Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snow Paint...

This snowy day project could not be easier or have more hours of fun attached...

Ages:  All ages of Kid Scientist will enjoy snow pain

Materials:  Spray bottles, food color and water
Fill spray bottles with cold water

Add food coloring to create the color of your choice.  Here's the science...what colors can you create?

My Kid Scientists were ready to play, so they stuck to blue and red.  Attach the top of the bottle and you're ready to go...

Create all sorts of fun spray paint pictures in the snow...try mixing colors and using different intensities on the nozzle for different effects.

The Science Mommy would love to see pictures of your snow paintings...send them via email and I will post them!  Have fun in the snow!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Coming Soon...

The Science Mommy has been loving every minute of Christmas Vacation with her boys!  We have been up to a few projects and experiments and you'll be seeing those very soon.  In the meantime, search through the archive and find something new for your snowy...or not so

Monday, December 6, 2010

Science in the Kitchen...

The Science Mommy and her Kid Scientists recently cooked up a little science in the kitchen, while making gifts for the boys teachers. 

I found this recipe in Family Fun Magazine that showed  how to package cake mix in a coffee cup for a microwaveable, personal-sized cake.  My boys liked the idea, but I wanted to package everything needed to make the cake and the recipe called for oil and an egg to be added later.

I have also made this, Diet Coke Cake with the boys and it turned out quite well. 

Here's the experiment...Can we combine the two recipes into a single, personal-sized Diet Coke cake that bakes in the microwave?
The initial recipe indicated that a standard cake mix could be divided into 8, 1/2 cup portions.  I set the boys to measuring the cake mix (good measuring practice).  We found that there are only 7 full 1/2 cup portions.

Next Connar did the math to find out how much diet coke we would use with our 1/2 cup portions.  He came up with 1.5 ounces and decided to use 1/4 of a cup in order to have a standard measurement.  We are using small cans of soda in order to package them more easily.

Then it was time to try our first sample...1/2 cup cake mix, 1/4 cup Diet Coke and 3 minutes in the microwave.

Taste Test...It was better than I thought it would be, but the cake was kind of chewy.  Test #2...1/2 cup cake mix, 1/4 cup Diet Coke and 2 1/2 minutes in the microwave.
This time the cake was still chewy, but there were raw spots.  Test #3...1/2 cup cake mix, 1/3 cup diet coke and 3 minutes in the microwave. This was the perfect combination!

Meanwhile, we followed the Family Fun recipe for a glaze mix to include in the cup.  This was perfect the first time!

Final Recipe:
* Put 1/2 cup of chocolate cake mix in a resealable bag and label "Cake Mix"
* Mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 tbs cocoa powder in a resealable bag and label "Frosting"
* Put both bags into a mug, including a label with the cooking instructions
* Cooking Instructions:  Mix the cake mix with 1/3 cup of the Diet Coke in the mug.  Microwave for 3 minutes.  While the cake is cooking, add 1 or 2 tbs of water to the frosting mix.  Seal the bag and using your hands, mix the frosting.  Whent the cake is finished, cut a corner off the frosting bag, frost your cake and enjoy!
* Package the mug with mixes with a small can of Diet Coke.

Enjoy!  This is a delicious, personal-sized cake!

Books for Kid Scientists...

The Science Mommy is a member of the NSTA  (National Science Teachers Association) and recently discovered a list of the Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children.

This is a long list of some of the best books, with a science theme,  published for children in 2010.  On the list you'll find:
The Story of Snow by Mark Cassino and Jon Nelson

Face to Face with Penguins by Yva Momatiuk and John Eastcott. 

Ice Scientist: Careers in the Frozen Antarctic by Sara L. Latta

There are so many great books, and they don't all have a winter theme!  Check out the list for your Kid Scientists collection.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Time for Baking...

The Science Mommy knows there are many great science skills to be learned in the kitchen.  One of the strategies many older Kid Scientists are lacking is the ability to read a procedure completely and follow the directions.  A great way to teach and reinforce this skill is baking and cooking.

My youngest Kid Scientist wanted to bake cookies for the family all by himself.  We had a tub of frozen cookie dough (from a school fundraiser) so he wasn't responsible for the measuring, but he read, and followed, all the directions.

