Painting Techniques for Kids to Try • From Baking Soda Paint to Buon Fresco

Using science and creativity, these painting techniques for kids to try will elicit a reaction from your friends and your art! 

1,941 years ago, a catastrophic event occurred in Pompeii, a city on the Italian peninsula. A volcano called Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered the whole city in ash! 

The site was lost for centuries and remained almost entirely untouched until 1748. Today, scientific research brings to light the extraordinary history and culture of Pompeii and the Roman world. Learn how to create a fizzing work of art or a Buon Fresco with these Roman- inspired painting techniques for kids to try.

Using the DIY baking soda paint you just created, you can now make an erupting volcano painting!

Materials you will need:

  • Red or orange baking soda paint
    *Learn how to make your own here!
  • A tray or a small container to put the baking soda paint in
  • A small cup
  • A dropper (if you do not have on you can use drips from your paintbrush)
  • White vinegar (you can add pigment to the vinegar, but it is not necessary)
  • A cup of water
  • A paintbrush or two
  • Watercolor or mixed media paper -Watercolor pencils or paint (colored pencils or markers will work too, but not crayon)
materials for painting technique for kids to try

Follow along with the video or the steps below to try this painting technique!

Directions:

  • Step One: Draw your volcano. A volcano is a mountain that lets magma or molten rock escape from under the Earth’s crust to the surface where it comes out as lava. The molten rock makes its way up the main vent of the volcano. Some volcanoes have side vents where lava will flow out the side instead of the top. At the top of the volcano is the crater, this is where most of the lava will come out, sometimes it flows and sometimes there’s a big eruption. Not all volcanoes erupt with lava, some, like Mount Vesuvius erupt with ash, but our painting today will have lava. Right not we are just drawing the mountain that will be our volcano.
  • Step Two: Fill in the background. I added plants and the sun and made the sky blue. When you are done with this step the whole scene should be complete, except the lava. In Pompeii there were marketplaces, houses, courtyards, and bathhouses- you can add some of them to your scene too!
  • Step Three: For watercolor pencils, this step turns the pencil marks into paint. Dip your paintbrush in clean water and paint on the pencil marks with the water, you will see the marks turn into paint. Make sure to rinse your brush between colors.
  • Step Four: This step adds your lava! Use a clean brush and your baking soda paint. The paint will be a little chunky because the baking soda doesn’t dissolve. Paint your lava on your volcano.
  • Step Five: Watch your volcano erupt! Using the dropper, drip the vinegar one drop at a time onto your lava. What happens? A little goes a long way, take your time and watch it bubble and flow. When the vinegar touches the baking soda, it starts a chemical reaction. The chemical reaction releases a gas and creates the bubbles you see. Once you’ve watched your eruption, leave your painting in the same spot to dry- moving it will make the lava drip off the page.

Learn more! 

  • Were you inspired by your baking soda painting technique? Try creating a Buon Fresco, a popular art technique common in Ancient Rome!
  • If you want to learn more about volcanoes and Pompeii follow the links below:
    • https://www.natgeokids.com/uk/discover/geography/physical-geography/volcano-facts/ 
    • https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/history/pompeii/
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.
 

Students from UCF CREATE Lake Eola Charter School will participate in the Pompeii program where they will learn the science of how frescos are created and work collaboratively to create fresco paintings.

If you would like more STEAM Lessons like these, learn how to enroll in the free public STEAM Art Making with Miss A online Canvas course.

DIY Baking Soda Paint • Add Some Bubbles and Bring your Painting to Life

This DIY baking soda paint will cause a reaction from your art AND your friends! 


In just 24 hours, Pompeii and neighboring Herculaneum were buried by the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. 

Using a little chemistry and watercolor paint, you can create an erupting volcano painting ! First, follow the steps to make your DIY baking soda paint. Then, learn how to use that paint to bring your art to life

Materials you will need:

  • Containers with lids for the paint (you will need one for each color you make)
  • Baking Soda
  • Water
  • Measuring Spoon
  • Scrap paper to use as a funnel
  • Pigment
    *This adds color to your paint, you can use liquid watercolor paints, tempera paint, acrylic paint, food coloring, or even old eyeshadow. Anything that will add color is fine as long as it is not wax or oil-based because those won’t mix with the water.
Materials for DIY baking soda paint

Directions:

Follow along with the video or the steps below to make your own DIY baking soda paint.

