Earth Science Projects Archive

  • Fun with Marshmallows Science Project on Density

     
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    Objective

    This is one of the more unique science experiments for kids that is designed to teach students about density. Ideally, this is one of those science projects that is done by students in grades 3rd – 5th.

     

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    Materials Needed

    • Mini Marshmallows
    • Bowl with Water
    • Bowl with Cooking Oil
    • Cornstarch
    • Cutting Board
    • Spoon

     

     

    Preparation

    Have several marshmallows ready to go. You’ll want at least six whole marshmallows from the bag, and three that are cut in half with the spoon. If you are doing this as one of the science projects for teachers on the website, you can give each student eight total mini marshmallow and they will have plenty for the experiment.

     

    Project Day

    Take your first whole marshmallow and place it in the water. Does it sink or is it floating? Record your results.

    Now, take one of the half marshmallows and place it in the water. Does this one with the exposed inside float?

    Place some cornstarch on your cutting board and smash a marshmallow into it with the spoon. Place this into the water. Does it sink? How about if you only partially smash a marshmallow, will it sink all the way too?

    Next, take a marshmallow and place it into the cooking oil. What happened? Try mashing up the marshmallow, did your results change? How about with the speed of the results?

     

    So What Just Happened?

    Thanks to the design of the marshmallow, when it is whole, it will float at the top. That is because the sugary surface of the marshmallow covers a wide area. As you compact the sugar, the area becomes denser. This allows less water to get into the dense material, and that causes it to sink. The more you squash the marshmallow, the lower and faster it will sink.

    In the oil, you have a substance that is denser than the marshmallow. So whether the marshmallow was whole, or mashed up, it still sinks into the oil. Once you’re done, you can eat up the rest of the marshmallows in your hand and consider this one of the tastiest science projects for kids around.

     

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  • Hot Air Balloon Science Experiment

    Hot Air Balloons

     
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    Hot Air Balloon Science Experiment

    Before we had helicopters, airplanes, or even blimps, there was only one way to travel the skies – in a hot air balloon! With the first successful flight occurring more than two hundred years ago in 1783, the humble hot air balloon will forever hold the record of being the first passenger flight device. The simple concept of using a sealed envelope (the balloon) to carry low density air was revolutionary at the time, and you can recreate the concept at home, or at school, using some basic materials.

    Let’s find out how you can make your own small scale hot air balloon, and explore the science behind it.

     

    Hot Air Balloon

    Materials

    • Aluminum foil.
    • Plastic drinking straws.
    • A thin plastic bag, such as a small trash bag.
    • Scotch tape.
    • Household scissors.
    • Small birthday cake candles.
    • String.
    • A lighter or matches.

    You will also need plenty of indoor space to conduct the experiment. You could use a classroom, a school gymnasium, a garage, or a living room. Because you will be working with an open flame, adult supervision is necessary.

     

    Method

    This experiment will allow you to demonstrate the basic principles of an unguided hot air balloon, on a scale that is safe for indoor use. Before you begin, make sure you have all of the materials, and a clear table or desk to work on as you prepare the experiment.

     

     

    1. Begin by using the aluminum foil to create a small basket. This will be where the candle will sit. Use the foil to shape a square basket with a flat bottom. The base of the basket should measure around 1.5 x 1.5 inches, with sides that are slightly raised to create a lip around the edge (roughly 1cm).

    2. Take a birthday candle and light the wick. Carefully tilt the candle over your basket to line the bottom with melted wax. Extinguish the candle (simply blow on it) and quickly take another candle and attach it to the melted wax. Hold this in place until the wax cools, and the candle will be set in place. You will now have an aluminum basket with an upright candle.

    3. Now it’s time to prepare the plastic bag for holding warm air. Using the drinking straws and scotch tape, create a rigid internal frame that follows the shape of the bag. The frame should be made up of four supporting sides that cross over as an ‘x’ shape at the top and at the bottom opening of the bag (think of two hula hoops that are connected to make a spherical frame). The frame should slightly protrude from the bottom of the bag, to hold the basket in place. Ask an adult for help if you’re having trouble with this step. There will be an element of trial and error, and you may need to cut some straws to achieve the best result.

