Science Buddies Blog: June 2017 Archives
Take advantage of summer traditions to do hands-on with science with your kids!
Nighttime fireworks displays are common in the U.S. as part of Fourth of July celebrations. Popular for people of all ages, these dazzling light shows are stunning displays of science. With family-friendly science activities from Science Buddies, you and your kids can talk about the science and even experiment at home to learn more about fireworks.
Family Science All Summer Long
From fireworks to lightning bugs and ice cream, summer offers a number of ways to do exciting hands-on science exploration with kids. Use our roundup of Fourth of July-inspired science projects to pick a fun activity that ties in with the holiday. These hands-on STEM activities are easy to do at home, touch on many different areas of science, and help extend science learning over the summer break!
For other fun summer science activities, see Get Ready for Summer Science.
Just the name of this sweet dessert is mind-boggling! A new kitchen chemistry project at Science Buddies guides students in an exploration of this puzzling kitchen treat that melts as it cools.
Ice cream may be just the thing in summer months, cold, creamy, and sweet. But you need to eat it fast before it melts! The challenge of eating a scoop of ice cream on a cone before it drips off the sides is part of the fun of the popular frozen treat. The hotter it is outside, the more fitting ice cream may seem, and the faster your scoop will melt.
The specific "cold" properties of ice cream make it a recognizable treat, and discerning fans may be able to tell you the difference between ice cream and other frozen treat varieties like gelato, sherbet, or sorbet. Though these varieties use different recipes, they are all similar in that they are a cold, frozen treat. As they warm up, they melt.
Dippin' Dots is a novelty variation that involves flash freezing ice cream in liquid nitrogen. These small candy-like ice cream dots may not look the same as a scoop of ice cream, but they are still cold. They are fun to eat and different, but you still recognize that you are eating an ice cream treat.
New on the fun and funky desserts scene is hot ice cream, a dessert that uses kitchen science to create something completely different and unexpected.
Hot ice cream mixes things up and may play tricks on your brain!
A Hot Twist on a Cold Classic
Hot ice cream is a dessert that is solid (like a scoop of ice cream) when warm but melts when it cools. Just the opposite of ice cream in terms of its behavior in response to temperature, hot ice cream is a fun tongue teaser to make and explore. Making hot ice cream involves adding methyl cellulose to the ice cream mixture. How much do you need? How does it work? At what temperature does hot ice cream melt and how quickly? What is thermal gelling, and how can chefs and cooks take advantage of this science?
The Hot Ice Cream project guides students in making their own hot ice cream and experimenting to find the best recipe. This new food science project provides students with an in-depth procedure through which they experiment to find the amount of time needed to cook hot ice cream and investigate how the cooking time relates to how long it takes the dessert to melt.
Using the recipe in the project, families can experiment with hot ice cream this summer for an unexpected treat!
Related Kitchen Science
Hot ice cream uses molecular gastronomy science to transform a familiar food through the use of unusual, but food-safe, ingredients. Other fun molecular gastronomy food science experiments involve using spherification to turn juice into small balls (or boba) and using reverse spherification to turn yogurt into ravioli-shaped pieces.
For more traditional ice cream fun this summer, make ice cream in a bag!
For other fun kitchen science experiments and activities, see this collection of Kitchen Science projects.
Put physics in motion this summer! Experiment with the science of launching and catapulting. How can science explain trajectory, flight path, and aim?
K-12 Science Projects and Activities
The following Science Buddies projects explore the science of launching and catapulting with trebuchets, rockets, catapults, or similar devices and setups:
- Bet You Can't Hit Me! The Science of Catapult Statistics: gather data about how far balls travel when launched from a catapult, and then use the data to construct a histogram. What catapult settings produce the most consistent results?
- Bombs Away! A Ping Pong Catapult: experiment with the Ping Pong Catapult to find the right settings to launch a ball into a target.
- Bottle Rocket Blast Off!: investigate how the air pressure you create in a bottle rocket before launching changes the maximum height it reaches once launched.
- Build a Gauss Rifle: use magnets and ball bearings to set up a Gauss rifle and experiment to see how the number of magnet stages relates to the flight distance and velocity of the ball bearings.
- Erupting Diet Coke® with Mentos®: explore the physical reaction that happens when you mix Diet Coke and Mentos. How is this different than a chemical reaction?
- Launching Homemade Baking Soda Rockets: learn more about chemical reactions when you blast a homemade rocket into the air using baking soda and vinegar.
- Mini Trebuchet: make a mini trebuchet from wooden sticks and craft materials and see how the movement of the lever arm relates to the path and distance of the projectile.
- Paper Rocket Aerodynamics: explore the design of a straw-blown paper rocket and the variables that affect its flight.
- Projectile Physics and Catapult Science: build and experiment with a simple catapult made from wooden sticks and rubber bands to explore the physics at work in a catapult.
