Science Sunday: starfish



You remember how ages and ages ago I asked for recommendations about starfish, and then I lost my camera with the pictures of what we did?


Well I found it.  Or more accurately, when I made the kids clean out the dog’s toy box of all of their stuff they found it.  My guess, I had them clean and they put it all in the dog’s toy box.


Needless to say I was not a happy Mommy.



First we looked as the starfish my Mother-in-Law had given us from a trip she took and picked up for them.  I’ve been holding on to these for quite some time.  We noticed the little bumpy things on the bottom and talked about how those are little suction cups that let the starfish move around.


After we poked around and looked at them under a magnifying glass, I said we were going to try and see what it was like.  Then one at a time I ushered my unsuspecting kids into the bathroom and they got to play with the plunger in the toilet.


After I was suitably disgusted by their fascination (and they now think of the least excuse why the bathroom needs the plunger, racing downstairs to get it), and they managed to not cover my bathroom floor with water.  We continued on to the next part.



Then we cut out a starfish from sandpaper and recorded our observations of what it felt like to try and move like a starfish.  We did a similar craft before, a couple of years ago for our ocean animals book.


I’d like to thank: Fantastic Five, Alex Nguyen Portraits, Books 4 Learning, and Enchanted Homeschooling Mom for all coming up with some fun ideas to do.  Between all of their ideas, links, and suggestions I could have spent a couple of weeks on starfish, unfortunately my kids interest level was not as high as mine.


Does anyone else ever run into the problem of being more interested in a topic than their kids are?

Let’s see what others did this week:

Fantastic Five combined science and art for a fun astronomy lesson.

I loved the idea of using a rolling pin for a pulley from Quirky Momma.


Next Gen Homeschooler did a great job of trying to earthquake proof buildings.


Dottie’s Homeschool Universe shared about rocks and how they’re formed.


Science Sunday button Science Sunday


Don’t forget to have a link back here somewhere on your front page.


Oh, and one last request: If you have any posts, old or new, about land animals I’d love to see them linked up.  We’re going to be studying land animals next and my land animals pinterest board is rather sparse.

Science Sunday:

Science Sunday

Way back when we were studying Thomas Edison I got Snap Circuits Jr. to do with the whole group, but one of the other moms convinced me not to because of the large numbers of kids involved at the time.  So, I’ve been saving it for the perfect “Mom, I’m bored….” activity.  Aside from my standard response of “Go clean _________”, that answer they don’t like so much.



Well, earlier this week Jeff took Batman to work with him, leaving me with Superman and Princess.  I was at a bit of a loss what to do with 2 of the 3 kids, I knew if I did any art projects Batman would be sad he missed it, and I didn’t want to do any lesson from our curriculum because then Batman would be missing out on the work……  You get the idea.



I got the kit out and we got to work trying out different experiments with it.  I have to say I highly recommend this as a way to introduce early engineering and electricity, you can’t really hurt yourself or seriously cause any problems because of the design.


The projects are straight forward (or at least the first few), Superman and Princess were able to do them with some help, and after completing the first project once were able to repeat it without much help from me.


I foresee this being something we fiddle around with from time to time as we delve into it more.  This will also be great for answering their many questions about electricity and such stuff…….


Cool posts linked up last week:

Cloud in a bottle from All Things Beautiful.

Solids and Liquids using melted crayons from Learning in Mayapur.

Pine Cone Hygometer from Tiger Chronicles.


How about you guys?  This is probably the most open-ended science kit I’ve ever seen.  It has about 100 projects you can do in this one kit, and there is a lot of opportunity for hands on learning.  Have you found any kits like this one?  There’s several others in the series that I can see eventually buying, in particular the one for making cars.

Science Sunday: North Carolina: tar and water proofing

Science Sunday

North Carolina is nicknamed the “Tar Heel state,” I read a couple of reasons for this but it all boiled down to there is a lot of tar there.  Tar was originally used for water-proofing boats.  I don’t have any boats to try water-proofing with, but I have paper.

