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.
Wintogreen_Video

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.

Advertisements

Careers In Curiosity: Party On, Jodi!

OutdoorWeddingRentalsThough it’s not your typical Museum career, our Rentals Manger, Jodi Rettig, certainly has a curious job at the Dayton Society of Natural History. The Boonshoft Museum’s Main Exhibit Hall can be housing dinosaur eggs that are millions of years old one week and then be decorated to the nines for an elegant wedding the next.

From laying out schematics to programming personalized slide shows, Jodi uses science and math to be a success at her job, in addition to utilizing Museum technologies in order to create one-of-a-kind events for her clients. Read more about Jodi’s curious career below and then check out some tips she has to create both a special and casual event.

 


 

JodiMy position as Rentals Manager calls for many different skills, including planning and organizing, working closely with chosen vendors, and communicating with staff from the museum. I schedule tours to show potential clients around the museum, which helps show the museum from a whole new perspective. From using our climbing tower as a place for a band to turning Science On a Sphere into a moonlit area perfect for a bride and groom’s first dance, I truly enjoy making our clients’ happiest days come to life by customizing our spaces.

We regularly host weddings and corporate events in the Planetarium and use the screen in the Dome as a blank slate for the client to create, and I also love outdoor ceremonies and events in our Amphitheater in the spring and summer. Working with our clients and seeing their event turn into an unforgettable experience is hands-down the most enjoyable part of my job, especially because I visited the Museum as a child. Seeing my clients and their guests enjoy the Museum as much as I do is really fulfilling.

Here are Jodi’s top tips for planning and implementing both formal and casual events:

If you’re planning a wedding, holiday party, fundraising event, or prom, don’t forget to:

Email us or pop by during house of operation. Emailing or stopping by a facility are the best ways to stay in contact with your venue and vendors, especially around the busy wedding/holiday season. Many vendors and venues are dealing with several clients at a time, and the best way for us to keep track of all the details is through e-mail. This allows you and the vendor to have the paperwork needed to make a check list.

Research your vendors. It never hurts to ask about vendors, especially when it comes to choosing just the right DJ, caterer, photographer, and florist. At the Museum, we have worked with many vendors, and with a unique venue like ours, we are able to refer you to vendors that know our space and will best fit your budget.

Utilize your venue. If your event is in a unique space, it also never hurts to ask about using those aspects of your venue. We allow guests to incorporate programs and exhibits into their event quite often and because our spaces are so versatile, the possibilities here are almost endless. Yes, we can bring animals out for your guests. Yes, your guests can use the slide. Yes, we can create a program on our Planetarium, solely for you. Never be afraid to ask!

Navigate Your Guests! Accurate Driving directions are great to have as well as a convenient list of nearby hotels. Contact your venue for a map or driving tips that you can relay to your guests. It can save time and it ensures that everyone has a wonderful commuting experience.

Plan ahead! Avoid waiting until the last minute. It is very easy to do when you are coordinating an entire event and things may slip through the cracks if you aren’t organized. Having a timeline and a “to-do” list are great to have and to pass on to your vendors and venues. At the museum, we will have several staff members working on your event. Whether it is programming your personalized hashtag on our Science On a Sphere, pulling together songs for your custom Planetarium show, or displaying your slideshow over our Tidal Pool exhibit, but we always work from a list of vendor requests, so it is a good idea to get the venue and vendors everything they will need a few weeks in advance.

What about birthday parties, family reunions, and anniversaries? If you’re planning one of these events, remember to:

Book it early! It’s always a good idea to call a few months before your big occasion. Though smaller spaces may be more readily available than a full-museum rental, they still book quickly. This is especially something to keep in mind if you have a birthday to celebrate because you may not be as flexible about the date of your rental.

Make use of everything that is offered! At the Museum, we offer admission for all of our guests after your rental. Maximize their experience by passing out our programming schedule for your guests so they can see some of our planetarium shows or participate in a Do Lab program. Our Museum Mascot, Odyssey the Otter, can make his special appearance just for the birthday boy/girl and personal animal programs for your party are available for an additional, but budget-friendly, fee. You can also play music and a slide show for your party guests to see. Make it a moment your guests and birthday boy/girl will always remember!

Give it a theme! Birthday parties with themes work really well for planning invitations and decorations. For example, science, animals, and space themes all work really well at the Museum. The experience your guests will have at the Museum ties in perfectly with these themes.

Ask away! Again, never be afraid to ask questions. If you have an idea in mind, pass it by the venue contact, as we always work to tailor each event to the client’s individual needs.

Manage your guest list closely! Most birthday venues have a guest minimum and a guest maximum. This is for the safety of both the staff and the guests. A headcount of event attendees will also help you plan for what you’ll need to have as far as food, plates, and party favors – which keeps you from overspending and you can stick to your budget!

