Ice Cream Science Project: How to Make Ice Cream in 3 Simple Steps

I scream, you scream, we all scream "SCIENCE" with this ice cream science project!

Feel the chill this winter as you learn the science of cold by making homemade ice cream! This vanilla or chocolate ice cream science project doesn’t require any fancy equipment, just plastic food storage bags, elbow grease, and chemistry!

Recommend age: 5+; younger scientists may need help measuring ingredients and shaking the bag.

Mess Alert: This activity can be messy since the bags can leak! You may want to shake the bags outside or over a sink.

Materials you will need:

  • ½ cup of whole milk or half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons of rock salt or ice cream salt
  • 1 pint-size plastic food storage bag (e.g., Ziploc)
  • 1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag
  • Ice cubes
  • Duct tape
Completed chocolate ice cream science project

Directions:

Step 1:

Fill the gallon-size plastic food storage bag halfway with ice, and add the rock salt to the ice. Seal the bag so it doesn’t spill while you prepare the ice cream ingredients.

Tip: You can add more than one bag of ice cream to the bag of ice and shake them at the same time. If you do make more than one bag, you can use a Sharpie to label the bags of ice cream to tell them apart.

add rock salt to ice cream science project

Step 2:

Add the milk and sugar to the pint-size plastic food storage bag. Optional: add cocoa powder to the pint-size bag to make chocolate ice cream. (Add the vanilla to the pint-size bag, even chocolate ice cream has a little vanilla in it!)

Squeeze the excess air out of the pint-size bag and seal it, and tape the seal shut with duct tape to keep it from spilling. Shake the pint-size bag for a few seconds to mix the ice cream ingredients.

Tip: ½ cup of milk will make about 1 scoop of ice cream, so double the recipe if you want more. But don't increase the proportions more than that – a large amount might be too big for kids to pick-up because the ice itself is heavy.

adding vanilla to ice cream science project

While you're making and shaking your ice cream talk about physical and chemical changes  and encourage your scientist to answer the following:

  • What does your ice cream look like?
  • Why do you think the ingredients in the pint-size bag turn to ice cream?
  • What do you think the shaking did?
  • Why do you think we added salt to the ice?
  •  What physical or chemical changes did you observe while making your ice cream?
  • What other examples of physical or chemical changes can you think of?
  • Dive deeper into a science topic with the “Learn More” section.

Step 3:

Open the gallon-size bag and put the pint-size bag inside it, and carefully seal the gallon-size bag again. Make sure it is completely shut!

Shake until the mixture in the pint-size bag is ice cream, which takes about 5 minutes.

Wipe off or rinse the top of the pint-size bag with cold water to remove any salt, then open the bag carefully, add any toppings you would like, and enjoy your ice cream!

seal liquid ingredients before shaking

Expand on the activity! 

The Science: Physical and Chemical Changes

We talk about two types of changes in chemistry: physical changes and chemical changes. We also talk a lot about matter, which is is anything that takes up space.

In a physical change, the form of matter is changed, while its chemical identity remains the same.

  • Think about cutting a piece of paper into bits. It’s still paper, just in smaller pieces. Physical changes are also reversible. You could tape the paper back together! Other examples of physical changes include boiling, melting, freezing, dissolving, and mixing.

In a chemical change, the chemical reaction occurs. The chemical reaction changes the chemical identity of the matter, and new products are formed that you can’t easily reverse.

  • Think of a campfire. The fire takes a log and creates ash and smoke, two chemically-distinct products.

There are 5 signs that a chemical reaction has occurred. They’re easy to remember… just think about F.A.R.T.S.

Fizzes: Did the reaction produce bubbles or gas?

Aroma: Did the reaction produce a smell?

Re-color: Did the reaction produce a new color?

Temperature: Did the reaction produce a temperature change or release light?

New Substance: Did the reaction produce a new substance?

When making ice cream, you’re using physical changes. You mix and dissolve the sugar into the milk, but this doesn’t change the chemical structure of the milk and you could remove the sugar is you tried.

When you shake your bag, you’re freezing the milk, which means the water in it is turning from a liquid (water) into a solid (ice). This is also a physical change! We still see lots of physical and chemical changes in the kitchen. Which ones can you think of?

