Twisted Bones

We’re knuckle deep in a bone unit study right now.  Get it?  Knuckle deep!

Here’s an experiment we did over the past 24 hours, which amazed all of us:

Twisted Bones

2013-10-21 12.19.06For this experiment, you’ll need a baby food jar (or any size jar to fit your bone), a chicken or turkey bone (I was going to use a wishbone, but couldn’t find it.  I ended up using several smallish bones instead), baking soda, water, a bowl, rubber gloves, and 6% hydrochloric acid (I used 36% because that’s what Home Science Tools happens to have.  I diluted it with water).

Here’s what you do:

  1. First and foremost, know that hydrochloric acid is in fact…an acid.  Kids, let your parents handle this for you.  It’s corrosive and could be harmful if touched or swallowed. Parents, be sure to wear rubber gloves.
  2. Put your bone(s) in a jar along with the hydrochloric acid.
  3. Let it sit overnight.
  4. In the morning, put on rubber gloves, and transfer the bones into a bowl with a solution of 1 cup water, and 2 teaspoons baking soda.  Swish them around a bit to dilute and neutralize the hydrochloric acid.
  5. After a minute or two, take them out.  What do they feel like?

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Now, you can do something cool with the bones!  Are they long enough to tie into a knot?  Our weren’t so we twisted them together.

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Why does this happen?

The hydrochloric acid dissolves the mineral salts, leaving behind a bendy, cartilage remnant.

Soda Pop Science

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Whether you choose to drink pop in your home or not, there’s no denying the fun when it comes to experimenting with pop during science class!

We read the book Soda Pop Science Projects Experiments With Carbonated Soft Drinks  by Thomas R Rybolt, 2004(which appears to be out of print.  There are a few “used” copies on Amazon, or else you could check your local library), and were inspired to try a few of the experiments.  This book is great because it spans a wide range of ages.  My kindergartner enjoyed the experiments, as did the 2nd and 4th graders.  We didn’t even touch on the mathematical equations and chemistry that we would have if the kids were older.

Here are the FIVE experiments we chose to do from the book (plus one that wasn’t in the book, just for fun!):

Cola Float

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For this experiment, you’ll need a can of Coke and a can of Diet Coke, plus your kitchen sink filled with room temperature water.

Have the kids make a hypothesis as to whether or not the cans will sink or float.  Then, drop the cans into the water.  What happens?  Why do they think they got the results they did?

Make a note of how much sugar is in each can.  Do the kids think the sugar could play a part in whether the cans sink or float?

Here’s why it happened:

“When more sugar is added to a drink, the density is increased and the can is more likely to sink.” (Rybolt, 2004, p. 13)

Changing the Density of Water

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For this experiment, you’ll need several small water bottles (we used 5), and several teaspoons of sugar (we used 26), and your kitchen sink filled with water.

Mark the tops of your water bottles with the numbers 0, 2, 4, 6, and 10 (you can change this up if you want.  You’ll just want a wide spread).  Now, have the kids funnel the teaspoons of sugar as marked on the tops of the bottles.

Have them make a hypothesis about what they think will happen when the different sugar bottles are dropped into the water.  Then, drop them in!

What happened?  The sugar makes the water more dense, therefore the water bottles with the most sugar in them, will sink to the bottom.

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Trapping Carbon Dioxide

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For this experiment, you’ll need a can of Coke and a can of Diet Coke, two one gallon Ziplock bags, and a sink.

Have the kids place a can of pop into each gallon Ziplock.  Squeeze all the air out of the bag.  Have them make a hypothesis about what they think will happen when you open the can up and dump the contents into the bag, while it’s sealed.  Will the Diet Coke have more carbon dioxide, or regular Coke?

Now, carefully open the cans of pop and pour them into the bag (all while the bag is sealed).  Let them sit for an hour to see how much carbon dioxide escapes into the bag.

