DIY Science: Water Cycle in a Bag!

With all the rain we have been experiencing in the Triad lately, we decided it would be the perfect opportunity to have a lesson on the water cycle!

For this experiment you will need the following:

  • Plastic ziplock bag
  • Sharpie (to draw clouds and waves)
  • ¼ cup of water
  • Blue food coloring
  • Painter’s tape

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Begin your experiment by drawing clouds around the top and water around the bottom of your plastic bag. This will serve as a visual aid of the water cycle and how it works.

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Next, fill your plastic bag with ¼ cup of water, and add about 4 drops of food coloring.

Seal your bag shut, and hang it in a window (we recommend using painter’s tape since it is easy to remove once your experiment is over.)

Now it’s time to let nature run its course! Check on your bag periodically and notice how much condensation your baggie collects over time.

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What’s the science?

In nature, the sun’s heat causes water to evaporate from streams, lakes, rivers, and oceans. As the water vapor rises, it condenses to form clouds when it reaches cooler air. When the clouds are full of water, or saturated, they release some of the water as rain. Then the cycle starts over again.

The same principle can be applied to your experiment. Over the next few days, you will see that the water has warmed in the sunlight and evaporated into vapor. As that vapor cooled it began changing back into liquid, just like a cloud. When enough water condensed, the air couldn’t hold it anymore and the water fell down in the form of precipitation.

Party in Your PJ’s!

Jam in your jammies while supporting the GSC’s conservation efforts!

Are you looking for a  family-friendly, affordable way to change up your typical Friday night? Dancing, crafting, face painting and snacking await you at the GSC’s annual Pajama Jam! After all, what better way to spend a Friday night than partying in your PJ’s?!Pajama-Jam-Cows

Tickets are currently on sale for the Greensboro Science Center’s popular after-hours party, Pajama Jam. This annual kid-friendly event will take place on Friday, March 24 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. This is an awesome event for children ages 12 and under – and their parents – to come to the GSC dressed in their jammies and experience an evening of entertainment, tasty treats, and plenty of farmyard fun! Get ready to dance the night away with our favorite kid-friendly band, Big Bag Boom, and the Chick-fil-A cows!

Self-described as a “kid-appropriate frat party,” the popular children’s band, Big Bang Boom, will be on site performing rockin’ kid-friendly tunes for the crowd. Their music is guaranteed to have kids and adults alike dancing and singing along!

Pajama-Jam-Music (1)You are sure to work up an appetite from dancing the night away, that’s why Chick-fil-A will be providing light refreshments for each guest in the form of chicken nuggets, fruit and a cookie. The Chick-fil-A cows (a Pajama Jam fan favorite) will be grazing throughout the GSC, greeting guests, posing for photo ops, and dancing with the band.

In addition to a pint-sized dance party, guests can also expect plenty of hands-on fun as they explore our museum and aquarium. Special activities including crafts, games and face-painting will be available for the evening.

Let your child experience their first ever laser show, Tot Rock! This is a stunning laser show set to fun, upbeat music that will be playing in the Omnisphere Theater during Pajama Jam!

If all that isn’t enough for you, our very own local celebrity, Indiana Bones, will also be entertaining guests in our Destination: Dinosaur! exhibit. Indy will be introducing young paleontologists to his prehistoric pals, signing autographs and posing for photos with fans, and showing off some of his favorite artifacts and fossils, while giving guests a chance to stand beside a virtual dinosaur!Pajama-Jam-Indiana-Bones

This event is great for children and their parents, grandparents or guardians, daddy-daughter date nights, and more! Kelli Crawford, the GSC’s event coordinator for Pajama Jam, says, “We see grandparents taking their grandchildren out for a night on the town, extended families laughing and enjoying each other’s company, and even families who are planning to host sleepovers at their houses when the party ends.”

Tickets are on sale now at greensboroscience.org. Crawford says it’s best to purchase tickets well in advance. “This event sells out every year, so be sure to get your tickets early. You don’t want to miss it!”

Pajama Jam tickets are $10 for Greensboro Science Center members and $12 for non-members. All proceeds from this event will be donated to our conservation fund, which helps preserve wildlife and their habitats as well as enhance sustainable practices around the center.

 

DIY Science: St. Patrick’s Day Slime!

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Today we are making some St. Patrick’s Day Slime! This is a great slime recipe to have on-hand, and make whenever. 