  • Step 1:
    For each color put an equal amount of baking soda and water in your paint containers. My bottles are small so I used two tablespoons of each. I made a funnel with my scrap paper to get the baking soda in the bottle. If you want a thicker paint, you can do a 2:1 ratio of two part baking soda to 1 part water.
  • Step Two:
    Put your pigment in and shake! More pigment means more color saturation- if you use a little your paint will be light, if you use a lot your paint will be dark.

Your paint is now ready to use! Make sure to shake it well before each use.

Now that you've made your DIY baking soda paint, get the next steps! 

Painting Techniques for Kids to Try • From Baking Soda Paint to Buon Fresco

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.
 

Students from UCF CREATE Lake Eola Charter School will participate in the Pompeii program where they will learn the science of how frescos are created and work collaboratively to create fresco paintings.

If you would like more STEAM Lessons like these, learn how to enroll in the free public STEAM Art Making with Miss A online Canvas course.

DIY Moon Sand: An Out-Of-This-World Activity Right at Home

Have a blast with this stellar DIY moon sand recipe!

Have you ever looked up at the moon and noticed that the moon looks sort of like cheese? That’s because the moon’s surface is made up of craters and rocks. Craters are holes in the Moon’s surface formed by impact from an asteroid, which is a chunk of rock and metal in outer space. Using our DIY Moon Sand recipe, you too can experiment and make your own moon craters!

These recipes call for various food items but it is not to be consumed! Keep an eye out for this when little ones are playing with their moon sand. We do recommend doing this activity outside if possible as it does tend to get messy.

Materials for DIY Moon Sand:

  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of baby oil
  • Measuring cups
  • Mixing bowl
  • Rocks of various sizes 
  • Mixing spoon *optional
  • Play bin *optional

Materials for Gluten-Free DIY Moon Sand:

  • 2 cups of baking soda/powder
  • 2 cups of cornstarch
  • 1 cup of baby oil
  • Measuring cups
  • Mixing bowl
  • Rocks of various sizes 
  • Mixing spoon *optional
  • Play bin *optional

 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:

  • First, measure out your dry ingredients and add them to your mixing bowl, this will be your flour or baking soda/cornstarch base. When you scoop these ingredients into your measuring cups, make sure you level off the cup to make sure you get a full cup!
ingredients for DIY moon sand

STEP 2:

  • Next, we will add in our liquid ingredients. Measure out the designated amount of oil to add to your mixture and carefully pour it into your bowl.
Add liquid ingredients to moon sand

STEP 3:

  • Here’s where it starts to get messy! Start to mix all of your ingredients together. You can mix with your hands or a large mixing spoon. Your dry ingredients will absorb the oil and start to stick together while still remaining soft. The best moon sand texture is crumbly, but still able to be molded together.
combine ingredients

Now that you have made your moon sand, you can start making your own craters!

Our moon sand is nice and soft but is perfect for making impressions. Gather a few rocks of different shapes and sizes. Through this activity, children will be able to experiment and make observations about their craters while changing variables of the activity. How will your results change?

Experiment: Even out your moon sand to form a layer at the bottom of your bowl or bin. Stand over your moon sand and gently drop different rocks onto the surface. You can measure the size of your craters with a ruler by how many inches wide or deep it is. Record your results, you can write or draw the way your crater looks and take note of your measurements to compare later.

Try some of these variations and observe how your craters change:

  • Drop your asteroids from different heights
  • Instead of an even layer, build up your moon sand into a mountain and try dropping your asteroid onto it and see what happens.
  • Try making your moon sand look like the moon by forming all kinds of craters of all shapes and sizes in your sand.
  • Mold your moon sand into different phases of the moon

 

Experiment with your DIY moon sand
make a crater
crater in moon sand

Make Conclusions

Which rocks made the deepest impressions? What happened to your craters when you changed the height at which you dropped your asteroids? What did your data tell you about your experiment?

If you had fun making moon sand crater creations and snapped some photos, be sure to submit it to our Science Showcase here or tag Orlando Science Center and use #OSCatHome on social media! You might be featured on our channels.

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Find out when we release new resources by following us on social media!

 

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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!

Kitchen Chemistry for Kids: Get Hands-On, Then Get Your Snack On

Learning has never been sweeter with this kitchen chemistry for kids of all ages!

Everything we interact within our day-to-day lives is made out of molecules. There are countless different kinds of molecules, each made out of atoms of different elements.

This kitchen chemistry for kids will help build an understanding of atoms and molecules as we create our own atomic marshmallow models!