If you would like to learn more about booking a rental at the Boonshoft Museum or SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological park, click here. To email Jodi about booking a private event or rental click here.

DIY Upcycled Air Canon Project!

Upcycle_symbol

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Upcycle!

America Recycles Day is this Sunday, November 15 and we want to encourage all of our readers, guests, and friends to make an effort to be a little more “green”. Of course, people have the best of intentions when it comes to recycling, conserving, and reusing, but getting into the groove of being more green can be difficult.

First, here are some need-to-know stats about America’s waste, conservation, and more:

  • The average person produces about 4 pounds of trash a day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste a year.
  • Americans make more than 200 million tons of garbage each year and the EPA estimates that 75% of that is recyclable. Yet our rate of recycling is only about 30%.
  • We generate 21.5 million tons of food waste each year, which is unacceptable, as 48.1 million Americans live in food-insecure homes. If we cut down on food waste and composted, it would reduce the same amount of green house gas as taking 2 million cars off the road.
  • Recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to listen to a full album on an iPod. Recycling 100 cans can power your bedroom through a two day Netflix binge of your favorite show.
SONY DSC

The Maker’s Space at the Boonshoft Museum Springfield is dedicated to upcycling projects of all kinds!

America, we can do better, but where do we start? You can start by having a candid conversation with your family about small, fun ways you can start reducing, reusing, and recycling.

To kick things off, visit our “Celebrate Earth Day With “Green” Family Fun post and then scroll below for an awesome DIY upcycling project from the Museum’s Education Department:

A great way of reducing waste — and in turn aid to your impact on the environment — is to reuse your wasted materials. This is often referred to as “Upcycling” and involves re-purposing your trash items in an effort to find another use for them. Such examples include milk carton planters, aluminum can stoves, and recycled art and sculptures made from trash materials.

Use recycled items to create an air cannon and learn about air pressure!

Upcycled Air Canon

Supplies: 

  • 1 toilet paper tube or plastic bottles with the bottom cut out.
  • Used or leftover balloon
  • Duct Tape
  • Scissors

Instructions:

1) Cut the thin end of a balloon off
2) Stretch the wide end to a tube or the bottle with the end cut off
3) Tape it in place
4) Pull on the back were the balloon is taped as far as you can and let it go.

As you pull back on the balloon you build force. Once you let go, you cause that force to move forward and it takes the air inside the tube/bottle with it. As the force of the balloon forces the air out, it creates a vortex as the air reacts to the force of the balloon snapping back into place.

Spend some time upcycling with your kiddos and then be sure to visit us for some green-themed public programming on Sunday, November 15 for America Recycles Day!

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!

giphy

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.

slime-bill-murray-1200x675

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.

7 Experiences That Treat Your Sweetheart This Sweetest Day!

Mark your calendars! Sweetest Day is just about a week away, and this year, it’s all about special experiences with your loved ones. The prequel to Valentine’s Day, Sweetest Day is a Midwest tradition, a day to celebrate your sweethearts, whether they are your partners, friends, or family.

While fall is immensely busy with school, extracurricular activities, and football (go Flyers, go Bucks), you still have a chance to make Sweetest Day special with some inexpensive, thoughtful experiences and activities that far surpass the typical “flowers and chocolates” routine.

7 Fun Experiences For You and Your Sweetheart This Sweetest Day, October 17:

Take a fall hike and enjoy the scenery! Fort Ancient is the perfect place for a fall hike. Not only will you be able to soak in all of the colors of fall, you will also get to see all of the historic features that make Fort Ancient and southwestern Ohio so special, like the 2000-year-old man made earthworks. Bring a camera to capture the changing of the seasons and the serene nature that is a part of this National Historic Landmark.

Access to the hiking trails, biking trails, and interpretive center are included with regular admission.

group guided tour

Fall at Fort Ancient

Dig into some fun! On October 17, from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m., the Boonshoft Museum’s sister site, SunWatch, and the Archaeological Institute of America are hosting a day filled with history, games, and more! International Archaeology Day gives guests the chance to have professionals ID oddities found in your very own home. Visitors will also get to participate in guided tours of this prehistoric Village that is nestled just a stone’s throw away from downtown Dayton. International Archaeology Day is FREE to the public.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

SunWatch is the oldest National Historic Landmark in Dayton!

Give Back Together! Committing your time to volunteer as a family or with your significant other is always a great experience. Whether you clean out your cabinets and bring canned goods to a food drive, commit to a day of volunteering at a local organization, or make a donation to your favorite local charity, giving back always makes you feel accomplished.

