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Kickbutt's Science Notebook
July 16, 2012 at 8:29 AM
As you all have no doubt seen, I've been writing one post per day on a kitchen experiment. I just thought, for reference, it would be easier to have in one location. I'll just add a new experiment each day in the replies. Keep on learning!

Ok, I admit it, I'm addicted to science. I would happily throw away all other subjects and just devote my kids learning to that one, if it were possible. Lol! As many of you know, I used to be an aeronautical/electrical engineer. I hold degrees in Physics & Geology. In this post I'll be posting my favorite science experiments. They most often include products found around your house (no fancy equipment needed!)

Each of my kids has a Science Journal. In it they write out every experiment, hypothesis and result. I have them format it the way many colleges require for Lab classes. The journal is one of those bound notebooks.


Experiment title

Supplies: a billeted list of all supplies, with exact measurements and weights

Process: a numbered list of the step by step process used, plus any variations

Hypothesis: what the kids think might happen as a result of the experiment

Conclusion: what the final result of the experiment was, did it match their hypotheses - why or why not. This also includes a paragraph or so explanation of what happened.

Voila. Science is complete! We don't stick to a specific form of science usually, we tend to mix things us. But we do an experiment just about every day.



  • KickButtMama
    July 16, 2012 at 8:29 AM
    Experiment 1: Fireproofing a balloon

    Did you know you can fireproof a plain old balloon? We have been discussing architectural fireproofing and the major effect it can have on structural integrity during a fire. To demonstrate this theory, we lit a small candle and blew up a regular balloon. As this experiment involves both loud balloon popping & making a mess, my boys love it.

    Now you are ready to experiment with fireproofing..

    So here's what you'll need:

    Several balloons
    A candle
    Some water


    Make sure your candle is away from all electrical outlets. I usually place it in the sink.
    Blow up 2 balloons. Fill one balloon with a bit of water, as a water balloon, use a paper towel to make sure the surface of the balloon is completely dry. Take one of the air filled balloons and coat it with water on the outside. You can also do one balloon that is both filled with water and coated with water.

    1. Light your candle.
    2. Take your dry air filled balloon and hold it over the flame. It will pop almost immediately.
    3. Now try your different fireproofing techniques.
    4. Hold the dry, water filled balloon over the flame. It will pop, but it takes a bit longer than the air filled balloon.
    5. Hold the wet air filled balloon over the flame, it will take much longer to pop.


    Why does it take longer to pop with the water on the outside? Well the water molecules act as an insulating layer. The water must first heat up to plastic melting temp before it will pop the balloon.
  • KickButtMama
    July 16, 2012 at 8:30 AM
    Experiment 2: Eddy Currents

    As many of you know I used to be an aeronautic engineer. I helped design holographic inspections for the rockets for NASA and I also worked with Eddy Currents, used as a non-destructive testing tool. You see, there are often microscopic scratches on the surfaces of jet engine parts.the vibrational forces exerted on an engine in use, and over time, can cause these scratches to propagate into actual cracks. In order to prevent catastrophe, engine makers use ultrasound and eddy currents to detect these microscopic cracks, so they can be sanded away.

    Eddy currents are very cool. Anyone with a strong magnet can see them in action. So I thought I'd include an experiment that demonstrates this phenomena - which is great for kids of all ages!

    What you'll need:

    A strong magnet
    A section of copper pipe
    A section of some other material pipe (or even a toilet paper/paper towel roll)


    1) Stand thepipes up on end, or your student can hold them in their hand, vertical.
    2) hold the magnet over the opening on one end of the non-copper tubing
    3) let the magnet drop, it will fall right down at the forces of gravity
    4) now hold the magnet over the opening at one end of the copper tubing
    5) let the magnet go, watch what happens!

    Understanding the experiment:

    The magnet will float in the copper tube. This is the result of a specific form of Electro-Magnetic force called the Eddy current. As you know, copper is a conductor of electricity. When the magnetic field interacts with the surface of the tube, the metal begins to generate its own magnetic field/current. This was discovered by a scientist by the name of Michael Faraday. The magnetic field created in the metal opposes the one surrounding the magnet. What happens when the same polarized ends of 2 magnets interact? They push eachother away. The same is true here. The magnetic field generated in the pipe is calle the Eddy Current.

    This all falls within the Physics law called Lenz's Law. Older kids can research Michael Faraday and the Russian physicist Heinrich Lenz. For another simple experiment demonstrating Lenz's Law, check out the Swinging Magnet experiment
  • KickButtMama
    July 16, 2012 at 8:30 AM
    Experiment 3: Acids and Bases

    For today's experiment we will be doing some kitchen chemistry. It's super easy and fun for kids of all ages!

