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