Monday, July 31, 2017

The Magic Paper Towel: Exploring Water Repellent

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Back to school time is here with the sale. 

All items in my store are on sale.

Science demonstrations are a great way to wow your students the first week of school. 
Here is a fun one to spark their interest!

The Magic Paper Towel
We all know paper likes to absorb water. 
What if we make paper towel water repellent?
Watch the video to find out how to create water repellent paper towel!

1.   Place a piece of regular paper towel at each group.
2. Pour about 250ml of water slowly on each group’s regular paper towel.  Try to keep it on the paper towel.  Students will notice it absorbs the water and some most likely spreads.
3. Have students clean up their area.
4. Place a piece of water proof paper towel at each group.
5. Pour about 250ml of water slowly on each group’s water proof paper towel.  Try to keep it on the paper towel.  Students will be amazed to notice the water does not soak in.  It stays on top.  Even the bottom does not get wet.
6. Have the groups discuss what happened.  They need to try and figure out how the teacher did this.
7.  Then show them the water proof spray.
8. Have extra water proof paper towels to give students an opportunity to explore.

Why is this possible?

The paper towel was sprayed with silicone based water repellent.  Silicone is a hydrophobic substance.  That means it does not absorb water.  Paper towel is naturally hydrophilic (water loving).  Which means it absorbs water.  The water repellent creates a barrier keeping the water out.  Water forms curved drops on the paper towel because it has polar bonds.  Water molecules have a positive and negative end.  This means water molecules are attracted to each other.  The drops attract to each other forming raised droplets on the water proof paper towel.   This attraction creates surface tension.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Make a Mini Smoke Ring Launcher

As an end of the year activity on forces and motion students made smoke ring launchers.   They had a wonderful time counting how many rings of smoke they could get. It isn’t really smoke, but fog.  It looks like smoke and they tend to call it that.  It was a fun activity.  Hopefully you have a fog machine.  They can be found on-line and in stores at Halloween.  If not your students can make these and shoot little puffs of air to make small items move.  They just won’t be able to see they are in rings.


Plastic Cup

3-5 inch balloon

Rubber band


Fog Machine

Safety Goggles recommended


1.       Cut a 2cm round hole in the bottom of the plastic drinking cup.

2.       Cut the end of the balloon off.  Make sure you cut enough to be able to wrap it around the cup.

3.       Wrap the balloon over the top of the cup.  It has to be as tight as you can get it.  Work carefully so you don’t crack the cup.  Keep pulling it tight.

4.       Place a rubber band over the balloon on the cup.  This just helps to hold it better.

5.       Follow the directions for your fog machine.  REMEMBER the end of fog machines gets hot.  Use caution and have adult supervision. 

6.       Once the fog machine is set up hit the button to produce fog.  Place the hole in the cup close to the opening where the fog comes out.  You want to be able to catch the fog in the cup, but not melt your cup.  (I have done that.)  Let the fog go in for a couple of seconds.

7.       Take you mini smoke ring launcher and hold it up away from you.  Carefully tap the back with one or two fingers.  You should see fog come out.  Hopefully it is coming out in rings.  It doesn’t always do it each time, but you should be seeing some.  Count how many rings you get until you need to refill with fog.

8.       If it does not work tighten the balloon.


The air coming out of the cup is a vortex of air.  A vortex is a whirling mass of water or air that sucks everything near it towards the center.  A tornado is a vortex of air.  The air in the center is traveling faster than the air on the outside.  The slower moving air on the outside has higher pressure than the faster moving air.  This higher pressure air holds the smoke ring together. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

2016/2017 Science Year in Review

2016/2017 Science Year Review

Another great year is completed.  This year I saw lots of growth in the students.  This is my 3rd year offering science classes in my community.  Students come to my home for classes.  It is amazing to see the growth in their scientific thinking.

Our main class is the Creating and Conducting Investigation class.  This was the first year I offered it up to 7th grade. Our theme for the year was Forces and Motion.  Students investigated gravitational potential energy, balanced and unbalanced forces, The Laws of Energy, Conservation of Energy, simple machines, and much more.  They wrote their own investigations on incline planes and helped create investigations as a class.  The final project was to create an original science fair project.  Projects are then displayed at the Science Fair Poster Celebration.

I also offered STEM Classes and monthly explorations.  Exploring Dry Ice is always a blast.  Students had a great time learning about Cartesian Divers and creating their own.  Students were also challenged to create a bridge that could hold 100 pennies.  These classes focus on the engineering design process.  We emphasize using failures as learning experiences to guide us to solutions.

