Since fireworks are no longer an option, you have to find some way to occupy your time on the 4th of July. I turned to my demo team and brainstormed anything we could do in the backyard at 9News for the celebration. Here’s the classic Elephant’s Toothpaste demo using hydrogen peroxide and potassium iodide as the catalyst to make a red, white and blue patriotic eruption that shot up about 20 feet in the air.
We also learned that Oxiclean is the magic cleaner that will remove iodine stains from the beautifully pressed white shirt of a news anchor (thanks to Mark Koebrich for being the best Science Monday co-host in the world!)
UPDATED JULY 5, 2011 – Mark Koebrich asked photo journalist Brian Willie to share some behind-the-scenes video of this amazing eruption. Yes, everyone was wearing safety glasses. It’s important to note that the hydrogen peroxide completely decomposed into water and oxygen. The brownish yellow stains you see are from the iodine in the catalyst (potassium iodide). And the secret to removing those stains in an instant… OxiClean!
Everyone knows that Halloween is my favorite holiday. That doesn’t stop me from finding experiments for every holiday year round. Why not mix a little science into your holiday calendar? I don’t have a secret formula for the science of relationships, but I have some fun ideas to do this February. Whether you are looking for a fun, different and scientific Valentine to give, or some fun activities to do in the classroom or during a Valentines Day party, we have ideas to make your Valentines Day amazing.
For Valentine’s this year, don’t go to the store and buy the boring paper Valentines. Add a little “oooh and ahhh” while spreading the love. Take test tubes –or my favorite, Baby Soda Bottles– fill them with candy and add an experiment that the recipient can perform after the candy is gone. They will be the hit of the Valentine exchange.
If you are looking for some activities to do during a Valentine’s party or for a project, get some Goldenrod indicator paper. When this special paper meets a basic substance, it turns bright red. Cut out hearts or favorite Valentine shapes and you will end up with the coolest Valentines around. Kids will have fun changing the color and testing acids and bases.
Make sure you have plenty of hand boilers to show how “hot” you are. Or maybe how “not” you are, by using them to demonstrate the relationship between temperature and pressure.
Surprise your love by giving Magic Color Changing Carnations. Profess your love with white carnations, then magically turn them to pink carnations with a little science know-how.
For more ideas to bring science into your Valentine’s Day, check out our Valentine’s section for activities and experiments.
When I started doing magic tricks as a kid, I remember always bothering my sister and brother to watch my latest trick. When they grew tired of my tricks, I switched to grandparents, aunts, uncles… finally anyone who would watch. Thirty some years later, I find myself in the same situation as I’m testing out new ways to present some cool science experiment. Years ago, I hit the jackpot when would wait for the FedEx driver to show up. A question like, “Hey, do you want to see something cool?” is almost always met with, “Sure… what is it?” Over the years I’ve persuaded visitors to our shipping dock to stand inside of a bubble, lay on a bed of nails, walk on top of a vat of cornstarch and water, but this is maybe the best one yet.
Listen to the very last thing Emily says… “UPS guy won’t do it!”
Denise Plante and Murphy Huston from the KOSI Morning Show in Denver, Colorado invited me to visit their show to talk about our upcoming book signing for Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes. Finding science demonstrations that play well on the radio can be tough, but we hit a home run with this one. I purposely didn’t tell Denise what was going to happen until I uncovered the big container of broken glass. Take a look at what happened…
I helped the fourth graders at Wilder Elementary test their rocket designs today. Watch the video below from last year to see what this interactive lesson is all about.
Earlier in the week, the students watched the movie October Sky, based on Homer Hickam’s novel, Rocket Boys. I then explained the science behind building rockets and gave them some demonstrations of Newton’s Laws.
Then the young engineers took over. Their homework assignment – build your own rocket.
Using an air-powered PVC launcher, students placed their homemade rocket on the launch pad and began the countdown. After they watched their rocket launch, the students had the opportunity to go back into the classroom and modify and improve upon their design before another launch attempt.
This project inspires students to work hard to see their dreams come true and to introduce and reinforce skills and concepts in some very creative ways.
The lesson is from the U.S. Space Camp and Space Academy for Educators in an effort to bring the exploration of space and rocketry into a wide variety of classrooms.