Finding the fun in April Fools' Day gags and pranks—and the science connections to capitalize on the fun!
It is April 1, and April 1 means April Fools' Day jokes and pranks from trickster friends and even companies. YouTube is coming to an end (and all the videos being deleted)? Did you hear about Google Nose Beta ("the new scentsation in search")? Twitter is apparently doing away with vowels, unless you pay for them. Maybe you spotted MAKE's headline about creating oranges from a 3D printer? Clever! (See the full write-up for some other smart April Fools'-inspired fictitious headlines.) Even the WeAreTeachers site got in on the April 1 fun with their write-up on the Standardized Multi-Systemic Technologically-Sound Fully-Differentiated Standard Central Academic School Standards, better known as the SMSTSFDSCASS. And the Elmer's Teachers Club shared a link to this video of a science teacher pranking his fifth grade class with a gravity hoax.
Hands-on April 1 Science History
April 1 also coincides with the birth date of Richard Zsigmondy, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist for research on colloids. If you have a preschooler—or ever were one—maybe you remember mixing up and messing with Oobleck? It's a classic example of a colloid, along with ketchup and quicksand, neither of which you probably want to squish around in your hands!
Tactile Oobleck, with its non-Newtonian fluid properties, seems right on track for an impromptu April Fools' Day hands-on science experiment either at school or at home. The ingredients for Oobleck are ones you probably already have in your kitchen cabinets. If you want to turn your Oobleck play into a more comparative science activity, you'll find directions for mixing up two additional solutions in the "Making Mixtures: How Do Colloids Size Up?" science Project Idea.
Suggestions for Playful April 1 Science
A few other suggestions for April Fools' Day science and conversations to capitalize on the prankster energy in the air:
- "Warped Words and the Stroop Effect": testing the Stroop effect is good for some mind-bending fun and laughs with kids.
- "Visual Illusions: When What You See Is... Not What's There?": share an award-winning visual illusion and talk about what the eyes see—or what the brain thinks it sees.
- "Now You See It, Now You Don't: A Chromatic Adaptation Project": investigate how chromatic adaptation can trick the brain's perception of an image.
- "Rubber Bands for Energy": if you have a pops-from-the-can gag on hand, this experiment offers great hands-on exploration (after the laughing stops).
- "That's a Real Smile! ...or is it?": curious about whether or not that smile is sincere after you've pranked your friend/sibling/family member? How good are you at telling the difference between genuine and fake smiles?