Skittles Experiment

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I’ve seen this experiment several places online and the results looked so impressive that I just had to try it out with the kids.  Check out the beautiful pics of our Skittles experiment!  I know that we’ll be repeating this experiment to see the beautiful color combinations–probably whenever we have company over.  They’ll think we’re magicians!

Materials:

  • Skittles
  • large plate
  • warm/hot water
  • measuring cup

Directions:

  1. Arrange Skittles in a circle around the outside edge of the plate, making sure to alternate colors.  Plate should sit on a level surface.  (This really does affect the outcome of the experiment!)
  2. Pour warm water in the middle of the plate so that it spreads out just beyond the line of Skittles.
  3. Watch closely because the colors will disperse fairly quickly.  Try not to shake the plate or it will cause the colors to shift about and muddy.

This experiment is a fun jumping off point for talking about diffusion.  You can see that concept in action by watching the colors diffuse through the water.

 

Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects by Jack Challoner

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I found Maker Lab when we went to the library in a nearby town.  I was hoping that we would be able to do a few of the projects in our homeschooling, but that will have to wait.  We’re packing up to move and most of our supplies are languishing in storage right now.

Premise:

This book is aimed at kids who want to do their own maker projects.  The 28 projects fall into four categories: Food For Thought, Around the Home, Water World, and The Great Outdoors.  Each project has a supply list, clear instructions, a sample, and a short explanation about how it works.  The pictures are colorful and engaging, and enhanced by whimsical doodles.  There is also a short glossary at the end of the book to explain some of the more scientific terms.

My thoughts:

If I were a child, I would want this book!  That’s because I’m a perpetual crafter/project-tackler.  Any child who enjoys doing those hands-on projects will get excited when they see the awesome projects they can complete themselves.

The illustrations and projects are great, but there are only 28 total projects.  So while this is a fun book, it will not keep the dedicated project-maker occupied for too long.  Once you’ve tackled all of the projects, it would be a nice gesture to pass it on to a friend.

I would recommend this book for children of all ages.  The younger ones will need help with the projects, and the older ones will gain satisfaction from completing the projects on their own.

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Hail

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A few weeks ago, we experienced some adverse weather in our area.  What I thought would be a regular thunder storm actually produced some rather large hail.  It was easily as big as the end of my thumb!

The kids and I took it as a learning opportunity.  We stood on our front porch, which is full of windows, and watched the hail bounce on the ground as it fell.  Once the hail was done falling, I ran outside and collected some in a bowl for the kids to explore.  We put a few in a smaller bowl and popped them in the freezer so that Daddy could see them when he got home.

I can’t remember the last time I saw hail this large!  And the kids really enjoyed this unexpected chance to explore a weather phenomenon!

Why not use real-life weather patterns to fuel a science discussion with your kids?

Rocks & Minerals Activity Kit

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This post contains an affiliate link.

We recently ordered the Rock & Mineral Collection Activity Kit from Dancing Bear on Amazon.  We’ve been wanting to explore samples like these ever since our trip to a nearby cave, but their prices at the store were exorbitant.

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This handy little kit came in a medium-small box.  It included an identification sheet with clear pictures and labeling (quite helpful for this mom who couldn’t identify rocks if her life depended on it).  It also came with a nice assortment of shark’s teeth, two arrowheads, an amethyst cluster, and two geodes that we could break open ourselves.  And just look at how beautiful these specimens are!  Fancy jewelry can’t even compare to the beautiful patterns in these rocks that come straight from the earth!

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I have to say that I’m very impressed by this little kit!  It kept my five kids busy looking at and classifying the different specimens for quite some time.  It also introduced them to the wonder of rocks, minerals and gems in a very hands-on way.  I love sparking children’s interest by allowing them to learn through hands-on exploration!

Some of the rocks in this kit have not been tumbled, so we were inspired to buy a rock tumbler to see what they will look like once they’re all polished.  We also checked out a couple of videos about geodes on Youtube and want to try out some geode hunting for ourselves.

I highly recommend this kit or something similar as an excellent supplement to your child’s homeschooling education!

