Did you know I released a new book a couple of months ago?
This Is Rocket Scienceincludes 70 fun experiments for kids (and adults ) showing you how to use everyday items like bottles, cardboard, glue and tape to build awesome rocket ships, paper spinners and mobile rocket launch pads, all while learning about the scientific concepts behind space travel!!
We had huge amounts of fun creating the book so I hope you love it as much as we do!
Win a copy of This Is Rocket Science
To be in with a chance of winning your very own copy of This Is Rocket Science complete the rafflecopter form below.
This lovely, colourful jar experiment is super easy to set up and carry out but looks amazing!
What you’ll need:
A jar or glass
Fill the glass or jar about 3/4 full of warm water
Carefully pour a small layer of oil onto the surface of the water and leave to settle. Note that oil and water don’t mix!
Use a pipette to carefully drop small amounts of food colouring into the jar. You should see the food colouring drop through the oil into the water leaving colourful trails behind.
The Science Bit
Why do oil and water not mix?
Water is a polar molecule – it’s structure means that is has a positive charge one end and a negative charge the other. Water molecules stick together because the positive end of one water molecule is attracted to the negative end of another. The structure of an oil molecule structure is different – it is non polar, which means its charge is more evenly spread out . In fact oil is hydrophobic (water fearing) so it tries to get as far away from water as possible.
Why does oil sit on top of water?
The reason that oil rests on top of the water rather than underneath is because oil is less dense than water.
Why does food colouring not mix with oil?
The food colouring we used was water based and therefore does not mix with the oil, but sinks through the oil into the water below.
Why does the food colouring leave trails?
Since the addition of the colouring makes the food colouring heavier than the water it sinks to the bottom leaving trails (resembling fireworks) as some of the colour diffuses into the water.
What do you think will happen if you put a raisin in a glass of water?
It will sink!
Do you think it’s possible to make raisins rise to the top and jump around?
Find out in this simple baking soda investigation.
What you need:
A pint glass
Raisins or anything else you would like to test.
Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda)
Fill the glass half full with warm water.
Add two heaped teaspoons of baking soda.
Add a few raisins
Put the glass in a tray – it might overflow
Top of with white vinegar
You should see the raisins begin to rise and fall
Why do the raisins dance?
The vinegar and bicarbonate of soda react forming carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide bubbles collect over the surface of the raisins. As carbon dioxide is lighter than water it rises to the top and takes the raisins with it. As the bubbles pop at the surface the raisins drop again, only to be covered in bubbles again at the bottom until the reaction finishes.
More Investigation Ideas
Can you find the smallest amount of baking soda and vinegar that allows the raisins to dance? Try with just one raisin and then investigate to discover if you need more to make 2 raisins dance.
Can you think of anything else this would work with? You could investigate using other dried fruits and record how well each dances.
We tried with small LEGO pieces and found that they sank when they filled with water and once the reaction started they jumped to the top, but didn’t dance around.
We then tried with small coins, but these didn’t move at all, you can see how all the bubbles of carbon dioxide have gathered on the surface though.
Another idea is to attach something to the raisins and see if they still dance.
Why do baking soda and vinegar react?
If you combine an acid ( vinegar ) and an alkali ( baking soda ) they react together to neutralise each other.
The reaction releases carbon dioxide gas, which is the bubbles you see.
Rockford’s Rock Opera is an enchanting ecological musical story of a boy from Battersea named Moog and his dog Rockford. The app combines pictures, animations, songs, sound effects and dialogue in a fun ( at times sad ) and thought provoking way. My 9 and 7 year old have been spellbound throughout and have big plans to watch it a second time on the plane when we go on holiday soon. The story is aimed at 6-12 year olds, but I know my children would’ve enjoyed it even younger than that.
The story is split into 4 parts. Part 1 is free via the app and 52 minutes long. I liked that each section is also split into chapters meaning there are natural break points if you only have a short amount of time, it’d also be great for listening to in the car or just before bedtime.
What’s the story about?
The story starts with Moog and Rockford playing in the park when Rockford accidentally ends up in a boat on the way to the island of Infinity, where the last member of every species to ever exist lives. As Moog searches for Rockford he also ends up on a boat heading to Infinity. When he arrives the animals are very distrusting as their extinction was mostly caused by humans.
