Earth Day Absorption Science

Water is a fantastic “chemical” to do science experiments and investigations with.  I love this easy water absorption activity, especially for the littlest tots.   Easy to set up with cotton make-up pads, some water and droppers.  Using blue and green water, this makes a perfect Earth Day STEAM activity.

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

  • Small tray/plate or cookie sheet
  • cup of blue water
  • cup of green water
  • dropper
  • Round cotton pads

Show your little one a picture of the Earth.  We spent some time talking about our planet and where we live on the planet, that the blue was oceans, the green and brown was the land and the white were the clouds.

Next, I gave them a cup of green water, blue water, dropper and a cotton pad and told them to drip the colored water onto the pad to create their own Earth.

The tots LOVE droppers!

The youngest ones dipped their pads in the water or dumped the water onto their pads.

The older ones were particular about where to place the green and blue drops.

They were so proud of their Earths!

The Science Behind the Activity:

I love using droppers whenever possible as it is a great way to strengthen muscles in preparation for learning to write AND it develops fine motor skills, both of which are vital as pre-writing skills begin emerging.  It’s also a great way to watch how water gets “sucked up” by the cotton pad and to introduce big words such as “absorb” and absorption” to their expanding vocabulary.

Visit this link to see where I got my “wet” idea from: http://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/earth-day-water-science-experiment/

For more Earth Day activities, try the following:

Also, if you like this activity, you will LOVE the Water Absorption Tray!  Another easy water science activity that you can put together with whatever you have at home!

Dancing Candy Hearts

Around Valentine’s Day, my kids get lots of those candy conversation hearts.  I remember as a kid, I loved reading the messages on them.  The messages are a bit different these days (“Text me”?)  Save a few of those hearts to do this quick 5 minute science experiment.  Use up some candy, do a little science, watch a little dance.

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

  • Candy Conversation Hearts
  • Tall clear glass (we used a tall glass and a test tube)
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Measuring spoon

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Add 1 cup of water to a clear tall glass or tall test tube.  You can color yours purple or red for Valentine’s Day but that is totally optional.

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Add in 2 teaspoons of baking soda and mix well.

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Add a few candy hearts to the glass.

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We used one of each color.img_0620Watch the hearts sink to the bottom of the glass.
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Add about 1/4 cup of vinegar to the glass slowly (or else it will will overflow!)

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Watch the candy hearts dance… or in our case, only the pink and orange hearts danced.  The rest stayed happily at the bottom of the glass.img_0627

It really looked so cool watching the hearts float up and then sink down.

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We will definitely be trying this again by testing the different colored hearts separately, testing different brands and testing different fizzy liquids to see if any of those change how the hearts behave.

For more Valentine’s Science Activities, try these:

For more floating and sinking activities, try these:

The Science Behind the Activity:

This is a great experiment demonstrating sinking and floating.  The hearts are denser than the liquid so they initially sink when you put them in.  When the vinegar is added, the reaction creates carbon dioxide gas.  As the carbon dioxide gas bubbles attach to the surface of the hearts, they decrease the density of the hearts and the hearts float to the top.  At the surface of the liquid, the gas bubbles pop and the hearts sink back down.  The process keeps repeating until there isn’t enough carbon dioxide left to raise the hearts.

To see where I got the idea from and more details, follow the link below:

http://inspirationlaboratories.com/valentine-candy-science-dancing-hearts/

 

Valentine’s Heart Crystals

We’ve made crystals using Borax so many times and it never fails to work.  This time we decided to make them for Valentine’s Day.  These are a great gift to make for friends and family and especially teachers!  They are so pretty and super easy too!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Borax (Found in the laundry detergent aisle)
  • Hot water (Obviously an adult will be needed to do this part)
  • pyrex measuring cup (one that can withstand hot water)
  • measuring spoons
  • pipecleaners
  • string
  • wide mouth glass jar
  • stick or pencil (we used craft sticks)

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Give each superhero a pipecleaner (we used red, pink and white for Valentine’s day) and have them shape it into a heart.

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Tie a string to the pipe cleaner and then attach to a pencil or craft stick so that the stick can rest on the top of the jar.

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Be sure the string is the right length so that the pipe cleaner shape can be fully immersed in the jar’s liquid and will not touch the bottom. (We just rolled our string on the craft stick until we got the right height.  As the crystals form, there will be a layer of crystals at the bottom of the jar and you do not want your candy cane to get stuck to it or else it will break when you try to remove it from the jar.

Add 3 tablespoons of Borax (found in the laundry detergent aisle) to the jar.

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Measure 1 cup of hot water.  Add to the jar with borax (An adult should do this part)

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Stir until the borax dissolves completely. Each one of our jars held 1 cup of water.

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Place the heart into the jar with the hot borax mixture so that the craft stick rests on top.  Make sure the pipe cleaner shapes do not touch the sides of the jar or the bottom of the jar. Once the crystals form, they will be hard, stiff and brittle.

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Within a few hours we saw the crystals forming but the next morning the superheroes saw their sparkly hearts!

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Take them out carefully from the jars and let them dry.

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The crystals are strong and heavy.  What a pretty gift to make!

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*Note of Caution: Borax is toxic if ingested and can irritate eyes.  If you have young children or pets who might ingest a broken particle, you might want to think twice about making these.

For more Valentine’s Science Activities, try:

The Science behind the Activity:

When dissolving the borax in hot water, you are creating a supersaturated solution which means you are using heat to get more borax to dissolve than you would with water at room temperature.  As the water cools, the borax “falls out of solution” and solidifies (recrystallizes) on the pipecleaner and on the bottom of the jar.

