Friday, March 30, 2012

Nerdy Science is on Pinterest!

I joined Pinterest for Nerdy Science.  I thought  it would be fun to join the club, reach out to a broader audience, and link up with other like minded parents and educators.  So far, I'm liking it more than Facebook pages.  I'm slowly learning the ropes and how to pin and follow, but I'm finding it a pretty fun way to get and share ideas (and possibly feedback).

If you are on Pinterest, please follow Nerdy Science!

Also, any tips from Pinterest experts are welcome.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Getting a hard boiled egg into a bottle

This was an experiment I saw online a few years back, and I've always wanted to try it.

Q: How can you get an egg to fit into a bottle with an opening smaller than the egg?
A: Science!  Check it out!

  • Open mouth bottle - large enough for an egg to squeeze through it, but small enough to seal the top with an egg.  ***Please do not use a container that once held alcohol!***
  • Matches (for adult use only)
  • 1 peeled hard boiled egg*

  • Light a match (or 3 in our case).
  • Carefully place match(es) into bottle.
  • Cover the top with a hard boiled egg.
  • Watch and note what happens

  • We used a 32 oz Gatorade bottle (note J's red juice mustache).
  • We used rice as a "padding" for the fire since I was afraid that plastic burns.
  • We didn't show it, but one match didn't heat up the bottle enough to do anything.  3 matches worked well.

  • Video 1:

  • We had so much fun, J wanted to do it again! Queue video 2:

  • The fire from matches heats up the bottle, and having the egg on top of the bottle helps extinguish the fire.
  • As the bottle cools, the air contracts, pulling the egg into the bottle.
  • The trick then becomes seeing if you can get the egg back out.  We cut it up to get it out and properly recycled the bottle.
  • My favorite part of the experiment was the surprise when the egg got sucked in completely.  POP!

*edited to add this note: hard boiled eggs peel better when they are a few days old (something I didn't know since I don't eat eggs).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sensory - Hard Boiled Eggs

Easter will be J's first one with hard boiled eggs (again, I really don't like eating just eggs).  I decided to practice my egg making abilities (to which my husband said something to the extent of the whites tasting fine but the yolks were, I guess it wasn't great?)

For science, I decided to give J a hard boiled egg to see what he'd do with it.

Here's what happened:

My goal for this experiment was to see if he:
1. Knew just by looking that this egg was different than the ones he puts in his cookies.
2. Can figure out how to peel the egg with his hands.
3. Likes the taste of a hard boiled egg.

The results:
1. Nope, he tried to crack it like any typical raw egg.
2. Nope, that was too complicated for him.  I'm barely able to do it.
3. In terms of taste, it wasn't a hit though his first response was, "I like it!" It quickly grew into, "I don't like it."

Things you can incorporate:
1. Talk about the different textures of the hard boiled egg (slimy/smooth white, gritty-like yolk)
2. Add flavor (salt/pepper/other favorite spices) - how did that change the taste?
3. Cook different style eggs and talk about the differences in cooking methods and outcomes (texture, taste, etc).

Monday, March 26, 2012

Intro to Egg Experiments

So, if you are anything like me and eggs make you gag, you can be in your late 20s and never have made hard boiled eggs (gross).  My family growing up used to make and dye hard boiled eggs for Easter, and we'd end up wasting at least a dozen hard boiled eggs (because nobody ate them).  Dying Easter eggs was a big tradition that we eventually outgrew by mid-elementary school.  I have yet to dye eggs with J.  I'm beginning to think he's old enough to where it'll be a fun tradition to start.

Anyways, so what do you do with hard boiled eggs if you don't like them (or even if you do and can spare a few)?


Stay tuned and I'll be giving you some fun ideas of science you can do with eggs.

While you're waiting, check your cookbooks and/or Google your favorite way to hard boil your eggs and get a cookin'.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

You know when...'re a nerd when you celebrate Pi Day bigger than St. Patty's Day.

I don't think any of us are wearing green today.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I suggest going on a clover hunt.

