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.

Science of Sound Activity ♪ Make Some Noise for Foley Art

Have you ever heard of Foley art? Make your own sound effects with this science of sound activity!

Foley artistry, named for the sound effect professional that pioneered it, originated during radio shows in the 1920s. They had to create sound effects from objects in the studio – anything from horse hoof beats to snow crunching to animal sounds!  

Learn to make your own Foley art sound effects using objects from around your house with this science of sound activity! 

Action!

Snow crunching  

  • You will need:
    • Cornstarch
    • A balloon or zip plastic bag 
  • What to do: 
    • Fill your balloon or bag about halfway full of cornstarch.  
    • Squeeze out all the air you can and seal it up tight!  
    • Squeeze it with your hands. What does it sound like?  
science of sound activity foot steps in the snow

Bats flying 

  • You will need:
    • An umbrella 
  • What to do: 
    • Open your umbrella quickly, then open and close it just a tiny bit a few times.  
    • Experiment with the speed and movement. See if you can make it sound like a group of bats!  
    • Try it in a different room or outside to play with echo!
science of sound activity bats flying

Dog shaking dry

  • You will need: 
    • A mop or a rag 
  •  What to do: 
    • Wet your mop or rag.  
    • Wring out the excess water.  
    • Do the next part over your bath or shower: 
    • If you have a mop – twirl it around as fast as you can!  
    • If you have a rag – grab two corners and flap it back and forth quickly, letting as much fabric hang as you can! 
science of sound activity wet dog

Breaking a glass 

  • You will need:  
    • A set of keys 
  • What to do: 
    • Drop your keys onto the floor from 6 inches above it.  
    • Play with height to get a different sound. Try dropping onto a different surface and see what sound it makes!  
science of sound activity breaking glass

Rain 

  • You will need: 
    • Uncooked rice 
    • A cookie sheet 
  • What to do:  
    • Pour some uncooked rice onto your cookie sheet. You don’t need much – less than a handful.  
    • Tilt your cookie sheet to let the rice roll or slide down to the other side. You created a gentle rainstorm!  
science of sound activity rain

Birds flying 

  • You will need:
    • Leather or rubber gloves 
  • What to do: 
    • Hold the open end of both gloves in one hand.  
    • Shake them!  
    • Experiment with how fast you shake the gloves to make it sound like birds are further or nearer.  
science of sound activity birds flying

Dinosaur sounds  

  • You will need:
    • A plastic cup 
    • A piece of string 
    • Something to poke a hole in your cup (with grownup’s help) 
    • Water 
  • What to do: 
  • Poke a hole in the bottom of the cup right in the center using an embroidery needle or a thumbtack.  
  • Thread the string through the bottom of the cup and tie a knot on the end inside the cup.  
  • Pull the string taught.  
  • Wet your thumb and forefinger with some water.  
  • Run your thumb and forefinger along the string. You may need to do this a few times before you get a sound. 
science of sound activity dinosaur

What next? 

  • Mute your TV when next time you watch a movie – see if you can replicate any for your next science of sound activity! 
  • Try another special effect!
    What if we told you that you could freeze time with just a balloon, tape, and some water? Try demonstrating laminar flow at home!

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Articulated Cardboard Crafts: Create a Turtle-y Awesome Race

Don't be shell-fish! Give boxes a second life with these articulated cardboard crafts!

We all presumably have an empty box hanging around the house - why not use it for something fun before recycling the cardboard and make some cardboard racing turtles?

Online shopping and articulated cardboard crafts go hand in hand! While we definitely want you to dispose of them properly, we encourage you to hone your maker skills by repurposing this common packaging before you recycle them! If you look at it with the right eye, you might find a wealth of possibility in this humble packing material. 

Materials you will need:

  • Cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Scissors  
  • Circular object such as a bowl
  • Optional: markers or paint to decorate your turtle
Materials for articulated cardboard crafts

Directions:

STEP 1: 

Trace a circle onto a piece of cardboard. Add a head, legs, and a tail, but make sure the left and right back feet are even so the turtle will balance - my turtle lost his tail because it wasn't balanced enough!

*Optional: Decorate your turtle!