    4. Attach the foil basket to the bottom of the frame by using scotch tape. Because of the crossover ‘x’ shape, it should be easy to mount the basket.

     

    Beginning the Experiment

    Check that you have followed all of the steps up to this point. Make sure there are no holes in the plastic bag, and that the frame is holding the bag open. Support the framed bag so that it is upright, and have an adult light the candle underneath. Don’t push down on the bag, and only support it from the sides. As warm air fills the bag, your hot air balloon will begin to rise!

     

    How Does it Work?

    Why do you think the bag rises as warm air fills it?

    As air warms, it starts to expand. Expansion means that the molecules are moving faster than before, and they’re further apart from each other. The result of this is that the warm air inside the balloon is less dense, and therefore lighter than the normal air in the atmosphere. Naturally, the balloon will float. As soon as the flame is removed, or the air inside cools too much, the balloon will begin to fall again, as the air inside begins to match the air outside.

    With a commercial hot air balloon, it is possible to continuously regulate the temperature of the air inside the balloon, allowing pilots to raise and lower the balloon at controlled speeds.

    What other gasses do you think could be used to make a balloon rise?

     

    Troubleshooting

    If your balloon doesn’t rise, then it is probably too heavy. Try a more efficient frame with less straw, or try to use more candles in your basket, with one on each corner of the basket.

    Also, make sure the space between your balloon and your basket isn’t too far, and that there isn’t too much air moving around in the space where you are performing your experiment. (You want as much of the hot air from the candle raising straight up into your model balloon.)

    As a final note, if you’re trying the experiment in a large room, attach a string to the frame so that you can easily pull it down in case anything goes wrong.

     

     


     

    … and for those who would like to see a bit more speed and higher heights, these are fun ways to do that! ..

    GeekBuying.com                     GeekBuying.com

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  • Make Your Own Anemometer

    Anemometer and Devices meteorological station

     
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    Have you ever wondered how meteorologists find out how fast the wind is blowing? They use a device called an anemometer. When you first see one, you might wonder how it could possibly measure the speed of the wind. It is simple and you can make an anemometer of your own and learn how to measure wind speed.

    anemometer
    anemometer from an antique photo book

     

    Though the anemometers used by weathermen are expensive and complicated looking, you can make one that works without spending much money. All you need are a few materials that are easy and cheap to get.


    Materials you will need:

    A hole punch
    Five paper cups (size depends on how big you want your anemometer)
    Duct tape
    Scissors
    Three wood dowels about a quarter inch thick
    An empty water or soda bottle (20 oz. if you use small bathroom size cups, a liter if you are using larger cups)
    A stopwatch

    Assembling your anemometer:

    In four of the cups, punch a hole in the side just below the rim or halfway down the cup.
    In the fifth cup, punch four holes around the cup at the rim. This cup is the anemometer’s center.
    Slide a dowel through two of the holes of the center cup and then slide another dowel through the other two holes so they cross in the middle of the cup.

    Poke a hole in the bottom of the center cup using the third dowel and push it up so it is against the point where the first two dowels cross. Tape it securely at this point. This dowel is what will rotate as the wind blows.
    On the ends of the dowels that cross in the center cup, attach a cup to each by putting the dowel end through the hole and tape it securely in place. The cups all need to face the same direction.

    Place the center dowel in the water bottle so the cups are above the bottle. Now you are ready to calibrate and test your anemometer.

    anemometer
    Professional weather station with anemometer

     

    How to get your anemometer calibrated:

    Get a parent or other adult to drive around the block at ten miles per hour on a day with no wind.
    As you hold your anemometer out the window in the same position it would be if it were sitting on the ground, count the number of times the cups rotate on their axis during a thirty second period.
    The number of times the cups rotate in thirty seconds while in a car moving ten miles per hour is the same number of times as would be the case in a ten mile an hour wind.

    The reason you need to calibrate your anemometer this way is so you have a baseline to calculate wind speed. If at ten miles an hour, the cups spin ten times, you know that when the cups spin ten times in the wind, it means the wind is blowing at ten miles per hour. If you want to be as accurate as possible, do the same process at different speeds and record the results. For example, do the test to calibrate at ten, twenty and thirty miles per hour. This makes measuring wind speed easier and more accurate.