I won’t spoil the story too much, but Moog and Rockford face the tough challenge of saving both dogs and humans from extinction. I had only briefly touched on the topic of extinction with my own children, so listening and watching this story has led to lots of questions and definitely made them think more about how and why we should look after our planet and the devastating and permanent damage we are doing.
We love the catchy songs, fun characters and lovely story. I’d definitely recommend downloading part one and taking your children on this wonderful adventure with Moog and Rockford.
STEM Activities for kids has a fun investigation to encourage children to think about the effect of oil spills.
More about Rockford’s Rock Opera
Rockford’s Rock Opera wss created by award winning alternative entrepreneurs, ‘Sweetapple’, (www.sweetapple.co.uk). The project is entirely self-produced and financed and has now been downloaded or streamed on the web by over 2,000,000 people!!
Now, with top selling Apps in the Apple App Store, iPad app incoming, a stage show, video game and a film planned, the creators of Rockford’s Rock Opera are looking forward to the next chapter for this wonderful heart warming story!
Where can I find Rockford’s Rock Opera
ON THE WEB. The first hour of the story is available free as a stream or downloads, you can then buy the whole story on CD, as downloads or streamed as an animated picture book and read-along:http://www.rockfordsrockopera.com/home
Baking soda experiments or activities are a great, safe and easy way to introduce the concept of a chemical reaction to children. Baking Soda is alkaline and reacts with acids such as vinegar, releasing carbon dioxide ( a gas ) and water. The fizz produced is brilliant fun for children to watch especially if you combine with washing up liquid ( dish soap ) to make even more bubbles or add a bit of food colouring, ice or a theme.
Note: This is an old post that I have updated, so there’s now more than 10 ideas!
Brilliant Baking Soda Experiments
Baking Soda Powered Boat
We loved making our baking soda boat, although it was a bit tricky to get the mechanism to work properly. It’s definitely worth persevering with though.You could try making several different size versions and investigating how they move when you add different amounts of baking soda and vinegar.
Monster Tea Party
Our monster tea party was filled with fun fizzy potions and a great opportunity to try baking soda as well as bicarbonate of soda. Which do you think worked the best?
A baking soda volcano is a staple science activity for kids. Try asking children to investigate using different amounts of vinegar, but keeping the amount of washing up liquid and baking soda the same. Can they create the perfect recipe for an eruption?
Volcanos can be made using snow, sand, papier mache, LEGO or anything else that you can make a basic volcano shape with.
Baking Soda Popper
My children loved these Baking Soda Poppers. Please be careful though and stand back as these can shoot up with little warning and a lot of force.
We experimented to discover the best best baking soda and vinegar combination for a launch.
What reacts with baking soda?
This fun investigation is great for children to start thinking scientifically. We tested lots of different liquids to discover what reacts with baking soda and what doesn’t.
Remember to keep the amount of baking soda and amount of test substance the same.
If you combine an acid and an alkali they react together to neutralise each other. Vinegar is an acid and bicarbonate of soda is an alkali.
The reaction releases carbon dioxide gas, which is the bubbles you see. If you add washing up liquid ( dish soap ) to your eruption mix the bubbles make the washing up liquid bubble up, giving you an extra bubbly mix.
Recording data is a very important part of any scientific investigation. You should decide how the data will be recorded in the planning stages before starting the experiment. A table is often the simplest method, and from there, data can be taken and analysed. We’ve drawn tables before in our viscosity investigation.
This activity is designed to introduce the concept of a bar chart. We completed a simple sorting activity first and then plotted the data on a graph made from LEGO.
What you need
A bag of sweets / different shaped LEGO / anything else you want to sort
Pens and paper
Decide how to sort your items, we discussed sorting by type of sweet, size and colour, but settled on colour
Count and record the number of each item. We drew a simple table to record the type of sweet and number of sweets.
Think about how you’ll plot the data on a graph.
The different groups should be on the x – axis ( Horizontal ) with Number up the y – axis ( Vertical )*
Do you have space to have each bar be 1, or do you need to go up in 2’s or even 10’s?
* Normally you put the things you control across the x-axis and the things you are measuring up the y axis
What do you think of our LEGO bar chart?
A graph is just a way of conveniently displaying data. Depending on the complexity of the data you can infer things very quickly from a graph that doesn’t necessarily come out when just looking at a table of numbers.
