Monday, December 7, 2015

Dangling Ice

The cold weather is here and what a better experiment than exploring with ice. The salt trucks come out in many towns to help clear the roads.  What exactly does salt do to the snow and ice?  This can be a hard concept to understand. 

1.  Get two cups.
2.  Place a thermometer in each cup.
3.  Fill the cups with ice.
4.  Place two spoonful's of salt in one cup.
5.  Watch the thermometers carefully.

With Salt went quickly down to -10 degrees celsius
Without salt went below zero, but did not drop
like the with salt.

Salt lowers the freezing point of ice.  When this happens heat is released and the temperature drops.  The ice will begin to melt because the freezing point has been lowered.

Would you like to investigate further?   Try Dangling Ice.  It makes a great class experiment for the holidays.  Join the Monday Markdown.  Dangling Ice is 40% off from December 7th - 11th.  It is available in 2 grade level versions.

Dangling Ice:  A Science Experiment for 4th, 5th, or 6th GradeDangling Ice:  A 2nd/3rd Grade Experiment on Freezing and

Join the Monday Markdown blog.  Click the picture to be taken to their blog.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Science Fair Expectations and Resources

Science fair season is here.  Ideas and tips are always great.  Below you will find realistic expectations for K-5th grade science fair projects.  Don't forget to check out the great ideas at the end.    I hope you find great ideas to help parents and students have a great time exploring.

Realistic Science Fair Expectations

Completing a science fair project as a kid can be a wonderful experience.  It also is known for being overwhelming to parents.  It doesn't have to be if we make sensible expectations.  We need to look at where the student is at.  A kindergarten science fair project is very different from a fifth grade project.  The science fair should be an experience for students to learn how to create a project.  As the child progresses through the grade levels the expectations should slowly increase.  Below is a list of expectations for the different grade levels.  Students should have the same expectations for two years and then progress up.  That will give the students one year to become more familiar with them and the second year to be more independent.

Kindergarten and 1st Grade Expectations

Kindergarten and first graders will be ready to jump right in.  Parents may be thinking can “I” handle this.  Kindergarten and first graders will need adult guidance to complete their experiment. It should be done together.   The goal is to make the investigation age appropriate, so the child will have a positive scientific experience.  

1. At the kindergarten and first grade level the project will be done with a parent/adult helper.
2. The project should be driven by the child.  You are the assistant.
3. Provide guidance, but make sure they can take ownership in their project.
4. Work to develop a project schedule.  We don’t want them overloaded.  Don’t cram it in two nights before the fair.
5. Make sure to follow all safety precautions when doing experiments.  Keep it age appropriate.
6. Let them be the problem solver.  They will surprise you with their skills.
7. Keep it simple.  Projects should have only 2 levels.  Examples:  with/without experiments, hot/cold, heavy/light, more/less. 
8. Take lots of photographs.

2nd and 3rd Grade Expectations

Children love hands-on science.  Second and third graders will be eager to jump right in.   Second and third graders will be the leaders and the adult will provide guidance and clarification when needed.   Students at this level will perform investigations with 3 levels and 2 or more trials.  The goal is to enable kids to become more independent in creating age appropriate original investigations. 

1. At the second and third grade level the project should be driven by the child.  You are the  assistant.
2. Provide some guidance, but make sure they can take ownership of their project.  Use your best judgment in deciding when to get involved. 
3. Work to develop a project schedule.  We don’t want them overloaded.  Don’t cram it in two nights before the due date.
4. Make sure to follow all safety precautions when doing experiments.  Keep it age appropriate.
5. Let them be the problem solver.  They will surprise you with their skills.
6. Keep it simple, clear, and concise. Students at this level will do 3 levels.  Examples:  cold/room temperature/hot water, small/medium/large, 3 different measurements, etc.
7. Take lots of photographs.

4th and 5th Grade Expectations

Fourth and fifth graders will think they are experts.  The projects do not need to be expensive or lengthy to create a memorable experience.   Fourth and fifth graders will be expected to do more background research.  They are ready to perform experiments with 3 or more levels and  performing 3 or more trials.   The goal is for the student to independently create an investigation and use the scientific method. 
1. At the fourth and fifth grade level the project should be completed by the child.
2. Provide some guidance, but make sure they can take ownership of their project.  Use your best judgment in deciding when to get involved. 
3. Start by developing a project schedule.     Come up with deadlines and routinely check on their progress.  Make sure they don’t cram it in two nights before the due date.
4. Make sure to follow all safety precautions when doing experiments.  Keep it age appropriate.
5. Let them be the problem solver.  They will surprise you with their skills.
6. Take lots of photographs.