Materials you will need:

  • Colored marshmallows
    *If you don’t have marshmallows, you can use clay, playdough, etc...
  • Toothpicks 
Materials for Kitchen Chemistry for Kids

Molecules:

Hydrogen (H2):

  • Some molecules are homonuclear, which means they are made up of just two atoms of the same element. Let’s make a homonuclear hydrogen molecule.
  • To make a hydrogen molecule, grab 2 marshmallows of the same color. Then connect them with toothpicks, as shown in the picture.
Kitchen Chemistry for Kids- hydrogen molecule

Water (H2O – Dihydrogen Monoxide):

  • The most important molecule for life on Earth is H2O, or water. It is made of 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom.
  • To make a water molecule, grab 2 marshmallows of one color and 1 of another. Then connect them with toothpicks, as shown in the picture. They should make a V shape.
Kitchen Chemistry for Kids- water molecule

Salt (NaCl – Sodium Chloride):

  • Salt molecules form cube-shaped crystals.
  • To make a salt molecule, you will need 8 marshmallows total, 4 of one color, and 4 of another. Connect them together in a cube, as shown in the picture
Kitchen Chemistry for Kids- salt molecule

Expand on this activity!

What other molecules can you make? Can you make methane? What about hydrogen peroxide? What’s the biggest molecule you can make? Check out MolView to see the digital models of all kinds of substances that you can base your marshmallow models off of!

Did you make your own marshmallow atomic models? We’d love to see how they turned out! Snap a photo of your models and submit it to our Science Showcase or tag Orlando Science Center and use #OSCatHome on social media! You might be featured on our channels.

The Science:

  • Real molecules aren’t held together by toothpicks. Instead, the atoms are bound together by positive and negative charges.
  • Water molecules are held together by covalent bonds, meaning they share negatively-charged particles called electrons.
  • Salt is a different kind of molecule, one that is made of ions. This happens when an atom gains or loses an electron. Sodium (Na) loves to get rid of electrons, so it is usually positive. Chloride (Cl) loves to steal electrons, so it is usually negative.
  • Molecules like this do not share electrons like water molecules do with covalent bonds. Instead, one atom gives an electron to the other, resulting in two charged atoms (ions). Just like with magnets, opposites attract. So, the positive sodium atoms and the negative chloride atoms will group together in the pattern that you’ve made. We call this an ionic bond.

OSC At Home Emails

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

Find out when we release new resources by following us on social media!

 

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!

Tie-Dye Milk Experiment: Learn Chemistry in Your Kitchen

Learn about molecules and more with this tie-dye milk experiment

Make a rainbow of colors swirl around with materials you can find in your kitchen and a dash of science!

 

Atoms and molecules are the particles that makeup everything. What element or elements they are, how they’re arranged, how they move, and how they interact with each other determines how a substance looks, acts and reacts. However, atoms and molecules are very, very small. You could line up 70 million helium atoms in a row across a pencil eraser!

 

This makes them way too small to see with our own eyes or even with many microscopes. But we can observe molecules in motion with this tie-dye milk experiment.

Materials you will need:

  • Milk or cream
  • Food coloring
  • Cotton swabs or toothpicks
  • Dish soap
  • A dish or plate with a rim that can hold liquid.

Directions:

Step 1: First, add some milk or cream to your dish. You want to make sure the milk completely covers the bottom of the dish, but you don’t need to completely fill it.

A dish of milk for tie dye milk experiment

Step 2: Next, add 4 drops of food coloring to the center of the dish, being careful not to let them mix. Don’t stir the milk and food coloring! You want them to stay separate for now.

Add dye to milk

Step 3: Pick up your cotton swab or toothpick. Carefully cover one end of it with dish soap.

Add dish soap to a qtip to create tie-dye milk effect

Step 4: When you’re ready, touch the center of the milk with the soapy end of your swab and watch the colors move!

The result of tie-dye milk experiment

The Science of Tie-Dye Milk

  • Milk is a mixture. It’s mostly water, but it also has proteins, fats, and other molecules mixed in.
  • Because milk is mostly made up of water, it acts a lot like water and has many of the same properties.
  • One of these properties is called surface tension. Surface tension is how resistant a liquid is to external force, or how strong the surface of the liquid is. It’s a bit like the surface of water having a sort of “skin.” This is how some insects can walk on water.
  • Soap is what we call a surfactant. It lowers the surface tension of a liquid.
  • When we dip the soap in the milk, it lowers its surface tension and causes not just the water molecules, but fat and protein molecules, to move as they quickly rearrange themselves.
  • By adding food coloring, we can see the movement caused by lowering the surface tension.

