Hopping Corn and Cranberries

Just in time for Thanksgiving, I’ve got a fun quickie experiment to do with your cranberries and some popcorn kernels.  If you’ve tried my Dancing Raisins experiment, then this will be familiar.

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

  • Dried Cranberries
  • Popcorn kernels
  • Soda water, Ginger Ale, Sprite, Club Soda, sparkling water or whatever clear bubbly (kid-friendly!) you have at home
  • clear jars or cups

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I asked the tots to touch the dried cranberries and the popcorn kernels and describe how each felt.

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For younger tots, I prompted them with simple questions such as:

  • Is it soft or hard?
  • Is it smooth or bumpy?
  • Is it sticky or slimy?

Fill one cup with water and one cup with soda (we used diet Ginger Ale because that’s what we have at home), but any clear bubbly soda should work fine.

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We also compared the difference between the soda and the water.  They immediately noted the difference in color and the presence of bubbles in the soda.

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Next, I asked them what they thought would happen if the cranberries were added to the water? They all thought they would sink to the bottom.  After making their predictions, they added the cranberries to test their theories.

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Yes, the cranberries sunk to the bottom.

I then asked them what they thought would happen if the cranberries were put in the soda.  They again thought that they would sink.

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So they did sink… at first.  But then they “hopped” to the surface… and then dropped again… and rose again.

We repeated the same steps with the popcorn kernels.  When we added the popcorn kernels to the water, they sank as well.

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Then we added them to the Ginger Ale.  And discovered that the popcorn kernels did the same thing!

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It was mesmerizing to watch them “hop” up and down.

We will definitely be trying this again with several other sodas and sparkling water!  You can also make a bubbly solution with vinegar and baking soda as well.

Another extension/variation of this experiment is to try out different items, other than cranberries that might behave in a similar way, such as raisins, dried macaroni, etc…  Search your pantry.  The options are endless.  Happy Hopping!

Also, try my Dancing Raisins experiment for a different twist to a similar activity!

The Science behind the Activity:

This is a great experiment demonstrating sinking and floating.  Cranberries are denser than the liquid so they initially sink when you put them in.  As the carbon dioxide gas bubbles attach to the surface of the cranberries, they decrease the density of the cranberry and the cranberry floats to the top (dances and shimmies its way to the top!) At the surface of the liquid, the gas bubbles pop and the cranberry sinks back down.  The process keeps repeating until there isn’t enough carbon dioxide left to raise the cranberries.  The same holds true for the popcorn kernels.

 

Exploring the 5 Senses with Apples

Everyone seems to be in a frenzy over apples in the Fall.  While everyone else is baking and drinking apple cider, I decided to use them for some fun Fall Science.  My middle son just studied the 5 senses in his kindergarten class and that got me thinking… So here’s my apple version of the 5 senses!  No fancy stuff needed.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Apples (any variety will do, but a few different ones to investigate is great)
  • knife
  • apple corer (optional)
  • magnifying glass (optional but they are fun to use)

Our first Sense is the sense of Sight.  We talked about our eyes.  Where are they on our face?  How many eyes do we have? What do we use them for?

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Then we used our eyes to look at the different apples.  What shape are they?  What colors are the apples?  How many do we have?

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We also used our magnifying glass to take a closer look.

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Next we discussed our sense of Touch.  We talked about our fingers and hands and what we use them for.  We counted our fingers too! (See how I sneak math into my science!) What do the apples feel like?  Are they soft or hard?  Are they smooth or bumpy?  Are they heavy or light?

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Moving on to the next one, we talked about our sense of Smell.  What do we use to smell with?  Where is our nose?  How many noses do we have?

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Then we smelled the apples with our noses.  Sniff Sniff!

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The fourth sense uses our ears to Hear.  We pointed to our ears.  How many ears do we have?  What are they used for?

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Using the apple slicer, we listened to the sound of the apple being sliced. Crunch!

