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Kickbutt's Science Notebook

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As you all have no doubt seen, I've been writing one post per day on a kitchen experiment. I just thought, for reference, it would be easier to have in one location. I'll just add a new experiment each day in the replies. Keep on learning!

Ok, I admit it, I'm addicted to science. I would happily throw away all other subjects and just devote my kids learning to that one, if it were possible. Lol! As many of you know, I used to be an aeronautical/electrical engineer. I hold degrees in Physics & Geology. In this post I'll be posting my favorite science experiments. They most often include products found around your house (no fancy equipment needed!)

Each of my kids has a Science Journal. In it they write out every experiment, hypothesis and result. I have them format it the way many colleges require for Lab classes. The journal is one of those bound notebooks.


Experiment title

Supplies: a billeted list of all supplies, with exact measurements and weights

Process: a numbered list of the step by step process used, plus any variations

Hypothesis: what the kids think might happen as a result of the experiment

Conclusion: what the final result of the experiment was, did it match their hypotheses - why or why not. This also includes a paragraph or so explanation of what happened.

Voila. Science is complete! We don't stick to a specific form of science usually, we tend to mix things us. But we do an experiment just about every day.


 Home Educators Toolbox  / Articles / Kicbuttmama's Crazy Lapbooks / Kickbuttmama's Home Education
Albert Einstein -- 
   "Everybody is a Genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid." 

by on Jul. 16, 2012 at 8:29 AM
Replies (111-120):
by on Mar. 31, 2013 at 7:00 PM

Dancing Spaghetti

by on Mar. 31, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Make Your Own Quick Sand

Quick sand is a fascinating substance, make some of your own and experiment on a safe scale. Amaze your friends by demonstrating how it works.


What you'll need:

  • 1 cup of maize cornflour
  • Half a cup of water
  • A large plastic container
  • A spoon



  1. This one is simple, just mix the cornflour and water thoroughly in the container to make your own instant quick sand.
  2. When showing other people how it works, stir slowly and drip the quick sand to show it is a liquid.
  3. Stirring it quickly will make it hard and allow you to punch or poke it quickly (this works better if you do it fast rather than hard).
  4. Remember that quick sand is messy, try to play with it outside and don’t forget to stir just before you use it.
  5. Always stir instant quicksand just before you use it!


What's happening?

If you add just the right amount of water to cornflour it becomes very thick when you stir it quickly. This happens because the cornflour grains are mixed up and can’t slide over each other due to the lack of water between them. Stirring slowly allows more water between the cornflour grains, letting them slide over each other much easier.

Poking it quickly has the same effect, making the substance very hard.  If you poke it slowly it doesn’t mix up the mixture in the same way, leaving it runny.  It works in much the same way as real quick sand.

by on Mar. 31, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Make Lemonade Fizzy Drink

There's a lot of people out there that like drinking fizzy drinks, so why not do a fun science experiment that leaves you with your own lemon soda to drink afterwards!

A bit of lemon here and a bit of baking soda there and before you know it you'll be an expert at making your own fizzy drinks. Make your own lemonade softdrink with this fun experiment for kids.

What you'll need:

  • Lemon
  • Drinking glass
  • Water
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Some sugar to make it sweet



  1. Squeeze as much of the juice from the lemon as you can into the glass.
  2. Pour in an equal amount of water as lemon juice.
  3. Stir in the teaspoon of baking soda.
  4. Give the mixture a taste and add in some sugar if you think it needs to be sweeter.


What's happening?

The mixture you created should go bubbly and taste like a lemonade, soda, fizzy or soft drink, if you added some sugar it might even taste like a lemon flavoured soft drink you've bought at a store. The bubbles that form when you add the baking soda to the lemon mixture are carbon dioxide (CO2), these are the same bubbles you'll find in proper fizzy drinks. Of course they add a few other flavored sweeteners but it's not much different to what you made. If you are wondering how the carbon dioxide bubbles formed, it was because you created a chemical reaction when you added the lemon (an acid) to the baking soda (a base).

by on Mar. 31, 2013 at 7:03 PM

Melting Chocolate

Enjoy this simple melting chocolate experiment for kids. You've no doubt experienced chocolate melting on a hot day, so let's do some experiments to recreate these conditions as well as a few others before comparing results and coming to some conclusions.

