Category Archives: Science

Colorful Milk and the States of Matter

Colorful Milk 2

This week, Dora and I “studied” the states of matter. It is a subject that is covered in the ages 3-6 Montessori “curriculum”/album that I have. I think I’m going to wait on the rest of physical science until she is older though. It really seemed to go over her head. I tried demonstrating with melting ice in a jar, which I then heated until it formed steam, but she clearly didn’t grasp what I was teaching. The one thing she did grasp, is that water makes things stick together, such as hair and paintbrush bristles. I have no idea why this was the one thing she hooked onto during the week, but she has been spraying her hair with a water bottle all the time so that she can show everyone how the water makes it sticks together. For this unit, we did the famous colorful milk experiment that you see all over the internet these days, but which I personally had never heard of until I started reading blogs. You add several drops of food coloring to a dish of milk and then drop a bit of dish soap in the milk (you can also touch the milk with a q-tip that has been dipped in soap). The soap instantly sends the food coloring flying in all directions. (Here are some good “officially scientific” directions and explanations from Steve Spangler.) The picture above shows the milk after we dropped the soap in, below is the before shot.

Colorful Milk 1

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Labels: Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Screaming Balloons

Screaming Balloon 1

Our summer continues to be a bit of a free-for-all. Carefully laid plans have given way to spontaneous chaos and fun (okay and some boos boos, tantrums, and tears and maybe a few exasperated sighs from yours truly). Last week, Dora and I were supposed to be looking at the states of matter. I’m not sure how this came up or why I felt it tied in with the theme, but we ended up making some screaming balloons. I first heard about these when Gohan received a Steve Spangler science kit many years ago. You can see all of the directions, video, and notes to make Screaming Balloons at the Steve Spangler site. What it comes down to is that you put a 1/4” hex nut into a balloon and twirl the nut around in the balloon, which makes a very weird, screaming sound from the vibrations of the nut rubbing on the balloon. One has to wonder why someone ever thought of putting a hex nut in a balloon and twirling it around (kind of like why in the world did anyone ever think of putting a bar of soap under their sheets at their feet to cure restless leg syndrome, which I cannot vouch for by the way, as I have never tried it).

Screaming Balloon 2Note – I had to refresh my memory about how to do this, because at first we were holding the balloons by the tie and that does not work. So, if you decide to try this at home, be sure to hold the balloon by the main part of the balloon as Dora is doing in the photo above. Though, I personally found it easier to hold my hand out flat, like I was waiting for a high five, but with my fingers splayed. I then rotated the balloon horizontally.

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Labels: Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Using Eye Droppers to Study Acids and Bases

Vinegar and Baking Soda with Eyedropper

Last week, I encouraged Dora to practice using eye droppers by filling bottles with colored vinegar and giving her a pan of baking soda. She enjoyed the explosive reaction, though she struggled some with using the eye droppers. Eventually, I let her her pour directly from the bottles, so she could get a super impressive reaction.

Vinegar and Baking Soda 1

The next day, she asked to juice some oranges, but didn’t like the taste of the orange juice. So I thought we could use the orange juice to delve deeper into the study of acids and bases. We tried pouring the orange juice into a pan of baking soda. Then we tried lemon juice. I wanted to make sure that she understood that not all liquids would bubble when they interacted with baking soda, so we also tried some other liquids, such as milk and water.

Vinegar and Baking Soda - using orange juice

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Labels: Montessori, Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Crazy Fieldtrip to the Pacific Science Center

Pacific Science Center 3

This afternoon, Dora and I spontaneously decided to go to the Pacific Science Center. When we arrived at the Pacific Science Center parking lot, there was a sign stating that the parking lot was closing at 4:00 PM, which was odd. “Oh well,” I thought, “I’ll just park in one of the other parking lots.” And this, my dear friends, is when things turned ugly. Firstly, my favorite Seattle Center parking lot has been converted into apartments. In addition, I had not realized that every school in Seattle was on a fieldtrip to the Seattle Center today, so there were a bazillion buses, teachers, and students to navigate around. Nor did I know that they were setting up for the Northwest Folklife Festival today, which meant that a lot of lanes were blocked by trucks and even more people were darting across the road, right in front of my car.

Pacific Science Center 2

I eventually found parking on the opposite side of the Seattle Center, which meant a long walk. This would have been fine, as the weather had turned out to be quite fine by this point, except that the main reason we had decided to go the Pacific Science Center was to see a preschool planetarium show, which started at 1:30. I had arrived at the Pacific Science Center’s parking lot at 12:45, but by the time I navigated around all the people, buses, and trucks, parked my car, walked all the way to the Science Center, and waited in line to get tickets, it was 1:45.

Pacific Science Center 1

Even worse, the King Tut exhibit just opened yesterday and everyone and his brother was there to see it. Then, more bad news, the Science Center was closing early, at 3:30! To add insult to injury, many of the displays were closed as the staff prepared for the evening charity event that they were closing the museum early for. Plus, the people working there were just rude about the whole thing. They were so fixated on setting up for tonight, they made us feel like unwelcome guests, who had overstayed their visit. The whole experience made me so mad, I never wanted to go to the place again.