To get started you will need the following:

  • 1/2 Cup of clear or white glue {Elmer’s washable school glue works best}
  • 1/2 Cup of liquid starch
  • 1/2 Cup of warm water
  • Measuring cup
  • A large bowl and a sturdy mixing spoon
  • Food coloring, confetti, glitter {optional}

Start by diluting  1/2 cup of glue into 1/2 cup warm water,{ really mix to combine completely}. Wash out the measuring cup before using it for the liquid starch.

Add some color or glitter to you slime to make it festive! Remember when you add color to white glue, the color will be lighter. Use clear glue for jewel toned slime! Mix the glitter and color into the glue and water mixture.

Now pour in 1/2 cup of liquid starch and mix vigorously. You will see the slime immediately start to form.

You won’t be able to use a spoon for very long, so get ready to get your hands dirty! Switch to mixing with hands for a few minutes until you feel the majority of the liquid incorporated into the slime.

Place your slime in a clean, dry container or on a non-porous plate. Slime can be played with right away but it’s consistency changes a bit over the next 30 minutes to a smoother looking substance as opposed to the stringier slime you may originally see.

Note: Liquid starch slime gets better with time but can be used right away. Playing with it helps it set!

So what’s the science?

The glue is a liquid polymer, meaning that the tiny molecules in the glue are in strands like a chain. When you add liquid starch, the strands of the polymer glue hold together, this gives the slime it’s slimy feel. The liquid starch acts as a cross-linker that links all the polymer strands together.

Remember, it is important to note that an experiment uses a variable (something that changes) to answer a question. To turn this demonstration into an experiment, you have to change something! Check out these questions to get you started:

  • How does the ratio of glue to starch change the slime?
  • Does the brand of glue make a difference in the final slime product?
  • How does the temperature of the water affect the slime?

Give it a try and let us know how your experiment turned out on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages using the hashtag #gscscience!

http://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/liquid-starch- slime-easy- sensory-play- recipe/

 

 

DIY Science: Make Your Own Rainbow

Today we are going to teach you how to create your own rainbows – rain or shine, day or night!

To start this experiment all you need is:dsc_0421

  • A clear, smooth sided, drinking glass or glass vase, filled almost to the top with water
  • Tape
  • Paper
  • A source of light (this can be the sun, a bright flashlight, or other light source)
  • Scissors
  • A dark room

Begin by filling a drinking glass or vase full of water.
Next, you will need to cut a slat in your sheet of paper (you will want to cut a vertical, thin rectangular shape).dsc_0429

Secure your slatted piece of paper to the outside of the glass so that it is centered more closely to the top of the glass. 

Turn on your flashlight, and shine it down at an angle so that the light hits the top of the water in the glass and — find your rainbow! It depends upon where your light angle hits the water and reflects unto the surface below as to how far away your rainbow will appear. Try moving your flashlight closer and farther away as well as adjusting the angle to the water to see the best rainbow.

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What’s the science?

You probably noticed that this doesn’t look like your average outdoor rainbow. The flashlight’s ray contains different colors that create light (such as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple). When you shine the light through the water, it bends, or refracts, and separates into the different colors. This is because the different colors (or wavelengths) of light behave slightly differently as they travel through our variables of water and glass. Notice the order of the colors is exactly the same as they are in a rainbow you see after a rain storm? This is because each color has a different wavelength with red having the longest wavelength, and violet the shortest. This is why red is at the top of the arch and violet is at the bottom.

Remember, it is important to note that an experiment uses a variable (something that changes) to answer a question. To turn this demonstration into an experiment, you have to change something! Check out these questions to get you started:

  • How does the placement of the paper affect the outcome?
  • Do different light angles change the size of the rainbow?
  • Does the size or shape of the glass affect the size or shape of the rainbow?

 

Give it a try and let us know how your experiment turned out on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages using the hashtag #gscscience!

 

DIY Science: Secret Valentine Messages

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’re making secret messages with invisible ink for you to send to that special someone!

For this experiment you will need:

  • Grape juice concentrate (thawed)
  • Paint brush or sponge
  • Cotton swabs
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Cup
  • Paper

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To get started with this experiment, mix together  1/4 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup  of water. Not all the baking soda will dissolve, this is OK. This mixture will be your invisible ink.

Using a cotton swab or brush, write your secret message on a piece of paper with your invisible ink. Dip your cotton swab into the baking soda and water mixture frequently as you write.

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Let the message dry completely.

To read the secret message, paint a thin layer of grape juice concentrate across the paper with a paint brush or a sponge. You just need a light amount of juice, don’t soak the paper. Remember – grape juice stains, so make sure you wear an apron or old clothes!

