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.

 

 

The Spangler Effect Spotlighted on NBC Nightly News as Top YouTube Education Channel

More and more parents, students and lifelong learners are turning to YouTube – not for funny kitty videos or talking dogs – but for education. Teachers are sharing their lessons beyond the classroom.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

YouTube EDU is becoming increasingly popular for online learning. Lessons from foreign languages to chemistry to algebra are available from top teachers across the world. Earlier this week, we shared our favorite education YouTube channels from the science greats to independent teachers AND students.

The Spangler Effect

On their July 1, 2013 broadcast, NBC Nightly News featured some of the most popular teacher channels on YouTube. Steve Spangler’s The Spangler Effect, was one of the top learning channels featured. In The Spangler Effect former teacher Steve Spangler transforms simple do-it-at-home experiments into unforgettable experiences. It’s an in-depth look at the science behind some of today’s most popular science principles.

Here are the other teachers featured in the Nightly News story -

Rob Tarrou
What started off as a way to help students at St. Pete High School has now gone worldwide. Rob Tarrou began filming his energetic math lessons from his house with his wife behind the camera. Those videos have now been seen hundreds of thousands of times, from New York, to Hungary, to Israel.

Alex Dainis
Alex Dainis is “a biology nerd, music lover, film geek.” She gets the ideas for her YouTube videos from conversations she has with her friends, such as: “Why do we get brain freezes when we eat ice cream too fast?” or “Why do we sneeze?”

Paul Anderson
Paul Anderson started creating videos for the students in his class several years ago.  A friend encouraged him to start uploading them to YouTube, and he says this has brought a whole new virtual classroom of students into his life.

Keith Hughes
Public school teacher Keith Hughes, who began using video in his social studies classroom in 2002, now has more than 100 videos on YouTube covering topics in U.S. history and government, political science and world history.

Kristen Williams
Kristen Williams realized that there was an entire YouTube education community when she came across the Vlogbrothers, and got hooked.

Loretta Scott
Loretta Scott teaches Japanese from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Brothers John and Hank Green
John Green, YouTube sensation and New York Times bestselling author, has a quirky, fast-paced teaching style as he leads a Crash Course on The Fall of Rome, The Dark Ages and The Mongol Empire. His brother Hank Green explains topics in chemistry, biology, and ecology to name a few.

Rachel Smith
New Yorker Rachel Smith is a classically trained opera singer and linguist who now teaches ESL on YouTube as a career. Rachel is focused specifically on pronunciation. She has adoring students across the globe.

Best Science and Educational YouTube Channels

Steve Spangler Science has an incredible following on our three YouTube channels – The Spangler Effect, Sick Science! Experiments and Spangler Science TV. Our video team is dedicated to bring the best experiments and science programming to our viewers. They work hard every week setting off Mentos Soda Geysers in the parking lot, popsicle sticks in the studio and researching all of the science behind everything we do.

  • The Spangler Effect is our weekly online science show that goes in-depth on some of the most popular and new experiments from Steve Spangler.
  • Sick Science! features easy to do experiments and activities you can do at home or in the classroom.
  • Spangler Science TV offers videos and experiments from all of Steve Spangler’s television appearances.

SteveSpanglerScience-YouTubeChannels

We also enjoy watching and following all of the amazing work that is shared on YouTube education channels everyday. So much so that we thought we’d share some of our favorites for kids, parents and teachers. All offer something different and educational. This is what we watch at the Steve Spangler Labs -

Science Giants

YT-NASATV

Independent Science

  • Minute Physics - Science questions answered and broken down quickly and thoroughly with drawings to illustrate.
  • ASAP Science – Similar to Minute Physics – mini science lessons illustrated through wipe board drawings.
  • The Slow Mo Guys – 2 guys run video experiments and slow them down to investigate what really happens.
  • Smarter Every Day – science videos exploring the world and answering the question of why.
  • Vsauce – answers to ordinary and astounding science questions, and mind-blowing facts.
  • Sci Show – discussions and questions on science news today.

YT-MinutePhysics

Education and Lifelong Learning

  • Soulpancake – a huge variety of videos and programming to make you open your heart and your mind, including the very popular Kid President.
  • Crash Course – Six courses to learn from – US History, Chemistry, World History, Biology, Literature, and Ecology.
  • Google in Education – News, tips, stories and more
  • PBS – Programming, children’s videos and more
  • Edutopia – for tech-savvy teachers, promoting online learning.
  • TED Talks – lectures, demonstrations and lessons in 18 minutes from icons and geniuses.  incredible lectures, demonstrations and performances spanning every discipline imaginable.
  • Learning Channel – Lessons for grades 7 through 12.
  • Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls - Exploring cultures and the world along with advice from Amy Poehler

YT-Soulpancake

Teachers

  • Karen Mensing - 2nd grade teacher, YouTube Teacher Star, Arizona’s Gifted Teacher of the Year 2011, Teacher of the Year 2012.
  • WowMath – Mr. Robb’s math lectures on Algebra and Calculus.

