Category Archives: Seasonal Science

Valentines Science – Frozen Baking Soda and Vinegar Hearts

Baking soda and vinegar experiments begin with the classic science fair volcano and end with homemade rockets. It’s not surprising – this reaction creates bubbly, fizzing potions that are fun to create over and over.

Fizzing Baking Soda and Vinegar Valentines Hearts | Sick Science Steve Spangler Science

We decided to put a Valentines twist on the baking soda and vinegar experiment and try it with frozen hearts.

The best part? Even though this experiment stinks from all the vinegar, it’s safe to touch.

Fizzing Baking Soda and Vinegar Valentines Hearts | Sick Science Steve Spangler Science

Materials

  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Heart shape bowl, ice forms or cookie sheet molds
  • Spoon
  • Bowl or plate

Fizzing Baking Soda and Vinegar Valentines Hearts | Sick Science Steve Spangler Science

Let’s Try it! 

(Measurements aren’t exact and will depend on size of mold. Proportions are more important)
1. Combine 3/4 vinegar to 1/4 water in heart shaped mold and freeze.
2. Combine 3/4 baking soda to 1/4 water in heart shaped mold and freeze.
3. Place frozen vinegar heart in 3/4 baking soda and 1/4 water solution.
4. Place frozen baking soda heart in pure vinegar bath.

Fizzing Baking Soda and Vinegar Valentines Hearts | Sick Science Steve Spangler Science

We found the frozen baking soda hearts fizzed and reacted much more than the frozen vinegar hearts.

The Science Behind the Reaction

The baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar (acetic acid) reaction actually occurs in two steps.

First, the acetic acid in the vinegar reacts with the sodium bicarbonate to make sodium acetate and carbonic acid. The carbonic acid is unstable and basically decomposes in a reaction that produces carbon dioxide gas. The CO2 gas escapes as bubbles. These bubbles are heavier than air, so they sink or run over the plate edge, versus taking flight.

Some people add dish soap to this reaction to capture the bubbles and help the solution flow. Try adding a squirt or two of dish detergent on top of your heart and see if anything different happens.

Or try different proportions of vinegar, water and baking soda. What are your results?

Fizzing Baking Soda and Vinegar Valentines Hearts | Sick Science Steve Spangler Science

Thanks to Inspiration Laboratories where we found this original idea.

Science Craft – Water Color Tie Dye Pillows

Are you looking for a last minute crafty Christmas present? Or something to do over the long holiday break? How about making tie dye pillows that use a little science to create a beautiful masterpiece.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

Materials

 

We used pillows from IKEA for $3.99 each. You can also do this technique on pillow cases, towels, t-shirts, or any material that is 100% cotton. This activity won’t work on synthetic fabrics.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

ACTIVITY

Warning: Rubbing alcohol is very flammable and must be kept away from any open flames or heat. This experiment must be conducted in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors or in a room with open windows.  

You may want to start by practicing on a piece of scrap fabric or old t-shirt to experiment with color mixing and spreading.

1. Using the Sharpie markers, draw a design on your pillow. We drew our design straight onto the pillow and didn’t use a pillow case.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

2. Experiment with wider lines, dots, or abstracts. If you want a section to be one color, color it in closely or color more sparingly for a different result.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

This is a good step for an adult helper. Kids about 5 and up can drop the alcohol (and will want to) but they may need a little guidance to make sure they don’t drown the pillow. They may also pick up some of the ink if they place their hand or fingers on the wet fabric. Sharpie pen will come off skin using a cotton ball and a little rubbing alcohol.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

 

3. Sparingly drop the rubbing alcohol on the fabric. The alcohol will spread the ink and mix the colors. Go slowly and don’t use much at first. Watch the alcohol spread the ink. It may take several minutes before the ink has stopped spreading. Don’t over saturate your fabric.

4. Experiment with drops of the rubbing alcohol – what happens when you drop it sparingly around your pillow and what happens when you place the drops close together?

5. Let air dry if it’s really wet and then place damp pillow in the dryer to set the colors.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

TAKE IT FURTHER!

Enjoy experimenting with various patterns, dot sizes, and color combinations. Instead of using dots, try drawing a small square with each side being a different color, or use primary colors to draw a geometric shape and accent it with dots of secondary colors. Half circles, wavy lines, and polygons all make unique patterns when rubbing alcohol travels across the ink. Your designs are only limited by your imagination. Try as many different patterns as you like.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

HOW DOES IT WORK?

This is really a lesson in the concepts of solubility, color mixing, and the movement of molecules. The Sharpie markers contain permanent ink, which will not wash away with water. Permanent ink is hydrophobic, meaning it is not soluble in water. However, the molecules of ink are soluble in another solvent called rubbing alcohol. This solvent carries the different colors of ink with it as it spreads in a circular pattern from the center of the shirt.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

ADDITIONAL INFO

Reference: The original Sharpie Pen activity is the creation of Bob Becker, a chemistry teacher in Kirkwood, Missouri.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

Coolest Yule Log Video Ever! A New Science Twist on an Old Favorite

YouTube recently challenged our Spangler Effect team to create a new twist on an old favorite – come up with a Yule Log video that breaks the mold of the old, outdated looping fire in the fireplace.

By Far The Coolest Yule Log Video Ever | Steve Spangler Science | The Spangler Effect | #NowCasting #YouTubeFireplace

This is not your mama’s yule log video. It’s by far the coolest science yule log video ever.

Steve and his team came up with different techniques to light and reignite the yule log of the future.