Expand on This Activity:

  • Ask Your Scientist the Following Questions:
    • What new colors do you see?
    • How are the colors moving?
    • Why do you think this happened?
  • Keep Experimenting:
    • Press down on the bottom of the dish with the soap-covered cotton swab for three seconds, then lift up. How is the movement of the colors different than when you quickly touch the cotton swab to the milk’s surface?
    • Touch the cotton swab to areas where the colors have collected to watch the colors continue to move.
    • Try the experiment with more or fewer colors of food coloring. How is the tie-dye different?

The Science of Tie-Dye Milk

  • Milk is a mixture. It’s mostly water, but it also has proteins, fats, and other molecules mixed in.
  • Because milk is mostly made up of water, it acts a lot like water and has many of the same properties.
  • One of these properties is called surface tension. Surface tension is how resistant a liquid is to external force, or how strong the surface of the liquid is. It’s a bit like the surface of water having a sort of “skin.” This is how some insects can walk on water.
  • Soap is what we call a surfactant. It lowers the surface tension of a liquid.
  • When we dip the soap in the milk, it lowers its surface tension and causes not just the water molecules, but fat and protein molecules, to move as they quickly rearrange themselves.
  • By adding food coloring, we can see the movement caused by lowering the surface tension.

Learn More: Chemistry

  • Many atoms and molecules have positive (+) or negative (-) charges. An atom or molecule with no charge is called neutral. Positive and negatively charged atoms attract, just like the north and south poles of a magnet.
  • Molecules can be polar or nonpolar. Polar molecules have one side that is much more positive or negative than the other. Nonpolar molecules don’t have a difference in charge. Polar molecule likes to mix with other polar molecules, and nonpolar molecules like mix with other nonpolar molecules. Polar and nonpolar molecules don’t mix. This is what keeps oil and water separate; oil is made of nonpolar molecules and water is made of polar molecules!
  • Water molecules have a positive side and negative side. This makes water a polar molecule. Because of this, water molecules can stick to each other. Molecules in liquid sticking to each other is known as cohesion. The cohesion between the water molecules at the surface is what creates surface tension.
  • Soap molecules have a negative side and neutral side, so it has both a polar and nonpolar end. The negative side of the soap molecule is attracted to the positive side of the water molecule, weakening the attraction between the water molecules and lowering the surface tension.
  • But that’s not all. The neutral sides of the soap molecules also interact with the nonpolar fat molecules, separating them out of the milk. This is how soap is able to clean up greasy messes!

OSC At Home Emails

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

Find out when we release new resources by following us on social media!

 

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

 

Facebook Logo Instagram Logo YouTube Logo Twitter Logo

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!

How to Talk to Kids About COVID-19: An Interview with Family Therapist Tonya Ramsburg

Family Therapist, Tonya Ramsburg shares tips on how to talk to kids about COVID-19

We spoke with licensed Family Therapist, Tonya Ramsburg, MA, LMFT, in a virtual conversation about the concerns of families during this time. Tonya Ramsburg has 15 years of experience providing therapy to children and families all over the world, and is a mother to a five-year-old and a two-year-old.

 

In our conversation, we explore how to talk to kids about COVID-19 and balance the needs of everyone in your family and how to address some of the challenging situations that come from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Have more questions?

We’re dedicated to providing our community with expert-approved answers. If you have questions that were not covered in our conversation, please email sciencelive@osc.org

Looking for more?

The resources listed below provide valuable information, tips, and materials to help your family navigate our ever-changing world during this pandemic.

Everyday Help and Information for Caregivers During COVID-19 and Beyond:

  • Vroom

    “This period of change with COVID-19 may bring new challenges, but you already have what it takes! We’ve collected some simple and fun ways to boost brain building at home together with your child. Even a few minutes count.”

    Vroom provides convenient tips for caregivers to bring learning into your everyday routines. These tips are science and research-based and center around a child’s developing brain, with easy-to-understand explanations included for adults.

  • Zero to Three

    “The following resources offer tips for families including age-appropriate responses to common questions, a guide to self-care, and activities for young children experiencing social distancing.”

    Zero to Three provides research-based information for our youngest children. They have created and compiled many informative, empathetic resources for parenting babies and toddlers

  • Conscious Discipline

    “For 20+ years, “We’re all in this together,” has been a core tenet of Conscious Discipline. It seems ironic that a virus that requires social distancing to slow its spread has drawn our attention to how intimately connected we truly are as friends, neighbors, communities and nations. Safety, connection and problem-solving are the most valuable contribution we can offer to those around us as we navigate these unprecedented times (and beyond). Breathe with me. We can handle this … together.”

