Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Layered 4th of July Drinks...

Use density to create a festive 4th of July drink!

Ages: This is best for the Big Kids to create, but everyone will enjoy the drinks.

- Clear plastic cups
- small liquid measuring cup
- Red juice - cranberry works well.  Don't use a light or diet version.
- Clear soda such as Sprite or 7Up
- Light Blue Gatorade

  • This may take Kid Scientists some practice first, so have some extra materials on hand. 
  • Begin by pouring 1/3 c of the red juice into a clear plastic cup.
  • Make sure the cup is sitting on a level surface.  Carefully and slowly pour 1/3 c soda on top of the red juice.  Pour the soda down the side of the cup, very slowly.  (It's much easier to pour slowly if the soda is measured into a small measuring cup)
  • Repeat the previous steps with the blue gatorade.
  • The three liquids should form separate layers in the cup.
  • It bears repeating...this takes a careful hand and a bit of practice. 
The Science Mommy looked all over for her pictures of this project and they have vanished!  Please send me yours and I will share them.

Exploring Magnets...

This is another exploration that will engage Kid Scientists natural sense of curiosity and inquiry.

Ages: This is better for Big Kid Scientists

Materials:  a variety of magnets

  • Share the magnets with your Kid Scientist
  • Ask her what questions she has about magnets and how she can discover the answers
  • You could also suggest some questions such as - What kinds of items are attracted to magnets?  What happens when two magnets are put together?  How many objects can one magnet hold?  Do all the magnets hold the same number of objects? 
  • You may download this Observation Guide to help your Kid Scientist hold her thinking and remember her observations. 
What did your Kid Scientist discover about magnets?

Monday, June 28, 2010


Ages: This is designed for Little Kid Scientists, but there's nothing stopping the Big Kids from getting in on the fun

Materials:  Shells, rocks, leaves...any group of items that are similar with identifiable differences

This activity is designed to introduce Little Kid Scientists to the idea of physical properties.  Physical properties of matter can be observed or measured without changing what is being observed or measured.  They include appearance, color, texture, odor, density and others.  Later Kid Scientists will learn to distinguish between Physical Properties and Chemical Properties or use Physical Properties to identify something unknown.  For now, this activity will start Kid Scientists thinking about ways to describe shells (or rocks, or leaves or flowers...)


  • Share the collection with your Kid Scientist, looking at each item. 

  • Ask questions about what you're observing...How does that feel?  What color is this?  Is this bigger or is this one?

  • After you've observed all the shells in the jar, ask your Kid Scientist to put them into groups.  "How many groups of shells can you make?"  or "Can you sort the shells into different groups?"

  • Allow your Kid Scientist to sort the shells all by himself.  Be supportive, and ask questions but allow him to do the thinking.

  • Once the shells are sorted, ask him to describe each group.  "How did you decide which shells went into each group?"

  • You can help your Kid Scientist with new vocabulary by labeling the groups if he doesn't.  "Oh, all these are small shells" or "So this is the group of shiny shells"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Science Adventures...

The Science Mommy and her family were recently in Seattle and had a chance to visit the Boeing Museum of Flight.  You know how important curiousity is to the Science Mommy and visiting a great museum can certainly inspire scientific curiosity.
One of our first stops was the flight simulator.  This is one of the best simulators I have ever ridden, it was absolutely responsive.  Connar took the pilots seat and we enjoyed barrel rolls, somersaults and other flight patterns.  Flying the simulator required the use of two controls simultaneously and while not a real flight, Connar definitely learned something about the complexity of flying an airplane.
There were several opportunities to get into cockpits and explore the instruments.  Aiden was full of questions about how things worked.
The Science Mommy loved the displays.  Connar and I spent a long time looking at this one to understand how flight evolved in the animal kingdom. 

Musuems are excellent places to explore new ideas, ask questions and feed Kid Science curiousity.  Which great museums have you visited?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Clean Your Pennies...

This activity is a safe way to use an acid to clean pennies.

Ages: This is for Big Kid Scientists only

Materials:  dull pennies, 1/4 c white vinegar, 1 tsp salt, glass or plastic bowl, water, paper towels


  • Pour the salt and the vinegar into the bowl.  Vinegar is actually a weak acid - acetic acid.
  • Stir until the salt is dissolved into the vinegar.
  • Place the pennies into the solution.  What do you notice?
  • Leave the pennies in the solution for 5 minutes.  What do you notice when you remove the pennies?
  • Leave half the pennies on a paper towel and rinse the other half off in cool water.  
  • Leave both sets of pennies for about an hour.  What do you notice about the two sets?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fun Fruity Dough...

