Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Science Fair Project Ideas

Two years ago my son arrived at school in complete tears because it was science fair day and he didn't have a project. My heart broke for him so in the middle of my day I bailed on work and picked up frozen yogurt to complete a social experiment for him. I showed up with an extra large serving of froyo, a ton of mix-ins and about 10 spoons. My son was pleasantly surprised and felt like such a cool kid as his mom arrived and explained to his classmates that we were performing a mid-day social experiment in lieu of a science fair project. That year's science fair was a breeze though it started out a little dicey.

Last year, my hubby and son went the pre-boxed project route. My guys pulled together a fun with magnets project bought at Micheal's. They have a great assortment

Flash forward to today: it's that time of year again and my son has waited until the very last day to work on his third grade science fair project. Every year I say to him that he should do an optional project if he wants to... WITH DADDY. My hubby doesn't mind, but he's pretty stern about only helping my son after he's initiated all prep. Sounds great, but also unrealistic at times, so this infamous prep. work falls to me.

This year I survey some folks to get their ideas. One quick and easy idea was to match-up brands of bubble gum, compare and contract and find out which brand blows the biggest bubble. Now that's an interactive and fun idea. 

Here are some other cool ideas (from

Taco Sauce Cleaner
You might have heard that taco sauce is great at cleaning pennies. Try this experiment to find out of if it's true, and what ingredients might do the trick.
You'll need:
  • Dirty pennies (try to collect tarnished pennies that all look the same)
  • Taco sauce  (mild sauce from Taco Bell works well)
  • Vinegar
  • Tomato paste
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Small plates
  • Masking tape or sticky note
  1. Place two or three equally tarnished pennies on each of four plates. Use masking tape or a sticky note to mark each plate with the ingredient you are testing (vinegar, tomato paste, salt, and water).
  2. Cover the pennies with the various ingredients and allow them to sit for at least two minutes.
  3. Rinse the pennies from each test plate with water. Much to our surprise, none of the ingredients did a good job of cleaning the dirty pennies. Where did we go wrong? Maybe two or more of the ingredients work together to react against the copper oxide on the penny.
  4. Place two or three equally tarnished pennies on each of three plates. Make three signs that say "Tomato Paste + Vinegar," "Salt + Vinegar," and "Tomato Paste + Salt."
  5. Cover the pennies with each of the mixtures and give the ingredients at least two minutes to react.
  6. Rinse the pennies under water you will find the clear winner is the mixture of vinegar and salt.
Baby Diaper Secret
Help your school-aged kid learn all about polymers--and just what happens in baby sib's diaper.
You'll need:
  • Disposable diapers (several brands)
  • Zipper-lock bag
  • Scissors
  • 8-ounce plastic cup
  • Water
  • Newspaper
  • Salt
  • Spoon
  1. Place a new, unused diaper on the piece of newspaper. Carefully cut through the inside lining and remove all the cotton-like material. Put all the stuffing material into a clean, zipper-lock bag.
  2. Scoop up any of the polymer that may have spilled onto the paper and pour it into the bag with the stuffing. Blow a little air into the bag to make it puff up like a pillow, then seal the bag.
  3. Shake the bag for a few minutes to remove the powdery polymer from the stuffing. Notice how much (or how little) powder falls to the bottom of the bag.
  4. Carefully remove the stuffing from the bag and check out the dry polymer you just extracted from the diaper. 
  5. Pour the polymer into a plastic cup and fill the cup with water. Mix it with your finger until the mixture begins to thicken.
  6. Observe the gel that the polymer and water create. Turn the cup upside-down and see how it has solidified. Take it out and play with it. Amazing stuff!
  7. Put the pieces of gel back into the cup and smoosh them down with your fingers. Add a teaspoon of salt, stir it with a spoon and watch what happens. Salt messes up the gel's water-holding abilities. When you're finished, pour the salt water goo down the drain.
  8. Grab a new diaper and slowly pour about 1/4 cup of warm tap water into the center of the diaper. Hold the diaper over a large pan or sink and continue to add water, a little at a time, until it will hold no more. Keep track of how much water the diaper can absorb before it begins to leak.
Color-Changing Milk
Help your child find out what his/her morning glass of milk has to teach us 
about molecules in a few easy steps.
You'll need:
  • Milk (whole or 2%)
  • Dinner plate
  • Food coloring (red, yellow, green, blue)
  • Dish-washing soap (Dawn brand works well)
  • Cotton swabs
  1. Pour enough milk in the dinner plate to completely cover the bottom to the depth of about 1/4 inch. Allow the milk to settle.
  2. Add one drop of each of the four colors of food coloring—red, yellow, blue and green—to the milk. Keep the drops close together in the center of the plate of milk.
  3. Find a clean cotton swab for the next part of the experiment. Predict what will happen when you touch the tip of the cotton swab to the center of the milk. It's important not to stir the mix. Just touch it with the tip of the cotton swab. Go ahead and try it, then observe what happens.
  4. Now place a drop of liquid dish soap on the other end of the cotton swab. Place the soapy end of the cotton swab back in the middle of the milk and hold it there for 10 to 15 seconds. Look at that burst of color!
  5. Add another drop of soap to the tip of the cotton swab and try it again. Experiment with placing the cotton swab at different places in the milk. Notice that the colors in the milk continue to move even when the cotton swab is removed.

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