Friday, April 30, 2010

How Many Drops of Water will Fit on a Penny?

This is a great investigation that Kid Scientists of all ages can participate in.  Read on for extensions for Big Kid Scientists.

Materials: eye dropper or pipette,  penny,  cup of water,  towel (the cat is optional…Rooney was helping)April 25 004


  • Ask Kid Scientists to predict how many drops of water will fit on a penny.  Little Kid scientists should record their prediction.  Big Kid Scientists can grab this lab report to record their thinking.
  • Using room temperature water, carefully add drops of water to the top of the penny, counting how many fit.
  • How close was your prediction?

Extensions for Little Kid Scientists:

  • Will you be able to fit more drops with cold water or warm water?
  • Will you be able to fit more drops on the “heads” side or the “tails” side?
  • Will you be able to fit more drops on a clean penny or a dirty penny?
  • What questions do you want to test?

Extensions for Big Kid Scientists:

  • Big Kid Scientists can grab this new investigation to test coin size
  • Research and write a scientific explanation of why so many drops of water will fit on a penny


As always, The Science Mommy would love to hear about your investigation.  Let me know how it turns out!


Kid scientists know that there are different types of investigations for different situations.  In some cases, the best way to get more information is reasearch.  In others, Kid Scientists will make observations of a system.  There are also situations in which a Kid Scientist can conduct a Controlled Investigation.  This is what parents might think of as a typical school experiment.

One important aspect of an investigation, is identifying variables:
* The Manipulated or dependent variable is what the scientist specifically changes in order to understand it's impact
* The Responding or independent variable is what changes in response to the manipulated variable
* The Controlled variables are everything else the scientist is able to keep the same in order to isolate the manipulated variable.

Many Kid Science questions can be asked in a way to compare the Manipulated  to the Responding  variable:
- What is the effect of the weight of a rock on how big a splash it will make?
- What is the effect of  the height of a ramp on how far a car will roll past the ramp?
- What is the effect of amount of light on how tall a plant will grow?

Encourage your Kid Scientists to think about the variables involved in their investigations.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Kids are naturally know this because you've seen your toddler experiment with gravity from his high chair, your preschooler crouch down in fascination at the long line of ants on the sidewalk, your older kids trying to figure out how all the gadgets work...they are driven to discover the Why.  What kids know (and we often forget) is that once they find the Why, they have also found another question.  Curiosity doesn't stop with one answer...there are an infinite number of questions to be asked.

Sadly, kids fascination with science often comes to a crushing halt with the advent of right & wrong answers and the expectation that they will have the right answer.  The Science Mommy is an advocate of extending their learning and thinking through inquiry...encouraging Kid Scientists to question and to explore.  Kid Scientists can be supported with questions rather than with answers.  Their curiosity can be stretched with questions rather than answers.

Prompt them to count or measure:  How many?  How often?  How long?  What kinds?

Prompt them to compare: How would you organize...?  How is {this} like {that}?  What patterns do you see?

Prompt their observations: What are you noticing?  What do you see?  What do you hear?  How does that smell / taste?

Prompt their questioning: What are you wondering?  What are you thinking?

Prompt their thinking:  How could you test that?  What else do you need to know?  How could you share that?  What would happen if...?

"It is a miracle that CURIOSITY survives formal education" ~ Einstein

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Black Ink Chromatography

Chromatography is a technique scientists use to separate mixtures, especially those in pigments.  Today you can discover what’s in black ink.

Ages: All ages of Kid Scientists will enjoy this activity.  For questions and extensions, download a Lab Report.

Materials:  A variety of black markers, coffee filter or white paper napkin, clear cups, water

Chromatography 002


  • Cut the napkin or coffee filter into strips 1/4”  wide
  • Draw a dot with the black marker on the bottom of a filter strip, making sure there is about 2 cm of paper below the dot

Chromatography 001 Chromatography 004 Chromatography 003

  • Pour a small amount of water into the bottom of each cup
  • Place the filter strip into the cup, being careful to keep the dot out of the water

Chromatography 005 Chromatography 006 Chromatography 008

  • Observe what happens
  • Find a way to share your results

For Mom’s Eyes Only: Some Kid Scientists may choose to use a permanent black pen.  When they run the chromatography investigation nothing will happen, because permanent marker isn’t soluble in water.  Under your supervision, they may replace the water with rubbing alcohol, a solvent that will separate the permanent ink. 

Chromatography 011

Friday, April 23, 2010

Crystal Trees…

Tree Decorating 030 These fun crystal trees are best for the Big Kid Scientists…but the little kids can watch the set up and observe the crystals growing.

Materials: salt, ammonia, water, Mrs. Stewart’s Laundry Bluing, food color, sponge, small plastic or glass bowl

Procedure:Tree Decorating 003

1.  Cut the sponge into a shape.  The crystals will “grow” on the sponge, so choose something large.  The boys made trees.

2. Mix the crystal solution (adult supervision is necessary).  Combine 6 TB water, 6 TB bluing, and 6 TB of salt in a 2 c measuring cup.  Stir until the salt is dissolved.

3. Using food colors, dot the sponge with color.  The crystals will absorb the color as the water evaporates.

4. Place the sponge into the bowl. Tree Decorating 007  We anchored ours with toothpicks to make them stand up.  Pour the crystal solution over the sponge and allow it to pool in the bowl. 

5. Find a safe place…away from small children, pets and movement…to allow crystallization.  As the water evaporates from the solution, crystals will form on the sponge.

I’d love to hear about your results…let me know how your crystal trees turned out!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Side Walk Paint

Sidewalk paint allows kids to create an amazing design that washes away with the next rainfall!

Ages:  3+

Materials: For each cup of paint you'll need -
  • clear plastic cup
  • 1/4 c cornstarch
  • 1/4 c cold water
  • food color
  • large, child friendly paintbrush or foam brush
  • Depending on the age of child making the paint, pre-measure or encourage children to measure, water and corn starch and combine in a clear plastic cup.  This is best done outside because the cornstarch will be messy!
  • Mix the water and cornstarch thoroughly.  If your paint is too thick, thin it with a bit more water.
  • Kids can add drops of food color to tint their paint.  With very small children allow them to choose the single color, and add it for them (food color will permanently color fingers and clothes)  Older children can follow the formulas on the food coloring box to make a variety of paints. 
  • Turn this into an experiment by throwing away the food coloring box and challenging your kids to make as many different colors as possible.  They can record their combinations and try to replicate each others colors.

Choose a sunny day and relax while kids explore mixing colors and painting all over the driveway.  Cornstarch is non-toxic and easily cleans up with water.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Under Construction...

This site is under construction but please check back. I will have great science & craft ideas for you and your kids. Lots of messy fun & science learning!