Learn More: Chemistry

Why do we shake our ice cream science project instead of just popping the ice cream in the freezer?

Ice cream is an emulsion. In an emulsion, small droplets of one liquid are dispersed (or spread out) throughout another. When you shake the ice cream, you disperse the ice crystals, fat molecules, and air in the other ingredients.

The more you shake, the smaller the ice crystals get and the more air you add. This makes the ice cream creamier! We add salt to the ice so we can shake the ice cream long enough to emulsify it.

Every substance has a melting point, which is the temperature it melts or freezes at. For freshwater, the melting temperature is 32ºF/0ºC. Adding rock salt lowers the melting point of water. A 10% salt solution freezes at about 20ºF/-6ºC.

With a lower melting point, we can shake the ice cream longer to better diffuse the different parts. If it froze faster, this would be much harder to do.

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DIY Fresco Art For Kids • An Activity in Ancient Art

You don't need to be Michelangelo to create this DIY Fresco art for kids! 

Fresco paintings are a huge part of the artifacts recovered from the fallen city of Pompeii, Italy in 79 AD. Fresco art is defined by combining wet plaster with pigments such as paint or pastels. In this DIY Fresco art activity, we will be doing a modified version that kids of all ages can do at home!

 

Materials you will need:

  • Plaster of Paris (BLICK Art materials)
  • Natural Burlap
  • Cardboard
  • Soft Pastels (any that are not oil based)
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Spray bottle
  • Clear washable glue
  • Wisk or mixing tool
  • Spatula
  • Box cutter (for adult use only)
materials for DIY Fresco Art For Kids

Directions:

Step 1:

Prepare your supplies! Cut your cardboard down to approximately a 1ft by 1ft square. Next, you should cut the burlap down to about a 10” by 10” square so that there is at least an inch of cardboard sticking out on all sides when you lay the burlap on top of the cardboard. 

 

square of burlap on cardboard

Step 2:

Fresco-plaster mixture: Use the ratio of 2-parts plaster: 1-part water. For this activity, we used 2 cups of plaster with 1 cup of water. Pour the ingredients into a bowl and begin to stir with your mixing tool. You will notice that the plaster will instantly combine with the water and become a thicker mixture.

 

make plaster for diy fresco art

Step 3:

Preparing your base: Pour some of your mixture onto your burlap-cardboard base and begin to smear into a circle like the image shown. Feel free to keep the plaster base relatively thick, this will give you a better effect in a later step. Let plaster dry for 2 hours.

 

prepare the base for DIY Fresco Art by spreading plaster on burlap

Step 4:

Time to make your DIY Fresco Art! Mist your plaster base with a spray bottle so that it is slightly damp. Use the soft pastels as desired to blend colors and create your own Fresco art masterpiece! Have fun with the plaster base, use your fingers to smudge the colors and see how they blend.

 

two hands decorating Fresco Art with a flower

Step 5:

Now for the fun part! Use your hands or a tool to gently break apart your plaster base. This will create “stress fractures” and make your Fresco art look like it has just been found from long ago or just like the artifacts recovered from Pompeii.

 

two hands creating stress fractures to fresco

Step 6:

Preserve your creation: Using clear washable glue, pour a generous amount onto the middle of your plaster base. Using a scrap piece of cardboard, gently spread the glue around to create an even layer over your base. This will seal in the pigment and the fractures you have added to your fresco.

 

Step 7:

Finish your Fresco! Once the glue is fully dried, gently remove the burlap-plaster base from the cardboard. Now you will be able to trim the excess burlap away from your plaster base. You have now completed your ownDIY Fresco Art!

 

completed fresco art projects

 

Funding for this project was provided by the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation.

Thanks to the support from Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs, Orlando Science Center is excited to host the blockbuster exhibit, Pompeii: The Immortal City in the Fall of 2020.
 

Orlando Science Center is excited to support partnership programs and collaborations leading up to and coinciding with the run of the exhibition.

Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation

If you enjoyed this project, you're going to lava these other Pompeii-inspired activities! 

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How to Make Homemade Butter in 5 Simple Steps

I can't believe it IS butter! Learn how to make homemade butter with a little science and a lot of energy!  

