SCIENCE 🔬 ⚗️⚖️ Feed

Science in a Bottle: DIY 🍂Terrarium🍃 and The 🌧️ Water Cycle (Science🔬⚗️⚖️ 101 🎥Series 🎇)

Today, we are learning about the water cycle by making a terrarium and simulating rain, while understanding a very basic concept of how clouds hold water. Did you know that the amount of water on Earth is finite and has been the same since the early formation of the Earth? Yes, the glass of water you might be holding in your hand could have fallen from the sky when Brachiosaurus walked through lakes feeding on plants. And, when knights and kings ruled the land, they drank from wells, your glass of water could have been part of. And that same glass of water might fall from the sky as snowflakes hundred years from now. 

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To make a terrarium you will need:

  • nature's objects: such as bark, moss, marbles, leaves, pinecones, acorns, chestnuts (you can also use pea gravel or potting soil);
  • we also added forest animal figurines (buy here);
  • water + blue water coloring;
  • cotton balls to resemble clouds;
  • Gauze to seal the terrarium with a rubber-band.

 DSC_0087Since the Earth has a limited amount of water: the water keeps going around and around in what we call a "Water Cycle." This cycle is made up of few main parts:

  • Evaporation: the sun heating up water in oceans, rivers, and lakes, and turning it into vapor or steam. Also transpiration: when plants lose water out of their leaves.
  • Condensation: when water vapor gets cold (usually high up in the atmosphere where the temperature is cooler), it changes back into liquid, forming clouds.
  • Precipitation occurs when so much water has condensed that the air cannot hold it anymore. The clouds get heavy and water falls back to Earth in the form of rain, hail, sleet or snow.
  • Collection: when water falls back to Earth, it may fall back into the oceans, lakes or rivers or it may end up on land, soaking into the earth and becoming a part of the "groundwater" which plants and animals use to drink. Or it may run over the soil and collect in the oceans, lakes or rivers where the cycle starts ... ALL OVER AGAIN!

 DSC_0094Children used a dropper and blue-colored water to saturate the "clouds" causing precipitation.

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A terrarium (plural: terraria or terrariums) is a glass (or a see-through) container containing soil and plants, which is usually sealed, however, it can also be open to the atmosphere (similar to what we created).

Children learned, while practicing fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination, that when clouds become too heavy, it starts to rain. 

DSC_0094On the other hand, closed terraria create a unique environment for plant growth, as the transparent walls allow for both heat and light to enter the terrarium.
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This experiment was very illustrative to discuss the water cycle and how it works: 

  • Through transpiration, the moisture is carried from the soil through the plant's roots to small pores on the leaves.
  •  Evaporation occurs when tiny drops of water transform from a liquid to a gas (generally due to increased temperature).
  • Condensation takes place when the water vapor collects and turns from a gas back into a liquid.
  • And finally, precipitation happens when a lot of condensation forms, getting too heavy and falling to the ground, as here in the form of rain.

DSC_0087If you create a sealed terrarium, the heat entering through glass walls would naturally allow for the creation of a small scale water cycle. This happens because moisture from both the soil and plants evaporates in the elevated temperatures inside the terrarium. This water vapor then condenses on the walls of the glass jar and eventually falls back to the plants and soil below, representing a complete natural water cycle. 

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As the light passes through the transparent terrarium wall, this can also be a fun experiment on photosynthesis, which is an important aspect of plant growth.

For more on Science, and property of water, see here "Pour 💦it in! Liquid Illusion," and also see here a video post "🎶Musical 💦Water 🌈Glasses (Science🔬⚗️⚖️ 101 🎥Series 🎇)."


🌊Ocean 🌋Volcano 💦HydroGels Lava Lamp powered by 💥Alka Seltzer (Science 🔬⚗️⚖️ 101 🎥Series 🎇)

Today, we are experimenting with the concept of density of liquids, the properties of carbon dioxide gas and its reaction with hydrogels. So, how about making a water beads lava lamp powered by Alka-Seltzer?

DSC_0048What you will need: 

🔹colored water (we are using blue food coloring to simulate the ocean),
🔹vegetable oil,
🔹blue hydrogel beads (buy here),
🔹Alka Seltzer (or any other fast dissolving tablet).

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When you add💧water to the oil: what happens to the two liquids? Oil and water are immiscible, meaning that they will not mix together since the force of attraction between the molecules of the same liquid is greater than the force of attraction between the two different liquids. So, you end up with beautiful dancing bubbles in a home-made lava lamp!