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We grabbed a slice and touched it and discussed how the inside of an apple feels different from the outside.  It felt wet and sticky.  We touched the core and sliced it open and investigated the seeds inside with our sense of touch and sense of sight.

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Of course, the magnifying glass was necessary to get a closer look!

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We also smelled the inside of the apple and it smelled sweet.

Lastly, we used our fifth sense, taste, when we licked our apple and then bit into it!  YUM!!

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What a fun way to use apples to learn about the five senses!

During October, you might also want to try using the 5 senses to investigate pumpkins!

The Science behind the Activity:

This is a simple observation activity for the youngest scientists as well as older ones.  Identifying the 5 senses and the body parts that are used for each is perfect for toddlers and young preschoolers.  Comparing the inside and the outside of the apple using the senses is also a great observation activity as well.  Connecting the 5 senses to a food that they are familiar with is a great way to connect everyday life to science.  So much learning from a simple activity!

For more apple science activities, try:

Apple Volcano

This was our first full week of fall and it’s been HOT and sweltering over here.  Finally today, it feels like Fall and it’s a perfect day to celebrate apple season.  Aside from eating and baking apples, why not use some over-ripe apples to play with? Here’s an easy twist on the classic “volcano” experiment, just in time for Apple season.  So, while you are picking out your apples, get a few extra and let your little ones have some explosive fun!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Apples (any variety will do)
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Food coloring/liquid water colors (optional – but everything is so much more fun with colors!)
  • Knife and metal spoon to hollow it out (Adult use only)
  • droppers and spoons
  • cups
  • Tray to contain the mess

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First cut the top off the apple and scoop out the insides and the seeds to form a “bowl”.  I found it easiest to cut a circle off the top and then use a metal tablespoon to scoop it out.

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This kept the top of the apple intact to use as a lid.  We saved the seeds and stem for our Exploring the Five Senses with Apples activity.

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I set up a tray with the hollowed apple, dropper, cup of baking soda, spoon and cup of vinegar (I colored ours red for fun)

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Then I invited the superheroes to play.  These little ones KNOW exactly what to do with baking soda and vinegar!

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Repeat as many times as your superheroes want to do it.  We went through a box of baking soda between the two older ones!

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The Science behind the activity:

This is a classic acid-base reaction.  Baking soda is a base and vinegar is an acid.  When they combine, they create a chemical reaction where the baking soda neutralizes the vinegar.  A by-product of the reaction is carbon dioxide.  That is what the bubbles are.  As the carbon dioxide is formed and bubbles out, it carries some liquid up with it, hence the “eruption”.

Extension: 

There are a million ways to do this experiment.  I can pretty much adapt this to any theme.  Another great Halloween theme application of this is the Pumpkin Volcano, which we also did.

For my Tiny Tot class, I ended the class by reading “Ten Apples On Top” by Dr. Seuss.

For more Apple Science Activities, try the following:

 

 

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.

 

 

Observing Pumpkins using our 5 Senses

It’s Pumpkin Season and there is so much fun learning to be had with pumpkins.   Before we began experimenting with our pumpkins, we decided to investigate our pumpkins using our 5 senses.  So before you get busy carving your pumpkin, take some time to explore and investigate your soon-to-be Jack O Lantern

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Pumpkin (we used the small decorative ones with the Tiny Tots)
  • Pumpkin carving tool
  • Metal spoon or scooper
  • Tweezers
  • Magnifying Glass
  • tray/plate

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We first held the pumpkins in our hands and felt it from the outside using our hands (Sense of Touch).  Ask them questions to guide their observations: Is it hard or soft?  Bumpy or smooth? What about the stem?  Using their eyes (Sense of Sight), ask them what color it is and what shape it looks like.

Then I cut the top off and asked them to listen (Sense of Hearing) to the sound of the carving knife.  The older kids thought it sounded like a saw.

Then I had them lift it out themselves to see what was inside

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Using our Sense of Sight and Touch, I asked the kids to feel the inside of the pumpkin.  The pulp and seeds definitely were a deterrent for some of the youngest toddlers.