    Experiment - Determining pH

    What You Need-

    Some Red Cabbage
    Lemon Juice,
    Baking Soda,
    milk of magnesia (if you have it on hand)
    PH chart (like the one found
    Medium sized bowl
    Clear cups
    Some plastic containers


    1) grate some cabbage into the medium sized bowl
    2) Cover cabbage with cold water and allow it to sit for 45 minutes.
    3) Strain the water mixture into a plastic container
    4) Pour an equal amount of juice into the cups
    5) Add 1 tsp baking soda to all but one of the cups. Mix. This should turn the mixture blue, as baking soda is a base.
    6) Add lemon juice to one of the blue cups, a little at a time. How much do you need to add before bringing the color back to normal?
    7) repeat #6 for each of your other liquids. One in each cup. If the liquid remains blue, then your substance is a base. But you should notice different liquids require different amounts to change the color back to normal.


    We use red cabbage because the chemical makeup of the juice allows it to dramatically change color when mixed with other substances. This makes it easy to see the alkaline (pH) differences. Now, a little about pH - when you mix an acid and base, they cancel eachother out, neutralizing them. There are many neutral substances though, water and milk, for example.

    So, what is pH? Really all acidity is is a measurement of Hydrogen ions in a substance. They more hydrogen molecules in a substance the higher the acidity. Any substance added to water that causes an increase in the concentration of hudrogen molecules is considered an Acid. And substance added to water that decreases the concentration is considered a Base. The lase category of substances, as those that help resist changes in pH, these substances are called Buffers. As they help protect the water from changing pH level.

    Now that you know which substances are acids. Think of which one would best remove the grime on an old penny. The substance with the highest acidity level. This is the one that you needed to add less of to turn the cabbage water back to its original color. Drop a penny in an old cup, add a bit of your acid ad watch it work!
  • KickButtMama
    July 16, 2012 at 8:30 AM
    Experiment 4: inertia and tensile strength

    I love inertia, it's so fun to play with!

    This experiment will greatly get these kids thinking. Have them brainstorm as a team to come up with a hypothesis (prediction) of what they think will happen and WHY. We have experiment journals, here the kids keep track of the supplies, process, hypothesis, and results from all our daily experiments. Most of our experiments use things you should have readily available around the house.


    Water bottle (or small soda bottle)
    4 Pieces of string about 40 cm long (cotton is best, but you can judge the tensile strength of various fibers in another experiment)

    1) tie one end of 2 pieces of string around the neck of the bottle
    2) tie the other end of ONE of the strings onto something solid like a railing, so the bottle will hang down
    3) holding the other end of the other string in your hand. Pull slowly. Where will the string break?
    4) repeat steps one-three, but this time jerk the string quickly. Where does it break now?

    Understanding Inertia:
    Inertia is a part of Newtons First Law of Motion. "An object at rest wants to stay at rest, whereas an object in motion wants to remain in motion." Inertia is the measurement of how hard it is to get an object to change motion. For instance. One example of inertia would be how hard do you have to push the breaks to stop a car that is rolling downhill in neutral. Or, an example for kids, how much pressure do you have to apply to get your matchbox car to zoom across the room.

    In this instance. Inertia is proven because, in effect, the motion of your arm wants to continue on, but it comes to the length of the string. In order to maintain inertia, it breaks the, why do you think they broke in different places?

    Understanding Tensile Strength:

    Tensile strength refers to The amount of stretching strength a material has before breaking. For instance, if you have a waterski rope, and try to tow a house with it, it will break because the force/weight of the object exceeds the tensile strength of the rope. But if you tow a boat with a thick chain, then it will probably be ok, because a steal chain has a high tensile strength. But if you add in inertia and momentum, then it decreases the tensile strength of an object because of Newtons Second law "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction"" so as you pull left an equal force yanks the rope left. The faster you pull the greater the force/momentum, the smaller the tensile strength...get it?
  • KickButtMama
    July 16, 2012 at 8:31 AM
    Experiment 5: Making Plastic

    Ok, I love chemistry! I think is is so fun, and educational, when you can see with your own two eyes some substance radically change. In this experiment you can change a glass of milk into a plastic! (no joke!)