- Two-Stage Balloon Rocket: build a multi-stage balloon rocket and explore Newton's laws of motion.
- Under Siege! Use a Catapult to Storm Castle Walls: explore the settings on the Ping Pong Catapult that control whether the ball will fly into into a castle wall or over it.
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What if there was a way to purchase materials for your classroom without having to spend your own money? Crowdfunding may be the answer! Find out tips and tricks other teachers use to successfully crowdfund for their classrooms.
With classroom budgets dwindling, teachers face an uphill battle to find funding for classroom supplies. Common bake sales, penny wars, and hat days may work for some, but other teachers find these stressful and not worth the time and planning required. To explore how teachers approach fundraising, Science Buddies sent out a recent survey to learn the ways in which teachers secure materials for their classrooms. In the survey, Science Buddies discovered that only 5% of teachers use crowdfunding, or online fundraising platforms, to raise money for classroom needs, even though teachers who use crowdfunding have had great success. So we set out to talk to teachers to get their advice on crowdfunding to raise money for school supplies.
What is crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is a method of raising money online that involves creating a campaign for a project you'd like to have funded. Through the use of social media and crowdfunding websites, the projects you create have the potential to reach thousands of donors outside of your own network.
Why use crowdfunding?
- Crowdfunding is a great option when you need classroom materials, money for field trips, or even professional development.
- The platforms make it easy to create a fundraising campaign; just follow their step-by-step instructions.
- It's an alternative to applying for grants. The process is typically quicker, and the projects you choose to fund don't have to fit specific guidelines commonly required by grants.
What could you have funded through crowdfunding?
Science Buddies teachers have successfully used crowdfunding sites to raise money for projects including:
- Programmable robots
- A laptop
- Potato Battery Kit
- 4D model of a frog
- Water testing equipment
- Plant growing station
- Various other science supplies
We asked Science Buddies teachers who found success through crowdfunding to share their best-kept secrets:
When deciding on a project...
- The dollar amount you choose is important and can be a pivotal factor that determines whether your project gets funded.
- Increase your odds of funding with lower-priced projects. While multiple Science Buddies teachers found success posting projects that were $400 and under, Donorschoose.org notes that "projects under $200 have a 90% chance of being funded, while projects over $1000 are funded only about 43% of the time." A lower-priced project may look more appealing to donors who want to make an impact—they might even fund the entire campaign!
- Post multiple low-priced projects instead of one big one. If your goal is a class set of fifteen robots, create multiple campaigns for one or two robots since smaller campaigns are more likely to be funded than a single large one.
- Stick with a lower dollar amount if you don't have a strong network. Some crowdfunding websites have a specific time frame in which your project must be funded. For example, Donorschoose.org only allows you four months, while GoFundMe.com has no time limit.
- Don't let your school's socioeconomic status deter you. High needs schools get more press on crowdfunding websites and are more likely to be funded by people who want to make a difference.
- Tailor your projects to fit the available sponsor campaigns or Match Offers on the crowdfunding platforms. Corporations and businesses will frequently sponsor crowdfunding campaigns that align with their own missions by matching funds raised or even donating the entire amount if you raise a specific dollar minimum yourself. Another Science Buddies teacher found great success on Donorschoose.org using Match Offers; she raised over $40,000 for her classroom through this method!
- Make sure you know the rules for your school and district fundraising regulations before crowdfunding. One Science Buddies teacher said that in order to fundraise, she had to fill out a form and get approval from the principal.
While writing the project...
- Make sure to be honest and clear in all representations. Do not try to polish your situation too much to make it sound grandiose. People want to help real classrooms with real students. So try and keep the buzzwords to a minimum.
- Explain how the project will benefit your students. It is important to share how the project will reinforce their learning and help them in the future.
- Be specific about the supplies you need and what you are going to do with them.
Once your project is posted... spread the word!
- Don't be afraid to talk positively about yourself and your classroom.
- When parents ask you what they can do to help, tell them to donate to your campaign.
- Get the PTA involved and try to add information about your crowdfunding projects to school newsletters.
- Add the link to your fundraising campaigns to the end of your emails with your e-signature. The crowdfunding websites will provide this URL for you.
- Link your campaigns to your social media accounts. The crowdfunding websites will show you how to set this up. For example, after syncing your Facebook account, Donorschoose.org will automatically post to your Facebook page when someone makes a donation. This is a great way to notify your network and keep your campaign relevant.
Whether you are new to crowdfunding or a fundraising expert, we hope that these tips will help you find success in your classroom. Share this post with your friends, colleagues, or student's teachers! There may just be a person looking to support a classroom like yours right now.
Four teachers in Philadelphia received free science kits for their classrooms thanks to support from Science Buddies and VWR Foundation.