Shake off the excess energy as you make butter and learn about the chemistry of the food we eat every day! Join us as we learn how to make homemade butter in 5 simple steps, using only 3 ingredients, for 1 delicious experiment! 

Materials you will need:

  • ½ cup heavy cream

  • A small jar or container with a tight fitting lid

  • Salt (optional)

Directions:

Step 1:

Let your half cup of cream sit a while until it has warmed up to almost room temperature.

 

Step 2:

Pour the cream into the jar and seal the lid tightly. Make sure the lid is completely sealed; otherwise, cream may leak out of the container!

seal your homemade butter (1)

Step 3:

Start shaking! It should take between 5-7 minutes (or the length of this dance party) of shaking to make your homemade butter.

 

Step 4:

Once you have both a solid and a liquid in your jar, open the lid and rinse the homemade butter under cold water to get rid of all the liquid.

rinse your homemade butter

Step 5:

Refrigerate your butter for up to 10 days (or eat it). If you would like, you can add a pinch of salt to your butter before storing it.

the last step_ you have homemade butter

Expand on the activity!

The Science: 

  • When whole milk sits out, tiny fat molecules float to the top, forming a layer of cream that can be skimmed and collected. To make butter, the cream is agitated (stirred up) so that the fat molecules get shaken out of position and clump together.
  • As you shake your cream, you are breaking the fat out of its little bundles and mixing it with air, just like whipped cream. Your jar will feel very light.

  • Then, the fat globules will begin sticking to each other. You will start to see a liquid and a solid. The solid is butter, the liquid is buttermilk.

Did you know?

  • The color of butter comes from what the animal has been eating. Yellow is from carotene, which cows get from the plants they eat.
  • Butter has about the same density as ice.
  • Butter is an ancient prepared food, having been made by people at least 4,000 years ago. Some of the earliest known recipes for making butter call for the use of a container made from animal skin. The skin would be sewed together tightly, leaving a small opening through which to add fatty milk or cream. The vessel would then be suspended, such as from wooden poles, and swung until butter formed.

Try some more kitchen chemistry!

DIY Rock Candy

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How to Create Iridescent Art: A Colorful STEAM Bookmark Activity

Scientists use nanotechnology to create this effect, but you just need clear nail polish to learn how to create iridescent art! 

Iridescence is the phenomenon of certain surfaces that appear to gradually change color as the angle of view or the angle of illumination changes. It can be found naturally in animals like fish for camouflage in the water and for attracting mates, or in the wings of butterflies and bird feathers. It is also seen in bubbles and you won't believe how simple it is to find out how to create iridescent art yourself!

Materials you will need:

  • Black paper
  • Clear nail polish
  • Permanent marker(s) that can write on black paper
  • Shallow container (like Tupperware or a frozen dinner tray)
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers (Optional)
materials for how to create iridescent bookmarks

Directions:

Step 1:

Cut out whatever size and shape bookmark you want to make. Smaller is easier to work with. Make sure it fits in your shallow container!

cut out shape of iridescent artwork

Step 2:

Write something or draw a picture on the paper with your markers.

draw art that will be under iridescent

Step 3:

Add enough water to the container so that it is about a half-inch deep.

pouring water over iridescent art

Step 4:

Hold one end of the black paper and slide it into the container until the paper is fully underwater.

slip paper under water

Step 5:

Add a single drop of nail polish onto the surface of the water above the paper. Make sure to just use one drop! Too much will ruin the effect!

*Tips:
The nail polish will dry quickly on top of the water. If it does, it will create a film that won’t stick to the paper. If the nail polish does create a dry film on top, simply scoop it off and try again more quickly!
It can take patience and practice to get this activity right!

add nail polish to water to create iridescent effect on your art

Step 6:

Now lift the paper out of the water, carefully dragging the face of the bookmark along the nail polish.

remove iridescent art from water

Step 7:

Leave your bookmark out to dry for about 10 minutes. Then check it out in different lights from different angles!

And that's it! You've mastered how to create iridescent art! Share your creations with us on social media by using #OrlandoScienceCenter or uploading it to our Science Showcase

finished Iridescent Bookmark art

Expand on the Activity!

Learn the science:

The nail polish spreads out into a super-thin film across the water, and then you transfer that film to the bookmark.