    Conscious Discipline focuses on evidence-based social emotional learning and is often used in schools to help children feel safe, welcome, and ready to learn. They have put together many great resources for appropriate and wise guidance for your family during the pandemic. Be sure to scroll through the whole page for webinars, printables, and podcasts.

  • Child Mind Institute

    “We know parents are struggling to balance work, child care and self-care while keeping worries — both your children’s and your own — under control. You don’t have to do it alone.”

    Child Mind Institute is a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping children who have mental and learning differences. Their COVID-19 resource page includes helpful information for families with children who have specific needs such as autism, anxiety, and PTSD. They provide parental guidance on a wide range of subjects and for a wide range of ages. 

  • National Geographic: Talking to Kids About Xenophobia

    “In time, coronavirus infections will likely start to slow—and perhaps the related hate incidents against people of Asian descent will slow with it. But xenophobia is something that’s always with us, which is why it’s important for parents to teach their kids to fight it.”

    This article from National Geographic talks about ways to recognize, understand, prevent, and address xenophobia with our children. (Please be aware that National Geographic only allows access to a limited number of digital articles each month. If you have already hit your limit of free articles, you will need to purchase a subscription to read this article right away or wait until the next month.)

  • Unicef: 5 Ways to Fight Racism and Xenophobia

    “Celebrating other cultures emphasizes the fact that we are all people and sends the message that racism and xenophobia will not be tolerated in a civil society. It is our job, as people, as parents, as citizens of the world, to combat racism and xenophobia wherever we can.”

    This article provides guidance for individuals and parents in responding to racism as a result of COVID-19. 

  • Teaching Tolerance: Speaking Up Against Racism Around the New Coronavirus

    “Even if your students do not represent the identities likely to be harmed by racist comments around the coronavirus, or you believe they’re not spreading misinformation and repeating racist tropes, exploring anti-AAPI rhetoric around the virus is still worthy of critical conversations in the classroom.”

    While this article is geared towards educators, it also includes helpful context and information for parents around bias and rhetoric our children are exposed to beyond what we may be aware of.

  • Coronavirus Books for Children

    “Several medical organizations and countless child educators and health teachers have been involved in the creation of storybooks for children. While many coronavirus books for children are likely to be soon published, here’s a closer look at a few outstanding and widely different examples…”

     

    This listing includes a variety of books and comics available for free and provided by experts from varying fields and backgrounds.

These stories provide you with a tool to talk to your children about COVID-19 and help answer some of their questions with age-appropriate language and images.

 

  • A Curious Guide for Courageous Kids

    “To prevent the virus from having too much fun jumping from one person to the next, day and night, scientists and doctors are studying how to defeat it. They say that we shouldn’t be too afraid, we should be cautious. But there is something you can do to keep it from spreading. It’s called prevention.

  • Tara Tuchel: Seeing Other People Wearing Masks

    “Some people wear glasses, some people wear hats, and some people wear masks. Seeing people wearing masks is different But, it’s okay!”

Tools to Help Children with Anxiety and Other Big Emotions

  • Save the Children: Relaxation Activities

    “School closings, sick friends and family members, isolation at home – these and other factors can cause anxiety and stress for children during this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As the world’s leading expert on childhood, we’re sharing these drama-based relaxation exercises that are part of our global Healing and Education through the Arts (HEART) program for children living in stressful situations.”


    In this list, you will find specific breathing and relaxation techniques that use visualizations and dramatic play to help children de-stress.

 

  • PBS: How You and Your Kids Can De-Stress During Coronavirus

    “Research shows that just being in the presence of a compassionate, safe adult con help kids calm down. As families, we can be “that person” for each other.”


    PBS shares various techniques for relaxing and combating anxiety using familiar characters from their children’s shows.

  • Messenger Kids

     

    “Messenger Kids is a free video calling and messaging app for smartphones and tablets*. Parents manage the contact list, and kids control the fun. Keep in touch with close friends and family with fun-filled features like filters and stickers.”

Kids News

These websites can help you share current world news with your children in simpler, more age-appropriate language. Please take some time to review these websites before sharing since all of the content may not be appropriate for your child. Check in with your children as you review the news and start conversations about how they are feeling and what concerns they might have about what you are learning together. 