  • Finding the directions what the first challenge for Aiden, then he needed to figure out what everything meant
  •  Reaching the knobs on the stove was another challenge!  But, there was a surprise way for him to practice a math skill...325 wasn't on the dial.  I asked him where he thought he needed to turn the dial.  After a little thought he realized that 325 would be between 320 and 330. (Sounds easy to us...but it's a great teachable moment for younger Kid Scientists)
  •  My oldest Kid Scientist took this picture, so it's not clear what Aiden is doing...he's estimating 2" apart for all the cookies on the cookie sheet.  Younger Kid Scientists are also very literal when it comes to directions, but it showed me that he had read them and understood what he read.
  •  The oven was a bit scary for both of us...but I trusted him and he was very careful.  I did emphasize the need for supervision when he uses the oven.
  • Taking the cookies out, he forgot and grabbed the side of the sheet.  Just a tiny burn...and an unfortunate teachable moment :(  Cold water helped...
  •  He was so proud of the finished product though...dessert for everyone!
This isn't a formal procedure of course...but a reminder to look for the Teachable Moments in everything you do with your kids.  This builds their confidence and their background knowledge so they will be more capable Kid Scientists at school too!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Snowflake Collection...

The Science Mommy loves winter, snow and playing outside.  The next several posts will be all about outdoor science in the winter!

Ages: This is great for all ages of Kid Scientist.  If you have a curious Big Kid scientist, read ahead for the extension.

Materials:  black construction paper, snow, magnifying lens (if you have one)

Procedure:    This activity works well when it's snowing softly...but creative Kid Scientists will be able to collect snowflakes any time
Collect Them:

  • Use your black paper to collect falling snowflakes
  • If there are too many snowflakes to see clearly, try blowing gently to spread them out
  • You can also sprinkle snow onto your black paper if it's not currently snowing
Explore Them:
Once you have your snowflakes, spend some time examining them...
  • How would you describe the shape of the snowflakes?
  • How many different snow flakes do you see?
  • What size are your snowflakes?  Are they all the same size?
  • What else do you notice?
  • What are you wondering about snowflakes?
Parents and curious Kid Scientists can explore this great snowflake website to learn more about how snowflakes form.  There are also some amazing pictures like this one...

For Big Kid Scientists:  Based on the website linked above, the Science Mommy wrote an article about snowflakes for Big Kid Scientists.  I would share this with my Kid Scientists after the collected snowflakes and spent some time examining their collection.  You can get this article about snowflakes by clicking on the link.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Do you know what this is?

Isn't this picture amazing?

You can click on the picture and follow the link to the Astronomy Picture of the Day, or follow the link in the sidebar.  Winter is one of the best times for star-gazing with clear skies and the Science Mommy loves to watch the night skies.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Ages: All Kid Scientists can practice measurement…read on for age specific activities
Materials:  Any measurement tools you have available: measuring cups, scales, measuring spoons, rulers, meter sticks, tape measures, spring scales, thermometers
Purpose:  Measurement is a tricky thing for Little Kid Scientists.  Frequently, Kid Scientists arrive in middle school without an understanding of units of measure or how to use measurement tools correctly.  These are skills that can be easily taught and practiced by Kid Scientists exploring the world around them.

Little Kid Scientists: 
  • One of the best ways to build a measurement foundation is by helping mom and dad.  Fill a small plastic box with rice or beans and encourage your Little Kid to scoop up 1 cup or ½ cup.  Ask questions like, “Is 1 cup more than ½ cup?” “Is there more in 1 cup of rice or in 1 cup of beans?” Then use different containers to test the child’s prediction. 
  • Carry a ruler on a walk or while running errands.  Ask your Kid Scientist, “How many inches tall is this step?” or “How many inches tall is this can?” 
  • Set a thermometer outside a window and check the temperature each day.  To practice collecting data, Kid Scientists can record the temperature. 
  • In each situation, make sure you are using the name for the units of measure.  Many Kid Scientists don’t understand the importance of labeling the numbers.
Big Kid Scientists:
  • There is nothing like cooking to understand the value of measurement.  Cooking also affords opportunities to measure liquids and dry ingredients as well as tricky things like peanut butter.
  • Building things is also a great way to learn measurement.  Engage your Big Kid Scientist in home improvement projects.  Chances are the project will take longer but you'll have a great day teaching your kiddo new skills.
  • On a rainy or snowy day, send Kid Scientists on a measurement scavenger hunt.  Ask them to find something that is 6 inches tall, something that is 12 centimeters wide, something that weighs less than 1 pound.  Get creative in what you ask for and tailor your requests to the measurement skills of your Kid Scientist.
  • Big Kids would enjoy checking on the temperature each day.  Encourage your Big Kid Scientist to come up with his own strategy for recording the data.
  • You could also include a way to measure precipitation.  Ask your Kid Scientist to come up with a device that will measure precipitation and include those data points as well.  What patterns do they notice?
Many of the Science Mommy's explorations and investigations also include measurement as a skill.  This is so important for Kid Scientists to practice!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Question Game...

