An eggcellent Easter. 

I *think* I may be chocolated out. I think. But to the right of me right now I have half of an eaten (or is it uneaten? Hmmm?) Baileys Easter egg. I had half of it at about 2pm and promptly fell into a chocolate induced coma. I woke at 4.30pm to be greeted with rebels who had not been listening to their grandmother. Cue mean mummy and tantrums. I am certain that I was not the only one wishing I stayed asleep!!

You may have gathered from the above that I have over eaten and my kids are running wild. Yep, we are being indulged at Grandma’s house. And there has still been time for a little science. This time something quick and simple and using things from MIL’s kitchen. Remember, my aim is to do science with preschoolers with inexpensive and easily available resources so there is little excuse to not give this a go.

Science at this time of year HAD to involve eggs. There were plenty eggsperiments I contemplated over but I settled to wow the kids with a ‘bouncy’ egg investigation. For this you need: an egg, vinegar, a glass and food colouring (this is optional). This investigation does take some time – needs to be set up roughly 2-3 days in advance. Perfect for the Easter holiday – set up, eat chocolate and hang out with the family whilst you wait.

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Of course to begin, discuss the egg. I asked the kids where the egg came from, what it should become and why the egg had not hatched. An list of the questions asked can be found at the bottom of this article. I ended the questioning asking about the shell and what happens to the shell if the egg was dropped/hit/fell.

I then set up the experiment.

To set this up simply fill the cup/container with vinegar (enough to completely cover the egg) and place the egg in. You can add food colouring in if you wish – just to make it a bit more of a sensory experience for the kids. It is just as cool without colouring. Once you place the egg in, you will see a reaction immediately. The kids observed and we discussed what we saw. I spoke about a gas being produced and my eldest remembered about the vinegar and balloon experiment. The few investigations we have done so far have linked nicely. We have worked with vinegar, talked about CO2 and gravity and so the kids have been able to build and deepen on their knowledge further in this investigation.

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And that is it. Leave for 2-3 days and keep checking on it and you shall see the shell dissolve. Keep discussing observations and referring to their predictions. Just a note – you may want to keep the container covered to avoid the smell of a fish and chip shop in your home. It will overpower the chocolate. We can not have that over Easter.

On the 3rd day we fished the egg out of the vinegar and the kids were wowed. We took a raw egg and the egg that had been soaking in vinegar and a few plates to do the next step. It was going to be messy so we took this outside. With the young ones I thought it important that we compared the egg with a raw egg so they could really experience the difference. We dropped the raw egg, observed and discussed. This was then repeated with the vinegar soaked egg and lo and behold, the kids witnessed a bouncy egg! I did not manage to get a good shot of the bounce, but give it a go for yourself to see!

They enjoyed poking it and I think were pretty freaked out by it!

My youngest then decided to have a go at bouncing and did so with FORCE so you can imagine what happened next! Yep…..

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So as a note, to get a few bounces out of it – bounce gently and not from too great a height. However, this would again be another great experiment: bouncing from different heights, on different surfaces etc. If you would like some suggestions/further ideas then feel free to get in contact.

The science bit:

Vinegar is an acid, a weak acid but an acid nonetheless. The egg is made of calcium carbonate and when the two combine a chemical reaction occurs – a salt, water and carbon dioxide is made. The co2 is what causes the bubbling which is what you see as soon as the egg is in the vinegar. Over time the reaction continues causing the shell to break down and dissolve. As you observe over day 2 & 3 and lift the egg out of the vinegar you will see that you are able to practically rub the shell off. The egg is still raw inside, it is protected by its membrane. This is that clear film you see inside an eggshell. If you choose to break a raw egg at the same time as bouncing the egg you will find this handy as you can take the raw egg’s shell and point out that membrane. Why is it so strong? That membrane is made of strong stuff, like keratin and collagen, the same protein found in human hair and skin. It is incredibly strong which explains why the egg can bounce.

Keywords:

Egg
Eggshell
Yolk
Egg White
Drop
Crack
Smash
Vinegar
Carbon dioxide
Bounce
Bouncy
Fragile
Membrane
Observe/See

Key Questions:
What is an egg?
Where does this egg come from?
What other animals lay eggs?
What is inside the egg?
What is on the outside?
What can the egg become?
What does it need to hatch?
What will the vinegar do to the egg?
What is making the bubbles?
What happened?
What can you see is happening?

There are a lot of interesting investigations that you can do with eggs – even ones that will challenge the idea that the eggshell is fragile.

Give this eggsperiment a go, it is a great way to get started and will certainly wow!

Have fun!

Now, where is that Baileys egg……ooohh….wait, hot cross buns…..

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Happy Mother’s day to me!

Happy Mother’s day to UK yummy mummies!