*Where can we find clovers?
*What color are clovers?
*How many leaves do your clovers have?
*Can you find any clovers with a different number of leaves?
*Why do some clovers have a different number of leaves?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day 2012!

What kind of nerd would I be if I didn't wish you a Happy Pi Day?

Pi Pi(e)
We'll be eating the pi pi(e) (pictured above) in our lab, and then I'll be taking mini pi(e)s to J's class (I bring treats on important days: bdays and pi days).

Mini Pi(e)s for my mini friends

I think we'll miss celebrating at the proper time this year :-(.  I'll be sleeping when this is posted at 1:59am and there are some final project presentations scheduled for 2p in a class across campus.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

1 day till Pi Day!

Are you ready?  Check out how to prepare for pi day with the little ones.

I spent last night making mini-pi(e)s that we'll share with J's class tomorrow.

I also think I'll see if the kiddos can recite some of pi (or at least recognize the numbers).

Some other ideas to try for Pi Day:

Three years ago, I had my baby shower on Pi Day.  It was nerdy and fit well.  One of the fun activities my friends did was have guest talk about nerdy topics like Newton's 3rd Law of Motion or explaining the refrigeration process or combustion engines.  The person who was able to go the longest without saying "Um", "like," or any other filler/thinking word won.  It was pretty funny.  We also matched the scientist to their findings - so nerdy.  I have great friends.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Scientific Method

It's Science Fair time around our neck of the woods (hoods?).

As I've said before, I despised science growing up.  I really despised the requirement to do Science Fair on top of our crazy busy schedules.  You see, for us, science fair was only a high school requirement and only for those in honors level science courses - those college bound students who were already trying to do everything to get into college.  My first year I only needed to do a scientific proposal.  I don't remember what I did my second year for the experiment (pretty sure it sucked), and my third, I ended up winning the first place in my category (botany) at the district level.  I grew alfalfa sprouts under different colored lights (cellophane).  Nowadays, I dabble a lot in the scientific method through being a researcher and writing papers and abstracts (and reviewing others' research papers and the like).  It really isn't so bad.

From what I have observed around here, elementary schools have optional science fairs.  I like it at the elementary level.  The kids are super excitable and the experiments should be easy enough for the parent to guide the kid (instead of doing it for the kid).

For all of you parents freaking out about science fair, it's really not that difficult.  Here's the run down for what should be included for a good science fair project:

Objective/Purpose(s) - Why did you do this experiment?  Why do you think it's important?  Where did you get your idea?  This is where you state your hypothesis (your educated guess/prediction) on what you think would happen when you did this experiment and why you thought that would happen.

Materials and Methods - What supplies did you use for your experiment?  How did you set up your experiment?  Where was it set up (closet, outside, sunshine/shade, up high, on the grass/level table, etc.)?  How long did your experiment last?  What did you do?

This is a great place for pictures of your experimental set-up.  Before anything begins experimentally, snap a few pictures so everyone gets the bigger picture of what you are doing.  Be as clear as possible.  You want others to be able to repeat your experiment (and hopefully your results!).

Results - What happened?  This is a matter-of-fact rundown of what went down with your experiment.  No need for interpretation here.  Just show what happened through pictures, pretty graphs, detailed descriptions.

Discussions - Why did the experiment turn out the way it did?  This is where your interpretation happens.  Support your statements and results by ideas others have shown or imperfections in your experiment and why certain things happened/didn't happen (ie. our 3 banana balloon experiment grew mold, so we don't know if the balloon could have grown bigger).

Conclusions - What is the take away message of your experiment?  Is there anything you would do differently if given a "do-over" or a "let's investigate further" opportunity?

Presentation is a good portion of science fair.  If you can't present your project in a logical way, many people will just walk on by and not even talk to you about your cool project.

Your best bet is to use a trifold for the poster board display.  It's great because it stands up on it's own.  You can also bring your experiment set-up and/or results and place it in front of your board for show-and-tell.  This is my example trifold set-up.