This game is quick and easy to play, but really helps Kid Scientists build their questioning and observation skills!

Ages:  All ages of Kid Scientist can play.  In fact, once they know how, Big Kid Scientists can set this up for the Little Kids.

Materials: A box with a lid (it can't be transparent), objects from around the house


  • Invite your Kid Scientist to play the Question Game
  • Place an item inside the box - this is the step where the game can be adapted for the age of Kid Scientist playing or the experience of the Kid Scientist.  
  • Encourage your Kid Scientist to pick up the box and shake it.  Talk to them about all the observations they can make at this heavy the box is, what it sounds like, possibly an odor, what the object moves like...
  • Kid Scientists ask questions about the object in the box.  They need to frame their questions as Yes or No questions, and you'll answer accordingly.  Is it metal?  Is it plastic?  Is it round?  Is it smooth?  Can I eat it?  Can I play with it?
  • As Kid Scientists become more experienced you can focus the types of questions they them only 20 questions or requiring that all questions relate to physical properties.
  • Questions should also become more specific as Kid Scientists begin to learn about the item in the box
  • When your Kid Scientist thinks she knows what is in the box, she frames her conclusion using at least three pieces of evidence.  Because I know that it's metal and I use it when I am eating and because it won't hold soup, I think it's a fork.
This is a great "Dinner Game"...pass the box around the dinner table and get the whole family into the questioning.  Kids can also play and ask questions when they are in the car.  
What adaptations did you discover for the Question Game?

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Milk Lab...a guest post...

My oldest Kid Scientist, Connar, came home from school the other day excited to share "The Milk Lab".  Today's demonstration is his guest post...

Ages: This is best for 5 year olds through 13 year olds

Materials:  whole milk, food coloring, dish soap, small dish

  • Pour a small amount of milk into the dish
  •  Put four different drops of food coloring in a square around the edges of the dish

  • Put one drop of dish soap into the center of the square.  Watch carefully because this is where the reaction starts.
  •  I know why this happened: The dish soap, because it eats away grease, broke up the fat in the milk to make this reaction happen.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Potions #3...

The Science Mommy is getting into the season with some spooky Halloween potions.  I am not posting pictures, because I don't want to give anything away.  How do your potions turn out?
Ages: Big Kid Scientists

Materials: white glue, laundry starch,  plastic bowl, 2 popsicle sticks, food color

  • Mix 1/2 cup of white glue with 1/2 cup laundry starch in a plastic bowl.
  • Stir the solution thoroughly.
  • Add a few drops of food coloring to make a spooky potion
  • Allow the bowl, and the solution, to sit untouched for 5 minutes.
  • Knead the mixture for several minutes.
  • If your potion is too sticky add a few drops of starch
  • You can store this in a plastic bag.

Observations:  Kid Scientists can share their observations of this potion and compare it to the other two.
* How does it feel?  How does it smell?
* Describe the consistency.  Describe the texture.

* Is this a solid or a liquid?  Why?

The Science Mommy would love to see the product of your potions.  Any pictures, with permission, will be shared on the Science Mommy.
Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Potions #2...

The Science Mommy is getting into the season with some spooky Halloween potions.  I am not posting pictures, because I don't want to give anything away.  How do your potions turn out?
Ages: Big Kid Scientists

Materials: white glue, water,  2 plastic bowls, 2 popsicle sticks, food color, talcum (baby) powder

  • Mix 1/3 cup of water with 1/2 cup white glue in a bowl
  • Add a few drops of food coloring to create a spooky potion
  • Add 1 tsp of talcum powder and stir until the mixture is thoroughly mixed

  • Combine 1/4 cup of water  with 1/2 tsp borax and stir
  • Add the borax/water solution to the glue/water solution and stir
  • Remove the mixture from the bowl and knead it on a counter or table.  You may need to wipe excess moisture off your hands as your work.
  • You can store this in a plastic bag.