    Now you know how to find out on your own how fast the wind is without needing a weatherman to tell you.
    … and for those who just need one right now, this should help:

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  • Using Plants to Demonstrate the Effects of Pollution

    Plastic Bottle Pollution

     
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    Idea Behind the Experiment

    Pollution is a very serious problem in the world we live in today. The problem is that often times the pollution present in lakes and streams is not visible to the naked eye. This experiment focuses on using the plant life present to determine the water quality of any body of water. Most if not all plants livinge in water are very sensitive to contaminants in that water. While they use the natural waste of fish and animals as a food source, any outside contaminants are likely to make the plants die or at the very least decrease their health.
     
    What you Will Need

    • Water plants such as Anacharis (a common aquarium plant) or Duckweed (which can be found in any pond or lake). But any water plant that can be found at the local home and garden store should work out well.
    • 3-4 containers such as small plastic aquariums or Tupperware bowls, or if you have a larger amount of space available, you can could use larger containers such as totes.
    • Pollutants (it is recommended that you choose products that are not visible in the water to prove the point). This can be anything from soap to automotive fluids, it can also include solid things such as shards of metal.

     
    Procedure

    1. Acquire the plants you plan on using (again check your local garden center or pet store both should have water plants that will work well)
    2. Fill your containers with water (make sure it is distilled, tap water will not work because of the chemicals present that will contaminate the experiment)
    3. Dissolve your pollutants in all but one of your containers (make sure you use a different pollutant in each container). This will show how different pollutants are more harmful than others.

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    4. Place your plants in the containers.
    5. Put the containers somewhere they will not be contaminated but have access to the sun for at least half the day.
    6. This experiment should last 2-4 weeks.

    Over the following days and weeks, you are going to want to document what happens with each plant. Take pictures and very detailed notes on a daily basis. Be sure to note things like coloration of the plant, any wilting or withering as well as the appearance of the water that the plants are in. This will allow you to build up a timeline, this will give you a frame of reference for your report on how different types of pollutants effect the quality of the water.




    What to Expect

    You should expect to see some very drastic differences between the plants that are in clean water and the ones that have been exposed to pollutants. The ones exposed to the pollutants are likely going to die eventually but the process that they undergo is going to vary greatly. In some you may notice color changes, stunted growth or decay before the plant finally dies. This should be well documented both by observation and phot records.

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  • Tsunami and Bio-shield Simulation

    Huge Ocean Waves

     
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    In this project, you will be creating an experiment to show not just how a tsunami works, but also the benefits of a natural bio-shield to aid in the safety of towns and cities that are prone to tsunami hits.

    Some facts that will help you with your presentation:

    The word tsunami means “harbor wave”. The word “tsu” meaning harbor and “nami” meaning wave.

    A tsunami is a huge wave of water that is usually caused by an earthquake or volcanic eruption under the water. Far out into the ocean, this shift or change will occur and cause the water to rise or fall. Directly above this shift the water may only rise a single foot, but when the wave starts to roll forward it builds. When it reaches more shallow water; that’s when the wave begins to grow in height and danger.

    An earthquake off of Indonesia began in the Indian Ocean and in December of 2004, caused a tsunami that killed over 200,000 people. The massive wave struck 14 different countries.

    The Tohoku earthquake in March of 2011 took place off the coast of Japan and caused a tsunami that killed around 15,000 people. This particular wave reached over 131 feet in some places and wiped out many towns and even caused nuclear accidents!

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    Now that you know what a tsunami can do and how it’s formed, let’s move on to the fun part!

    What you’ll need for your experiment:

    – 1 container long enough to suit the experiment. (In this experiment, we used a 90-quart tote. The length of this plastic crate was long enough to accommodate a decent wave build up.)

    – 1 Sunday newspaper

    – Mud (In this experiment we found a decent amount of mud and clay mixture outside. The clay in the mud helped allow us to sculpt the land area much more easily.

    – Sand (In this experiment we used two different colors of sand. 1 bag of green and 1 bag of blue.)

    – Water (1.5 to 2 gallons of water)

    – Houses (houses can be made of popsicle sticks or anything that you’d like.)