DSC_0049Now, what will happen when you add Alka Seltzer to our "lava lamp"?

Science mystery💡revealed: Alka-Seltzer tablet reacts with water to make carbon dioxide gas. These bubbles attach themselves to the water molecules (and hydrogels), causing them to float upwards. When the bubbles pop, the water droplets sink back to the bottom, creating an "ocean volcano!"

The oil and water do not mix, but rather the oil breaks up into small little drops, which float on the surface because water is heavier and denser than the oil. So, while the water is sinking to the bottom, the oil is rising to the top, bringing the hydrogels along, creating a beautiful display of bubbles and gel-beads going up and down. 
DSC_0049 🔹Subject: early Chemistry;

🔹Skills a child is developing: mathematics, observation, and visual skills;

🔹Concept: density, immiscibility.

DSC_0049Unfortunately, this lamp does not last long, unless you keep adding Alka Seltzer.

See here a similar science experiment "Lava Lamp: Oil vs 🌈 💧Water Density Immiscibility ⚗️Experiment with 💥Alka Seltzer (Science 🔬⚗️⚖️ 101 🎥Series 🎇)."

For more on 💧hydrogel beads, read here "💉 Inside of the BODY Anatomy Unit Study."

For more on the property of water, see here "Pour 💦it in! Liquid Illusion (Science🔬⚗️⚖️ 101 🎥Series 🎇)."

For more on science experiments:

  • See here a video-post "Float or Sink❓Tangerine 🍊 Science Experiment (Science 🔬 💡⚖️ 101 🎥 Series 🎇)." Also, see here "Walnut Shell ⛵Sailboats 💦Water Science Experiment (Science 🔬 💡⚖️ 101 🎥 Series 🎇). "
  • For baking soda experiments: see here "Magic Balloon (Baking Soda and Vinegar Reaction) Science🔬⚗️⚖️ 101 🎥Series 🎇," and here a video-post "🌋 Erupting Volcano Science Experiment 🔬 💡⚖️ 101 🎥 Series 🎇."
  • Also check out here  "💛💙❤️Primary Colors, 💦Water & Paper Capillary Action ⌛️Timelapse ⚗️ Kids Science Experiment (🌈 Rainbow Walking Water)."
  • For more on color-mixing, please see here " 👔 Father's Day🎈Balloon Color-mixing DIY Craft (Sensorial 🖐️👀👂👅👃 Activities 101 🎥 Series 🎇). 

DIY 💉 Blood Model (BODY Anatomy Unit Study, Science🔬⚗️⚖️ 101 🎥 Series 🎇)

We are continuing our BODY Anatomy unit study. Today, it is all about 💉blood! Recently, Adrian, after getting a scab, asked me: "What is blood made of?" 🤔The cells and particles that make up our blood are so minuscule! So I wanted to break the blood down into its components, examine each, discuss its functionality and then see what will happen when the components mix together. With this easy DIY Blood model, we will explore up close what is in just one drop of blood! We will also learn what the white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets really look like in comparison to one another.

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What you will need to make this 💉 blood model:

🔴 Cheerios with red food coloring to make red blood cells;
⚪️ white marshmallows to resemble white blood cells; 
💜 purple beads for platelets;
💛 water with yellow food coloring to make plasma.

DSC_0041First, offer a child to make blood "plasma" by adding yellow food coloring to the water. 

DSC_0041Once the plasma is ready, make "red blood cells" by adding red coloring to Cheerios.

DSC_0041Mix Cheerios and let them soak up the red food coloring. 

 DSC_0041Red blood cells are ready! 

Observe what will happen once all the blood ingredients are mixed together.

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Let your child explore the mixture and then discuss the parts of the blood and its functionality:

  • 🔴 Red blood cells carry oxygen.
  • ⚪️ White blood cells are our "soldiers" - they fight germs, bacteria, and viruses.
  • 💜 Platelets facilitate clotting and help heal cuts.
  • 💛 Plasma helps the blood move through veins and arteries.

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Your 💉blood makes up 8% of your body weight. Did you know that there are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your body, which is twice the circumference of our 🌎 planet Earth! Blood plays a very important role in your body’s everyday functions, such as carrying life-potent oxygen and nutrients from your ❤️️heart to other parts of the body. Blood also maintains the optimal body temperature, keeping you warm or cool day and night.


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We are using First Human Body Encyclopedia (buy here) book as a reference. The book introduces inner workings of the human body with fascinating facts and full-color photos and illustrations, making anatomy accessible and fun for any age!


