Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Explosive fun!

    Wednesday is Science day at our house.  Ian has had a few science experiment books lying around and we've slowly been buying the supplies we need to run these experiments.  I told him today was science day and asked him what experiments he'd like to try.  Now, if he had asked me any other day this week to help with experiments I would not have said no, but he doesn't ask.  As much as he loves science and experiments when left on his own to decide how he'd like to spend his time he chooses to play outside.  That's fine, but I figured if I had a science day all the boys would be very excited.  And boy was I right!  What boy doesn't love explosions and mess, right?

     Ian first wanted to make a skateboard rocket car.  We saw this idea in Steve Spangler's book Fire Bubbles and Exploding Toothpaste and Ian has been dying to try it.  This experiment is just like making the soda geysers using diet soda and a roll of Mentos the only difference is that you tape the soda bottle to a skateboard and when the soda jets out of the back the force is supposed to make the skateboard move in the opposite direction.  Ian read all the directions and pulled out all the materials we needed.  He understood what we needed to do and so I set him to work.  He built up a platform to put the soda bottle on (so the jet stream of soda cleared the back of the skateboard) and we duct taped the bottle in place.  For once we managed to get the whole roll of Mentos in before the soda erupted but we were extremely disappointed that the skateboard didn't move.  At all!  It didn't even rock a bit.  We're not sure where we went wrong with the experiment but the boys definitely want to try again.  I think next time we'll buy a few bottles of soda and a couple of rolls of Mentos. 

Taping it all in place


      Not to be daunted by one failed experiment the boys quickly moved onto experiment #2.  Ian has been dying to make fizzy rockets.  He made them with his class when he was in second grade and had been asking me to do this ever since.  It took me a while to find empty film canisters with snap on- lids (since we've all gone digital!) but I finally found a packet on Amazon.  I pulled out the book How to Build a Fizzy Rocket and we followed the directions.  Ian and Evan each made a rocket.  We took them outside and using 1 tsp. of water and 1/2 tablet of antacid we set our rockets off.  They had so much fun and we set them off so many times I lost count.  The paper rockets eventually fell apart because the construction paper got wet and soggy; the boys didn't care.  In fact I was thanked by Alec for letting them use the clear canisters so they could see what happened.  They tried using different amounts of water, different sized antacid and even different temperatures of water.  They had contests and tried to see which rocket would explode first and which would go the highest.  We played until we finally ran out of antacid tablets. 

completed rocket

Zoom! there it goes! 

See that white dot above the trees? That's the canister!

The canisters filling with foam.. about to launch

        We had one last experiment we wanted to try though.  We made exploding sandwich bags too.  We took a sandwich bag and put in 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup vinegar and sealed it shut most of the way leaving just a small gap.  We then took 1 tsp. of baking soda wrapped in a toilet tissue square and carried everything outside.  We placed the toilet tissue with the baking soda into the bag, gave it a quick shake and finished sealing it.  We placed it on the ground and watched the bag grow and expand.  Unfortunately, our first bag sprung a leak and didn't explode.  We grabbed another bag (this time a freezer bag) and added more baking soda and vinegar to it.  This time we waited until we heard a "pop" and called our experiment a success.  The boys noticed that the bag didn't really break, the seal popped open, releasing all the pent up pressure.  We  talked about why the bag would break open at the seal and not along any of it's sides first.  The boys determined that the bag was weakest there. 
nice and flat to start the experiment

Blowing up so much it stands up

     I told them school was over for the day and they could go back to unschooling.  They all cheered and happily found things to do.  Alec worked on making a duct tape pillow for a Christmas gift.  He got the duct tape and a book of activity ideas for his birthday and he just loves crafting with it.  He needed some help, but I usually wait until he asks for it.  I like to sit back and watch how he problem solves.  He needed 20" of duct tape but his ruler only went to 12".  He knew he could move the tape but worried that it would get tangled or stuck to itself if he did that so he looked around and found out that 1 large popsicle stick combined with 1 small popsicle stick equaled 10"  he grabbed two of each size, taped them altogether and told me he now had a measuring stick that was 20" long.  Wow, I couldn't help but think "Way to think outside the box!"

               Evan played with his toys and Ian went out to play with his trucks and the dirt, stones and rocks.  Pretty soon it was time for lunch and they all made their own today.  They also agreed to finish watching Popular Mechanics for Kids and some Cyberchase episodes.  Then, when lunch was over, we all decided to go outside and play some more baseball. 
    Though I stopped teaching science this morning, our science discoveries lasted all day.  The boys noticed the moon peaking out behind the trees in our yard, they found bugs, frogs and other wildlife to observe, they watched science shows and experimented with different bats and balls while we played baseball.   We heard a weird screeching sound and Alec informed us that it was a squirrel.  He read in North American Wildlife that squirrels will make sounds similar to what we were hearing as an "all clear" signal when danger has passed.  Imagine our surprise when we found the squirrel sitting in just the position Alec described making that noise! 

we found a woolly bear 

      We spent the rest of our afternoon working on Lego's for the Lego magazine's monthly contest.   The boys finished up their creations and asked me to take photos for them.  We downloaded and filled out the form too.  They're hopeful that they'll win the $100 gift certificate but they seem pretty realistic that they might not.  Ian played with Evan's new scooter and tried out a bunch of tricks, jumps, circles, and gaining speed.  We also worked on (and finished!) Alec's Halloween costume.  We even had time to go through their closets and make sure all the boys had an outfit and shoes to wear to their cousin's christening.  Today was one of those day where I marveled at all the free time we have available to us as homeschoolers.  I can't believe we got all of this done before dinner!  Not to mention I cooked dinner, made banana bread and even cleaned and organized the household pantry (which also houses a lot of our homeschooling supplies).    Sometimes it can make the day drag by, but other days it's amazing to look back and see all that we're able to accomplish when we live by our own clock and schedule.   Life is good! 

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