The film is only a few hundred nanometers thick, about as thick (or thin!) as a soap bubble. However, small differences in the thickness of the film change the color it reflects, so it creates the iridescent effect!

Can you think of any examples of iridescence in nature? Many bird feathers, butterfly wings, shells, and beetle shells have nano-sized, semi-transparent layers that create an iridescent effect when they reflect light. Scientists are also using nanotechnology to create iridescence for various materials and devices!

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Simple Spooky STEM Activities to Scare Up Some Fun

Get into the Halloween spirit with these simple spooky STEM activities!

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays at the Orlando Science Center, so we’ve rounded up some of our favorite simple spooky STEM activities that you can do at home!

We’ve also included instructions on how to give some activities a special Halloween twist. From making the slimiest slime to exploring art with candy, find them all in one place below.

STEM Slime Time!

Our staff concocted the slimiest slime recipe for you to try at home! For glowing slime, use tonic water or highlighter water instead of regular water. Click here to make highlighter water!

Spooky Oobleck

Make an ooey-gooey mess with just two ingredients! Learn about the states of matter and viscosity, practice lab skills like measuring and mixing with this educational messy science experiment that's so fun, you won't even realize you're learning!

To make pumpkin oobleck, color the oobleck orange with paint or food coloring and add pumpkin-scented oil. Alternatively, you can mix a can of pumpkin puree in a pitcher of water and use it in place of the regular water.

Ectoplasm Detector

Have you ever wanted to make something glow under a blacklight? Let us teach you one of our favorite hacks, which you can turn into an Ectoplasm Detector!

Write or draw messages, then hide them in a dark place. Make the Ectoplasm Detector by following the instructions for your DIY Blacklight Hack then use your ectoplasm detector to find and reveal the ghostly messages!

Ghosts in the Graveyard

Have you ever wanted to make something glow under a blacklight? Let us teach you one of our favorite hacks, which you can turn into an Ectoplasm Detector!

Write or draw messages, then hide them in a dark place. Make the Ectoplasm Detector by following the instructions for your DIY Blacklight Hack then use your ectoplasm detector to find and reveal the ghostly messages!

Sweet Science

Trick or Treat! In this experiment, science is sweet! Use a little bit of candy to make Halloween pictures that swirl like magic, to explore chemistry, and to practice making predictions and observations.

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What to do with Leftover Candy? Learn Some Sweet Science with this STEM Experiment

Are you wondering what to do with leftover candy? You're in for a treat!

This experiment is sugar, and spice, and everything science! Join us as we dive into some chemistry (and our candy stash) and we'll give you a fun trick for what to do with your leftover treats. 

We'll use a little bit of candy to make pictures that swirl like magic, to explore chemistry, and to practice making predictions and observations.

Materials you will need:

  • Candy with a hard shell, like Skittles or M&M’s
  • Warm water
  • Shallow dish or plate that can hold liquid
skittles in a dish and water -leftover candy materials

Directions:

Step 1:

Arrange your candy in a design on your dish.

  • You can try arranging them in a circle around the edge of the dish, or making pictures with them. Since we're using Halloween candy, we made a pumpkin.
skittles arranged in the shape of a pumpkin -leftover candy and what to do with it

Step 2:

Slowly pour your warm water over the candy.

Encourage your scientist to answer these questions:

  • Before you add water, ask your scientist what they think will happen and why. This is called a hypothesis.
  • What happens to the letter on the candy?
  • Why do think the colors are moving?
  • Why do you think the colors aren’t mixing?
  • How do you think you could speed up the reaction
pouring water on leftover candy

Step 3:

Watch what happens! What do you observe?

Make it sweeter!

  • Make different designs. How are the color patterns different based on the design you make?
  • Add another piece of candy after you’ve added water and the colors have started to spread out. What happens?
  • Add a sugar cube to the candy after you’ve added the water and the colors have started to spread out. What happens?
  • Experiment with different water temperatures. What temperature works best?
  • Try using different candies. Which ones do you think will cause colors to spread out across the water
skittles in water with the colors swirling around - what happens to leftover candy

Expand on the Activity! 

The Science

  • The colored shells on Skittles and M&M’s are made out of sugar and food coloring. As the sugar and food coloring dissolve in water, they diffuse (or spread out) across it. This changes the clear water to the colors of the candy.