Ideas and Help

Are you looking for help?  Does your child have an original idea and you are not sure where to start?  Creating Original Science Investigations is a great guide.  It will take the student step by step through the process.  Conducting a science fair project is a learning experience.  These workbooks will help teach students how to create age appropriate projects and have a memorable experience.  Parents love the guide.  Parents credit the workbook in helping make the experience positive.  The workbooks come in 3 age levels.  Each builds on the other.  Workbooks include practice pages,  how to come up with your idea, blank investigation journal, board layout, and judging forms.  This is a great addition to a science fair.  It is also a wonderful classroom tool in helping students create their own STEM investigations.  This method is also wonderful for writing lesson plans.  Click each picture to learn more.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

13 Days of Halloween: Why I Love Halloween!

My boys are already this year for Halloween.


Day 13:  Why I Love Halloween

I can't believe I completed 13 blogs in 13 days.  This has been great.  It has made me even more excited for Halloween night.  I also learned how to do more technical things on my blog. 

Thank you to everyone for reading my blog posts.  I hope you found some good science experiments and ideas.   Be sure to bookmark them so you have them for next year.'t forget to follow me on Facebook at 
and at my store:  I post lots of ideas for science experiments and always have something in the works. 

Why I Love Halloween!

I try to think of all the reasons I love Halloween.  The main reason is I just think it is fun.  I also thinkit is because I have so many good memories of Halloween.  Isn't that what inspires us as we get older.  Those memorable moments in childhood shape who we become.  As a child my mom would let my brother and I create a summer haunted house in the basement.  We would invite friends over and take over the basement for probably 2 weeks.  The best part was being creative and coming up with ideas.  We always had someone hiding under the pool table.  We would attach pulleys to the ceiling to make the pool sticks move and attach fishing line to pool balls to make them move across the table.  There was a mad scientist demonstrating concoctions.  The phone would rise into the air on a pulley system.  The best part was the tunnel.  We hung things from the top.  We also put half blown up rafts on the floor.  When they crawled through it made them wobble.  Close to the end we had to have a person jump out.  That usually made the kids run out the other way through the tunnel.  When it was all complete we put signs up around the neighborhood and my mom baked cookies.  We charge probably $0.25 and gave all the money to charity.  So much fun.  Today my kids do a summer haunted house.  They are pretty lucky to get to use some of my Halloween yard d├ęcor.  Although, I really liked the way we did it as a kids.  We didn't have all of that Halloween stuff and had to come up with cool ways to make it spooky with what we had. 

When I reached high school I sat on my front porch one Halloween.  I put on my dads boots, baggy clothes, and an old lady mask.  I sat really still on my porch and kids didn't know if I was real or fake.  That was so much fun.  When I would move it would freak them out.  I remember that being one of my best Halloweens.  I was hooked. 

Now I expand my yard every year.  I love the excitement the kids have when they come to my house.  I like knowing that I am creating a memorable moment for them.  I like creating knew things for the yard and costumes. 

I Found the Best Halloween House

Last night my kids and I finally drove over to a house on the other side of our neighborhood.  We heard about it, but didn't know it was this amazing.  I wish I had brought my camera.  The owner of the house told me I could put his website and video on my blog.
This house is amazing.  He makes pretty much everything himself.  The light show and music are awesome.  Talk about inspiring.  I don't think my house will ever be this elaborate.  He doesn't have room to store everything in his house.  I will learn some tips to expand mine for next year.  Be sure to check out the link and video.  It is so worth it.


If you live in the Midland, Michigan area and are interested in science classes please visit:

Have a Happy Halloween!  Time to finish my yard.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

13 Days of Halloween: Last Minute Costumes



Day 11:  Last Minute Costumes

It is almost time for class parties and you want a simple costume with dramatic affect.  May be you have been the same thing for years and need a change.  Here are a few ideas and links that could help you out.   Since I am a science teacher you could always wear a your lab coat and be a mad scientist.

Create a scary mask


White mask from the craft store
Permanent markers of various colors
Picture of a skeleton or other scary face.


Using the correct colors create the design that is on the picture.  I used pictures of real faces with make up on.  Instead of painting my face I used the markers to create the design on the mask.  That way I have it from year to year. 

This worked great for my son's costume a few years back.  He still has the mask.  I use to paint my face like this, but this is so much

 Hogwarts Professor

Graduation Robe
Witch Hat
Tie and nice shirt
Print out a symbol for Hogwarts to attach to robe
Add a scarf
Just put the costume together.  Check Pinterest for more ideas.

Thrift Store Ideas

On your way home from work stop by the thrift store and see what you find.
Bride (Sometimes you find a wedding dress.)
Prom Queen
Beauty Queen

From things you have at home

Wear your suit and be a banker.  You could pass out fake money all day.
Wear a fancy dress from home and be a beauty queen.
Look through hats at home and see what you come up with.
Put on an apron and bring in some cooking utensils.  Easy chef or baker.

Super simple

Identity Theft
Get a pack of name tags.  Write different names on them.  Attach them all over your shirt.
Static Cling
Using safety pins attach socks and other laundry all over your shirt.

Links that may help.


