Category Archives: Sick Science Experiments

Patriotic Layered Density Drinks for 4th of July

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

As you know, all of us at The Spangler Labs enjoy a good liquid density column. Our 9-Layer Density Tower is shared across the internet. It is one of our most popular Pinterest experiment pins. We are always looking for new combinations of liquids to stack (we have a lot of free time).

One popular density column found around the internet is a summer drink recipe perfect for the 4th of July. There are many alcoholic versions of the density drink, but we are going to focus on kid-friendly recipes.

Density Drinks - Layered Kid-Friendly Drinks for 4th of July

This red, white and blue drink recipe uses a little science to delicately stack different drinks on top of each other. Your guests will think it’s magic, you will know it’s really science at work.

The different colored drinks are stacked by sugar density. The heaviest, or most sugary drink goes on the bottom, followed by the next sugary and ending with the least sugary. When choosing red, white and blue drinks, look at the sugar content per serving. Many bottles use an 8-ounce serving, while others use a 12-ounce serving. The bigger the difference between sugar contents, the better. A drink with 18 grams of sugar stacked on a drink with 21 grams may mix more than 18 grams of sugar on top of 40 grams of sugar. There are a lot of calorie or sugar-free drinks available. These are best for the top liquid.

Types of Drinks Used and Sugar Content

  • Berry Blue Propel Zero – 0g
  • Black Raspberry Red Glaceau Fruit Water Sparkling zero calorie – 0g
  • Cool Blue Gatorade  - 21g per 12oz serving
  • Fruit Punch Gatorade – 21g per 12oz serving
  • Pina Colada SoBe – 25g per 8oz serving
  • Berry Lemonade Blue Jones Soda – 41g per 12oz serving
  • Fruit Punch Welch’s Chillers – 30g per 8oz serving
  • Squirt Soda – 38g per 12oz serving

Density Drinks - Layered Kid-Friendly Drinks for 4th of July

Step by Step for Stacking

  1. Refrigerate the drinks before starting so the ice doesn’t melt as you pour.
  2. Fill glass with ice to the top.
  3. Pour the heaviest or highest sugar content drink first.
  4. Slowly and carefully pour the next highest sugar content drink. Pour or drizzle it into the ice or along the side of the glass to reduce splashing and mixing.
  5. Pour the lightest or lowest sugar content drink on top.
  6. Enjoy!

Learning Opportunities
Take your kids with you to the grocery store and compare sugar contents in different drinks. Ask a few questions while you are there.

  • Why are the 0 grams of sugar drinks also calorie free?
  • How many sugar packets equal the grams of sugar in each drink?
  • Why are drinks with 0 grams of sugar still sweet?
  • Why does the sugar content give the drinks different densities?
  • Are drinks with 0 grams of sugar healthier or better for you?

Density Drinks - Layered Kid-Friendly Drinks for 4th of July

It’s Not Science, But…

  • We’ve seen a few blog posts that dress up their drinks with star ice cubes or Pop Rocks around the glass rim.
  • You can also place red, white and blue food-safe sparklers or other umbrella decorations on top of the drink. 

How Does This Work? 

The same amount of two different liquids will have different weights because they have different masses. The liquids that weigh more (have a higher density) will sink below the liquids that weigh less (have a lower density).

Density is basically how much “stuff” is smashed into a particular area… or a comparison between an object’s mass and volume. Remember the all-important equation:  Density = Mass divided by Volume. Based on this equation, if the weight (or mass) of something increases but the volume stays the same, the density has to go up. Likewise, if the mass decreases but the volume stays the same, the density has to go down. Lighter liquids (like the 0 grams of sugar drinks) are less dense than heavy liquids (like fruit punch or soda) and so float on top of the more dense layers.

 

 

Outdoor Summer Science Fun – Sick Science! Bubble Snakes

We love bubbles at Steve Spangler Science. We’ve made frozen bubbles, smoky bubbles, giant bubbles, bouncing bubbles and fire bubbles to name a few. This time, we make colorful, snaking bubbles that come out of a homemade bubble blower.

Bubbles usually only come as individual spheres of soap and water. To blow the perfect bubble takes patience and a little bubble-science. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can get a whole bunch of bubbles in one cluster… but it always seems random. We’ve found a spectacular way to create colorful rainbow snakes made of bubbles. Make red, white and blue bubbles for Fourth of July.

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Create a Rainbow in a Bag – Pinch and Mix Color Mixing

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

I’m occasionally asked by teachers and school groups to bring in a few hands-on science experiments for a class. One of my all-time favorite go -to activity is color mixing with Pinch and Mix goo. Steve Spangler Science sells and all-in-one Pinch and Mix Kit for 30 students or a smaller group. You can also use gel cake frosting if you want to do it yourself.

Start this activity with a literature connection by reading the book Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. Mouse Paint is a delightful story about three white mice who discover jars of red, yellow, and blue paint. Creativity ensues as the mice explore what happens when they begin to play in the puddles of paint. Wondrously, the three primary colors they began with become secondary colors as they play.

Now it is your turn to delight and discover. Discuss what the mice found and what happened after they were coated in one color paint and messed about in another color. Then make your own color connections by pretending you are little mice mixing the colors in your zipper-lock bag!

Squeeze 1 to 2 tablespoons of each color of goo into the bag. It’s best if you place one color in each corner and one in the middle. Then gently squeeze air out of the bag and seal it. Pinch and mix the colors together by blending the primary into secondary colors. The bag will start to take on a soft, stained glass look.

Hold it up to a light or a sunny window.

Some kids will gently and carefully blend their colors, but most will grab and squish the bag until the colors turn army green, grey and putrid purple. Don’t worry about a failed activity; the kids will still find beauty and discovery in their crazy-made colors.

Make sure you keep a Sharpie nearby, because the kids will want to bring home their creations.

For more on this fun and colorful activity, visit the Pinch and Mix Experiment page.

Teaching Student Leadership Lessons Through Needles and Piercings

Stand back and watch as I pull a needle through a balloon without popping it.

This trick is a magicians’ favorite. They can mystify an audience by putting a needle through a balloon and pulling through a ribbon without popping it. The demonstration is mysterious until you learn a little stress-related science.

When a balloon is inflated, the middle is under a lot of stress and pressure from the air inside. The top and bottom are not stretched as far or put under as much pressure. To illustrate this – color dots all over a deflated balloon. Then blow it up and look at the dots. The dots in the center of the balloon will be stretched and thin, while the dots on the ends won’t be stretched as far.

To use this demonstration as a student leadership lesson, use the balloon as an example of a real world problem. If you approach  a volatile situation at the most tense and stressed out part, the balloon or the situation may pop. But if you cautiously approach it from the strongest point, you may just get through.

For the complete experiment and science behind it, visit the Skewer Through the Balloon experiment page.