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/

 

 

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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!

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Trey T.

At the Greensboro Science Center, we are honored to welcome approximately 750 volunteers each year, giving a cumulative 36,000+ hours of their time. With a friendly greeting and a warm smile, our volunteers help us carry out our mission each day, educating our visitors about our animals and exhibits and inspiring them to learn more.

Today we would like to introduce you to Trey T., check out his story below!

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“My name is Trey Thurman and I am a high school freshman. I have been volunteering at the GSC since June 2016 and I absolutely love it. There are 4 rotations in a typical volunteer shift: the Herpetarium Cart, the Friendly Farm, the Aquarium Cart, and the Touch Tank. The Herpetarium Cart is one of my favorite stations because I love reptiles and amphibians. I enjoy sharing new facts that the visitors didn’t know before or answering any questions they may have. Also, since I have a Russian Tortoise, a Blue tongue skink, and a chubby frog at my house, I can give them firsthand experience on what it’s like to have these animals as pets as well as helpful tips for keeping one at home.

The Friendly Farm is the only station that is outside and I enjoy seeing families interact with the goats and sheep. The aquarium cart is fun because the people can touch the shark and the stingray teeth. I end my day with the Touch Tank and would like to share a tip for when you visit:  if you leave your hand still and calm in the water the stingrays are more likely to come up to you rather than if you were to poke your hand in whenever a stingray is coming!

During the time that I have been a part of the Animal Ambassador Program, I have learned so many different things. I love how organized the program is and how fun it is working with the volunteer staff. I enjoy interacting and talking with different people during my shift. Every conversation is different; one person might be a five-year-old  while the other one may be an adult, but either way I am still able to share different facts with them and that is something I truly enjoy.”

DIY Science: Growing Ice

This week we are channeling our inner “Elsa” and growing our own ice!

For today’s experiment, you will need the following household materials:

  • Room temperature bottled waters in a plastic bottles, freeze as many bottles as you want! (distilled or purified works best; do NOT use a glass bottle)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Wide-mouth cups
  • Ice cubes
  • Tray with sides (like a baking sheet) or large shallow dish

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If you choose to add one or two (2) drops of food coloring to your water, now is the time to do so.

The preparation for this experiment will take a little longer than some of our recent experiments. Begin by placing the water bottles in the freezer on their sides for approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes (depending on your freezer – it may take more or less time). The purpose of putting the bottles in the freezer is to get the water to an extremely cold temperature, which makes the ice formation possible.

If your bottles start to freeze, just take them out, let them return to room temperature and start again and keep them in the freezer for 15 minutes less.

If ice doesn’t start to grow when you begin pouring your water over the ice in the cup, your water is not cold enough, and you will need to return the bottles to the freezer for another 15 minutes or so. We did have to try our experiment a few times to get the water to just the right temperature.

When your water has been sitting long enough, and is free of any ice, carefully remove it from the freezer. Be careful not to bump, bang, or drop the water bottle or the whole bottle may freeze into a solid block of ice instantly!  Place a couple of  ice cubes into a wide-mouth cup, like the one pictured here.

Begin slowly and carefully pouring the cold water over the ice.

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Notice anything different about your seemingly average cup of ice? You should notice a mound of slushy ice forming on top of the ice cubes in your cup!

So what’s the science?

Ice crystals, like snow, need to stick to something to start forming. This is called nucleation. The purified water in the bottles does not have any impurities to start the nucleation process. This is why the water in the bottle is actually below freezing, or, supercooled. If you drop or bang the water bottle, the nucleation process will jumpstart and all of your water will snap freeze. Pouring the supercooled water onto the ice cubes gives the water something to cling onto and form ice crystals. As water freezes, it releases any latent heat (heat energy required for a phase change to occur, such as an element going from a solid to a liquid, or vice versa) into the ice causing the temperature to warm up just above freezing. This leaves you with the slushy consistency that you noticed at the end of the experiment, making it perfect to build ice towers!

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 ideas to get you started:

  • If placed in the freezer at the same time, do different types (brands) of bottled water form a different slush consistency?
  • How does food coloring impact the slush compared to just plain purified bottled water?

Try it and let us know how your experiment turned out on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter page using the hashtag #gscscience!