 I chaired the Siebert Elementary School Science Fair again this year.  I am starting to lose count as to how many years I have done this.  I think 5.  I love it.  We had over 70 projects.  The students always impress.  We have fabulous judges.  The support from the school and families is wonderful.  We really focus on students not only performing a science fair project, but designing the project as well.  This creates more unique projects and helps students design projects that fit their interests.  This year’s science fair workshop was all about bottle flipping.  Bottle flipping is banned at the school, but for this night the principal allowed it.  Investigating bottle flipping was inexpensive and exciting for the students.  The night of the fair didn’t disappoint. 

My year ended with The Science Fair Poster Celebration.  This is put on through Kimberly Scott Science.  All students in my Creating and Conducting Investigation class participate as well as others from the community.  I also offered a family science fair workshop about bottle flipping to help students prepare for creating their projects.  This is a celebration of all things science.  We don’t give out places, but all the students want me to score their projects.  We had a 6 foot high trebuchet.  It couldn’t get it into the classroom, but we left it in the entry way for students to see.  We also had a tornado, earth quake investigation, plants, water wheel, and more.  Projects were well thought out and age appropriate.  It was a great end to the school year.

Now it is time to plan for next year.  I always start with an open house.  This year I will be teaching a “You Be the Chemist Challenge Class.”  Students will be learning all things chemistry and preparing for the “You Be the Chemist Challenge.”  Students can also enroll in Kitchen Chemistry and monthly STEM Explorations.  I am excited that I am offering programs outside of my home.  Over the summer I will be provided programs for a local day camp.  Bring on inertia challenges, bubble fun, and Mentos/Diet Coke Geysers.

To find lessons that I used go to Kimberly Scott Science on

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Organizing a Successful Science Fair

Your committee has worked hard to advertise the school science fair.  You worked so hard that enrollment has increased.  Now you need to figure out how to organize the night of the fair.  If your school or district is like mine the fair is in the evening.  We need to set up the gym and register projects in a short time.  Then we need to fit judging into a 2 ½ hour block.  This takes organization and strategy. 

I would like to share with you what our science fair committee has created.  Here is the secret.


Our fair gets between 70-80 projects a year.  The fair is for K-5th Grade.   This year we have 80 projects give or take a few.  Here is what we do.

Supplies Needed

Bright Colored Copy Paper:  yellow, orange, green, white, blue, pink
Table cloths to match each color.
2 Grade level signs in their color.
Sticky labels in the colors.
Binder Clip for each project
Project sign in sheets for each grade level.
Science Fair Buttons
Clip Boards for Judges
Name Tags
Directions for Judges.

I know it sounds like a lot, but I will take you through it.

Set-Up the Fair

Copy your judge’s forms for each student on the correct colored paper.  Kindergarten forms on yellow paper.  1st grade on orange paper and so on.  Write the students names on the judge’s forms ahead of time.  Each project is judged twice.  So fill out two judging forms for each project.  
Do not number ahead of time.  You will always get no shows.  Numbering ahead of time creates chaos for the judges.  They will be looking for project 3 and they may not find a project 3.  Number projects as they register.  This is so important.

On each colored sticky label number out 5 sticky labels for each project.  Do this ahead of time.  Example:  1-1 is 1st grade project 1.  3-4 is 3rd grade project 4.  Make 5 of each.  Lots of labels, but they will come in handy.

Organize the number of tables you need for each grade level.  Place the correct color table cloth on each table for the grade.  If kindergarten is yellow and you need 3 tables you would have 3 yellow tables.  Easy.  Now use your first numbered sticker to place on the table cloth where the projects will go.  Just stick one sticker on the spot on the table.  Our tables fit 3 projects, so my first table gets labeled with k-1, k-2, and k-3.  Then I label the next table.

At the front of the room set-up several tables for registration.  Tape the colored sign for each grade level to the front of the table.  It will make it easy for parents and students to see.


Place the sign in sheet for each grade at the correct table.  On the sign in sheet have the students names listed and columns for project number, judging score 1, judging score 2, and total score.  Have binder clips at each table.  Organize the judging sheets so that you can see the names of the students.  Each project at our fair is judged twice, so we have two for each student.  Remember all colors match.  Yellow judging form, yellow sticker, yellow table cloth. 

When a student comes up and gives their name this is what you do.

1.      Assign them their project number by taking the next set of stickers. 

2.     Place one project number on the sign in sheet by their name.

3.     Place one project number on the back right corner of their project.

4.     Place a project number on each of their judging forms.

5.     Clip the judge’s forms to the back of the student’s board.

6.    Give the student a science fair button to wear.  Makes them stand out.

7.     Take the student to the spot that has their matching project number.  It will be easy to find because if 2nd grade is green you know to go to the green tables.

Finish registering all students in the same way.  Make sure you have enough people to help register.  It is good to have one person sign them in and then another person that escorts them to their area.  When registration is done give the head judge the sign in sheets.  They will use that to record the judging scores.