    1) 1 glass of full cream milk (I also suggest doing this with a variety of creams and milks if you can afford it - whipping cream, whole milk, etc, to see how it affects the results)
    2) vinegar
    3) eye dropper
    4) wooden/plastic spoon
    5) microwave (or a bowl of freshly boiled water)


    1) fill a glass about 3/4 of the way with the whole cream milk
    2) microwave the glass for about 1 minute until milk is warm
    3) Fill the eye dropper with vinegar
    4) stir milk with spoon as you slowly add the vinegar
    5) Hold your hand over a sink (MAKE SURE THE MILK ISN'T TOO HOT!) pour the 'milk' over your hand, catching the plastic!


    The cream in the milk contains a chemical called casein. When you add the vinegar, the casein separates from the rest of the milk. The molecules on casein are loosely bonded together in a chain, making form on plastic!

    Casein is a bonding protein found in many foods that contain Phosphoric Acid. It really is also included in may products like plastic, paint, etc. Therefore, it can be found in two forms: edible and technical. Casein is similar to salt in that it doesn't change form when added to a substance. I this experiment we can see that, as we are just separating those molecules from the rest of the molecules in the milk. Casein is a protein and acts as a binding agent. So it is an important part of making cheese and yogurt.

    On a side note: there have been studies that show a link in adverse effects of casein in those with autism. Many with autism have food sensitivities, similar to allergies. So families will avoid dairy, thinking they are avoiding the allergy, not realizing it is the casein (found in various other foods) that might be the culprit.
  • KickButtMama
    July 16, 2012 at 8:31 AM
    Experiment 6: State of Matter - Microwaving Ivory Soap

    Talk about cool chemistry, in this experiment you can see the affect of microwaves, it is super exciting!

    A bar of Ivory soap
    Paper or ceramic plate

    1) unwrap the soap and place it in the center of the plate
    2) set the plate in the microwave and set the time to 2 minutes
    3) Press start and let the time tun out
    4) Once the microwave stops, CAREFULLY remove the plate from the oven and allow to cool for about 2 minutes until it is cool enough to handle the soap.
    5) hold the soap in your hand, how does it feel?


    The microwave heats the soap causing it to soften. The microwaves then excite the water and air molecules in the soap. This causes the soap to lose its shape and expand as the molecules try to move in opposite directions from eachother. Evaporation of the water causes more air pockets. Since the soap has softened, and the molecules have moved away from eachother and caused air pockets, the result is a foam like substance.

    Remember there are 3 forms of matter: solid, liquid and gas. In a gas the molecules are very far apart, very rarely do they interact with each other, there are no bonds holding them together. In a liquid, some of the molecules are bound, some are not. In a solid, all the molecules are tightly bound together. In this experiment we are changing the state of matter from a tightly bonded solid to a more pliable liquids material.
  • KickButtMama
    July 16, 2012 at 9:08 AM
    Experiment 7: Making Rain

    This experiment is fun, especially for elementary and preschoolers. We did it as a part of our study of the water cycle. CAUTION: you must have adult supervision for this experiment as you are dealing with a stove top and boiling water. This experiment also demonstrates how temperature is one of the main factors in changing the state of matter.

    * one hard covered book
    * stove top heating element
    * one small sauce pan
    * freezer
    * water

    1) place your hardcover book in the freezer and allow it to sit there at least over night.
    2) boil a pot of water (demonstrating evaporation)
    3) once you have a cloud of steam rising from the pot, hold the book at an angle in the steam, making rain! - Watch out for your fingers! Steam is very hot!!


    First in changing the states of matter:
    This is the approach to take with older kids who may already be familiar with the water cycle. In order to change a substance to different states of matter (liquid, solid, gas) you must apply a change in temp. A solid is a substance that has the molecules tightly packed together with stong bonds, at room temperature. A liquid is one where the molecules are spread out, some have bonds to other molecules, some are free floating. A gas is me where the atoms/molecules float independantly from hte other atoms, no bonds between them, rarely do they interact with the other atoms. Water is one of the easiest to see the change in matter. If you apply heat, the liquid will evaporate, this results in steam - aka water vapor (a gas). If you apply a dramatic drop in temperature (like in a freezer) the h2o molecules will bond tightly together creating a solid (ice).

    Now, most children are taught these 3 states of matter at fairly young ages. But did you know there are actually 5 states of matter? The unsung heroes of matter are Plasma and the Bose-Einstein Condensiate (BEC). Plasma as a state of matter was only introduced in 1879, and the BEC was only recognized in 1995!! In a BEC the atoms are even more richly packed than in a solid. Most solids are brittle because of the way the molecules are bound (ever shattered a piece of ice?), but BEC are extremely strong, and not easy to break. A plasma is a cross between a solid and a liquid. It has properties of both.

