Monday, November 23, 2015

A Color Symphony!

1. A flat tray (like a cookie baking tray)
2. Food coloring (at least 3 different colors)
3. Whole milk- low fat milk will not work for this experiment
4. Liquid soap used for washing dishes

What To Do:
1. Carefully pour the milk into the tray so that it just covers the bottom. 
2. Add about 6-8 drops of different colored food coloring onto the milk in different spots. 
3. Add about 5 drops of the liquid soap onto the drops of food coloring and watch the show!
4. Make it an experiment! To make this project a true experiment, try to answer the following questions:
        1). What liquid dish soap works the best?
        2). Does the shape of the tray affect the reaction?
5. To clean up, simply pour the colored milk down the drain. (don't drink it!)

How Does It Work?
So you know where the color comes from, but why milk and liquid soap? The main job of dish soap is to go after fat and break it down. Usually the fat is on dishes from the food we eat, but fat is also in whole milk. When you drop the liquid soap onto the tray, it tried to break down the fat in the milk. While it was doing that, it caused the colors to scatter and mix creating a very colorful display. Have fun!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Design Your Own Foil Boat

The Challenge:
Design your very own foil boat and see if it will float!


- Aluminum foil
- Drinking straws
- Scissors
- Pennies

1. Brainstorm: Draw out a few ideas, and look at pictures of boats for inspiration.
2. Build: Use your creativity to make a boat out of the materials you have. You can do it!
3. Test - With a parent’s supervision, put your boat in a container full of water to see if it floats.
4. Try Again - If the water didn’t float your boat, try a different design. Keep on experimenting!
5. If your boat floats, try putting a penny inside to add more weight.
6. Keep adding pennies until it can’t float anymore.
7. Write down how many pennies it holds, and see how many pennies different designs can support.

So How do Boats Float?
Think about what happens when you get into a full bathtub-- the water level rises.
When you (or a boat) get into the water, you push down on the water, and the water pushes back.
If there is enough force in the water pushing back, then the boat floats!
The force of you pushing down on the water is from gravity, which is what makes us fall back down to earth when we jump in the air.
The force of the water pushing back is called the buoyant force.

Happy boating!

Boat image:

Friday, November 6, 2015

Candy Corn Science

  • 10 pieces of candy corn
  • Small glass bowls
  • Liquids
    • Water
    • Vegetable oil
    • Vinegar

  1. Form a hypothesis: what do you think might happen when you put the candy corn in each of these liquids?
    1. Here are some things to consider:
      1. Will the candy float or sink?
      2. Will the candy change color?
      3. Will the candy dissolve?
  2. Pour ¼ of a cup of each liquid into a separate bowl or glass.
  3. Carefully add two pieces of candy to each container of liquid - making sure not to splash.
    1. After this step, you should have two pieces of candy left over. Keep them away from the liquids!
  4. Observe what happens to the candy in each liquid 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 1 hour after you put the candy in the liquid.
  5. Remove the candy from the liquids. Compare them to each other as well as to candy that was not placed in one of the liquids. What changes do you see? Do they match the hypothesis you made in step 1?

Understanding what happened
The candy reacted differently to some liquids than others because the liquids have different levels of acidity.

Some liquids are more “acidic” than other liquids. A liquid that is very acidic can dissolve things faster than other liquids. That’s why some of the candies dissolved more easily than others. They were in more acidic liquids!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Making a Marshmallow Catapult

1.      Skewers
2.      Rubber band
3.      Masking tape
4.      Plastic spoon
5.      Large marshmallow
1.      Form a triangle as the base by using 3 marshmallow and 3 skewers
2.      Use 3 more skewers and 3 more marshmallows to create a pyramid
3.      Use the masking tape to secure the plastic spoon on a skewer
4.      Take the rubber band and make a loop around the topmost marshmallow
5.      Insert your spoon skewer into the base of the marshmallow and also through the rubber band loop.
6.      You can play with this after you construct it, but it is advised to be fragile with the device. For an even stronger catapult, you can wait overnight for the marshmallows to harden, so your device will not break so quickly.
The Science Behind It:
Projectile motion:
- Whether you’re throwing a football or baseball up in the air, all these objects will undergo projectile motion. Projectile motion of an object means that the object will travel in a curved path only under the act of gravity. Gravity is the downward force that keeps everything on the ground, and objects would fall at a rate of 9.8 m/s2. The curved path is a mathematical type of curve called a parabola, which is a symmetric curve. This means that the trip downward for a projectile is a mirror image of the trip up. For you to launch the farthest distance, it is advised to launch at a 45 degree angle.
- Elastic potential energy: Think of a time when you pulled a rubber band. The rubber band was very stretchy and elastic. As you pull harder, there is more tension in your rubber band. When there is more tension, there is more elastic potential energy involved. In the case of the catapult, you are pulling the rubber band back to gain enough energy for the launch to occur.
- Kinetic energy: When you are walking or running, you are in motion. In order for this motion to occur, you need kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is the energy that is associated with motion. When the projectile is flying through the air, it starts to gain kinetic energy since it is moving in the air. There was a conversion of energy from the elastic potential energy of the rubber band to kinetic energy.  
- Gravitational potential energy: Have you had a time in which you were on a huge roller coaster? Well, at the highest point on your roller coaster ride, you would have the maximum gravitational potential energy. Gravitational potential energy is the energy that is related to an object’s position. With the catapult, when the projectile is at the highest point of its motion, it has the highest GPE. After gaining that GPE, the energy converts back to kinetic energy when it falls back down to the ground.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fantastic Foamy Fountain Experiment

1 empty 16 ounce soda bottle
1/2 cup 20-volume hydrogen peroxide
1 Teaspoon (packet) of yeast
3 Tablespoons of warm water
Liquid dish detergent
Food coloring bottle
Styrofoam cup
Foil cake pan or lunch tray
Safety goggles

  1. Put on your safety goggles and ask an adult to help pour out 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide into the empty soda bottle. Hydrogen peroxide can irritate the eyes and skin so use with caution. Use a funnel if needed.
  2. Add 8 drops of food coloring to the soda bottle.
  3. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of the liquid dish detergent to the soda bottle. Swish the bottle to stir the contents.
  4. In the Styrofoam cup, mix the warm water and the packet of yeast for 30 seconds.  
  5. Put the soda bottle right side up on the foil cake pan. Make sure it is centered. Put the funnel in the opening of the bottle.
  6. Pour the contents of the Styrofoam cup into the soda bottle and swiftly take off the funnel from the soda bottle.

What Happened:
The fantastic foamy fountain is due to a chemical reaction. The hydrogen peroxide and water are called the reactants in the chemical reaction and cause the foamy sensation. The yeast is called a catalyst because it is added in order to make the reaction go faster. In order for a reaction to occur, the reactants must reach a certain energy level in order to proceed. This energy level is called the activation energy. In order to make a reaction go faster, some substances called catalysts, help lower the activation energy in order for the reactants to reach the activation energy quicker. Other ways to make a reaction go faster are by heating the reactants or increasing the pressure of the reactants.
For more information on this experiment as well as other really cool experiments, visit:

Monday, April 13, 2015

Make your own Grabber Arm!

Got something that's just out or reach? Now you can make a grabber arm that can help you retrieve things!


  • 8 craft sticks
  • 2 milkshake straws, cut into quarters
  • 2 skewers
  • Tape
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Rubber bands
  • 2 cups
1. Create the four beams by sticking a craft stick into the straw pieces are each end leaving a small gap in the straw between the two craft sticks.
2. Break off a small piece of skewer and tape it at the edge of each straw piece in order to help reinforce them.
3. Attach two of the beams together by sticking the pointed end of the skewer into the straw pieces in the beams. Do this for both pairs of beams.
4. Put more straw pieces on the end of the one side of the "X" created by the attached beams for both sets.
5. Line up the upper and lower parts of the beam so that the newly attached straws overlap and stick a skewer piece though the straw pieces. Use tape and skewer pieces to reinforce as necessary.
6. Design the grabber claw. This can be more pieces of crafts stick, bent pipe cleaners, rubber bands or anything else you can think of that will help you pick up an item.
7. Test your grabber by trying to pick up the cups.

Engineering involved: This grabber is a simple machine that serves to show the importance of design. While the basics remain the same, this grabber can be customized to pick up different types of objects with different types of claws. Just like any good machinery, it can be redesigned for the optimal effect, whether it needs to be able to hook into something or have a better grip using the rubber bands. And just like a real engineer, it's up to you to experiment and figure out the best way of completing a task. Good luck and happy testing!

For more pictures and information go to:

Friday, April 10, 2015

Gumdrop Structure Challenge!

The challenge: Using only 20 toothpicks and 10 gumdrops, design a structure that can support the weight of a textbook.

Materials needed:
-20 toothpicks
-10 gumdrops
-newspaper or something to keep table surface clean

Further challenges (optional):
-A time limit
-A minimum height the textbook needs to be off the table

The Science:
Hopefully, after completing the challenge, you can see several scientific and engineering connections to this activity. First of all, we can see that triangles are STRONG. This is why many bridges around the world are made out of triangles. Next, we also learned that larger bases mean more support and therefore, the structure can hold more weight.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Invisible Ink!!!

Ever want to create a top secret message??? Well now you can! And you can use science to do it!

Enjoying using chemistry and the following readily available kitchen items to send secret messages to your buddies!

Here's what you need to get started:
baking soda
paint brush (or you can use your finger)
measuring cup
purple grape juice concentrate

Mix water and baking soda in a bowl in equal quantities. Be sure to use your measuring cup here.

Then use a paint brush or your finger to paint on your top secret message to paper.
Note: you won't be able to see what you are writing! That's what makes it top secret!

Allow message to dry.

Next, to have your secret messaged reveled paint over you message with grape juice.


Well, not exactly magically... 

Here is what happened:

The baking soda and water mixture you used to paint on your message constitutes a weak base.  Weak bases have high pH values and do not ionize fully.  Grape juice is an acid.  The message is written in a weak base, and this weak base neutralizes the acid in the grape juice, therefore, revealing your message! 

Enjoy sending secret messages!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Making Big Things With LittleBits

What is LittleBits?

Learning electronics isn't an easy task. To beginners, the  jumble of wires, soldering, and different electrical components can easily scare them away. LittleBits simplifies the complexity of the hardware into electronic modules that snap together with magnets. Learning electronics then becomes as easy as putting together Lego pieces. The only limit now? Your imagination.

An introduction to LittleBits from their website

There's an ever-growing library of electronic modules for you to use. The LittleBits website features a variety of starter kits to match the projects YOU want to work on. For example, there's a synth kit for all the musicians out there, a space kit for all the future astronauts, and finally the cheapest option is the base kit where you can learn the basics of electronics and get the basic modules for your module library.

LittleBits in Action

If you aren't sold yet, here are some examples of the awesome things you can make with the LittleBits kits.

With just the BaseKit

An Art Bot:

You can even check out projects and tutorials made by fellow LittleBit users at the MakerHub!

Vijay Dhruv's FerrisWheel:

Yoo-Bin Lee's LittleLine Follower

Friday, March 13, 2015

Make your own rocket!

Have you ever wanted to fly into outer space in a rocket ship? What's the science that would make that work? Here's a small experiment that you can do in order to simulate the forces that would be needed in order to liftoff!
As you can see, the rocket moves without any energy from itself. The pulling back of the rubber band creates a storage of potential energy behind the straw rocket. Once you release the rubber band, all the potential energy immediately changes into kinetic energy to move the rocket up, up, and away! The rubber band uses up all the kinetic energy in order to return to its un-stretched shape.

Newton's laws of physics are also involved in the launching of a rocket. Newton's third law says that any action has an opposite and equal reaction. Thus, the force that you used to pull the rubber band back will be copied in the opposite direction when the rubber band jumps back to its original position. Since energy and force can't just disappear into the air, all the energy goes into the straw rocket.

The real rockets that NASA uses also follow these same basic principles. However, since their rockets are tons heavier than our straw one, they need a giant chemical reaction to create enough force for the rocket to be propelled up.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

3D printing and medicine

3D printers can make all sorts of things, from plastic viruses to circuits to houses! One of the cool new things a 3D printer can make is something you wouldn't expect, but it helps make many people's lives easier. Keep reading to find out more!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Balloon Powered Car

If you ever wanted to make your own car, this is definitely a project you should check out!

What you'll need:
1 piece of cardboard (4"x6")
1 balloon
1 rubber band
1 straw (preferably bendy)

2 straws (preferably non-bendy)
2 kabob skewers
4 bottle caps

Tape & Scissors as necessary

How to make your car:
  1. Take your 4 bottle caps and poke a hole through each cap, just large enough for the kabob sticks to go through. These will become the wheels of your car.
  2. Stick one kabob stick through each straw.
  3. Put bottle caps on each end of the kabob stick.
  4. Tape the straws (with the kabob sticks in them) onto your piece of cardboard. The cardboard will become the base of your car, and your kabob sticks with the "wheels" will allow your car to move!
  5. Now, we need to find a way to power your car. To do this, stick the longer end of your bendy straw into the mouth of your balloon, and make it stay with your rubber band.
  6. Tape the longer end of the straw (near the bend) onto your piece of cardboard.
  7. Now, you can inflate your balloon by blowing into the short end of your straw. When you put your car on the ground and let the air out of your balloon, you can see it travel!
If you want to see a working demo, please check out this video:

Good luck, and have fun!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Rube Goldberg Machine - What's that?

Have you ever seen the band OK GO's music video for their song "This Too Shall Pass"? One of the members of the band used a car to knock down a set of dominos, which leads to more and more convoluted things happening, like balloons being let out of a cage and, in the end, the members of the band being paintballed. Cool, right?

So, why couldn't the band members just set up the paintball guns to shoot automatically? Why all the crazy processes in between? That's the whole concept of the Rube Goldberg machine, named after a cartoonist and inventor who was famous for his silly cartoons where a complicated machine would do a very simple job, like wipe someone's face. The whole concept of a Rube Goldberg machine is to do a simple task in a very complicated way using a chain reaction.

So what's the science behind it? Why does this chain reaction work? Well, the whole process works due to the law of conservation of energy. This law states that energy can not be created nor destroyed, but it can change form. So, when the car hits the domino in the video, the energy from the push that the band member gives the car is transferred to the domino. The energy is too much for the domino to handle, so it falls down and hits the next domino, transferring the energy again. The same energy keeps moving through the system in different forms, like spinning a tire or pulling a string, until it reaches the end and sets off the paintball guns. 

So, what happens at the end of the process? We just said that energy can't just disappear. What happens to the energy once the paintball guns are set off? Over the process, there's some loss of energy due to different factors. Some energy's lost in heat, some due to friction (like when the marbles roll through the frame), and countless other reasons. At the end, the energy transfers to the paintballs, and the last left amount of energy is enough to propel the paintballs at the band members and hit them.

Now that you know the basics of how a Rube Goldberg machine works, it's pretty simple to make one yourself! Pick a simple task, like ringing a bell or dropping a ball in a cup. Then, use any materials that you have lying around (the sillier, the better) and try to put as many steps in your chain reaction as possible. The more transfers of energy, the better! The genius of the Rube Goldberg machine is that you can be as creative as you want to be; there's no wrong way to do it. Good luck!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Hold and Cold Water Science Experiment

Check out this awesome experiment on mixing hot and cold water and see why such an interesting result happens! 
Try this experiment at home to see if it gives you the same results! Make sure you have a parent helping out!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Pasta and Marshmallow Towers!

Here's a fun way to learn about a fundamental part of engineering -- compression and tension:

What you need:
30 small marshmallows
20 unbroken, uncooked long pasta
measuring tape
small books (as weights)

The goal is to build the highest and the strongest tower out of the pasta and marshmallows.  There are no step-by-step instructions for this project so feel free to be creative and test out different structures and different shapes

Suggested: Turn this into a friendly competition with your friends.  First see who has the tallest tower and then see who can build the strongest tower (which tower can withstand the most weight--this is where the books come in).  

What you will discover:
Different materials have different properties. You will see that the pasta cannot withstand much tension or compression which means it will break very easily, much more easily than a marshmallow. You will find that marshmallows are rather compressible but quickly break under tension.

Wondering how effective your structure is?
Put your structure on a cooking scale and record the weight.  Now divide the load (the amount of weight your tower can hold) by the total weight of your structure.  The higher the number this calculation gives you, the more effective your structure is.  Try different shapes for the structure and see which shape gives you the most effective structure. Happy building! 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Elephant Toothpaste! (experiment for ages 10+)

Warning: this is an experiment that you should only do if you are 10 or older! You can also only do with the help of an adult, even if you are already 10 or older! 

If you aren't old enough to do the experiment or can't find an adult helper, that's ok! You can still watch this video where people make elephant toothpaste and explain how the chemical reaction in elephant toothpaste works:

If you're 10 or older and you have an adult helper, you can follow these instructions to make the elephant's toothpaste yourself!


  1. empty plastic soda bottle 
  2. ask an adult to get this for you: 1/2 cup 20-volume hydrogen peroxide (20-volume is 6% solution, purchased from a beauty supply store)
  3. squirt of Dawn dish detergent
  4. 1 teaspoon yeast dissolved in approximately 2 tablespoons very warm water
  5. funnel
  6. foil cake pan with 2-inch sides
  7. safety glasses
  8. lab coat or any clothing that covers your skin


  1. Put on the safety glasses and lab coat (or other protective clothes).  
  2. Stand the bottle up in the center of the cake pan. Put the funnel in the opening. Have your adult helper add 3-4 drops of food coloring to the peroxide and pour the peroxide through the funnel into the bottle. 
  3. Add the Dawn detergent to the peroxide in the bottle.
  4. Pour the yeast mixture into the bottle and quickly remove the funnel.
  5. Touch the bottle to feel any changes that take place.
  6. Record your observations.

Friday, January 23, 2015

GoldieBlox - You Build Your Toys

Everyone's played with toys before, but what about building your own? Step aside Legos, GoldieBlox is here to give you a taste of engineering with toys as the dessert. Besides being an awesome building set, GoldieBlox's goal is to "disrupt the pink aisle" and give young girls a chance to develop their engineering skills. Debbie Sterling, a mechanical engineering major from Stanford, wanted GoldieBlox to inspire the next generation of female engineers. Here are a couple of videos from GoldieBlox showcasing how much fun GoldieBlox can be:

GoldieBlox SuperBowl Ad

GoldieBlox & Rube Goldberg "Princess Machine"

Interested in purchasing a GoldieBlox product? Click here!