Kid-Hosted

YT-DrMadScience

Parents

  • Teach Mama - Tips and advice for parents to help navigate learning everyday with your child. 
  • Inspiration Labs - Encouraging learning through creativity and play. Activities and science experiments.
  • Emma Vanstone - Fun loving mum of three.
  • Play Learn Grow - “A Place for Moms of all ages, nations, Teachers and Children to Play, Learn and Grow together.”

Want even more YouTube education channels? Check out 100 Incredibly Useful YouTube Channels for Teachers and Edudemic’s Best Video Sites for Teachers.

 

What have we missed? What are your favorite YouTube Channels? Leave us a comment below with a link and we will consider adding it to our list.

Ultimate Science Vacations – Science at Sea Takes an Up Close Look at Alaska

For the third time, the Steve Spangler team and award-winning naturalists explored the inside passage of Alaska. The group, along with teachers and science enthusiasts boarded a Holland America cruise ship earlier this week for a special Science at Sea excursion.

Science at Sea -  Cruising in Glacier Bay, Alaska

Alaska is known for its spectacular scenery, glaciers, mountains, untamed wilderness and vast wildlife populations. Science abounds in the largest U.S. state. Cut Alaska in half, and each half is still larger than Texas.

The state not only boasts the biggest land size, but also holds the smallest population of the 50 states. Only 650,000 people call Alaska home. Twice as many tourists visit every year.

Google Maps
Courtesy: Google Maps

Alaska contains more coastline, more lakes, more streams and rivers, more National Parks, more wildlife refuges, more natural resources, more forests, more glaciers and more wildlife than any other state in America. Seventeen of North America’s twenty highest mountains, including the tallest, Denali at over 20,000 feet, are found in Alaska. It is also home to the largest National Forest and largest National Park in the 50 states.

Alaska has more earthquakes, more volcanoes, more glaciers, more mountains than anyplace in North America. – John Scheerens, naturalist.

The crew cruised the famous Inside Passage of the the Pacific Northwest Coast or southeast Alaska for one week. They viewed spectacular, rugged, high mountains cloaked in lush temperate rainforests, enormous ice fields and glaciers, scenic 1,000-foot deep fjords, and a plethora of marine mammals and sea birds. Alaska also has a rich human history and social sciences story anchored by Native peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast that have lived in the area for over 8,000 years, and also includes the great Gold Rush of 98 and World War II.

Some of our guests for Science at Sea 2013
Some of our guests for Science at Sea 2013

The tour included visits to some of Alaska’s most popular towns and cities. Juneau, Alaska’s capital city, enjoys perhaps the most scenic setting of any state capital in America; Sitka, a most charming village on Alaska’s outer coast once known as the Paris of the Pacific, ancient home of the Kiksadi people and seat of government and administration for Russian America; spectacular Glacier Bay National Park, home to half the tidewater glaciers in North America; Ketchikan, the salmon capital of the world known as Alaska’s First City; and Victoria, a lovely small city on the southern coast of Vancouver Island and provincial capital of British Columbia. Native traders, fur trappers, gold seekers, and sightseers have all marveled at the magnificence of the Inside Passage.

Global Warming is at work in Alaska and you can witness it firsthand. Glaciers and the sea ice are melting at a rapid pace, so fast, that some glaciers are in danger of becoming extinct. New shipping routes have opened in the Arctic making it easier to travel between Norway and Asia, specifically. The wildlife is also suffering. Polar bears are drowning while swimming and looking for food.

Glacial Ice Melting in the Arctic - Global Warming

Alaska is full of geography and geology lessons as well. When asked where the most northern and western extremes of America are found, Alaska is an easy answer. The eastern part of the 50 states is also found in Alaska. The state’s Aleutian Islands cross the dateline so the eastern extreme of the U.S. is also in Alaska.

The Aleutians were the first parts of Alaska settled by Europeans. Two of the larger islands, Dutch Harbor and Kodiak are two of the largest seafood producing communities in the world.

Geology dictates the natural environment of Alaska. Particularly the southeastern part is one of the most geologically active places on earth. There are more earthquakes, more volcanoes, more glaciers, more mountains than anyplace in North America.

Plate tectonics is also a huge part of the Alaskan geology. The North American Plate is riding over the top of the Pacific Plate in a process called subduction under Alaska. The Pacific Plate is moving north and counterclockwise against the western moving North American Plate causing a shearing action. The subduction causes Alaska’s massive mountain features and volcanic activity. The mountains are grow taller at a rate of about an inch or more a year. The shearing action creates earthquakes along the coastline.

