Archive for the ‘
Science Experiments ’ Category
Friday, February 21st, 2014
The kids participated in a science fair event a couple of weeks ago… where kids and adults could share their favorite science-related collections, photos, experiments, and knowledge. Some adults set up a slide show of their astronomy photos, sharing bone collections, a cartographer shared some of her materials, kids brought in their rock collection and more… My kids set up a science activity station with the Color Explosion in Milk. We’ve done this before at home. It’s sure to wow the other kids (and adults) and I thought I’d share this again here because it’s fun!
All you need is milk in a bowl, food dye, detergent and a Q-tip. You place a few drops of dye into the milk, dip the Q-tip into detergent and then very gently place the Q-tip into the water. The colors start racing around. The kids then dipped their Q-tip into the detergent again and gently placed it back in the milk in a different spot. The colors start moving and swirling about. It’s really pretty to watch!
I made a copy of this experiment and the explanation of how it works that you can print off:
Color Explosion in Milk!
The action in this experiment is a bit complex. Our chemistry book showed how soap molecules have different properties. Our book explained it as one end being “oil-like” and the other, “water-like.” Oil dissolves in the oil-like ends of the soap and becomes surrounded by the water molecules. This experiment shows the movement of molecules as the fat molecules are interacting with the soap detergent molecules.
Steve Spangler explains this milk experiment this way,
The molecules of fat bend, roll, twist, and contort in all directions as the soap molecules race around to join up with the fat molecules. During all of this fat molecule gymnastics, the food coloring molecules are bumped and shoved everywhere, providing an easy way to observe all the invisible activity. As the soap becomes evenly mixed with the milk, the action slows down and eventually stops.
Other sources explain that other factors are at work here such as breaking the surface tension of the liquid, etc. If your child is older you could discuss those other factors as well.
At any rate, it’s a colorful fun experiment to do with anyone from pre-K on up. Who doesn’t like watching colors swirl and whirl?!
If you like science, you might also enjoy this Science Experiment Packet I put together of our favorites:
Download your free Science Experiment Packet here.
And at this post you’ll find three more science experiments and a printable.
You might also be interested in this post which shows how you can create your own preschool science curriculum at home.
Need inspiration for fun things to do around the house? Check out these kid-friendly crafts using household items!
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Monday, February 10th, 2014
There is an amazing engineering curriculum that is put out by the Museum of Science, Boston. It’s called Engineering is Elementary. My friend first told me about their hands-on curriculum units and we actually have two of their units lined up for the next month or two.
Why study engineering? Their website explains it this way:
Hands-on, project-based learning is the essence of engineering. As groups of students work together to answer questions like “How large should I make the canopy of this parachute?” or “What material should I use for the blades of my windmill?” they collaborate, think critically and creatively, and communicate with one another.
Grades 6-8, Free Engineering Units:
They have launched a new curriculum, Engineering Everywhere, for Grades 6-8 and are offering the first two units free (right now). Normally, their units are about $50. They are very hands on (for example, the one we’ll be doing their unit on Water: designing water filters which has the kids design the best water filter to get rid of pollutants) and includes a story that goes along with it.
Thanks to their funder i2Camp, two of the units are now offered free. This link will take you there. I had to fill out a form with my details in order to reach the download page (once for each unit), but was able to retrieve their 75 page manual and the 25 page story with no troubles. There two units are called:
- Don’t Runoff: Engineering an Urban Landscape
- Here comes the Sun: Engineering Insulated Homes
Click on this link to download those free units: Engineering Everywhere Curriculum Units
Grades 3-5, Free Engineering Units:
While I was looking around, I also noticed that they offer other units for Grades 3-5 free as well called Engineering Adventures. Their free units include:
Four of the seven units:
I noticed that they have an option for “Buy the Unit” ($50) and “Download for Free” — so I imagine that these units won’t always be offered for free. (I don’t know that, I’m just speculating.) Anyway, it was free for me today.
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Tuesday, January 7th, 2014
Today many of the public schools are closed because of the incredible cold front that has come sweeping through. I thought I should share some science experiments we did that might really get kids intrigued about the cold weather!