At what temperature does chocolate go from a solid to a liquid? Is it different for white and dark chocolate? Give this fun science experiment a try and find out!

What you'll need:

  • Small chocolate pieces of the same size (chocolate bar squares or chocolate chips are a good idea)
  • Paper plates
  • Pen and paper to record your results



  1. Put one piece of chocolate on a paper plate and put it outside in the shade.
  2. Record how long it took for the chocolate to melt or if it wasn't hot enough to melt then record how soft it was after 10 minutes.
  3. Repeat the process with a piece of chocolate on a plate that you put outside in the sun. Record your results in the same way.
  4. Find more interesting locations to test how long it takes for the chocolate pieces to melt. You could try your school bag, hot water or even your own mouth.
  5. Compare your results, in what conditions did the chocolate melt? You might also like to record the temperatures of the locations you used using a thermometer so you can think about what temperature chocolate melts at.


What's happening?

At a certain temperature your chocolate pieces undergo a physical change, from a solid to a liquid (or somewhere in between). On a hot day, sunlight is usually enough to melt chocolate, something you might have unfortunately already experienced. You can also reverse the process by putting the melted chocolate into a fridge or freezer where it will go from a liquid back to a solid. The chocolate probably melted quite fast if you tried putting a piece in your mouth, what does this tell you about the temperature of your body? For further testing and experiments you could compare white choclate and dark chocolate, do they melt at the same temperature? How about putting a sheet of aluminium foil between a paper plate and a piece of chocolate in the sun, what happens then?

by on Mar. 31, 2013 at 7:07 PM

Make Your Own Fake Snot

As disgusting as it might sound to some people, let's make some fake snot! Snot actually serves an important purpose in our body so this experiment is not all about grossing out our friends, although that's certainly part of the fun.

What you'll need:

  • Boiling water (be careful with this)
  • A cup
  • Gelatin
  • Corn syrup
  • A teaspoon
  • A fork



  1. Fill half a cup with boiling water.
  2. Add three teaspoons of gelatin to the boiling water.
  3. Let it soften before stirring with a fork.
  4. Add a quarter of a cup of corn syrup.
  5. Stir the mixture again with your fork and look at the long strands of gunk that have formed.
  6. As the mixture cools slowly add more water, small amounts at a time.


What's happening?

Mucus is made mostly of sugars and protein. Although different than the ones found in the real thing, this is exactly what you used to make your fake snot. The long, fine strings you could see inside your fake snot when you moved it around are protein strands. These protein strands make snot sticky and capable of stretching.

by on Mar. 31, 2013 at 7:08 PM

Dancing Raisins

Carbon dioxide gas dissolved in soft drinks gives them their fizz. You can use the carbon dioxide fizz from a soft drink to make raisins dance.

For this experiment you will need:

  • a can of colorless soda (e.g., 7-Up or Sprite)
  • a tall, clear glass or plastic cup
  • several raisins (fresh raisins work the best)

Pour the can of soda into the tall glass. Notice the bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass. The bubbles are carbon dioxide gas released from the liquid.

Drop 6 or 7 raisins into the glass. Watch the raisins for a few seconds. Describe what is happening to the raisins. Do they sink or float? Keep watching; what happens in the next several minutes?

Raisins are denser than the liquid in the soda, so initially they sink to the bottom of the glass. The carbonated soft drink releases carbon dioxide bubbles. When these bubbles stick to the rough surface of a raisin, the raisin is lifted because of the increase in buoyancy. When the raisin reaches the surface, the bubbles pop, and the carbon dioxide gas escapes into the air. This causes the raisin to lose buoyancy and sink. This rising and sinking of the raisins continues until most of the carbon dioxide has escaped, and the soda goes flat. Furthermore, with time the raisin gets soggy and becomes too heavy to rise to the surface.

