Posted by: michelle @ books my kids read | January 7, 2013

winter break science fest

One of J’s best Hanukkah gifts this year was an awesome book called Cool Biology Activities for Girls. Not that boys couldn’t do any of these experiments, but the idea is to “appeal to girls with bright colored, flowery covers and pictures of girls and women” and to encourage girls to realize that science can be fun for them too. We also started getting a subscription to Kiwi Crate and were pleasantly surprised to find that not only were there two art projects in each box, but experiments to go along with the theme. Needless to say, we spent a good part of our 2 1/2 week vacation doing some cool experiments.

kiwi-crate-subscription-boxes-craft-supplies

The first experiment that we did from the Biology book was truly disgusting and not very hands on, but J wanted to start and it was the only experiment that I had all of the materials for at home. Did you know that it was possible to dissolve an egg’s shell without harming the membranes that protect the egg? That was something that I was perfectly happy to be in the dark about, but these are the things that we learn in the name of science. Turns out that the acid in the vinegar breaks down the calcium carbonate that makes up the shell. From there, we allowed the naked eggs to soak in water and corn syrup (separately). I don’t understand the scientific reasoning behind this (you can read about it here), but the egg in water plumped  up and the one in corn syrup shriveled up. J’s favorite portion of the experiment was playing with the naked egg post water and corn syrup and then watching them go down the drain without breaking.

Our next experiment was the one J wanted to start with – flower water absorption. For this one, the concept is to use colored water to understand how flowers drink water and then how the excess evaporates. It is a pretty straightforward project, but what is great about it is that you can watch what happens and see the reactions at different time intervals. The book called for using any white flower but noted that carnations worked best. I could only get my hands on one carnation and the others were daisies, but it all worked out in the end. This is a great experiment for getting kids excited about science.

Once we were done with the flowers, we moved on to playing around with the items from the Kiwi Crate. The theme for the month was Antartica which meant that we got to experiment with ice! The experiment that they suggested was one where you take two pieces of ice. Leave one plain and wrap the other in either tin foil or newspaper and see which melts faster. Well, we took that one step further and used both the tin foil and the newspaper. I didn’t get photos of this one, but I was actually surprised that the order was (from faster to slower melt times) air, tin foil, newspaper. I didn’t realize that newspaper was able to help retain the cold so well. While in the midst of all of this, I also came across an image on Pinterest about ice melting with water, air, salt and sugar and decided to try that one. With this one, we found that the order was water, salt, sugar and then air. Interestingly though, the sugar started out pretty fast but stalled along the way and was over taken by the salt. Salt of course makes sense given that it is utilized to de-ice roads. We also followed the kiwi crate instructions to make a piece of string stick to a piece of ice.

I think that both J and I are really getting a kick out of this science thing. She likes seeing things as black and white so this is an interesting game for her. I am continuing to find other cool experiments and keeping track of them on pinterest (of course). I think that we are going to attack this “salt painting ice sculptures” one from kiwi crate next!

Happy learning!

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