Category Archives: Science Experiments

Surface Tension – Pepper Scatter

Surface Tension – Pepper Scatter

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The surface layer of liquids has a thin elastic “skin” called surface tension. You can see surface tension at work when you see a drop of water – it creates a little “bead” of water, like a little dome. Surface tension is what makes the dome shape – the water doesn’t flatten out. See the drops of water on that leaf? Water is made up of two kinds of atoms, hydrogen and oxygen. The name for the water molecule is H20. The water molecule has 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom. Water molecules are attracted to each other because hydrogen atoms and oxygen atoms are attracted to each other and hug close together really tight. They hug so close together they don’t want to touch other molecules around them. In the picture, you can see that the water drops have formed into balls so that they are touching the smallest amount of leaf possible.

Try this to see surface tension at work:

What You Need:

  • bowl
  • water
  • pepper
  • toothpicks
  • dish soap

Fill the bowl with water. Sprinkle some pepper on top of the water – see how it just sits there on top of the water? The pepper is resting on that thin “skin” of surface tension. You can also try this with toothpicks – the toothpicks will also just sit on top of the water resting on the thin “skin” of surface tension.

No put a few drops of dish soap in the water with the pepper. What happens? Soap molecules are different than water molecules. Soap molecules DON’T stick together and they DON’T stick to the water molecule. One part of the soap molecule is attracted to water and the other part wants to push water away – that’s what makes the pepper, or the toothpicks, scatter. The soap breaks the surface tension that water has, it breaks those bonds between the water molecules.

Here are some books and websites to help you explore more about surface tension:

More IndyPL Experiments about Surface Tension:

Science Experiments that Fly and and Move: Surface Magic (pages 6-7)

Science Experiments that Fly and Move Water Science Fair Projects

Words to Know:

Surface Tension –  The film that forms on the surface of liquids caused by the attraction of the particles in the surface.
Cohesion – The attraction between like molecules; to stick together.

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Static Electricity: Salt & Pepper Separater

Static Electricity: Salt & Pepper Separater

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To understand electricity, you have to first understand the atom, the basic building block of all matter. Matter is all of the “stuff” in the universe. Matter is made up of atoms. Atoms have a nucleus, an inner core that is made up of neutrons which have no charge, and protons which have a positive charge. Atoms also have orbitals, particles that are located around the nucleus. These are called electrons and these have a negative charge.

If you had some salt and pepper and you mixed the two together, how long would it take you? Not long if you know how to do it.

What You Need:srpstaticpepperpour

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Plate
  • Balloon
  • Measuring Spoon

Blow up the balloon and tie it closed. Pour 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper onto the plate and stir it around. Rub the balloon back and forth quickly on the top of your head. Now hold the balloon close to the plate. What happens to the pepper flakes? What happens to the salt flakes?

Here are some websites that will help you understand how static electricity works:

srpstaticpepperstickWhen you rub the balloon on your hair the friction caused by the hair and the balloon rubbing against each other causes the electrons from your hair to transfer to the balloon. This gives the balloon a negative charge. When you held the balloon over the dish of pepper, the pepper stuck to the balloon because the pepper has protons and a positive charge. Just like with magnets…opposites attract.

Science Experiments That Surprise and Delight Salt and Pepper Separator (page 10-11)

That Surprise and Delight All Charge Up a Look at Electricity Understanding Electricity Electricity
Electricity Explore Electricity

Words to Know:
Electricity – Energy that comes from charged particles like electrons or or protons.
Static Electricity – An electric charge that is caused by friction. It typically causes a spark or a crackling sound. It can also make light things move…like hair or dust or a feather.
Electron – The part of the atom that has a negative charge. Electrons are orbital, meaning they are not located in the atom’s nucleus.
Proton (positive) – The part of the atom that has a positive charge. It is located in the atom’s nucleus.
Neutron – The part of an atom that has no electric charge. It is located in the atom’s nucleus.  (Except hydrogen…that one kind of atom does not have any neutrons.)
Nucleus – The positively charged The central core of an atom. It is positively charged because that is where the proton’s are.