Pacific Science Center 4

Except…. Dora was in heaven! She had no idea that any of the exhibits were closed and she was also oblivious to the science center staff’s rudeness. She spent twenty minutes just in the Gemini capsule model, pretending to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. She also loved the IMAX To the Arctic 3D movie that we saw, which was about polar bears (she clearly has inherited my father’s love of documentaries!). After watching the movie, we caught the tail end of the live science demonstration, which was about bubble physics. The photo at the top of this post is of the guy lighting hydrogen bubbles. Pretty awesome! Pacific Science Center 11

Plus, when we left the museum, there was a cotton candy stand and Dora got her first taste of this culinary delicacy. That alone, is reason enough to go back in Dora’s opinion! So I guess we’ll go again, except next time we’re taking a bus so that I don’t have to fight the Seattle Center traffic and find a parking spot.

As an aside to any local readers, they are now calling the Center House, “The Armory”. It ends up that it used to be an armory. I really can’t see myself ever referring to it as “The Armory” though. It’s been the “Center House” as long as I’ve lived here and there is absolutely nothing militaristic about it in my opinion. In fact, I couldn’t even remember the name when I got home and had to look it up. I wonder what the reasoning for the name change was….

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Labels: Science, Things To Do Around Seattle
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Sun Prints and Sand Art

Sun Prints 1

Today, Dora woke with quite a high fever, but of course, that still didn’t slow her down much. She rarely gets colds, gets them very mildly when she does, and gets over them quickly. It makes me quite jealous! So, her energy levels were still such that we still spent a lot of time playing outside in our yard today. While doing this, we continued with our “sun” theme and made sun prints. Dora was not very impressed with this activity. I don’t know if it was because she was somewhat grouchy or if it was because she didn’t quite understand what was being accomplished. Below is the print she made with rocks. Above is one of the prints I made. I confess, I was having a blast doing these and did several, which just made Dora grouchier. (BTW – I did not kill a butterfly for this project, the butterfly in my picture was made with one of the stencils that was included in the kit). Part of why I enjoyed them so much, is that I did the early versions of the sun print kits with Primo, Secunda, and Tertia and let me tell you, sun prints have come a LONG way baby! Back then, you had to lay out the objects in a black bag so that the paper didn’t get any light until you were ready. So you couldn’t see what you were doing and if you let in a sliver of light, the paper would show that sliver of light. The kits today are so forgiving, it is amazing! The kit we used was the Toysmith Solar Print Kit, but there are several other brands available.

Sun Prints 2

Yesterday, Dora and I made colored sand bottles. We just poured layers of colored sand into glass bottles by using a funnel.

Sand Art 1

I tried to show Dora how she could shift the sand by poking a stick or straw in the bottle, but she found that to be a bit too difficult. Although this may have just been because she was already getting sick, so she was being more easily frustrated. Anyway, when she is more ready to practice her letter formation skills, we’ll dump out the sand and use it in a tray to practice letter tracing.

Sand Art 2

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

UV Color Changing Beads Necklace and Orbiting the Sun Demonstration

UV Bead Necklace 2

This week, Dora and I have been wrapping up our study of the sun. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as we have been having a heat wave here. Today, we made a necklace for Dora using UV color changing beads from Steve Spangler Science and some elastic string. When kept inside, as long as you don’t get too close to any windows, the beads are white. The beads turn different colors, however, once they are exposed to sunlight. At high noon, the beads were quite dark, while at dusk, they were just a faint pastel color.

UV Bead Necklace 1

In addition, we did a small-scale model of the earth orbiting the sun. I put a big, yellow, circular magnet in the center of a pie pan. Then I added a marble that somewhat resembled the Earth on the outer edge of the pie pan. When we moved the pie pan back and forth, it gave Dora a better understanding of how the Earth orbits around the sun. Plus just getting the marble to revolve in the pie pan, without flying out, was a good motor skills challenge for her (okay, I’ll be honest, it was a challenge for me too!).

Earth Orbiting the Sun Experiment

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Pipe Cleaner Sun

Styrofoam Sun Tray 2

This week, Dora and I continued to look at space, focusing on the sun. We watched a BrainPOP Jr. episode about the sun and then made a Styrofoam and pipe cleaner sun. I spray painted the foam yellow earlier in the week and cut the pipe cleaners in half. Poking the pipe cleaners in the foam created a very interesting tactile sensation as we could feel the Styrofoam crunching. Dora found the sensation to be a bit disconcerting and eventually wanted me to be the one to inset the pipe cleaners so that she could remove them. For all you Montessorians out there, the fine motor skills required to stick the pipe cleaners into the foam would qualify this activity as practical life work also.