 

  • News for Kids

    “We believe the name says it all. NewsForKids.net was created by a teacher to make the news accessible to kids. We carefully choose high interest stories appropriate to the audience, and present them in a way that is easy to understand. News is necessarily complicated and messy. There’s a lot to know. We strive to make each article as self-contained as possible, giving the necessary background and not assuming that the reader already has certain knowledge.”

  • DOGO 

    “DOGO Media is the leading online network empowering kids to engage with digital media in a fun, safe and social environment. Used by millions of students and teachers from around the world, our websites have quickly grown into a community of kids and educators engaging positively with current events, books, and movies. DOGO [doh-GOH] means young or small in Swahili. While our young fans may be small, they act BIG as they engage with our websites and express their opinions on the content that interests and inspires them.”

  • Time for Kids

    “Since 1995, TIME for Kids has published a weekly magazine for elementary school students. With exclusive access to TIME’s award-winning content, TIME for Kids is uniquely positioned to teach kids to recognize and value authentic and trustworthy journalism.”

  • Scholastic: Kids Press

    “Scholastic Kids Press is a group of talented Kid Reporters, ages 10–14, from across the country and around the world. Since 2000, our award-winning young journalists have reported "news for kids, by kids," covering politics, entertainment, the environment, sports, and more in their hometowns and on the national stage.”

Animal Chart Activity: Who Are Your Tree-Dwelling Neighbors?

Find out who's home with this early childhood animal chart activity! 

Age recommendation: 3 – 7 years 

 

Who’s home? The trees all around us are a habitat or home to many different animals. Learn about how a tree can provide shelter, food, and a place to play!  

You can complete this animal chart activity by simply following the steps below, but if you'd like to add to the activity, we recommend you make it a story time with the book The Busy Tree by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Lisa Falkenstern and published by Two Lions, an Amazon Publishing imprint. Get the book on Amazon.com here, or consider getting an e-book or checking it out from your local library if it's available! 

If you want to keep an eye out for the animals you see in The Busy Treeyou can print out this pre-made chart by clicking here. You can also use this chart as a start instead of making your own but keep in mind you may not see all of these animals during your observations. We’ve left one column blank so if you see an animal neighbor who lives near you that isn’t in the book, you can still include them in your data!

Who are your tree-dwelling neighbors? 

Lots of the animals who live in The Busy Tree are animals that we see here in Florida. Take some time to observe the outdoors through a window, in a backyard, or on a nature walk. 

As you’re observing, collect data on what you see! As scientists, when we collect data we are gathering information about something so that we can better understand it. As you collect data on the animals that live in the trees near your home, you are learning more about your environment and the critters who share a space with you. 

Materials For Your Animal Chart Activity:

  • Paper 
  • Clipboard or something to lean and write against 
  • Marker, crayon, or pencil 
  • Straightedge like a ruler, the side of a book, or anything you have on hand
  • Binoculars (optional) 
  • Magnifying glass (optional) 
How to create Orlando Science Center's animal chart activity

Directions:

STEP 1
  • Using your paper and writing utensil, create a simple chart. You can use your straightedge to help you make straight lines.

    A
    chart is a way to keep track of information, this is one of the ways scientists collect data. In our chart we will keep track of which animals we see at the bottom, and how many of that animal we see in the top columns (the tall skinny space above the animal)Be sure to add the date and time you are collecting your observations! 
STEP 2 
  • Attach your chart to a clipboard with your writing utensil and get ready to explore. Binoculars can help you see things that are far away (like up in a tree!) and magnifying glasses can help you see things that are small (like insects at the roots of a tree or on the tree’s bark). Bring binoculars and a magnifying glass if you have them. If not, you can still make amazing observations with just your eyes!  
You tools like binoculars or magnifying glass to help complete your animal chart activity
STEP 3 
  • You need to find a place around your home to observe. This could be in a yard, a nearby park, or out on a walk. Bring your supplies with you to start making observations!
    Always ask a grown-up before going outside!
STEP 4
  • Pay attention to the animals you see around the trees near your home. When you see an animal, write the name of the animal or draw a picture at the bottom of your chart.

Using your animal activity chart, go outside to observe animals and complete chart
STEP 5
  • Make one “x” in the column above an animal for each one you see. Only count an individual animal once! If you see the same squirrel again, don’t make another “x”. If you see a different squirrel, make an “x”. This will make our data more accurate!
STEP 6
  • When you are done observing and collecting data, count how many of each animal you wrote down on your chart. Analyze or think about the information from your chart. Which animal did you see the most? Which animal did you see the least? Why might that be?
Mark which animals you see on your animal activity chart
STEP 7
  • This is an experiment that you can repeat. Some animals are more active during different times of day. Choose a different time of day to collect data from your observations, then compare and contrast the data you have collected. Did you notice more of a certain animal during the evening than during the day? If you repeat this experiment all year, you may notice different animals are busier during certain seasons.
STEP 8
  • Enjoy getting to know your animal neighbors!
collect data by marking the animals you observe on your animal activity chart

Be a citizen scientist!

