• Here's an easy STEM experiment to try with kids: Making Oobleck, just like in the Dr. Seuss book!
    science,  STEM

    Making Oobleck, a non-Newtonian Fluid: Easy STEM Experiment

    Jared is back today with a super fun and simple science experiment to try with your kids!

    This one was so interesting, how can something be solid when it movement but liquid at rest? I don’t even really understand it, but it was really neat to play with! (Maybe that’s why he’s the one doing the experiments with the kids ­čśë )

     

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    Here's an easy STEM experiment to try with kids: Making Oobleck, just like in the Dr. Seuss book!

     

    I first heard about non-Newtonian fluids on an old episode of MythBusters. Anyone remember that show? I used to love it, they always built the coolest contraptions and tested really interesting things. In the episode in question they mixed a bunch of cornstarch into a large tub of water and came up with a “liquid” that you could run across. Ever since then I wanted to try making it myself.

    Non-Newtonian fluids are fluids that don’t follow Newton’s law of viscosity. I’ll let you read about that yourself ­čÖé The cornstarch and water mixture is probably the easiest non-Newtonian fluid to make and it’s non-toxic and safe for kids to play with. This mixture is commonly referred to as “oobleck”. A name which comes from “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” by Dr. Seuss.

     

    Oobleck by Dr. Seuss

     

    Supplies

    • Cornstarch
    • Water
    • Dish or bowl (we used a pie plate)
    • Spoon or craft stick

    The amount of corn starch and water, and the size of the dish will depend on how much oobleck you want to make. The ratio of cornstarch to water is 2:1, so approximately 2 cups of corn starch for 1 cup of water. You may want to experiment a bit with your mixture until you get the right consistency.

     

    Oobleck as a solid

     

    Instructions

    1. Pour water into bowl/dish
    2. Add cornstarch
    3. Stir the cornstarch into the water with the spoon/craft stick

    As you stir and the cornstarch begins to mix with the water the mixture should become hard to stir. You should begin to notice that the slower you stir, the easier it will be. If you try to stir quickly it will become more difficult.

     

    Runny sticky oobleck

     

    Once the mixture is combined have your kids stick their hands in the bowl and play with it. Try things like tapping on the mixture and then slowly putting their hand in and see if they notice the difference. When tapping on or slapping the top of the mixture it should feel hard. When they put their hand in slowly it should be soft and gooey. You can also try rolling the mix in your hands to create a ball. As long as you keep rolling it the mix will stay together and feel hard. Once you stop it will start to separate and drip from your hands.

    This stuff is a lot of fun to play with!

     

    Oobleck

     

    What’s Happening?

    Most fluids don’t change consistency no matter what you do with them. Their viscosity (how sticky or smooth they are) stay the same whether you pour them, stir them or push them. Non-Newtonian fluids act differently. Yogurt, for example, is generally fairly think and if you try to pour it will come out quite slowly. If you shake a tub of yogurt first it will become less “sticky” and will pour out more quickly. This is an example of a common non-Newtonian fluid.

    Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid that acts in the opposite way. When cornstarch and water are mixed the starch grains are suspended in the liquid. If you apply pressure to the liquid the cornstarch compresses together and traps the water molecules in between making it behave more like a solid. As soon as the pressure is removed it returns back to its liquid state.

     

    Here's an easy STEM experiment to try with kids: Making Oobleck, just like in the Dr. Seuss book!

     

    Give this experiment a try with your kids and tell me how it goes!

  • Here's a fun and simple experiment for kids! A leak proof bag with pencils stuck in it?!
    science,  STEM

    The Amazing Leakproof Bag – A Fun Experiment

    This is the fourth week in a row of my husband, Jared, sharing a STEM related post on here! I know my kids are excited to have him doing all sorts of experiments with them and I’m glad he is filling in some of the hole in our science that are not as high on my priority list.

    Today’s experiment is super simple and fun for the kids to do!

