# Recently in Weekly Spotlight

## Paper Maze Programming: Start to Finish Computer Logic

Have you ever asked your student to give you directions, turn by turn, to get you home from a familiar landmark? It can be eye opening to hear how they might guide you, and you may or may not make it where you need to go! But the process of giving directions helps reiterate the steps involved in moving along a frequent path. Writing a computer program is similar in many ways. You need to tell the computer exactly what to do, turn by turn or step by step. If you miss a turn, or tell it to go the wrong way, or overlook a gap in the road or an unexpected tree, a crash may occur.

Watching how a computer follows (or executes) a set of computer directions (a program) and seeing if the computer succeeds in performing the task is an important part of working with computer code and learning to understand computer logic. When something goes wrong, you have to figure out "why" (what was incorrect or missing in the directions you provided) and then figure out how to "fix" the problem by providing better or more accurate instructions.

In this week's computer science-themed family science activity, students experiment with programming on paper. In this activity, they write the directions to help someone navigate through a paper maze. With an activity like this one, students can begin learning the basics of computer programming even without access to a computer. Can you successfully guide someone from point A to B? Be prepared for some fun mishaps, wrong turns, and crashes! These are learning opportunities and all part of the process!

Turn Paper Maze Programming into a Creative Game

The directions for this week's computer science activity involve using a small handmade paper maze. You could also use a checkers or chess board, just mark the start and end points with a toy or piece of colorful tape and also mark the "path" for the maze with tape or Post-it®-style notes. You can use figurines and small toys from around the house to populate the board. With a fresh maze in place, ask you student to write the turn by turn, step by step directions to get from Point A to Point B. How many steps forward? Turn which way? Move how many steps?

After a maze has been successfully navigated, you can change things up by shifting the notes and markers around to create a new challenge. With some ingenuity and creative thinking, this kind of activity makes a fun, portable, and educational game you can play anywhere!

Build on the Excitement

If your student loves this activity, there are other fun apps and games that help students explore and practice similar kinds of computer logic. For some fun game-oriented choices, see coverage of games like Kodable and Lightbot in Computer Programming Basics: An Hour of Code.

## Stretchy Rubber Band Science: Weekly Science Activity

What happens when you heat up or cool down a bunch of molecules? Any exceptions? In this weekly mechanical engineering-themed family science activity, students experiment to find out how rubber bands respond to heating and cooling. Because rubber bands are made of polymer chains, the results may be surprising because a heated rubber band may do the opposite of what you expect! Get hands-on learning more about the physics of thermal expansion, polymers, and the surprising behavior of rubber bands as they respond to temperature in this family-friendly science exploration.

## What Shape is a Hard-boiled Egg?

Hard-boiling and dyeing eggs is a Spring tradition in many households. This year, give your hard-boiled eggs a twist and turn ordinary ovoid hard-boiled eggs into fun shapes! The trick to the transformation is understanding the science behind the process of hard-boiling.

Raw eggs are oval in shape. Hard-boiled eggs are made from raw eggs. Therefore hard-boiled eggs must be oval in shape, right? Your basic logic primer might suggest this syllogism is true, but a fun new science activity from Science Buddies lets families experiment with molding hard-boiled eggs into different shapes!

Once the hard-boiling process is done, many recipes for perfect hard-boiled eggs instruct you to immediately transfer the eggs to an ice bath. This can help stop the process so that the eggs stay beautifully yellow inside (rather than turning a more sickly green, a shade that also happens if you boil them too long).

As this new family science activity explains, if you remove the freshly hard-boiled (still very hot) egg from its shell and stuff it into a mold (like a box made from a milk carton), the egg will take on the new shape as it cools—and stay in that shape once you remove the cooled egg from the mold.

Sounds fun, right? Hard-boiled egg rockets (think cylinders and triangles), robots (stack those cubes), or whimsical animals (combine shapes) are just a scientific step away with this hands-on family friendly kitchen science activity.

You can find directions for this exploration here at Science Buddies in the Science Activities for All Ages! area or at Scientific American:

If you try this family science activity at home, we would love to see what shapes you make with hard-boiled eggs this year!

Plating (Or Boxing) and Presentation

In the food industry, it is often said that presentation makes a big difference in how people perceive the food they eat. The same meal presented (or "plated") two different ways can strike people very differently.

Even at home, you can see the idea that "presentation" matters play out in the preparation of school lunches. If you or your kids have ever spotted someone at school with a Bento-box style lunch, you may have seen foods cleverly cut, styled, and arranged into fun shapes or characters that turn everyday lunch materials into something creative, artistic, or unexpected. (Unfamiliar with Bento lunches beyond the idea of a Bento "box" container? Check this collection of Bento box lunch images for an inspiring glimpse of what is possible.)

While we can't guarantee this science activity will singlehandedly help transform your lunch into cute pandas, Totoros, rabbits, or a Hello Kitty character, you can use molded hard-boiled eggs as a way to add more creativity and whimsy to your food presentation (or lunchbox packing)!

Students interested in the idea of food presentation may also be interested in the Perfect Plating: Which Food Presentation Technique is Best? * abbreviated project idea.

Fun with Eggs

For other experiments and family science activities that involve eggs (egg dyeing, egg boiling, egg launching), see this roundup: Family Egg Science. You (and your kids) won't want to miss the fun Ping Pong Catapult launching adaptation of the Bombs Away! project!

## Bubbly Soda Science: Weekly Science Activity

Making your own carbonated beverage can be a lot of fun. How much fizz do you like? What flavor? How sweet? The process of carbonating water and serving up a custom beverage is easier than ever before thanks to commonly available household devices like Sodastream®. But a pressurized approach to creating a carbonated beverage is not the only way to prepare a refreshing soda-style drink.

With a few simple ingredients, students can experiment with mixing up their own soda-style beverages at home using sodium bicarbonate and citric acid mixed with water. Experimenting with the quantity and ratio of these ingredients lets students observe the chemical reaction that occurs. Taste testing the beverage that results from different ratios of the ingredients makes the whole process even more fun. Mix in a sweetener or natural flavor (like lemon juice), and see if you can find the perfect balance of ingredients for your taste buds, not too fizzy, not too gritty, not too sweet. Can you find the "just right" combination? Does everyone in your house agree? Find out with this easy kitchen chemistry family science experiment.

You and your kids can explore this hands-on science activity using either the full project directions from Science Buddies or the shorter activity version:

For some non-edible fizzy science fun, try the Making Homemade Bath Bombs family science activity!

Note: The food coloring is just for fun. For the purists out there, no color is necessary!

## Sliding and Friction: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a fun physics activity that turns exploring the relationship between friction and sliding into a cool hands-on exercise. With a rubber band and a stack of coins, families can slingshot the coins on various surfaces to see how the surface affects how the coins slide. This science activity may feel like a game, but there is great science to be observed, so grab a rubber band, make a finger-based slingshot, and let the coins slide!