Freeze water in a cottage cheese or large yogurt container. In one of the cartons you can place a wooly mammoth plastic creature if you have one!
Have the kids guess how much of the ice block will remain above the water and how much will remain below. Then drop the block in.
As we looked at the huge amount of ice that was under the water, we talked about the Titanic and pretended to drive our boat near the iceberg. We also talked about the fact that wooly mammoth remains have been frozen in the ice. A wooly mammoth calf was found in Siberia, Russia just in the last five years. We talked a bit about the Ice Age and what other animals lived then–the saber toothed tiger, etc.
How do mammals protect themselves from intense cold?
Blubber as Insulation:
Once the water is pretty cold you can try the famous blubber experiment… the one where you place shortening in a plastic bag and then put another plastic bag inside the other bag. The kids took turns wearing the shortening glove and slipping both hands into the cold water. The PBS website had a good overview of this experiment and we talked about the background information provided at that website. I also printed out some other information about blubber I found online and read them excerpts from that. We talked about how blubber acts as an insulation.
What makes good insulators?
Another experiment you can do relating to insulation was suggested at the back of the Magic School Bus book about the Arctic. We took a half-dozen piece of bread and toasted them. Then we wrapped the hot toast in various items to see which kept the toast warmest. The kids made predictions about which items were the best/worst insulators. They made a list predicting in order what would keep the bread warmest down to which bread would lose the most heat. For us we found that LD’s down jacket kept the toast the warmest while the toast wrapped (badly) in the black construction paper was coolest.
You could do a variation of this experiment by placing several bottles of water outside in the intense cold… one just outside on its own, one wrapped in a jacket, one wrapped in thin socks, one wrapped in paper (you get the idea). Check frequently to see which bottle of water freezes first.
Blubber and Buoyancy:
Another cute experiment we did involved olives with the pits still in them and shortening. I had to hunt pretty carefully to find olives with the pits still in them (and used green olives). This experiment was to show how blubber helps whales come to the surface for air.
First we dropped an olive into our bowl of water. It immediately sank to the bottom.
Then we smeared shortening on the olive as best we could and dropped it into the water. As long as the shortening stayed on, the olive bobbed and floated at the surface of the water. Even when the shortening/olive dove down into the water when it was dropped in, it immediately jumped back up. It was a really cute activity!
You might also be interested in these related posts:
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Friday, January 3rd, 2014
Five or six weeks ago, someone asked me how I go about setting up our science units. I wanted to spend some time really laying out that process. Since we have homeschooled from the start, I thought it would make the most sense to talk about the preschool years first. (Click here to see the second post in the series: Science in the Elementary Years.)
Science in the preschool years:
I found that my kids absolutely loved science from an early age. For that reason, I did a lot of research on how to make it engaging. I had a teaching background, but really had no idea how to tackle science for a three or four year old. I spent a lot of time reading about the Montessori approach to science. I read some of the free online Montessori science albums such as Moteaco.com - and started to cover some of the topics that they suggested: zoology , botany, the human body, astronomy, geology and meteorology. I also covered some basic science concepts through science experiments.
If we did activities on these topics, I’ll put in the links below so you can go straight there!
zoology: living and non-living (and the characteristics of living things), vertebrates-invertebrates, the 5 classes of animals, animals of the world, the parts of the animal, animals and their babies, animals and their group names, animals and their biomes (such as the rain forest, desert, forest), animal tracks, where do animals live? above ground-below ground, ocean animals, farm animals, Where do things come from?, Nocturnal and Diurnal Animals
botany: parts of plant, plant life cycles, fruits and vegetables, germinating seeds, edible plants, plant nutrition (colored carnations and slurping celery) – (plant unit-lots and lots of plant related activities and experiments!)
human body: the bones of the body, the five senses, smell matching (we’ve also done tons of other activities about how blood circulates and how food is digested that my youngest really enjoyed with my older kids. Check out our human body activities here if you want to go in more depth.)
astronomy: the planets of our solar system, the moon and its phases, lots more astronomy posts
geology: Earth’s layers, mountain formation, volcanoes, rocks and minerals, natural disasters
physical science: transparent, translucent, opaque
science experiments: there are so many terrific science experiment books to choose from. Anything that makes kids go, WOW, at this age works well. I found that I threw in lots of terms as we did the science experiments… things like acids and bases… that just form the first foundations of a science education. See the free science experiment packets below…
So here are a few things you could get started with today!