You might want to try other objects to see if they exhibit this behavior. Any object whose density is just slightly greater than water’s and has a rough surface to which the gas bubbles can attach should be able to dance in the carbonated water. Some of the more common dancing substances are mothballs and pieces of uncooked pasta. Try putting other objects in the carbonated water. Can you find other substances that dance?

Carbonated beverages are prepared by putting the beverage into a can under high pressure of carbon dioxide gas. This high pressure causes the carbon dioxide gas to dissolve in the liquid. When you open a can of soda, the noise you hear is produced by the carbon dioxide gas as it rushes out of the can. When the can is opened, the decreased pressure allows some of the carbon dioxide gas dissolved in the liquid to escape. This is what makes the bubbles in a soft drink.

Another way to do this experiment is to generate the carbon dioxide gas using the reaction of baking soda and vinegar. Fill your glass about 1/2 full with water. Add one teaspoon of baking soda and stir until it is dissolved in the water. Add 6 or 7 raisins to the glass. SLOWLY pour in vinegar until the glass is about 3/4 full. The vinegar and baking soda react to form carbon dioxide bubbles, and the raisins will dance just as in the soft drink!

by on Mar. 31, 2013 at 7:09 PM

How does a motor change electrical energy into motion? An electric current produces a magnetic field. This magnetic field can be attracted to or repelled by a permanent magnet. This attraction or repulsion can cause movement in a wire that carries an electric current.

You will need the following materials:

         1 meter (3 feet) of 22-gauge or 24-gauge solid-core insulated wire

                  e.g. Radio Shack catalog # 278-1215

         2 disk magnets

                  e.g. Radio Shack Catalog # 64-1888

         2 insulated test cables with a clip on each end

                  e.g. Radio Shack catalog # 278-1157

                  (2 pieces of above insulated wire can also be used)

         a plastic cup

         two large rubber bands

         two jumbo size (2-inch) paper clips

         D-cell battery

         wire strippers

         waterproof marking pen

         optional holder for D-cell

                  e.g. Radio Shack catalog # 270-403

Take the 3-foot piece of insulated wire. Starting about 3 inches from the end of the wire, wrap it seven times around the D-cell battery to form a coil. Wrap the ends of the wire a couple of times around the coil to hold it together.  


Use the wire strippers to remove the insulation from the two ends of the coil.

Straighten the larger loops of two paper clips.







Turn the cup upside down and place a magnet on top in the center. Attach another magnet inside the cup, directly beneath the original magnet. This will create a stronger magnetic field as well as hold the top magnet in place.

Put two large rubber bands around the base of the cup.

Insert the straightened paper clips into the rubber bands, so they stand upright over the bottom of the cup.

Rest the ends of the coil in the cradles formed by the paper clips. Adjust the height of the paper clips so that when the coil spins, it just clears the magnets. Adjust the coil and the clips until the coil stays balanced and centered while spinning freely on the clips. Good balance is important in getting the motor to operate well.

Once you have determined how long the projecting ends of the coil must be to rest in the paper-clip cradles, you may trim off any excess wire.

Attach one of the clip cables to each paper clip just above the rubber bands. You may need to readjust the clips to make sure the coil still spins freely.

Hold the other ends of the clip leads against the two poles of the D-cell battery. If the coil is well balanced on the clips, it will rotate to a near horizontal position. The magnetic field created by the electric current in the coil aligns itself with the magnets.

The coil may not continue to turn, because the current continues to flow through the coil its magnetic fields stays aligned with the magnets. To get the coil to continue rotating, the current should be turned off when the coil is aligned with the magnets. This can be done by coating part of one of the bare wire ends of the coil.

Remove the coil from the paper clips. Hold the coil vertically. Use the permanent marker to paint the TOP HALF of one of the two end wires. Allow the ink to dry for a few seconds, and apply a second coat. Allow several second again for the ink to dry, and then hang the coil on the paper clips again.