    – chicken wire or animal pen wire (You will need this to build your bio-shield)

    – Plants and rocks (You can use real plants or plastic ones for fish tanks)

    – 1 wide Tupperware lid or thin board in order to push the wave toward your land

    Creating your Tsunami Simulator

    Step 1 – The first thing that you need to do is to take sheets of your newspaper and ball them up. This will be the base and lift for your land. Use a level of newspaper to cover about 1/4 of the container at one end. Once you have placed a level of balled up newspaper inside your container you can begin putting the mud or mud/clay over the newspaper. Sculpt your land and slope it down to the bottom of the container.

    Step 2 – Once your land is sculpted and sloped you should add your blue sand. This blue sand symbolizes the beach and the area where the water meets the beach. It should cover the downward slope of your land build.

    Step 3 – Once you have your sand in place, you can begin adding little touches of a real village. Add your houses and get creative by adding people, cars, stop signs or anything else that will help people visualize the destruction of your tsunami!

    Step 4 – Now it’s time to add your “ocean”. Pour your water into the container. Add just enough so that your water goes half way up the “beach”. Some of your sand will mix with your water, but it’s an ocean so that’s ok!

    Step 5 – It’s now time to simulate your first tsunami. This simulation will show the destruction that takes place when a tsunami hits without a bio-shield or anything to stop it. Start at the far end of the container where there is only water. Place your “paddle” in the water. It should be big enough to push the water forward towards the land. If it’s too small, you will lose water force and you will not gain the desired effect.

    As you can see, before we were halfway to the “beach” the  tsunami simulation project wave had already leveled the village!

    Step 6
    – If your sand has washed into the water, gently push it back up onto the beach with your hand once the water settles.

    Step 7 – Now it’s time to sit down and put together your bio-shield. Have a parent cut a piece of chicken wire just big enough to fit the “beach”. Once you have your wire cut, you can begin sticking pieces of your plants through the holes in the wire. In this demonstration, we used a piece of pen wire because the plants that we had to work with were small and thin.

    Step 8 – You can now use your green sand. Place some of your green sand half way on the mud part and half way down the blue of your “beach”. Now place your bio-shield over the green portion and use your rocks to hold it in place. You can also opt to spread green sand over any mesh wire that is still showing. Set your houses back in place as well as the rest of your village.

    Now that your shield is in place you can proceed with the final step of testing your bio-shield to see how effective such a safeguard can really be.

    We made 3 waves toward the “beach” in an effort to get the You need to set the DNS to that in the page I sent. We made multiple waves in order to get our tsunami simulation project wave to destroy the village. In the end, all that we succeeded in doing was causing minor flooding and the only thing that was knocked over was the small traffic cone! This organic shield can help in keeping the worst of a tsunami from what it’s protecting. Of course, the tsunami simulation project wave size and the bio-shield size will vary and if the shield isn’t good enough then it won’t help on a massive level. However, any shield is probably better than no shield at all!

    Have fun with your tsunami simulator!
    … And if you are looking for video evidence on just how destructive Tsunami waves can be, these will certainly help:

      

    Reviewed by Robbi

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  • Wind Power Project

    Wind Power, Cheap and Easy

     
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    Harnessing Wind Power Isn’t Actually A New Idea

    Long before there was electricity, humans realized that you could harness the power of the wind. Both Europeans and Early Americans used wind to run the mills in which they ground flower. In later years windmills were used on farms as a way to pump water out of the ground.

    In more recent years we have seen wind “power” come back into play, by way of “wind farms” along predominantly the west coast. These farms use wind turbines to generate electricity. With fossil fuels becoming ever scarcer we are looking for alternative ways to power our homes and factories. Naturally we turned back to wind as a viable option, after all, humans have been using wind as a way to generate energy, and make otherwise back breaking jobs easier.

    Today we are going to take a look at one of the simplest forms of wind energy. We are going to construct a windmill; we will then harness the power of the wind to lift an object that is much too heavy for the wind to move by itself.