## Dancing Candy Hearts: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a fun chemistry activity for Valentine's Day. If you have conversation hearts candies on hand this Valentine's Day, put a few aside for a fun family science experiment. What happens when you drop one of the candies into a glass of soda? Why? This hands-on science activity makes a great science conversation starter with kids.

## Ocean Currents: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: an ocean sciences activity that helps families better visualize how ocean currents move. What does temperature have to do with the speed and direction of ocean currents? Make your own mini ocean model and find out!

## Explore Nanotechnology with Paper: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a materials science activity that gives families a hands-on look at nanotechnology. Materials coming out of nanotechnology research are often lighter and stronger than traditional materials. Nanotechnology scientists are working with matter at the nanoscale, which means they are working with individual atoms and molecules. By altering the structure and arrangement of particles, scientists are creating and discovering new materials that have exciting new qualities—some of these materials might even make you think of favorite science fiction or comic book characters! In this hands-on activity, students use paper to help model and visualize how different arrangements of the same matter can make a dramatic difference in the strength of the material made from that matter.

For both the science project and the shorter family-friendly science activity, students use everyday paper to represent carbon nanostructures used in nanotechnology. How does strength change when you stack, roll, fold, or otherwise manipulate the paper? Put it to the test for a better understanding of what it means for scientists to rearrange the structure of matter at the nanoscale!

## Soaking Up Sorbent Science: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a environmental engineering activity that encourages families to learn more about sorbents. A sorbent is a material used to absorb a liquid. In the case of an oil spill, cleaning up effectively and quickly is very important. But cleaning up oil from a waterway (and off of wildlife that come into contact with the spill) can be difficult. In this family science activity (or science fair project), students experiment with different sorbents to see which ones are most effective at cleaning up oil that has spilled in water.

## Making Math with Dough: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a math activity that turns playing with dough into an exploration of geometry. If you make a cube out of dough, you can measure the sides of the 3D object and multiple the length by width by height to find out the volume of the shape. If you gently and uniformly flatten (or squish) the object, you transform your original shape into a new shape with new dimensions. Does the volume change? In this family-friendly math activity, kids can have geometry fun with either store-bought or homemade dough. Make some shapes, take some measurements, transform the shapes into new ones, measure again, and then spend time talking about what happens to the dimensions—and to the volume—of the shapes that are all made from the same starting piece of dough!

## Pastry Science: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a food science activity that may fit right in with any baking you have planned for the season. Are pies on your family's list of favorites or traditions this time of year? How do you like your crust? Does your mouth water for a flaky crust on a homemade pie? In this kitchen science experiment, families can explore the role of fats—and the temperature of the fat—on the texture of a pie crust. When you get ready to mix up a crust, do you take the fat straight from the refrigerator? Or do you set it out ahead of time to warm up to room temperature first? Or do you melt it? What difference will the temperature make on how flaky the crust is? Once you know the science behind the crust, you may never approach pie crust making the same again!

## Seeing Science: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a human behavior-themed science activity that puts families to a fun brain-twister test. How quickly can you say the name of the color in which a word is printed? Does your speed (or accuracy) change if the color of the word and the word itself don't match? This science activity makes for an engaging exploration of the Stroop effect. After learning more about (and trying) the classic Stroop activity, you can expand the fun with other puzzle- or test-oriented projects that involve similar human behavior and perception processes.

For additional student science projects related to Stroop effect or similar perceptual behavior, see:

## Singing Science: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a music-themed science activity that guides families in an exploration of vocal ranges. What determines how high or how low you can sing? What does the length of your vocal chords have to do with your vocal range? Does age or gender have anything to do with the highest note you can hit? Put these questions to a singing test with a science experiment.

## Globs of Gluten: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a food-themed science activity that helps families explore the role of gluten in baking—and the different levels of gluten content in different types of flour. Many favorite holiday foods contain gluten, from stuffing and rolls to pies and pastries. But their different textures may have something to do with gluten. Extracting gluten from wheat flour can be sticky business, but in this science activity, families can get hands-on with their own gluten balls and compare the amount of gluten in different kinds of wheat flour.

## Musical Bottles: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a music-themed science activity that helps families explore the relationship between the sound an instrument like a clarinet makes and the length of the air column. When a sound wave travels down a longer or shorter distance, how does what we hear change? In this activity, students use glass bottles filled with differing amounts of liquid to experiment. With some careful listening and trial and error, you might be able to play a song by blowing on the bottles in a specific pattern! But you will for sure be able to hear and appreciate the differences in sound you can make by changing one of the variables involved in how the sound is produced.

## The Speed of Falling: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a physics science activity that helps families see gravity, acceleration, and speed in action. Gravity exerts force upon an object, but what does this mean in terms of how fast something falls? Does the speed of falling change based on how far something falls? Using a simple marble run, you can put these questions to the test and see how gravity's constant acceleration affects the distance that an object travels over time. (You can see how this works when riding a bike down a hill, too!)

## Sounds Like Halloween: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a music-themed science activity perfect for Halloween week. What sounds do you associate with Halloween movies or Halloween music? What makes the sounds spooky,scary, or eerie? When you watch movies, what kinds of music do you hear, and how does the music fit what is happening in the movie? Are there patterns of instruments, pitch, or tempo that accompany certain scenes in movies?

Pull out your favorite Halloween family movies or playlists, put on your listening ears, and get ready to really tune in to the "sounds" of the movie or music using one of these sets of directions for either an independent science project or a home or classroom science activity:

Photo credit: Thomas FriesÂ /Â Lizenz: cc-by-sa-3.0 de, via Wikimedia Commons

## Detective Science: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a physics-focused science activity that helps families learn more about how forensic science can provide clues to solve crimes! Blood stains and spots at the scene of a crime can help detectives piece together what happened. In this activity, students use fake blood and investigate how blood stains change depending on the height from which the blood was dropped. It may sound gory, but there is interesting physics to explore!

You and your family can explore the science involved using one of these sets of directions for either an independent science project or a home or classroom science activity:

## Homemade Compass: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a physics-focused family science activity that can help everyone in the family get a better sense of where you are—or in what direction you are heading. In this activity, students make a small, working compass using part of a cork, a needle, and a magnet. Once the compass is created, students can put it to the test. Does the direction the homemade compass points match up to what another navigational device or app says? Families can experiment with other versions of the same type of compass made using different kinds of magnets—or even a leaf instead of cork! How does a homemade compass work? What does a compass have to do with the Earth's magnetic field? And what kinds of problems might alter the effectiveness of a homemade compass? This is fun hands-on science for young explorers, mapmakers, and those curious about magnetism.