  • The colors move from the area with the highest concentration of color (the candy and the area right next to it) to the area with lowest concentration (the area farthest away from the candy). Watch how the color moves away from the candies. Molecules moving from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration is called a concentration gradient.

  • The colors don’t mix because of something called water stratification. Each color of food coloring has a slightly different chemical make-up. Because of this, they have slightly different densities. This keeps the colors from mixing as they spread out.

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Simple Sensory STEAM Activities to Engineer for Halloween

From creepy chemistry to haunted machines, add some spook to your science with these simple sensory STEAM activites

It’s Spooky Season! Looking for something ghoul to do with your young scientists? Create concoctions that are creepy, slimy, and scary! Take these simple sensory STEAM activities to the next level with a Halloween touch by adding scents, food coloring, and decorations. 

Scary Simple Slime

Check out our simple slime recipe and see what creative ways you can adapt it to become a spooky sensory activity!

Pumpkin spice-it-up with orange food coloring and pumpkin extract for ultimate Halloween slime! Not a pumpkin person? 

If you've got a black light, you can get bright blue slime that glows under UV light by substituting tonic water for water in any recipe. The tonic water contains quinine, which emits bright blue fluorescence under black light.

Another option is to add fluorescent highlighter ink to the slime recipe. You can get the ink by soaking a highlighter in water.

Turn oobleck into Oogie Boogie

Create dancing ghosts with Oobleck! All you need is to put a speaker or subwoofer close to the Oobleck and play your favorite spooky tunes. 

What is Oobleck? It’s a non-Newtonian fluid, meaning it can act like a solid or a liquid depending on what you do to it. If you try to pick it up, run through your hands like water. Try making a fist tap the mixture in the bowl; You’ll feel it become hard as a rock! You can use this to learn how molecules called polymers work. Click thebutton below to learn how to make this easy mixture!

Haunted Machines 

Automata’s are simple machines, like levers, pulleys, or wheels, that change the direction or magnitude of a force. 

In this project, you’ll be able to create your own simple machine, using small machines! Transform this cardboard structure with chilling decorations. From a haunted house to dancing skeletons, there’s so much you can do! 

Mixing Halloween and these simple sensory STEAM activities will get you into the spooky spirit and teach you a thing or two about how cool science is. These projects are for all levels of scientists and can be repeated for extra fun! 

Simple sensory STEAM activities

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How to Demonstrate Static Electricity and Shock Your Friends

Learn a phantom-tastic physics lesson while you learn how to demonstrate static electricity! 

How do you make a tissue dance? You put a little boo-gie in it!

Static electricity is electricity that doesn’t move. You’ve experienced static electricity if you’ve ever rubbed your feet on a carpet and then zapped a friend or sibling.

Let us teach you how to demonstrate static electricity, and put a little boogie in tissue paper ghosts to make them dance in this fun and simple science activity.

Materials you will need:

  • Tissue
  • Black marker
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape
  • A balloon
tissue paper, scissors, marker, tape, balloon- materials needed to demonstrate static electricity

Directions:

Step 1:

Carefully separate the layers of your tissue and pull them apart. We want our tissue paper to be very thin for this activity.

separate toilet paper for static electricity demonstration

Step 2:

Draw ghosts on your tissue pieces then cut them out.

cut out ghosts

Step 3:

Tape the bottom of each ghost to your work surface with clear tape.

tape ghosts to floor

Step 4:

Blow up a balloon then rub it against your hair or against wool. A fluffy wool sweater or blanket will work!

  • While you work on your experiment,  ask your scientist some questions: 
    • Before you hold your balloon over the ghosts, ask your scientist what you think will happen. This called a hypothesis.
    • What happened when you rubbed the balloon against your hair or with wool?
    • What do you think would happen if we didn’t pull the tissue apart?
create static electricity

Step 5:

Hold your balloon 3-4 inches above your ghosts and move it around to make them rise up from the grave and dance!
*If nothing happens right away, try moving the balloon closer to the ghosts or rubbing the balloon again.

Take the experiment further:

  • How many ghosts can you lift up at once?
  • How far away can you hold the balloon from the ghosts and still make them move?
  • What happens if you use different thicknesses of paper? What about different types of paper? Why do you think some types and thicknesses of paper work better than others?
how to demonstrate static electricity

Expand on the Activity! 

