yes, I added blue watercolor because colors make everything more fun!) and had them place their boats in and explore.

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Immediately the kids used their hands to make waves, dropped their boats from up high and watch them splash in the water and still float.  Some noticed that their boats floated upside down.

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Then I gave them straws to blow on the sails to make the boats move.  What i didn’t anticipate (and I obviously should have) was that the kids put the straws in the water and started blowing bubbles because “bubbles make waves happen”, according to one little guy.

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Oh the storms and waves and hurricanes that they created.  And loads of splashing and giggling.

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Since we are in the middle of a sever drought in California, we weren’t able to use water and rain gutters to do races and explore the effect of an incline on the speed of the boats.  But that would be a fantastic extension for this activity!

You could also have the kids race their boats across a large tub of water, in the bathtub or in a small wading pool.  Again, due to our drought, none of these were possible for the class.

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Science behind the activity and Extensions:

This activity is great for investigating and exploring. “What happens if I…?” is the best part of this activity.  By blowing on the sails, the kids can see how the wind can “push” a boat along.  For older kids, you can certainly introduce Newton’s Laws of motion to explain how the boat moves.  You can even introduce simple weather concepts and see how they affect the movement of the boat from a windstorm to waves to whirpools, etc… There are so many extensions for this activity.  Encourage your kids to test out different materials for the boat (craft sticks, styrofoam, plastic cups, clay, etc…) or different materials for the sails (paper, foam, felt, etc…).

For more details and to see where I got my ideas from click on the 2 links below.  I merged the 2 activities together to create this one.

http://www.fantasticfunandlearning.com/mayflower-craft-and-science-activity.html

http://www.science-sparks.com/2015/02/21/materials-make-best-boat/

For another fun boat activity, check out What Floats Your Boat? on my Density/Floating page.

 

 

Apple Float or Sink?

Fall is a fun time to play with apples and go apple picking.   If you have a few extra apples laying around, here’s a great investigation for the tiny tots in your home to investigate whether apples sink or float when placed in water.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • apples of different varieties (we used, Fuji, Granny Smith and Red Delicious)
  • Bin with water
  • Knife (to cut apples, for adult use only)

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Have your superheroes hold the apples in their hands and predict what will happen when it is placed in water.  We tried 3 different types of apples, making a hypothesis (prediction) before placing each one in the water.

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First the Granny Smith apple

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Then the Red Delicious and Fuji apples

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All three apples floated.  There was no difference between the 3 varieties.  But why did they float?  Apples have a lot of small air pockets inside that cause them to float in water.

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But what about the individual apple parts?  Do all the apple parts float? We decided to find out by cutting an apple open and testing each part in a cup of water.

What we noticed was the apple pieces and the peel still floated in water.

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But, the stem and the seeds did not float.

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This was a great investigation on floating and sinking using apples!  And while you have a bunch of apple parts lying around, try exploring your 5 senses using apples.  Or let the little ones “bob” for apples!

For more Apple Science Activities, try:

The Science behind the Activity:

Apples contain quite a bit of air inside them which causes the overall density of the apple to be less than that of water, so it floats.  By testing the individual parts, we can see that not all parts of the apple float in water but when all the parts are put together they do.

 

Fireworks in a Jar

New Year’s Eve  is coming up and here’s an easy colorful way to get your holiday started with some science!  Just 3 ingredients from your pantry.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • water
  • oil (we used vegetable oil)
  • food coloring
  • clear empty glass jar (we needed two because each of my older boys had to have their own)
  • clear small glass bowl
  • fork

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First we filled the empty jar with water. We filled 2 jars because my older sons MUST have their own jars.

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In the small bowl, we added about 1/3 cup of vegetable oil.  The actual amount doesn’t really matter.

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Add a few drops of food coloring to the oil.  We added a few drops of each color.

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Notice that the food coloring doesn’t mix or dissolve but remains in droplets in the oil.  Use a fork to mix the droplets with the oil.  The color will not dissolve but the droplets will break into smaller droplets which is what you want.

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Now the fun part!  Pour the oil into the jar with water.

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The oil will float at the top because oil and water do not mix and oil is less dense than water.

Be patient.  In less than a minute, you should see the colors drip from the oil and into the water, looking like fireworks in the water.

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The different colors will mix and form new ones.  It really is so fascinating to watch!

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Even our littlest superhero came over to see what the fuss was all about.  He promptly shook the jar as toddlers usually do 🙂  Good thing I took pictures before he got to experimenting!

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The Science behind the Activity:

Oil and water are known to be immiscible, meaning they do not mix or dissolve into each other.  Chemically this is because water is polar and oil is nonpolar.  Food coloring dissolves readily in water but does not dissolve in oil.  When the oil is poured into the water, the oil will float on top of the water for 2 reasons: 1. because water and oil don’t mix and 2. because oil is less dense than water.  As the drops of food coloring fall to the bottom of the oil layer, they meet the water and immediately mix and dissolve, creating the pretty swirls.

For more details and to see where I got this idea from visit this link:  http://www.exploratorium.edu/blogs/spectrum/fireworks-bottle

 

 

Ocean Zones in a Jar

If you’ve ever tried the liquid layers in a jar, here is a great twist for showing your superheroes the layers in the ocean.  This activity definitely requires some help from an adult to do but my preschoolers really enjoyed watching the layers stack on top of each other.  Older kids will love doing it on their own. ( I also have Simplified Ocean Zones in a Bottle for the youngest superheroes as the layers in this one can get tricky at the end.)