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Supersaturated – Borax Crystals & Rock Candy

Supersaturated – Borax Crystals & Rock Candy

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srpboraxsetup2Crystals are made when a substance has atoms or molecules that form in a very organized, repeating, 3D pattern. Usually when we think of crystals we think of some well-known gemstones like diamonds or rubies, but there are some very common crystals too. Sugar, ice, snowflakes, salt…all of these are crystals. You can make your own crystals grow.

srpboraxsnowflakeunder

You will need:

  • Glass Jar
  • Pencil or Pen
  • String
  • Pipe Cleaner
  • Borax
  • Pitcher
  • Measuring Cup
  • Tablespoon
  • Hot Tap Water
  • Piece of Yarn or Cotton String, about 6 inches long

You can make crystals using Borax – a detergent booster located in the soap section of the grocery store. We made a snowflake shape out of pipecleaners to see if we could make a snowflake crystal. Fill a pitcher with 3 cups hot tap water. (Not so hot that you can’t touch it!) Add 3 tablespoons of Borax for each cup of water (9 tablespoons!). Stir the mixture.

If all of the Borax dissolves, add a little more Borax and stir. Add Borax until the water can’t dissolve it anymore –  the mixture is saturated. That means the water is holding as much of the Borax as it can. In fact, this solution is supersaturated, that means the water is holding even more Borax than it normally would because the water has been heated. Now pour this supersaturated solution in the glass jar.

Make a shape out of the pipe cleaners and tie one end of the string to it. Tie the other end of the string to the middle of the pen. Hang the pipe cleaner shape down in the jar with the pen across the top of the jar to keep it from touching the bottom of the jar. Watch what happens in the jar over the next few weeks.

srpboraxgrowth

Here is what our crystals looked like after growing on the pipe cleaner snowflake for about 2 weeks. The secret to good crystals is having a supersaturated solution.

Science Project Idea: Grow three different borax crystal snowflakes. You need three glass jars that are exactly alike. Fill one with cold tap water and one with hot tap water. Get an adult to help you fill the last jar with boiling water. Now add Borax to each jar until the Borax will not dissolve anymore. The warmer the water, the more Borax will dissolve in the water. That’s because heating the water helps it become supersaturated. Now add the pipecleaner snowflakes and compare the crystals that grow over the next couple of weeks. Which jar has the most crystals? Which jar has the largest crystals?

This video shows you how to make rock candy – a cool crystal you an eat. To make rock candy you need to make a supersaturated solution. That means you have to heat up the water on the stove, so get a grown-up to help you with this one.

Here are some websites that give you ideas for making crystals. You can grow crystals using salt, sugar, baking soda and many other substances.

Here is a video that shows you some super fast crystal growing:

Here are some books that gave good directions for growing different kinds of crystals:

  • Science Rocks! Crystal Creation Pipecleaner crystal snowflakes (pages 16-17)
  • Prize Winning Science Fair Projects for Curious Kids – Crystal Creation (pages 81-82)
  • Mixtures and Solutions – Solubility Try This! Growing Crystals (page 22-23)
Science Rocks Science Projects for Curious Kids Mixtures and Solutions Crystal and Gem
What Are Crystals? Let's Rock Crystals Groovy Gems

Words to Know:
Crystal – A solid whose atoms or molecules are arranged in a 3-dimensional repeating pattern. Examples: A snowflake, a sugar crystal, a diamond.
Crystallized – The process of crystal growth or crystal formation.
Dissolve – To mix two substances together and have the molecules of one substance spread out between the molecules of the other substance.
Saturated – When a liquid is holding as much of a solid as it can. It has dissolved all of the solid it can hold.
Supersaturated – When a liquid is holding as much of a solid as it can…but then can dissolve a little more because it is heated.