    Materials you will need

    • ¾” PVC or CPVC pipe (approximately 6 feet long)
    • 2 – ¾” pipe caps
    • 4 – ¾” elbows
    • 4 – 3/4 “ tees
    • 1 – 8” x 11” piece of thick card stock (for the rotor blades)
    • 1 – 3/16” diameter dowel rod (approximately 18” needed)
    • 3-6 – Popsicle sticks
    • Fishing line or string
    • Hot glue gun and approximately 3 sticks of glue
    • A small saw or pipe cutter to cut the pipe
    • A drill and 3/16” drill bit
    • Sand Paper



    Terms you might want to be familiar with (or look up) before you start

    • Wind power
    • Wind turbine
    • Rotor
    • Work
    • Aerodynamics
    • Efficiency
    • Energy
    • Tower
    • Foundation
    • Nacelle



    Wind Power Project - Base


    The first thing we need to do is assemble the foundation of your wind turbine.

    • Using a saw or pipe cutter cut 4 pieces of the 3/4″ pvc pipe at 5″ lengths
    • Cut two longer sections of 3/4″ pvc pipe (approximately 7″ lengths) for the two solid legs of the foundation.
    • Assemble the outer rim of the foundation with pvc fittings as needed as shown in the above photo
    • Measure the length you will need to span across the middle of your foundation then subtract approximately 2″ to allow for the “T” fitting and cut this piece of pipe as well.
    • Cut the cross member in half and finish assembling the foundation of your wind turbine as shown in the above photo.

     





    Now we need to assemble the “Nacelle” of the wind turbine.

    • Cut one piece of your 3/4″ pvc pipe approximately 12″ long
    • Then cut a piece about 2″ long off that
    • Connect these two pieces with a tee in the middle as shown above
    • Put the pipe caps on each end
    • Then drill a 3/16” or slightly larger hole through each of the end caps … and be sure to get them as close to center as possible since this will be where the axle of your rotor will be

     


    Wind Power Project - Rotor Blades


    Now we need to assemble the rotor and axle.

    • Take your three Popsicle sticks and tape them together on top of each other
    • Using the drill, make a 3/16″ hole through all three of them with the center of the drill point at about 3/8″ to 1/2″ distance from one of the ends
    • Cut your 3/16″ dowel to a length of about 18”
    • Attach the three popsicle sticks through the dowel holes drilled (adjust as needed but these should be a tight fit)
    • Make sure that the popsicle sticks are positioned in a Y formation as shown above, each one equal distance from the next. Then apply some hot glue to hold them in place.

     

     Next we need to construct the rotor blades.

    • Take the sheet of card stock and measure out three 4” x 8” rectangles
    • Cut them out
    • Using clear scotch tape fold each rotor section in half long ways and tape where they meet, ensure that you do not crush the paper (you want the end of the rotor blade to look like a tear drop)
    • Do the same with all three rotor blades
    • Using hot glue fasten the blades to the popsicle sticks that are serving as the frame work for your rotor (the popsicle sticks go inside the blade to keep them aerodynamic)

     

    Final assembly

    • Cut another piece of the PVC pipe approximately 24” long (this will be the tower of your turbine
    • On one end sand down the PVC pipe approximately 1” from the end (this will ensure that your nacelle will be able to rotate freely to face the direction the wind is coming from)
    • Place the axle of your rotor assembly through the holes you have drilled in the ends of the nacelle
    • Place the nacelle atop the tower

     

    Wind Power Project - Final Assy

    Let’s use the wind power now

    • From here you are going to want to tie the weight you are going to be lifting to the back end of the axle that is sticking out of the nacelle. (make the string a little longer that the length of the tower so the weight is lying on the ground to start)
    • Wait for the wind (if none is present you can use a box fan to simulate the wind)

    Now observe your wind turbine in motion. Notice how the wind alone would not be able to lift the weight you have tied to the axle of your rotor, but when it is harnessed correctly the wind can lift the weight. In fact if you experiment a little in windy conditions you will likely find that your turbine will be able to lift things that are quite heavy when you consider the scale of the experiment.


    For more on Wind Power see …

  • Homemade Crystals Science Project

    Having Fun Growing Crystals at Home

     
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    How to make a basic crystal out of Potash Alum.

    Growing crystals takes a bit of time, but it’s a really fun project.  You never know what you’ll get until you try it.  We have several crystal growing projects planned for you on the site, but here is the first.  It isn’t to difficult and the results are pretty fun … so enjoy!

     

    Required materials for this project include:

    • Potash Alum
    • A piece of string or thread
    • Saucepan (for safety reasons, please use a saucepan that you will never cook food in again. Keep it for making more crystals or simply throw it away.)
    • A saucer
    • A pencil
    • A jar

    Growing your crystal will take about 2 to 3 weeks. It’s a waiting process so be patient and be sure to note what you see periodically (a daily photo log is great for this).

     

    Directions:

    1. Pour 1 pint of water into the saucepan.
    2. Add 4oz. of alum powder.
    3. Gently heat the mixture; stirring to dissolve the powder.
    4. After the initial powder dissolves, begin adding as much powder to the mixture that you can until no more powder will dissolve.
    5. After letting the mixture cool, pour some into the saucer and set the saucer in a cool place.
    6. Pour the rest of the solution into a glass jar and add 1 more tablespoonful of the alum powder to create a saturated mixture.
    7. Cover the jar with a cloth and set it aside for now.
    8. After a few days, the solution in the saucer should start to form crystals. Let them grow undisturbed in the saucer until the solution has evaporated.
    9. Choose the largest crystal from among those in the saucer. This crystal will be your “seed”.
    10. Carefully tie your string or thread around your seed crystal and then wind the rest of the length of thread around the pencil.
    11. Hang the seed crystal into the jar of solution letting the pencil sit across the top of the jar to hold the seed in place within the solution.
    12. Put the jar in a warm place and leave it completely alone for about 2 weeks. Your crystal will grow from that “seed” over this time period.

     

    So what did you find?

    Record your results. Again, a photo log is a great way to do this. You should take photos of the original liquid in the saucer, then document the growth of the seed crystals, tying the string around the seed, the initial seed+string in the jar of the saturated solution and a daily picture of what that jar/string looks like.

    Once you’ve done that, the report your teacher will probably ask for will be quite easy to write!

    Then, if you want to get fancy, note that different powders will yield different colored crystals. But you’ll need to experiment a bit on the amount of water and powder needed for each recipe to get a saturated solution for each.

    As examples (not a complete list for sure):

    – Potassium Ferricyanide will produce red crystals.

    – Copper Acetate Monohydrate will produce blue-green crystals.

    – Calcium Copper Acetate Hexahydrate will produce blue crystals.

    Try all of them and have fun!

     

    You can also grow crystals with sugar and these will be delicious edible ones if you do it correctly.

     

    … But if you would rather have pre-packaged materials for crystal growing, these should help:

     

    … and if you prefer to discover them yourselves, these should help:

    And for really “Big” Crystal hunters, you might want to take a look at curiosity stream:

  • Mummified Apples Experiment

    Normal Apple for Apple Battery

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    What role do you think dehydration could play on an apple? Would a dehydrated apple be protected from bacteria? In this experiment, we will be creating a simple and spooky mummified apple. All you will need are some basic household ingredients to get started with your dehydrated mummy apple.

     

    Carve the apple!

     

    Here’s What You Will Need

    • – One Apple
      – A thick wooden kebab skewer or popsicle stick
      – A locking plastic bag, such as a GLAD brand freezer bag
      – One fourth cup of salt, a half cup of powdered bleach, and a half cup of bicarbonate soda

     

     

    Preparing the Apple for Mummification

    Take the powered bleach, bicarbonate soda, and the salt, and mix them together in your plastic bag.
    Next it’s time to decorate the apple. Try carving a face into the apple, similar to a jack-o-lantern. You won’t need to hollow the apple, just make a design for the face.

    … be creative …

    Now you can impale the apple with the skewer or stick. This is so it can easily be picked up at the end of the experiment.

    Now place the apple in the bag with the mixture, seal the bag, and give it a shake so that the apple is mostly covered in the powdered mixture. Keep the bag in a place that is warm and dry.

    Observe the apple over the next week. What does it look like by day seven? If you had started with half an apple it would look something like this … ?

     

    apple-847088_1280

     

    … and if you had started with apple slices … maybe something like this …

     

    apples-888229_1280

     

    So, what did your whole mummified apple look like? Send us a photo in the comment box below to let us know!!

