Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wedding Reception Science: Sink or Float

Wedding receptions can be tricky with a four year old. Luckily, J loves science!

I think J accidentally dropped something in his lemonade, and instead of making a fuss about it, we turned it into a game/science lesson. Thankfully, the reception was outside, and this game wasn't too messy.

*Note that an item being more dense than water/lemonade doesn't necessarily mean it is heavier. However, heavier and lighter are terms a four year old can understand.

I love when we can find an impromptu science lesson.

Related Posts:
*Submarine Sink/Float

Monday, July 22, 2013

Curly Green Bean and Garden Update

I love the differences in nature.

Remember our garden? It was so great that the neighbor rodents were enjoying the cucumbers more than us! We would leave the cucumbers to get just a little bigger, and then they'd disappear overnight! The biggest ones were getting to be about half of the size of grocery cucumbers:

I was getting very frustrated. Right around the same time, MaryAnne at Mama Smiles posted about keeping animals away from your garden with pepper. I tried it, and we got a few more cucumbers, but these animals were relentless. I finally got frustrated enough to buy netting. We put it all around our planter and made a few holes, which we tied up with twisty ties (so we can access our produce easier). The sneaky animals have found a way to eat through the mesh, but we tied that up those holes too. The last two weeks, we've been having a lemon cucumber and a regular (almost store size) cucumber a night.

The animals don't like our green beans (they are missing out because they are awesome right off the vine - we're a raw veggie kind of family). They also haven't touched our green peppers. I'm thinking they like the cucumbers due to the water content. The cucumbers seem to go missing on very hot days.

In terms of other problems we've encountered in our garden:
1. Our leaves turned yellow: the internet says this can be caused by basically anything, like over watering, under watering, not enough nitrogen, not enough iron, disease, bugs, etc. We tried not watering and watering more with no change. We bought plant/vegetable food from the local hardware/garden store and fed our plants. They were looking much greener two days after the food, which included nitrogen. Our box of plant food says to feed every 7-14 days. We went 21 days since the last feed and decided to do it again since the leaves were yellowing.
2. Our cucumber leaves got crunchy and died: this seems to be part of the life cycle of the cucumber. This is different than the yellow colored leaves. We are still producing quite a bit of cucumbers, so I'm not worried.
3. We were afraid the green peppers in the back of our planter wouldn't get enough sunlight, but they are producing peppers now. Last year we tried the peppers in an upside down planter. We got 5-6 small peppers. They turned red while we were waiting for them to grow bigger. That's when we learned that red peppers are just ripened green peppers. This year's pepper plant grew much taller and so far has 3 peppers which are all larger in size than last year. It looks like more peppers are possible.

How is your garden growing? J usually gets first dibs at everything. It's so exciting to see him so willing to munch on a handful of green beans and offer beans and cucumbers to his neighborhood friends. We've introduced a few families to the wonderfulness of lemon cucumbers.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Stuck in Cornstarch

Last week, our friends invited us over for some oobleck fun with cornstarch in a kiddie pool. I figure the video is still appropriate since J keeps bringing up how much fun it was. I finally uploaded a video from John's phone that shows what happens when you stop moving while walking on cornstarch+water.

Poor J. Don't worry, he was rescued and lived to tell the tale of being stuck in goo.

Science is awesome!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Science Saturday, Ice Cream!

I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream!

We had our best turn out for Science Saturday. The park was full of little chemists learning how to cool their ice cream mixture using salt + ice (it works by lowering the freezing point of water). Here's the basic ice cream in a bag lesson. We tried reducing the amount of cream and tried a single baggie for the ice cream mixture (instead of double). The recipe worked very well with all milk and with milk/cream combination. Some parents opted to go with a reduced sugar recipe (using 1 T instead of 2 T), and there were no complaints.

If you're doing this on a larger scale: For about 30 kids, we needed about 30 pounds of ice (1 lb/person), 12 lbs (three 4 lb boxes) of ice cream rock salt, 2 gallons of milk, and 1/2 gallon of cream. Since we used the remainder of our bulk vanilla, so I can't tell you how much. It was probably at least 2 oz. The recipe uses a pretty minimal amount of sugar, so a small box/bag of sugar will definitely suffice. We also had some mix-in like sprinkles and mini chocolate chips.

Experiment on your own! You can try other ice cream recipes. This method to make quick ice cream should work in theory on anything you'd put in an ice cream maker. Enjoy a cool summer treat while learning about science.

Sorry, I was too busy with ice cream making that I didn't get a chance to take pictures of the event. Trust me, we all had a good time!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cornstarch in a kiddie pool

Did you ever want the feeling of walk on water?

It's not my idea, but thought I'd share. Our friends invited us over for this event. They had somehow acquired over 150 lbs of cornstarch**, which they promptly added to a kiddie pool filled with about 4 inches of water. The end result was a lot of fun. J had just as much fun playing on the goo than he has had at other parties with bounce houses. Think of our Goo experiment on a much larger scale. I call it goo, but I think the technical term for cornstarch and water is oobleck.

Oobleck is a Non-Newtonian fluid.

Viscosity of a non-Newtonian fluid depends on the shear rate. The key is, keep moving. If you stop moving, you'll sink, and the liquid is so viscous, you'll get stuck. The best way out would be to move as quickly and forcefully as possible, ie. jump if you can (apply a shear force).

Science is fun!

Thanks to our friends who invited us over for the science fun.

**A quick search yielded 50 lb bags of cornstarch for $25. It's not an "every day" science type of experiment, but it's definitely fun to try if you get the chance.

Related Post: 
*Stuck in Cornstarch!