You can become a citizen scientist when you use the data you collect while watching animals around your home to help real-life scientists with their projects! Check out the projects below to see how you can help.

Always ask a grown-up before visiting a new website and before posting anything online!

 

The Lost Ladybug Project

Website: http://www.lostladybug.org/

If you come across ladybugs during your observations, consider contributing to The Lost Ladybug Project. This project is investigating ladybug diversity and will help scientists better understand where all of the native ladybugs have gone as well as provide information for other insect species!

 

Project Noah

Website: https://www.projectnoah.org/

Share your observations with pictures and notes through Project Noah. Project Noah is a place where people like you can help keep track of wildlife by sharing what you see! Researchers can then use your observations to collect ecological data (that’s information about how living things depend on one another).

 

iNaturalist

Website: https://www.inaturalist.org/

Citizen scientists all over the world observe animals and plants just like you are in our activity! You can share your observations on iNaturalist with others who love nature. The data that you and others share can be used by scientists globally (that means all over the world!) to help them with their projects.

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Educational Messy Science Experiments from the OSC Vault!

We've ranked our favorite educational messy science experiments by messiness!

Every year, Orlando Science Center staff celebrates "Mess Month" which features some of gooiest, slimiest, messiest activities on a giant scale. Think foam-splosion, pendulum painting, pools of slime... you get the picture. We love our mess-tivities so much that we wanted to make sure you could enjoy educational messy science experiments all year long, so we adapted some of our favorites projects so you could try them at home!

 
From the ultimate slime time to some good clean fun will minimal clean-up,find them all in one place below! Be sure to use the Mess-O-Meter rating to find a mess-tivity fit for you! If you take any photos, don't forget to share them with us on social media by tagging Orlando Science Center and using #OSCatHome or you can submit them directly through our Science Showcase.

1. Ooey-GooeyOobleck

Mess-O-Meter Level: Very Messy

Make a big 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!

2. Cool and Colorful Ice Chalk 

Mess-O-Meter Level: Moderately Messy

The mess never bothered us anyway! Step up your driveway art with the coolest sidewalk chalk  around! Just be sure to wash away your artwork when you're finished to avoid stains. 

3. Forensic Science Spatter Painting

Mess-O-Meter Level: Moderately Messy

I spy with my little eye some messy fun! This educational messy science experiment will leave you with some new vocabulary words and a work of art!

4. Colorful Coffee Filter Experiment

Mess-O-Meter Level: Minimal Mess

Watch water defy gravity before your very eyes! This colorful experiment will help teach little learners about capillary action with a beautiful visual aid! And the best part is, it's all contained in a cup so cleanup is a breeze. 

5. Demonstrating Laminar Flow

Mess-O-Meter Level: Barely Messy

Looking for some good clean fun?  This experiment is maximum fun with minimal cleanup! Just make sure you're doing your demonstration outdoors. Let's learn how you can freeze time with water and a balloon!

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Salt Watercolor Painting Project • Paint Outside the Box

Brush up on your art skills with this salt & watercolor painting project

Think (or paint) outside the box wiht this unique painting technique! One-part experiment, one-part art experience, this salt & watercolor painting project will give you a wall-worthy finished project, while you learn some STEM skills along the way. 

Materials you will need:

  • Paper (Watercolor paper works best, but cardstock or sketchbook paper can also work)
  • Paintbrush
  • Watercolor paints
  • Salt
  • Water to rinse your painbrush
Materials needed to complete Orlando Science Center's salt and watercolor painting project

Directions:

Step 1

Set up your workspace and start painting! Keep in mind, your painting will change when you add the salt, so don’t worry too much about the details!

Begin your saltwater painting project by beginning to paint

Step 2

While your painting is still wet to the touch, sprinkle it with salt. Watch closely as the salt absorbs the water on your paper, and some of the color along with it! 

Observes salt on your watercolor painting project

Step 3 

When you’re finished, let your salt and watercolor painting project is completely dry, and gently rub the salt off the paper.