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Caterpillars & Moths

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A few weeks ago we were visiting my parents when one of the kids came across a caterpillar.  My niece got a ventilated jar for the kids, filled it with some foliage and twigs, and deposited the caterpillar inside.  I didn’t even know we were taking it home until we got in the van and voila–there was an insect in a jar!

I set it on the bookshelf in the dining room and within a couple of days I noticed that the caterpillar had made itself a nice, silky little nest between two leaves.  I had no idea if a butterfly or moth would come out.  We left the jar alone so that the mystery insect could do its thing.

Until one night, right before bed, when I noticed that there was a moth sitting in the jar!  It worked!  I was concerned about the viability of the moth, hoping it would survive until we could let it out the next day.

After breakfast the kids and I took the jar outside, extricated the foliage and sticks, and coaxed the moth out onto a paper towel.

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We spent probably the next hour just watching our moth sit, flutter its wings, walk around, and generally get accustomed to life outside of a jar.  We got a portion of the paper towel wet so it could drink some water.  (If I’d been drying out in a cocoon for an extended period of time, I imagine I would get a bit thirsty, too.)  We watched it use its tongue to sop up some water.  After a while we went back inside and would poke our heads out to check about every ten minutes.  The moth sat there for quite some time, until over an hour later, when it finally decided to fly away.

This was a great experience for us and was a wonderfully hands-on way of learning about insects.

I kid you not, when we noticed that the moth had finally flown away, there was another (different) caterpillar on the steps.  Whereas the first one had been smooth and light green, this one was furry and yellow.  I quickly cleaned out the jar, stocked it with new foliage, and caught the caterpillar.  We had another mystery caterpillar to house until it could develop into an adult.

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This one took exactly one day to start building its cocoon, this time sort of wedged into the bottom near sticks and leaves.  It looked like a combination of silk and tiny brown foliage fragments, with some of the yellow hairs poking out.  The kids wanted to know if it was a moth or butterfly, so we did an Internet search.  We believe what we have is a either a Spotted Apatelodes (moth) or a Banded Tussock Moth.  I’m so curious to see this one when it emerges!

Why not have fun observing your local insects with your kids?  This is an extremely low-cost and interesting way to incorporate science into your schooling!

VCR Dissection

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Our poor old VCR quit working.  Really the silly thing wasn’t that old–only a few years.  I guess they don’t make machines like they used to.  Back when we bought it to replace our old one, I remember being shocked at the price.  $60 for a new VCR, when we were being told that they would soon be obsolete?  Huh?  Who had the bright idea to gouge people’s pocketbooks like that?

Well, as you can see, our $60 plastic box didn’t last.  Before letting it leave the house, Daddy pried it open with the boys and let them examine its innards.  He also deigned to plug it in sans protective plastic cover, much to my chagrin.  Hello–electrocution?!  As I stood watch like a hawk to make sure no fingers or metal objects wandered into the dangerous box, Daddy showed the boys how the video was opened and the tape fed through to be read.  It was interesting; I had no idea how it really worked inside.

Son 1 removed a few pieces of the VCR once it was unplugged.  That’s all we did with it, though.  Come to think of it, where did it end up?  Probably in a box in the basement.  A year from now I’ll open an unlabeled, lonely diaper box sitting forlornly on a shelf and there will be our old friend, Mr. VCR.

Non-Disintegrating Chalk Experiment

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We attempted to do an experiment with chalk, but it was a very sorry and disappointing endeavor.  I think chalk must be made differently from how it used to be made in the good old days.  Do they make it with a different substance or in an alternate manner?

For the procedure we measured equal amounts of vinegar, water and lemon juice into three separate glasses.  We then put an equal-sized piece of chalk into the three glasses.  Then we let them sit for days and days, checking them each day to see if there had been any changes.  There were only very slight changes to the chalk, when supposedly there should have been at least one very notable disintegration.  You can see from the picture above that only a slight reduction in the size of the chalk was all we achieved.

Our first experiment was done using colored chalk because that’s all I had in the house.  When we didn’t get the desired results, we thought maybe the colored chalk was to blame.  We tried again with white chalk, but got the same results.  Our only conclusion was that chalk is made differently from how it used to be.  Not the most exciting experiment ever!

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