Category Archives: Sick Science! Videos

Just Add Water – A Summer Exhibit at the Denver Children's Museum

The Denver Children’s Museum offers fun activities right outside their doors this summer in an exhibit called Just Add Water.

Kids will get wet, drip and splash in this hands-on exhibit. It’s learning through play and there are even a few water geysers throw in.

This is a summer-only event and only goes for a little while longer before closing for the season. But don’t worry, Just Add Water will be back in the summer of 2013.



Take the Olympic Challenge – Swing Water Over Your Head Without Spilling It

The Olympics are winding down and you all must be tired of sitting on your couch day after day watching athletes do the impossible. Now, it’s your turn to get up and start swinging.

This demonstration will require some thin rope or strong string, water and plastic food storage containers.

Drill holes in the four corners of the container and tie the string in each hole. Tie all four strings together at the top to make a water swing. Then fill the container with water.

Make sure you are outside or in an open space and away from brothers, sisters and the dog when you start swinging. Don’t do it around the family China either or over the brand new carpet.

Swing the water container around in a circle and over your head. Just don’t stop!

The water will stay inside the container and not spill out everywhere as long as you keep it moving in one direction. Stopping too fast or changing directions suddenly may cause the water to spill out everywhere.

If you are up for a challenge, try a water swing in each hand.

Why doesn’t the water spill out when the container is upside down? Centripetal force meaning “center seeking” keeps the water from going everywhere.

Centripetal force is a force that is always directed toward the center of the circle. According to Newton’s First Law of Motion, objects in motion tend to remain in motion unless acted upon by an external force. The water continues to move along a tangent to the circle and does not fall out of the container.


The Office Olympics – The Science of Office Chair Spinning

There is science behind the tucks, spins, jumps and throws in the Olympics.

Power walking is now an Olympic event, so why not spinning? I’m already dizzy and we’ve barely begun.

If you need to bring more Olympics in your life, pull out the office chair, start doing a little science and compete in the Office Olympics.

There is a science to spinning the fastest in an office chair spin-off. To win the gold, you must understand a little about inertia, mass and velocity.

Hold your arms out while spinning on the office chair and you will keep your balance, but pull them into your body, and you’ll spin faster. By bringing the arms in, you change your angular velocity.

Ready for a few scientific definitions?

In simple terms, inertia is the tendency for an object to resist a change in its motion.

Mass is how much stuff is in an object. It gets confused with weight – but weight is the force of gravity on the object. An object like a rock may weigh differently on the earth than it does on the moon, but it’s mass is the same no matter where it is found. Mass is also a numerical measurement of its inertia.

Velocity is the rate at which an object changes its position, or its speed. Angular velocity is speed in a circular motion. Linear velocity is speed in a straight line.

Change your mass by holding a few cans of food or weights. Now spin with your arms out and then bring them back in.

The mass can also affect angular velocity. The mass held out at arms’ length will slow down an object’s angular velocity, but bring the mass into the center of gravity, and that object will spin even faster.

Are you ready to go for the gold? Go grab an office chair, some co-workers and a few lightweights. Just don’t share your science secret until after the competition.

Save Electricity, Skip the Campfire, Go Old School and Cook on a Solar Oven

The hot, dry weather in Colorado has forced officials to enforce fire bans across the state. That means no campfires, no s’mores, no nuttin’. Or is it possible to harness the power of the sun using a technique that is used by Girl and Boy Scouts and other ingenious campers who want to spare the lighter fluid, charcoal or wood to cook a meal?

To make a solar oven, start by going out for pizza and keeping the cardboard box. Cut a flap inside the lid of the box so you have a lid inside a lid.

Cover the inside box bottom with aluminum foil and then place a piece of black paper on top. Cover the inside of the box lid with clear plastic wrap and the inside of the lid you cut out in step one with more aluminum foil.

It’s time to start cooking those s’mores. Place a few graham crackers on the black paper and layer with chocolate and marshmallows. Leave it out in the sun for about 10 minutes, more or less depending on the strength of the sun. BAM! S’mores for the family without a spark or fire.

The aluminum foil reflects the sunlight and harnesses the heat on the marshmallows and chocolate. The black paper absorbs that heat and increases the heat inside the box. The plastic also holds in the heat and protects the food from critters or dirt while cooking the food.

Here’s more on the science of the sun, sunscreen and step by step instructions on how to make our solar oven from The Spangler Effect -

Make Your Own Ice Cream and Beat the Heat

The summer is heating up. In Denver, we’ve hit the triple digits. What’s the best way to beat the heat?

By eating ice cream of course!

Don’t worry about going to the store – grab some ice, sugar and cream and mix up a batch of your own.  But before you start, let’s do a quick science lesson on ice cream.

The freezing temperature of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. In order for ice to melt, it must rob heat from something around it. When you add ice cubes to your favorite drink, the ice robs heat away from the drink and melts, making the drink colder.

To make ice cream, the freezing point of the ice must be lowered in order to rob the cream mixture of enough heat and turn it to ice cream. Add rock salt to the ice, mix it around, and the salt will make the ice even colder.

You don’t need a fancy ice cream maker to make homemade ice cream. Grab a Zip-loc gallon-sized bag and fill it with ice cubes and rock salt. Then take a smaller sandwich-sized Zip-loc bag, fill it with Half & Half, sugar and some vanilla or other flavoring. Close it up and stick it inside the ice-salt mixture. Roll the bag around and around, shaking and mixing for about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the smaller bag from the ice and wash it off to clear off any salt.

Eat it.

You can also put the ice in a container or get a Play and Freeze Ice Cream maker. The ice cream maker holds the salt and ice mixture around the outside and mixes the cream in a separate, sealed tube. Roll it or shake it. The Play and Freeze Maker is perfect for camping, barbecues or just hanging out around the pool for perfect, delicious ice cream anywhere.

Basic Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

  • 1 pint of Half & Half*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • Ice
  • Rock salt

*Using whole cream makes a richer, creamier ice cream. Using part milk and Half and Half makes a lighter ice cream, but takes longer to freeze. Yield: about a pint of smooth and creamy ice cream.

For more on this experiment, please visit the Ice Cream Ball Experiment page.