The Dayton Society of Natural History is always looking for Volunteers for special events, projects, and daily Museum duties. We also have a myriad of different ways you can give to the Society, from making a gift to a cuddly member of our Zoo crew to supporting a specific Society site.

VollyJrObserve


We All Scream For Ice Cream!
Share a science-fueled ice cream sundae! Foodies and scientists alike will love this DIY Ice Cream Experiment. All you need is a few household items and all the fixings to make your perfect sundae.

512px-Ice_cream_sundae


Space, Science, Natural History, and a Picnic!
Spend the morning bird watching in the MeadWestvaco Treehouse, take a stroll through the Discovery Zoo, stop by our newest exhibition, Cut From the Same Cloth, and then enjoy an outdoor lunch in our beautiful Amphitheater. The Boonshoft Museum has offerings for guests of all ages, so pack a picnic and enjoy!

Boonshoft-34

rotators_9_158Get Into The Spirit of the Season! We love a good Halloween costume and we have plenty of occasions at the Boonshoft Museum Dayton and Springfield for you to wear one! Spend the afternoon DIYing a creative costume with your sweetie, then show it off at Spirits: Halloween at the Boonshoft Museum.  This 21+ event makes for a great date night!

A Family Affair! If you are celebrating Sweetest Day with all of the sweethearts in your life, consider taking a trip to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery Springfield. Hands-on public programs, exhibits, and their newest traveling exhibition, Children of Hangzhou, are all included with regular admission.

To learn more about all of our Dayton Society of Natural History sites, click on the links below:

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery Dayton

Fort Ancient

SunWatch

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery Springfield

Celebrate National Play-Doh Day With This DIY Recipe!

PreschoolPlayDohFind your rolling pins and get ready to create—today is National Play-Doh Day! Play-Doh is a childhood classic—spaghetti, zoo animals, simple shapes, you’ve made them all—and even if you haven’t it’s never too late! After all, there’s no rule that says adults can’t play with Play-Doh.

Some adults, however, may not know the true power of Play-Doh, especially when it comes to early learners. For many young learners, what seems like simple playing to pass the time is actually integrally important to early childhood development—and the best part? As a parent, guardian, teacher, or friend you can expand on sensory play with your little one by using observation as a teachable moment.

Sensory play” is literally what it sounds like; an engaging activity that stimulates a child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. We asked Kimberly Clough, Administrator of the Preschool at the Boonshoft Museum, for ways parents can expand on simple sensory activities, “Observation is critical to all scientific discovery. Engaging children is crucial when it comes to their learning experiences. Turn off the cell phone, the television, and sit with your child and simply engage them at eye-level, ask them about what they are doing. Think about what the child is smelling, hearing, tasting, seeing, and feeling, ask them questions — then let the learning commence!”

Can you remember the moment you learned what “soft” felt like?  What about sticky?  Or what about different smells, and how to define them? Simple observations create a moment to share what you know with your child, which helps them learn!

Because we can’t end this post without some awesome experiments, below are not one, but TWO recipes for a simple salt dough and a Boonshoft Preschool Classic, cornstarch dough. Enjoy mixing your way to awesome sensory fun and observe away!

Color_Sphere_SectionCornstarch Sensory Dough (aka Oobleck)

Ingredients:

1.5 – 2 c. Cornstarch
1 c. Water
A few drops of food coloring.

Directions:
Mix ingredients into a bowl, then add the food coloring. Try mixing different colors so your young scientist can learn that mixing colors can make new colors on the color wheel!
Expand: To add to the sensory fun, use cornstarch and shaving foam in a 1:1 ratio!

homemade-playdough-2-webSalt Sensory Dough (Similar to Play-Doh)

Ingredients:
1 c. Salt
1 c. lukewarm water
2 c. Flour
Directions:
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then slowly pour in water and mix. Your Play-Doh should be stored in an air tight container like a mason jar or plastic ware.
Expand: To add to the sensory fun you can add spices, glitter, and color to your salt dough. You can also turn your salt dough into a permanent craft creation by baking it in the oven at 2000F. To completely dry the dough out, it may need to be in the oven for a few hours, depending on the thickness of your creation. Once dry, you can have fun painting your salt dough to complete your permanent masterpiece!

Interested in different dough recipes? Click here.

See what else the Preschool at the Boonshoft Museum has in store by clicking here.

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.

SodaLivingDayton PopRocksLivingDayton

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

PouringPopRocksLivingDayton

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

BalloonLivingDayton

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:

LivingDaytonBlaire2

Make sure you don’t miss a Science @ Home experiment by signing up for the Boonshoft Museum’s E-Newsletters and be sure to follow us on Pinterest.