Families can make their own compass using the Science Buddies activity at Scientific American:

For another fun hands-on science project involving magnetism, see the following project and blog post at Science Buddies:

## Tie-Dye Using Permanent Markers: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a chemistry-focused family science and craft activity that lets students explore the concept of solubility while using permanent markers to decorate a T-shirt (or piece of fabric). Permanent markers are designed to be lasting, so what happens when you add water? What happens when you add alcohol? Does the marker ink react the same to both water and alcohol? Put these questions to the test in a fun hands-on science experiment. At the end of the project, students will have designed a cool tie-dye piece, too. This is science you can wear!

Permanent marker-based tie-dye is a fun spin on traditional tie-dyeing and a lot less messy! (But do be careful, permanent markers are called permanent for a reason.)

Families can explore solubility and marker-based tie-dye in the following Science Buddies activity at Scientific American:

For additional science exploration related to markers, the dyes in markers, and tie-dye, see the following projects at Science Buddies:

## Now Playing: The Perseid Meteor Showers

Stay up late, or get up really, really early to catch nature's annual fireworks display. Students and families can extend Perseids fun with a hands-on science exploration of parallax. How far away are the things we see in the sky?

Each August, a much-anticipated nighttime show plays live in our skies: the Perseid meteor showers. This annual event offers you the year's best opportunity to see meteors streaking across the sky, so long as you are willing to be awake well after midnight!

Cosmic Collisions Make for Great Light Shows

Why does the Perseid meteor shower happen each August? Because that's the point in our orbit around the Sun when we are crossing the orbital path of Comet Swift-Tuttle. As Comet Swift-Tuttle travels through space, it leaves behind bits of rock and ice called meteoroids. Some of these fast-travelling meteoroids burn up when they hit Earth's atmosphere. The bright light that we see when this happens is called a meteor. You may have heard some people call these "shooting stars," but meteors aren't stars at all, just burning space debris!

While it is possible to see a meteor on any night, so long as you are looking in the right place at the right time, the Perseids are special because as Earth crosses through the path of Comet Swift-Tuttle, lots of meteors are likely to be visible in the sky, so many that it is called a "meteor shower."

Maximize Your Chances of Seeing a Meteor

Most years, scientists would recommend that you view the Perseids during the "peak" of the showers, which is the time when they expect the most meteors to be visible in the sky. However, this year the moon will be so bright during the expected peak days of August 12 and 13, that scientists are suggesting you head outside in early August.

Your best chance for seeing meteors is in the few hours before dawn, as far away from city lights as possible. Although a blanket or reclining chair will keep you comfortable, the only "tool" that's required is patience. Good things come to those who wait!

Sky Science Connections for Students

Students and families interested in the Perseids, in stargazing, or in astronomy in general can ask space science questions and experiment with Science Buddies astronomy science projects and family science activities.

For example, with a hands-on backyard setup using hula hoops, students (and families) can explore the relationship between the distance of an object and the perspective from which the object is viewed. The way an object appears to move or shift when you look at it from two different positions is known as parallax and is an important concept in understanding how astronomers determine how far away things are in the sky. Both a student science project (suitable for a science fair) and a shorter family science activity are available:

These family science experiments don't require the night sky or a telescope, but by exploring parallax, students can better understand how scientists measure how far away things are in the sky.

For more fun family science that connects with this month's Perseids, see Meteor Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight. For added inspiration for student astronomers and space enthusiasts, see the Galactic Curiosity: Fifth Grade Student Charts a Science Course for the Stars student science success story. The Satellite Science: How Does Speed Affect Orbiting Altitude? project idea based on the student's fifth grade astronomy experiment is now part of the Science Buddies directory of free project ideas!

## Pizza Box Solar Oven: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: an energy-focused family science activity that doubles as an alternative energy experiment and a recycling project. Using a pizza box (or other shipping box), foil, a few other readily available materials, and the power of the sun, you can make a functional solar-powered oven. Cooking will take longer than in a kitchen appliance, but with some planning, you can cook a meal or prepare a campsite batch of s'mores with your own homemade solar oven! How does a solar oven work? How does the design of a solar oven work to trap and use radiated heat? Build your own to find out. You might discover a solar oven has something in common with a greenhouse, too!

## Marinade Science: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a food sciences family science experiment that investigates the way different ingredients make a difference in how well a marinade sticks to food. In this science activity, students simulate the process of soaking a food in a marinade by doing a controlled study with tofu, food dye, and four different ingredients that might be found in a marinade recipe. Setting up a set of standards for what the tofu looks like when soaked in different levels of dye concentration makes it easy to evaluate how well the test marinades made with different ingredients stick to the tofu. Based on this kitchen chemistry experiment, cooks of all ages can make more scientific decisions about how to best mix up a marinade or tweak a favorite recipe for even more sticking flavor!

## Powering a Raft with Surface Tension: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a physics family science experiment that investigates the dynamics of surface tension. Surface tension may keep your soda from spilling over the cup when you fill it a bit too full, but can surface tension also be used to propel something? In this science activity, students build a small, lightweight raft and experiment to see how surface tension—and some dish soap—can help move it across the surface of water.

## Families and Fingerprints: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a genetics and genomics family science experiment for Father's Day. Fingerprints are unique, but do family members share fingerprint characteristics? Are there patterns of inheritance that come into play when it comes to fingerprints? Put the question to the test with a visual examination of fingerprints among siblings and between different family members!

## Expanding and Contracting Gases: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a chemistry family science experiment that guides students and families in an exploration of how gases behave, especially when they are cooled or heated. Many gases are invisible, but they are everywhere around us. By trapping gas in a balloon, you can investigate how the kinetic energy of a gas changes in response to temperature and how the change in the motion of the gas molecules makes the balloon shrink or expand. With some hands-on measurements, a bit of air spent filling up some balloons, and some chill time for a few of the filled balloons, students can "see" what happens!

## Geodesic Gumdrop Dome: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: a civil engineering family science experiment that guides students in building a simple geodesic dome from candies and toothpicks (or tubes made from newspaper) and then exploring the shape. How strong is a geodesic dome? How much weight can it hold? Where in nature and architecture can you find examples of dome shapes?

## Pinwheel Science: Weekly Science Activity

In this week's spotlight: an energy-focused family science experiment that explores the relationship between the potential power of a wind turbine and the source and location of the wind. Using a pinwheel, students create their own horizontal-axis wind turbine and experiment to see how the pinwheel spins when the wind comes at it from different directions—and how this translates into how much weight the wind turbine can lift. A pinwheel is a simple example of a wind turbine, but with this hands-on experiment, students can see the affect of the wind direction in how many small items the pinwheel can lift.

## Bath Bombs Chemistry: Family Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a family science experiment that promises fizzy fun in the tub (or in a big bucket of hot water). Bath bombs are easy to make at home. You can mix up your own using your choice of additives with the core ingredients. But what makes a bath bomb "fizz" when it hits the water? In this science activity, students experiment with the recipe for making a bath bomb and investigate the role of corn starch and citric acid in the process. What is the chemical reaction that happens when the dried bath bomb touches the warm water? What ratio of ingredients makes the fizziest bath bomb? Mix up a few batches to find out! Once you have found your favorite formulation, you can make bath bombs to give as gifts—or just use them yourself!