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Light Karo syrup (corn syrup) – tinted black or dark purple OR Dark Karo Syrup (no tinting needed)
  • Blue dish soap
  • Water tinted light blue
  • Vegetable oil – tinted blue-green (if possible)
  • Rubbing alcohol (91% works best)
  • Dropper
  • Funnel
  • food color (or liquid watercolors)
  • glass jar (I used a pint sized glass jar)

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First add about 1-1.5 inches of corn syrup to the jar.  Add some black/dark purple color to it and mix well.  (For my Tiny Tot class, I tried the dark Karo syrup and it worked great since we didn’t have to tint it black) This represents the deepest ocean zone, the Trench.

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Carefully add the blue dish soap on top of the corn syrup layer.  The layers should not mix.  This second layer represents the Abyss.

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Next carefully add the blue water.  Don’t tint it too dark.  The water layer should sit right on top of the dish soap creating 3 distinct layers. The water layer represents the Midnight Zone of the Ocean.

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The next layer will be the oil.  Food color and watercolor will not dissolve in oil since they are water based and oil and water don’t mix.

Regular food color will NOT mix with oil

Regular food color will NOT mix with oil

For this layer, you have 2 options: leave it yellow OR if you have candy food color (oil-based food color) then you can use that to tint the oil.

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Either way, you will definitely get a distinct layer on top of the water.  I used the candy color to get a greenish-bluish color.

Oil-based candy color WILL mix with oil

Oil-based candy color WILL mix with oil

This layer represents the Twilight Zone.

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The last layer is a bit tricky.  The rubbing alcohol to use should be 91%.  The 50% definitely didn’t work and the 70% was not too successful either.  We poured some rubbing alcohol into a cup first.

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Use a dropper to slowly add the rubbing alcohol  by touching the edge of the jar so that it drips down the side.  Be careful not to let it break through the oil layer or else it will mix with the water.  It will be slow-going but will slowly reveal a clear layer on top of the oil layer.  This layer represents the Sunlight Zone, the part of the ocean where most marine life exist.

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All done!  You can also add labels to the outside of the jar to show your superheroes the layers.

Visually you can see how the layers (ocean zones) get darker as you go deeper.  From the picture it is hard to tell that the layers are getting darker at the top (the oil looks darker than it actually is). You can discuss with your little ones what effect this might have on the marine life that lives in each layer.

The Science behind the Activity:

There’s all sorts of awesome science in this activity!  This is a great visual representation of how the layers of the ocean have varying amounts of light reaching them.  This can open up an entire discussion of why there are so many more organisms in the Sunlight Zone and the Twilight Zone versus the Abyss and the Trench.  You can even research what types of organisms exist in each layer.

The other awesome science in this activity has to do with the different densities of various liquids.  Liquids that are more dense (more mass per volume) will sink and liquids will lower densities will float on top of denser ones.  If you have ever tried to mix oil and water, well, you know why that won’t work because oil is less dense than water.  This is why you have to shake your favorite salad dressings before pouring.

Here’s where I got my idea from: http://www.icanteachmychild.com/make-ocean-zones-jar/

Extension: This activity goes really well with my Exploring Life in the Ocean Zones activity.

Ocean in a Bottle

For my ocean themed class, I thought it would be fun to make an ocean discovery bottle.  If your kids love to collect shells and rocks and the beach (like mine do), this is a perfect extension activity for when you get home.  This is an easy activity for the kiddos to do and there are so many fun ways to play and learn with them.  And there are so many variations you can add to yours.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Empty water bottle with a cap
  • Funnel
  • Water tinted light blue
  • Sand (we used play sand since that’s what I had at home)
  • Sea shells that are small enough to fit inside a water bottle (I picked up a pack at Michael’s but you could use some that you’ve collected at the beach yourself)
  • Little fish/sea creature figurines (I couldn’t find any that were small enough to fit through the mouth of our bottle)
  • Foam ocean stickers/shapes (we peeled the backing off the stickers since I couldn’t find just the foam shapes)IMG_1675

First we added about 2 inches of sand to an empty water bottle.  We used a funnel to make it easier.

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Then they added the sea shells.

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Next we added the foam shapes after peeling the paper backings off them.  We didn’t want to “pollute” our ocean:)

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Using a funnel, the boys added the blue ocean water to the bottle.  Screw the cap on.  (You can also use a hot glue gun to attach the cap so it can’t be opened)

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And THEN the fun began.  Almost immediately, my middle son started shaking his bottle.

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My oldest son decided to roll his bottle and make waves.  They tried to find their sea animals and sea shells.

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That’s it!  So easy!  And lots of shaking going on over here!

The Science behind the Activity:

Discovery bottles are great for toddlers and preschoolers as it gives them a chance to explore cause and effect.  “If I shake this bottle, what will happen?”  For preschoolers and a bit older, you can discuss the motion of water and waves.  A variation to this is to make it with oil and water instead of sand and water and you can discuss concepts such as density and why water and oil don’t mix.  Endless options!  What variations have you tried?