Thanks everyone for reading my posts.  I am excited that today I get to do Glowing Glow Sticks in a 3rd grade class.  Tomorrow I will be doing elephants toothpaste in a 5th grade class.  So much fun.  Only two more days left.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

13 Days of Halloween: Candy Science


Day 10:  Candy Science

We have made it to day 10.  We could eat all of the candy, but candy works great for science.  Here are some great ideas for fun candy science activities.  I also linked to some good sites I found too.

Floating M's and S's

Supplies:  M&M or Skittles Candy
                 Shallow Container
1.  Place the M&M's or Skittles letter side up in the container.
2.  Slowly pour water into the container so it is an inch or so above the candy.
3.  Watch as the candy begins to dissolve.
What Happened:
The water dissolves the candy, but not the letter.  As the candy dissolves the letter peels off and floats to the top.  Sometimes the letter slides under the candy, so make sure to put more than one piece in the container.

Gobstopper Colors

Supplies:  Gobstopper Candies
                 Shallow Container
1.  Place 4 different colored Gobstoppers in each edge of the container.
2.  Pour water into the container to just cover the candies.
3.  Observe the candies dissolving in the water.  Don't shake the table.
What Happens:
Gobstoppers are very brightly colored.  The dye begins to dissolve and color the water.  Because the container is not being shaken or stirred the colors do not mix.  You will get 4 distinct colors in each section of the container.  Eventually they will mix.

Hard Candy Colors

You can do the same thing with other hard candies.  Halloween theme is great.

Supplies:  Different patterned hard candies.   
                  Shallow Container
1.  Place the candy in the center of the container
2.  Pour water into the container.
3.  Observe as the candy dissolves. 
What Happens:
As the candy dissolves it will color the water.  Hopefully you will get pretty designs in the water.

Turn these into an Investigation

To turn any of these activities into an investigation you need to make a change and measure the affects of that change.  What changes can you make and then measure?
1.  The affects of different temperature water on dissolving time.
2. The affects of different types of liquid on the time it takes an "S" to float.
3.  The affects of different types of candy on the number of colors.

Here are some other great links.
Stay tuned for Day 11.
Science fair season is fast approaching.  Halloween science can make great science fair projects.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

13 Days of Halloween: Colorful Flames


Day 9:  Creating Colorful Flames

Have you ever made flames of different colors.  This is a great activity.  I even used it for my son's Harry Potter themed birthday.  My favorite part is using the hand sanitizer as the fuel.  It gives a nice medium flame and burns at a nice speed.  My cousin is a high school chemistry teacher and gave me the idea.  It enables kids to actively participate.

Make sure to follow the directions carefully.  Please use safety precautions when working with fire.  Common sense and adult supervision is required. 

Creating a White Flame with Magnesium Sulfate

How it Works

Hand sanitizer is flammable because it is alcohol based.  When the flame touches the hand sanitizer it immediately lights on fire.  It will burn until all the alcohol has burned off.  When no chemicals are added you should get the typical yellow/orange flame and may be some blue.  In order to change the flame color the temperature of the fire needs to change.  Burning different chemicals can change the color of the fire, mainly metallic salts.  Epsom salt is composed of magnesium sulfate.  It is made of a metal and a nonmetal.  The metal magnesium makes the colored flame.  Magnesium increases the temperature causing a white flame.  You may even see a bright blue flame at the bottom and some orange near the top.  This is a very hot flame, so be careful.  The flame may appear invisible under normal light.  Darken the room if it is not visible.  Metallic salts are used to make different fireworks.  Magnesium sulfate is used to make bright white fireworks.  Never randomly test chemicals to see what will happen. 

Directions and other colored flames you can create are below.

Each chemical is tested one at a time.  Below is a list of chemicals and what colored flames they will produce. 

Directions for Creating a Colorful Flame

What You Need

 Tin Pie Pan              Hand Sanitizer         Matches             Lighter 
  Teaspoon                 Safety Goggles       Fire Extinguisher (must be safe)
Chemicals you can Try
Magnesium Sulfate (Epson Salt) = White Flame
Sodium Chloride (Table Salt) = Yellow Flame
Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) = Yellow Flame
Borax (Detergent Booster) = Green Flame
Potassium Chloride (Lite Salt, found in grocer store with salt) = Purple


1. Put your safety goggles on.
2. Place the tin pan in front of you on a table.
3. Squirt 1 to 2 drops of hand sanitizer in the center of the pie pan.
4. Measure 1 teaspoon of the chemical of choice.
5. Sprinkle the chemical on top of the hand sanitizer.
6. Using the lighter, light the hand sanitizer.  It should light immediately, but it may be hard to see.  You may need to darken the room to see the colored flame.
7. If the flame is hard to see take an unlit match and hold it over the sanitizer.  The match should appear to magically light because the fire is still burning.
8. Be sure to hold a match over the chemical and sanitizer to make sure it is not still burning before handling the pie plate.  It is very hot.  Allow it to cool.  Wipe clean and test another chemical. 

More to come tomorrow in the 13 Days of Halloween.  For more great demonstrations that can be turned into science investigations check out Science Show and Tell
It is now a growing bundle.   Over 20 demonstrations and growing!