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/

 

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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.

 

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?

Purple Potion Reactions (Cabbage Juice Indicator)

I’ve been wanting to do this simple kitchen science experiment with my kids for awhile now as I used to do this with my middle school students once upon a long time ago…This one is fantastic for superheroes of ALL ages.   The younger ones can enjoy the colorful reactions and the older ones can learn a bit about acids and bases and how pH indicators work.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Red Cabbage (Why is it called red when it really looks purple??)
  • Large Pot
  • Strainer
  • Ice Cube Tray (or several small clear cups/jars)
  • Droppers (I save the ones we get from the pharmacist everytime one of my superheroes needs meds)
  • Coffee Filters (optional)
  • Household liquids to test (water, vinegar, lemon juice, fruit juice, milk, baking soda/water, soda, laundry detergent, liquid soap, ammonia, etc…)

To make the Purple Potion:

Coarsely chop up half a head of cabbage.

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Place it into a large pot and add water.  I added about 5 cups of water to mine.

Bring the cabbage/water mixture to a boil and then let simmer for about 15-20 minutes.  Make sure you have your exhaust fan on and your windows open.  This gets stinky 🙂

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Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature so that it doesn’t burn your little ones.  Once cool, strain the mixture so that only the purple liquid is left.  Discard the cabbage.

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I ended up with about 4 cups of Purple Potion.  Now we are ready to experiment!

IMG_1476To Experiment:

I placed an ice cube tray in front of each of the Superheroes.  I placed a variety of liquids from the kitchen into several wells of the tray.  We used: water, milk, lemon juice, liquid soap, baking soda (dissolved in water), vinegar, apple juice, liquid soap and laundry detergent.

I had them color in what the liquids looked like before we started.

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This is the observation sheet they used:

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Each superhero got a small cup of Purple Potion in a cup and a dropper.

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They added several drops of the purple potion to each well and observed the changes.

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Whoa!  Look at all those colors!  Why is it doing that?

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Here are the final results:

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I asked them what might happen if they start mixing some of the liquids together.  A whole new set of experiments to do!

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My older son made a pink concoction and said it looked like “antibiotics”! (Can you tell how sick we’ve been this past winter! )

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With my older son, I probed him on what the pink colored liquids had in common and what the blue colored liquids had in common.  I think this was a bit over the top for a 6 yr old and he really was a bit lost at what to say.  If you have older kids, definitely ask.  The goal is to see if they can come up with some common characteristics of acids and bases. (Even my middle school students used to struggle with this)

Extension:

I decided to try to make my own indicator paper with some of the Purple Potion.  I placed 4 coffee filters in a container and added some Purple Potion to it.

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I soaked the filters overnight. Make sure to use an airtight container with a lid or your kitchen will stink in the morning!

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Remove the paper from the liquid and let dry completely.  I left mine outside to dry in the sun.

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Cut into strips and you’re all set!

Instead of using droppers to test the liquids, you can dip the indicator paper into the liquids and see the paper change colors.

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And then they placed it on their observation sheet to compare with their previous results

IMG_1509Science Behind the Activity:

Cabbage juice acts as a pH indicator.  Without getting too deep into the chemistry of it all, substances that are acidic (pH between 0-7) will turn varying shades of pink/red when mixed with cabbage juice,  Substances that are basic (pH between 7-14) will turn varying shades of green-ish/blue when mixed with cabbage juice. There are several types of indicators that are used for different purposes. Litmus paper is specially treated paper that turns red in the presence of an acid and blue in the presence of a base.  By treating the filter paper with cabbage juice, you can create a simple version of indicator paper.  There are also several different types of indicator paper as well, many that can give you an approximate pH of the substance being tested so that you can tell just how acidic or how basic the substance is.

 

Candy Concoctions

This is the 3rd part to the Candy Experiment series.  And probably the funnest (that’s a word in toddler speak, right?) one yet!  And it’s the perfect way to use up any and all of your leftover candy whether it’s from Halloween, Christmas, V-Day, Easter or just birthday goodie bags.  The superheroes LOVED this one and I’m sure yours will too!