    Scientists are still hard at work on understanding matter. In fact, most scientists now refer to 'states of matter' as a Phase. For example, with water. If you start at a very low temperature you have a BEC, slowly increase the temp and youll have a solid (ice). If you slowly increase the temperature, you'll get a plasma (slushy like material, some ice, some water). Keep the temp increasing and you'll eventually get a liquid, keep the gem going and eventually you get a gas. So it is like your water has gone through different phases based on temperature.

    In a nutshell, matter is understood based on 2 things: temperature and the density of the molecules.

    Water cycle:

    Did you know the amount of water found on Earth hasn't changed for billions of years? The only things that have changed are the location and whether or not the water is drinkable! The water cycle is responsible for both. It is never ending, which is why it is considered a cycle. At any given moment there are millions of gallons of water all around the globe: from oceans and seas (which contain a lot of salt); to lakes, rivers and ponds which are fresh water (low salt, but higher in other natural chemicals; to clouds, snow, ice and rain! Water is everywhere. To keep water moving about we rely on the water cycle. You see, the sun heats the surfaces of most water (puddles, rivers, oceans etc.) the only water unaffected by this first stage is water found below the ground or ice. As the sun heats the water some molecules seperate and turn to water vapor, a gas. Since water vapor is lighter than air it raises high into the sky. Way up high in our atmosphere it is very cold, the water vapor then wants to bind back to a solid, but our atmosphere is vast, so the molecules have trouble finding eachother in order to bond. Istead the bond with dust particles. This is the reason for the awesome shapes of a snowflake. Many water molecules will bind with individual dust particles, growing into ever larger snowflakes (ice). The particles might even find eachother, creating clouds. But the sun strikes these atoms as well, melting the ice back to water, which is heavier than air so it falls back to the ground as rain. (in winter the snow/ice particles grow until they are too heavy to remain aloft and they fall as snow or ice!). Once the rain is on the ground it flows down stream, back to the oceans, rivers lakes, etc.

    Happy learning!!
  • Boobah
    by Boobah
    July 16, 2012 at 12:10 PM
    These are fantastic!
  • KickButtMama
    July 17, 2012 at 1:34 PM
    The next 3 experiments all deal with gas pressure. They are among my kids favorite experiments - but, as boys, anything exploding or seeming like magic will always be a hit!

    Experiment 8: Exploding Soda

    CAUTION: you'll want to do this outside away from your house, as it makes a fantastic mess.

    2 liter bottle of soda unopened
    1 package of mint mentos


    1) set the soda bottle in a wide open space and carefully open the top. (don't shake up the soda as you want as much of hte carbon dioxide to remain in the bottle as possible)
    2) this is the tricky party. You'll want to drop at least 5 mentos into the soda at the same time. I stacked the mentos carefully so they could drop, one right after the other into the bottle.
    3) duck and run! The soda will shoot up about 15 feet into the air!


    Soda is backed with carbon dioxide, that's what all the fizz is about. A mento may seem smooth on the surface, but in actuality the entire surface is pitted with hundreds of microscopic holes. When they are dropped into the soca much of the carbon zooms through these holes, building up the gas pressure to explosive levels, as the pressure inside the bottle becomes greater than the air pressure outside, the liquid seeks to go where there is less pressure, outside the bottle. This is a similar concept to releasing a blown up balloon - it will zoom around as the pressure within the balloon is rapidly released.
  • KickButtMama
    July 17, 2012 at 1:47 PM
    Experiment 9: the Coin Launcher


    1 small bottle of soda, empty (16 oz is a good size)
    1 pieces of tissue paper
    1 quarters
    Safety glasses


    1) put the top on tightly on the empty bottle, also place it in the freezer
    2) let sit for About 30 minutes
    3) observe what changes to the bottle, but leave it in the freezer so it doesn't warm
    4) wrap the quarter in the tissue paper
    5) get the paper wet
    6) with the bottle still in the freezer, remove the top and place the tissue wrapped quarter over the opening.
    7) allow to sit in freezer until tissue is frozen
    8) take bottle out of the freezer. Wear the safety glasses!
    9) gently warm the bottle in your hands pointing away from you. Watch what happens!


    When the bottle is frozen it shrinks as the air molecules pull toward the middle of the boodle. When the frozen tissue is in place of the top, it should maintain this vacuum. (if he coin doesnt shoot off, then the tissue dint form a good enough seal). When the bottle is then warmed the air molecules push back away from the center. This causes a change in pressure that pushes the coin away.

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