## Ball Dribbling Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a sports science that looks at the physics of what is going on when you dribble a basketball. After you push the ball to the floor, the ball meets the floor or court and then returns, but it doesn't necessarily return to the same height. What does the surface of the floor have to do with how a ball bounces when dribbled, how much effort a player has to use to keep the ball dribbling uniformly, and what is going on with the energy of the ball in motion? Put it to the test with a fun hands-on sports science project that lets you observe and measure how balls bounce differently as a result of what's on the ground.

## Ice Cream Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a food science family science experiment and independent student science fair project that takes a deeper look at the chilly process of making ice cream. You can make your own ice cream using one of a variety of shaking or rolling processes, including using a baggy to hold the ingredients! How does adding salt to the ice mixture used to freeze the ingredients affect the process? Make your own ice cream to find out!

## Strength of an Egg: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a materials sciences family experiment and science fair project that asks you to rethink what you know about eggs. Are they fragile? Or are they strong? If you've ever accidentally stuck your finger through one in the kitchen, you may think you know the answer! But the shape of an egg can support a surprising amount of mass. It is a shape, in fact, that can be found in architecture. How much mass can eggshells hold? Put it to the test with a hands-on science experiment that lets you see how much mass you can stack on top of a set of eggs before they crack.

## Floating Eggs: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: an ocean sciences family experiment and science fair project. Some things float in water and some do not. Knowing the density of the object and the density of the water helps explain what is going on, and you can observe and talk about the buoyancy of an object. But adding salt can change what happens. Why? In this hands-on science experiment, you set up a series of dilutions to see at what point an egg goes from sinking to floating in salt water.

## Musical Straws: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a music-themed family science experiment and science fair project. With a set of ordinary drinking straws, you can create a group straw "oboes." Can you play them? Sure! By blowing air through them, similar to the way you play a reed instrument, you can produce musical notes. At the end of the activity, you should have a set of straws, each of which will play a different note on a musical scale. What is the secret to changing the note each one plays? In this music science experiment, your students will get a chance to explore (and hear) the physics behind the production of sound!

## Home Sweet Bug Microenvironments: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a zoology family science experiment and science fair project that encourages families and students to observe pillbugs or sowbugs up close by creating cozy but different microenvironments and seeing which the bugs prefer. Although they are frequently found in the soil, pillbugs and sowbugs are not insects; instead, these bugs are crustaceans and breathe with gills.Will this have an affect on which microenvironment they choose? Put it to the test in this easy indoor science experiment that encourages observation skills as students watch to see how the bugs respond to the different microenvironments they create and perform their own bug counts at regular intervals.

## Colorful Family Science for St. Patrick's Day

In this week's spotlight: a family science experiment that lets you and your children make a rainbow in keeping with St. Patrick's Day! What happens when you put drops of food coloring in milk? What happens when you add a bit of dishwashing liquid? Put it to the test in this science activity for a fun, colorful look at the role of a surfactant and how it changes the surface tension of a liquid.

## Carnival Game Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a mechanical engineering experiment and family science activity that takes a scientific look at why a popular carnival game may look easy to win but may, in fact, be really difficult. How does the distribution of mass in the way milk bottles (or plastic bottles of colored water!) are stacked affect how hard or easy it is to knock the bottles over? Put the question to the test with your own home version of a classic carnival game!

## Bridge Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: an civil engineering project that lets students and families experiment with bridge design. You may be familiar with famous suspension bridges like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, but how does a suspension bridge really work? How do the cables work to support the weight on the bridge? Can a suspension bridge carry a greater load than a beam bridge? With common household materials, you can put your own straw-based bridges to the test. How many pennies can your suspension bridge hold compared to a bridge without cables?

## Seasons Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: an astronomy project that lets students and families use a simple homemade setup to better understand the way the tilt of the Earth's axis causes seasons. When a surface is titled, how does the light reaching it change? With a flashlight, a cardboard box, and some ordinary paper, you can get hands-on and experiment!

## Heart Health: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a human biology and health project that puts an important question to the test: if you exercise regularly, does your heart recover from exertion more quickly than if you don't exercise often? The heart pumps faster during exercise, which helps to keep the heart healthy. It is good to exercise frequently and to raise your heart rate into its target heart rate zone during exercise, but how long does it take for the heart to return to its normal rate after you are done and cooling down from a workout? How does this recovery time differ between athletes and non-athletes? Put these health questions to the test with family and friends to find out!

## Landslide Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: an environmental engineering and Earth science project and hands-on activity that lets students and families explore what's happening when a landslide occurs. With a simple homemade model using a clipboard and pennies, students simulate how the angle of repose changes with different hill mass and slope surfaces. What happens when you change the materials used in an object sitting on a slope? What's going on with gravity on a slope? At what point does sliding begin and why? Get hands-on to find out!

Getting Hands-on with Earth Science in the Classroom
Teachers: A classroom-friendly version of this Earth science and geology science exploration is available! Science Buddies Classroom Activities offer both educator and student guides to help teachers integrate hands-on learning in the classroom. The Landslides: What Causes Rocks to Slip and Slide? classroom activity takes under 30 minutes to set up and perform—about 10 minutes of student time. A simple setup using pennies and clipboards brings the relationship between gravity, materials, slope, and angle to life for students as they learn more about landslides.

Support for this classroom activity was provided by Chevron, sponsor of Geology resources at Science Buddies.

## Pixel Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a video and computer games project and family activity that lets you investigate how the number of pixels used to create a video game object determines how it will look in the game. If you compare older games to new ones, you probably see a big difference in how the characters look today. Which look better? Do you know why? The number of pixels used in creating the images has a lot to do with the differences you see. In this family science activity, you can get create your own video game characters and experiment to see how much detail an image has (and how it looks) at 8 pixels, 16, 32, or even more. What happens as you increase the pixels? Put it to the test with your own graph-paper drawings!

## Static Electricity Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: an electricity project and family activity that takes the zap out of static electricity. What causes the buildup of static electricity and may cause you to get "shocked" when wearing, rubbing up against, or touching certain materials or objects? What does what the object is made of have to do with static electricity? In this project, you and your family can build a cool tool, an electroscope, to detect electric charges and test to see how different materials conduct electricity.

## Puppy Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a mammalian biology project and family activity that encourages families to talk about and explore why puppies and other animals huddle together for warmth. Does cuddling up really increase warmth? Put it to the test in this hands-on science experiment!

## Sweaty Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a sports science project and family activity that lets you experiment to find out how different activities affect your heart rate. Exercise is important, but do all forms of exercise make your heart work the same? Does your heart work as hard when you are walking as it does when you are jumping on a trampoline or playing a game of basketball? Which activities and exercises really get your heart going? What does it feel like when your heart starts working harder? Put these and other sports and health science questions to the test as a family science experiment!