Styrofoam Sun Tray 1

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Labels: Montessori, Science, Summer, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Growing Dwarf Fruit Trees in Suburbia

Planting an Apple Tree

Dora and I are currently looking at trees in preparation for Earth Day and Arbor Day. As part of this study, we went to the nursery and bought an apple tree for Dora to plant. We have a very small yard, so it might seem a bit crazy for us to be planting an apple tree. A few years ago, however, I learned about dwarf fruit trees. Since then, I have vowed to eventually have a mini orchard in our yard. We currently have a peach tree, an apple tree, and a cherry tree. The cherry tree, however, is a sour cherry tree, which I did not realize when I bought it. I think I am going to get rid of it, as we just don’t use sour cherries and don’t have the extra space. In addition to dwarf fruit trees, we are once again trying to raise a vegetable garden. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might remember that I gave this up before, as we got rats from our rock wall, which abuts a city street. I have now learned some new techniques for preventing rats, so am giving this a go again. I also hope to start raising chickens in a couple of years. Eventually, I’d like to have an urban farm. I am a bit constrained by our homeowner’s association and city ordinances, but as this recession continues year, after year, and people are becoming more and more eco-conscious, not to mention health-conscious, I have noticed that our city is letting up some on the rules regarding urban farming. In fact, they are in the process of creating a community garden, so if the rats return, at least we’ll have that option! Smile

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Labels: Gardening, Montessori, Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

An Eggstrodinary Week

Yarn Egg

This week was “spring break” around here, but Dora and I did have some eggy fun. Interestingly, she refused to dye Easter eggs, so that was one eggy activity that we did not do. We made an egg out of yarn and a balloon, which we then popped. This project has been floating around Pinterest a lot lately, but I used the directions from Boutique Girls. After reviewing Boutique Girls pictures more closely, I realized that she used crochet thread, but it looked like yarn to me, so we used yarn. I was very nervous that ours would not work out, as I had to alter the method quite a bit. I found that our yarn just would not stick, unless we kept the whole thing in the liquid starch the whole time and rolled the balloon and yarn in the starch as we went. As is, we had trouble getting the yarn to stay on in certain directions, so used more yarn than I would have preferred. Obviously, using crochet thread instead, probably would have rectified this problem.. At the same time, that night, as our egg was drying, I saw another picture of this activity on Pinterest, so guess I should just be glad that our “egg” didn’t “fail”. Smile.

We did have unusual results with our “rubber” egg, which was supposed to shrink and grow. We were able to remove the egg shell, buy soaking it in vinegar, and indeed it was quite rubbery then.Egg Experiment After Vinegar 1

Then we soaked our rubbery egg in sugar water, which was supposed to cause it to shrink. None of the blogs I read said how much sugar to use to make the sugar water, so at first, I used 6 sugar cubes in 2 cups of water. The egg grew, so I thought I must not have used enough sugar and added another 14 sugar cubes to the water. It grew more (my photo below is off a bit, as I did not align the left end of the egg with the ruler well). I know a couple of other bloggers used corn syrup, but I just didn’t feel like dealing with that potential mess.

Egg Experiment After Sugar Water 1

We then put the egg in plain water, which is supposed to cause the egg to grow, but given our previous results, I expected that it would shrink instead. We dyed the water purple, just for fun, and it did turn purple, but pretty much stayed the same size. So, go figure….

Egg Experiment After Plain Water 1

Meanwhile, I tried cooking “hard-boiled” eggs using the Alton Brown method, which I read about on Greetings from the Asylum.. It entails cooking the eggs in the oven, instead of boiling them, and it really does produce much better eggs than boiling them. The centers were very yellow and they really did taste more “creamy” as some people have claimed, which I thought was a weird word to use in regards to hard-boiled eggs, but then I tasted them and “creamy” really is the right word to describe them. These were seriously the best “hard-boiled” eggs that I have ever had.

Hard Baked Eggs

Finally, we read the The Easter Egg, by Jan Brett. As secular homeschoolers, I found that it was the only Easter book that I could recommend. All the other secular Easter books that we read were either based on a TV show, inane, or promoted greed. These last two comments are merely my opinion, of course, but as an example, in one very popular book, the main character finds fabulous egg after egg, but rejects them all, because he only wants solid gold eggs for some reason. I’m at a loss as to why anyone would consider this to be a good read for children, other than the book has lift the flaps and the illustrations are gorgeous, with jewel-like eggs. The Easter Egg really is a good read, however, with Jan Brett’s gorgeous illustrations and a story line that teaches about “true beauty”. I hope you all have a wonderful Easter!

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Literature, Montessori, Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Crystal Egg Geodes

Crystal Eggs 3
We made these crystal egg geodes using egg shells, alum, glue, water, and food coloring. The directions are from Martha Stewart. I did not follow the directions very closely, as I did not want to take so long to finish the project, nor was I willing to spend the amount of money needed to buy enough alum to do six batches of these. So I doubled the growing solution recipe and then divided that evenly between six small mason jars. It worked just fine and we were very happy with the results. I would also like to mention that when we microwaved the solution to further melt the alum, it actually made more crystals form on the bottom of the container. So I recommend that you don’t microwave the solution.
Crystal Eggs 2
Crystal Eggs 4
Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff