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Balloon Rocket (topics: acid, base, gasses, measuring, Newton's 3rd law)
small bottle with a narrow opening (I use an old plastic dish soap bottle, well rinsed)
balloons, various sizes
clear glasses (2)
Ask child if they think air is real. Wave hands around, can we feel air? How do we know it's there? Can we see it? Tell child we can "see" air, in a way. Blow up balloon. Why does the balloon get bigger? Open the end of the balloon near the child's face; s/he can feel the air, too.
Put about a half cup of water in one clear glass and the same amount of vinegar in another. (If child has seen baking soda & vinegar mixed before, this works better.) Put about 1t of baking soda into the water. What happens? (nothing) Put 1t of baking soda into vinegar. What happens? Explain that vinegar is an acid and baking soda a base. When mixed they react AND they give off a gas called carbon dioxide (CO2). Can we see the gas? So how do we know if it's there? (Be prepared to answer what the difference between and acid and water is since water and vinegar look the same.)
Using the funnel, place about 1T of baking soda into one of the balloons. For smaller balloons, put as much baking soda in as will fit. Pour about 3cm (approx. 1 inch) of vinegar into small bottle. Place end of balloon over the mouth of the bottle, being careful not to allow baking soda to fall into vinegar until you're ready. Then, raise balloon and allow baking soda to fall into vinegar. As the reaction occurs and the gas rises, the balloon is blown-up. Now we can "see" the gas.
Carefully remove balloon from mouth of bottle. Now the balloon rocket is ready to launch. Feel free to provide an appropriate countdown.
Try the above experiment with different sizes of balloons and other liquids: lemon juice, pickle juice, orange juice, etc. Which combination work best?
We first did this experiment before a Space Shuttle launch. We talked about the shuttle engines and how them burning gives off a gas. We also talked about Newton's Third Law (equal and opposite reaction): as the carbon dioxide rushes out of the balloon the balloon moves the other way. We played with chairs w/ casters on a hard floor.
Bouncing Radar (Sonar)
ball that will bounce
hard cover book
room with a hard floor
Choose a room with a hard, not carpeted, floor. Have child stand holding the hard cover book at chest or stomach height facing you. Start with child about 1 meter away. Explain that you're going to gently throw the ball so it will bounce off the book and back to you. Gently throw the ball and note how quickly it comes back to you. Have the child back-up until they are about 2 meters away. Again, gently throw the ball at the book. Have the child compare the times from the first and second throw. Have the child continue to back-up various distances, repeating the gentle throw and bounce of the ball. Continue to ask the child to compare times. Now ask the child if they were at some nearby landmark. Would it take longer or shorter for the ball to reach back to you? Pick a landmark father away and ask the same question. Explain how radar is like the bouncing ball: the radar equipment sends out a signal and then times how long it takes for it to bounce back. The farther away the object, the longer it takes to get the signal back, just like the bouncing ball. If appropriate, a discussion of stealth can be started here, too.
tall clear glass
1/2 - 1 t baking soda
Pour glass 3/4 full of water; add vinegar. Do not stir. Drop raisin in glass. Watch it drop to the bottom of the glass. Add baking soda; DO NOT STIR. Adjust amount of baking soda for glass size (1/2t for smaller glass; 1t for larger one). Watch as the carbon dioxide bubbles attach themselves to the raisin and raise it to the surface. As they "let go" of the raisin, it falls back to the bottom and starts collecting bubbles again. Talk about why the bubbles collect on the raisin; what the bubbles are and why the float upwards.
Sink or Float (an oldie but goodie)
sink or other large container of water (I've even used a 2qt Rubbermaid container)
miscellaneous items: clothes pin, cork, bottle cap, penny, etc.
towels (it will be messy)
shallow tray if using a container of water
Allow child to place items in water. Encourage them to guess whether the items will sink or float before placing them in the water. [Note: my 3yo ran all over the house joyfully finding things to drop in the water for more than an hour.]
Rain Puddle Watch (Evaporation)
sidewalk chalk (note: for recipe on how to make your own, see 100+ Goo Recipes)
timer and some time
After a good rain, when the pavement has mostly dried but there are still puddle on it, go outside and look at the puddles. Closely trace the puddle on the pavement with the sidewalk chalk. Set a timer for thirty minutes to an hour, depending on how warm or sunny it is. After the set time, look at the puddle again and note the changes. Trace around the puddle again and set the timer. Repeat as often as it's interesting.
Make a Volcano
Dryer lint clay, 2 batches
4c dryer lint (firmly packed)
2/3c warm water
3/4c white glue (regular wood glue works, too)
2T clear dish soap
small paper cups
aluminum disposable pie pan
2 T corn starch
2 T (rounded tablespoons) baking soda
assortment of food coloring
Paraphrased directions from Dryer lint clay from 100+ Goo Recipes:
Allow children to tear dryer lint into small pieces and place into large mixing bowl. Due to the amount of dust this creates, I recommend either doing this outside or near a good stove vent that vents outside. Add remaining ingredients and knead until workable. (This is a very, very unique texture, one that definitely needs to be shared with the children.)
See Kitchen Volcanoes for instructions to make a volcano using the Dryer Lint Clay from above.
Bird Nest Basket (Springtime)
mesh onion bag (with the onions removed)
scraps of brightly colored cloth, string, twine, embroidery thread
Place scraps in mesh onion bag and hang in a tree. Watch as birds remove various pieces from the bag to build their nests. Take a walk to see if you can spot the items from your bag in bird's nests in your neighborhood.
glass jar (clean)
mesh & way to secure it to the glass jar
black construction paper
Layer dirt and sand in glass jar to within 3-4 centimeters of the top. Place worms on top of layers. Place leaves in the jar. Cover top of the jar with mesh and secure it to the jar. Wrap black construction paper around the jar and tape in place. Check jar in 2-3 days to see what's happened. Watch for a few more days. Turn the worms loose.
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