 

 

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Solubility – Sharpie Pen Tie Dye

Solubility – Sharpie Pen Tie Dye

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What You Need:srpmesssetup

  • White T-Shirt
  • Permanent Markers (Sharpies)
  • Plastic Cup
  • Rubber Band
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Dropper

Stretch part of the white t-shirt over the top of the plastic cup and secure it with the rubber band – it will look like a little drum. Choose one of the colors of srpmessbandSharpie pen and make dots in the center of the t-shirt circle. Choose another color and make more dots. Repeat. The circle of color should be about the size of a quarter. Now slowly squeeze about 20 drops of rubbing alcohol into the center of the circle of dots. Drip the rubbing alcohol really slowly. What do you see happening to the ink? Let the ink dry for about 5 minutes and then you can move the cup to a different part of the shirt. When you are done making colorful circles put the shirt in the dryer for about 15 mintues to set the colors.srpmessdots

Sharpie pens are permanent markers. That means that the ink will not come off with water. If something will dissolve in water it is soluable. If something will NOT dissolve in water it is called hydrophobic. Permanent marker ink is hydrophobic. The permanent ink WILL dissolve in rubbing alcohol. That is why the colors “run” to make the pretty pattern.

srpmessrainbow

Science Project Idea:

Try this method of tie dying with different kinds of markers and pens. Test whether the ink in the pens is soluable or hydrophobic. HINT: the word “washable” would be a clue to help you guess the answer to that question.

Here are some books and websites that will help you explore more about soluability and why sharpies and alcohol make such great 5 minute tie dye:

Mix It Up Mixtures and Solutions Mixtures and Solutions

Words to Know:

Soluable – Able to dissolve in water.
Dissolve – When a solid comes apart and spreads out into a liquid…like kool aid in water.
Hydrophobic – Not able to dissolve in water.

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Saturation – Growing Crystals

Saturation – Growing Crystals

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Crystals are made when a substance has atoms or molecules that form in a very organized, repeating, 3D pattern. Usually when we think of crystals we think of some well-known gemstones like diamonds or rubies, but there are some very common crystals too. Sugar, ice, snowflakes, salt…all of these are crystals. You can make your own crystals grow.

You will need:srpcrystalpour

  • 2 Glasses or Jars
  • 1 Plate
  • 1 Spoon
  • 2 Paper Clips
  • Hot Tap Water
  • Piece of Yarn or Cotton String, about 6 inches long
  • Baking Soda

srpcrystalstring1Fill each glass with water. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to each glass. Stir the mixture. If all of the baking soda dissolves, add a little more baking soda and stir. Add baking soda until the water can’t dissolve it anymore, the mixture is saturated. That means the water is holding as much of the baking soda as it can. You can add a few drops of food coloring to each glass to make the crystals colorful. Tie a paper clip to each end of the piece of yarn or string. Drop one paperclip into each glass letting the string dangle in a smile shape in between the glasses but not touching the plate. Watch the string over the next few days to see the crystals form along the string.

The picture on the right shows you what the srpcrystalsgrowth2baking soda crystals will look like after a few days. As the days go by and the water in the baking soda solution evaporates, the level of the water will go down. Make sure the end of the string with the paper clip on it stays submerged in the baking soda water in the glass.

Science Experiment Idea

Grow more than one kind of crystal. Use salt, sugar, and baking soda. Keep a chart as you observe how the crystals grow over the next few weeks. Which one do you think will grow the biggest? Which one will form the fastest?

Here is a video that shows you some super fast crystal growing:

Here are some books and websites that give you ideas for making crystals. You can grow crystals using salt, sugar, baking soda and many other substances.

Science Rocks Science Projects for Curious Kids Mixtures and Solutions Crystal and Gem
What Are Crystals? Let's Rock Crystals Groovy Gems

Words to Know:
Crystal
– A solid whose atoms or molecules are arranged in a 3-dimensional repeating pattern. Examples: A snowflake, a sugar crystal, a diamond.
Crystallized – The process of crystal growth or crystal formation.
Dissolve – To mix two substances together and have the molecules of one substance spread out between the molecules of the other substance.
Saturated – When a liquid is holding as much of a solid as it can. It has dissolved all of the solid it can hold.

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