Have you started school yet? Not till September? Been schooling all summer? We just started today, so I will be planning some fun-school blog posts this month!
One of the most fun things we did last year was a Mad Scientist Party with our homeschool group. I was thinking this was a one-time deal, but my kids loved it and have started making plans for our Second Annual Mad Scientist Party! This is a fun way to get kids excited about science, and also to watch Miss Debbi mess up and not be able to make the experiments work! Here is what we did:
Decorations: I got the theme and the decorations for the party from LetteringDelights.com (affiliate link). The "Mad Scientist" collection was just too much fun not to use for something! We used the "lab coat" idea from the LD site, purchasing men's white dress shirts from a thrift store, ironing the "Mad Scientist" logo on the back, and rolling up the sleeves. Each person who attended the party received a lab coat.
Lettering Delights has a cut-out for the crazy green hair as well, but we decided to have a contest for the craziest "mad scientist" hair.
Snacks: Having the party in the afternoon, after lunch, we had inexpensive snacks such as chex mix for "Brain Food" and green jello in a "brain mold."
Experiment #1: Soda Geyser
Many homeschoolers have probably already tried the "Mentos in Coke" experiment, but if you haven't, this one is a must. And even if you have, it's still a crowd-pleaser! We took a 2-liter bottle of Coke into our backyard and dropped a whole pack of Mentos in at once! Unfortunately, the camera missed the geyser exploding, but you can see how little of the 2 liters in the bottle is left after the explosion!
Print the experiment from Steve Spangler Science.
Watch the experiment on YouTube.
Experiment #2: Unburnable Money
This one amazed the kids and the parents, and thankfully, I didn't burn the house down. I sure do love to play with fire!
See the experiment at Science and Math (dot) com.
Just a note, don't get over-excited and use a $20 bill and hold it in the flame longer than specified. But if you do, I have obtained the address for the Federal Reserve where you can send money with a hole burned through it!! :-)
Experiment #3: Ice Cube On A String
Can you pick up the ice with a piece of string without touching the ice or tying any knots?
Find out how at Planet Science.
Experiment #4: Egg In A Bottle
More fire!! Have you ever changed the air pressure and watched an egg get sucked into a bottle with a mouth slightly smaller than the egg itself? This one has long been a favorite, and I promise you the experiment worked PERFECTLY the night BEFORE the party!!!
Find out how to do the experiment yourself flawlessly at Home Science Tools. Um, just practice before your party and make sure you can actually do it!
Experiment #5: Amazing Color-Changing Milk
Making designs in the milk on the plate was especially fun for the little kids, though the teenagers enjoyed it, too. With all of these experiments, we tried to explain the scientific principles to those who were old enough to understand, while using the "wow" factor to instill a love of science in all ages.
See the Amazing Color-Changing Milk at Science and Math (dot) com.
Experiment #6: Homemade Quicksand
Homemade quicksand serves as an illustration of a non-Newtonian liquid, and it also provides hours of fun getting small toys and figures "stuck" and pulling them out!
You can purchase a kit for homemade quicksand at many craft/hobby stores, or use the recipe from Steve Spangler Science.
See Steve perform this experiment on a grand scale on YouTube!
Homemade Slime: How much fun can a mad scientist party be if you don't make something really gross and make a total mess, right? So in addition to the quicksand, each party-goer got to make some slime with Borax and Elmer's glue, which they got to take home. (The moms loved me for that one!)
Find the recipe at Science Bob.
Decorated Plates: This was more of a craft than an experiment. I got some inexpensive china markers on sale at a craft store, and purchased some mismatched plates at a thrift store. The kids each decorated a plate, then we followed the instructions on the markers and baked them on low heat to set the paint. We talked about how various things such as heat can change the properties of a substance. After the paint sets, these plates can be put in the microwave or dishwasher and used with glee! They make great Christmas gifts for grandparents as well.
Microscopes and Magnifying Glasses: We set out a microscope, some prepared slides, magnifying glasses, and rock samples for the kids to observe. The little ones, of course, needed parental assistance with the microscope. They enjoyed studying the slides and rocks and imagining themselves as real scientists in real lab coats!
This entire party only cost about $50 and was tremendous fun. Even when the experiments didn't work quite right! I found some of the experiments at the above linked websites, and some of them I'd known about for years but was able to find step-by-step instructions on the science websites. I printed out all the experiments for the homeschool families in the group to take home. You can find many, many more fun, FREE experiments at the sites I have linked above. Many of them use household items that are not hard to obtain. Stay tuned this month - I might even share a sneak peek as to this year's new experiments!
Go have some fun with science!!
Photos by Solitaire Frisby.