Here's another fun dough that will keep Little Kid Scientists busy all afternoon!

Ages:  All Kid Scientists can have fun with this mixture

2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 tbs cooking oil
1 cup water
1 package Kool-Aid

  • Combine flour, salt, and Kool-Aid in a large bowl
  • Stir in oil and water
  • Stir until your mixture is the consistency of bread dough
  • Knead on a floured surface until it's firm
This dough smells yummy, but make sure Very Little Kid Scientists don't eat it!
Dough can be stored in a plastic bag & refrigerated

Extensions for Big Kids:
- Big Kids can experiment with mixing different flavors of Kool-Aid to achieve different scents and colors
- With mixtures like this one, Big Kids can also explore the proportions in a recipe...What happens when you add too much flour or too much salt?  Can you use different types of oil?  Can you add sugar instead of Kool-Aid?  Will a different drink mix work the same way?  Will hot or cold water change the consistency of the dough?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Neighborhood Nature Walk…

This is a repost of some fun ways to interest your Kid Scientists in observing the world around them...

Can you see the nest in the tree?  Tucked into the fork of a branch right in the middle? I couldn’t see baby birds, but as I stood under the tree, I could hear them chirping.  There is a great diversity of living things right in our neighborhoods for Kid Scientists to discover.  Here are some ways to encourage Kid Scientist observations…
Digital Nature Walk – Hand your camera to your Kid Scientist during your walk.  Challenge her to look for evidence of animals as well as the animals themselves.  She might find a train of ants, a nest, tracks in the mud or lady bugs in the garden.  Your Kid Scientist can collect her observations with pictures.  If she’s really adventurous, she could create a Field Guide for your neighborhood.
Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt – For those Kid Scientists who need help slowing down and observing write a Scavenger hunt list on an index card to take on your walk (if your Kid Scientist can’t read you can read the list to him or enlist an older sibling to be his partner).  Include things you know he’ll find easily as well as a couple real challenges…a robin, a wild flower, a spider web, a nest, animals tracks, ducks…
ABC Nature Walk – As you’re walking find things that begin with each letter in the alphabet…ants, bumble bee, columbine, daisy…this is way for your Kid Scientist to learn more specific names for things as well.  If following the alphabet is too much of a challenge, you can turn it into ABC / I Spy, “I see something that starts with L”  “Lady bug”
Nature Walk 1 2 3 – As you walk, ask your Kid Scientist to count what they’re seeing.  “How many birds will you see before we get to the corner?”  “How many daisies are on this plant?”  “How many dragonflies do you see?”
Amazing Things – Tell your Kid Scientists that at the end of your walk everyone will get to share an Amazing Thing they saw while walking home.  Giving your Kid Scientist a chance to walk with wonder, looking at everything, encourages creativity and close observation.  Once you’re home, it’s interesting to hear what they thought was amazing.
Sounds of Nature – Have your Kid Scientists sit or lay down with their eyes closed for one minute – just listening.  At the end of the minute, ask them to share what they heard.  If bird sounds are clear, ask Kid Scientists if they can figure out how many birds are making the sounds.
The Science Mommy would love to hear about your Neighborhood Nature Walk

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Investigations on the Way...

The Science Mommy has been busy wrapping up the last couple weeks of school.  Please check back next week...there will be some great investigations for Big Kid Scientists and fun activities for Little Kids to explore. 

Stay tuned, The Science Mommy has a great Kid Scientist give-away planned to kick off summer!

Happy Summer

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Books for Kid Scientists...

The Science Mommy and her Kid Scientists have more books to share...

Albino Animals by KellyMilner Halls - The author visited Connar's school this year and he chose this book.  It's so interesting, both boys enjoy reading it and looking at the pictures.  Kids learn about albinism in nature through photos and descriptions.  Not only will this encourage curiosity but it can also serve as a basis for learning about and appreciating differences.

Life Cycles of a Dozen Diverse Creatures by Paul Fleisher - This is another collection of diveristy in the natural world.  Understanding life cycles is a science standard that is often difficult to convey in classroom science.  This book helps kids gain a sense of the big idea of diversity and the idea that all living creatures have a unique life cycle.  Beautiful photos are accompanied by short, accessible text.