Have you seen the new Slime Blasters from Zimpli Kids?? They’re from the creators of Gelli Baff and Slime Baff which we LOVE. Gelli Baff and Slime Baff are powders that transform water into 100% slime or goo!
The new Slime Blaster uses 100% safe Slime formula, that’s very easy to make. Simply fill up the water tank with water, add the slime powder, shake to create the slime, wait 5 minutes and get ready to fire. The blasters don’t need batteries and come with 12 slime sachets so you’re ready to go as soon as you open the box.
My three big children have loved playing with our slime blaster this weekend. It makes a nice change from making slime in the kitchen and is a great alternative to a water gun. The blasters are pump action and very easy to use. My only slight negative would be that sometimes the slime doesn’t fire very far out of the gun, but that didn’t stop us having a lot of fun with them!
We’re already looking forward to slime battle take 2 after school tomorrow!
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Lots of people ask me about parties and the best experiments to keep children entertained at a science party. Science Sparks is full of fun, safe and hands-on science activities, but here are some I think would work brilliantly for a children’s science party.
Make a Lava Lamp
Lava lamps are super simple to make, and the perfect take home gift as they are completely reusable with the addition of a bit more alka seltzer or an effervescent vitamin tablet. You could make a beautiful display of different coloured lava lamps and use as party favours at the end, or even give the kids a make your own lava lamp kit in a little bag.
This one is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Drop a couple of mentos into a bottle of coke and stand back! Does it work with diet drinks? Or different sweets?
You could use lots of different coloured fizzy drinks and make an erupting rainbow.
Absorbing sugar cubes
This sugar cube activity is super simple, easy to explain and very hands on. Just add some coloured water to a plate or bowl and have different materials on hand to investigate whether they stop the sugar cubes absorbing the water.
For dessert how about making meringue and then building towers with cream and strawberries? Or keep it super simple and melt chocolate to dip strawberries in or if it’s a hot day children could make S’mores in a solar oven.
Make a LEGO house and test different roof materials
Sticking with the absorbing theme, you could make lots of little LEGO houses and provide sticks, leaves etc for the children to use as the roof and then spray with water to test how watertight they are. You could put a LEGO minifigure inside and give a prize to the team with the driest figure.
Two years ago I helped my daughter’s infant school take part in the Great Science Share for Schools. The whole of Y1 and 2 took part in a magical science morning where they stood inside a giant bubble, built a Makey Makey piano, created a landing pad for an egg, tested how different liquids flow down a ramp and most of all asked lots of their own scientific questions!
Three lucky children then got to share their experience with Prof Danielle George from Manchester University via Skype. The whole morning was a fantastic experience for the children and we’d thoroughly recommend you sign up and take part if you can. You don’t have to do something quite as extravagant as our science morning as GSS enables everyone to join it as they wish – the key thing is to place the children at the centre of the experience of sharing science with others. It could be as simple as making paper aeroplanes and testing them. Sharing can be with other classes, teachers, friends, family etc.
I’ll be taking part from home this year on 19th June as life is still a bit crazy with a baby, but I’d love fellow bloggers and parents/teachers on social media to join us.
How can I get involved?
On the 19th June ( or as close to that as you can ) we’d love you to share how you and the children you work or live with are doing science. This can be with us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Just a photo and small explanation is fine, or if you want to write a whole blog post that would amazing too.
Use #BloggerSciShare and #GreatSciShare so we can find you or tag @sciencesparks
I’m hoping to have a prize to giveaway to one lucky participant so pop back for more details on that.
What can I do?
Anything that involves children doing and sharing science!! What questions do they have about slime or oobleck, lava lamps, or rockets? Question question question… there’s so much science involved!
Easy ideas for a Great Science Share
Investigate how different liquids flow with a simple viscosity race. This can be done on a small ramp ( chopping boards or small white boards work well ) or you could make a giant version.
We loved our giant oobleck tray. This would be perfect for EYFS or Key Stage 1 especially. There’s a lot of awe and wonder in oobleck!
Paper spinners are a fantastic simple and inexpensive science activity idea. These would work brilliantly as a competition with lots of questions to ask.
How can you make a spinner fall faster?
What happens if you make it heavier?
What happens if you make the spinner smaller?
Why does the spinner spin?
If you’d like to join us leave me a comment here or message or tweet me on social media then share your science on the 19th June using the hashtags #BloggerSciShare and #GreatSciShare. We can’t wait to see what you have planned.