Can you spot the kayaker?
Can you spot the kayaker?

Glaciers are also an incredibly important part of Alaska’s past and present. They are responsible for thousands of islets, fjords and waterways. A large part of our tour included visits to the largest and most spectacular glaciers.

Finally, Alaska has abundant wildlife on land and in the water. Long daylight hours in the summer encourages a lot of vegetation growth on land and algae or plankton in the water. Marine life teems in the oceans, mammals large and small thrive in the forests and tundra and millions of birds nest along shorelines and in forested areas.

A whale breaching in Alaska - Science at Sea from Steve Spangler Science

Scheerens adds “Alaska offers some of the finest habitat and food resources on the planet to support some of the largest wildlife populations anywhere in the world.”

Many thanks to our naturalist John Scheerens for the research and information included in this article and for all of his knowledge, insights and enthusiasm about the great state of Alaska.

John is considered the teacher of teachers in Alaska serving as the training consultant for most of the major tour companies throughout Alaska. John has been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, ESPN’s Outdoor Adventure Series, and Outdoor Channels Pathfinder’s Series, and his educational tours have received the highest praise among his peers. We cannot think of the better tour leader for our Science at Sea experience.

 

The Science Behind Fireworks – How Do They Produce the Brilliant Colors and Designs?

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

** This article is strictly for the entertainment and information of our readers. Leave the display fireworks creation, development and launching to the professionals. It is a violation of federal, state and local laws to make or use fireworks without the required permits. 

Fireworks are as much a part of the Fourth of July as hot dogs, watermelon and red, white and blue. How do they get those brilliant colors, sparkling trails and heart shapes? There’s a science to creating the perfect firework display.

 

The Science of Fireworks. What makes the patterns, designs and colors? A fireworks decoder included. | Steve Spangler Science

Before we dive into the science behind fireworks, let’s start with a little history. The Chinese invented fireworks somewhere around 960 and 1279 AD. They shot off fireworks to ward off evil spirits and used them during celebrations, like the Emperor’s birthdays and Chinese holidays.

Fireworks were first used to celebrate independence in the United States on July 8, 1776. They were used in England to celebrate the birthdays of kings and queens. The fireworks were fired in America to celebrate the “death” of royalty and their power over the U.S. Fireworks were used to celebrate our independence each July 4th but not in an official way until July 4 was declared a federal holiday in 1941. Currently, fireworks are almost synonymous with Independence Day.

Designing and building the ultimate firework display or just a firecracker requires a strong knowledge of chemistry and physics.

Colors – Different metal elements and metal compounds create each color.  When you watch a display this year, try to name each element in it. Blue-greens and vivid violet-blues are the most dangerous and difficult to create. They are unstable and extremely dangerous.

Effects – the use of different elements also creates special effects.

What’s Inside of a Firework? 

  • Black Powder – the propellant. It is an old formula made from potassium nitrate, sulfur and charcoal. When it is ignited, the nitrate oxidizes the sulfur and charcoal which results in hot gasses.
  • Mortar (container) – the outer cylinder chamber made of plastic or metal. It can be a short, steel pipe with a lifting charge of black powder in the bottom or surrounding stars.
  • Stars – the pyrotechnic compounds that explode and create the colors and effects. They are spheres, cubes or cylinders about the size of a pea to a tennis ball.
  • Shell – a hollow sphere made of pasted paper and string. The shell is cut in half and packed with stars.
  • Bursting Charge – inside the middle of the shell to ignite the firework. The charge ignites the outsides of the stars, which burn with showers of sparks.
  • Fuse – allows a time delay for the explosion.

How Do They Create Multi-Explosions, Effects and Colors in One Firework?

Multi-break shells create multiple stages for the firework. Stars of different  colors and compounds are used to make different effects. The shells are filled with other shells or have multiple sections that are ignited with individual fuses. After the first section bursts, the next fuse is ignited and bursts the second, which then ignites the third fuse and so on.

The Science Behind Fireworks - How do they create the brilliant colors and patterns? | Steve Spangler Science

How Are Patterns Created? 

When the firework explodes, the stars are thrown out into a pattern. If they are packed into the shell in a star pattern or happy face pattern, they maintain that shape in the sky as they are thrown from the shell. Popular Mechanics has an interactive slideshow with pictures of shells with layouts of stars and charges that displays how some of the most complex designs are created.

Are The Booming Sounds from Fireworks All About the Ignition? 

Actually no, some fireworks contain sound charges that use perchlorate.

References – HowStuffWorks, eHow Fireworks, eHow Fireworks History, Popular MechanicsAnatomy of a Firework from PBS,