Animals Around the World: Animal cards from each continent are free over at that post
Preschool Science: Animals Above-Below Ground Activity
Inner and Outer Planets — Activity – ED still has this in her science notebook. We took it out and looked at the inner rocky planets and our gas giants… and the asteroid belt.
The Phases of the Moon Activities (plus a homemade oreo cookie recipe at that post!!)
Science Experiments for ages 3-6 (and beyond!): I’ve shared these before but here were some of our favorite science experiments. Just download them and go!!
Download your free Science Experiment Packet here.
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3 More Fun Science Experiments:
Other related posts you might be interested in:
Categories you may want to visit (which have posts related to these topics):
Free and Useful Montessori Resources:
- Living Montessori Now – This website has a wonderful collection of how parents are instituting Montessori inspired activities in their homes.
- ETC Montessori – Free Downloadable Materials
Montessori Mom – This wonderful website has an extensive list of various Montessori resources.
– Lots of free resources. I especially love and use the paper purple beads for place value work in math (see “Bead Materials ones and tens, beads: hundreds and thousands. See my post about using these materials here
Montessori for Everyone
–Offers free downloads each month–sorting cards such as the seasons, where things come from, animal tracks and more.
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creating a homeschool science curriculum, homeschool science, kindergarten science, Montessori science, preschool at home, preschool at home activities, Preschool Science, science for 3-5 year olds | Categories:
Must Read, Preschool (Age 4), Science, Science Experiments
Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
We started a unit on Simple Machines several weeks ago. Since I’ve been out of commission so much with my ear surgery, the unit has lingered on longer than I had anticipated, but we’ll be done with the unit by the end of this week or so. I thought I’d share the first set of hands on activities we did on levers and the three classes of levers.
We started our unit going over the six types of simple machines. Since I have kids of varying levels I made several sheets (matching, tracing and fill in the blanks). In the end, this turned out to be useful since we’ve spent so long on this unit. We’ve used all three sheets as review and they added them to their science notebooks.
The first book we read was How Do You Lift a Lion? It was a great way to introduce several of the simple machines (lever, wheel and axle, pulley)
We also did some readings from our science book and the kids did this matching page on the 6 types of Simple Machines (which is in the simple machines packet that I made):
We read about levers first from a science book and also read Scoop, Seasaw and Raise: A Book About Levers.
Then we went on to do a bunch of hands-on activities. The kids used a ruler as a lever to lift up a book. They moved the fulcrum to different place to see where it was easiest to lift the book:
We the did this exact same activity outside… lifting Mom!! The kids absolutely loved this!!
The next day we talked about the different classes of levers on this sheet I made.
Then we went on to sort various things from around the house into the different classes:
- First Class Lever: A balance
- Second Class Lever: Nail Clippers, Nut Cracker
- Third Class Lever: Tweezers, Tongs, Fishing Pole
We talked about some of the terminology (fulcrum, load, effort) and the kids had to draw these in on one of the pages I made:
We spent another day doing some other activities relating to levers. We used a lot of ideas from the book, Janice Van Cleave’s Machines. We talked about third class levers and did an activity trying to get the ring on the bottle. They liked that! Of course, I reinforced that the fulcrum was at the end of the stick, the effort was their hand where they held the stick and the load was (hopefully) at the end of the string when they got the ring on the bottle!
We made a set of jaws… showing how our mouth acts like a third class lever:
And we also showed how our arms are third class levers. The string was our muscle and the load is in the hand.
LD immediately went upstairs to make his arm into a warning device!! When someone pulled the string (from the other side of the door), the arm swung down and knocked off the wooden cube which fell onto the bell and rang it!
Other Posts About Our Simple Machines Unit:
Other hands-on activities in our Simple Machines Unit:
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