Draw turtle for articulated cardboard crafts

STEP 2: 

Cut out your cardboard turtle.

cut out Materials for articulated cardboard crafts

STEP 3: 

Poke a hole for your string in the middle of the turtle just below the head.

add string Materials for articulated cardboard crafts

STEP 4: 

Thread a six-foot length of yarn through the hole and tie one end to a table or chair leg about eight inches off the floor.

Pull the string taut so the turtle stands, and then release it so the turtle flops forward. Pull it taut again and the turtle will have moved forward! Keep going until your turtle reaches the table!

Now you can grab a friend, a few more, and have a race!

cut out Materials for articulated cardboard crafts

Expand on the activity!

  • Experiment with different types of thread, like yearn, string, fishing line, etc.. to see if it affects speed.
  • What happens if you put your thread through a different part of the turtle. Does this affect speed or balance?
  • Try another cardboard animal craft like this incredible cardboard pangolin!

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DIY Blacklight: Use This Hack to Turn Any Smartphone Into a Blacklight

Share and decode secret messages with this DIY Blacklight hack!

Have you ever wanted to make something glow under a blacklight? Let us teach you one of our favorite hacks to make glowing highlighter messages and drawings at home with this DIY blacklight tutorial!

Recommended Age: 5+. Younger scientists will enjoy making and revealing their messages and drawings, but may need help putting together the DIY blacklight hack.

Materials you will need:

  • A phone with a camera light
  • Clear tape
  • A blue marker (a permanent marker, like a Sharpie, works best)
  • A purple marker (a permanent marker, like a Sharpie, works best)
  • White paper
  • A fluorescent highlighter (yellow works best)
Materials for DIY Blacklight

Directions:

STEP 1:

Rip off a small piece of tape (fold some of it over to make a tab for easy clean up later) and place the piece of tape over the camera light on the phone. Make sure you place the tape over the LIGHT, not the camera!

DIY Blacklight step 1

STEP 2:

With the blue marker, color the portion of tape over the light. You don’t need to color in the entire piece of tape; you just want to make sure the area directly over the light is colored.

DIY Blacklight step 2

STEP 3:

Place another piece of tape over the first. Color the area over the light blue again.

DIY Blacklight step 3

STEP 4:

Place one more piece of tape on top of the others. This time, color the area over the light purple.

DIY Blacklight step 5

STEP 5:

Draw a picture or message on white paper with your highlighter.

DIY Blacklight step 6

STEP 6:

Grap your picture and turn off the lights or go somewhere dark. Then turn on the camera light on your phone and shine the light onto your picture.

DIY Blacklight end result

The Science Behind This Blacklight Hack:

Many highlighters fluoresce, or absorb then emit light, which makes them glow in the dark. But why?

  • Light is a spectrum. What we can see is called visible light. It ranges from red light to purple light. However, there are other types of light, including infrared and ultraviolet light (or UV) light. UV light is what a blacklight emits.
  • When you colored the tape with blue and purple markers, you created a filter that blocked out all colors of visible light except blue and purple. With the rest of the visible light spectrum blocked out, the resulting blue and purple light were enough to make the highlighter fluoresce because the wavelengths of purple and blue light are close enough to the UV spectrum, even though there is minimal UV light actually present.
  • Highlighters fluoresce under a normal blacklight because the ink absorbs ultraviolet light, which isn’t visible to the human eye, and remits it as visible light.
science of DIY blacklight

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Instructions for Cardboard Animals: Pangolin Project

Follow the instructions for cardboard animals and make a new friend. Literally! 

Pangolins are strange little creatures. They are very hard to keep in captivity, so you probably have never seen one in a zoo. So what are these animals, and why are they important? As you follow along with the instructions for cardboard animals, learn a little more about our pangolin pals!

Pangolins are mammals that are completely covered in scales. They are solitary animals and primarily nocturnal. Pangolins eat ants and termites specific to their region of the world. They have no teeth, so they catch bugs with their sticky tongue. They curl up into a ball when under attack; their scales protect them against most predators. There are eight species of pangolin across Africa and Asia, and all of them range from vulnerable to critically endangered. The primary threat to pangolins is illegal wildlife trade for their meat and their scales. This severely harms the pangolin population, and sometimes harms humans – removing scales can subject people to disease.

Pangolins are extremely important to their ecosystems! They eat most of the time they’re awake, so they control the insect population in a huge way. They also dig up soil while they look for food or when they burrow, which aerates it and creates a healthier surface for plants to grow in. When their burrows are abandoned, other animals move in and are protected.