## Cornbread Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a food science project and family activity that explores the role of baking powder in baking. In this pair of projects, experiment to see the affect of baking powder on corn bread muffins for a clear visual look at what happens when you use more or less in your recipe. Does a light and airy muffin indicate one with or without baking powder? How does the density or weight of a muffin change in relation to the amount of baking powder used? What happens if you use too much? Or not enough?

## Memory Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a human behavior science project and family activity that explores memory and how using a mnemonic device can help you remember a string of words or the items in a list. Have you ever used the HOMES acronym to help you remember the names of the Great Lakes or ROYGBIV (or Roy G. Biv) to remember the order of the seven colors in a rainbow? In this science project, you conduct a controlled experiment to see whether or not a mnemonic device makes a difference in how well your friends, family members, and other volunteers can remember the list you provide. Does a mnemonic aid work? What kind of mnemonic aid works best?

## Family Robotics: Toothbrush Bots that Follow the Light

Building light-tracking robots as a family activity lets you and your kids take next steps in electronics and circuitry!

My kids and I had a great time over the summer whetting our teeth on basic robotics and electronics by transforming toothbrushes into cute little Bristlebot robots that look and work very much like commercially-available nano or hex bugs. The basic Bristlebots robotics engineering project is a fun hands-on activity and one that works for a wide range of ages. You can read up on our experience and our nitty-gritty tips and insights after doing this family science activity (like using garden shears to snap of toothbrush heads) in the "Building Bristlebots: Basic Toothbrush Robotics" post.

For us, the basic Bristlebots were just a toe in the water. My plan, all along, was to build the much more sophisticated light-tracking bots with my kids, but I liked the fact that we could do the projects in sequence, thus building our skills and understanding of the principles involved. More sophisticated, of course, often translates to more complicated, and, indeed, the light-tracking bots project was a more challenging project. But, without a doubt it was also a more satisfying family project. We like a challenge!

Meet Your Bread Board

The project at Science Buddies uses very clear and helpful diagrams like the one shown above to help guide students in placing their parts correctly.

Our red, green, and blue mini bread boards were super cute and cheerful, but only two of them had any numbers and letters printed on them, and one of them had the numbers and letters completely reversed from the diagrams in the project. The procedure at Science Buddies has since been updated to mention that breadboard layouts and on-board descriptors may vary, but it gave us something to talk about as we read through the directions and got ready to follow the steps of the procedure. Did it matter? Did we need to reverse the circuit diagrams on the one board? Tip: If your breadboard doesn't have the same (or any) numbers or letters, just follow the diagrams at Science Buddies so that your circuit visually matches the one shown in terms of placement for each element.

The basic Bristlebots are super cute, super easy, and fun to make, but with slightly older kids in the family science setting, the light-tracking bots proved an excellent choice for us. They take longer to build. They involve a circuit beyond just a battery and a motor. They have cool functionality that lets kids put their own or a parent's phone flashlight app to use. They can be used as the foundation for extending the project and learning opportunity by challenging kids to alter (or reverse) the functionality. And, maybe best of all, they sport a very handy on-off switch! Plus, they are very cute and have a lot of personality even in their barebones wires and parts. (Revving up the design once you get the bots working is not required but can add to the creative fun for kids who want to customize and personalize their bots.)

Cool Parts

I had never used a bread board when I ordered all my supplies for this project and then gathered the kids around the table a few days after we made our original Bristlebots. Doling out the required materials for three kids to work on building these little robots was exciting. There were lots and lots of resistors, three awesome kits of colorful jumper wires, photoresistors, MOSFETs, battery packs, switches, pancake batteries, and more. There was a lot going on, and we were excited to get started.

While I recommend doing this build start to finish, family science sometimes follows the stop-and-go patterns of daily life. We split our build into two sessions, working around an important game of laser tag. Before we got started, everyone read the full procedure, and then we were ready to get hands-on. We knew we were not going to finish in one sitting, but the kids worked through the first several steps of the procedure, enough to give me a sense of how well the kids were going to do with following the diagrams and pushing the small pieces into place. Tip: If you have to start, stop, and come back to finish, be sure you stop with everyone having completed the same step!

When we came back later, we picked back up where we left off.

Excellent Diagram-led Build

The procedure at Science Buddies for this project is excellent. The team did a great job guiding students through the steps and providing helpful diagrams and photos to show the circuit as it develops on the bread board. (See the sample bread board diagram in the sidebar at the right.) Going into the build, I didn't have any prior knowledge of drains and gains, and my own understanding of how the rows and columns of the breadboard were related to the drain and gain didn't form immediately. Even so, if you follow the steps, putting the elements in place on the circuit step-by-step, as directed, you can do (or lead) this robotics project! (Note: Students who are working on the project as an independent project for the science fair or for a school project will want to really dig into the meaty information in the introduction, but families and science moms can approach these bots just as a fun hands-on building activity. You and your kids will be learning along the way, but don't worry up front about whether or not the circuit diagrams make sense to you!)

Follow the Directions

While doing this project, your kids will need good fine-motor skills and close attention to detail to make sure they get things inserted in the proper slots and inserted firmly. Be prepared to help with some tiny parts and to help check and double-check that pieces are in the right spots. If, like us, you are not soldering but relying on twisting battery wires to jumper cables, be prepared for a process that may feel like micro surgery with the very tiny battery wires. (Note: An adult will probably need to do this, but twisting does work.) If everyone follows the diagrams closely, building these bots can feel a lot like building a LEGO® project!

Even when you are careful, however, things sometimes go wrong. It's good to keep that in mind going into any family science activity. Things happen! Learning to deal with problems that arise in a science or engineering project is part of the process, and when something goes wrong in an electronics project, there is ample room for tinkering and emphasizing troubleshooting and testing steps.

A Bit of Resistance

Look Closely

We initially selected the wrong resistors from the multipack, and it took us a while to realize our mistake. Be sure to look carefully to make sure you get the right value resistor!

We ran into a few trouble spots in the process of building our bots, one of which almost completely derailed us. As a result, we got a lot of practice troubleshooting, and we learned a great deal from the mistakes we made. The "help" information in the project was a great source of assistance when things didn't work out with our bots. When one of our bots got super hot (even though it wasn't moving), for example, we got a crash course in the importance of ensuring none of the bare wires are accidentally touching. And when none of our bots "worked" after we finished our circuits, we spent a lot of time backtracking through the diagrams and double-checking to ensure we had every single thing exactly as shown in the circuit.

There was some frustration, mine included, when we could not pinpoint what was wrong. Our circuits looked fine, but we had three cute little bots and bedecked circuit boards that didn't work. Finally, we discovered our error. It was a simple error, but it was a critical error.

The kids were ready to give up and move on, their excitement a bit burnished, when we discovered the problem.