Science Verse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith - This will keep Kid Scientists laughing!  The authors take well known poems and retell them with hilarious science themes.  A great way to gain a little new understanding and have a laugh too!

Send the Science Mommy some of your favorite Kid Science books and I'll post them in the next book list!  Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What causes the bright colors seen in a sunset?

Models are an important way for Kid Scientists to explore the world around them.  This model demonstrates a sunset.

Ages: This model is best for Big Kid Scientists

Materials: Clear glass, flashlight, eye dropper, water, milk, white paper

  • Fill the cup with water
  • Fold the white paper in half (like a tent) and place it behind the cup
  • Shine the flashlight through the water, onto the paper.  What do you notice?
  • Think about the parts of this model.  If the cup of water represents the atmosphere, what does the flashlight represent?  How about the white paper?
  • Add 3 to 5 drops of milk to the water.  Shine the flashlight through the liquid, onto the paper.  What do you notice now? What does the milk represent?
  • Continue adding drops of milk and observing both the liquid and the reflected light on the paper.

For Science Moms Only...
The atmosphere that wraps around Earth is a blanket of invisible gases.  The atmosphere also has many particles, too small to be seen but big enough to scatter light waves.  Blue and violet light scatter the most; orange and red scatter the least.  At midday the sun is high in the sky so less light is scattered and more blue light reaches your eyes.  When the sun is low in the sky at sunrise or sunset, the rays travel through a thicker layer of atmosphere.  The blue waves are scattered and the longer red wavelengths reach your eyes, giving us red sunsets.  Dust or smoke particles will enhance the red and orange colors.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Adventures in Nature!

A group of students from my school visited Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge and The Science Mommy was asked to chaperone (in her official “Science Teacher” capacity!)  This is my all-time favorite field trip, so I took my Science Kid, Aiden along with me for the day. 

Turnbull is a Wildlife Refuge, and the staff do a fantastic job of teaching kids about habitat, diversity, and the need for wildlife protection.  This unique habitat is home to many species of migratory birds, especially water fowl.  The kids participated in three different activities while we were there.

Science 023It was rainy and a bit cold, but we were able to see lots of birds and evidence of other wildlife on our hike.  Our guide pointed out cinnamon teals, mallards, kildeer, barn swallows and red-winged black-birds to name just a few.  We looked at trees felled by beavers, and examined trees eaten by porcupines as well as understanding why snags are important for habitat.

Science 024  Science 026

In the pond study, Kid Scientists collected samples from two different regions – the water column and the muddy bottom – and examined the invertebrate life to determine water quality.  Aiden found a midge larvae, several scuds, and a large predaceous diving beetle.  Using field microscopes and hand lenses kids discovered, identified and documented the life from the pond.  Aiden also found a frog near the pond.

Science 027Turnbull also has a classroom with mounts of animals that would be commonly found at the refuge.  Here Kid Scientists can get up close to animals and examine adaptations that help the animals survive and thrive in the wild.  Aiden was most interested to learn that while owls have extremely large eyes (compared to the size of their skull) they are not able to move their eyes independently, an important reason for their ability to turn their heads 270 degrees!  Here he is at the touch table with a squirrel.

The trip was great - for the middle school Kid Scientists  and for Aiden and I.  If you live near Cheney, WA, Turnbull is open to the public and is easily accessed for day trips.  Follow the link above for more information.  This is not the only place where kids can get close to nature…check out other places in your area and take your Kid Scientists on a new adventure!

The Science Mommy would love to hear about your trip into the wild!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Although everyone has a unique set of fingerprints, there are some common fingerprint characteristics.  Big Kid scientists can explore their own fingerprints and those of their friends and family members.

Ages: Big Kid Scientists

Materials:  black ink pad, paper, fingers, down load lab sheets by following the links in the procedure

  • Study the basic characteristics of fingerprints with this information. or search the internet for more information.
  • Collect your own may want to practice a couple times before you print them on the data sheet.  Roll your finger carefully on the ink pad, just once across, then roll your finger onto a piece of paper.  You should be able to see the print clearly.  This does take practice, so be patient.  Once you can create a clear print, enter your prints on the data sheet.
  • Analyze your fingerprints, it might help to use a hand lens or magnifier.  What patterns do you see?  How many different characteristics do you have?
  • Collect the fingerprints of family members or friends.  You can print additional copies of the data sheet for your collection.
  • Now you can use the graph to analyze your fingerprint collection.  What do you notice?  What are you wondering about fingerprints?