To clean the crystals off the bottom of the jar, just add more hot water and redissolve the borax and then you can pour it out easily.

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Read my original post on Borax Crystals and to see where I got my idea from.  Also, try making Candy Cane Crystals during the holidays for a perfectly sparkly tree ornament!

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.

 

GAK!

A rite of passage of childhood is definitely making some GAK!  Easy to make at home and the kids love squishing and stretching it around!  For those who are unfamiliar, GAK is a little different in consistency than slime and is made with Borax instead of starch.  Liquid starch is hard to find in the regular stores around here so GAK it is!  And it’s fun!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Container for mixing (we used an old yogurt container)
  • Borax
  • Food coloring (We use liquid watercolors instead)
  • 4 oz Glue bottle (I’ve used Elmer’s and the one from the dollar store.  They all work!)
  • Warm water (not hot!)
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoon
  • Spoon for mixingIMG_7452

Empty the entire bottle of glue into your container.

IMG_7383Fill the glue bottle with water.  Place the cap on and shake it up a bit to mix.  Then empty it into the container with the glue.IMG_7384

Add some food color if you want.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of borax to 1/4 cup of warm water.  Mix well and add to the glue mixture.

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You will see that the mixture will start to blob up.  Mix it up and you will start seeing the GAK firm up.  It may look watery at first.  That’s ok.  The more you work with it, the more firm it gets.

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If there is any liquid left, just pour it out (in the garbage, not the sink!)

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See how stretchy it is!

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The tots enjoyed playing with it!

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They made hand prints with it too!  So much fun!

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We placed the GAK into a baggie to take home.  I actually have my son’s GAK from 6 months ago and it’s still good!

The Science behind the Activity:

Here’s my simplistic explanation: Glue is made of a polymer which is a long chain of the same molecules all linked up together.  When you add the borax, it links up with the molecules to form a more solid substance, hence the GAK.  A common analogy is if you have a chain with repeating metal links, that can be considered as the polymer.  When you add a bunch of magnets (borax) they all clump up together like the GAK or Silly Putty.

Follow this link to see where I got the idea from and more details about the science behind the experiment: http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/glue-borax-gak/

 

 

Orange Float or Sink?

Here’s a simple snack time experiment!  All you need is water, a glass and a Clementine (or Cuties, as my kiddos call them).  Takes only a few minutes.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • small oranges like mandarins or clementines
  • Tall glass with water

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Ask your kids to predict what they think will happen when you place the orange in the water.

Add the orange to the water and observe.  Were their predictions correct?

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Peel the orange.  Now predict what will happen when you place the unpeeled orange into the water.

Add the unpeeled orange to the water and observe.  Were their predictions correct?  Ask them why the orange behaved differently with and without the peel.

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From these results, the boys wanted to know if it was just the peel that floated, so we tested that as well.

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The peels floated at the top as well.  What’s going on? We discussed the differences between the peel and the orange.  Is there air inside the orange?  What is special about the peel that it floats and also causes the entire orange to float?  Since the boys and I have done several floating and sinking experiments together, they immediately suggested that air and density had something to do with our observations.

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This was a great investigation on floating and sinking using oranges and a great snack time “quickie” science experiment!

The Science behind the Activity:

Oranges contain quite a bit of air inside them which causes the overall density of the orange to be less than that of water, so it floats.  Also, the peel keeps the water from getting inside the orange.  Once the peel is removed, water can enter through the membranes of the orange slices and will cause the orange to increase in density and sink.

For a more complicated explanation involving buoyancy and Archimedes’ Principle (a concept that is more challenging for most toddlers and preschoolers to understand) please visit the link where I got my idea from: http://www.playdoughtoplato.com/orange-buoyancy-science-experiment/ 

 

Love Potions

Did your kids get way too many candies for Valentine’s Day?  Why not use some of it up with some Love powder and Love juice to make some “Love Potions”?  So easy to set up and a great way to use up that candy!

Here is what you need to get started:

  • leftover candy (we used skittles, nerds and conversations hearts, but you can use whatever you have!)
  • cups or beakers or large plastic test tubes
  • droppers
  • spoons
  • Love Powder (baking soda-I tinted mine pink)
  • Love Juice (vinegar-I tinted mine purple and red)
  • water

To make the love powder, I just placed some baking soda in a ziplock bag and added some red food coloring to it and mixed it well.  Plain white baking soda works just fine!  For the Love juice, I added red and purple food coloring to plain white vinegar.  I love colors.  So do the kids!

I placed the test tubes in a bin to contain the mess.  I gave each child an empty cup, a cup of love powder and some love juice, a dropper and cup filled with assorted colorful candies.
IMG_5148 And I let them mix and make their potions!

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They love using droppers to make precise measurements and the addition of some vinegar and baking soda to make bubbly potions!

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Pouring from the cup works just as well too!

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And for a bonus, some of the conversation hearts began “dancing” in the bubbly potions!  (This is actually another simple candy experiment that you can do at home as well!  For more details, visit my Dancing Candy Hearts experiment)

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All in all, the tots had a blast mixing and pouring and fizzing and bubbling, and we used up a lot of leftover candy experimenting instead of getting cavities:)

Check out some more of my candy science experiments and activities:

Science Behind the Activity:

This is one of my favorite activities because it allows young children to be creative and explore and investigate.  I didn’t give them any instructions, just some materials and let them have at it.  One of the girls just wanted to make things fizz.  Another child wanted to see what colors the potions would turn with different candies.  One just wanted to mix everything together.  Each child did something different.  And most importantly, they learned about cause and effect: What happens if I do this?