North Carolina Tar Heel State


First, I smeared the various things that have been used for water-proofing onto the papers and let that soak in for a while (I gave it about 30 minutes).




Then each of the kids got to take turns putting water with an eye dropper onto the various pieces of paper.


As you can see it was very exciting results.  I was even surprised by some of them.


I wasn’t too surprised the butter and oil repelled water, those I expected because they were used in the colonial time periods to make cheap semi-translucent window coverings that were somewhat waterproof.  The paint also didn’t surprise me because we used paint to seal wood against water for our houses.  The rubber glue and the Elmer’s glue did surprise me.  Elmer’s because it is water-soluble, and the rubber cement because I only put on a very thin layer.


Of course the plain old paper immediately soaked up the water.  I want to repeat the experiment and keep checking back to see if it has soaked in, that was my original plan, but some of the papers were thrown away right away.


How about you guys?  Anything fun this week?  Any surprising new discoveries?

Science Sunday: Pumpkin and other fruit science

Science Sunday

Though now that I think about it, I’m not sure that a pumpkin is a fruit………


I got this unit from Currclick, and was going to do all of the projects, but just ran out of time between going out of town and Superman being sick this past week, we only got to the pumpkin one…….


It has 5 experiments for the price of 35 cents, that’s right less than a dollar.  This is where I start having a hard time paying a lot for things, between the freebies on blogs and deals like this………. By the by click on the picture to go to the product.


Well, the pumpkin one, was the traditional “does the pumpkin float” experiment, and measuring it with a nice little printable.  We did that a few years ago, and I was curious to see if they remembered the results.  They did, so the wow factor was kinda gone……


But, there’s a twist:


Based off what you learned from the pumpkin, will the other fruits (and vegetables if you’ve got them easily findable) float?




They had a suggested list, but I forgot to get all of the things they suggested, so instead we tried: apple, orange, and tomato as well.


We did an initial guess and they decided the orange and pumpkin would float.




Once we got to actually recording our predictions they changed their hypothesis about what would float.


They ended up predicting that all of them would float.  This was also a great opportunity for me to review the terms hypothesis, theory, and prediction with them.



No pictures of the actual floating Afterwards we drew a picture to show what actually happened.  SURPRISE they all floated!


Have you ever repeated an experiment with your kids?  Did they remember the first time you did it?

Science Sunday: Jungle Quicksand review

Science Sunday

I bought this ages ago for my nephew who at the time was really into experiments and such stuff, and then I moved before it was time to give it to him and it disappeared into the boxes, and I dug it out years later, and it just never seemed quite the right time to give it to him.

And then I was looking for something to occupy my kids for awhile, and decided to try this.


It comes with what you see pictured above, a small flimsy plastic thing, some white powder (that when you read the instructions you discover is actually cornstarch), cardboard cut outs of grass and the sign, and two animals.

No, really that’s all that’s in there for $10.  If I’d known then what I know now I wouldn’t have bought this kit.  But, I was young and naïve and wasn’t aware that the world of blogging would teach me how to do the same thing.


They recommended pouring in a small amount of water and then mixing it with your hand.  I accidentally poured in too much, so I just went to my pantry and dumped my entire box of cornstarch into the bowl.

That was much more satisfying.
I spent a while with the kids talking about the properties and such, and they had fun letting the animals sink and get thoroughly messy.  After a while they wanted to do more, so I sent them outside.

And thanks to it, I got a good 30-45 minutes of time to myself to work on cleaning the kitchen.  Pretty impressive considering it was about 100 degrees outside as they’re playing.

So, do you have any kits you’ve bought that were a total waste of money?  So far, I’m two for two.

Science Sunday: Wildfires

Science Sunday
As I mentioned on Friday, we’ve had wildfires galore here, and it’s been the topic of conversation off and on all week long.  I just found this great article about talking to your kids about major events, and having read over it I’m glad I handled this the way I did.

Goal: to learn how fires spread and how to put them out.

