Science @ Home: Candy Sparks

SCIENCE @ HomeFourth of July and fireworks go hand-in-hand, but you don’t have to attend a fireworks display to see a spark! That’s right, with some simple science, you can create spark (in your mouth!) with some refreshing candy.

What You’ll Need:

  • A bag of Wint-O-Green Lifesavers (not sugarless)
  • A pair of pliers (use if you are not allowed to crunch on hard candy)
  • A mirror or a group of friends

Experiment:

  1. Head into your bathroom and stand in front of a mirror. If you are at home with friends, you can head outside when it’s dark. Keep in mind you will need complete darkness to best see the spark, so if you are outdoors head to an area of your yard with the least light pollution.
  2. Give your eyes 3-5 minutes to adjust to the dark, you will be able to see the spark better this way.
  3. Place the Wint-O-Green lifesaver between your teeth, make sure you are standing across from your friends or directly across from the mirror. Bite down on the Wint-O-Green with your mouth or crush it with a pair of pliers.
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Click to play

Observations:

What did you see? Was it a greenish-blue light? If you didn’t see the spark, repeat the experiment a few more times until you see the spark.

What is Happening?

You’ve created a little storm in your mouth, that’s right! This actually is more similar to lightning than it is to a sparkler. Lightning is an electric stream that excites nitrogen molecules in the air, proving them with extra energy which is released as visual light.

When sugar is crushed with teeth or pliers, the pieces become negatively and positively charged, making electricity jump through the air between the pieces of sugar. This is what creates light.

But can’t I just crush a piece of sugar and see the reaction? The answer is no, but that’s just because the release of energy when regular sugar is crushed is ultraviolet light, which can’t be seen by the naked eye. However, the wintergreen in the Wint-O-Green Lifesavers is a special substance that absorbs ultraviolet energy and transforms it into visual light – aka triboluminescence.

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Falcon Chicks Update & Naming Contest!

The young peregrines have grown quickly and at almost six weeks old they are preparing to take their first flights.  Over the past few days the chicks have been stretching their wings often.  The white fluffy feathers of the chicks have been completely replaced by the darker adult feathers.  Juvenile  falcons have longer flight feathers than the adults to make it easier to learn the flying skills needed to become an excellent hunter in their first year.  The two older chicks are spending time on the roof behind the nest box and have no downy feathers remaining.   This large space is perfect for strengthening their wings with test hops and flapping.  Fledging is the name of the process of young birds learning to fly.  The chicks usually start fledging around six weeks old.  If you don’t see them on the camera image it is because they are practicing leaving the nest box by walking on the ledges and the roof.   After stretching and flapping their wings, their first flight will be from the 22nd floor where the nest box is located.  This is a view from the sidewalk in front of the Liberty Savings Tower.

FalconBuilding

The two chicks that hatched slightly later than their siblings still have some downy white feathers remaining and are a few days behind the other two.  Dayton and Daniel continue to keep a close eye on the chicks and are always nearby.

FalconParents

We are in the process of hosting a naming contest for the four chicks, so if you haven’t voted, be sure to click here to vote.

Falcon Naming (1)

Click to cast your vote!

Science @ Home: DIY Glow In The Dark Slime

We have a theory that has been well tested at the Boonshoft Museum; most children love gross, sticky goop. This theory isn’t quite as fleshed out as, say, Einstein’s theory of relativity or Newton’s Law, but we’re pretty sure it rings true—especially during Halloween. Zombie goo, vampire blood, witch’s brew—each monster or spook has some sort of gross fluid that completes their persona, and while we don’t necessarily believe in spooky monsters, we certainly celebrate the science behind them!

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Credit: Ghostbusters, Columbia Pictures

This month’s Science@Home is a homage to one of the most popular ghosts of all time. Casper is the obvious choice, but he’s not quite gross enough—so we’re going to go with our favorite mischievous, hot-dog-eating ghost, Slimer, of Ghostbusters fame.

