Friday, July 30, 2010

Make-Your-Own I Spy Bottle...

This project is great fun and will reinforce your Little Kid Scientists "Powers of Observation"!

Ages: Fun for everyone to play with, but especially good for the Little Kids.  
 * Empty water bottle
* Rice
* Small objects and toys ( The Science Mommy even used some stickers placed on card stock as objects)
* Tag or Label with items listed

  • Gather up lots of small objects or toys to place in the bottle.  Little Kids can certainly help scavenge for tiny items
  • List the items on a tag or label...this will be useful for Little Kids learning to read.  For Really Little Kids take a picture of the items you'll be placing in the bottle.
  •  Fill the bottle part way with rice, and then drop in all your items.
  •  Fill your bottle about 3/4 full, cap and shake.  You want to make sure the objects are distributed throughout the bottle.  Once everything is shaken up, finish filling the bottle with rice...nearly to the top.
  •  As Kid Scientists roll the bottle, different objects appear!
Different Ways to Play:
  • If you've identified all the items, Kid Scientists can take turns finding items, in order, on the list
  • Give Kid Scientists 1 minute to find as many items as they can
  • Without the label, see how many items Kid Scientists can find in the bottle
  • Place beads or tiles with letters that spell out your Kid Scientists name.  Challenge him to find all the letters in order.
  • With Older Kids, challenge them to find all the objects that are model of living things...then all the objects that are models of non-living things. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tub Time Paints...

This fingerpaint is great fun!
Ages: Little Kid Scientists

Materials: 2 c liquid dish soap (clear is best), 6 tbs cornstarch, food coloring, muffin tin

  • Mom's should mix dish soap and cornstarch together
  • Pour the solution into the muffin tin sections
  • Kid Scientists create paint colors by mixing in food colors
  • Kid Scientists can paint the inside of their bathtub, and themselves, before the water comes in & creates bubble bath
  • These paints can also be used on paper, like traditional finger paints

Monday, July 26, 2010

Exploring Density with Sugar Water...

Density is a physical property of matter and there are some great explorations for Kid Scientists to build background knowledge.

Ages: This is best for Big Kid Scientists

Food Coloring
Small Containers to mix solutions
Eye droppers or pipettes
Film canisters

  • Create four different sugar - water solutions, each with a different amount of sugar, but the same amount of water.  We used 1 cup of warm water with 1, 2, 3 and 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • Label each sugar solution with the amount of sugar.  We wrote on the plastic container with a dry erase pen (it washes off very easily)
  • Once each solution is stirred until all the sugar has dissolved, add a couple drops of food coloring.  Each solution should be a different color
  • The purpose of the exploration is to determine the relative density of each solution. Kid Scientists carefully try to layer the solutions into their film canisters.  Adding the most dense solution first will allow a less dense solution to layer.  Adding a less dense solution first causes the two to mix.

  • Encourage your Kid Scientists with questions like...What happens when you put red on top of blue?  What will happen if green is on top of yellow?  Predict what happens if blue is in first, what would layer on top? What did you figure out about the green solution?  The blue solution?
  •  Extension...try the same exploration with salt water solutions.  What do you notice?  What are the similarities?  What are the differences?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Reading for Big Kid Scientists...

 The Science Mommy believes that Kid Scientists should read, or be read to, every day.  Here are some favorite Science Fiction / Fantasy books for Big Kids to consider for summer reading...

The Arkadians by Lloyd Alexander...this is a great fantasy adventure story.  Very well written, this would also make a fun bedtime read-aloud.

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede...this is the first book in a series.  These books are so funny and well-written you will laugh out loud which means kids will connect reading to fun & entertaining.  One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from the first chapter of this book, "None of your nonsense please".

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle...oh, this is a classic.  The Science Mommy loves Madeleine L'Engle and still remembers being introduced to this book when she was in the 5th grade and meeting the author on more than one occasion! "It was a dark and stormy night..." This is an amazing adventure story through time and space to make a rescue, find a friendship and learn something important! 

Fablehaven by Brandon Kid Scientists have met Brandon Mull and heard him speak about his books.  This is also the first in a series that will leave kids spellbound and hanging on the edge of their seats.  One of the Science Mommy's favorite tricks to getting kids hooked on a book is to read out loud the first book of a series and then make sure the kids have access to the rest of the series.  A well-written book like this one will have them begging for more!  Connar says, "If you like fantasy, you should read this book.  It's very fantastical!"

