Week Seven: Fun Family Science

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September 5, 2015 by WittyLibrarian

FunFamilyCoverImageProgram Title: Fun Family Science

Target Age Range: Families

Program Length: 90 minutes

Brief Description: Experiments the whole family can enjoy!

Supplies:

Mini Marshmallows
Toothpicks
Paper Plate
Pennies
Blank CDs
Bottle Top Cap
Balloons
Hot Glue & Glue Gun
Tape
Popsicle sticks
Disposable bowls
Cups
Elmer’s glue
Borax powder
Cornstarch
Water
Food coloring
Sandwich bags
Experiment Grid
Reaction Chart
Pencils
Wax Paper
Baking Soda
Orange Juice
Lemon Juice
Vinegar
Eye Droppers
Wipes

Cost: $$50-100

Advanced Preparation:

Prepare sandwich bags full of marshmallows (about two handfuls) and toothpicks (about 100)

Program Outline:

This program was designed as a “set your own pace” program. As families came to the program, they were given a set of handouts with instructions for four different science experiments and could choose the order in which they did each experiment, and the time they would take on each one.

The instruction handouts not only included instructions, but different activities and discussion questions related to each experiment for families to try. See handout section for copies of each experiment packet.

The program room was set up with a series of tables in the center of the room for families to work at, and four table stations along the walls of the room, containing supplies for each of the four stations. Families could gather the supplies needed for their chosen experiments, and carry them back to their table.

Chemical Reaction Supply StationSupply Station

The four experiments were:

  • Bouncy Balls
  • CD Hover Crafts
  • Marshmallow Towers
  • Chemical Reactions.

Procedure:

  • Bouncy Balls
    • While compiling this experiment, we encountered multiple variations. Of Bouncy Ballthe four we consulted, we found this one and this one to work the best for us. We then took our observations from all sources we consulted (including this one and this one), and compiled our own set of instructions (see handout). We had wipes available for participants to clean their hands with, as mixing the Bouncy Balls can be very sticky and messy. We also had plastic baggies available to put the finished Bouncy Balls in so they didn’t dry up.
  • CD Hover Craft
    • CD Hoover CraftThe CD Hover Craft instructions we referenced (here, here and here) specified using pop-top bottle caps (like those found on dish soap bottles). We had difficult securing enough push-top bottle caps, and used sports bottle caps instead. These, we found, were actually easier to use. When testing out the push-top bottle caps, we found that the balloon would pop off while in use, and with the sports cap bottle top, it stayed in place. Our instructions were modified to reflect this change accordingly.CD Hover Craft Supply Station
  • Marshmallow Towers
    • For this experiment, families built various structures using only tooth Marshmallow Tower 3picks and marshmallows. To aid this, we had measured out both toothpicks and marshmallows before the program, separated into storage bags. Each family received about half of a regular sized bag of mini-marshmallows, and 200 toothpicks (about half a standard box of toothpicks). We also had about $5 in pennies available for families to use to test the strength of their marshmallow structures.Marshmallow Structure
  • Chemical Reactions
    • For this experiment, we had small cups available for participant to Chemical Reactionmeasure out their ingredients in and carry back to their tables. Our source inspiration did provide both a both an observation chart and experiment grid, but we adapted them slightly for our audience, as well as also slightly modifying the instructions to be slightly more thorough.

Handouts:

Bouncy Ball Instruction Sheet
Bouncy Ball Instruction Sheet
Marshmallow Towers Instruction Sheet
Chemical Reaction Instruction Sheet
Chemical Reaction Observation Chart
Chemical Reaction Experiment Chart

Resources Used:

How To Make a Bouncing Polymer Ball by Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. on About.com
Experiment While Making a Bouncy Ball by Sciencebob.com
Make-Your-Own Bouncy Balls by Cometogetherkids.com
Make a Colorful Bouncy Ball by Hometrainingtools.com
Howtoons CD Hover Craft
CD Hovercraft Sick Science! by Stevespanglerscience.com
CD Balloon Hovercraft by Questacon.edu.au
Tips to Make a Strong Marshmallow Tower By Rachel Murdock on eHow.com
How Tall Can You Build a Marshmallow Structure That Will Support Weight? by Letstalkscience.ca
Build a Marshmallow Tower- Engineering By Mrscoolslittleschool.com
Stable Structures by Mythbusters
Lesson Plan: Marshmallow Towers by Sciencedays.org
Marshmallow Towers by Engineering4kids.wikispaces.com
Family Science Night Activity by Sandia National Laboratories (look for Kitchen Chemistry)

What we would do differently:

This program ran seamlessly. All the families participating had fun, and we received many enthusiastic compliments. What was most delightful was hearing the way families engaged with each other, asking questions about the experiments, commenting on their predictions and observations. There was a very warm and pleasant hum in the area. As participants finished, many asked us to offer similar programs in the future.

Adaptation for older/younger audience:

As the experiments were designed for an all ages crowd, this program would work will for almost any age group. While Teens might find the Chemical Reaction experiment too simple, the Bouncy Ball, CD Hover Craft, and Marshmallow Tower offers enough in the way of messy, cool factor and challenge to engage. For a slightly younger crowd, in grades 4-6, all of the experiments would work well, with both the Chemical Reaction and Marshmallow Towers being good small group projects.

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