What happened here?  ”In a closed soda bottle, water molecules surround molecules of carbon dioxide.  When you open a soft drink bottle, carbon dioxide gas that is dissolved into the water of the cola bubbles out of the liquid.  As the carbon dioxide gas leaves the liquid, it fills the empty bag” (Rybolt, 2004, p. 32).

Removing Color

For this experiment, you’ll need about a cup of activated carbon (available on Amazon or at a pet store in the fish tank area), four empty 16 oz water bottles, a funnel, ruler, Diet Coke, and grape pop.

First, pour about five inches of grape pop into an empty bottle, and five inches of Diet Coke into another empty bottle.  These are going to be your “control” bottles (the bottles that you’ll compare your color changes to).  Next, funnel about 3 inches of carbon into the bottom of the remaining two bottles.  Fill those bottles up with water, let them fit for a few minutes, and pour out the water (be sure not to let the carbon pieces fall into your sink drain).  Now, pour Diet Coke in one of the carbon bottles so that it reaches five inches, and do the same for the Diet Coke.

Have the kids make a hypothesis about what will happen to the grape pop and Diet Coke over the next 12 days.  Make and record observations over the next four days, to see what happens to the color of the pop.

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This is so cool! The one one the far right was grape pop one day ago. Now it’s completely clear!

 

What’s happening? “Molecules such as those responsible for color can be removed from water because they stick on the surface of carbon particles.  This process is called adsorption and can be used to purify water” (Rybolt, 2004, p. 54).

A Tasty Smell

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For this experiment, you’ll need a bottle of Sprite for every child participating, plus a few other “smelly” soft drinks such as root beer, grape pop, orange pop, etc, and straws.

The goal of this experiment is to see if smelling a specific flavor of soda can change the way we taste another kind of soda.  Have your kids make a hypothesis about what will happen when they drink Sprite, while smelling a different kind of soda.

To do this experiment, put a blind fold on the child doing the experiment.  Have him/her take a sip of Sprite, while smelling another kind of soda.  Try it with the other flavors of soda.

Did the child taste what he/she was smelling?  Or did he/she taste the Sprite?

And last but not least, since we were up to our eyeballs in soda, we decided to do the old Mentos in a bottle of pop experiment.  You know, the one where you drop the Mentos into a 2 Ltr bottle of pop, and it fizzes up into a towering inferno of stickiness?  Tip:  If you use diet pop, it doesn’t leave a sticky mess!

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What Science Curriculum Are We Using This Year?

Aaah, the science curriculum decision!  It’s a hard one, indeed.

I’m a firm believer that young students don’t need a structured curriculum.  Up until about 4th or 5th grade, I believe kids should have fun with science, soak up everything through experiments and nature study, and limit their fact memorization and answer writing.  Kids learn SO MUCH by doing simple experiments at home in biology, chemistry, physics, nature, etc.  Often times, they don’t know they’re learning.  They’re just having fun!

If you keep your eye on this blog and follow along throughout the school year, you’ll do lots of fun experiments, at various levels.  Check in often to see what we’re up to!

Now, I have a 4th grader that loves science.  She’s beyond the “simple experiment” point now, and is ravenous for more.  This year, we’ve decided to use Guest Hollow, The Human Body.  It’s a free curriculum designed by a homeschool mom.  She has designed science curricula in biology, botany, chemistry, physics, human body, and sea, sky, and animals.  They’re very complete, and look like so much fun!  This will be our first year using her science curriculum (although we’ve used her history curriculum for 2 years).

What are you using for science this year?

Mapping The Solar System

The wide expanse of our universe is almost unfathomable.  Here’s a fun activity you can do to put it into perspective!  We did this activity with the help of the National Park Service, Jr. Rangers.

Mapping the solar system with text

To do this activity, you’ll need an orange (the sun), and 9 small rocks (the planets.  For fun, you could paint the rocks to look like the different planets before doing this activity!).  If you want to have each planet to scale with the sun, you can use the items listed on the bottom of this page.  You’ll need to adjust the distance between planets accordingly.  For this demonstration, we’re going to just use rocks, and demonstrate the distance of each planet to the sun.

