Hands-on Friday

We are working through a book called 365 More Simple Science Experiments With Everyday Materials by Richard Churchill. My goal is to do a few experiments each week, and it looks like Friday is going to be a good day for that. Experiments need lots of time for setting up, for observing the materials and processes involved, for performing – and sometimes, for performing again!- the test, and for cleaning up. On other days of the week we have to leave for ballet, soccer, violin or other activities. Friday is a nothing-scheduled day, which leaves us plenty of time to get hands-on and have fun.

Today we did two experiments from the book.

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The Collapsing Bottle is a simple demonstration of how temperature affects the volume of a gas. All you do is take an empty two-liter bottle, fill it halfway with hot tap water, and swirl the water around to heat up the air in the bottle. Dump the water out, cap the bottle right away, and watch it collapse as the air inside the bottle cools (thereby taking up less volume).

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I was completely impressed when Sam observed that the air outside the bottle was pushing in on the bottle, and that’s what made it collapse.  Stunning what five-year-olds can figure out.

Water Drop Art was really a combination of science and art project, and the girls just loved it. Basically you make “water paints” by putting a few drops of food coloring in a cup of water. We made the standard four colors (red, blue, yellow & green).

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I found some plastic pipettes in my lab supplies,

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but you don’t need anything so fancy as a plastic pipette- you can use an eye dropper or even a drinking straw.  Dip your dropper-mechanism in the paint and allow a drop of the liquid to fall onto a piece of waxed paper.

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It already looks like art, doesn’t it? The fun (and sciencey) part is when you use a wet toothpick to move the drops around on the waxed paper.

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Then watch what happens when two drops get too close to each other (they merge, thanks to cohesion). The girls squealed when they saw my drops eating up their drops!

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