The Science Buddies Kit Club program helps provide science kits to K-12 classrooms in need throughout the U.S. By matching companies with local schools, Science Buddies supports STEM education and helps promote community STEM awareness.
The Kit Club program launched during the 2016-2017 school year. With support from sponsor companies, including Allergan Foundation, Boston Scientific, Carson Foundation, Charitable Foundation, Southern California Edison, and VWR Foundation, more than 600 science kits were distributed to 16 schools across the country during the program's first year.
STEM in Philadelphia
Thanks to a grant from the VWR Foundation, teachers in four under-served schools in Philadelphia received classroom kits through the Science Buddies Kit Club. Kit Club recipients benefiting from support provided by VWR Foundation included a third grade teacher at Mayfair Elementary School, a K-5 teacher at Horatio B Hackett Elementary School, a fifth grade teacher at William Penn Charter School, and an eighth grade teacher at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences.
Teachers receiving Kit Club grants have the opportunity to choose 30 kits from a curated selection of science and engineering kits from the Science Buddies Store. By allowing teachers to select science kits that best meet their curriculum and student needs, the Kit Club program offers a custom solution for teachers struggling to provide hands-on materials.
Once selected by the teacher, Kit Club kits are shipped and delivered by Science Buddies, at no cost to the recipient teacher or school. In schools where access to supplies is extremely limited, this kind of support from Science Buddies and local companies can make a dramatic difference in student access to hands-on and experiential STEM learning.
Science Supplies for the Classroom
Sheryl Aurit, an eighth grade teacher at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, selected a mix of science kits for her classroom, including Crime Scene Chemistry, Candy Chromatography, the Ping Pong Catapult, the Sensors Kit, and Electrolyte Challenge. For Aurit, the support from Science Buddies and VWR Foundation fills an important need and makes possible a level of hands-on science inquiry that her students might otherwise not experience.
When applying for the Science Buddies Kit Club, Aurit wrote: "The major barriers to hands-on learning activities are the prohibitive cost of supplies. Most schools have no money in their budget for science supplies. Short of a bake sale there is no funding." The gift of science kits for her classroom provided Aurit with exciting materials and accompanying directions on the Science Buddies site to engage her students with science, technology, engineering, and math concepts and career opportunities.
Some of the science kits Aurit received were used by students for the annual school science fair. Other kits, Aurit selected to use and re-use in class with the more than 200 eighth grade students she teaches each week. With science kits and scientist-authored procedures from Science Buddies, Aurit's students had the chance to get hands-on with core science principles in ways that might not have been available otherwise.
According to Aurit, "Science Buddies Kit Club has given our students the opportunity to conduct meaningful investigations that are of real interest to them. The kits provided the materials to use which they might not have been able to acquire otherwise."
Make a Difference with Kit Club
Companies interested in learning more about the Kit Club grant program and in sponsoring schools in their own communities are encouraged to contact Tina Lanese at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
To read more about the difference the Science Buddies Kit Club is making in local classrooms, see Kit Club Helps Level STEM Playing Field.
Experiment with boat and submarine design and learn more about hydrodynamics, density, buoyancy, and more with a hands-on science project or activity. Build and test models made from everyday materials and explore ways to improve the designs for better performance and stability.
K-12 Science Projects and Activities
If you have a student that loves boats, Science Buddies has hands-on science activities and projects that make great explorations during the summer months. With plenty of room for kids to experiment with boat design (and testing of design changes), these STEM activities encourage innovative and creative thinking. Plus, kids can experiment with boats and submarines in a bathtub or even a tub of water or small wading pool for outdoor fun!
- Make a Toy Sailboat: experiment with toy sailboats made from cork.
- Build a Bathtub Toy Raft Powered by Surface Tension: make a small toy raft from Styrofoam and explore propelling it with water surface tension.
- Milk Does Your Body and a Boat Good—Design Your Own Milk Carton Boat: build and test designs of model boats made out of paper milk cartons.
- Rocking the Boat: experiment to find the fin design that works best to keep a boat (made from a plastic soda bottle) from rolling back and forth.
- How Much Weight Can Aluminum Foil Boats Float?: make "boats" out of aluminum foil and experiment to see how their size affects how much weight they carry.
- Archimedes Squeeze: At What Diameter Does an Aluminum Boat Sink?: experiment with spheres from aluminum foil to explore hydrodynamics and the relationship between the density of a boat and its ability to float.
- Do Submarines Need Fins?: build a miniature submarine from a plastic soda bottle and test different types of stabilizing fins to find the best combination of stability and forward motion.
- Bottled-up Buoyancy: use a submarine made from a plastic soda bottle to investigate how changes in buoyancy affect whether a submarine dives or surfaces.