Here we go!

  • Start in the corner of a very large field, or at the beginning of a long trail.  Put your orange (sun) down.  
  • Now, let’s walk 4 steps.  We’ve arrived at Mercury!  Set down a rock.
  • Walk another 4 steps.  Now we’ve arrived at Venus!  
  • Set down another rock, and walk 4 more steps.  Welcome home, you’ve arrived at Earth!  
  • Now, walk another 6 steps, until you reach Mars.  Put down a rock, and consider that this might be the next planet that humans inhabit!  
  • Now, get ready to hike!  You’re going to walk 45 steps to arrive at Jupiter.  By now, the sun is just a dull glow.  
  • Walk another 54 steps, and you’ve arrived at Saturn.  
  • Walk 118 steps, and put a rock down, you’re now on the cold planet of Uranus.  
  • We’re almost to the (current) end of the solar system.  Walk 134 steps, and you’ve reached the final planet of Neptune!

 

Hooray, you did it!  You mapped the solar system.  Consider this:  To take a rocket full of people and materials to Mars, it’d take 18 years!  That puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?

What about Pluto?  Well, if you want to walk to Pluto, just hike another 115 steps, and you’re there!  Of course, recently Pluto was deemed to be a “minor planet”.  Why did that happen?  Because Pluto doesn’t have a perfectly round orbit, and it has to pass through a debris field while it’s orbiting.

Here are some fun resources for you to use as you explore outer space:

  • A super fun song by They Might Be Giants 
  • A website with great details about space for kids
  • A really fantastic astronomy book
  • A few more great books about space
  • Check out a 3-D interactive model of the solar system
  • See real footage from Spirit and Opportunity on Mars!

 

 

What’s New At Science Adventure Club?

Ch-ch-ch-changes!   The Science Adventure Club is making some major changes that we think you’re going to love!

While we are passionate about our science kits, we’ve decided to stop producing them, and instead focus our attention on spreading our love of science through experiments, research, product discounts, and free resources for YOU.

Keep your eyes on this site, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter to keep on top of the latest and greatest!

 

How To Build A Spiderweb Frame

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Add a bit of wimsey to your garden, by inviting spiders in with a spiderweb frame!

We often squirm at the idea of spiders, but outdoors in the garden, spiders are beneficial!  Why not welcome them in?  Here’s a great article about why we should want spiders in our gardens.

Here’s how we made our spiderweb frame.  We used power tools, but all this could be done with hand tools.  You’ll need the following tools:

  • A saw (a keyhole saw would be good)
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • 2 Screws (long enough to go through the thickness of your wood frame and into your post)
  • 11.5×10 piece of wood (we used 1/2″ plywood as this was a prototype, but you could certainly use a nicer grade of wood)
  • 1×2 post in any length you’d like.  Ours is 2.5 feet

Here’s what you’re going to do:

Cut a piece of wood into an 11.5×10 piece.  Mark with a pencil, a line 1.5 inches from the bottom, going across the piece of wood.

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Next, draw an “X” through the middle of the to 10×10″ portion of the wood.

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Then, starting at the center point, measure 5.5″ out on each line leading to the corners.

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From the end of your 5.5″ mark, cut a 45* angle, creating an octagon that looks like this:

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Next, measure out a 3/4″ border within your octagon, and mark it with a pencil.  Keep your cut line within the 10×10″ portion of the frame.  The big portion at the bottom will be used for securing the post to the frame. This will be your cut line, so you can cut out the inside of the frame.

Drill a hole right on the inside edge on your cut line so you can get your saw in there.

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Then, start cutting!  Cut all along the inside border, all around.

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You’re almost done!  Now you need to grab your two screws and your post, and screw the post into the frame.