Here is what you need to get started:

  • leftover candy (we used skittles, lollipops and gummy candies)
  • cups or beakers or large plastic test tubes
  • droppers
  • spoons
  • droppers and syringes
  • baking soda
  • vinegar
  • water

Give each superhero some candy and a plastic cup, beaker or test tube.  Ask them to make up some potions or candy concoction.  Let them mix and pour and and use the candies however they please.  IMG_1489

They used the lollipops to mix their potions.  Added bonus: It changed the color of their potion!

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Mixing concoctions with candy in them

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Some vinegar and baking soda make bubbly potions!

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Using droppers to make precise measurements.

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All in all, the superheroes and their friends had a blast and we used up a lot of leftover candy experimenting instead of getting cavities:)

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?

Milk Rainbows

Want to explore some fun with colors?  Here’s a great one and I’m sure you have the 3 ingredients needed for this one at home.  Little ones will love watching the colors swirl around.  Older kids can easily set this up as investigation comparing the effect of different types of milk.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Milk (We used 2% because that’s what we drink at home)
  • Dish soap
  • Food coloring
  • Pie pan or small baking dish (we used disposable aluminum pie pans)
  • Q-tips or toothpicks (optional but fun for little ones)

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Add about 1/2  inch of milk to the pan/dish

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Add 1 drop each of different colors of dye near the center of the dish but not in the middle.

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Add a drop of dish soap in the center of the cluster of dye dots and watch the colors run away!

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Sometimes you can add another drop of dish soap and get the colors to spread more.  Sometimes not.

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Let the little ones use Q-tips or toothpicks to swirl and mix the colors around in pretty patterns.

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The Science behind the Activity:

Milk is made up of fat and protein molecules. Dish soap has the unique properties of attracting fat molecules and water molecules (It is both hydophyllic-water loving, and hydrophobic-water fearing). When the soap is added to the milk, it breaks up the fat and water molecules in the milk. As the fat molecules move around, they disrupt the food coloring causing the colors to move, swirl and mix.

Extension: Try this experiment comparing the behavior of different types of milk: whole, 2% and skim.  Why would the fat content affect or not affect this experiment?

Follow this link to see where I got the idea from and a much more technical explanation about the experiment: http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/milk-color-explosion

Homemade Lava Lamps

I loved those fancy lava lamps when I was a kid, but alas, my parents did not buy one for me.  Here’s a DIY Homemade Lava Lamp with some science sneaked in!  Super easy and mesmerizing for the superheroes in your life!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Empty water bottle (or any clear bottle)
  • vegetable oil (any light colored oil will do but this is probably the cheapest)
  • Food coloring
  • alka seltzer tablets

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Fill the bottle a little more than halfway with oil.

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Then add water to it until it’s about an inch or two from the top of the bottle.

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Add about 5-10 drops of food coloring. Watch how the color drips down through the oil to the water.

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Break one of the alka seltzer tablets into 4-5 pieces.  Use caution with young children who might be tempted to put this in their mouths!  It is a cold medication and should not be ingested by children!  IMG_1984

Add one piece to the bottle and watch the magic begin!

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Once the alka seltzer tablet has completely dissolved, add another one and watch the colored bubbles rise and sink again!  Repeat as many times as you’d like!  You can even try adding some glitter for some extra fun!

The Science behind the Activity:

Water and oil are insoluble, they do not mix.  Water is denser than oil and stays as a separate layer at the bottom of the bottle.  Food coloring is soluble in water so it colors the water but not the oil.  When the alka seltzer is added, it forms gas bubbles that rise to the top, “dragging” the colored water along with it.  As the water reaches the top and the gas bubbles pop near the surface of the oil, the denser water falls back down through the oil.  The process keeps repeating itself until the alka seltzer has completely dissolved an no longer forms any bubbles.

This activity can be done with adding salt instead of alka seltzer (for those of you who are concerned about using medication with kids) but the results are not as good and eventually the salt saturates the water and makes it cloudy.  Let me know if you try it with some other fizzy tablets such as Airborne.  Curious to see if those work just as well.

Follow this link to see where I got the idea from and more details about the experiment: http://slsmithphotography.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/06/lava-lamps-summer-fun.html