Friday, March 26, 2010

Bobbin' Robbin's Eggs

Do Whopper's Robin's Eggs sink or float? Both. Some bob right to the surface, some sink to the bottom, and some sunken eggs come back up. We couldn't tell whether it was because of size, shell thickness, or color.

Also, wet Robin's Eggs turn your fingers very blue.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Easter M&M Chromatography?

When our neighbor presented us with a bag of pastel Easter M&Ms, I couldn't wait to try chromatography on them. Unfortunately, the colors were so faint it was hard for us to see them. We decided that regular M&Ms work much better.

We'll be coming up with other ideas for Easter candy, though. Maybe chromatography works better on the robin's egg malt balls?

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Near Thing

I had a stressful moment today when I walked into my daughter' after school science club, and the other parent volunteer informed me that the Nature Vision representative hadn't shown up, and nobody knew if she was going to. "I can do it," I told her. "I can go home, get my candy, and entertain these kids for an hour. If no one shows up."

Could I have done it? Absolutely. We had tons of candy we could have tested for acid, and I even have a 40 minute presentation on density. On the other hand, could I have engaged a room full of 19 children ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade, without advance preparation, without leaving the floor a sticky mess, and without losing my candy down their throats?

I didn't get a chance to find out. Just as I was about to grab my car keys, the real science club teacher walked in. Our kids spent a happy half hour looking at pond critters in magnifiers, and never knew what they missed.

But I'll keep my candy packed up. Just in case.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Density Rainbow on TV

Lisa Bergantz of SMMARTideas.blogspot.com adapted my Skittles Density Rainbow for a TV presentation. Watch her at
http://www.abc4.com/content/about_4/gtu/featured_on/story/St-Pattys-SMMART-Science/D8rleZAbn0Sq9kFTDcG1CA.cspx

She did it differently than I would do it, but I like the way she layers the water in a straw. This looks like a fail-safe way to demonstrate the rainbow without the tricky pouring. Of course, I love the way the full rainbow turns out, so I'm going to keep doing it myself.

Science Fair

The Science Fair went so well! We set up a table for people to try Find Hidden Candy, Chromatography, and Acid Testing. Kids had a blast, and my daughter informed me it was the best day ever.
Highlights:
--the girl who kept coming back to make more "M&M Rainbows" (chromatography with M&Ms), and brought all her friends
--the girl who wouldn't leave the science fair until she had located all of her chromatography papers to take home
--the boy who tried to make a geyser by simultaneously dropping five Warheads in the acid test water (and yes, we saw lots of bubbles)
--the kids who were fascinated by the kitchen scale, weighing out candy to match the sugar in every soda, drink, and pack of cookies on display (then weighing the sodas, drinks, and cookies)

So, success all around.

I also discovered a new secret weapon for candy experiment presentations: a strainer. Use it to catch the candy when you dump the candy water, then throw the candy in the garbage. This works much better than pouring everything in the sink, and raking out the candy with your fingers (which I have also tried).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Collection

My daughter and I spent the evening collecting materials and making signs for tomorrow's science fair. What a lot of work--and we haven't even arrived at the school yet.

Brach's Customer Service

I called Brach's candy company yesterday with a question about their ingredients. To my amazement, a real person answered the phone, gave me a brief answer to my question, then wrote down my question to give to a nutrition expert. I received the rest of my answer by email the next day.

Way to go, Brach's--helping to promote science through candy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mars Healthy Living

The Mars company has updated their nutritional information site, at
http://www.marshealthyliving.com/whats-inside
You can look up nutrition for all of their candy, but once you've clicked on one it's hard to find your way back to the main menu. Click on the X in the top right corner of the nutrition information box, or click on the "What's Inside" tab on the top left, to return to the list of candy. It's fascinating reading.

I think they used to list ingredients here, but I don't see the list anymore. Hmm.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pop Rocks Experiment

Drop Pop Rocks in water and watch the bubbles rise.

Skittles Density Rainbow in Presentation

I recently did a classroom presentation with candy experiments, and finished up with the Skittles density rainbow for my grand finale. It worked pretty well, thanks to these preparations:

--I counted out the Skittles ahead of time and put them in cups: one set of
1/5/10/15/20 starting with 20 reds, and another set starting with 20 purples. That way, I had a backup set.
--I stacked the cups for each color set and carried the Skittles in the cups
--At the school, I measured out the water (as hot as I could get out of the tap), and got my Skittles dissolving before the presentation started
--I asked the teacher to stir my cups occasionally during my presentation

By the end, my red and orange hadn't quite dissolved, but I went ahead and started pouring. Red and orange blended together a little bit, but the green and purple stripes were very distinct. Success!

One thing I'll remember: pouring the rainbow takes a little while, so it's best to talk to the kids while you pour. The trouble is, you can't see the kids to call on them. Next time I'll invite the teacher to call on kids while my eyes are fixed on the rainbow.