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Voila!  You’ve completed your spiderweb frame!  Now push it into the dirt in your garden, and wait for a spider to show up, to make your frame her home!

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When you make your spiderweb frame, please send photos so I can post them, or link your blog below.  I’d love to see what you made!

Outdoor Science Adventure: Cotton-Tail Rabbits

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Sometimes a nature study opportunity just presents itself!  Two days ago we discovered that a cotton-tailed rabbit had delivered a litter of 8 bunnies in the raised garden outside our condo!  Ever since, we have been visiting, observing, and feeding our fuzzy new neighbors.  What a perfect time to do a cotton-tail rabbit nature study!

DSCN3958Here’s what we did:

We read pages 215-219 in Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study.  I don’t read the entire section to my kids because it wouldn’t hold their attention.  I go through with a pencil and underline the parts I want to read.

After that, we went down to observe the bunnies.

  • Pay attention to the rabbit’s ears.  What do you think it’s thinking?
  • Take a look at the nostrils.  Why do you think it wiggles so?  Do you think they have a good sense of smell?
  • Look at the placement of they eyes.  Why do you think they’re located where they are?  Do rabbits blink?
  • Look at the hind legs.  Why do rabbits need such strong hind legs?
  • How does a rabbit protect itself?  What is meant by “freezing”?

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The girls made a few sketches of the rabbits.  We didn’t use a printable for this because it was super last minute, and we didn’t have a chance to print anything out.  Instead, the kids made a scrapbook page to paste her sketches onto.  She wrote a few interesting facts that she learned about.  Here are some of the things we learned about rabbits that we didn’t know before:

  • Bunnies leave their coverlet at 3 weeks old, at which time they’re on their own.
  • Rabbits use their strong hind legs to jump up to 8 feet (which would explain how they got into our high-off-the-ground planter)
  • Predators for baby rabbits include; hawks, owls, snakes, and red squirrels. RED SQUIRRELS!
  • Rabbits don’t dig their own burrows.  They move in to deserted burrows of woodchucks or skunks.  The mother rabbit makes a coverlet using grass and her own fur.  In the case of our baby bunnies, they mom didn’t use a burrow.  She just made a coverlet out of mulch.  City rabbit!

The Handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com is, to me, the holy grail of nature study.  She did a great nature study about rabbits back in January of 2009.  Well, as you know, nature study never goes out of style!  The info in still relevant ;)  Check it out!

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The bunnies came right up to our “observation window” to peek in at the girls.

Have you done a nature study about rabbits?  Post a link to your blog post about it, below!

Pinteresting! Exploding Bag.

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I don’t know about you, but I spend way too much time on Pinterest!  I have a tendency to “pin” things and never do them (well, I make a lot of recipes, but that’s for another blog!).

So, I’m going to start a feature here on the Science Adventure Club blog in which I do a cool science experiment from Pinterest with my kids, once a month.  I hope you’ll join along!

This month, we’re doing the “Exploding Bag” experiment found on this blog.

Here is the supply list:

  • Paper towel
  • 1/2 c. vinegar
  • 1/4 c. warm water
  • 1 1/2 T baking soda

Here’s how you conduct the experiment:

  • Cut the paper towel into a smallish square
  • Put the baking soda into the paper towel square, and fold up into a little packet
  • Put the water and vinegar into a sandwich size ziplock bag.  Zip it halfway closed.
  • Sneak the baking soda packet into the bag and quickly zip it the rest of the way closed.
  • Wait, watch, and BOOM!
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The supplies.

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The reaction to the reaction.

This isn’t all fun and games, boys and girls!  This is chemistry AND physics!  Here’s what’s happening:

Vinegar and baking soda join together to create an acid/base reaction (chemistry).  When mixed together, they create carbon dioxide.  The bag fills up with the carbon dioxide until it can’t contain it anymore (physics!), and the bag explodes.

Have fun!!

Here’s a link to my “Science” board on Pinterest.  If you have a science or nature study page on Pinterest, please PLEASE post a link below!

