Enter the 2013 Google Science Fair

Google has opened its online international Science Fair for kids between the ages of 13 and 18. Students can work alone or in teams.

Find your passion, learn a little science and maybe win a prize.

To enter, you only need a little inspiration, an idea and a Google account. Sign up at GoogleScienceFair.com. After signing up, run your test or experiment and enter all information on the project site. Submissions are due by April 30, 2013.

After the first round of judging, we’ll announce 90 regional finalists, whose work will then be reviewed even more closely by a panel of judges. The top 15 students will be invited to our finalist event at Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA, where they’ll present their work to a panel of scientists, tech innovators and Nobel Laureates. In the end, we’ll be honoring three winners, including a Grand Prize winner.

What is the grand prize, you ask? Just a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands with National Geographic Expeditions and $50,000 in scholarship funding. There are also lots of other prizes for finalists and in age categories.

Meet Brittany, 17, the grand prize winner in 2012. Her winning project was an app to test for breast cancer.

 

 

Marshmallow and Cherry Science Density Layer Cake

Bake a little science cake for your love this Valentines Day. This experiment mixes a little kitchen science, candy science and physical science. And the end result of this activity is delicious.

To make a 3-layer density cake, you will need the following materials –

  • Cake mix (flavor is up to you, we used Devil’s Cake)
  • Bag of small marshmallows
  • 2 cans of cherry pie mix with whole cherries
  • Eggs
  • Oil
  • Water
  • Clear glass cake pan

Instructions –

  1. Prepare cake batter per box directions.
  2. Spray the bottom of the cake pan.
  3. Cover the bottom of the pan with marshmallows.
  4. Pour cake batter over the marshmallows.
  5. Layer the cherry pie filing on top of the batter. Do this quickly, as the marshmallows will start to float up almost immediately.
  6. Bake the cake according to box directions.

As the cake bakes, the marshmallows and cherries will switch places. You have to check in on the baking process to watch the science. The baking is the best part (besides eating the cake.) As the marshmallows rise to the top, they will melt and become gooey. During our experiment, the marshmallows completely melted and disappeared. You may want to try baking your cake slower and at a lower temperature to preserve the marshmallows. As the cherries fall to the bottom, they will only be visible after cutting the cake or looking through the clear bottom.

 How does this work?

The answer lies in density. Density is defined as mass divided by volume or the amount of stuff in a certain amount of space. Marshmallows are sugar puffed up with air. They are much less dense than the cherries. The marshmallows are less dense than the cake batter too, so as the batter naturally descends to the bottom of the cake pan, the marshmallows rise. The cherries are the most dense, so they fall to the bottom.

What other ingredients can you use to switch places in this yummy experiment?

This experiment was developed by former teacher and Story Time Slime speaker Julie Gintzler as a 100-day activity with her class. She lined 100 marshmallows on the bottom of the cake pan as part of the celebration. 

Valentines Day Candy Science Experiments

It’s Valentines week – love is in the air and there is candy flowing everywhere. What are you going to do with all of the candy your child brings home on Thursday afternoon? Don’t eat it…experiment with it.

 

Here are a few experiments shown in the video –

The Ups and Downs of a Relationship – Candy Heart Soda Dance

  • Fill a clear glass with 7-Up, Sprite or other carbonated drink.
  • Drop a handful of candy conversation hearts into the soda.
  • Watch the hearts dance up and down in the carbonation.

The carbon dioxide picks them up and throws them to the top of the glass. When they reach the top, the bubbles burst and the candy works its way down again.

 

Skittles and M&M’s Letter Float

  • Fill a clear glass or bowl half way with water.
  • Drop a few M&M’s or Skittles into the water.
  • Wait about 10-20 minutes to let the candy soak.

How Does This Work?

The “M” and “S” letters on M&M’s and Skittles are printed in edible white ink. The ink won’t dissolve in water. When the candy shell dissolves, the letters peel off and float to the top.

(This experiment was originally done on CandyExperiments.com)

Pop Rocks Expander

  • Pour an entire packet of Pop Rocks into a balloon.
  • Stretch the mouth of the balloon over the opening of a bottle of soda. Carefully to avoid the Pop Rocks from spilling into the soda.
  • When it’s secure, dump the balloon over and empty the Pop Rocks into the soda.
The secret behind the famous “popping” of Pop Rocks candy is pressurized carbon dioxide gas. Each of the tiny little candy pebbles contains a small amount of the gas. These tiny carbon dioxide bubbles make the popping sound you hear when they burst free from their candy shells.

