Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Look Mom! It sticks!"

Fun with friction!

Felt and fleece work really well when it comes to adhering to other materials using friction alone. This is a great, quick science lesson to hypotheses about what will and won't stick vertically on things. Would the pillow stick to the wall? What about a heavier pillow? Would silky objects stick to the couch? Would silky objects stick to the wall? What if the materials were wet? Experiment and have some fun!

What can you stick to the back of your couch?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Doing science with your kids blog

Christopher Danielson has been a reader of this blog since the beginning. He started the Talking Math with Your Kids blog where he discusses how he and his young children talk about math. We follow each other on Twitter where he virtually introduced me to Casey Rutherford. Inspired by Talking Math with Your Kids, Casey started the hashtag "#dswyk" which stands for "doing science with your kid(s)," and I promptly joined the #dswyk party. A few days/weeks (I'm oblivious to time at this point in my life, thanks to Miss Baby J) later, he created a blog: Doing Science with Your Kids, and now I'm a contributor.

My first entry is a lesson on sink or float led by my 5-year old boy, J. Does a Duplo sink or float? The answer might surprise you. Click on over to check it out!

I'll still be using this as my main blog and contributing as I can to Doing Science with Your Kids.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Baking soda and vinegar volcanoes via a 5 year old

A few weeks ago, J woke me up from a much needed nap telling me that he wanted to do science. I asked what he wanted to do, and he really wanted to do balloon science, particularly baking soda and vinegar blows up a balloon. Frankly, I wanted to do something else (because though fun, it is a quick experiment that we've done more than once), but we kept the baking soda and vinegar part of the science he wanted to do. I asked him if he wanted to do volcanoes. He gave us an enthusiastic, "YES!"

Being lazy and having a new baby (who at the time was content), I didn't want to spend time looking up the experiment online. We decided to experiment on our own on how much baking soda vs. how much vinegar and the size of the container we were using for the experiment.

Mountainous material for the volcano:
I admit again that I am lazy. J had been given a lot of Play-Doh for a birthday last year, so I'd figure we'd use some up by covering the paper cup in different shades of Play-Doh. I don't want to be crafty at this point in my life, but here is a homemade playdough recipe if you'd like (painted paper mache volcano might be better if you have time to plan ahead and want it to look cool). The Play-Doh got soggy, but held up. We tossed it after we were done though we were thinking of saving it before we started, which is why we only put a small amount of orange and red on our volcano. We remained lazy and just used the Play-Doh container, without any decoration, to test a smaller container. J enjoyed it just as much as the decorated volcano since the "wow" factor is in the interaction between the baking soda and vinegar.

Place volcano in a pan with high sides, or you'll have quite a mess to clean up afterwards.

Amount of baking soda:
We used 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of baking soda as a starting point. We also used 2 tbsp, but 1 was enough to give multiple eruptions with our amount of vinegar, see note below on limiting reagents. We placed the baking soda in the cup first.

Note: We started with about 1/2 of a box of leftover old baking soda from the last time we switched it in the fridge, so there was plenty to experiment with.

Amount of vinegar:
We had a little under 1/2 gallon of vinegar to experiment with though we initially weren't planning to use it all. An adult poured it into a small 8 oz cup for J to handle. You definitely don't need a 1/2 gallon of vinegar, but we buy it by the gallon because it's cheaper and we can use it in impromptu experiments.

Size of container:
It turns out that if you have limited resources (ie. minimal amounts of mountainous materials, baking soda, or vinegar), go with a smaller container. If not, the bigger container works just fine.

Let your little one lead. We let J measure the baking soda and gave him the vinegar in a kid size cup. He knew what to do from other baking soda/vinegar experiments. I thought the reaction was over after the first pass of vinegar. J's curiosity lead to the discovery that 1 tbsp of baking soda can lead to multiple "eruptions" (reactions).

With 1 tbsp of baking soda, the unmeasured vinegar (under 8 oz) poured in spurts seemed to be the limiting reagent. We poured more vinegar, and the reaction kept going. This is an advance concept for preschoolers, but you can definitely point it out and see if they follow.

After experiment free play:
I'm big on letting my 5 year old continue to play once the experiment is over. This experiment resulted in a sensory bin since there was a big glup of baking soda in basically water. However, when he transferred his pile of baking soda from one part of the tray too another, he got a sizzle. There was still a reaction left!

And apologies for the shaking camera. I was helping J with the experiment, and John was juggling the camera and this cute nugget:

She liked the volcanoes too. Well, at least she didn't fuss.

Have you experimented with baking soda and vinegar volcanoes? How did you model the volcano?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What scientific things catch my infant's interest?

*Pictures (perception, depth, light, colors)
*Looking through a window (perception, depth, light, colors)
*The baby in the mirror above her swing (reflections)

It's amazing how quickly babies grow and develop. According to my "What is your baby doing this week?" email, at 7 weeks, she should be seeing more colors and in 3D. We've definitely noticed her focusing on objects at a distance. She definitely enjoys contrast. Blinds are some of her favorite things to stare at, and if I raise the blinds, she gets so excited to look out the window and explore the world with her new, sweet eyes. The best thing we can do is safely facilitate her curious interests (ie. don't let her stare into the sun b/c she likes light) and discuss what she sees.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How early is too early to start science?

Miss Baby J is now 6 weeks old. Time is flying by, when it's not 2 am.

We're starting to get into a routine now that our special helpers/visitors have all gone home, which means that it's just me and Miss Baby J during the day (when J's at preschool). Research tells us that we should talk to our babies starting as young as possible, but what should we talk about? Science!

She is calmer when she hears my voice, so I do love talking to her. Here are some things that I've talked about with Miss Baby J:
  • Kiss a body part and talk about the body part (anatomy) - my personal favorite.
  • Count fingers, toes, and other body parts (math).
  • Colors (physics).
  • The weather (physics/thermodynamics).
  • Sing songs, clap rhythms (music).
  • Identify noises we hear (physics/fluid dynamics).
  • How anything we come across that catches her attention works (various science categories).
  • Facts about different animals while pointing out the animal in J's and her stuffed animals (biology).
  • Trees and other plants (biology).
What do you discuss with your infant?