Learn more about static electricity

  • Electricity is a form of energy that powers our electronics like our TVs, computers, light bulbs, and more.

  • Static electricity is electricity that doesn’t move. You’ve experienced static electricity if you’ve ever rubbed your feet on a carpet and then zapped a friend or sibling, if you’ve ever zapped yourself touching a doorknob, or if you’ve ever seen lightening before.

  • Electricity is created by teeny tiny particles called protons and electrons. Protons are positively charged, while electrons are negatively charged. Just like magnets, opposites attract. So the positive protons and negative electrons attract each other!

  • When you rubbed the balloon with the cloth, you built up a negative charge on the balloon by adding electrons to it. Our little tissue paper ghosts are positive, so they were attracted to the balloon. This causes them to rise up!

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What is an automata? Marvel at this DIY machine in motion!

What is an automata? Check out this simple way to make a simple machine! 

Automata-who? An automata is a playful way to explore simple machine elements such as cams, levers, and linkages, while creating mechanical sculpture. They’ve been around for hundreds of years, with stories about automatons all the way back in Greek mythology! You might have one in your own home if you have a moving bird inside a cuckoo clock. 

What is a simple machine? A simple machine is a non-motorized device that changes the direction or magnitude of a force, for example, an inclined plane, wedge, lever, pulley, or automata.

Today you will be working with Cams and Cam Followers which is a form of the wheel and axel. Rather than making a bicycle wheel turn, we will be creating more of a gear-driven movement.

This is a really fun Maker activity that you can try at home to help understand what is an automata. Use this project to explore simple machines, like wheels and axles, and your critical thinking skills and creativity to make your project move. Let’s get making!

Materials you will need:

  • Cardboard frame 
  • Cardboard scraps 
  • Drinking straw
  • Scissors 
  • Skewer sticks
  • Foam sheet 
  • Washer
  • Masking tape
  • Hot Glue Gun 
  • Materials for decoration

Directions:

Step 1:

Add support to your frame.

  • Cut triangles out of the cardboard scraps and tape them into each corner of the frame for support.
add support to your automata frame

Step 2:

Plan out your automata. Think about what you want your automata to depict. Some start by choosing their motion first and going from there. 

  • Round and Round
  • Up/Down and Round and Round 
  • Back and Forth and Up and Down
    • Pay close attention to the placements of the cam and cam follower

Step 3:

Create the cams 

  • Draw your cam and cam follower in the upper left-hand corner of the foam sheet. 
  • Make sure to draw it as close to the edge as possible
  • It’s important to cut the cams smoothly and make sure your cam follower is a little bigger than your cam.
choose a motion your automata (1)

Step 4:

Get a handle on your automata

  • Cut a rectangular piece of cardboard and hot glue the cardboard to the skewer
add a handle

Step 5:

Add the axle to the frame 

  • Put your cam on the axle inside the frame. 
  • Start the holes in the frame using the nail, and make sure the cam clears the top and bottom of the frame.
add an axel

Step 6:

Add the cam follower

  • Poke a hole in the top of the frame where you want your cam follower to be located. 
  • Cut the straw so it’s about 4 cm long, and then insert it into the hole you just made. 
  • Hot glue the straw in place.
  • Put a skewer stick through the straw and attach your cam follower to the bottom end of the stick. 
  • Glue the cam follower in place.
add an axel

Step 7:

Test it! 

  • Adjust your cam under the cam follower until you get the motion you like. 
  • If the cam follower does not fall on the cam, attach a washer to add a little weight. 
  • If the cam does not stay in place on the axle, add a small dab of hot glue to hold the cam in place.
test your automata

Step 8:

Last, but not least, it's time to decorate your automata! 

Design your automata

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How to Make Bath Fizzers • Explore Science While you Scrub-a-Dub-Dub

Add some science to your self-care by learning how to make bath fizzers! 

We’re bubbling over with excitement to teach you how to make bath fizzers! With some materials you can buy at the grocery store and a few steps, you can make your own bath fizzers at home.

This recipe is customizable, so you can add whatever color or scent you like, as well as additional treats such as dried flower petals or biodegradable glitter to your DIY bath fizzers. 