Books like these can also prompt great conversations.  While visiting the zoo my youngest Kid Scientist wondered where the werewolves if we could see the werewolves.  What fun to have a chat about the difference between real and mythical animals.  Science is everywhere!

The Science Mommy would love to hear about what you're reading this summer.  Any book reviews by Kid Scientists will be posted on The Science Mommy!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lava Lamp Reaction...

This reaction is so cool, you're Kid Scientists are going to want to do it over & over!

Ages: This is best for the Big Kid Scientists, though the Little Kids will enjoy watching the reaction
Materials: clean plastic water bottle with lid, vegetable oil, water, food color, Alka Seltzer tablet

* Fill the bottle about 3/4 full of vegetable oil.  (There isn't a specific measurement, but you'll want more oil than water)
* Fill the bottle with water, nearly to the top.
* This is what happens to the oil and the water.
* Add about 10 drops of food coloring
* It's also pretty cool to watch what happens with the food color
* Divide the Alka-Seltzer tablet into 8 or 9 small pieces
* Drop the Alka Seltzer pieces into the bottle, one at a time.  Watch the reaction!
* When the reaction is done you can save your bottle with the cap on, and you can run the reaction again with another Alka-Seltzer tablet.

This investigation was originally posted by  Steve Spangler

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Glue Dough...

Here's another dough mixture...this one is really messy, but you can dry & keep your creations!

Ages: All ages of Kid Scientists can play with this dough, but it's probably best for the Big Kids to make

1/4 c. white glue
1/4 c. water
3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. cornstarch
food color

  • Mix white glue, water and food coloring in a small bowl
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour and cornstarch
  • Add the flour & cornstarch to the water & glue and mix really well.  The dough should be the consistency of bread dough.  You may need to add flour / cornstarch to thicken.
  • Your creations can be set on a paper plate or cover a plate with wax paper and set in a safe place to dry

Extensions:  The Science Mommy doesn't always point out the opportunity, but mixtures like this one are great chances to practice measuring.  
 Many middle and high school students are unable to measure accurately, and it's this lack of skill that causes problems for older Kid Scientists.  Give your kids lots of practice! 

Friday, July 16, 2010

What's all this?...

The Science Mommy and her Kid Scientists are setting up new investigations and explorations!  They are going to be amazing...check back on Monday!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book Club...


I decided to join the book club over at Chase-ing the Dream, and share a new favorite book for Kid Scientists...

Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship is an amazing story!  The book is illustrated in photographs much like the one on the front cover.  This book is more documentary than narrative, telling the story of a hippo separated from his pod.  Owen (the hippo) is relocated to an animal sanctuary and befriends Mzee, and ancient tortoise. 

My Kid Scientists love this book and I am sure yours will too!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Investigating Pendulums...

This investigation is a great opportunity for your Kid Scientist to explore variables.

Ages:  This investigation is best for Big Kid Scientists

Materials: String or yarn, bob such as a washer or round magnet, stopwatch or other timer, Lab Notes page (this will also help explain the investigation)

  • Set up a pendulum system

  • There are three manipulated variables you can investigate: the length of the pendulum, the weight of the bob and the angle the bob is released
  • The period of the pendulum is the time it takes the bob to go over & back one time
  • Practice timing the period and releasing the bob
  • Explore these questions:  Does this weight of the bob have an effect on the period?  What is the relationship between the length of the pendulum and the period?  Can you create a pendulum system with a 1 second period?  How?
What did you learn about pendulums?
Where can you find pendulums in the "real world"?

The Scientific Method...

The Science Mommy received a few questions regarding "The Scientific Method" and would like to offer an explanation of this process as it relates to Kid Scientists.  Kid Scientists, in their natural environment, are compelled by their own curiosity to discover, explore and investigate.  As I have mentioned before, this natural curiosity is often squelched when Kid Scientists are faced with classroom science in which there is an expected right and wrong answer.  Please remember the Science Mommy is a public middle school teacher - it is my daily dream to help change the system while being a part of the system.

"The Scientific Method" is often presented to students as the way scientists do science and is a series of steps that are to be memorized.  (Something like...Ask a Question,Write a  Hypothesis, Gather Materials,  Follow the Procedure, Collect Data, Write a Conclusion).  There is nothing wrong with any of those steps - except that they are often taught as steps to be memorized and conducted with predictable demonstrations rather than as thought processes in and of themselves.