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So, What’s the Science?

Grape juice concentrate is an acid, which as some of you might remember from past experiments reacts with baking soda, which is a base. When you paint the grape juice concentrate over the hidden message, it reacts with the baking soda, changing the color of the “invisible” ink! If you can easily see your message before going over it with the juice, the paper may have acid in it. Acid in paper can react with whatever is placed on the paper. This is why some craft and specialty papers are labeled “acid-free.”

As always, it is important to note that an experiment uses a variable (something that changes) to answer a question. To turn this demonstration into an experiment, you have to change something! Check out these questions to get you started:

  • How do different fruit juices affect the outcome of the experiment?
  • Do different types of paper react differently?

Give it a try and let us know how your experiment turned out on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages using the hashtag #gscscience!

 

TREX: Repurpose the Plastic

Here at the GSC, we are kicking off our six month long TREX: Repurpose the Plastic campaign. The goal is to gather 500 pounds of plastic film in this timespan. If we meet our target, we will receive a TREX bench, made out of recycled materials!

What are Single Use Plastic Films?

Plastic bags are a common example of single use plastic film, but they are not the only ones. Bread bags, bags from inside cereal boxes, and air pillows in shipping containers are also examples of single-use plastic film. They are a cheap, lightweight product that is produced with the intention of being used once and then disposed of. As you can imagine, we use a lot of plastic bags. Our role in the life cycle of a plastic bag is to receive it at a store, carry our purchases home in the bag and then place the bag in the garbage. But there is a lot more to the story.

Why are Single Use Plastics Bad?

Plastic is lightweight and therefore easily transported by wind and water into our environment, including our oceans. It does not biodegrade, instead, it is broken down by UV light, erosive forces and water into smaller and smaller pieces.

These broken-down pieces of plastic become part of our urban runoff that goes into streams, rivers and ultimately, the ocean. Once it reaches the ocean, it floats just below the surface, often being mistaken for food by aquatic animals, which can ultimately lead to us ingesting plastic particles when we eat seafood.

Seeing as   About 90 percent of all the trash in the ocean is plastic, and seeing since as we currently only recover about 5 percent of the plastics we use, we view this is as an obviously a growing problem.

What are we doing?

For the next six months, the GSC will be collecting and weighing plastic film as a quantifiable way to demonstrate how much plastic we throw out.

Are there any solutions?

There are some simple, affordable solutions that we can all do in order to limit single use plastic in the environment. For starters, investing in reusable bags for groceries and bulk goods is not only affordable, but also prevents you from contributing to the growing amount of plastic in the environment. Plastic can be recycled and turned into new products which keeps it out of landfills. When you do receive single-use plastic bags, return the empty, clean bags to your participating grocer to be properly recycled.

For more information check out these sites:

  1. Center for Biological Diversity

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/population_and_sustainability/expect_more_bag_less/facts.html

  1. Eco Watch

http://www.ecowatch.com/22-facts-about-plastic-pollution-and-10-things-we-can-do-about-it-1881885971.html

3. Trex

http://www.trex.com/recycling/recycling-programs 

DIY Science: Lava in A Cup

Today at the GSC we are making our own lava! Well, sort of… this lava won’t burn or harm, but it sure looks cool!!

Materials:

* A clear drinking glass

* 1/4 cup vegetable oil

* 1 teaspoon salt

* Water

* Food coloring (optional)

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Procedure:

  1. Fill your glass about ¾ full of tap water, and add your food coloring.
  2. Slowly pour ¼ cup of vegetable oil into your glass. You should notice that the oil floats on top of the water.
  3. Now for the cool part: Sprinkle salt on top of the vegetable oil. You should see the oil start to move up and down in the glass!

What did I just watch?

Oil is less dense than water, therefore, it floats on top of water. Since salt is heavier than oil and water, it sinks down to the bottom of the cup. Some oil sticks to the salt as the salt sinks. But, as the salt dissolves in the water, the oil makes its way back to the surface!

As always, it is important to note that an experiment uses a variable (something that changes) to answer a question. To turn this demonstration into an experiment, you have to change something! Check out these questions to get you started:

  • Do different types of food oil respond differently to salt being added?
  • Does the size of the glass effect the outcome?
  • Does the amount of oil change the bubbling effect?
  • Does the type of salt change how the oil sticks to it?

Give it a try and let us know how your experiment turned out on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages using the hashtag #gscscience!