Materials you will need:

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup citric acid
    • Citric acid can be purchased in the canning department of Walmart, some craft stores, and online through retailers like Amazon.
  • ¼ cup Epsom salt
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon coconut oil
  • 5-10 drops of scented oil if you would like your bath fizzer to have a scent
  • 1-2 drops of food coloring if you would like your bath fizzer to have a color
  • A large bowl
  • A small bowl
  • Whisk
  • A mold
    • You can use bath fizzer molds, muffin tins, or even plastic cups to shape your bath fizzer.
Materials for hot to make bath fizzers

 Ready to make your own? Watch along or follow the written steps below!

Watch this clip of WESH 2 News’ Adrian Whitsett creating his own moon sand at the Orlando Science Center. After making the moon sand, Whitsett participated in an activity to show how craters are made. With small rocks he was able to make large indents to recreate an asteroid knocking into the moon!

Are you ready to explore the moon, astronaut?

Directions:

Step 1:

Add the baking soda, citric acid, cornstarch, and Epsom salt to the large bowl. Whisk to combine the ingredients and remove clumps. Set the large bowl aside.

how to make bath fizzers

Step 2:

Melt coconut oil and add water, scented oil, and food coloring to the small bowl. Mix them together.

*Coconut oil melts with very little heat, so microwaving for a few seconds or heating the measured amount on a stove over low heat will melt it quickly.

customize your bath fizzers

Step 3:

Now, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients a little bit at a time, whisking continually to combine. If the mixture fizzes excessively, you are adding the liquid too fast. You should end up with a slightly damp mixture that has started to clump together and resembles wet sand.

combine all the ingredients in your bath fizzers

Step 4:

Pack the mixture into your mold. If you are using a spherical mold, press the two halves together. Carefully remove the mold so it has room to expand. Let the fizzer dry on a foil-lined baking sheet. Fizzers are usually dry after 8 hours.

put bath fizzers in a mold

The Science: Acid-Base Reactions

Now that you've learned how to make bath fizzers, check out the science behind it!

If you’ve ever made a baking soda and vinegar volcano, you’ve seen a type of chemical reaction called an acid-base reaction. As vinegar (the acid) and baking soda (the base) mix together and react, they fizz and make an eruption of bubbles. This is exactly what’s happening in your bath fizzers, but with slightly different ingredients.

In bath fizzers baking soda is still the base, but citric acid is the acid instead of vinegar. Since both citric acid and baking soda are dry, they have to be dissolved in water to react. Once they’re dropped in the water together, they react and fizz, creating the bubbles you see in your bath fizzer. The bubbles carry any scent in the bath fizzer to the surface of the water, making the bath smell nice.

Cornstarch is the other main ingredient in all bath fizzers, but it isn’t an acid or base. It’s used for several different reasons. It helps keep the baking soda and citric acid from reacting when adding the liquid ingredients, it binds all of the ingredients together, it helps to thicken and harden the bath fizzer, and acts as a non-reactive dry “filler” that slows down the reaction and makes the fizzing last longer.

Expand on the Activity! 

Learn More Chemistry

  • pH is a measurement of how acidic or basic something is. It is measured on a scale of 0-14.
  • A substance with a pH of 7 (like distilled water) is neutral. A substance with a pH of less than 7 is an acid. The closer the number gets to zero, the stronger the acid is. A substance with a pH of more than 7 is a base. The closer the number is to 14, the stronger the base is.
  • There are several different definitions of acids and bases in chemistry.
  • A simple chemical definition of an acid is a substance that releases hydrogen ions (H+) when dissolved in water. A simple chemical definition of a base is a substance that makes hydroxide ions (OH-) when dissolved in water or a substance that takes hydrogen ions from an acid.
  • Ions are positively (+) or negatively (-) charged particles of an element.

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Get a round up of our latest activities and ideas delivered straight to your inbox so you don't miss a thing!

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Follow us on social media for even more science fun including fun facts, games, behind-the-scenes photos, and more!

 

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Support OSC At Home

In these ever-changing times, it is our pleasure to adapt quality Orlando Science Center experiences to engage with everyone while they are safe at home. Please consider supporting our operating fund to ensure we can continue developing resources today and well into the future. Thank you for your generosity and support!