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Our body contains a lot of various systems and organs, each performing an important specific function. I hope that this simple 💉DIY ⚗️science experiment will help your child better understand the amazing human BODY and how it works!

See here our entire "💉 Inside of the BODY Anatomy Unit Study."


The BODY: 5 Basic 👅Tastes (Brain & Senses, Tongue Taste Map)

We need to eat and drink in order to survive, but it is the taste and smell that make these essential everyday activities so enjoyable! A tongue, our taste detector, is a big muscle covered with more than 10,000 clusters of taste! Under a Tongue Taste Map theory, each cluster of taste buds recognizes a particular kind of flavor: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (savory) as saliva dissolves the food in the mouth and washes it over tiny taste buds between the bumps on the tongue. 

We used First Human Body Encyclopedia (buy here) book as a reference. The book introduces inner workings of the human body with fascinating facts and full-color photos and illustrations, making anatomy accessible and fun for any age! Children also enjoy Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body book (buy here). The author, through simple fun rhymes, takes a young reader for a ride through the human body where they visit the right and left sides of the brain, meet the Feletons the Skeletons, scuba dive through the blood system, follow food and water through the digestive tract, and a whole lot more!

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So to explore the five basic tastes, I offered children to place various foods on different parts of the tongue and determine if the particular food tastes sweeter/saltier, etc. in some parts of the tongue more than the others. 

DSC_0033Sour [the sides of the tongue] taste detects acidity. Vinegar is sour as well as fruit such as lemon, grape, orange, tamarind, and sometimes melon. Food that has gone "bad" from bacteria or mold might taste sour too. 

DSC_0013Other sour foods include lemon, vinegar, and pickles.

 
DSC_0013Salt-detecting taste buds can be found on the lips as well as tongue. Salty food such as salt, soy sauce, and miso tells you if something is rich in minerals and electrolytes.
DSC_0013Bitter [back of the tongue] taste tells you if something is likely poisonous (most medicines are if ingested in excess). Examples of bitter food are coffee, unsweetened cocoa, South American mate, bitter gourd, olives, citrus peel, many plants in the Brassicaceae family, bitter greens (dandelion, broccoli rabe), wild chicory, and escarole.
DSC_0013Sweet  [tip of the tongue] taste tells you if the food is rich in sugar and carbohydrates. The first milk the child receives from his/her mother is sweet. Sweetness such as sugar and honey is the key to enhancing the flavor of baked goods. Also, most fruit is sweet. 

The last taste, Umami [evenly distributed throughout the tongue] is the savory taste of foods rich in protein like meat or soy. Other examples of umami are foods such as mushrooms, vegetables (e.g., ripe tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, spinach, celery, etc.) or green tea, and fermented and aged products (e.g., cheeses/ blue cheese, miso, umeboshi, soy sauce, etc), anchovies.

⚠️ An update: current scientific research refutes the " tongue taste🗺 map" and suggests that rather every single cluster of taste buds on the 👅 tongue is capable of detecting every single one of five tastes. However, despite the viability of the tongue taste map, this activity is 👧🏻👦🏼children's ❤️favorite! They had so much fun stimulating their 😋senses and trying discerning different flavors! 


 We also played a game: 🙈Can you tell what kind of food are you smelling/tasting?

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I offered children a tasting tray with different foods and a blindfold to isolate just one sense: the concept which is a cornerstone of Montessori Sensorial work. Maria Montessori believed that by designing materials and activities which isolate the one quality to be worked with by the child, the child will be afforded an opportunity to intensely focus and concentrate on that one quality, without the distraction from other senses. So, today, we are concentrating on the sense of 👃🏻smell and 👅taste. 

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Did you know that much of what we think of as 👅taste is actually 👃🏻smell❗️Scientists estimate that the nose can recognise a trillion different scents! The back of your nose is linked to your mouth at the throat so that you can smell the food as you chew it. That is why when you have a 🤒cold, tiny hairs in your 👃🏻nose get clogged with mucus. This stops them from wafting smell particles deep into your nose and makes it hard to smell or taste things. That is exactly why you cannot "taste" anything when you have a stuffy nose!

DSC_0022Based on the above-mentioned, I encouraged my children to 👃🏻smell the food and describe the aroma first before tasting it: does it smell sweet? Sour? Is the smell familiar? Can you guess what type of food is it?

