Sunday, December 29, 2013

You've Got A New Microscope!

Alright! So you've just bought you and your kids a brand new microscope, and you've already blown through the prepared slides they came with. Now what can you do? How in the heck do you take care of this thing? Are you supposed to clean it? What should you look at next? How can you enjoy this tool of scientific wonder to the fullest, and really get a great view of the tiny world of microscopic life all around you?

Let's begin by taking a look at how to care for your microscope...

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Twelve Days of Science! Day 11: Christmas Density Column!

On the eleventh day of Christmas Science, my mommy made with me...
A column of Christmas density!

Some of our favorite science experiments have to do with the exploration of density. Density is a measurement of how many molecules are in a substance and how closely they are packed together. Substances built with tightly packed molecules are more dense than things built with molecules that are spread farther apart.

A fun way of thinking about this is by looking at the planet Saturn. Even though Saturn is WAY bigger than Earth, the molecules that make up its gaseous nature are less dense than the molecules that have built Earth. If our oceans were large enough to hold the planet Saturn, it would float on the water's surface!

The Twelve Days of Science! Day 10: Scientific Paper Snowflakes!

On the tenth day of Christmas Science, my mommy made with me...
Scientific Paper Snowflakes!

Snowflakes can come in many shapes and sizes. They're formed in clouds, when the temperatures fall below freezing. The shape and size depends on many factors, including: temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind currents, even dirt and dust particles!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Twelve Days of Science! Day 9: Borax Crystal Ornaments

On the Ninth Day of Christmas Science, my mommy made with me...
Borax crystal ornaments for our tree!

One of my favorite holiday traditions involves making our own ornaments for our Christmas tree. We've made salt dough ornaments, gingerbread people, and have painted and decorated our own beautiful glass bulbs! One of our favorite ornament making projects combines the creativity of making our own sculptures with the chemistry and physics of creating stunning crystal structures!

You can grow your own crystals with a variety of ingredients, including salt, sugar, alum, and Borax. For this project, we chose Borax because I really loved the large cubic crystals that resulted from our growth project. You can find 20 mule team Borax in your laundry aisle of your grocery store, or you can buy it on Amazon. Make sure you keep it on hand for slime projects too!

Materials Needed:

1. 20 Mule Team Borax
2. Pipe Cleaners
3. Clean jar (mason jar or other wide mouthed jar)
4. 1/4 cup of hot tap water
5. Almost boiling water
6. Pencil
7. Spoon
8. Safety goggles and gloves

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Twelve Days of Science! Day 8: Candy Cane Elephant Toothpaste!

On the eighth day of Christmas Science, my mommy made with me... 
Candy Cane Elephant Toothpaste!

Chemistry and Christmas go hand in hand, and today's experiment is no exception! This is one of our favorite chemistry experiments and it's perfect for this time of year! So come and learn about exothermic reactions, atoms and molecules, and foamy experiments! Just make sure you bring your safety goggles and gloves...

The Twelve Days of Science! Day 7: Candy Cane Sculptures!

On the seventh day of Christmas Science, my mommy made with me...
Melted Candy Sculptures!

Candy canes are a pretty big part of the holidays around here, as we love to decorate our tree with them, pass them out to neighbors who have really cool Christmas displays, and of course, eat them! We wanted to see if we could do anything cool with them, and came across a really interesting idea. Apparently, you can melt them slightly, and bend them into whatever shape you like! We just had to try this out for ourselves, and it totally works!

Here's what you'll need for this project!

Materials Needed:
1. Candy Canes
2. Oven
3. Baking dish
4. Parchment paper or silicone baking mat
5. Foil (to protect your fingers!)

The Twelve Days of Science! Day 6: Light Up Rudolph's Nose!

On the sixth day of Christmas Science, my mommy made with me...
Reindeer glowing with an LED!

"Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, had a very shiny nose! And if you ever saw it, you could even say it glows..."

One of our favorite Christmas carols is the song "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer". It's a great song to spark the imagination of flying reindeer with glowing noses to light the way through fog. So, with the holidays approaching, I thought it would be perfectly fitting to make our own light up reindeer, with a bright red "Rudolph" nose!

