It Turned Green! Cool Science Tricks for St. Patrick’s Day
We never miss an opportunity to teach a little science… even on St. Patrick’s Day. From Leprechaun traps, to green water, to Leprechaun eggs, we know how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at the Spangler Science offices… and trust that none of us will ever forget the day the toilet and faucet water turned green. Sometimes your creativity spikes and you find gold (pun intended) when you wrap your mind around a specific theme. So, here are some of our favorite tips and tricks for infusing a little science and a lot of fun into St. Patrick’s Day.
Here are just a few ideas to get your green juices flowing. If you already have science staples like Instant Snow polymer, True Colors tablets, UV Color Changing Beads or just some green food coloring, you’re well on your way to creating very cool Irish science experience.
Leprechauns Strike – Green Water – It’s not uncommon for those little Leprechauns to turn everything green… even the water coming out of your faucet. Here’s how it works.
Green Flowers – It’s as simple as adding a little green food coloring to the water, but the effect it has on a white carnation is very cool. As the colored water is absorbed, children will be able to see how the water is absorbed into the plant and the petals of the carnation change color. Here’s the tip to making it happen quickly… Leave the white carnations out of water for a few hours to make sure they’re thirsty. Give them a fresh cut and place them in warm water with lots of green food coloring. The water needs to be a very dark green color.
Green Instant Snow – Since everything else is green on St. Patrick’s Day, why shouldn’t the snow be green, too? You’ll need some Instant Snow powder, a few plastic cups, green food coloring and a stirring stick. Place 20-30 drops of green food coloring in an empty cup and add about a tablespoon (about 10 grams) of dry Insta-Snow powder to the cup. Use a stirring stick to mix the powder. The polymer will absorb the green food coloring, but it won’t fluff up. Add a few more tablespoons of the dry, white Insta-Snow powder to the green powder and continue to mix. Keep mixing in the dry Insta-Snow until you get the green color you want. When you’re ready to make green snow, place one teaspoon of dry, green Insta-Snow into a clean cup and add about 2 ounces (60 mL) of water. The erupting green show will be a huge hit!
Leprechaun Traps – This is just one example of a simple Leprechaun trap that might spark a new idea.
Rainbow Beads – At the end of every rainbow is a pot of gold? How about a bag of white beads and a pile of green pipe cleaners? It might not look very exciting, but there’s something magicial that happens when you step outside and look at the beads – that change color! It’s easy to make a bracelet out of a few of our Color-Changing UV Beads (also known as Energy Beads) by threading 5-10 beads onto a green pipe cleaner. While you’re indoors, the beads remain white, but when you step outside into the sunlight, the beads change color. The beads contain a special UV sensitive pigment that changes color when it’s exposed to sunlight. The beads will change back to their original white color when you come indoors. Given your creativity, you’ll be able to weave the magic tail.
How to Make Gold Pennies – When times are tough, even Leprechauns feel the pinch. What if that pot of gold was actually a handful of pennies. Not to worry… here’s a way to make gold pennies. (This is a chemistry activity that requires strong adult supervision and some chemical know-how.
Read about Leprechauns taking over the Spangler House!
Leprechaun Eggs – Ever seen a Leprechaun egg? Neither have we… but if they laid eggs, they might be magical in their ability to vanish! You’ll need some of our Jelly Marbles and some green food coloring. Jelly Marbles start out looking like BBs but grow to the size of a big marbles when you add water. Place a teaspoon of Jelly Marbles into a bowl of water (1-2 liters) dyed with green food coloring.You’ll need to allow them to soak for at least 3 hours – overnight is even better. Once your Jelly Marbles have been in the water long enough they will have grown to an astonishing new size! And… they might look just like the kind of eggs a Leprechaun would lay!
Don’t be surprised if you don’t see them in the bowl of water – they’re hiding right below the surface. Reach into the water and find them (and the kids will go nuts!). Take out a handful of Leprechaun eggs and drop them back into the green water to watch them vanish. It’s the science of refraction… but just enjoy the fun of it today.
Thanks for sharing the cool ideas. I agree that any time we can do some science and make it fun by doing things like this, everyone wins. I have a 4th and a 5th grader and they’re a little too old for leprechaun traps. But these activities would be great for them to do with younger kids to get them excited about St. Patrick’s Day. When I was a kid, you just wore a green shirt to school and that was that. Now St. Patrick’s Day is a full-blown holiday (maybe because St. Guinness helps everyone celebrate). Thanks for your science ideas. Keep them coming.
I saw you do your gold penny activity online on a video last year and it’s great. I’m a chemistry teacher and this is just the kind of thing that works well with older students. I posted your activity on a chem-news forum and had a lot of people asking where to get the zinc dust. It’s important that you use zinc dust and not mossy zinc. It has to be a very fine powder. It was fun to see you son (is that your son?) on the video get so excited when the penny turned gold.
Steve, I dont know if you remember me but when I was a little girl I went to your science camps. I was watching the Ellen show the other day and couldn’t believe my eyes! It was YOU!!!!! You knew both of my parent, Lisa and Jamie. I saw on this blog that you had the rainbow beads. After we moved away from CO, my parents and I took a trip back to CO for my 10th birthday and one of the students took me up to the science department and gave me these beads. They were the coolest things ever! Ironically, next year I will hopefully be attending Regis University as a freshman. Such a small world!
Hope all is well with the family.
Cool tricks, too late I wasn’t able to read this during the St. Patrick’s day to try it out…
its really amazing how you do things like this. Leprechaun eggs? Who would have new. You never fail to entertain us in science, thanks Steve!
I love this site! As a soon to be upcoming teacher you give me so many ideas to present to my students! I believe the main reason I love science is because you can see things happen right before your eyes! I also think that students learn better when they can remember something cool like experiments to help them remember! This site is amazing. Thank you steve!
I love this! What great ideas! Just wanted to let you know I linked to your post!
I hope you’ll come stop by sometime!