Science at Home: Super Solutions

I recently went to a home schooling convention where I heard the term HENSE for the first time. The letters stand for the following: Home Educators who Never do Science Experiments. Being a closet scientist married to another closet scientist, the thought is incomprehensible to me. But, as I soon found out there are a variety of reasons moms don’t do science experiments.

Sometimes the experiments don’t work and there is nothing worse than going through all that trouble to do a dud of an experiment. Sometimes the materials needed are so obscure or difficult to obtain, that it’s not worth hunting it down to do the experiment. Other times, moms say, they just don’t know the science behind them, so why bother?

Thus begins what I hope becomes a series of blogs just for the HENSE club moms: Science at Home. I will promise the following to all who dare to try things suggested in these blogs:
The materials will be easy to find.
The activities will be simple and fun yet. .
Educational enough to still call it home schooling!
With that said, we will take this first blog to explore chemistry.

Molecules on the move:
Everything we know is made up of molecules and molecules are always moving! To prove it, take a glass of water and put food coloring in it–but don’t stir. Food coloring is a great way to track how the molecules of water are moving.
To take this a step further, get three clear glasses of water. Fill one with hot water. Fill another with room temperature water. Fill the last one with ice cold water. Add a drop of food coloring to each one. At what temperature do the molecules move the fastest?

When 1+1 does not equal 2
Use a clear cup, or baby food jar. Mark off two tablespoons of water by first adding one tablespoon, marking the level, and adding the second tablespoon and then marking the level again. (You can dump the water.) Next, carefully measure 1 tablespoon of water w/ food coloring in it. (The food coloring just helps you to see the results better). Then carefully measure 1 tablespoon of distilled vinegar. Does the vinegar/water mixture reach the 2 tablespoon mark?
The molecules of the vinegar, fill in the spaces between the molecules of the water and the result is 2 tablespoons of liquid that when combined, make less than 2 tablespoons!

Blow up a balloon (without using your mouth)
The difference between a solid, liquid and gas is the difference between how far apart and how quickly the substance’s molecules are moving. To show how gas molecules move, put baking soda into a narrow mouthed bottle (like a soda bottle). Pour the vinegar in and very quickly put a balloon completely over the mouth of the bottle. The balloon is inflated with the carbon dioxide bubbles from the baking soda and vinegar. (Tip: To get this to work well, you have to work quickly. If the balloon doesn’t inflate all the way, shake the bottle a little bit.)

Acids, Bases and Indicators
Cut up a head of red cabbage and boil it. Save the juice (which will be red/purple) and use the cooled juice to test various substances in your refrigerator to see if they are acids or bases. Things like lemon juice or other citrus fruits are acidic and will turn one color when mixed with the cabbage juice. Baking soda is a base and should turn a different color when mixed with the cabbage juice. You’ve just made a pH indicator.

Bouncing Rubber Eggs
You’ve probably heard of this before, but I think it’s so much fun I thought I’d include it anyway. Begin with a hard boiled egg. Leave the hard boiled egg covered with white vinegar for several hours or over night. By morning you’ll have a bouncing egg! The acid in the vinegar reacts with the calcium carbonate (a base) in the egg shell. Try the same thing again but mark the egg with a crayon first and notice what happens.

I hope you get a chance to try these! If you do, I’d love to know about your experiences. Keep on the look out for my next installment of Science at Home!