So warm up your holidays by casting this YouTube fireplace from your smartphone, tablet or laptop to your TV using Chromecast. The video loops over and over for about 60 minutes so you can put it on and let it play during your holiday celebrations.

If you enjoy our video, please share it with your friends using hashtags #NowCasting and/or #YouTubeFireplace. And don’t forget to subscribe to The Spangler Effect channel so you don’t miss an episode. 

By Far The Coolest Yule Log Video Ever | Steve Spangler Science | The Spangler Effect | #NowCasting #YouTubeFireplace

 

After watching the video (it loops about every 5 minutes) come back and watch our Making of The Spangler Effect Yule Log. In the video, Steve explains the science behind each of the ‘tricks’ and how they made each one.

Here’s a special Behind the Scenes look at how we put together and filmed the Yule Log video.

Christmas Science Craft – Insta-Snow Globe Jar

Are you looking for a quick, easy and unique decoration to brighten up your home or give as a gift?

Make a festive Insta-Snow Globe jar.

Insta-Snow Globe Holiday Decoration | Steve Spangler Science

Materials

  • 4-5 scoops of Insta-Snow powder (depending on the size of your jar)
  • Jar with a lid (a wider, shorter one works best)
  • Miniature decorations
  • Candle or flameless candle (optional)
  • Ribbon (optional)
  • Water

Insta-Snow Globe Holiday Decoration | Steve Spangler Science

Activity

1. Scoop Insta-Snow powder into a clean jar.

Insta-Snow Globe Holiday Decoration | Steve Spangler Science

2. Add water until Insta-Snow is fluffy but not over-saturated and gelatin-like.

3. Fluff and mix the snow with your hand to mix water and powder completely.

Insta-Snow Globe Holiday Decoration | Steve Spangler Science

4. Decorate by adding miniature trees, people and other holiday decorations.

5. Glue ribbon around lid and place on top of jar.

We used a tiny Santa, tree and snowman from a Christmas village set. Get creative – make people out of baked clay, foam stickers, Legos, Pom Pom people or branches and pine cones from your backyard.

Closing the lid on the jar keeps the snow fresh and wet. You won’t need to re-hydrate it. If you decide to leave the lid off the top, you will want to spritz the Insta-Snow with water every few days to keep it moist.

One more thing, because the Insta-Snow is wet and will keep the jar humid, if you decide to use a flameless candle do not leave it in the jar. Remove it when it’s not in use or the batteries and switch may rust.

We found this originally on All for the Boys and their post Interactive Snowscape. They use sugar for the snow, but we swapped the sugar for our Insta-Snow. Thanks for the great idea!

Christmas Science Craft – Pearl Swirl Reindeers

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

My favorite part of my job as Social Media Manager at Steve Spangler Science is seeing all the amazing experiments and lessons teachers share with us on Twitter. Some of our nation’s best teachers share how they make science come alive in their classrooms.

Pearl Swirl Baby Soda Bottle Reindeers - A Science Craft for the holidays | Steve Spangler Science

This week, we received a tweet from Zachary Champagne, a district facilitator for the Mathematics Formative Assessment Project at the Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. He is also a fourth and fifth grade math and science teacher in Jacksonville, Florida.

Zak says one of his favorite things to do is be a guest teacher in his own children’s classrooms.

He explains, “Initially I would schedule time with my son’s teachers for me to come in and do some awesome science (all inspired by Steve and this blog!).”

Pearl Swirl Baby Soda Bottle Reindeers - A Science Craft for the holidays | Steve Spangler Science

About three years ago, Zak was planning to do a holiday-themed science activity and was brainstorming ideas with his son, Aiden.

Aiden really wanted to do something with Pearl Swirl Baby Soda Bottles and decided to turn them into reindeers. His dad wasn’t immediately sold on the idea, until Aiden explained, “we can glue eyes on the bottles and use pipe cleaners as antlers.” And that was the beginning of Pearl Swirl reindeers. 

Pearl Swirl Baby Soda Bottle Reindeers - A Science Craft for the holidays | Steve Spangler Science

They have made the reindeers every year since. This year, Zak made them with his daughter Anna and 36 third grade students at Greenland Pines Elementary. He explains the experience -

I think the highlight of the pearl swirl reindeers is that each child gets to keep their reindeer and take it home.  And it always reminds me of a lesson I learned from Steve years ago…if we can make it to the dinner table then we have won.  I just picture these 36 third graders teaching their parents and siblings over the holidays about how liquids move inside themselves and continue to move after a force has been applied.  It gives me chills.

- Zachary Champagne

Remember that we mentioned our teachers are the best of the best? Here’s a little additional info on Zak. He was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in 2006 (the Nation’s highest honor for a mathematics or science educator) and was named Duval County’s Teacher of the Year in 2010.

Not too shabby.

Pearl Swirl Baby Soda Bottle Reindeers - A Science Craft for the holidays | Steve Spangler Science

Materials

Activity

1. Fill each Baby Soda Bottle 3/4 full with water.
2. Add a few drops of food coloring or True Color Tables (won’t stain like food coloring).
3. Mix.
4. Add a few drops of Pearl Swirl and top Baby Soda Bottle with water.
5. Replace cap on BSB and tighten to prevent leaks.
6. Glue eyes, antlers and nose to make the reindeer.
7. Let dry.

Pearl Swirl Baby Soda Bottle Reindeers - A Science Craft for the holidays | Steve Spangler Science

If you have a fun, new and engaging activity that you use to make science come alive for your own children or in your classroom, share it with us @SteveSpangler or @SpanglerScience or use #MakingScienceFun.