The result of salt and watercolor painting project

Expand on the Activity:

  • Try different kinds of salt! Table salt, sea salt, and rock salt are all great to try. How does the size of the salt grain impact what you see happen on your painting?

  • The amount of water on your paper will have a big impact on how it looks when you add the salt. Experiment with adding the salt at different points as your painting dries to see which effect is your favorite.

  • For another colorful activity with water, try this colorful coffee filter experiment!

 

Be sure to share your salt watercolor painting project with us by submitting a photo or video to our Science Showcase here or tag Orlando Science Center and use #OSCatHome on social media! You might be featured on our channels. 

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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!

Colorful Coffee Filter Experiment: Defy Gravity with Capillary Action

See water flow upwards with this colorful coffee filter experiment!

Capillary action is the ability of a liquid to flow in narrow spaces. With capillary action, water can even flow upward against gravity!  You can observe capillary action all around you, for example, it's what moves the water up through plant roots and your tears through your tear ducts. 

 

It's hard to visualize but when you use our steps for this colorful coffee filter experiment to add an explosion of color, it will come together! Once your coffee filters have dried, you can use the them for other craft projects!

 

For more amazing experiments with water, see how you can freeze time through laminar flow

 

Materials:

  • Coffee filters
  • Markers
  • Water
  • A  small clear cup or glass

Directions:

STEP 1
  • Use the markers to draw all over the coffee filter.

    The more colors you use, the more vibrant your colorful coffee filter experiment will be.

STEP 2
  • Fold the coffee filter in half.  Then in half one more time.
colorful markers patterns drawn on coffee filters
STEP 3
  • Add enough water to the cup to just barely cover the bottom and set your coffee filter in the cup.

This will take a few minutes, so you can use this time to talk about capillary action or ask these questions to expand on the activity:

  1. How do the colors change as they move up the coffee filter?
  2. Do you see any colors mix? What new colors do you see?
  3. Did any colors disappear?
  4. Why do you think this is happening?
     
soak colorful coffee filters in water to see capillary action
STEP 4
  • Once the water has reached the top of the coffee filter or has stopped moving, remove your coffee filter from the cup and open it up!

 

STEP 5
  • Let your colorful coffee filter experiment dry and then upcycle it for your next maker project!
Wet colorful capillary coffee filters drying

Expand on the Activity:

  • What happens if you only use one color, like green or black? How does the color of the ink change as it spreads out? Why do you think this happens?
  • Once they’ve dried, the coffee filters can be used as colorful tissue paper in craft projects. Try making flowers, snowflakes, monsters, butterflies, or any other creation you can think of!

 

If you had fun learning about capillary action and snapped some photos, be sure to submit it to our Science Showcase here or tag Orlando Science Center and use #OSCatHome on social media! You might be featured on our channels. 

The Science: Capillary Action & Chromatography

  • Water molecules are “sticky.”
    • Water molecules like to stay close together because of a force called cohesion.
    • However, they also are attracted and like to stick to other substances, like glass, cloth, soil, and fibers. This is known as adhesion.
    • When there is more adhesion than cohesion (or when the water molecules stick the surrounding surfaces more than each other), capillary action occurs, causing the water molecules to move up or across the surface.
  • In your experiment, water uses this process to move along the tiny gaps in the fiber of the coffee filter. It will keep going up the filter until the pull of gravity is too much for it to overcome.
  • Where does capillary action occur in the real world?
    • Plants suck up water through their roots, and capillary action is what moves the water up through the roots and throughout the plants.
    • Your tears undergo capillary action to move through your tear ducts.
    • Capillary action is in play in sucking water up a straw.
  • As the water moves up the coffee filter, it dissolves the ink from the markers. The dissolved ink travels with the water and spreads out, coloring the coffee filter.

Learn More: Paper Chromatography

  • Inks are mixtures of many different-colored molecules. Paper chromatography separates out the molecules, showing all the individual colors.
  • How does this work?
  • A solvent (a liquid that dissolves a substance) is used is dissolve the ink. The most common solvents in paper chromatography are water and rubbing alcohol.
  • Through capillary action, the solvent keeps moving up the paper and carries the different molecules in the ink with it.
  • The different-colored molecules are also different sizes. Larger molecules move more slowly and not as far. Smaller molecules move more quickly and farther. The difference in molecule sizes causes the colors to separate.
  • Scientists use paper chromatography to separate colored pigments, to monitor reactions, to isolate and purify substances, to analyze food dyes, and to investigate evidence found at crime scenes.

OSC At Home Emails

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

Find out when we release new resources by following us on social media!

 

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!