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Summer break is a great time for kids to explore hands-on science just for the fun of it! We have recommendations for creative summer science projects they will enjoy.
Put Science on the Summer Calendar
After the first week or so, many kids realize that summer break leaves a lot of time to fill. Creative, hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities can help keep kids engaged and challenged all summer long. Hands-on science and engineering projects offer a great way to infuse the summer with brain-boosting fun.
Science Buddies has hundreds of STEM activities, projects, and experiments that can be done at home as summer family exploration or as independent student projects. Check the following collections of projects for some of our top picks for summer break in several popular categories.
- Your Guide to Science Activities for Summer Break
- Creative Science and Engineering for Kids
- Backyard Bird Science
- Boat and Submarine Science
- Build Fun Robots with Students
- Colorful STEM Projects for Summer Science Fun
- Kitchen Science Roundup!
- Balloon Science Activities
Experiment with kitchen science with a great hands-on science project idea from Science Buddies. From molecular gastronomy to making the best grilled cheese and marshmallows, we've got suggestions for tasty kitchen-based STEM explorations for students.
K-12 Science Projects and Activities in the Kitchen
For kids interested in chemistry or in cooking and food science, kitchen science projects are a great way to experiment with science and make something that can be eaten, too!
The following Science Buddies projects and activities can be done in the kitchen and give students the opportunity to experiment to find the best approach to making a specific food item:
- Abracadabra! Transforming Yogurt into 'Ravioli': use reverse spherification to turn yogurt into semi-solid "ravioli" balls.
- Hot Ice Cream: use methyl cellulose to make hot ice cream, a dessert that is solid when hot and melts as it cools.
- How Do You Make the 'Best' Cookie?: experiment to see if letting cookie dough sit in the refrigerator for 48 hours before baking makes any difference in how cookies taste.
- How Far Can You Stretcha the Mozzarella: The Science of Making Cheese!: make cheese and experiment to find out which kind of milk works best.
- Juice Balls: The Science of Spherification: use spherification to transform juice into small, semi-solid balls and experiment with the recipe to see how changing the amount of sodium citrate affects the process.
- Kimchi Chemistry: make kimchi, a popular cabbage-based dish, and investigate how pH levels change as kimchi ferments.
- Lactose, Sucrose, and Glucose: How Many Sugars are in Your Smoothie?: measure the concentration of sugars in common smoothie and milkshake ingredients.
- Make Ice Cream in a Bag: make ice cream in a bag and investigate the role of cooling in the process.
- Make Your Own Marshmallows: experiment with the ratio of sugar to corn syrup to find out how to make the best-tasting and best-textured marshmallows.
- Processed Cheese, Please! Get Your Grilled Cheese Oooey Gooey Instead of Oily and Gloppy: experiment to find out how to make the best grilled cheese.
- Shaking for Butter: explore the process of making butter and find out whether or not temperature makes a difference.
- Shimmy, Shimmy Soda Pop: Develop Your Own Soda Pop Recipe: experiment with baking soda, citric acid, and sweetener to find the best proportions of each ingredient for the tastiest drink.
- When Science is Sweet: Growing Rock Candy Crystals: use a sugar-water solution to make rock candy and investigate whether using seed crystals changes the growth rate of the sugar crystals.
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Engaging student science doesn't always require specialty materials. All of the projects in this K-12 hands-on science project roundup use balloons!
K-12 Science Projects and Activities
Balloons can be used in a wide range of student hands-on science projects. From powering a car or propelling a hovercraft to enabling exploration of rocket science, kids can experiment with physics, aerodynamics, and more using ordinary balloons.
The following Science Buddies projects and activities use balloons:
- An Uplifting Project—The Buoyancy of Balloons: experiment to find out how quickly balloons lose their lift over time.
- Balloon Morphing: How Gases Contract and Expand: investigate how gases expand and contract with temperature.
- Balloon Car: explore the engineering design process and kinetic and potential energy by building and racing balloon-powered cars. (Lesson Plan)
- Balloon-Powered Car Challenge: design and build a balloon-powered car that will travel as far and fast as possible. You can use Google's Science Journal app with this project for added tech fun!
- Cartography: Projecting the Globe on a Rectangular Map: use a balloon to help students understand how mapmakers create flat maps of the spherical Earth. (Classroom Activity)
- How Does a Hovercraft Hover?: build a mini hovercraft and investigate how the amount of air in the balloon affects how long the hovercraft hovers.
- Racing to Win That Checkered Flag: How Do Gases Help?: explore the science behind why race car tires are filled with nitrogen gas.
- Rubbing Up Against Static Electricity: see how the number of times you rub wool on a balloon increases or decreases how long the static charge will last.
- Two-Stage Balloon Rocket: build a multi-stage balloon rocket and explore rocket science and Newton's laws of motion. (Lesson Plan)
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