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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 (41-50):
by on Dec. 31, 2012 at 12:31 PM

  Experiment 21 - Colorful Convection Currents -

Believe it or not, pollution really helped scientists understand convection currents - until computers could give a visiual. It started in the 1970's in Denver. Pollution had meant there was a 'brown cloud' over the city. Since Denver is at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, its prone to temperature inversions in which warm air higher up traps cooler air near the ground, preventing pollutants from rising and escaping into the atmosphere. So, in the early 70's scientists could literally see this effect as the 'brown cloud' moved up and down on the air currents.

4 empty identical bottles
Warm & Cold water
Food Coloring
3x5 inch index card
Masking tape
Paper Towels


1. Fill 2 bottles with warm water from the tap, and the other 2 bottles with very cold water. Use the masking tape and pen to label which bottles are which. *Make sure the bottles are filled to the brim.
2. Use food coloring to color the warm water yellow annd the cold water blue.
3. The next step can be tricky, and might have to be repeated a couple of times until you get it right. Your first observation will be what happens if the bottle of warm water rests on top of the bottle filled with cold water. TO do this, place the index card over the mouth of one of the warm bottles. Hold the card in place as you turn the bottle upside down and rest it on top of the bottle of cold water. The bottles should be positioned so that they are mouth to mouth with the card separating them.
4. Carefully slip the card out from between the bottles. Watch what happens to the colored liquid.
5. Now repeat steps 3 & 4 but this time put the cold bottle on top of the warm bottle.

What's Happening?
Hot air balloons rise because warm air is lighter and less dense than cold. Similarly, warm water is lighter in weight or less dense than cold water. When the bottle of warm water is on top of the cold, the more dense cold water stays in the bottom bottle and the less dense warm water is confined to the top bottle. However, when the cold water bottle is on top, the less dense warm water rises to the top bottle and the cold water sinks. THe movement of the water is clearly seen as the yellow and blue food coloring mix creating a green liquid.

The movement of the warm and cold water inside the bottles is called a Convection Current. In our daily life, warm currents can occur in the oceans, like the Gulf Stream moving up along the American Eastern Seaboard. Convection currents in the atmosphere are responsible for the formation of thunderstorms as teh warm and cold air masses collide.

Although the bottles whose colored liquids mix are more interesting to watch, the other set of warm/cold bottles helps to illustrate another important phenomena that occurs in the atmosphere during the winter months. During daylight hours, the sun heats the surface of the earth and the layer of air closest to the earth. This warm air rises and mixes with other atmospheric gases. When the sun goes down, the less dense warm air high up in the atmosphere often blankets the colder air that rests closer to the surface of the earth. Because the colder air is more dense than the warm, the colder air is trapped close to the earth and the atmospheric gases do not mix. This is commonly referred to as temperature inversion.

by on Dec. 31, 2012 at 8:22 PM

Experiment 22 - Egg Experiments

Squeeze an egg as hard as you can without breaking it. Learn how to tell a raw egg from a hardboiled egg without cracking the shell. Perform the amazing floating egg trick. It's Egg Olympics in your very own kitchen


  • Eggs
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Two tall containers to conduct the float and sink test
  • Cellophane
  • Rubber band

Squeeze an Egg Without Breaking It
Eggs are amazingly strong despite their reputation for being so fragile. Place an egg in the palm of your hand. Close your hand so that your fingers are completely wrapped around the egg. Squeeze the egg by applying even pressure all around the shell. To everyone's amazement (mostly your own) the egg will not break. If you're a little nervous about the outcome, try sealing the raw egg in a zipper-lock bag before putting the squeeze on it, or hold the egg over the sink if you're in the super-brave category.

Now hold the egg between your thumb and forefinger and squeeze the top and bottom of the egg. Are you covered in egg yolk? Why not?

Finally, hold the egg in the palm of your hand. Press only on one side of the shell. Do not squeeze the egg - just press on the side. Uh oh. Why do you think that happened?

The egg's unique shape gives it tremendous strength, despite its fragility. Eggs are similar in shape to a 3-dimensional arch, one of the strongest architectural forms. The egg is strongest at the top and the bottom (or at the highest point of the arch). That's why the egg doesn't break when you add pressure to both ends. The curved form of the shell also distributes pressure evenly all over the shell rather than concentrating it at any one point. By completely surrounding the egg with your hand, the pressure you apply by squeezing is distributed evenly all over the egg. However, eggs do not stand up well to uneven forces which is why they crack easily on the side of a bowl (or why it cracked when you just pushed on one side). Be careful not to wear a ring while performing our squeezing act. The uneven pressure of the ring against the shell will result in an amusing display of flying egg yolk for your audience members. This also explains how a hen can sit on an egg and not break it, but a tiny little chick can break through the eggshell - the weight of the hen is evenly distributed over the egg, while the pecking of the chick is an uneven force directed at just one spot on the egg.

