Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Summer Science

I remember the day I finally graduated.

I pushed my cart to the check out carrying the BIG jug of vinegar and the BIG box of baking soda.

Because I use those two things for everything.

With enough baking soda and vinegar, I can make my counter spray, and face scrub, my carpet freshener (a.k.a. "fairy dust" -- paired with "sweet dreams spray" it's my super secret trick for clean kids rooms).

With an unlimited supply of those two ingredients I can clean laundry and dishes and drains, sinks, my oven ... oh, and you know, cook and stuff.

Until they disappear ... and I find these two making some kind of concoction.

They do always ask first, but when your kids come to you and say, "Mama -- can we do some science?" it's really hard to say no. It's like if they said, "Mama, can we clean out the car?" or "Mama, can we give you this cupcake?"

Our summer started in earnest last week, and on Friday, a friend gave use some science books from when her sons were growing up.

Flipping through them, we saw lots of fun experiments, and so over the weekend, we pulled out our old play stand. Since its arrival as a bake shop a few Christmases ago, it's been a bank, a post office, a veterinary clinic, a store, a restaurant and a fruit market.

It's now our Outdoor Science Lab.

(Did you notice the outdoor part? Total Mom-trick to limit mess. I'm lazy like that.)

We also bought/found software:

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar 
  • Glycerin
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Dishsoap
  • Yeast
  • Agar (Looking for agar? We found ours at a natural foods store. You can substitute gelatin too!)
  • Cornstarch
We collected some hardware too:
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Tongs
  • Vials
  • Empty jars
  • A strainer
  • A funnel
  • Tweezers
  • A magnifying glass
  • Cast-offs from a garage sale science kit we bought a couple of summers ago
  • small notebooks for recording results
With those items collected, the kids set about making cornstarch goo (non-Newtonian fluids! Bartholomew and the Oobleck!), elephant toothpaste, paper bag volcanos, shiny pennies, plastic milk and bubble solution. They also figured out ways to alter the typical baking soda/vinegar explosions by adding other ingredients.

I laid out some lab rules, including that they needed to keep their lab in working order and use ingredients with discretion. Although if they really need more vinegar and baking soda, I totally get it. 

Because that stuff is magic.

** Many thanks to our friend Eileen for her generosity and the inspiration to get us started!

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