     

    Results of the Experiment

    Throughout the experiment, you will notice that the apple gets smaller and smaller. Typically, if you left an apple to sit in the open air, it would begin to rot. Your mummified apple doesn’t rot because there’s no moisture to allow for bacteria growth. This means that the apple simply shrivels and remains in a mummified state. The salt and other ingredients help to draw out the moisture before rotting can occur.

    Does your mummified apple have a spooky quality to it? What other fruits or vegetables do you think could be mummified and preserved through a similar process? Remember, the mummified apple is not for eating, but it can be safely displayed for a long time without causing odors or attracting unwanted insects. Mummified humans are sometimes preserved for thousands of years. How long will your apple last?

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  • How to Make Your Own Crystal Geodes at Home

    Geode

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    This project covers how you can use a chicken egg, Elmer’s glue, alum, a large plastic container (the size of a quart jar), water, and egg dye to make a real looking geode. Depending on what type of gemstone you’re looking to make, you’ll need to have that color of dye to make the color of your gemstone geode. Purple for amethyst, Red for garnet or ruby, blue for sapphires, and so forth. This method of crystal production doesn’t take as long as making a large crystal, which can take up to 3 weeks.

     

    Here’s what you’ll need:

      • Elmers Glue
      • Alum Powder
      • Quart sized container (disposable plastic soup containers work well)
      • A paintbrush
      • Chicken eggs (blown out and gently broken in half the long way for a shallow bowl or broken in half the short way for a deeper geode.)
      • Very hot water
      • Egg Dye (The better the egg dye the deeper the color of your crystals.)
      • A large wooden craft stick
      • Latex Gloves
      • Drying Rack
      • Kitchen Tongs or Spoon
      • Scissors
      • Sewing needle

     

    Directions:

    Step 1: The first thing you will need is a (washed) chicken egg. Take a needle and make a small hole in the top and bottom of the egg then gently blow the yolk and egg white out of the shell. This will take some time, but be patient … it is worth it!

    Step 2: Next, take a pair of sharp scissors and carefully cut the eggshell in half lengthwise. Then rinse the inside of both shell halves with warm water until clean.  Remove any loose shell chips and use a tissue or paper towel to blot excess water out of the shell.  Be sure to let the egg shell halves dry in the open air (6 – 12 hours or overnight). The shells need to be clean and dry before proceeding to step 3.

    Step 3: Pour in some Elmer’s glue and use the brush to paint the inside and the edges of your eggshell with the glue.  Then sprinkle dry alum powder inside the shell to coat it completely. Don’t be shy about how much alum powder to put in the shell.  What doesn’t stick will be removed in the next step (and reused for another geode if you wish). Set the egg aside to dry.

    Step 4: Once the glue is dry, dump the excess alum out of the eggshell (on a piece of paper or in a bowl).  You can gently tap the shell, but still be careful not to break the shell doing that, then proceed to the next step.

    Step 5: Prepare the crystal growing solution by pouring of 2 cups of nearly boiling, hot water into your quart container.  Put on your latex gloves (to prevent staining your hands) and add enough egg dye to the hot water for a deep color of your choice (or 30 to 40 drops of liquid food coloring). Stir the mixture with a large wooden craft stick until the egg dye (or food coloring) is completely dissolved and the solution color is uniform.

    Step 6: Add 3/4 cup alum powder to your dye solution. Stir the mixture with the same craft stick used above until all of the powder is completely dissolved. (If you still have crystals undissolved in the container, microwave it for a few minutes to make sure it’s hot enough to dissolve all of the powder.  But be careful not to let it boil over in the microwave.  Just heat it until you see bubbles and stop, then carefully remove the container from the microwave and stir until the alum is all dissolved.

    Step 7: Allow the solution to cool for about 20 to 30 min. Then use the tongs or a spoon to gently place one of the egg shell halves inside the container and submerge it in the alum and dyed water. Make sure the broken side of the shell is facing up and that it settled nicely on the bottom. Leave the egg shell in there for about 12 hours. (The longer the shell is in there the bigger the crystals will be in your geode.)

