Dancing Spaghetti – A Lesson in Density

Who knew noodles could dance? Head to the kitchen, grab a handful of pasta noodles along with a few other materials and get ready for a science pasta party. This is some kitchen science that will have you learning about volume and density in a brand new, hands-on way!

Materials

  • Clear drinking glasses
  • Pasta noodles (cooked or uncooked)
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Food coloring
  1. Measure 2 cups of water and pour the water into a clear drinking glass.
  2. Measure 2 cups of vinegar and add it into the clear drinking glass with the water.
  3. Add 3-6 drops of food coloring to the water and vinegar mixture.
  4. Add some pasta noodles to the glass. How much pasta? It’s up to you! (We used uncooked noodles)
  5. Drop 1 tablespoon of baking soda into the glass. Be ready… adding the baking soda into the mixture might get a little messy!
  6. Watch closely and check out all of those dancing noodles!
  7. Are your noodles done dancing? Add more baking soda to the glass and start the dance party all over again.
What will happen if you use other kitchen foods like raisins, candy hearts, beans or Cheerios? What else will work? Leave us a comment below with your favorite dancing food.

For the science behind this experiment, visit the Dancing Noodles experiment page.

Melt It, Blow It Up, Smash It But Don't Eat It – New Book Shares Lots of Candy Experiments

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

Our office recently received a copy of the new book, Candy Experiments, by Loralee Leavitt. If you love candy, but don’t want it to all go to your waistline, this book is for you.

Candy Experiments covers a wide variety of activities with what else? Candy. Learn about secret ingredients hidden in your favorite candy, then blow it up, smash it, freeze it, melt it and experiment every which way with it. So don’t eat all of that holiday candy, experiment with it. The best part of this book is all of the activities use candy and other household materials.

The experiments have easy to follow step by step instructions and a What’s Happening section. It isn’t big on the science, but it is something all parents can do with their kids on a lazy afternoon.

We have followed Loralee on Pinterest for awhile and have enjoyed seeing her playing with her food. She even showed us how to sink a marshmallow and use up that extra Halloween candy.

We received a complimentary copy of Candy Experiments to review. All comments are our own. 

Comet Pan-STARRS Makes Bright Appearances in Night Sky

Grab your camera and a snack, the night sky will put on a spectacular show throughout March.

The comet, Pan-STARRS is visible without a telescope and will make regular appearances in the Northern Hemisphere throughout the month. It was named after the Hawaiian telescope (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) where it was discovered in 2011.

It is believed that it will take more than 100 million years to make a single orbit around the sun.

Graphic courtesy NASA

Officially known as C/2011 L4, Pan-STARRS has brightened as the sun’s hot wind melts it, forming a long tail. On March 5th, it traveled its closest to Earth, getting about as close to our planet as the distance between us and the sun.

Pan-STARRS made its first appearance in the Northern Hemisphere on March 7th, but has been difficult to spot due to its low position in the sky. As of March 12th, the comet’s position is higher and the thin, dark crescent moon will help.

It will be visible in the night sky into April.

How to See the Comet

Pan-STARRS will be visible to the naked eye but a good pair of binoculars or amateur telescope will help. On a cloudless night, look to the western sky about an half hour after sunset. The sky will still be light.

Find the moon. This sounds easy, but it may be more difficult than you think. The crescent moon will only be about 1% illuminated with its sliver looking like a thin smile.

The comet will be visible about 5 degrees to the left of the moon or half a fist if you hold your clenched hand out in front of you horizontally.  As the month goes on, the comet will begin to move to the right of the moon.

Your search may need to start with binoculars. Once you know what you are looking for, you can locate it with your naked eye.

Pan-STARRS will look like a bright star with a stubby tail extending upwards and to the left.

The moon and comet will only be visible for about a half an hour before they disappear into the horizon.

Pan-STARRS is not the only comet making a visit to our night sky. Comet Lemmon is currently visible to skywatchers in the Southern Hemisphere.

Comet ISON was discovered in 2012 and will be visible in the Northern Hemisphere in November. It will pass within 800,000 miles (1.2 million km) from the sun and could be spectacular to view. But NASA astronomers warn it may also be a dud.

 

Credits: Wired Science, Space.com, NASA.gov

Sink or Swim – What Happens When You Weaken the Hydrogen Bonds in Water?

Water is a miracle liquid. All living things need it to survive and it has some unique properties unto itself. Hydrogen bonds are responsible for the unusual characteristics of water. These strong intermolecular forces are formed between water molecules and are responsible for the high boiling point and wide range of temperatures in liquid water.

Water is known as the Mickey Mouse molecule because two hydrogen atoms bond with one oxygen atom to form a molecule – H2O. When the two hydrogens bond with the oxygen, the electrons are not shared equally. (Pull out that high school chemistry for this lesson.) Because of this, the oxygen has a partial negative charge, and the hydrogen has a partial positive charge.

The opposite charges attract each other like magnets and form a hydrogen bond.

Hydrogen bonds are not strong bonds, but they make the water molecules stick together. The bonds cause the water molecules to associate strongly with one another. But these bonds can be broken by simply adding another substance to the water.

How does a piece of ice float on top of water? Or a lizard or water bug run across it? Hydrogen bonds pull the molecules together to form a dense structure. The molecules want to stay together and hold up the ice or the bug. Surface tension gives the water enough structure to hold somethings on top. If you break the surface tension, the item will sink.

 

What happens when you weaken or change the amount of surface tension of the water? Adding only one additional substance to water can greatly affect the hydrogen bonds, determining whether something floats or sinks.

 

 

Try this simple experiment to test the strength of hydrogen bonds in water –

Experiment

  1. Fill two glasses equally full with water.
  2. In one of the cups, add about 1 oz (30 mL) of dish soap and gently stir the solution.
  3. Create two identical balls of paper that can fit into your glasses of water.
  4. Gently drop one paper ball into the plain water and drop the other paper ball into the glass with the soapy water solution.
  5. You will quickly observe that the paper balls react differently to the two fluids. In fact, one paper ball begins to sink while the other sits atop the water!

How does it work?

It may appear that one paper ball is floating on the water while the other ball sinks, but it isn’t entirely about density. Instead, what you are observing is a difference in the surface tension of the water. Soap is a surfactant, or a compound that lowers the surface tension of a liquid. Soap, in particular, decreases the surface tension of water by weakening the hydrogen bonds that make water such a special substance.
This lower surface tension has two direct effects when it comes to the paper ball. First, the lower surface tension means that the paper can’t sit atop the water’s surface, allowing more of the water to come in contact with more of the paper. Second, the weakened hydrogen bonds mean that the water is more likely to soak into the porous paper, making the paper much more dense and causing it to sink.
Discover how to take this experiment and turn it into a science fair project and take it to the next level by visiting the Sink or Swim Experiment page on SteveSpanglerScience.com.

Leprechaun Science Activities from Our Favorite Kid Activity Bloggers

We enjoy following some of our favorite blogging Kids Activity Moms on Pinterest. Here is a short round up of our favorites for St. Patrick’s Day –