     


     

    What happens when you fill a plastic bag full of water and then poke holes in it?  Not what you might expect actually! This is a super easy experiment that even young kids can do, is incredibly easy to set up and uses only materials you probably have around the house.

    Before starting this experiment have everyone make a guess about what they think will happen when you poke a pencil into a bag full of water. Small experiments like this are a great way for kids to learn about developing a hypothesis (though you don’t have to use that word, especially with younger kids). Having them think about what might happen before experiments begin gets their minds working and helps them develop their logic skills.

     

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    Here's a fun and simple experiment for kids! A leak proof bag with pencils stuck in it?!

     

    Supplies

    Have I mentioned that this is a super simple experiment to do? All you need for this is 3 things:

    • resealable plastic sandwich bags
    • sharpened pencils
    • water

    Yup, that’s it, three really easy to find things.

     

    Instructions

    You may want to try this experiment outside or over a sink just in case things don’t go according to plan.

    1. Fill a resealable plastic bag about 1/2 to 3/4 full of water.
    2. Hold the top of the bag with one hand, and with the other hand push a pencil into the bag. The pencil should poke through both sides of the bag. Make sure not to push the pencil all the way through.
    3. Continue adding as many pencils to the bag as you want.

     

    Testing the leakproof bag

     

    If you want to up the stakes ask for a volunteer who would be willing to stand under the bag as you poke pencils into it! You may also find it interesting to experiment with different types of plastic bags and different pencils (rounded and ones with straight edges for example).

     

    Testing the leakproof bag

     

    What’s Happening?

    Plastic bags like the one you probably used are made of a polymer. This polymer (called low-density polyethylene) is a long chain of molecules. An easier way to think of it would be to imagine each of these chains as a strand of cooked spaghetti. The bag is made up of a whole bunch of theses strands right next to each other. As you push a pencil in it pushes the strands apart and the pencil goes between them. The strands are flexible so instead of breaking they are pushed aside and create a temporary seal against the pencil. This causes the water to stay in the bag.

    Of course, if you poke a hole in the bag without pushing the pencil into the hole it won’t seal and you will have a leak.

     

    We have a leak!

     

    Once they got the hang of it our kids were able to add a lot of pencils into the bag without having it leak. We tried with mostly straight sided pencils and they worked well, though the rounded pencils probably sealed a little better.

     

    Testing the leakproof bag

  • Free printable Lego challenge cards - a great STEM activity!
    science,  STEM

    Free Printable Lego STEM Challenge Cards

    Remember last week when I said Jared (my husband) was going to be sharing some STEM posts on here for the next while because he’s kind of taking over that area of our homeschool this year? Well, he’s back!

    While I usually spend 1-2 hours with the kids doing some intentional learning during the day (reading, working in our relaxed notebooks, etc) the rest of the day is pretty much free play for them. They love it and I try to keep our days open so they have this opportunity.

    During their free play time they will often do some pretend play, a lot of swinging on their Ikea swings in our basement and the majority of the time is playing Lego. To say they often play Lego for five hours a day would not be lying. You could say we get our moneys worth out of it!

    Okay, I’m going to stop taking over his post now. ­čÖé

     


     

    LEGO┬« is great toy for learning and early skill development. It’s also one of our most used toys in the house. Our kids will spend hours building, re-building, breaking, and modifying their LEGO creations. As much as it can be annoying to try and avoid stepping on it all over the house I love the learning that happens when kids play with LEGO.

    LEGO Challenge Cards are a great way to sneak some STEM learning into your kids day. They will develop their problem solving skills, creativity and engineering skills as they work on various different challenges.

     

    Free printable Lego challenge cards - a great STEM activity!

     

    These cards can be used in a number of different ways depending on the number of kids using them and their ages. You can let your kids pick a card they want to do or have them draw a card randomly from the stack. You can also have a group of kids work on the same card and then compare their creations when they are done and discuss how they tackled the task in a variety of different ways.

     

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    Free printable Lego challenge cards - a great STEM activity!

     

    Our kids had a lot of fun going through the stack of cards and picking challenges that they thought would be fun. It’s awesome to see them think about a card and watch their creativity come out in their creations.

