Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Makeup Under the Microscope! Taking a Closer Look at Lipstick

I just bought a new microscope, and like anyone with a new instrument of science, I couldn't wait to take it for a test run! After examining hair, puddles, and red blood cells, I was left wondering what else I could look at. My daughter had a brilliant suggestion - why not look at some of my makeup under the microscope? I could combine two of my favorite things - makeup and science, and check out what my new microscope could do!

Soon, I was smearing lipstick on slides and what I found was astonishing! There was a brilliant display of all kinds of colors and crystals within the lipsticks! Below, you'll find images of the various shades I looked at. If you're curious about what you're seeing and why it's there, you can find a complete breakdown of the chemistry of makeup production, and the physics of light refraction and reflection! But first, check out these gorgeous lipstick samples under the microscope!


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Climate Science Saturday: Melting Ice Caps and Rising Seas

CC: Wikimedia Commons

Earth's climate is rapidly changing, and the impacts can be seen all around the world, with droughts, severe storms, coastal erosion, bleaching coral reefs, and so much more.

We see these effects, and our children do too! They see their favorite animals disappearing due to a loss of habitat or changing migration patterns. They see their lands changing as coastal erosion increases. They see beautiful coral reefs bleaching due to rising acidity and temperatures within the oceans.

It can be easy to feel overcome by the sheer weight of it all, and feel helpless as to what we can do to help. But even with all of these big things, there are ways that we can take control and have an impact! It all starts at home, with our kids, and in our communities.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Make Ferrofluid With Iron Filings!

Ferrofluid is a fascinating material to play with; a seemingly magnetic fluid that can move, dance, and form incredible patterns when magnets are brought close to them. Ferrofluid is fun to play with, but the iron oxide powder required to make it can be difficult to find. With this activity, you can make your own version of ferrofluid, using only iron filings, a test tube, and some water! Grab a strong magnet, and get ready to dance your way through the science of magnetism!

Materials Needed:

Iron filings
Test tube with cap
Strong magnet (neodymium or ceramic magnets work well)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Take A Trip Through The Skeletal System With Articulated Hands!

Take A Trip Through The Skeletal System With Articulated Hands!

This project will be featured in my upcoming book: Pop Zizzle Boom! 101 Experiments for Your Mad Scientist, hitting stores in June 2017!

Take a good look at your hands. Bend your fingers back and forth, and pay attention to the joints in your knuckles as you move. There is a lot involved in moving your hands! Under your skin you have bones, muscles, nerves, and tendons, all working together at the same time to allow you to move and flex your fingers. But they don’t just move on impulse, by themselves. Something needs to pull them down! With this project, you’ll be able to explore how tendons work to move your body, as you make your very own articulated model of a hand!

Materials Needed

Craft Foam
Double sided sticky tape
Paper Straws
Wide mouthed beads


Begin by tracing your hand on a piece of craft foam, making sure to include your wrist. Then cut it out.

Cut 14 1/2“ pieces out of your straws. These will represent the bones in your fingers. Cut another five 2” pieces. These will represent the bones in your hand.

Tape your straw bones onto your hand You will have three small ones on each finger, except for the thumb, which will have two. These small pieces will represent the short bones in between the knuckles in your fingers. Make sure to leave a nice space in between each piece of straw, so you can move your fingers later!

Leaving a ½” inch gap between the bottom piece of straw, and your hand, tape the larger straws onto your hand. These will represent the long bones that go from your bottom knuckle, down to your wrist.

Cut your yarn into five 12” lengths. These need to be long enough to reach from the tips of the fingers, to a few inches past the wrist.

Tie a bead at the end of each piece of yarn. This will stop your string from pulling through the straws.

Thread each piece of yarn through your fingers. Make sure you follow the path so one piece of yarn goes through all of the bones in your thumb, index finger, middle finger, etc.

Finally, pull on each of the strings to move your fingers! Now you have a working articulated hand!

How Does it Work?
Your fingers are all connected with bones, muscles, and tendons. Your tendons are the strings that pull your muscles and your bones! When you curl your fingers, these are all working together to keep your body moving. The nerve cells within your tendons and muscles act as the fuel to keep things going, as they fire off electrical impulses sent from your brain! There are so many pieces working together to keep you going, and now you can see some of them in action!
Take it further!

 Can you use your articulated hand to pick up or move any objects? What you if you made it out of stronger materials, or rolled poster board into a tube? You can come up with all kinds of different designs to strengthen your articulated hand, and gain a greater appreciation for how your tendons, muscles, and skeleton all work together to make your body move!


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Atomic Adventures Summer Science Camp!

If you live in the Phoenix Metro area and you've got a budding chemist in your house, then check this out! We're hosting the Atomic Adventures Summer Science Camp at the Burton Barr library!

We'll be running around, pretending to be atoms and molecules as we turn ourselves into polymers! We'll bounce around as we demonstrate static electricity! We'll make messes with slime, explore color changing chemistry with acids and bases, explore the sweet science of strawberry DNA extractions, and more! We'll have games! We'll have experiments! We'll have sweet treats and candy science! Your kids will fall in love with science as they explore the wonderful world of chemistry!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Earth Day Under Pressure!

You can catch us on Channel 12's Arizona Midday on Monday, April 18th from 12:30-1:30 as we demonstrate the crushing power of air pressure on live television! 
Happy Earth Day!
Image Credit: CC Kate Ter Haa Flickr

Every year around Earth Day, my daughter and I try to come up with ways to help protect the environment, with a big focus on the Three R's, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! We've held Earth Day Parades, toured recycling facilities, and have built a model town for Katie's toys out of recycled materials! This year, we wanted to spend Earth Day thinking about our atmosphere, and exploring some of the more interactive properties of it. Namely.... air pressure!

Every day, we sort our trash into recycling. We go through a lot of aluminum cans in our house, as we all enjoy sparkling water. I crush these cans every day, and one day I got to thinking, what if I could crush these cans, not with my hands, but with AIR? Thus, our Earth Day experiments were born!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Earth Day Review: Climate Change and Renewable Energy!

This is a review of the coolest books I've ever seen on climate science for kids! We did some incredible experiments (crushing cans and experimenting with dry ice!) that you can find at the end of this post. 

Our Spaceship Earth, hurtling through the Milky Way.
Image Credit: CC Pexels

How would you feel if you had to spend your whole life hurtling through space, with all of your food, water, air, and general supplies limited to what you could find or make on your ship? That's the premise of Erin Twamley's and Joshua Sneideman's activity books, Climate Change: Discover How it Impacts Spaceship Earth, and Renewable Energy: Discover the Fuel of the FutureWritten by educators within the Department of Energy, these are both power packed books on climate change, citizen involvement, and a lot of fun for kids!
These are hands down some of the coolest Earth Science books I’ve ever seen! We begin on Spaceship Earth, which immediately brings to the mind a space station filled with the food, water, oxygen, and other supplies you would need to survive. Everything you need to thrive is on the ship, and while there is a cycle of energy to replenish your supplies, if anything were to happen to the delicate balances operating your ship, you might just find yourself doomed to the cold grips of space!