Supplies: large non-flammable pan (I used a glass pyrex pan), paper, matches/lighter, water, baking soda

First I talked with the kids about the  fires in the area and did a lot of reassuring them that the fires are not currently anywhere near our house.
Then I put a piece of paper in the pan and lit it on fire in several places.  We discussed how the fires burn, and it doesn’t always go in a straight line, or where you expect, how there are some places that aren’t burned at all, and then some that are completely destroyed.

Next we talked about how the fires wouldn’t spread as much if there’d been even a little rain.  So I got the paper a little wet, and it burned some, but for the most part it didn’t burn very much.  This is why we’ve been praying for rain.

After that I talked about how if it had been raining A LOT that would be even more protection, and I completely and totally soaked that paper.  There wasn’t a dry spot anywhere.

It never caught fire.  I tried and tried and it wouldn’t catch fire.


Next we tried different ways to put out the fire.  First we did the way everyone expects and poured water on it.  The fire went out like a light.

Finally we talked about how some fires can’t be put out by water, but need chemicals and we poured baking soda over it.

We also could have tried smothering it, but I thought this was a good way to go about the lesson since the others required being nearer to the fire and the kids were already starting to turn this into a play session.

Which then led into a fire safety lesson………….

Science Sunday: Ocean floor digging

Science Sunday
Sooooo…….  I went to the library to find books on South Carolina and came up with 6.  Three about the same thing.  One which is checked out presumed missing (but was an awesome book), and another which doesn’t really lead itself to any sort of activity.

Which leads me to begging, if you have any suggestions for South Carolina, something that stands out to you please let me know.  PLEASE.

Okay, on to our project.  We read about the HL Hunley.  It’s the first ever submarine, and it sank and for years it was a mystery where did it sink, why did it sink, what happened?  And then come the turn of the century (isn’t it funny to say that and not mean 1900s?) they found it!

But how to lift it?  How can we explore its mysteries?

This book details all about the search for the Hunley and how we finally got it to the surface.  We got details of how they first searched for it right after it went missing.  Then details of the attempts through the ages, until finally it was found.

So, I gave each group of kids a bowl filled up with mud and water, and buried in it were the two cars pictured above.  I also buried miscellaneous things, rocks, bolts, other stuff.

Instructions: Using the materials pictured on the right, find the “Hunley” and discover how to get it out of the bowl without touching the car or the water.

Then the race was on.  The girls started by poking around in the water with the bamboo rods, until they found the car.  Then they used two forks to raise the “Hunley.”

The boys probably had too many cooks in the pot.  They all happily got to poking around and did find the car very quickly, but they took about a minute longer.

General consensus: The magnets were not very helpful (probably because the cars were not magnetic).  The bamboo skewers worked very well for finding it, but not for lifting it up.  The big forks worked very well for lifting it, but the spoons did not.

This was a huge hit with the boys who hid their “Hunley” several more times before finally being done with it.  After the other kids left my boys then spent several more minutes (read half an hour) finding everything in it they could.

Science Sunday: Experiments with burned cookies

Science Sunday

I loved all of the suggestions I got last Sunday for what to do, and I agreed looking into irreversible change was a great idea, and then I introduced the concept:


Me:  When we get home we’re going to figure out how to unburn the cookies I burned.


Princess:  Mooooom, you can’t do that.  It’s irreversible change.


And that was the end of that idea, but they loved the idea of making experiments with the cookies, so they each got two burned cookies to experiment with.

Experiment 1 for both Superman and Batman:



Question: Will the cookie float in water?


Hypothesis: Yes it will.




Results:  After putting the cookie in the water, they discovered that yes it does float in the water.  Batman next wanted to see if it could hold up a car.


That it didn’t really do.  Partially because the car kept rolling off in my opinion.


They also discovered the cookie turned the water a rather gross brown.


Experiment 2 for Batman: Will a toy break the car?


Hypothesis: The ball will not, but the car might.


Results:  The ball just bounced off of it and got crumbs everywhere.  The car when dropped front first (front wheels, with a harder edge) did break off a piece.


Batman repeated this with the car several times which led to one of Princess’ experiments.


Princess Experiment 1 and 2:


Question: Will Mac eat the burned cookie?


Hypothesis: Yes, he eats anything.


