It’s a kinda magic! 

This week I proved there is no better magic than science. We did three science tricks just for the fun of it – no questions, a few keywords, a couple of predictions and lots of wow’s.

Trick one – The disappearing herb:

What you need:
Bowl (half filled with water)
Pepper/dried mint/mixed herbs
Washing up liquid

To do:
Fill the bowl with water (halfway will do) and sprinkle on top the pepper/dried herbs so that a layer is formed.  That’s it!

Now with a finger, give the surface a tap/poke. Observe. Then place a dot of washing up liquid on your finger and repeat. Watch the magic!

The science bit:
When you add the soap to the water, the surface tension is reduced which allows the water to “spread out”. Whatever is floating is carried with the water whilst it spreads.

Trick two – The spinning can:

What you need:
Fizzy drinks can (empty)

To do:
You need to fill the can with around a third full of water. Fill and try to balance it on a tilt/on its side. It will look like it is about to fall! If it does, adjust the amount of water as necessary. Once it balances on a tilt, gently poke and it should spin. Watch the magic!


The science bit: 
It all has to do with the centre of gravity. A tilted object will not fall over as long as the line through its centre of gravity does not fall past the base of the object. When spinning, the point that’s touching the table has an equal amount of twisting it over and pulling it back. It only looks as though it’ll fall as it overhangs more on the one side but that is all due to the weight distribution of the can.

Trick three – The flying teabag (involves fire!):

What you need: 
A piece of foil
A teabag (the ones with a staple and string – but not the ones which are also pressed in the middle).

To do:
Make sure your little ones are a safe distance away – they should be able to see it but not too close as there is fire involved. Also, ensure that you do this away from anything flammable.

Remove the staple and string from the teabag and empty out the contents. Open it out into a cylinder shape. Stand it upon the piece of foil – it is important you have a a non flammable base . It is best to set this up on the floor, unless you have high ceilings. With a lighter/match light the top of the teabag to set on fire and sit back and watch. This is definitely a wow magic moment!


The science bit: 
Think hot air balloon. The flame is heating the air inside and as it gets warmer, the air expands, becoming less dense and push up through the cylinder to the colder air (which is more dense. This convection current that is created sits inside the cylinder until the teabag burns down enough so that it becomes light enough for the convection current to launch it.


Hope you give these a go. Quick, easy and you most probably, if not definitely, have all the resources needed in the kitchen. Your little pip squeaks will be wowed and will ask a lot of questions – much better than the repeated: ‘Why is it bedtime if its still light outside?” Forehead smack.


I have a car, I have a balloon. I have a balloon car!

Cars, balloons and motion.

I doubt these lyrics will make a tune as catchy as ‘Pineapple pen’ but it may be a catchy activity to do with the kids as it is inexpensive, readily available and an easy way to introduce Newton’s third law (if you want to take it that far!). 

My kids love cars. They build them, pretend to be one and like to throw play with them. They also LOVE balloons. We are a house in abundance of balloons and cars so I’ve decided that this weeks activity will combine the two. We simply taped a balloon to a plastic straw, taped this to a toy car, blew up the balloon and let it go! 

To get them warmed up we had a bit of fun racing cars (excuse my shoddy iPhone pictures. They will get better!). 


I posed the question of moving the car without using hands. Smarty pants number 1 suggested we use feet before we swiftly moved on from using any body parts.

I showed them the balloon attached to a straw and we discussed how it was made before we made one together. 

All in all for this activity, you’ll need a toy car (fairly lightweight one BUT don’t limit yourself to this, more info on this in a bit), straws, masking tape, scissors, a clothes peg and of course a balloon. 


What you’re aiming to create is something like this (below) which you’ll tape to a toy car.           



Then it was a simple case of blow up the balloon and release. 

The air escaping propels the balloon in the opposite direction which illustrates that ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’. We likened this to a rocket too. But, naturally because things with very young kids (and even with science) rarely goes to plan, we ended up having more interesting conversations about friction. Initially we tried this experiment on the carpet before taking it outside and then back inside on some laminate flooring. Of course we got very different results and discussed why. D also started to suggest ‘better’ surfaces. 

Above I mentioned about using a light weight car. We used a range of cars: heavy, light and even a constructed car from magnetic blocks. Again each had different results which we discussed. 

So you can see, this opened up a large amount of dialogue. If you want to avoid all these factors to keep it simple then make sure you complete this task on a smooth surface with a light weight car. You can even construct your own car using light household items from the recycling bin e.g. cardboard, bottle top lids for wheels etc. 

For us, this task is just the beginning. The rest of the week we are going to spend a few minutes repeating this experiment to explore different surfaces and different weighted cars before coming up with the ideal way to race the cars. This will hopefully reinforce the learning that has taken place and reinforce the main point of the experiment (3rd law of motion).  

However, it has been requested that I just blow up the balloon (whilst attached to the straw) and release them – yes we even got distracted by doing that!! 

Taken by the big brother.
Some keywords explored today: 

  • Opposite 
  • Push
  • Friction
  • Smooth
  • Bumpy
  • Light
  • Heavy

Well, there ends my first ever blog. I’ve already made a billion notes on what needs to improve for next time and I’m sure week on week I’ll continue to learn. 

Until next time……