Scientific Discoveries

Arts and crafts are my preference. I am familiar with construction paper and paste. Outside this area of comfort lives the world of science. Not all sciences fall outside my comfort zone, but those around the periodic table land in another dimension. I passed my science classes, but I’m not sure how. I felt that I wasn’t smart enough to truly understand so I skimmed the surface to pass with a good grade and that was enough. The problem is, I really enjoy science and just the right motivation could have played a dramatic role in the direction of my life. So, I should not teach a high school science class, but I have continued to learn and develop my skill set and sharing the excitment with my sons teaches them a couple important lessons. 1) Learning at any age is important, and 2) Science is exciting.

I don’t know about anyone else, but as much as I love pumpkin, all the hoopla around the marketing has ruined it. I recently saw an ad for pumpkin spice motor oil! I participate in one day of pumpkin crazy and then I slowly remove myself from the pumpkin explosion. So for our momma day, I used science to rid the world of a few pumpkins.

First, we dissolved some, then we blew some up and It. Was. Awesome.

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Find yourself a large sheet of paper and a pencil and make a graph like the one above.  Four columns and four rows. Then you will need a cup of milk, water, oil, and vinegar.  Label each cup clearly and have your lovely assistance place an X under the one they think will change the most and a O under the one that will change the least.  Set your timer for five minutes and drop one pumpkin mellowcreme confection into each cup.  While you watch, discuss the scientific method with them.

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  • Ask a Question 
  • Do Background Research 
  • Construct a Hypothesis 
  • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment 
  • Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
  • Communicate Your Results

We already had our question – What happens when you drop a mellowcreme pumpkin into different liquids? For our research we stayed simple and asked Google what mellowcreme’s are made of. We learned mellowcreme pumpkins are made from corn syrup, food coloring, honey, and sugar which are beaten and heated in large kettles to produce an ultra-sweet syrup.  The syrup is poured into pumpkin molds and voila. Based on this research my son placed his X under the milk and his O under the water and we watched and waited.

After 5 minutes, we had learned a great deal. Our guesses were going to be wrong. Using tongs, we pulled each pumpkin out of the liquid and Rowan drew a picture of each pumpkin under the corresponding cup. Based on his impressions, he changed his hypothesis and then carefully placed the pumpkins back in the liquids.

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This time, we set our timer for 25 minutes.  While we waited, we jumped right into our next project.

Ever since Rowan was able, we have decorated our front door for Halloween. Creating a door monster is a tradition worth sharing.  This year, we changed things up a bit.  We gathered construction paper, paper plates, a roll of wrapping paper, tape, and rolls of toilet paper. My youngest helped by handing us the tape as we transformed our front door into the scary (yet, friendly) Mummy Monster!! I loved hearing the giggles and seeing the cooperation between my sons.  Graham was so excited about the tape he continued to work on the mummy monster even after the project was completed.  He knew his job was to manage the tape and he took this roll seriously.  At random times over the next couple of days, he would take a piece of tape off the door mummy (leaving toilet paper to fall on the floor) and proudly hand it to my older son. Rowan could have gotten mad, but that big smile on Graham’s face was too cute to get angry with. Mummy monster did not survive past day three, but the memories will.

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The picture is all that remains

A few moments before we finished our mummy door, our timer went off and we rushed back to the kitchen where our science experiment was unfolding. We started with four candies and after 30 minutes, we only had 3! The candy submerged in water was gone, leaving only orange tinted water behind. We used our tongs to remove the candies from the liquids and documented our findings.

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Pumpkin after 5 minutes in water

Now disappearing pumpkins are cool, but it was only the beginning of our scientific fun. Take a little sodium bicarbonate, toilet paper, Ziplock bags, and vinegar and you are destined to have a blast! We put the BOO in boom with our next momma day project. Many of our projects make me feel (and act) like a little kid again and this did not disappoint. Blowing up ghosts and pumpkins filled the air with giggles and screeches of joy and had neighbors wanting to join in the fun.

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Start by decorating your Ziplock bags.  Rowan used a black sharpie to draw ghost and jack-o-lantern faces on our bags.  I loved that he wanted all his ghosts to have a big smile.

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Then he counted two squares and tore the toilet paper.  We planned to use five bags, so you will need five pieces of toilet paper. Next, with my help, he measured 1 Tbsp of baking soda unto the toilet paper, being careful to keep it away from the edges. Fold all the sides in making sure there are no holes where the baking soda will fall out.

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Last, fill your Ziplock ghosts and pumpkins a little less than half way with vinegar and prepare for the fun. By the picture, my kid wasn’t excited about this project at all!!

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Head outside keeping your baking soda bundles separate from your bags of vinegar.  When ready, open one side of the bag and carefully place one of the baking soda bundles inside.  Close the bag tightly being sure to hold the bundle away from the vinegar.  Once the bag is sealed, drop the bundle into the vinegar, give it a good shake (it should start to fizz), and place it on a solid surface.  Then just watch as your pumpkin grows . . .

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and grows . . .

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Until . . . POP!

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Our first five ended up being test runs. We had to change some of our measurements to get the best explosion. Once we had the measurements correct, we had to make up five more because it was so much fun!!  When the neighborhood kids saw what we were doing, we had to make five more . . . so rest assured, our measurements have been tested and approved many times over.

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I am not sure if another momma day can compare to this!!

Even though today was all about ending the pumpkin madness we finished the day building one for dad to display at work.

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We also made some tasty Sheppard’s Pie hand pies (Recipe coming this week).  Turns out I do not have a round pie mold or cookie cutter, so I selected our pumpkin cookie cutter and made adorable pumpkin shaped hand pies everyone enjoyed. Everyone gets super hungry after a day of science and these hand pies disappeared almost as quickly as the mellowcreme pumpkin!

Cheers,
Kelly

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