    Step 8: After 12hrs or more, use a spoon to gently remove your eggshell from the solution. But be careful … wet crystals are very fragile! Place your geode on a drying rack to dry being careful to touch as little of the shell or crystals as possible until it’s completely dry.

    Tip: (If you want to do the other half of the egg, simply microwave the leftover solution and stir well. Place another prepped eggshell half into the newly heated solution and wait another 12 hours. This project can be done with ANY egg. Try an ostrich egg for some seriously awesome geode!)

    Also – You can prepare several containers, each with a different colors and make them all at the same time for your geode “collection”.

     

    So What Just Happened?

    We heated the water so it could become supersaturated with dissolved alum.  As the liquid cools, it cannot hold as much of the dissolved alum, so some of it turns back into alum powder (or crystals) and sinks to the bottom.  As it does that, it starts to crystallize.  The powdered alum inside the eggshell acts like small seed-crystals, and the alum coming out of solution can attach itself to those quite easily.  As more and more of the dissolved alum comes out of solution and settles to the bottom, the larger the crystals being formed will grow (to a point).  Since they can start easier on the alum we put inside the eggshell, they grow faster there.

    As an extension to this project, think of other things you might try instead of alum.  Something that crystallizes … like maybe sugar or salt or even borax (and there are quite a few others).

     

    … Or … if you prefer a kit for crystal growing, these should help:

     

    … and if you decide you would rather find them yourselves, these should help:


     

    And for a really “Big” geode …

  • Make a Home Made Terrarium or a Rainforest Habitat

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    A terrarium is used to simulate a rainforest-like effect by containing the moisture inside of an object and maintaining a suitable habitat for plants and animals. You will want to choose small plants and/or animals that prefer shade and are water loving and do well in the humidity.

    Some plants to consider are the venus fly-trap, moss, ferns, ivy, violets, and orchids. You can make a terrarium out of nearly anything that will allow you to form humidity to build up condensation. It really just depends on how big you want your plants. If you want to have bigger plants, you need to have a bigger container. In this design, you’ll be shown how to make a terrarium out of a glass jar but you can make a terrarium out of much larger items.

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    In our test terrarium we’ve set up a humidity monitor and incorporated animals that are native to the rainforest habitat– a Chinese Water Dragon and tree frogs. To make a miniature rainforest:

    You will need:

    1 glass jar and lid or cork stopper (Any size – Bulk food jars are great)

    1 small bag of activated charcoal, which can be purchased at a local pet supply store

    1 small bag of soil (dirt)

    1 small bag of fish tank rocks (or small pebbles found outside)

    Choose a few plants (such as a small fern and a small African violet.)

    Peat Moss or dark potting soil

    Directions:

    Step 1: Make sure your jar is very clean. Fill 1/5th of the jar with your small pebbles.

    Step 2: Add a thin layer of the activated charcoal to the top of the pebbles. (The charcoal will help filter impurities from your plants water source.)

    Step 3: Cover the charcoal with a 1/2 inch layer of peat moss.

    Step 4: Now add a 1/2 inch layer of your soil over the peat moss. (If the root system of your plant is longer, add a bit more soil if need be.)

    Step 5: Plant your fern and violet in the dirt. Tip: If your hand can’t fit into the jar, try using small tongs, chopsticks, or even a fork to dig out a small hole and to help lower the plant into place.

    Step 6: Lightly water the soil until it’s moist and then place the lid on the jar. Place your terrarium in a spot where it will get plenty of sunlight, but do not place it in direct sunlight.

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    Do not overwater your terrarium.
    If it seems dry you may mist it lightly with a spray bottle. Using a humidity gauge you can judge how humid the atmosphere is inside your terrarium. Keep the heat fairly high, ranging from 80-95 degrees.

    If it’s too wet inside the terrarium, you run the risk of mold growing inside and killing your plants. After a short while, you should see condensation build up and this is what your plants will use to survive. Very rarely will you need to water the plants inside the terrarium.

    If there are animals in your terrarium bear in mind that you will need to screen the top and spray it regularly to keep the humidity high as well as give them good air to breath.

    See how long it takes to build up the humidity so that it actually rains inside your terrarium. Test and keep track of how well the plants do and how quickly they grow as well as whether or not they prosper.  Determine which plants grow best in this type of environment.