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)
Water

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).
Lighter/Match

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.

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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!

Please like & share this blog if you enjoyed what you read or think someone may find it useful or even both!

 

Then I’ll huff, I’ll puff and I’ll blow that balloon up!

Today’s investigation all started from a conversation about a bowl of cereal, would you believe it!
Whilst eating a bowl of Rice Krispies we talked about what it actually was, that they were eating and how it was made. Big kid likened it to pop corn and then, blowing a balloon. Thumbs up from me!

I love how they make the links. The kids, well, they just love balloons (and cake). We have a lot of them (balloons, not cake). They love balloons – have I mentioned that before? So I directed the conversation to asking them if they would like to find out how to blow a balloon without using their mouth.

Cue excited faces.

Still in our Pj’s, I pulled some bits out of the kitchen and we began. I enlisted the other half’s help for this so that I could capture the action. This activity required *very* little and takes even *less* time.

We began with some focusing on the actual action of blowing and getting them to think about what they were doing and where it was coming from before trying to blow a balloon.

They huff and they puffed…..before the big bad wolf stepped in to show them how it was done.

I introduced the term carbon dioxide, yes, despite their age. Hey, if they can say Tyrannsaurus Rex then they can learn to say carbon dioxide!! Even the little one gave it a fair go – it was incredibly cute….car oxide was managed!

I will add here that in the past the older one and I have talked about plants taking in ‘bad air’ and giving us the ‘good air’ (he once asked what the plants and grass was for and why there were around). I was able to make the link here between the ‘bad air’ and carbon dioxide. I mentioned it was a gas but refrained from linking this to a fart- well, the other half did with a very firm look from myself.

With no further ado we proceeded with the experiment. For this you need:DSC_0082

  • Vinegar (white vinegar is better but we had malt vinegar and it worked just fine)
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Plastic bottle (75cl)
  • A straw
  • A balloon
  • A spoon, for just in case.

The first thing to do was to fill the balloon with around 2 tbsps of the bicarb of soda. Ideally, a funnel would be best to use to do this – but this would need two people (one to hold the balloon open and another to fill it). We did not have a funnel and so used straw instead.

Next the plastic bottle was filled with around 2-2.5cm of vinegar. Then the last step was to stretch the balloon over the top of the bottle, allow the contents to hit the vinegar and watch the magic happen! Just make sure you hold the base of the balloon down on the bottle throughout.

They loved it! And it really did not take very long either, the chemical reaction begins immediately. The vinegar and bicarb mix to make an acid-base reaction, producing carbon dioxide which expands, rises up and inflates the balloon.

There are lots of factors you can investigate with this experiment to take it one step further and develop the learning. You can have a go with different balloon sizes, bottle sizes and even different amounts of vinegar and bicarb of soda – but not all at once if you want to draw valuable conclusions.

 

Give this a go, it is so quick and simple!

And next time an offspring runs up to you with a sopping wet balloon due to repeated attempts at inflating it…..point them to the kitchen!

Keywords:

  • Blow
  • Lungs
  • Air
  • Gas
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Vinegar
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Acid
  • Mixture
  • Bubbles

Key questions:

  • Can you blow out air?
  • Where in your body can you feel it (air) coming from?
  • What can you see happening?
  • Did it blow it up as big as person could?
  • What could we have done to blow the balloon up bigger?
  • What was better at blowing up a big balloon?
  • Why could you not blow up the balloon as big as mummy/daddy?

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Clearly the spoon came in handy…..!