Sunday, August 31, 2014

Program: Mad Science

Once again, I have a few programs to share with you! Mad Science Mondays is a program I ran during the school year, once a month on a Monday afternoon. We had a different theme and experiments every month. Here's how we finished out the spring.

Lava Lamps - I started with a brief PowerPoint presentation on oil and water and why they don't mix. We talked about molecules and then I handed out the supplies to see our experiment in action. This is a very simple experiment, though a bit messy. You simply fill an empty water bottle 2/3 full with vegetable oil and the rest of the way with water, leaving some room at the top. Then you add food coloring of your choice. The food coloring will sink through the oil and mix with the water (as standard food coloring is water soluble). Once the food coloring and water are mixed together, break up an Alka-Seltzer tablet and drop in one piece at a time. The tablet will sink to the water and release colored bubbles through the oil to the surface. It's a temporary effect (you have to keep adding tablets to keep the bubbles going) but the kids were pretty mesmerized by it. I explained the science behind it and the kids left with their own lava lamps!

Egg Science - as I browsed through my collection of simple (and economical) science experiments, I noticed that eggs seemed to present a number of possibilities. I actually planned on doing this program in two parts: part one consisting of the experiments I'm about to mention and part two being an egg drop. However, I could not secure access to the roof or a tall enough ladder to make part two work. Perhaps I'll try again in the future. Anyway, this is what we ended up with. I walked on eggs which, disappointingly, no one was terribly surprised to see I could do (also, they desperately wanted me to get egg all over my feet). Prior to the program, I made a bouncing egg, but I tested it out live in front of the kids. Results? Huge fail - the egg didn't bounce, even from a couple inches and instead just splatted all over me (much to their delight). And finally, we made egg geodes. No PowerPoint this time; I just explained the science as we went along. They each got an egg in vinegar to take home for further bouncing egg experiments, plus their geode starters. Aside from getting egg all over me, they liked the geodes the best (anything with food coloring seems to be a big hit with them).

Sweets - one of my most popular programs last summer was candy science, so I figured I'd give it another go-round during a less-crazy time of year. Once again, we made ice cream in a bag, but this time, I actually had the chance to explain the science behind it. I think we could just do this experiment over and over again and the kids would be happy. Then, we did another perpetual favorite: Mentos geysers. We tested out a variety of sodas to see which would create the biggest geyser. Easy and always a hit.

And that was our spring of Mad Science Mondays! Unfortunately, attendance for this program drastically dropped off (with the exception of the sweets science), so I won't be continuing it in the fall. I would be happy to let someone else give it a shot, but I think science is not my strong suit. Has anyone had any simple but crazy successes?

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