Hardboiled or Raw?
Can't remember which egg is which? The answer is only a spin away. Simply spin the egg and pay close attention to how well it spins. If the egg spins well, it's hardboiled. However, if the egg wobbles and spins slowly, it's raw. A hardboiled egg is solid inside whereas a raw egg is fluid. When you spin the raw egg, its center of gravity changes as the fluid inside the egg moves around. This results in the wobbling motion you noticed in the raw egg. As soon as the raw egg starts spinning, touch it briefly with your finger just long enough to stop it. When you take your finger away, the egg will continue to spin for just a quick second. This is due to the inertia of the fluid inside the egg. When the hardboiled egg is spun, the solid center immediately moves with the shell, causing little resistance to the spinning motion.

The Floating Egg
It's so simple and amazing. A raw egg will float in very salty water but will sink in plain tap water. Why? Salt water is more dense than regular water. You'll need to make a very saturated salt solution by dissolving roughly 4 tablespoons of salt in about 2 cups of water. Use pickling or Kosher salt to make a clear salt solution. Table salt may be used, but the solution will be somewhat cloudy due to the additives used to make the salt free-flowing.

Fill a glass half full with the salt water. Slowly add plain water by pouring it down the sides of the glass, being careful not to mix the two liquids. Gently drop the egg into the water and watch as it sinks through the plain water, only to abruptly stop when it hits the salt water. The egg floats on the top layer of the salt water.

The Rising Egg
Fill the bottom 1/5 of a tall glass with salt. Add just enough water to make a wet salt layer. Carefully lower an egg down on top of the wet layer of salt. Slowly add more water by pouring it down the sides of the glass so as not to disturb the bottom layer of water. Cover the top of the glass with cellophane and a rubber band. Notice how the egg rests on the layer of undissolved salt on the bottom of the glass.

Be sure to put the glass in a place where no one will be able to disturb it. Observe for weeks. That's right, weeks. Months even! Over the course of the next several weeks, the bottom layer of salt will begin to dissolve in the water above it. As the salt dissolves, the egg will rise off the bottom and float on the layer of salt water. As more time passes, the salt level continues to drop and the egg continues to rise. Be sure to put the glass in a place where no one will be able to disturb it. Record the egg's progress by marking on the outside of the glass using a felt tip marker. 

You might wish to substitute a golf ball in place of the egg to avoid the decay of the egg's shell over time. The "golf ball" idea was originally published by Bob Becker, a great chemistry teacher from St. Louis, Missouri.
by on Jan. 30, 2013 at 10:37 AM

 Experiment 23 - Making Water Glow

Tonic water doesn't look very strange under normal light but what happens when you look at it under a black light? Does the dye from a highlighter pen do the same thing? Find out what happens and why it happens with this cool experiment that you can do at home.

What you'll need:

  • A black light (you can find them at places like Walmart and hardware stores, as well as online stores like Amazon).
  • Tonic water or a highlighter pen.
  • A dark room to do the experiment.


  1. If you are using a highlighter pen carefully break it open, remove the felt and soak it in a small amount of water for a few minutes.
  2. Find a dark room.
  3. Turn on the black light near your water, how does it look?

What's happening?

Simple explanation:

The ultra violet (UV) light coming from your black light lamp excites things called phosphors. Tonic water and the dye from highlighter pens contain phosphors that turn UV light (light we can’t see) into visible light (light we can see). That’s why your water glows in the dark when you shine a black light on it.

Black lights are used in forensic science, artistic performances, photography, authentication of banknotes and antiques, and in many other areas.

Detailed explanation:

Black light (also known as UV or ultra violet light) is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum also includes infrared, X-rays, visible light (what the human eye can see) and other types of electromagnetic radiation. A black light lamp such as the one you used emits a UV light that can illuminate objects and materials that contain phosphors. Phosphors are special substances that emit light (luminescence) when excited by radiation. Your water glowed under the black light because it contained phosphors. If you used a highlighter pen then the UV light reacted with phosphors in the dye. If you used tonic water then the UV light reacted with phosphors in a chemical used in tonic water called quinine.