Observations:  Kid Scientists can share their observations of this potion and compare it to the other two.
* How does it feel?  How does it smell?
* Describe the consistency.  Describe the texture.

* Is this a solid or a liquid?  Why?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Halloween Potions #1...

The Science Mommy is getting into the season with some spooky Halloween potions.  I am not posting pictures, because I don't want to give anything away.  How do your potions turn out?
Ages: Big Kid Scientists

Materials: white glue, borax,  2 plastic bowls, water, 2 popsicle sticks, food color

  • Pour 1/2 cup of white glue into the plastic bowl
  • Add 1/2 cup of water to the glue and stir with the popsicle stick
  • Add food coloring to create a spooky potion

  • Pour 1 cup of water into the second bowl
  • Add 1 tsp of borax to the water and stir with the second popsicle stick
  • Slowly, add the glue/water mixture to the borax/water mixture 
  • This is messy!
  • The two mixtures will form a slimy ball.  Pick this up, and knead it in your hands until it's dry.  
  • You can store this in a plastic bag to compare it to the other potions.

Observations:  Kid Scientists can share their observations of this potion and compare it to the other two.
* How does it feel?  How does it smell?
* Describe the consistency.  Describe the texture.
* Is this a solid or a liquid?  Why?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cookie Time...

So, strictly speaking, cookie baking isn't a science project.  However, there were many science skills practiced by these kid scientists.  We also made a huge mess and had lots of fun!

Ages:  All ages of Kid Scientists can participate in the decorating.  Save the baking for the Big Kid scientists.
Materials: A good sugar cookie recipe and ingredients, frosting, food color & sprinkles

* The Science Mommy has a post coming that is all about measurement.  Baking is one of the best ways for Kid Scientists to learn how to measure...and to experience the consequences of inadequate measurement!  Take advantage of this opportunity to help your Kid Scientists measure.
The Science Mommy wanted today's project to be about the decorating, so the Halloween-themed cookies were already baked when the Kid Scientists assembled.

Universally, Kid Scientists love to mix colors.  Whether they are using paints, or creating their own paints, mixing colors is a great learning opportunity.  The Science Mommy's nieces, Desi and Chloe, were our expert color mixers.
The kids didn't have a limit to the number of colors they could create and we had two shades of green, purple, gray, orange and blue.
While the girls mixed colors, the boys dove into decorating...

 With several dozen cookies and plenty of frosting and sprinkles, there was opportunity to try out every combination...

The finished products were pretty impressive and tasty too!

There are so many opportunities to explore, to create, and to investigate...The Science Mommy challenges you to make a mess and find science in something ordinary!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Crystal Snowflakes...

I posted this activity a while ago without pictures.  Now I have the step-by-step to keep your snowflake hanging in a window.

Ages:  This activity is for Big Kid Scientists.  As you read it, this one sounds more difficult but my 11 year old Kid Scientist did it on his own, I just supervised.

Materials:  pipe cleaner, string, water, borax,wide-mouth jar, food color 

  • You will need boiling water for this activity.  Kid Scientists - make sure you have supervision for boiling water

  • While you're waiting for the water to boil, create your snowflake.  Cut a pipe cleaner into 3 pieces. Twist the pieces together at the center to form a six-legged shape.  Make sure the snowflake fits into the jar.

  • Tie a piece of string to one leg of the snowflake.
  • Fill the jar with boiling water

  • Add Borax one tablespoon at a time to the water.  Stir after each tablespoon to dissolve the borax.  Stir as much Borax into the water as possible, stopping when the Borax no longer dissolves. (This is called a Saturated Solution)

  • Add food color drops to create your favorite color
  • Suspend the pipe-cleaner snowflake in the jar of borax solution.  Roll the string around the pencil so that the snowflake hangs from the pencil laid across the jar.  (The snowflake should not touch the jar sides or bottom)

  • Allow the jar to sit undisturbed for a day or two before you check your snowflake.

  • Now you can take the snowflake out of the jar and carefully hang it up.
The Science Mommy would love to see pictures of your snowflakes!