Connect the D-cell battery again, and give the coil a gentle spin. If it doesn't keep spinning on its own, check to make sure that the coil assembly is well balanced when spinning, that the projecting end has been painted with black pen as noted, and that the coil and the magnet are close to each other but do not hit each other. You might also try adjusting the distance separating the cradles: This may affect the quality of the contact between the coil and the cradles. With a little adjustment, your motor will spin rapidly when connected to the battery. (A holder for the battery will allow you to make the connections without holding them in place.)

by on Mar. 31, 2013 at 7:09 PM

Candy Chromatography

Ever wondered why candies are different colors? Many candies contain colored dyes. Bags of M&Ms or Skittles contain candies of various colors. The labels tell us the names of the dyes used in the candies. But which dyes are used in which candies? We can answer this by dissolving the dyes out of the candies and separating them using a method called chromatography.

For this experiment you will need:

• M&M or Skittles candies (1 of each color) 
• coffee filter paper
• a tall glass 
• water 
• table salt 
• a pencil(a pen or marker is not good for this experiment)
• scissors
• a ruler 
• 6 toothpicks 
• aluminum foil 
• an empty 2 liter bottle with cap

Cut the coffee filter paper into a 3 inch by 3 inch (8 cm by 8 cm) square. Draw a line with the pencil about ½ inch (1 cm) from one edge of the paper. Make six dots with the pencil equally spaced along the line, leaving about ¼ inch (0.5 cm) between the first and last dots and the edge of the paper. Below the line, use the pencil to label each dot for the different colors of candy that you have. For example, Y for yellow, G for green, BU for blue, BR for brown, etc.

Next we’ll make solutions of the colors in each candy. Take an 8 inch by 4 inch (20 cm by 10 cm) piece of aluminum foil and lay it flat on a table. Place six drops of water spaced evenly along the foil. Place one color of candy on each drop. Wait about a minute for the color to come off the candy and dissolve in the water. Remove and dispose of the candies.

Now we’ll “spot” the colors onto the filter paper. Dampen the tip of one of the toothpicks in one of the colored solutions and lightly touch it to the corresponding labeled dot on your coffee filter paper. Use a light touch, so that the dot of color stays small - less than 1/16 inch (2 mm) is best. Then using a different toothpick for each color, similarly place a different color solution on each of the other five dots.

After all the color spots on the filter paper have dried, go back and repeat the process with the toothpicks to get more color on each spot. Do this three times, waiting for the spots to dry each time.

When the paper is dry, fold it in half so that it stands up on its own, with the fold standing vertically and the dots on the bottom.

Next we will make what is called a developing solution. Make sure your 2-liter bottle or milk jug is rinsed out, and add to it ⅛ teaspoon of salt and three cups of water (or use 1 cm3 of salt and 1 liter of water). Then screw the cap on tightly and shake the contents until all of the salt is dissolved in the water. You have just made a 1% salt solution.

Now pour the salt solution into the tall glass to a depth of about ¼ inch (0.5 cm). The level of the solution should be low enough so that when you put the filter paper in, the dots will initially be above the water level. Hold the filter paper with the dots at the bottom and set it in the glass with the salt solution.

What does the salt solution do? It climbs up the paper! It seems to defy gravity, while in fact it is really moving through the paper by a process called capillary action.

As the solution climbs up the filter paper, what do you begin to see?

The color spots climb up the paper along with the salt solution, and some colors start to separate into different bands. The colors of some candies are made from more than one dye, and the colors that are mixtures separate as the bands move up the paper. The dyes separate because some dyes stick more to the paper while other dyes are more soluble in the salt solution. These differences will lead to the dyes ending up at different heights on the paper.

This process is called chromatography. (The word “chromatography” is derived from two Greek words: "chroma" meaning color and "graphein" to write.) The salt solution is called the mobile phase, and the paper the stationary phase. We use the word “affinity” to refer to the tendency of the dyes to prefer one phase over the other. The dyes that travel the furthest have more affinity for the salt solution (the mobile phase); the dyes that travel the least have more affinity for the paper (the stationary phase). 

