The Museum Blog

Category: Homeschool Science

Walking Rainbow Experiment

Walking Rainbow

By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

We share a lot of different science experiment projects at CMNH. Many of these experiments have instant results - things like vinegar and baking soda bubbling, popcorn dancing, and invisible ink appearing. What I really like about this “walking rainbow” experiment is that it takes some time to see the results (as in, it takes hours to fully see the results!) Although it may not be as exciting in the moment, it is a perfect experiment to practice making predictions and thinking like a scientist. It really gives young scientists time to think and hypothesize and even change their guesses throughout the day. 

To make your own rainbow you will need:

  • 7 clear cups--these can be glass or plastic, just make sure they are perfectly clear (not colorful)
  • Water
  • 6 paper towel pieces (this could be three large sheets cut in half, or 6 of the little half sheets)
  • Primary colors of food coloring or liquid watercolor

Set-up:

  1. Set out the 7 cups in a line
  2. Fill cups 1, 3, 5, & 7 about halfway with water
    1. Leave cups 2, 4, & 6 empty
  3. Fold your six paper towel pieces in half lengthwise and then in half again. Take that long skinny strip and fold it in half so that it can stand up in the cups (pictured above)
  4. Invite young scientists to help you add some food coloring to the cups. 
    1. Ask them--what is the first color of the rainbow? Red! Add about 6 drops of red food coloring to the first cup.
    2. What is the second color? Orange! That cup is empty though, so we will skip that one. 
      1. Add yellow to the 3rd cup
      2. Skip the 4th cup (green)
      3. Add blue to the 5th cup
      4. Skip the 6th cup (purple)
      5. Add red to the 7th cup and ask your scientists why they think you may have done that…!
  5. Next, carefully place your paper towel pieces in between each cup so that they are resting in the colorful water. 

That’s it for set up! Now it’s time to think like a scientist!

Ask your young scientists…

  • What do you think will happen with the cups?
  • Why do you think we left some cups empty?
  • What do you know about primary colors?
    • How do you think what you know about primary colors (that they make secondary colors) will come into play in this experiment?
  • What do you notice is already happening with the paper towel pieces and the water?

Feel free to have your scientists write or draw what they are seeing!

This experiment will take awhile to completely finish and make the rainbow design. It’s a good idea to either do this experiment at night before bedtime, make some predictions, and then wake up and see the walking water rainbow. You could also do this experiment first thing in the morning and then watch it change all day long!

Have fun making a walking rainbow and thinking like scientists! 

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Make Seed Flyers

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

This week, all of our online programming will focus on the earth and being environmentally friendly! 

Try making seed flyers this week. These are fun to make and fun to throw or plant! Plus, the wildflower seeds that you use to create them will be helpful to your neighborhood pollinators. 

Materials Needed:

  • Newspaper or construction paper (torn into small pieces)
  • Water
  • A blender or food processor
  • Wildflower seeds
  • Mini muffin tin (optional)

Directions:

  • Start by tearing up your paper into small pieces
  • Put the pieces in a bowl or a couple different bowls
  • Pour water over your paper pieces and allow them to soak
    • This will take about 20 minutes with construction paper and less time with newspaper
  • Once your paper is soaked, add it to your food processor or blender
    • Process or blend until the paper is fully broken down
  • Now it’s time to make your seed bombs!
    • Smush the paper into your muffin tin or use your hands to smush the paper into spheres
    • If using the muffin tin, put a layer of paper and then sprinkle some seeds on top, then add another layer of paper on top of that and smush it all down
    • If using your hands, put some paper and seeds into your hands and then roll into balls
  • Let your seed flyers dry
    • Let them dry for a few hours in the muffin tin (if you used one)
    • Once they’re a bit dry, transfer them to a drying rack and let them fully dry overnight

Now what do you do?!

  • When seed planting season starts...plant your seed flyers! Or, as the name implies, THROW THEM and see them fly through the air! They will land and start to work their way into the soil. 

Thank you to our Earth Day week sponsor, D. F. Richard! 

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Foil Boats Science Challenge

Foil Boat

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

Materials needed:

  • One piece of aluminum foil per young scientist/participant (roughly the size of a standard piece of paper) Make sure all participants have the same size piece of foil. 
  • Sink/tub/plastic bin with about 6 inches of water in it
  • Weights to put in your boat (pennis work great for this!)
  • Optional: other building materials
    • Cardboard, tape, straws, popsicle sticks, etc

Directions (prep):

  • Fill up your water station (sink/tub/plastic bin)
  • Prep materials for each scientist participant--make sure they all have the same materials to use for their project
  • Collect boat weights (ex. pennies)

Directions (activity):

  • Explain to your young scientist(s) that today you will be making boats! 
  • Challenge them to make a boat that they think will hold the most weight and not sink using the materials provided
  • Test your boats by putting them in the water and gradually adding weight!
  • Feel free to re-design and test again. 

The Science:

  • We are seeing two forces at work in this science experiment: gravity and buoyancy!
  • Gravity: gravity is trying to pull your boat and pennies downward towards the center of the earth
  • Buoyancy: buoyancy is pushing the boat towards the surface of the water! 
  • Your boat will float if the force of buoyancy is greater than the force of gravity. 

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Science Explorers for Homeschoolers: Water!

By Meredith Lamothe

Welcome to the Science Explorers for Homeschoolers blog!

We will share here some of the projects, experiments and concepts that we explore in the Science Explorers for Homeschoolers classes, which are designed for ages 6-10.

Keep learning, Keep exploring.


Science Explorers for Homeschoolers: Water!

Water is amazing. Everything that is alive depends on water. Water can exist in THREE different states. Some things float in water, while other sink. There's so much to learn and experiment with when it comes to water.

SCIENTIFIC METHOD

Always start with the essentials! The Scientific Method is what scientists of every age use to learn things. There are four steps:

  1. Come up with a question.
  2. Observe and gather information to come up with a guess (hypothesis)
  3. Run an experiment to test your guess.
  4. Come up with an answer to your question.

For example you can use baking cookies as you go through the four steps.

  1. What will happen to this cookie dough when I put it in the over and bake it?
  2. Come up with a guess based on your observations.
  3. Experiment by putting the cookies in the oven.
  4. Come up with an answer to your question!

SINK OR FLOAT?

Try this, put an egg into a cup of water and observe what it does. Does it sank to the bottom? Does it float or have buoyancy (otherwise known as "bouncy buoyancy"? Now gradually add salt to the water. Eventually, after A LOT of salt is added, the egg will float to the top! When the egg was first put into the water it had a greater density than the water, so it sank. When salt was added to the water–it increased the density so that the egg was pushed up (buoyancy) and floated to the top of the glass.

Another great way of testing density is to make glitter tubes. We found that instead of floating or sinking, the glitter sailed along in the water, much like a feather floating in the air. This is because the glitter and the water have very similar density.

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