Tag Archives: Science Experiments

Make a Kaleidoscope

Make a Kaleidoscope

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Many of you have probably played with a kaleidoscope. It is a tube that you hold up to your eye. You point the tube toward light and then slowly turn it. As you turn the tube you can see patterns of colors at the other end of the tube. A kaleidoscope works by reflecting light.

Light travels in a straight line. When light bumps into something it changes direction. If light bumps into something shiny it reflects back in the direction it came from. Think of light like a bouning ball. In a kaleidoscope there are shiny surfaces. If you make your own kaleidoscope you can use mirrors or aluminum foil. When you point the kaleidscope toward light, the light enters the kaleidoscope and reflects back and forth between the shiny surfaces inside the kaleidoscope. Since you have filled the end of the kaleidoscope with little shiny objects, the light bounces off those too and makes the interesting patterns of color. As you turn the kaleidoscope the little shiny objects move which makes the patterns of color move.

Here is a video that will show you how to make your own kaleidoscope:

Here are some websites and books that will help you understand how kaleidoscopes work or build your own:

Stomp Rockets, Catapults & Kaleidoscopes
Build Your Own Mini Golf Course (Kaleidoscope page 18)

Stomp Rockets Catapults and Kaleidoscopes Build Your Own Light and Sound Tricks of Light and Sound

Words to Know:

Reflect: To bounce off.

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Hydrologic (Water) Cycle: Make a Terrarium

Hydrologic (Water) Cycle: Make a Terrarium

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srpwatercycleAll of the water on the earth is in constant motion. Water falls to the earth as rain and then evaporates back up into the air making clouds. Then the water falls back down to earth again as rain. This cycle is call the hydrologic or water cycle.

To see how the hydrologic cycle works you can make your own little model of the earth in a terrarium. A terrarium is a little garden inside a sealed container.

What You Need:srpterrariumparts

  • a Clear Plastic or Glass Container With a Lid
  • Stones
  • Soil
  • Plants
  • Water
  • Little Toys for Decoration (optional)

When you poor water into your terrarium that is the beginning of the water srpterrariumsingle1cycle. You essentially have made it rain in your little glass world. When you set your terrarium in the sun the water inside the terrarium heats up and turns into water vapor in the air. This is called evaporation. When the water cools back down, it turns back into a liquid.  You will see condensation – water droplets – sticking to the lid of your terrarium. If the drops get large enough, they will roll down the sides of the container or fall from the lid – rain!

srpterrariumcloseup31The close-up on the left shows the condensation that began to form on the inside of the jar after only 1 hour sitting in the sun.

If there is too much water just open the lid and let some of the water evaporate. If your plants look wilted or dry, try adding a little more water. It might take some trial and error to get the amount of water needed just right.

Here are some websites and books that give you step by step directions for making a terrarium:

 

Terrariums for Kids Super Simple Things To Do With Plants Earth's Cycles Living Sunlight

Science Experiment Idea: Make three identical terrariums. You have to use the same kind of container, the same amount of soil & the same plants. Make your variable (the thing you are going to test) the amount of water you put into the terrariums. Measure a different amount of water into each terrarium. Close the lids and watch the terrariums over several days to see which amount of water made the best environment for your plants. A terrarium with too little water will have dry plants. A terrarium with too much water will have plants with yellow leaves and maybe even mold growing on the soil!

Words to Know:

Terrarium - A clear container with a lid used for growing plants.
Hydrologic (Water) Cycle – The movement of water from liquid to gas (evaporation) and from gas to liquid (precipitation).
Condensation – Water vapor cooling off and changing to liquid water.
Evaporation – Liquid water heating up and changing to water vapor.
Precipitation – Rain, snow, or hail.

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Cell Respiration: Balloon Blow Up

Cell Respiration: Balloon Blow Up

The Science of a Loaf of BreadFind More Science Experiments

When people and animals breath their bodies take oxygen into the lungs where it is passed into the blood. This is called respiration. There is another kind of respiration that goes on inside living organisms and that is called cellular respiration. During cellular respiration cells convert oxygen to carbon dioxide and water during a chemical reaction that happens inside the cell.

Yeast is a single cell organism that metabolized sugar and turns it into carbon dioxide and water. In this experiment you will be able to “see” the colorless, odorless gas that is carbon dioxide. You will know it is present because it will fill a balloon.

What You Need:

  • Empty Water Bottle
  • Yeast
  • Warm Water
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • Balloon

Put one packet of dry yeast into an empty liter soda bottle. Add about an inch of warm water to the yeast. Now add 1 tsp of sugar. Swirl this mixture around a little bit. Blow up a balloon and then let the air out again just to get it stretched a little. Now take the balloon and stretch its opening over the mouth of the water bottle. Check on the balloon every five minutes for the next half our or so. What happens to the balloon?

Science Experiment Idea: Try this experiment with three different soda bottles. Add the yeast to each one. Make your variable the substance you add to the yeast. Put water in bottle #1, soda in bottle #2, diet soda in bottle #3. You could try different kinds of juice, milk, etc. Which substance do you think will blow up the balloon the best? Why?

Here are some websites and books that will help you understand and explore yeast and cell respiration:

Kitchen Science Experiments Science Experiments That Fizz and Bubble Science Projects for Curious Kids

Words to Know:

Respiration – Breathing, bringing oxygen into the blood.
Cell Respiration – The process cells use to convert oxygen into carbon dioxide and water. This is a little different than breathing. During cell respiration the cell takes in oxygen and gives off carbon dioxide during a chemical reaction inside the cell. This is the exact opposite of photosynthesis. During photosynthesis plant cells take in carbon dioxide and water and give off oxygen.
Metabolic – A chemical reaction that happens inside a living organism.
Yeast – A tiny little single cell fungus that can convert sugar into carbon dioxide. It makes a little chemical reaction all by itself.
Carbon Dioxide -A colorless, odorless gas that is made by animals and people when they breath, or by cells when they respirate. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by plants during photosynthesis.

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Potential & Kinetic Energy – Marshmallow Catapult

Potential & Kinetic Energy – Marshmallow Catapult

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Every object on earth has potential energy. That means it COULD move even if it isn’t right now. When an object IS moving it has kinetic energy.

In today’s demonstration you are going to store energy in a spring. That spring will have the potential to move, but it won’t move until you let it move. The catapult you make is going to transfer energy from the spring to a marshmallow. The marshmallow will have potential energy until the catapult releases, then the marshmallow will have kinetic energy as it flies through the air.

You Will Need:

Here are some websites and books that will help you understand energy:

  • US Energy Information Administration: What is Energy?
  • Physics4Kids: Energy Around Us
  • ENWIN Utilities: Types of Energy
  • Gadgets and Gizmos Chapter on Energy “Energize” (pages 111-136).  Marshmallow Catapult (Pages 120-122).
  • Science Experiments That Fly and Move (pages 12-13) Marshmallow Shooter
That Fly and Move Stomp Rockets and Catapults Gizmos and Gadgets

Words to Know:

Energy – the ability to move things or do work; a force acting through a distance.
Potential Energy – Stored energy.
Kinetic Energy – The energy of motion.
Catapult – A device used to throw an object…like a slingshot or a medieval catapult the knights at a castle might use.

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Engineering – Build a Bridge

Engineering – Build a Bridge

Amazing Bridges to Design Build and TestFind More Science Experiments

What You Need:

  • Dry Spaghetti, Fetuccine, Straws or Bamboo Kabob Skewers
  • Small Gumdrops,  Small Marshmallows or Square Carmels

Here are some websites and books that will help give you great ideas for designing and building your own bridge. Make a simple design and then try to build it with different materials. Which materials work best? Can you figure out why?

Amazing Bridges to Design Build and Test Fabulous Bridges How Did They Build That Bridge
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