Results:  He would start to eat it and then would spit out the cookie, usually.  Princess followed up after Mac ate the first one to see if Mac would follow the trail of cookies and eat them.


Results of 2nd experiment:  The trail of cookies did disappear, but I am fairly sure Mac didn’t eat them due to the random cookie bits I’ve been finding all over.


The boy’s final experiment was to take the cookies and put them outside for the birds to eat.  It’s been a few days and I don’t believe the birds have eaten them yet.  That may be due to where they put the cookies.  One in a rather disgusting swamp of a flower pot that is full of slush.  The other is right next to our porch and covered in grass.  I rarely see birds come all that close to our house.


So, there you have it.  That’s my kids experiments, and that’ll teach me for trying to plan a wonderful experiment of my own…….


Please say someone besides me has kids who take an idea and run for the mountains as fast as they can (and considering there aren’t really mountains in Texas that tells you how far they run).

Science Sunday: trying out some kits

Science Sunday


When I was at Half Price Books one day I saw a whole slew of experiment kits.  I don’t tend to pick these up because they seem overpriced for what you usually get, but these were a couple of dollars each, so I picked up the ones they had there.



Now this may not be the kit we used, because ours didn’t sink and rise.  And the instructions certainly didn’t imply it would sink and rise, but it looks the same.  I’d compare packaging but my kids have been quite efficient in recycling the package and then the recycling guys came by and picked it up.






The kit comes with instructions, a small submarine, and “fuel powder” (baking powder).


Instructions say: fill the compartment with the fuel powder and put the top on, then watch it as it goes around for minutes at a time.




What it fails to mention is the minutes at a time are very slow and tedious.  The reaction is so minute that you can’t really see it.  I thought about filming it to show, but you can’t see the powder dropping with my camera, and the bubble is so small you won’t see that either.


Were the kids intrigued with it?  Yes, more as a “is it my turn to pour stuff and play with it?” than from seeing reactions or other such things.


Would I recommend this kit?  No, the full price ($10) is way over board for what you get.  Especially since you can’t really see the reaction happening.  I was never entirely sure if the sub was moving from the bubbles or because we touched it.


So, very disappointing.  I’m hoping the next one we try will be more fun.  I’ve certainly seen more positive results from other blogs with this series.

Science Sunday: Fireworks shirt, or chromatography

Science Sunday
I saw this wonderful idea for a fireworks t-shirts on a blog I read, just found out it was a link at Our Nifty Notebook (thanks Christy for sharing that on your blog), and followed through to the tutorial without noting down who I first saw it on, so if you did this project this week, can you let me know?

Now, I could have just made this into an art lesson and been done with it, but I remember seeing a couple of science lessons about Chromatography on Almost Unschoolers and All Things Beautiful, so I thought, here’s our science lesson for the week.  Or at least the bloggable one.  My oh so scientific explanation of what happens to food after it enters our body is probably not a great blog post.

SUPPLIES: t-shirt, sharpies, cardboard, rubbing alcohol, eye dropper

sharpie fireworks

First after nearly grabbing the markers out of overly eagerly hands I explained how to draw these.  Lots of dots, like we’re pointillists.  Okay, I didn’t say that part, just thought it.

Then after they’d drawn their amazing pictures I had them guess what will happen when we drop the rubbing alcohol on it.  They mostly got the idea, it would spread out.  Then we theorized what would happen with smaller dots and what would happen with less drops of alcohol.
sharpie fireworks

Now comes the rewarding part, watching the colors spread out.  My kids were quite eager to apply lots and lots of the rubbing alcohol, I had to refill the bottle a couple of times.  Their dots bloomed quite admirably, and it was declared a success.  If not necessarily the patriotic shirts I was going for.

From left to right, Batman with a bat shirt, Superman with a skeleton, and Princess with flowers………..  But, we did learn a little about some fun science.

And there’s a truly awful shot of my shirt.  Which looks much better in reality, but I wasn’t particularly trying for a great shot, just a picture.

If you’re interested in some more science behind this, head over to this wikipedia article.