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Credit: Ghostbusters, Columbia Pictures

Slimer is green, almost suspiciously green—as if he glows in the dark. So, why not make some Slimer slime? This glow in the dark goop is easy to make and only requires a few household items. See the complete experiment below:

DIY Glow in the Dark SlimeSafety First:

This experiment requires the supervision of an adult. Please remember to not eat/drink the science! Borax, glue, and paint should not come into contact with the mouth and/or eyes.

Ingredients:

½ cup glue

½ cup water

Borax solution (1 tsp. borax with 1 cup water, mix until borax is dissolved)

3 tbs. non-toxic glow in the dark paint

Directions:

In a bowl mix ½ cup glue and ½ cup water.

Once this solution is mixed add 3 tbs. glow in the dark paint.

In another bowl, mix 1 tsp borax with 1 c. water until the borax is completely dissolved.

Add the glue mixture to the borax solution, stirring slowly.

The glow in the dark slime will start to form immediately; stir this as much as possible, then with your hands, knead the slime until it gets less sticky.

Pour extra water (if there is any) out of the bowl.

Hold your glow in the dark slime under a light to expedite the “glowing” process.

Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

ghostbuster in training

Who you gonna call?

What is happening?

There are two reactions happening when you make your slime, one is the absorption of light and one is a polymer reaction. Think of the glue like long strands of spaghetti; now imagine trying to fit all of those spaghetti strands next to each other; difficult, right? This is where the borax comes in. Once the borax is added, it immediately creates a reaction that fuses the “glue strands” together—and poof—slime!

Well, what about the glow in the dark part? There are many reactions that can cause a glowing reaction, but for this purpose, phosphorescent paint does the trick. One your slime is exposed to energy from the light in a room, it releases it at a slower rate—which results in a “Slimer-esque” glow.

This experiment not only gives children an opportunity to explore chemistry, it gives them the opportunity to experience tactile learning, which is especially important for early learners.

Take it further: Halloween is around the corner and whether you are trick or treating as a mischievous ghost or a Ghostbuster in training, this completes the costume.

For some Halloween fun before trick or treating starts, visit the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery Dayton for Spooky Science Saturday and the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery Springfield for their Halloween Kick-Off.

Science @ Home: Pop, Fizz, Expand–Kitchen Science With a Kick!

When you’re a kid it seems like everything messy is fascinating. The bigger the mess, the better the time. The same could probably be true for adults if they weren’t partially responsible for helping clean up. Well, at the Boonshoft Museum we are all about making a mess in a safe environment, especially if we can learn something from it!

This month’s Science @ Home experiment turns your kitchen into a chemistry lab by mixing some delicious confections! We’ve all heard the “explosive” urban legend about drinking a pop while guzzling Pop Rocks. While that is not entirely true (no, your tummy won’t explode!), the combination does produce a lot of gas. Try this classic experiment to see for yourself!

Pop, Fizz, Expand – Pop Rocks and Soda

You Will Need:

  • A Few Packs of Pop Rocks
  • Balloons
  • 12-16 oz bottle of pop (if you want to expand on the experiment, try a variety)
  • A Notebook and Pen to Record Your Observations

Experiment:

1) Open the first bottle of pop and pop rocks. Pour out a little soda to make room for the fizz.

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2) Empty the entire contents of the pop rocks pouch into the bottle of pop.

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3) Immediately place the balloon over the opening of the pop bottle.

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4) Observe what is happening to the pop and the balloon.

5) Optional: Repeat the experiment with different types of pop.

What’s Happening?

Infamous for the popping sensation in your mouth, Pop Rocks contain pressurized carbon dioxide gas. Once the saliva from your mouth wears town the candy shell the carbon dioxide is released from it’s shell, creating a popping sound. The same is true for pop, a carbonated drink that gets it’s bubbles from pressurized carbon dioxide. The mixture of the pressurized carbon dioxide in the candy and combined with the pressurized carbon dioxide gas from the pop creates so much gas, it needs to leave the bottle so it fills the balloon.

Take it further:

Try using different flavors of pop rocks and different kinds of pop. Are there different reactions? Does the balloon fill up faster, slower, or the same?

To see more experiments watch our full segment on Living Dayton below:

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