DSC_0022Does it smell sweet? Tart? Tangy?
DSC_0022This activity is actually my children's favorite! They get to stimulate their senses and have a snack afterward!

For more about the BODY, see here the post "💉 Inside of the BODY Anatomy Unit Study."


Lava Lamp: Oil vs 🌈 💧Water Density Immiscibility ⚗️Experiment with 💥Alka Seltzer (Science 🔬⚗️⚖️ 101 🎥Series 🎇)

My children have been fascinated with Science over the summer, and it has been their favorite subject because the result is usually unexpected, the activity is 🙌🏻hands-on, utilizing many 👁✋🏻 scenes, and most importantly, it is fun! So, today we are experimenting with the density of oil vs. water by making a "lava lamp."

🔹Subject: early Chemistry;
🔹Skills the child is developing: mathematics, observation, and visual skills;
🔹Concept: density, immiscibility.

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What you will need: 
🔹colored water (buy glass test tubes here and the wooden rack here); 
🔹vegetable oil;
🔹droppers (buy here) - I like that the silicone bulb is removable so that you can dry the inside of the dropper to prevent mold development;
🔹Alka Seltzer (fast dissolving tablet).


 When you add colored💧water to the oil: What happens to the two liquids?

Science mystery is💡revealed: Oil and water are two liquids that are immiscible, meaning they will not mix together since the force of attraction between the molecules of the same liquid is greater than the force of attraction between the two different liquids. So, you end up with beautiful 🌈colorful dancing bubbles in a home-made lava lamp!
 
To make the abstract concept of density more concrete, think of two zippered plastic bags of the same size (same volume). One bag contains 10 pebbles and the other 20. The bag containing 20 pebbles is denser than the bag containing 10 because it contains more material – even though it is the same material (pebbles), thus describing the relative densities of different concentrations of the same substance. Further, imagine that a third bag has 10 very large pebbles. The volume of the material is the same, the number of molecules (pebbles) are the same, however, the third bag with large pebbles contains more material - it has a greater mass and so a greater density.
 
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Did you know that doing laundry utilizes the concept of getting oil and water to mix? Usually, what makes our clothes dirty is grease. which contains oil. Water alone is not attracted to the oily compounds. However, detergent binds to dirt, grease, and oil because its one end is attracted to oil-like molecules. The other half of the detergent binds to water molecules, allowing the soiling agent to be washed away. Hooray! Clean clothes!

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Now, what will happen if we add Alka Seltzer to our "lava lamp"?

Science mystery is💡revealed: Alka-Seltzer tablet reacts with water to make carbon dioxide gas. These bubbles attach themselves to the colored water and cause them to float to the surface. When the bubbles pop, the color sinks back to the bottom. And, answering Julia's question: "How come, we had mixed so many colors and the only color you see is green?" I guess, the children had added mostly the two primary colors: yellow and blue, creating a beautiful secondary color green! 

DSC_0029Oil and water do not mix, but rather oil breaks up into small little drops, which float on the surface because water is heavier and denser than the oil. So while the water is sinking to the bottom, the oil is rising to the top, creating a beautiful display of bubbles going up and down.

When my children can not stop saying "Wow!" and 😃giggle, I know it was a perfect science experiment! The home-made lava lamp is a great way to entertain your children while exposing them to early chemistry. Unfortunately, this lamp does not last long.

For more on the property of water, see here "Pour 💦it in! Liquid Illusion (Science🔬⚗️⚖️ 101 🎥Series 🎇)."

For more on science experiments:

  • See here a video-post "Float or Sink❓Tangerine 🍊 Science Experiment (Science 🔬 💡⚖️ 101 🎥 Series 🎇)." Also, see here "Walnut Shell ⛵Sailboats 💦Water Science Experiment (Science 🔬 💡⚖️ 101 🎥 Series 🎇). "
  • For baking soda experiments: see here "Magic Balloon (Baking Soda and Vinegar Reaction) Science🔬⚗️⚖️ 101 🎥Series 🎇," and here a video-post "🌋 Erupting Volcano Science Experiment 🔬 💡⚖️ 101 🎥 Series 🎇."
  • Also check out here  "💛💙❤️Primary Colors, 💦Water & Paper Capillary Action ⌛️Timelapse ⚗️ Kids Science Experiment (🌈 Rainbow Walking Water)."
  • For more on color-mixing, please see here " 👔 Father's Day🎈Balloon Color-mixing DIY Craft (Sensorial 🖐️👀👂👅👃 Activities 101 🎥 Series 🎇).