We have a separate judge’s room (Teachers Lounge).   When judges walk in have them sign in and add their address.  This is so you can send thank you notes.  Sit clipboards out with their judging assignments and directions attached.  Pre-make all name tags.  I like to make my judges look professional.  I also want them to feel very welcomed. 

We provide dinner and desert for our judges.  Many come straight from work.  We do a sign-up for donations of food and have a deli tray.  If your budget is tight see if a local deli will donate a deli tray or sandwiches.  Sometimes we have potluck soups.  It is up to you.  We want to make it nice, so we skip the pizza.  Have lots of bottled water. 

I also sit out sample judging forms, so they can review before starting.  We invite judges to come early because some will like to talk and give tips to knew judges.

Start of the Fair

You can see the pink judges form clipped in the top right corner. 
It matches the pink table cloth. 

We welcome everyone and then send out the judges.  Judges know where to go because it is all color coded.  If they are 2nd grade they go to the green tables.  They take off a judging form and judge the project.  They turn in the form at the end.  When both forms are off a project we know it has been judged twice.  Each fair is different, but our judges interview the participants.  The kids love that part.  Remind parents to stand far back.   Judges do not like hovering parents.

Here is our schedule.

K, 1st, and 2nd judging is from 6:00-7:00.  Awards at about 7:15.  Sometimes it gets pushed back 15 minutes.  Each judge does about 8 projects.  5 minutes or so a project.

3rd, 4th, 5th Grade judging is from 6:45-8:00.  Older projects take longer.  We overlap.  Some judges only come for the second shift.  I like to get them out there and ahead.  Other judges go back out right after they judge the first shift. 

Always have a head judge that can jump in when judges get behind.

Color coding has helped our fair so much.  It still is a crazy night, but if the parents see that we are organized and trying hard they will be more patient.   It lso makes the room look nice. 

Extra Stuff

Hands-on Activities:  We have a local engineering class and the nature center provide activities in the library and art room.  It gives kids something to do when they are waiting for awards.

Students get a goody bag for participating.  We did baby soda bottle test tubes with colored orbs.  Inside were brochures from our sponsor companies.
We always provide cookies.  We sit out a table of cookies.  Don't sit them all out at once. They won't last long.

All volunteers wear lab coats.  It makes them stand out if someone needs assistance.

All Students in our fair have access to "Creating Original Investigations."  Recommended to help students and families learn how to create unique projects.  It also helps make it a positive experience.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Investigating Heart Rate with Elementary Students

How does exercise affect your heart rate?  Students will learn how to take their pulse to compare their heart rate while doing different activities.

Each grade level version expands from the other.  This investigation is a great introduction to the scientific method.  Students will also learn about independent and dependent variable.  Older students will create a graph and write a conclusion.

The best part, all you need is a second hand, chair, and yourself.  Great for classrooms, science fairs, and teaching a multiple grade levels at once.

Bundle Discount Available

Get all 3 versions at a discount.

Top Science Activities of 2016

2016 was a great year of teaching.  I focused on Matter and Its Interactions and Forces and Motion.  These topics are so much fun to teach.  I make sure every product I post is something I have used in my own teaching.  I also have to keep a budget in mind.  Here are the top 5 selling products in my store for 2016.  I think you will like the use of simple supplies with great impact.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Teacher Approved Winter and Holiday Science Activities

Winter is a great time to explore snow and ice.  You can explore winter animals and how they stay warm.  The holiday season is a wonderful time to explore colors.   I surveyed teachers to find out what some of their favorite winter and holiday science activities are.  Here are some links to lots of great activities your students are sure to love.  Thank you to all of the teachers for completing the survey.

Exploring with Sodium Polyacrylate.  This is also known as water gel, superabsorbent crystals, or magic snow.  Water gel absorbs lots of water and magic snow absorbs the water, but also expands to look like fluffy snow.  So much fun and so much science.
Exploring glow sticks is great for many holidays.  This is always a favorite with students.

Free Polar Bear Experiment PLUS lots other winter activity ideas!  REPIN and check out this blog later with LOTS of FREE teaching ideas and resources! ~Promoting Success for You and Your Students!:
I love exploring insulation.  This activity is great for showing the importance of wearing mittens.  You may also want to test feathers, fabric, and fur.
Melting peppermints and other candies is lots of fun.  Just fill a small dish with water and put the candy in.  Would changing the temperature of water change the colors swirling?

Ice Cream in a bag is always lots of fun.  Check on my blog.  Be sure to scroll down for all of the directions.

Take the time to explore the science of snowflakes.
A burst of color will create excitement with students.  Creating rainbows of colors in milk is always fun during the winter season.
Explore the salt and ice with students. 

Have fun exploring the world around you this winter season!