Did you do a blog post of your family doing this experiment?  Feel free to post a link to that, too.

The Reluctant Naturalist’s Guide To Nature Study

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It’s not always easy to get outside to do nature study, is it?  In my homeschool, nature study is very important, and high on my priority list.

But, even though it’s “high on my priority list,”  I find it’s really easy to put it on the back burner when other fun things come up.

 

 
Here are a few tips for getting out there and actually doing nature study, even if you’re a reluctant naturalist:

Just get out there!  Make a commitment to get outside and into nature for an hour, at least once per week.  Even if it’s very informal, kids will pick up on the joy of the natural environment.  It doesn’t take any work on your part for your children to observe the smells that waft through the woods or a grassy field, to see what happens when they poke at a puddle with a stick, throw rocks into a creek, or look at interesting moss growing on a tree.

DSCN1911You don’t have to travel far to get into nature!  I live in a downtown area, with a lot of brick and concrete.  To get out into nature has to be an intentional endeavor.  That being said, we can always walk to or take a short drive to be at least partially immersed in nature’s splendor.  Even a man made city park is full of squirrels to observe, ducks to feed, various types of trees, and bugs.  Don’t feel like you have to drive great distances to get into the wilderness in order to enjoy nature study.

But, what if I forgot my printables?  Don’t laugh.  This is a biggie for me.  When I first started coordinating our nature study efforts, I thought I had to have pretty printables with areas for the kids to sketch their finding, and write everything down.  Now I know that while the printables one might find on the internet are super cool, they’re not necessary.  If you want to have your children record what they’re observing, you can do a simple nature journal that you make yourself, or just do nothing.  The sights, sounds, and smells that your child will observe while out in nature will be permanently ingrained into their memories.

You don’t need to be able to identify every plant, bird call, or cloud formation! Really, you don’t.  If your child asks a question that you can’t answer, use it as an opportunity to learn more about it later.   Here are some good online resources for identifying things you might find in nature:

Rocks                                          Clouds                                       Trees

Flowers                                       Bird Calls                               Reptiles

Form a group that meets up on a regular basis. If you need accountability to make sure you’re getting out there, form a group!  Get the word out on Facebook, meetup.com, or in your homeschool group.  Plan to meet up weekly (or monthly, or bi-monthly, whatever fits into your schedule), and just do it!

This is a fantastic time of year to get into the nature study habit!  Just get out there, have fun, and make some memories!

 

Outdoor Science Adventure: Bracket Fungi

 

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It would be very rare to go on a walk in the woods and not find a bracket fungus attached to the bottom of a tree.  While very pretty and whimsical looking, this beautiful fungus is actually an indicator that the tree is doomed.  While the tree will not die immediately, it could shorten decades off it’s life.

There are many different types of bracket fungi.  Here’s a great link that illustrates various types.

How do trees get bracket fungi?  When a tree has a sore (an open spot caused by a falling tree, metal object, storm damage, etc), it’s susceptible to fungi spores.  Once they’ve entered the unprotected part of the tree, they make their home.

How can one prevent bracket fungi from forming on an injured tree?  Opinions differ on this.  Some people think it’s best to just leave it and let nature take it’s course.  Others say it’s important to use a tree spray to keep bugs and fungi spores out of the opening.  I suppose this would make a great experiment if you had damage to a couple trees in a storm!  The most important thing is to teach children (and adults!) not to harm trees.

Next time you head out to the woods, be on the lookout for bracket fungi!  Here’s a printable you can bring with you, and put into your science journal: Outdoor Adventure Bracket Fungi.

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Bracket Fungus is also sometimes known as Artists Conch, because the bottom can be etched.  Here is an example of really beautiful bracket fungi art!

Here is some artwork that the kids did.  Isn’t it cool?

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If you do a bracket fungus nature adventure, please post a link to your blog post.  We’d love to see what you’re up to!