When the salt solution is about ½ inch (1 cm) from the top edge of the paper, remove the paper from the solution. Lay the paper on a clean, flat surface to dry.

Compare the spots from the different candies, noting similarities and differences. Which candies contained mixtures of dyes? Which ones seem to have just one dye? Can you match any of the colors on the paper with the names of the dyes on the label? Do similar colors from different candies travel up the paper the same distance?

You can do another experiment with a different type of candy. If you used Skittles the first time, repeat the experiment with M&Ms. If you used M&Ms first, try doing the experiment with Skittles. Do you get the same results for the different kinds of candy, or are they different? For example, do green M&Ms give the same results as green Skittles?

You can also use chromatography to separate the colors in products like colored markers, food coloring, and Kool-Aid. Try the experiment again using these products. What similarities and differences do you see?

by on Mar. 31, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Make your Hands Glow in the Dark

Have you ever wondered what makes certain things glow under black lights?

For this experiment you will need:

• a black light 
• petroleum jelly
• a piece of paper

First we’ll use the petroleum jelly as a kind of invisible ink. Dip your finger into the jelly, then use your finger to write a message on the piece of paper. Use more jelly if you need to – but this probably isn’t the time to write a long speech! When you’re finished, wipe any remaining jelly off your finger. Have the black light ready, then turn off the room lights and turn on the black light.

Can you see the message? Why is something that you couldn’t see in room light now visible when you can’t see any light?

First, let’s talk about the light. The reason black lights are called "black lights" is because they give off very little light that our eyes can see. Visible light contains a spectrum of colors ranging from red, through orange, yellow, green, and blue, to violet or purple. Beyond violet light in the spectrum is ultraviolet light, which our eyes cannot detect.

You may have heard of ultraviolet light if you know about sunburn. Sunburn is caused by a type of ultraviolet light, which scientists call “ultraviolet B” (UV-B). UV-B is higher in energy than the light from black lights, which is called “ultraviolet A” (UV-A). Black lights will not give you a sunburn.

If we can't see ultraviolet light, why does the petroleum jelly glow under the black light?

Most of the time when we look at an object, we see light reflected from the surface of the object. But with a black light, there isn't much visible light, so simple reflection of light doesn't account for how bright the jelly glows. Petroleum jelly contains substances called phosphors. A phosphor absorbs radiation and emits it as visible light. So the phosphors in the jelly are absorbing the invisible ultraviolet radiation from the black light and emitting visible light.

Can you find anything else in your home that glows under black light?

One thing that usually glows brightly under black lights is a white shirt. Most laundry detergents contain “bluing agents” that are advertised as making the whites “whiter.” In fact, these agents are phosphors that respond to the UV-A radiation in normal light. The black light emphasizes their presence.

Another example of phosphors can be found on new $20 bills. As part of the government’s program to make currency harder to counterfeit, $20 bills issued since October, 2003, have a “security thread” that glows under ultraviolet light. The security thread is being introduced into $50 and $100 bills as well.

Glowing Hands

Can you think of a way to make your hands glow in the dark?

For this experiment you will need:

• a black light 
• petroleum jelly
• latex gloves if you don't want to get your hands messy (caution: some people are allergic to latex gloves!) 
• someone to turn on the black light for you.

If you have Latex gloves, put them on your hands. Reach into the jar of petroleum jelly and scoop out enough jelly to cover both hands. Rub the jelly well over both hands, and then ask someone to turn off the lights in the room, and to turn on the black light. Hold your hand under the black light.

What do you see? Can you think of a way you could use this trick when telling ghost stories at night?

by on Mar. 31, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Rubber Bands

Just about everyone has used rubber bands, but few people have taken the time to observe the less obvious properties of these everyday objects. In this activity you will examine the thermal properties of rubber, that is, the behavior of rubber as it relates to heat, a form of energy.

