Teaching Kids Science of Density at Home

Aug 26

With school a mere ten days away, I thought it an opportune time to get the boys back in the kitchen for some awesome science experiments. Because their days will soon be filled with desk-sitting, textbook-reading, don’t-raise-your-voice hours, I’d rather not pull out the curriculum-based workbooks to prep them for academics (just yet). I say let them have fun while they learn.. while they still can.

This first experiment called Liquid Layers (from the book Science Rocks!) is super easy. It helps kids understand the concept of liquid density and molecules.

You need: A tall clear glass, water, cooking oil, molasses, food colouring, and some a few different small object of varying weights (i.e. marble, strawberry, M&M)

Step 1: Pour water up to about one-third of the glass. Add food colouring. Then pour similar amounts each of molasses and cooking oil.

teach innovation

teach kids density

Step 2: Drop in the various solid objects and give it a good stir. (The kids love this part.)

science for kids

Step 3: Leave the glass for about half an hour, waiting until it settles into separate layers. Eventually three layers will appear, starting with the heaviest liquid (molasses) at the bottom, the water in the middle, and the oil on top. Notice where the objects sink. Lighter objects will float stop one of the higher layers, and heavy objects will sit at the bottom.

fun science for kids

Note to parents: This experiment left us with only two layers, which was slightly disappointing. The boys, however, had a blast pouring the liquids and still became familiar with the concept of density. I highly recommend this.

The second experiment we performed is called Float Your Boat (also in Science Rocks!) This also teaches density and is easy enough for a child as young as six to complete on his or her own (although it can get a bit frustrating for uncoordinated fingers.)

You need: marbles, bowl of water, modelling clay, and some patient encouragement for frustrated kiddos.

Step 1: Drop a marble into the bowl of water. Then drop the ball of clay. Notice that they both sink. (It gets better, I promise).

teach kids innovative thinking

Step 2: Remove the ball of modelling clay and press it out into the flat sheet. Then mold it into the shape of a small boat, making the sides high enough to prevent water leaking into them. (This is the part that can get quite frustrating for a child – namely a certain 12-year-old. You may need to help them, or show them how you do it on your own.)

science experiments for kids

Step 3: Put the newly constructed boat into the bowl of water. It should float. If it does not… back to the frustrating step 2 (which may need to be repeated several times if you have a stubborn child who refuses your help. Ah well) Once the boat is floating, place marbles one at a time into the boat.

kids science

Although this doesn’t sound particularly exciting, it is a lot of fun for kids to try to pile up the marbles before the boat sinks. By the end of the experiment, my kids had an understanding of how real boats are able to float, even though they are made of heavy materials.

Both experiments were virtually mess-free and required minimal supervision. Although they experienced frustration during the process, this is actually a good thing. It helps them recognize that a big part of experimentation is making mistakes… and having to start all over again.

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Experiment Lets the Kids Get Messy: Learning About Catalysts

May 08

This is week 2 of my journey into the world of kids’  innovation and science. We’re back in the kitchen making goop (my kids like getting messy.) This particular experiment helps kids understand propulsion through the use of . Rocket fuel, for instance, is created when a catalyst is added to concentrated hydrogen peroxide and is used in jet packs to propel humans through the air.

But don’t worry – no kids will be flying across your kitchen.

Today’s experiment is called Elephant’s Toothpaste (don’t ask why, ’cause I don’t know).

It is taken from the book Science Rocks! by Ian Graham. (I highly recommend this book.)

Ingredients: empty plastic bottle, hydrogen peroxide, dishwashing liquid, food colouring, dry yeast, hot water, funnel, baking tray.

First - Measure 4 oz of hydrogen peroxide and pour into the bottle (which should be set upon the tray to minimize the cleaning later!) Then add a few drops of food colouring and a few drops of dishwashing liquid.

Let the kids do the measuring.

My boys chose pink dye.

A few drops of dishwashing liquid will do

Second - Mix a teaspoon of yeast with two tablespoons of hot water in a cup or bowl, then pour it through the funnel into the bottle. My kids thought it’d be fun to add some figurines into the mix, too.

Third - STEP BACK!

This kind of experiment is just what the boys love

Time to get the hands into it

I highly recommend this science experiment. It’s a big step up from the old  baking soda and vinegar trick and not a whole lot more work. As long as parents keep the mess contained within a baking tray, the clean up is swift, too. And by the way, I’d encourage you to include clean-up as part of the kids’ experiment (especially when the dishwashing liquid is so handy.)

Related Posts:

The Science of Slime for Innovative Kids

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The Science of Slime for Innovative Kids

May 02

This is the first of my official “Innovating” posts where I will chronicle my children’s journey into the world of science and innovation. Not to mention, the powers of infinite parental patience.

For the next several months I will post a weekly experiment or activity that may be science, art, or entrepreneurial-related. As much as I would love to believe that my three boys are learning how to be innovative in the classroom, the reality is that they are not (at least not on a regular basis). Therefore, it’s up to me (the parent) to expose them hands-on learning opportunities that encourage them to take risks, love learning, and stretch their naturally inquiring brains. I explain this more fully on a previous post here.

I encourage families to try these same activities at home – you’ll get a good idea of how messy they are (to gauge your own tolerance for it), and whether they’re worth the effort based on my own experience.

Today’s Experiment is called SLIME TIME. That pretty much sums up what you can expect.

Kids Learn: the differences between liquid and solid, and the properties of plastics since both the slime and plastic are made of polymers. And an understanding of non-Newtonian fluids.

Ingredients: Cornstarch, water, food colouring

First – Toss some cornstarch into a bowl and slowly add water. Then stir.

innovative kids

Adding water

 

experiments for innovative kids

Forget the spoon. You need hands to stir this stuff!

The mixture should be smooth once it has been mixed thoroughly. Any chance to get his hands dirty, my son is really getting into this part of it.

SECOND: Add food colouring. The colour chosen today is blue.

Slime experiment for innovative kids

Add a little colour

 

Innovative kids

It's blue!

FINAL: Get slimy! Let your kids play with it. Note to the mama’s who hate messes – it is contained and minimal in my kitchen.

Innovative kids' science

Ooey Gooey Good!

Nothing like a pile of blue slime to get boys interested. Another son jumps in to help out with moulding this stuff. Now, it’s time to just let them have fun with it. Two of my boys spent fifteen minutes squishing, dropping, moulding, and laughing with this. Supervision by Mama or Papa is rather important during this segment of the experiment, lest you want to be wiping down globs of blue from your kitchen walls and cabinets.

The mini video below shows how the kids learn non-Newtonian properties (it doesn’t conform to the rules of how liquids behave, as set out by Newton).

 

I’d highly recommend this science experiment. It’s a lot of fun for the kids, ingredients are minimal, and does not require a lot of effort for parents (a great one to start with). However, keep in mind the fingers stay dyed for quite some time. My son was still scrubbing his nails three days later…

Science experiments for kids who like slime

Three days later, the nails are still blue

This experiment was taken from a wonderful book by Scholastic called Science Rocks!

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