For this project, you'll need to pick up some LEDs and a small lithium battery (watch batteries will work, but I like to use the batteries that are about the size of a nickel). You can purchase these at any electronics store (Frys Electronics, Radio Shack, etc), most hardware stores (Home Depot, Lowes, etc), or you can buy them online through Amazon!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Twelve Days of Science! Day 5: Egg Down the Chimney!

On the fifth day of Christmas Science, my mommy made with me...

Santa going down the chimney!

There's something magical about this time of year, with the lights, cocoa, songs, and holiday cheer. But one of the most persistent questions has always been... how does Santa fit down the chimney?

We decided to explore this question for the holidays. However, instead of using the familiar holiday mascot, we're using hard boiled eggs! In today's science experiment, we tested the effects of heat and ice on air pressure within a bottle! Our idea was that we could get the eggs into both bottles, simply by changing the air pressure!

The Twelve Days of Science! Day 4: Salt Dough Ornaments!

On the fourth day of Christmas Science, my mommy made with me...
Salt dough ornaments for our tree!

Some of our favorite chemistry activities have involved the preservation of materials and preventing bacterial growth. The pH level of an environment (whether it's acidic or basic) can have a huge impact on whether a home made decoration will last, or if it will wither away as a holiday buffet for the microbes all around. With this activity, we take a look at the chemistry of salt dough and make our own holiday ornaments!


Materials Needed:

1. 1 cup of flour
2. 1/2 cup of salt
3. 1/2 cup of water
4. Rolling pin
5. Cookie cutters
6. Acrylic Paint
7. String or ribbon

The Twelve Days of Science: Day 3 Sugar Molecules!

On the 3rd day of Christmas Science, my mommy shared with me....

The Chemistry of Holiday Sweets!

Sugar plays a big role in the chemistry of the holidays. Cookies, candies, cocoa, even savory dishes and vegetables will contain various amounts of sugar. Consisting primarily of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, these little guys can bond quickly with their neighbors, becoming quite the life of the party

In addition to creating sweet delights, they are also essential for providing energy for plants and animals! It is used by plants in the process of photosynthesis. For us animals it is crucial for fueling our bodies, our brain, and our organs!

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Twelve Days of Science! Day 2: Frosty The Snow Can!

On the 2nd Day of Christmas Science, my mommy made with me...
Frosty The Snow-Can!

Brrr! It's getting cold out there!
I wonder if even us desert dwellers can have a snowman?
CC Wikimedia Images

For our second day of science, I wanted to explore something that we desert dwellers don't get to see very often... frost! We came across this really great activity from Science Sparks, and we just had to try it. Of course, we also needed to learn a little bit about salt and how it interacts with liquid water, ice, and the freezing points of these materials! But first, the activity!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Twelve Days of Science! Day 1: Candy Chromatography!

On the first day of Christmas Science, my mommy made with me....

Candy Chromatography!

Happy Holidays!
CC: Flickr User Christina Rutz 

I'm always looking for a great way to incorporate fun educational activities with what we're doing, and the holidays are no exception! To that end, we've decided to do a feature on The Twelve Days of Science! Every day, I'll be sharing a new holiday themed science project that you can do with your kids! We'll have Santa Sleigh races, we'll light up Rudolph's nose, we'll make fossilized ornaments, and we'll be growing our own ornament crystals! This is just some of the stuff we'll be doing, we have so many great things coming up, I can't wait to share them with you! 

Since today is the first of our Twelve Days of Science, here's the first project! Thanks to Instructables for having such a great tutorial!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hey, Phoenix! Ring in the New Year with Electronics, Art, and Fun!

Let's ring in the New Year by working with electronics!
LED Throwies: CC Flickr user mehan jayasuriya
Are you in Phoenix and looking for a family friendly way to ring in the New Year? Have you ever wanted to crash a public library after hours and make a lot of noise? Does the idea of building with electronics and throwing your designs on the side of the library sound like your idea of a good time?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Science for The Holidays!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I love the holidays! I love taking walks on cool nights, with hot cocoa in our hands and dazzling light displays reflecting our eyes. It's a time for family, food, and celebration. It's also a time for gift giving! As I was looking around for awesome holiday gifts for my family, I thought I'd put together a list of some of my favorite toys, games, and microscope to share with you and yours!

Without further ado...


So, you've wanted to get a microscope for your kids, but which one should you get? With all of the options, price ranges, accessories, and kits out there, it can be really difficult to figure out what will work best for you. When shopping for a microscope, here are the things you should be looking for: