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15 Science Experiments You Can Do With Your Kids

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by Therese Oneill

Time to get messy, light some stuff on fire, and use food products in ways they were never intended! Parents and teachers across the internet have found fun ways to teach kids science, and have documented the experiments for the rest of us. Here are 15 hands-on science lessons that will stick in a kid’s brain far longer than anything they get from a textbook.

1. Lemony Sudsy Eruptions @ Blog Me Mom

Fun Quotient: A much less stinky take on the trusty vinegar and baking soda eruptions. The experiment uses citric acid, food coloring, and clear hand soap to make fluffy frothy science.

Teaches: The baking soda base and the citric acid create an endothermic reaction while releasing carbon dioxide in bubble form. You have to look up endothermic reaction on your own. 

2. Alcohol soaked Money on Fire @ Barefoot in Suburbia

Fun Quotient: Holy crud—you’re burning money! Fire! Money! Fire!

Teaches: Combustion, or what a fire likes to eat. Rubbing alcohol, yum. Cold wet cottony dollar under the alcohol, meh. Not enough to keep burning once the alcohol is gone.

3. Homemade Rock Candy Skewers @ Home made simple

Fun Quotient: It makes pretty rocks you can eat!

Teaches:  Water evaporates, the sugar crystals don’t. The sugar precipitates, meaning it separates from the supersaturated sugar water. Seed crystals form on your stick, attracting more sugar crystals, until finally, about a week later, you got yourself some tasty science on a stick.

4. Make Your Own Electromagnet @ Science Bob

Fun Quotient: They get to use sharp things and electricity, which is Frankenstein-level cool. 

Teaches: Electromagnets are everywhere. They make motors spin, CDs play, and most modern cars run. This experiment shows the difference between a permanent magnet (the ones on your fridge) and the kind that can be turned on and off at will. When turned on, the electricity forces the molecules in the nail to attract metal, even though the nail itself isn’t magnetic. 

5. Invisible Ink From Lemons @ Show Tell Share

Fun Quotient: Invisible ink! Hello? INVISIBLE INK!! (Also fire if you want to go that route, but it’s not necessary or entirely safe to do so).

Teaches: Good old oxidation. Lemon juice is acidic enough to resist oxidation in open air, but a little heat “rusts” it right up.  

6. Walking on Eggs @ Steve Spangler Science

Fun Quotient: Like walking on hot coals, but somehow more naughty!

Teaches: Structure matters. No matter how flimsy an egg shell is, its actual shape gives it amazing strength, as long as you put the weight in the right place. 

7. Tea Bag Rocket @ Ordinary Life Magic

Fun Quotient: I really don’t think one can overemphasize how much children enjoy watching things burst into flame and fly around the kitchen. 

Teaches: Hot air rises, natch. But it also teaches “convection current,” which is the force that makes it shoot into the air. 

See Also...

Man Wearing Mentos Suit Dropped in Tank of Diet Coke
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10 Science Experiments You Can Eat With Your Kids
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8 Countries With Fascinating Baby Naming Laws

8. Dancing Oobleck @ Housing a Forest

Fun Quotient: Oobleck is cornstarch and water, and if you didn’t play with it as a child then I am so sorry for you because you probably grew up in a Dickensian work house. By itself it’s fun, but add a sub-woofer and some paint, and you have a dance party. 

Teaches: Sound waves. You can’t see them, but they exist, and they like to party. 

9. Ivory Soap Monster @ bebe ala mode designs

Fun Quotient: Instead of having to wash with it, you get to nuke it until it becomes a frothy cloud of 99% pure mess.

Teaches: When the gas molecules trapped in the soft pliable soap get hot, they need more space. They make a break for it and take the soap with them. As the temperature of the gas increases so does its volume.

10.  Easy Marshmallow Catapult @ it’s always autumn

Fun Quotient: Weaponized Marshmallows.

Teaches: Force= Mass x Acceleration. A little thing going very fast will hit you just as hard as a big thing going slow. That’s Newton’s second law, don’t-cha-know. 

11. Magic Plastic Bag @ TinkerLab

Fun Quotient: Time to get stabby.

Teaches: How polymers work. Also, on a different level, why you’re not supposed to take the arrow out of a person after they get impaled in movies.

12. Gummy Bear Torture @ Science for Kids

Fun Quotient:  Deforming gummy bears with different evil potions, and the most gruesome of all: eating them.

Teaches: Osmosis, and which kinds of liquids do it best. 

13. Making an Optical Illusion @ Science-Sparks

Fun Quotient: It’s a teeny cartoon!

Teaches: Your eyes aren’t entirely reliable. Optical illusions occur because our brains fill in the gaps for whatever our eye isn’t processing. So two pictures become one.

14. Chain Reaction Popsicle Sticks @ Frugal Fun for Boys

Fun Quotient:  It’s tough to get started, but the payoff is clatter and splatter fun.

Teaches: Nuclear physics. Sorta. At least a demonstration of potential energy, kinetic energy, and chain reactions.

15. How to be a Polar Bear @ Discover and Learn

Fun Quotient: Goop is glory. 

Teaches: The natural glory of fat, and how arctic animals can survive temperatures that kill everything else.

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Live Smarter
A Simple Way to Charge Your iPhone in 5 Minutes
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Spotting the “low battery” notification on your phone is usually followed by a frantic search for an outlet and further stress over the fact that you may not have time for a full charge. On iPhones, plugging your device into the wall for five minutes might result in only a modest increase of about three percent or so. But this tip from Business Insider Tech may allow you to squeeze out a little more juice.

The trick? Before charging, put your phone in Airplane Mode so that you reduce the number of energy-sucking tasks (signal searching, fielding incoming communications) your device will try and perform.

Next, take the cover off if you have one (the phone might be generating extra heat as a result). Finally, try to use an iPad adapter, which has demonstrated a faster rate of charging than the adapter that comes with your iPhone.

Do that and you’ll likely double your battery boost, from about three to six percent. It may not sound like much, but that little bit of extra juice might keep you connected until you’re able to plug it in for a full charge.

[h/t Business Insider Tech]

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Trying to Save Money? Avoid Shopping on a Smartphone
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Today, Americans do most of their shopping online—but as anyone who’s indulged in late-night retail therapy likely knows, this convenience often can come with an added cost. Trying to curb expenses, but don't want to swear off the convenience of ordering groceries in your PJs? New research shows that shopping on a desktop computer instead of a mobile phone may help you avoid making foolish purchases, according to Co. Design. Ying Zhu, a marketing professor at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan, recently led a study to measure how touchscreen technology affects consumer behavior. Published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, her research found that people are more likely to make more frivolous, impulsive purchases if they’re shopping on their phones than if they’re facing a computer monitor. Zhu, along with study co-author Jeffrey Meyer of Bowling Green State University, ran a series of lab experiments on student participants to observe how different electronic devices affected shoppers’ thinking styles and intentions. Their aim was to see if subjects' purchasing goals changed when it came to buying frivolous things, like chocolate or massages, or more practical things, like food or office supplies. In one experiment, participants were randomly assigned to use a desktop or a touchscreen. Then, they were presented with an offer to purchase either a frivolous item (a $50 restaurant certificate for $30) or a useful one (a $50 grocery certificate for $30). These subjects used a three-point scale to gauge how likely they were to purchase the offer, and they also evaluated how practical or frivolous each item was. (Participants rated the restaurant certificate to be more indulgent than the grocery certificate.) Sure enough, the researchers found that participants had "significantly higher" purchase intentions for hedonic (i.e. pleasurable) products when buying on touchscreens than on desktops, according to the study. On the flip side, participants had significantly higher purchase intentions for utilitarian (i.e. practical) products while using desktops instead of touchscreens. "The playful and fun nature of the touchscreen enhances consumers' favor of hedonic products; while the logical and functional nature of a desktop endorses the consumers' preference for utilitarian products," Zhu explains in a press release. The study also found that participants using touchscreen technology scored significantly higher on "experiential thinking" than subjects using desktop computers, whereas those with desktop computers demonstrated higher scores for rational thinking. “When you’re in an experiential thinking mode, [you crave] excitement, a different experience,” Zhu explained to Co. Design. “When you’re on the desktop, with all the work emails, that interface puts you into a rational thinking style. While you’re in a rational thinking style, when you assess a product, you’ll look for something with functionality and specific uses.” Zhu’s advice for consumers looking to conserve cash? Stow away the smartphone when you’re itching to splurge on a guilty pleasure. [h/t Fast Company]

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