In the first experiment you will attempt to detect heat flow into or out of a rubber band. To do this, you need a rather sensitive heat detector. Fortunately, you have such a detector with you at all times. Surely, you've felt the heat of a flame or the cold of an ice cube. Therefore, you know that your skin is sensitive to heat flow. In this experiment, you will detect heat flow using some of your most sensitive skin, that on your forehead or on your lips.

  1. Place your thumbs through the heavy rubber band, one on each end. Without stretching the band, hold it to your forehead or lip. Does the band feel cool or warm or about the same as your skin? Repeat the test several times until you are sure of the result.

  2. Move the rubber band slightly away from your face, so it is not touching your skin. Quickly stretch the band about as far as you can and, holding it in the stretched position, touch it again to your forehead or lip. Does it feel warmer or cooler or about the same as it did when it was relaxed?

  3. Move the stretched rubber band away from you face. Quickly let it relax to its original size and again hold it to your skin. Does it feel warm or cool?

  4. Repeat the stretching and testing, and relaxing and testing several times until you are sure of the results.

An object feels cool or cold to you when heat flows from your skin to the object. Conversely, an object feels warm or hot when heat flows from the object into your skin. If the stretched rubber band feels cool, then it absorbs heat from your skin. If it feels warm, then it gives off heat to your skin. If the band feels neither warm nor cool, then there is no detectable heat flow. These three cases can be represented as follows:

Case 1. Relaxed Band + Heat   Stretched Band
Case 2. Relaxed Band   Stretched Band + Heat
Case 3. Relaxed Band   Stretched Band (No Heat)
Which of these three cases best describes what you observed?

There is another way to test which of the three statements is correct. We can see what happens to the length of a rubber band if we heat or cool it.

  1. Hang one end of the rubber band from the wall or ceiling and suspend a weight from the other end of the rubber band. (What you use for a weight will depend on what is available. The weight should be heavy enough to stretch the rubber band, but not so heavy that it is likely to break the band. For example, hang the band over a door knob and suspend a hammer from the band.)

  2. Heat the rubber band with a hair dryer. Start the dryer and, when it has warmed up, turn its heat on the stretched rubber band. Does the stretched rubber band become longer or shorter when it is heated?

Does this observation agree with what you found in the first part of the experiment? Doing an experiment several ways and checking for agreement in the results is an important strategy in science.

When rubber is heated it behaves differently than most familiar materials. Most materials expand when they are heated. Consider the liquid in a thermometer. The thermometer works because the liquid expands when its temperature increases. Similarly, a wire made of metal, such as copper, becomes longer as it gets hotter. The expansion of metals with increasing temperature is the principle behind the functioning of home thermostats and of jumping discs.

Whether a material expands or contracts when it is heated can be ascribed to a property of the material called its entropy. The entropy of a material is a measure of the orderliness of the molecules that make up the material. When the molecules are arranged in an ordered fashion, the entropy of the material is low. When the molecules are in a disordered arrangement, the entropy is high. (An ordered arrangement can be thought of as coins in a wrapper, while a disordered one as coins in a tray.) When a material is heated, its entropy increases because the orderliness of its molecules decreases. This occurs because as a material is heated, its molecules move about more energetically. In materials made up of small, compact molecules, e.g., the liquid in a thermometer, as the molecules move about more, they push their neighboring molecules away. Rubber, on the other hand, contains very large, threadlike molecules. When rubber is heated, the sections of the molecules move about more vigorously. In order for one part of the molecule to move more vigorously as it is heated, it must pull its neighboring parts closer. To visualize this, think of a molecule of the stretched rubber band as a piece of string laid out straight on a table. Heating the stretched rubber band causes segments of the molecules to move more vigorously, which can be represented by wiggling the middle of the string back and forth. As the middle of the string moves, the ends of the string get closer together. In a similar fashion, the molecules of rubber become shorter as the rubber is heated, causing the stretched rubber band to contract

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