Because we were making several bots, I ordered the large multipack of resistors listed as an option in the project's list of materials. The pack of 500 includes resistors in varying values. Unfortunately, even though we thought we had carefully matched up and interpreted the band-coding used to identify the values and to pull out the one we needed, our inexperience with resistors threw us a wrench. It took us a very long time to determine that we had accidentally selected 47 kΩ resistors instead of the required 4.7 kΩ ones.

As you can imagine, with the wrong resistors, there was far too much resistance, and nothing was making it through the circuit. For a seasoned electronics project parent, it sounds like a silly error. But in the moment, and with no experience with resistors other than when a science kit (like the Crystal Radio Kit) comes with only and exactly the one you need, I had no idea I had misinterpreted the packaging of the resistors and values. (I had not even noticed that there was another very similar-looking value in the set.)

Once we swapped out the too-strong resistors for the right ones, we were in light-tracking toothbrush bot business.

Light-tracking Success!

Once we had everything on track, the light-following bots worked great and were super fun to lead around with cell phone flash lights or other lights. The kids were very excited to see the bots come to live once we swapped out the resistors, and they immediately grabbed a cardboard box lid, turned out all the lights, and started guiding the bots around with cell phone lights. There were some races and then some impromptu videos made of the robots they had made, bots that, really, look pretty impressive when finished and definitely warranted being shown off to friends and family.

This is a project I highly recommend you consider with your kids over the long winter break or for weekend fun. Don't be afraid of the "advanced" rating on the project in terms of difficulty. If your goal is simply to build the bots and not take a crash course in understanding circuit diagrams, you can do and succeed with this robotics project with your kids—without any prior electronics or robotics experience. You know your kids best, but I was successful doing this project with kids in the range of 8-13 years.

If you have a family tradition of giving things "to do" during the holidays or for other celebrations, consider boxing up the supplies for the "Build a Light-Tracking Robot Critter" project for a special kid who likes to tinker!

Make Family Time Robotics Time

If you are interested in trying a robotics project with your kids, here are a trio of robotics engineering projects, from beginner to advanced, to consider:

The following blog posts and resources may also be helpful and inspiring for families interested in exploring robotics:

Share Your Family Science or School Science Project

What did your recent science project or family science activity look like? If you would like to share photos taking during your project (photos like the ones above or photos you may have put on your Project Display Board), we would love to see! Send it in, and we might showcase your science or engineering investigation here on the Science Buddies blog, in the newsletter, or at Facebook and Google+! Email us at blog@sciencebuddies.org.

## Taste Bud Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a human biology and health science project and family activity that encourages you and your family to investigate the science of taste! Do your taste buds differ from those of your friends, siblings, or other family members? Probably! In this project, you conduct a scientific experiment to explore your taste threshold for things that are salty, sweet, or sour. Once you've analyzed your own taste buds, see how other family members and friends compare!

[Image: Wikipedia]

## Sauce Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a food science project and family activity perfect for the holiday kitchen! Are cranberries a part of your holiday menu? Does your family like a wiggly, solid cranberry roll, or do you make a looser cranberry sauce. What causes the difference in consistency? In these hands-on science projects, you and your family can experiment to see how cooking time affects the natural pectin in cranberries.

## Salty Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a food science project or family activity that adds a dash of salt to questions about health and nutrition. The salt in your family's table shaker may be iodized because iodine is an important micronutrient that not everyone gets naturally in the foods they eat. To help prevent iodine deficiency, many salts contain added iodine (in the form of iodide). Not all salts are iodized, however. In this pair of projects, families experiment to see which salts contain iodide. The label should tell you if the salt contains iodide, but these projects let families use a visual test to observe the chemical reaction that occurs if iodide is present. Does what you see match what the label tells you?

## Stride Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a sports science project that invites students and families to examine the relationship between walking pace and height. Do you have to walk faster or slower to keep up with a friend or family member? How is that related to how tall each of you is, and why? Can you estimate how tall someone is by how many steps they take to cover a certain distance? Put this question to the test with a simple hands-on science experiment and learn more about special ratios that can be used to talk about the human body.

## Camouflage Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of zoology science projects that let students and families explore how some animals use camouflage so they can better blend in with their surroundings. Does camouflage really make a difference when it comes to the relationship between predators and their prey? Give it a try in fun hands-on science activity using M&M® and Skittles® candies. If you are a hungry predator trying to grab a specific color of M&M, how hard will it be to find your prey if the prey blends in with its Skittles surroundings? Experiment to find out!

## Spilling Candy: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of physics science projects that invite students and families to explore the granularity of materials. Can you pour candy in a way that is similar to pouring water? What determines whether or not a material can "flow" in this way? Which variables affect how smoothly the material flows? With your Halloween candy bag at hand, you can put it to the test with your own "candy waterfall" in these hands-on science project and family science activities.

For other Halloween-related science suggestions, see: Time for Spooky Halloween Science.

## Eye Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a trio of human biology and health science projects that invite teachers, families, and students to explore the way the human eye works. What happens when you stare at something for a period of time and then look away? You might continue to see the image, what is called an afterimage. We have versions of this exploration for an independent student project, a family activity, or a classroom activity!

Science Connections for Halloween

For another look at afterimages and thoughts on tying this hands-on science to Halloween and to nudging your students to experiment with Scratch to make a simple computer program to demonstrate afterimages, see: "A Trick of the Eye for Halloween."

Scratch is a great way to get kids started exploring computer logic as they create fun games or applications. (See the post for additional links to resources and Project Ideas at Science Buddies!)

## Compost Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of environmental science projects that help guide families in an investigation of different biodegradable and compostable items. Do all environmentally-friendly items decompose at the same rate or as completely? With a homemade indoor composter, you and your students can run your own experiment and see what happens.

## Falling Objects: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of physics science projects that encourage families and students to put a classic question to a hands-on test. Does a heavier object fall faster than a lighter one if both are about the same size? What role do gravity and inertia have in explaining what happens when two objects of differing weights are dropped at the same time from the same height? Put it to the test!

## Bird Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of zoology science projects that encourage families and students to use their observation skills to learn more about birds. What can you deduce about a bird's lifestyle or habitat by looking at its feet? More than you might think! Both the independent science project and the family science version guide students in an engaging bird feet scavenger hunt. The closer you look, the better, so pack a picnic lunch and head to a nearby park or pond for some bird watching! How many different types of bird feet will you spot?

## Probability and Playing Cards: Hands-on Family Math

A deck of cards provides a concrete look at probability and chance in a hands-on math activity that easily scales up and down in difficulty to match the experience of your students.

A Deck of Cards

Four suits. Thirteen cards in each suit. Twelve face cards. Four aces. Twenty-six red cards. Twenty-six black cards.

Using these simple facts about a deck of cards, many math questions and scenarios rise to the surface!

