Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Water Cycle: Evaporation

Playing in puddles and during rain showers is a favorite activity for Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean on warm spring afternoons.  But, when I told them that water is in the air all the time, and not just during rain showers, they were surprised.  This is a pretty abstract idea for little ones, so we conducted an easy science experiment exploring the idea of water in the air and evaporation.

First, two cups were filled with water.  Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean then played with the water noting that it felt cold.

I placed one of the cups into the microwave for two minutes to heat the water.  The girls wanted to see if it was "super" hot, so they held their hands over the cup feeling the heat and touched the side of the cup to see how hot is was.


A clear, plastic cup was then placed over each of the cups.


Immediately, the clear, plastic cup above the heated water fogged over.


Why did one cup fog over and the other not?  The cup with hot water in the bottom started to evaporate faster than the cold water.  The water vapor started to rise up, but was trapped by the plastic cup allowing it to become more visible.  Just like in the real world, the sun heats up water in lakes, ponds, and rivers.  The water evaporates and water vapor rises up to the clouds eventually producing rain.


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Supplies:
  • 2 cups
  • 2 clear, plastic cups
  • water
  • microwave

Instructions:
  1. Fill the 2 cups with about 2 inches of water.
  2. Place 1 cup into the microwave and heat for 2 minutes.
  3. Place a clear, plastic cup over each of the cups filled with water.
  4. Watch the water vapor form in the cup with hot water.
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Monday, February 23, 2015

littleBLAST Giveaway for St. Patricks Day!

Will you be having a lucky St. Patricks Day?   You could - all you have to do is post a picture on facebook of your child doing a science experiment.  Be sure to tag littleBLAST in the picture!  Post your picture before St. Patricks Day and the next day we will randomly select a winner.  It could be lucky you!  We cannot wait to see your little scientists getting up to some science fun.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Cloud Density: Could we sit on a Cloud?

We are really enjoying our cloud experiments and learning all about the water cycle.  We especially love how fluffy the clouds look - like we could relax on them but would they be able to hold us? Could we sit on a cloud?  To explore this idea we made soapy clouds.   All you need is a bar of IVORY soap, some parchment paper and your microwave.  What is great is that this experiment is quick, easy and has a great WOW factor!


Make sure you use IVORY soap - when they make the soap they whip it with air so it has a low density.  It will even float in water!


This was a great opportunity for us to revisit that something with a low density will float.  Even though the soap felt hard it had lots of air in it which made it float.  However we did think that we could sit on the soap without falling through it!


We then placed the unwrapped bar of soap on a piece of parchment paper and placed it in the microwave and set the timer for about a minute and a half.  You will want to watch what happens in the microwave as it is really fun!  Stop the microwave when the soap stops growing.



Be careful taking it out as it is pretty hot.   Give it a minute and then let the kids feel it.   The cloud feels soft and squishy and we don't think we could sit on the clouds at all.  We spoke about how this was the same amount of soap but now it was a much bigger volume (the overall shape was much larger than the bar).  It was very light and so it must be even less dense than the bar.  We figured that clouds must be less dense than water too!



They very quickly crumbled the cloud to make fairy snow.  They had a great time playing with the clouds.  The best part was watching them grow in the microwave.

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Supplies:

  • IVORY soap
  • parchment paper
  • microwave


Instructions:

  1. Unwrap a bar of soap and place on a piece of parchment paper.
  2. Place in the microwave for a minute and watch it grow!
  3. Play and have fun with your cloud.  Could it hold you?


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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Clouds and Cotton Balls

Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean get excited to see the "magic" when we conduct science experiments, but they think it is more exciting when they see science happening in real life.  Exploring the different types of clouds was fascinating to them.  Especially once they learned which cloud produced thunderstorms.  They wanted to amaze their daddy with such a big word.

To introduce our activity, we read The Cloud Book by Tomie de Paolo.  We then went outside with our cloud viewer from the Clouds BLAST to see what clouds were outside.  The girls love their cloud viewer and take it everywhere with them.  They are fascinated with the fact that the clouds change throughout the day.


After naming many of our clouds throughout the week, we made our own clouds using cotton balls.  It was fun to watch and listen to Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean look at clouds and talk about what they should do to the cotton balls to make them look like each cloud.  "The cumulus cloud looks like a cotton ball.  I am going to glue it down just like this."  Or, "The cirrus cloud is soft and like hair.  I am going to pull it apart."  And my favorite, "Mommy, please get me some black paint.  I need to make this one dark."


Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean have always loved looking at clouds and finding pictures in them.  Now, we can find pictures and name what type of cloud is making that picture!



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Supplies:
  • cloud viewer (optional)
  • blue paper
  • cotton balls
  • glue
  • black paint

Instructions:
  1. Go outside and discuss the different types of clouds.  (We did this several times throughout the week.)
  2. Glue cotton balls onto blue paper (ours were cutout like clouds) to represent the different types of clouds.
  3. Paint the cumulonimbus and stratus clouds with black paint.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Watercolor Print Valentine's Cards: Floating-sinking Valentine's Experiment

With Valentine's Day just around the corner we are preparing to make cards for the ones we love.  It is always fun when you get to put a bit of science into your cards as well making this Valentine's oil and water experiment a great STEAM activity.


Making the marble paper (that we cut into hearts and stuck on the front of cards) was great fun for kids of all ages: from my two year old to my thirty-something husband.   My only warning is that the kids produce these marbled papers very quickly so be sure you have a large surface ready and lined with paper towels to put the paper down to dry as they pull them out.

To get setup we put out a squeeze bottle with vegetable oil, a cake pan with a thin layer of water, some droppers, a couple of paper cups, paper towels for spills, wooden craft sticks, and water color paints in Valentine's colors.


Each of the girls (2 and 4) took turns squeezing some oil into a paper cup and then squeezing some of the water color paint into the oil.  We noticed that the oil and paint did not mix and the paint looked like globs in the oil.   So we used our craft sticks to mix it up until it looked pretty uniform.


We then dropped some of our colored oil into the water in the cake pan and watched the oil float on top of the water.


Now the fun began!   The girls took sheets of white paper (printer paper that had been cut in half) and pressed them down onto the surface of the water.  As soon as the paper touched the water you could begin to see the marble effect from the oil.




Then it became hectic for mommy to get the dripping oil prints onto the paper towels at a rate that kept up with the kids producing prints.  This kept us going to a while - stopping now and then to add more drops of colored oil.   We loved seeing all the different types of prints that occurred.  It was also a great visualization of the oil is hydrophobic and formed blobs on top of the water.

The next day the paper had dried stiff and we could use it to make all sorts of designs.  Look at how fun all of our prints look and imagine all the fun ways you can use the marbled paper to make Valentine's for the ones you love.


Thank you Tinkerlab for the inspiration for these fun cards.

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Supplies:

  • watercolor paints
  • vegetable oil (in a squeeze bottle)
  • paper cups
  • craft sticks
  • white paper
  • water
  • cake pan
  • droppers
  • LOTS of paper towels

Instructions:

  1. Pour/squeeze a little bit of oil into a paper cup.
  2. Add some water color paint and mix well with a craft stick.
  3. Add a little water to the bottom of a cake pan (about 1/4 inch).
  4. Using a dropper add colored oil to the water.  Discuss what you observe the oil doing.
  5. Place a piece of paper on the surface of the oil and water.  Lift after a few seconds and place on paper towels to dry.
  6. Repeat with additional paper to make prints.
  7. Leave the marble paper overnight to dry.  Use the next day to make Valentines cards.

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