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This toddler won’t touch the seeds.

I asked them if they could use their Sense of Smell to describe what they smelled.  Most said the pumpkins were “stinky”.

I gave the Tiny Tots spoons and tweezers to scrape the seeds and pulp out.  Then I asked them to touch the seeds.  How does it feel?  Most said “slimy” and “slippery” and “gooey”.

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Magnifying glasses are fun to observe things with so I handed them small and big magnifying glasses.

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For older kids, I had them compare difference between the seeds of the white pumpkins and the orange ones.

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I also asked them to predict how many seeds might be in each pumpkin and asked them to count to see how good their guess was.  My superheroes kept losing count and eventually gave up 🙂

Lastly, the Sense of Taste was applied to the pumpkin seeds after we roasted them in the oven.  I asked my boys to hear the crunch of the seeds and the taste of the seeds.  Neither of them were fans of the roasted seeds.  Great, that means more for me!

Once you have hollowed out the pumpkins, try the Pumpkin Volcanoes experiment!

The Science behind the Activity:

This is a simple observation activity for the youngest scientists as well as older ones.  Identifying the 5 senses and the body parts that are used for each is perfect for toddlers and young preschoolers while using tweezers and spoons and observing is great for preschoolers and young elementary students.  So much learning from a simple activity!

Apple Bubble Science!

What kid doesn’t LOVE bubbles? Here’s a quick and easy bubble experiment perfect for the Fall!  Bubbles in Apples!  And it should buy you some time to get dinner going while your kids have some fun.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • water
  • juice
  • milk
  • straw
  • Hollowed out apple (although you can really do this in a glass or bowl.  Apples just make it more fun!)
  • tray/bowl

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Hollow out your apple.  I used an apple that was past its prime and was deemed un-edible by my boys.

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Add some water to the center and let your kids blow bubbles through the straw.  This is great for young toddlers who are learning to blow and is totally safe if they accidentally suck up the water.

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Ask them what they notice about the bubbles.  Do the bubbles last or do they pop quickly?  My boys noticed that the bubbles splattered everywhere.

Dump the liquid out and fill the apple with juice.  Ask your kids if they think juice will make the bubbles any different.  What is different about juice and water?  What is the same?  Will it make a difference?  Then let them blow their bubbles.

Notice that the juice didn’t really make much of a difference as juice is mostly water with a bit of sugar.

Repeat with milk.  As the same questions before blowing bubbles.  What happened?

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Milk is composed of fat and proteins which cause the bubbles to last longer and not pop.  The fun part of this is that the bubbles start overflowing from the apple.

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This was by far the most fun part of the experiment and my boys wanted to keep doing it over and over again.  When the tiny tots did it in class, they loved it too!  Lots of giggles!

Extensions for older kids: Have older kids explain what is different about the chemical make-up of juice, water and milk.  Ask them to explain their predictions and then try to see if they can explain the results.  Have them try different liquids and predict the behavior of bubbles.  Why might dish soap and water create such resistant bubbles?

For more Apple Science Activities, try:

The Science behind the Activity:

This experiment introduces the concept of surface tension.  Surface tension is the thin skin-like film on the surface of water.  Water has high surface tension which causes the water molecules to stick to each other (ever tried the drops on a penny and seen the dome shape of water on top?).  when a bubble forms, it stretches the water molecules causing the surface tension to break and the bubbles will pop.  Juice behaves similarly because most juices are mainly water.  But milk is a bit different.  It has fat and proteins and this causes milk to have less surface tension which causes the bubbles to last longer and the skin-like surface to stretch more easily.  When you blow bubbles in milk, they don’t pop as easily, creating the fun eruptions of milk bubbles overflowing.

For a detailed explanation of the science behind this activity, click on the following link: https://hilltownfamilies.wordpress.com/2008/05/27/kramp-2/

To see where I got my idea from, click on the following link: http://preschoolpowolpackets.blogspot.com/2015/08/edible-bubble-science-with-apples.html