Tips and pointers for science fair display:
  • You'd want to use at least 36 pt font so people can read it from a comfortable distance.
  • Use a normal font, please, at least for the content/bulk of your poster (in the real world, chose a sans serif font, like Arial).
  • Don't use too many words.  Nobody wants to read paragraphs (there's a lot of science to get to!).
  • Size up and bold the headers (ie Objective, Materials/methods, possibly use all CAPITAL letters - it's up to you or the requirements set forth by your school/organization).
    • I used colored cardstock paper to give my headers an outline boarder back in my science fair day.  If you chose this route, please select complimentary/corresponding colors.
  • Bullets and/or numbered lists can be your best friend when it comes to organization.
  • At the elementary school level, most of the presentation will be methods and materials.  It's important for kids to learn what they did and how to express that logically in a step-by-step manner.  I gave it a whole 1/3 of the poster board.  Feel free to adjust as you see fit.  Most of my scientific posters have the materials/methods starting in the bottom of column 1, and the results start in the bottom of column 2 and go to top of column 3.
  • Possibly bold your main purpose and the main conclusion as your BAM! take away message.

Now for some fun science fair ideas:
  • Banana/balloon experiment -try the experiment in different areas (sunlight vs closet, warm vs fridge), maybe try to compare a decomposing banana to a different decomposing fruit, compare different sized containers? How big did your balloon get? Which condition made the balloon expand first?
  • Race car experiment - how far does your race car go on different surfaces? Use the same ramp and car on different surfaces (ie. tile/gravel/aspalt).  Measure the differences and come up with some conclusions on why cars travel further on certain surfaces.
  • Balloon race car experiment - buy a cheap balloon race car or make one of your own.  Compare balloons of different sizes/volumes and/or how far each travels on different surfaces. Does the size or shape of your race car matter?
  • If you have time, grow your experiments, try plants:
    • Grow plants in different pots filled with different materials (soil, soil with enrichment, dirt, gravel, etc).
    • Feed your plants different liquids (water, soda water, soda, juice, etc.).
    • Grow a plant upright and a plant on its side (tipped over pot)

This list is in no way inclusive, but hopefully can spark some easy to do at home experiments.

Science Bob also has some good science fair ideas if you want to look through some of those ideas.

Also, I'd love to have (young) guest bloggers writing about their science fair projects here!  It'll be like a mini science fair.  Email me if you are interested in guest blogging.

Related Post: Keeping a science lab notebook.

End of Balloon Experiment

The banana blowing up a balloon experiment started at the end of January and got exciting with a larger balloon after about 10 days later, really after we had forgotten about it.

Around the same time, we decided to fill a bottle with three mushy bananas, mainly to see if more bananas = bigger balloon.

It took 6 days for three bananas to blow up the balloon to 5.8 cm.  However, at day 6, there was noticeable mold and no change in diameter of the balloon afterward.

The bananas in both bottles came from the same bunch - it's just the three bananas were 10 days more "extra ripe".  The bottles were side by side once the 3 banana bottle was set-up.

Look - the original experiment is still standing though.  It reached a diameter of 6.8 cm by day 15.  It has since shrunk, making J sad that the balloons are small now:

Anyways, now it's time to toss these bottles.  I don't think we'll get into microscopy quite yet.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Number Puzzles

We went to In N Out** earlier in the week (mainly because it's next to Costco and I didn't feel like cooking or stressing about dinner and shopping).  In N Out gives their younger guests stickers.  However, J was handed two sheets of stickers.   One of them was the standard stickers with palm trees and old fashioned cars.  The other sheet was what I thought was 100 times cooler.  It was a puzzle.  The pieces were the stickers, jumbled all on the backside. There was a number grid to stick the corresponding sticker on the other side.  To my surprise, J can recognize all 16 numbers and constructed the puzzle all by himself.

**You guys are going to think I'm a junkfood junkie!  Despite my posts about McD's straw rockets and now my praise for In N Out, we only do fast food once in a while.