Finally, a lovely weather weekend with a bright, warm sunny Sunday morning for Mother’s day. A pretty tiring one for my husband and I though, as the littlest ‘wowzer’ was up pretty much the whole night with a developing cold and sore throat. Fun times. Most of the night was an ‘almost asleep….drifting, drifting, zzz – WOAH, GET UP!’ hourly experience. I repeat, fun times.

Nevertheless, in the morning I was rewarded with a beautiful bunch of flowers accompanied with a strong coffee which hit the spot. The kids also left me alone for a BIT (3mins and 42 seconds) to enjoy all of this. I want to take this opportunity to thank my husband for entertaining them for the whole of the 3mins and 42seconds. It could not have been easy.

So what to do with a lovely bunch of flowers whilst semi-hungover (yes, I forgot to mention this earlier!) and lacking sleep…..cut them up and dip them in coloured water of course! I took advantage of some of the white flowers I had in my beautiful bouquet and planned a quick science session. This took no time at all and again, I had everything I needed in my kitchen. The results for this are visible which is great for preschoolers however, time is required. So they get to practice a bit of patience too!

For this you need:

  • White flowers (Roses, Chrysanthemum, Carnations, Daisies. You can even use Celery or Chinese cabbage leaves)
  • Equal sized cups/glasses
  • Water
  • Liquid food colouring.

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Before beginning the experiment we had a general discussion about the flowers. Many of the key questions from the activity are listed below. I began the session this way just to find out what the children already knew, if anything, and also to just ‘warm them up’ as it were and get them focused.

We talked about the parts of the flowers and what they do. The little one spoke a lot about bees and honey – well she just kept saying ‘bees’ and ‘honey’ in a variety of differently phrased statements. It made us chuckle but, also, allowed us to extend the learning further by explaining simply and briefly pollination and the importance of bees. We also discussed how to look after plants in general and the fact that this bunch would not grow but we could keep them alive. It was at this point we started to draw attention to the water in the vase and why it was needed. It was fabulous when my number one ‘wowzer’ made a straw sucking noise to imitate what was going on and pointing where the water was going. This led to enquiring as to how we could prove this was the case. I stopped asking questions at this point and actually informed them as to what I was going to set up.

A little food colouring was put into the glasses with equal amount of  water in each glass, mixed and then we simply placed the flowers (which were all cut to an equal size and snipped at an angle) into the glasses. I only had blue, green & red colouring but they were smart enough to suggest some other colours with a little prompt into colour mixing. I also had a flower kept in normal water as the ‘control’ and just out of interest I split one flower’s stem in half and placed each half in a different colour.

It was at this point I encouraged the children to talk about what might happen. Now the littlest is 2.5yrs old – honestly she got this! I had prepared very quickly a hand drawn ‘worksheet’ for them to record their predictions on. Nothing fancy, all hand drawn in a few minutes – if that.

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All they had to do was record what they think would happen. There was no wrong answer. They could have left the flowers uncoloured or coloured them.

Mine coloured them in. Then asked for a biscuit.

Now these will be great to come back to when we check the results as the results are not instant. You will probably see changes in 1hr+ and the results can be checked against their predictions.

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And we wait…….

The kids have been so eager and checking throughout the day. I will update with pictures of the final result. The tips have begun to change colour and the kids are pretty impressed. I think they are also pretty smug that their predictions seem to be turning out right….

How does it work?

‘Up the xylem, down the phloem’ – a phrase I remember well from a-level biology. I don’t know why?! The flowers are taking the water via the stem using tubes called the xylem. The water passes up the xylem to the top and into the petals. With coloured water this process becomes visible. This is called transpiration. Go ahead and introduce these words to the midgets!

Keywords used:

  • Flower
  • Growth
  • Water
  • Alive
  • Stem
  • Petal
  • Leaf
  • Absorb
  • Drinking
  • Carried
  • Guess
  • Predict
  • Transpiration

Key questions asked:

  • Can you name the parts of a flower?
  • How do we look after flowers/a plant?
  • What do plants need to grow?
  • What do these flowers need to stay alive?
  • Why do we keep them in water?
  • Where is the water going?
  • How do we know the plants are ‘drinking’ the water?
  • How do we make purple?
  • What do you think will happen?
  • Which parts will change colour?
  • How long will it take?
  • Which colour will be absorbed first?
  • Which colour will create the darkest flower?
  • Which will create the lightest?
  • Which colour will not be absorbed?

To extend this investigation further (there are LOTS of ways, here are just a few that would work with preschoolers):

  • Use different types of white flowers
  • Use different coloured liquids e.g. fizzy drinks, cordials
  • See if placing the flowers in different conditions e.g. sunny place, dark place effect the speed at which transpiration occurs.

 

This really is a piece of mothers day cake. So if you have a lovely bouquet with some white flowers that could do with some jazzing up then give this a go. If you don’t then how about that rotting celery in the salad drawer? Come on, who on earth even likes celery??

I have a great one planned for next week. Both myself and my husband will be severely hungover and it involves fire……..watch this space!

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