How likely is it that you will draw an ace from a full deck of cards? Depending on your age, this is simple math. But it is also simple probability. What are the odds that you will draw a face card? How about a two? One-eyed jack?

The interesting thing about probability is that it is exactly that, a measurement of what is "likely" based on the math of the situation. It is not, however, an absolute. Just because your odds of drawing a red jack are 1 in x, it doesn't mean that if you draw x cards you are guaranteed to draw a red jack. But, based on the math, it is probable, or likely, that you will.

Family Math

Over the summer, I set a few kids of varying ages up with a deck of cards each and put them to the task of "testing" what they know about probability in relation to a deck of cards to see how well the "chance" of drawing a certain kind of card holds up.

Because the goal was a short family math activity, we used the "Pick a Card, Any Card" project as a guide and foundation. The Science Buddies Project Idea is one with a low level of difficulty, a project geared toward younger students. There is also a family-friendly adaptation of the project at Scientific American in the Bring Science Home area.

Because of the age range of the kids I had on hand, and their differing levels of interest in, and comfort with, math, we talked first about what we already "knew" about the odds of drawing different types of cards (or specific card numbers), and they each marked their data charts with the odds of drawing each different number or type of card based on the pure math at hand. With a younger group of students, your approach might be different, and the entire activity might be revelatory rather than a proving ground.

For these kids, fairly well versed in games like gin rummy, spades, and hearts, the activity was a way of putting the math to the test. They knew that the odds of drawing an even-numbered card are 1 in 2 (if you count the face cards as odd or even based on their "number" in the sequence from 1-13), but does it really work out that way? Does it work out that way enough of the time to make probability make sense?

After each did their trials, we figured up the percentages and compared them to the mathematical odds we'd already deduced at the outset. It was a simple but fun hands-on activity and a nice foundational activity for talking more about statistics.

Looking for other hands-on math you can do with your students as a way of getting extra hands-on math into their days and into your family time? Check out the following Project Ideas or browse the full math area at Science Buddies:

What did your family science activity look like? If you would like to share photos you snapped while doing family science, we would love to see! Send one in, and we might showcase your family math, science, or engineering investigation here on the Science Buddies blog, in the newsletter, or at Facebook and Google+! Email us at blog@sciencebuddies.org.

Science Buddies Project Ideas and resources for hands-on math are supported by the Motorola Solutions Foundation.

## Soil Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of environmental science and geology projects that let families and students investigate a biogeochemical cycle, a kind of reuse and recycling process that helps support an ecosystem. In either the independent science project or the family science version, students create and cultivate a miniature biosphere, called a Winogradsky column, to explore the relationship between available nutrients and the microorganisms that grow in a sample of soil.

## Rooftop Gardens: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of environmental engineering science projects for a hands-on look at the benefits of taking a rooftop approach to going and growing green. Can rooftop gardens help you keep your house cooler and lower your energy bill? Explore with a student science Project Idea or a hands-on family science activity:

## Fizzy Chemical Reactions: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a trio of chemistry science projects for fizzy, science fun. When you drop an Alka-Seltzer® tablet into water, a chemical reaction begins. What influences the rate of this reaction? Explore the role of temperature on the reaction with the student science Project Idea, a hands-on family science activity, or a classroom activity:

## Moon Size Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

(Moon rise image credit: Thomas Fietzek, Wikimedia Commons)

In this week's spotlight: a pair of human biology and health science projects to help students and families better understand the way our eyes perceive the full moon rising. If you have noticed that a full moon sometimes seems very big and then smaller as it rises, you have seen the full moon illusion in action. Learn more about Emmert's Law and experiment to find out why and how our perception of the moon's size changes based on where it is in the sky:

Take It Further

By the way, this week's full moon (on Tuesday, August 20) was also, technically, a Blue Moon, a label which has nothing to do with the color and a lot to do with the old adage we often hear and use of something happening "once in a blue moon"! Find out more about the history and science of the Blue Moon in this article at Space.com. See also: "When the Moon Is Full (Or Seems to Be)" and "Visual Illusions: When What You See Is... Not What's There?" on the Science Buddies Blog.

This cool video by photographer Mark Gee gives a great look at a few minutes of a stunning moon rise in Wellington, New Zealand. Will the moon look so big once it is fully risen? Did it actually change? That's what this week's science activity highlight is all about!

## Meteor Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of astronomy science projects perfectly timed for this year's peak Perseids meteor shower activity. Most meteors that pass through the Earth's atmosphere burn up before they hit the ground. But what happens when a meteorite hits? In this pair of hands-on science activities, students and families experiment to find out how the size of a meteorite is related to the size of the resulting crater.

## Species Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of science projects for buggy, backyard exploration. What does it mean for an area to be have a lot of biodiversity? Why is this important to the health of an ecosystem? How do scientists measure biodiversity? You can explore by doing a study of the biodiversity of insects in your own backyard using a homemade bug collector. This week's hands-on science project and activity guide either an independent project or a family investigation. How many types of insects will you suck into your bug collector?

## Fruit and Gelatin Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of science projects from the kitchen. Is a gelatin-based fruit salad in your recipe book of family favorites? What fruit do you add? Will any fruit work? Put it to the test with this week's hands-on science exploration and investigate what the enzymes in certain fruits have to do with whether or not a gelatin will solidify properly when a fruit is added.

## Hula Hoop Science: Weekly Science Project Idea and Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of science projects perfect for burning off some energy and getting your "spin" on. What is the secret to a good hula hoop? Experiment with the weight and size of different homemade hoops to see how each affects your ability to keep a hoop in motion. What's the best combination? Can you hula hoop longer with a lighter or heavier hoop? Why?

## Rocket Science: Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of projects that fit right in with U.S. 4th of July celebrations and let you get hands-on with "rocket" science at any time of the year. What happens when you combine vinegar and baking soda? A chemical reaction! If you contain the reaction in a small space like a film canister, you can get a high-flying blast from the combination—your own mini rocket. But how much of each ingredient do you need? Experiment with the ratio of vinegar and baking soda to find the perfect mix for the highest-flying fun as you and your family explore Newton's third law of motion, combustion, and chemical reactions.

## Where's Waldo Science: Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of projects that investigate the science behind visual search. When you are looking for a specific car in a crowded parking lot, what makes it easier or more difficult to spot the car? What if you are looking for your keys, someone in a crowd, or something specific on the shelves at the grocery? Do you enjoy puzzles and seek-and-find style books and games that make a game or visual brain teaser out of "finding" something that is hidden in plain sight. like Where's Waldo or I Spy?

What makes some objects harder to find than others or some I Spy books more challenging than others? Explore the science behind visual search by making your own puzzles, either using an online tool or by making hands-on, cut-it-out and glue-it-down (or draw it with markers) puzzles that you and your family can enjoy! From the number of distracters to the colors and size of them, there are plenty of angles to explore. This is a great summer science activity for the whole family!

## Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight: Shake Up Some Butter

In this week's spotlight: a pair of projects that investigate the science of butter-making, a process you might even call butter-shaking! In these hands-on food science projects and activities, students make their own butter and investigate to find out what role (if any) temperature plays in the process. You and your family can shake up some butter to use with tomorrow's breakfast, but will you have better luck using cold or room-temperature cream? Get shaking to find out!

## Family Tree Science: Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of projects in honor of Father's Day and the science of family traits. In these hands-on genetics projects and activities, students investigate a family pedigree to see if they can determine whether traits are dominant or recessive. Do you and some (or all) of your family members share certain physical traits? Is a widow's peak passed down from generation to generation? Find out!

## M&M Math: Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of projects that put statistics in the palm of your hands. In these hands-on math projects and activities, students investigate to find out how often each color of M&M appears in a bag or group of bags. Have a guess as to which color appears most often? Put your guess to the test! What is the likelihood of pulling a yellow M&M from a brand new bag? After this activity, your student will be able to give you the odds—with some statistics to back them up!

Tip: These math-based activities can make for great summer break fun! Extend the exploration with other kinds of candies or compare data from small samples and larger samples. Just be sure no one eats the samples before the counting is done!

## Mummification Science: Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of projects that bring the science behind Egyptian mummification into the kitchen or classroom. In these hands-on human biology projects and activities, students (and families!) simulate the process of mummification with a hot dog and baking soda. What does a mummified hot dog look like after seven days? After fourteen? Better yet, how does it smell! Experiment to find out what's really going on when something is mummified.

## Flower Pigment Science: Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of flower power projects, perfect for spring and Mother's Day! Paper chromatography is used to help separate a solution into its components. In these hands-on science activities, paper chromatography lets students see what makes up the "colors" of flowers. Are all red flowers the same in terms of pigment? Pluck a few petals and find out!

## Crystal Chemistry: Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of projects that extend a classic chemistry exploration—growing crystals. Growing crystals makes for excellent and engaging hands-on, kitchen science that can be enjoyed by all ages, but what determines the size of the crystals? Explore the relationship between temperature and crystal formation in these science project and activity procedures:

## Flip-book Animation Science: Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight

In this week's spotlight: a pair of projects that explore the way the brain interprets a series of images. Both traditional cartoon animation and stop motion animation (like claymation) rely on the brain viewing a sequence of images as "in motion." By creating easy and fun flip-book animations, you and your students can explore how this optical illusion works—and how much information the brain can "fill in" and still perceive motion. These science project and activity procedures guide you through either an independent student project or a fun family exploration:

## Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight: Circus Science

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In this week's spotlight: a pair of projects that put your understanding of balance to the test! What makes some things topple and other things stable? Use marshmallows and wooden sticks to explore how the distribution of an object's mass determines how the object will balance. You can investigate using these science project and activity procedures:

## Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight: Candy Chromatography

In this week's spotlight: a pair of projects perfect for putting a portion of your kids' candy piles to scientific use! Use paper chromatography to explore the colors in candy coatings:

## Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight: Soft-boiling Eggs

Are you looking for a school science project topic or a hands-on science activity to do on the weekend or with your family? Science Buddies' science projects come in all sizes!

In this week's spotlight: a pair of eggy projects that are just in time for more Easter-inspired science with your family! Explore the soft boiling of eggs in our updated cooking and food science project and in the family-friendly activity at Scientific American's Bring Science Home.

## Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight: Silk Tie Dyed Easter Eggs

Are you looking for a school science project topic or a hands-on science activity to do on the weekend or with your family? Science Buddies' science projects come in all sizes!

In this week's spotlight: a pair of art-meets-chemistry projects perfect for Easter-inspired science with your family! Explore the process of using silk ties to dye eggs in our updated chemistry project and in the family-friendly activity at Scientific American's Bring Science Home.

## Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight: Cabbage Clones

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Are you looking for a school science project topic or a hands-on science activity to do on the weekend or with your family? Science Buddies' science projects come in all sizes!

In this week's spotlight: a pair of green-thumb projects straight from the pages of science fiction! Growing a cabbage plant from a piece of cabbage is a great way to explore one kind of plant reproduction and the process of plant cloning. But what piece of the plant do you use? Explore plant cloning in our updated plant biology project and in the family-friendly activity at Scientific American's Bring Science Home.

## Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight: Mixing Up Some Science Fun

Are you looking for a school science project topic or a hands-on science activity to do on the weekend or with your family? Science Buddies' science projects come in all sizes!

In this week's spotlight: a hands-on kitchen science investigation. What happens when you mix sand and water and how does the resulting mixture compare to a mixture of cornstarch and water? Learn more about mixtures, solutions, and colloids in this pair of fun, tactile science projects:

## Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight: Paper Airplanes

Are you looking for a school science project topic or a hands-on science activity to do on the weekend or with your family? Science Buddies' science projects come in all sizes!

In this week's spotlight: a pair of paper airplane science projects that turn ordinary paper airplane folding and flying into a fun hands-on science activity. Explore the effect of drag on flight in our updated aerodynamics project and in the family-friendly activity at Scientific American's Bring Science Home.

## Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight: Tie Dye

Are you looking for a school science project topic or a hands-on science activity to do on the weekend or with your family? Science Buddies' science projects come in all sizes!

In this week's spotlight: a pair of science projects related to a favorite summer or camp activity—tie dye. Don't miss our freshly updated hands-on chemistry project and a family-friendly version at Scientific American's Bring Science Home.

## Heart-smart Science: Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight

Are you looking for a school science project topic or a hands-on science activity to do on the weekend or with your family? Science Buddies' science projects come in all sizes!

This week's spotlight pays tribute to Valentine's Day with a trio of health and human biology science projects that let students better understand how the heart works and how doctors can listen in to monitor a person's heart beat. Our hands-on science Project Idea guides independent student exploration. The classroom activity assists teachers with a short and easy to prepare classroom activity. And the new activity at Scientific American's Bring Science Home offers a related, family-focused exploration, perfect for home!

Science Buddies resources in health and human biology are sponsored by the Medtronic Foundation.

Image: Bigstock

## Weekly Science Project Idea/Home Science Activity Spotlight

Are you looking for a school science project topic or a hands-on science activity to do on the weekend or with your family? Science Buddies' science projects come in all sizes!

In this week's spotlight: a pair of science projects that enable student and family exploration of left- and right-side dominance. Don't miss our newly updated hands-on science Project Idea for student exploration of this health and human biology topic and a related, family-focused, home activity at Scientific American's Bring Science Home.

Image: Bigstock

### Family Science

• Glow-in-the-dark Chemistry
• ### Help With Your Science Project

What will you explore for your science project this year? What is your favorite classroom science activity? Email us a short (one to three sentences) summary of your science project or teaching tip. You might end up featured in an upcoming Science Buddies newsletter!

### Archives

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