The Science Mommy would offer a different way of looking at the process of science - Inquiry.  Inquiry can be defined in a variety of ways but I went to the the National Science Education Standards for a big picture definition:
"Inquiry is a step beyond ''science as a process," in which students learn skills, such as observation, inference, and experimentation. The new vision includes the "processes of science" and requires that students combine processes and scientific knowledge as they use scientific reasoning and critical thinking to develop their understanding of science. Engaging students in inquiry helps students develop

  • Understanding of scientific concepts.

  • An appreciation of "how we know" what we know in science.

  • Understanding of the nature of science.

  • Skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world.

  • The dispositions to use the skills, abilities, and attitudes associated with science.
    The Science Mommy hopes that the explorations and investigations you find here encourage your Kid Scientist to think, to look at the world in a new way, to discover something they didn't know, to ask questions and look for answers, to wonder.  If you are trying to connect the thinking and exploring your child is doing to grade level expectations...Contact Me ... I would love to help.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Adventure Books for Big Kid Scientists...

Some of the best summer reading is curling up with a fantastic adventure.  Here are some of the Science Mommy's favorites...

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
A young boy finds himself stranded in the wilderness after a plane crash.  This story is about his survival and what he learns in the process.

Canyon Winter by Walt Morey
Very similar story to Hatchet.  A young boy finds himself stranded in the wilderness and discovers unlikely help in the form of an old recluse.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
This is a great adventure story about a boy who leaves home to live alone in the woods.  His survival is a bit more believable because of his use of the library and trial & error.  A main character is the hawk, tamed by the boy.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Girls can survive in the wilderness too!  This classic story tells the tale of a young girl abandoned on an island and her struggles to survive.

How do these characters use science in their survival?  What are your favorite adventure stories? 

Thursday, July 8, 2010


This is a fun kitchen counter exploration.  Kid Scientists can explore on their own, while mom's working on something else.

Ages:  All ages of Kid Scientists will enjoy this mixture

Materials:  Corn starch, water, plastic bowl

  • Mix equal parts water with corn starch in a plastic bowl
  • Use your fingers to explore the mixture
  • When does this seem like a liquid?
  • When does it seem like a solid?
- Big Kid scientists may be interested in exploring Non-Newtonian fluids as a way of describing Ooblek
- Little Kid scientists will have fun with this Dr. Seuss exploration of Ooblek

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Exploring Pulleys...

Here is another chance to engage the natural curiosity of your Kid Scientist. 

Ages: Big Kid scientists will be able to describe the action of pulleys better as well as how they operate as a Simple Machine but Little Kids will also be able to explore at their own level.

Materials:  Pulleys, string or yarn, container & weights (the Science Mommy used a paper cup and rocks), a spring scale if you have one

Purpose: This exploration is designed to introduce Kid Scientists to Simple Machines.  Simple machines use mechanical energy to make work easier. Big Kid scientists may want to do some research on simple machines to learn more about the energy transfer within simple machines (look in the Kid Science Links).  There are three basic types of pulley systems.  The Science Mommy will introduce each one, the Kid Scientists can take their explorations as far as their questions will take them.

  • A spring scale will help determine if the pulley system reduces the amount of effort required to lift the load.  All of these pulley systems can also be explored without a spring scale.
  • Create a load.  The Science Mommy attached yarn to a paper cup and filled the cup with rocks.

    A fixed pulley is located above the load.  String is attached to the load and threaded through the pulley.  Pulling on the string uses the pulley to help lift the load up to the pulley.

  • A moveable pulley  is located on the load.  String is attached above the load, threaded through the pulley and pulled upwards to life the load. 

  • A block and tackle  or combination pulley system uses both a fixed pulley and a moveable pulley.  The string can either be anchored above the load or attached to the load.  Then it's threaded through the pullies. 

Questions to Explore:
How does one pulley work?
Does the size of the pulley matter?
Does the length of the string affect the pulley system?
What is the best way to use a pulley?
What is the most efficient pulley system?
Are there any disadvantages to using a pulley?
Where can you find examples of pulley systems in the "real world"?

Share what you learn with the Science Mommy!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Kid Scientists Reading...

Chloe, is a Kid Scientist who recently got her own copy of Albino Animals by Kelly Milner Halls. 

You can read what the Science Mommy had to say about this book, here.

What great books are you reading?