Gobstoppers or Skittles Color Mix

  • Fill a petri dish with enough water to cover the bottom.
  • Drop a Gobstopper of different color along each side so that they are across from each other and evenly spaced.
  • Wait and observe.

Science-Based Inquiry Tests

Try this experiment with other dyed candies, like M&M’s Skittles, Lifesavers. Do they all work the same?

Try it with different liquids, like milk, vinegar or soda. Do the colors spread the same?

Now try putting two Gobstoppers in a petri dish, then three. What happens?

Finally, test different temperatures in the water. What happens to the dissolve rate in cold water or hot?

Gobstoppers have at least four layers of of colors, so your petri dish rainbow should change colors four times during this experiment.

The Gobstopper colors do not mix. They all run into eachother and stop.

Fortune Telling Fish Make Unique and Creative Valentines – Let Science Detect Your Love

 By Blog Editor Susan Wells

My girls and I don’t like to hand out the standard paper Valentines from the store. Those are just boring. So each year we look for a different and unique Valentine to hand out. Since I’m known as the Science Mom at my girls’ school, it’s only fitting that we hand out something sciencey for the day of love. My 2nd grader and I have already created a stack of Test Tube Valentines for her class.

My fifth grader and I began a search for a creative science Valentine. We decided on Fortune Telling Fish. This is no ordinary sticker, tattoo or candy Valentine. Oh no. This Valentine can predict the future; detect love or indifference in every single hormonal fifth grader.

There are some crushes and some cooties that still get passed around in fifth grade, so why not make them more giddy when they put a Fortune Fish in their hand and test their love?

We began with a lot of paper and shaped but settled on a rectangle where we attached the Fish package on one side and a little note and chocolate heart on the other.

The fish comes in a plastic envelope where it lives until its time to come out and start detecting the love. Take the fish out and place it in your flat hand. The fish will wriggle and roll. The direction of the roll will tell you how in love you really are –

Moving Head   >   Jealousy
Moving Tail   >   Indifference
Moving Head and Tail   >   In Love!
Curling Sides    >    Fickle
Turns Over   >   False
Motionless   >    Tired
Curls up entirely   >   Passionate

We tested our fish out on a few of my daughter’s friends this weekend. They giggled and had fun trying to test each other to see how much in love they were and with whom. I received a lot of questions about the meaning of “fickle” and about how they could reset it if the fish gave them “indifference” or “false.” Somehow, I think the boys will hope and pray for those two responses more than the others.

Fortune Telling Fish are sold by Steve Spangler Science and come in packs of 50 for $6.99

We also found a cute and easy way to make envelopes from heart cutouts from TinkerLab. You can also put your Fortune Telling Fish in an envelope instead of a card!

Light Ice, Heavy Water – Unfold the Mystery of the Sinking Water

Water floats and ice sinks, right? Frozen water is heavier and denser than when it is in its liquid state. Or is it? This activity is all about experimenting with different liquids and their densities.

In one of our most popular experiments, the 9-Layer Density Column, each liquid is stacked up on the next and do not separate because of their density. Objects sink to different levels based on their density.

Taking a lesson from the 9-Layer Density tower, we tried a new experiment with food coloring, water, an ice cube, baby oil and a mystery liquid. Watch the Sick Science! video and try to guess the mystery liquid before reading further.

Did you figure out the mysterious liquid? It was vegetable oil.

The basis of the Light Ice, Heavy Water experiment relies on density. Density = mass ÷ volume, which essentially equates to how many atoms are within a certain space. It is tough to see, but when you add baby oil to the vegetable oil in the container, the baby oil settles on top of the vegetable oil. This is because baby oil is a less-dense liquid than vegetable oil. That’s where water comes in to the picture.

As you likely know, ice cubes are frozen bricks of water. What you may not know, is that water reacts unlike almost every other material on earth when it freezes – it becomes less dense. That’s right! Other than water and some types of rubber, materials become more dense when they cool and freeze. As you can see in the Light Ice, Heavy Water experiment, however, ice is actually less dense than water and vegetable oil. Pretty, cool, and pretty cool!
To perform this experiment and get the step by step instructions, please visit the Light Ice, Heavy Water experiment page.