There are different types of luminescence, they include fluorescence (used in this experiment, it glows only when the black light is on), phosphorescence (similar to fluorescence but with a glow that can last even after the black light is turned off), chemiluminescence (used to create glow sticks), bioluminescence (from living organisms) and many others.

by on Jan. 30, 2013 at 10:39 AM

 Experiment 24 - Quicksand

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 Jan. 30, 2013 at 10:42 AM

 Experiment 25 - Stab a Potato w/ a Straw

Is it possible to stab a potato with a drinking straw? Find out with this fun science experiment for kids that shows how air pressure can be used in surprising ways.

What you'll need:

  • Stiff plastic drinking straws
  • A raw potato


  1. Hold a plastic drinking straw by it sides (without covering the hole at the top) and try quickly stabbing the potato, what happens?
  2. Repeat the experiment with a new straw but this time place your thumb over the top, covering the hole.

What's happening?

Placing your thumb over the hole at the top of the straw improves your ability to pierce the potato skin and push the straw deep into the potato. The first time you tried the experiment you may have only pierced the potato a small amount, so why are you more successful on the second attempt?

Covering the top of the straw with your thumb traps the air inside, forcing it to compress as you stab the straw through the potato skin. This makes the straw strong enough to pierce the potato, unlike the first attempt where the air is pushed out of the straw.

by on Jan. 30, 2013 at 10:43 AM

 Experiment 26 - Moving Molecules

This experiment is great for testing if hot water molecules really move faster than cold ones. Pour some water, drop in some food coloring and compare results.

What you'll need:

  • A clear glass filled with hot water
  • A clear glass filled with cold water
  • Food coloring
  • An eye dropper


  1. Fill the glasses with the same amount of water, one cold and one hot.
  2. Put one drop of food coloring into both glasses as quickly as possible.
  3. Watch what happens to the food colouring.

What's happening?

If you watch closely you will notice that the food coloring spreads faster throughout the hot water than in the cold. The molecules in the hot water move at a faster rate, spreading the food coloring faster than the cold water molecules which mover slower.

by on Jan. 30, 2013 at 10:47 AM

 Experiment 27 & 28 - Autumn Leaves

Separate Colors in a Green Leaf using ChromatographyWhat you need:

leaves, small jars (baby food jars work well)
covers for jars or aluminum foil or plastic wrap
rubbing alcohol, paper coffee filters
shallow pan, hot tap water, tape, pen
plastic knife or spoon, clock or timer.

What you do:

  1. Collect 2-3 large leaves from several different trees. Tear or chop the leaves into very small pieces and put them into small jars labeled with the name or location of the tree.
  2. Add enough rubbing alcohol to each jar to cover the leaves. Using a plastic knife or spoon, carefully chop and grind the leaves in the alcohol.
    SAFETY NOTE: Isopropyl rubbing alcohol can be harmful if mishandled or misused. Read and carefully follow all warnings on the alcohol bottle.
  3. Cover the jars very loosely with lids or plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place the jars carefully into a shallow tray containing 1 inch of hot tap water.
    SAFETY NOTE: Hot water above 150 F can quickly cause severe burns. Experts recommend setting your water heater thermostat no higher than 125 F.
  4. Keep the jars in the water for at least a half-hour, longer if needed, until the alcohol has become colored (the darker the better). Twirl each jar gently about every five minutes. Replace the hot water if it cools off.
  5. Cut a long thin strip of coffee filter paper for each of the jars and label it.
  6. Remove jars from water and uncover. Place a strip of filter paper into each jar so that one end is in the alcohol. Bend the other end over the top of the jar and secure it with tape.
  7. The alcohol will travel up the paper, bringing the colors with it. After 30-90 minutes (or longer), the colors will travel different distances up the paper as the alcohol evaporates. You should be able to see different shades of green, and possibly some yellow, orange or red, depending on the type of leaf.
  8. Remove the strips of paper, let them dry and then tape them to a piece of plain paper. Save them for the next project.

Observe how light affects color development What you need:

a tree with leaves that turn red in autumn
aluminum foil or heavy paper and masking tape.

What you do:

  1. Before the leaves turn colors in the fall, find a maple tree, flowering dogwood, sweet gum, or other tree or shrub that you know will turn bright red or purple.
  2. Find several leaves that receive bright sunlight, and cover part of them with foil or heavy paper and tape.
  3. After the leaves have changed color, remove the covering and observe the different colors underneath. These are the colors that were in the leaf all summer. The bright reds and purples are only made in the fall, with exposure to light.
by on Mar. 31, 2013 at 5:44 PM

Making cool polymers

by on Mar. 31, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Float or Sink

by on Mar. 31, 2013 at 5:47 PM

This is awesome.  Thank you.  Science is not one of my strengths.  It is awesome to partake of your expertise. 

you rock

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