     

    Free printable Lego challenge cards - a great STEM activity!

     

    These cards are free for you to download, print and use with your kids or class. I hope they enjoy them as much as our kids do!

     

    Download the FREE LEGO STEM Challenge Cards

     

    Free printable Lego challenge cards - a great STEM activity!

  • real homeschool stories,  STEM

    Why LEGO® is a Great Learning Tool

    I think the hardest part of homeschooling for me is knowing that my kids are missing some great learning opportunities because of my weaknesses. We are rocking all things literature and book-ish, but you know something that is all the rage these days that I am definitely not rocking? STEM.

    STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Personally, in my own life, it’s okay to skip over STEM because that is not where my interests lie, but my kids? They have both declared they want to be scientists when they grow up. (Raeca wants to be a chemist and Ephraim I’ve already decided is going to be an engineer.)

    Our homeschool is very interest based so obviously we need to include Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, but since it is such a weak spot for me, that’s where my husband comes in. Jared is all things sciency, techy and nerdy (and I mean this in the best possible way, he’s really smart). Let me tell you, my math mark increased a lot in high school after we started dating because he took the time to explain what we were learning (any excuse for a date when you are 17, even if that means math homework).

    This year Jared is going to be taking over the majority of the STEM activities in our house. For science our overall theme is an introduction to chemistry but I know there is going to be a lot of other stuff thrown in there. And, he has decided to help share the STEM activities they do here on the blog!

    So, for the first time ever, I’ve got a guest post by my husband! And I’ve convinced him to keep it up to, so there will be more to come. Okay, that was a long enough introduction, on to the post!


    As a parent I have a love/hate relationship with LEGO┬«. It seems to magically migrate to cover every floor in the house making walking barefoot more challenging than walking on hot coals. Looking for a┬álost piece of LEGO? Just turn off the lights and walk around barefoot for a minute, you’ll find it stuck to the bottom of your foot.

     

     

    Despite its foot destroying properties LEGO remains one of my favorite toys. I loved it as a kid and I still love it as a parent. My kids still play with the LEGO sets I had as a kids over 20 years ago.

     

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    What can you really learn from playing with LEGO?

    One of the best things about LEGO is the creativity it allows. Sure, the LEGO sets are awesome but usually a few weeks after they are put together they are disassembled and re-purposed into all sorts of crazy contraptions and scenes. There is no “Kragle” in our house (although I’ll admit that sometimes I’m tempted).

     

     

    Another awesome thing about LEGO is that kids can learn so much while they play with it. The best kind of learning happens when kids don’t realize they are learning, they’re just having fun. That’s exactly the kind of learning that LEGO promotes.

     

    Fine Motor Skills

    LEGO is a fantastic way for kids to develop their fine motor skills. While playing with LEGO, you kids learn how to hold and manipulate different shapes and sizes of pieces and make them fit together. It also helps strengthen their tiny fingers in the process.

     

    Creativity

    Most of the time when we think about playing with LEGO we think about the free form play it allows. Digging through a bin of bricks to create whatever comes to our imagination. Yes, most LEGO comes in sets with instructions on how to build it but if your house is anything like ours, it doesn’t take long for that set to be dissembled and turned into something completely different. I’m continually impressed by the creativity my kids show in their wacky creations.

     

     

    Puzzle Solving

    Whether they are following instructions from a set or building their own creation putting LEGO together is like solving a puzzle. Searching for and finding the correct pieces and figuring out how they will all fit together is all part of turning a pile of bricks into something awesome.

     

    Engineering

    If your kids play with LEGO they’ve likely come running to you after their latest creation was completely destroyed after it tipped over on the table. With a little help kids can learn how to build stronger structures by using things like bracing and support.

    Those are just a small sample of the things kids can learn from playing with LEGO. It continues to be a toy that provides endless hours of entertainment and exciting opportunities for learning.

    So this love/hate relationship will continue, at least for a few more years.