Materials you will need:

  • A soda box (or a few cereal or granola bar boxes)
  • A hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Optional: a strip of paper for the pangolin’s tongue
Materials for making cardboard pangolin

Instructions for Cardboard Animals: Pangolin

Step 1: Cut out a body shape (like a rounded x) and strips for the neck and tail – make sure it’s wide enough to hold some scales!

Step2: Make a small cone for the head. You can do this by cutting a strip of the box and rolling it tightly from one corner, then cutting off the excess. Glue the cone together.

Step 3: Glue the head cone to the neck and onto the body. DON’T glue the tail on yet.

 

Instructions for Cardboard Animals pangolin steps 1 - 3

Step 4: Now for the tough part – let’s cut some scales! Scales are teardrop shaped, but they don’t all need to be exactly the same. Variety looks natural.  

  • 20 small scales, about the size of your thumbnail 
  • 35 medium scales, about the size of your thumbprint 
  • 40 large scales, about the size of a guitar pick 
Make scales- Instructions for Cardboard Animals pangolin step 4

Step 5: Start gluing scales to your pangolin's head, legs, neck, and tail.

  • Glue a small scale to each leg with the point facing down.  
  • Glue 7 small scales to the head, layering on top as you move backwards on the pangolin’s body.  
  • Glue 7 small scales to one end of the tail, layering on top as you move forwards on the pangolin’s body.
glue scales- Instructions for Cardboard Animals pangolin step 5

Step 6: Now, let’s create some body structure. Create a trapezoid shape where the smaller end is about the size of the back of the pangolin’s head with the scales on.  

Step 7: Create a slightly larger trapezoid than the first one. Then, create one more, larger than the middle one.  

Give each trapezoid shape some curve, like an arch. 

create body structure for- Instructions for Cardboard Animals pangolin steps 6-7

Step 8: Glue some scales onto the smallest trapezoid, starting with layers of small scales. You can use all the rest of your small scales and move onto medium if you have room. Don’t over layer – just fill in spots where you can see the trapezoid underneath.  

Step 9: Glue the smallest trapezoid to the body shape. 

add scales to body structure for- Instructions for Cardboard Animals pangolin

Step 10: Repeat steps 6-7 with medium and large trapezoids. 

  • Glue some scales onto the medium trapezoid, a row or two of medium and then large.  
  • Glue the medium trapezoid so it’s layered slightly underneath the smallest trapezoid.  
  • Glue some scales onto the largest trapezoid. 
  • Glue the largest trapezoid so it’s layered slightly underneath the medium trapezoid.  

    *If you need it, you can fold up a piece of cardboard to slip between the body shape and the trapezoid for support.  
add body structure to body for- Instructions for Cardboard Animals pangolin

Step 11: Add the finishing touches

  • Glue the tail onto the largest trapezoid.  
  • Fill in the tail with medium or large scales.  
  • Fill in the legs with medium scales with the point facing downwards. 

    *Optional: curl up a thin strip of paper and glue it in the mouth to represent the tongue.  
add body structure to body for- Instructions for Cardboard Animals pangolin

Step 12: Name your pangolin!

How can you help pangolins? The biggest challenge is education – most people don’t know that pangolins exist! Tell your friends about these cute little creatures. You can also support wildlife sanctuaries and advocacy groups.

results of instructions for Cardboard Animals pangolin

Expand on this activity

  • Learn more about pangolins!
    • Why do we know so little about pangolins? Because of their natural behaviors and specific diet, only a few sanctuaries exist where their natural behaviors can be observed or they can be studied up close.
    • Check out The Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary in Liberia, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife Rescue, and even some zoos in the United States are working hard to get the pangolin population back up.

  • Have you been online shopping? Check out more ways to get creative with cardboard!

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Embroidery Techniques to Try: From Basics to Sashiko

Stitch outside the box with these different embroidery techniques

There’s something to be said about a hobby that requires you slow down and build something bit by bit, piece by piece. Embroidery can be a fantastically fulfilling way to find some peace while beautifying your home along the way. It’s important to cultivate hobbies to calm your mind! 

 

First, let’s address the difference between cross-stitch and embroidery techniques. Embroidery, simply, is making patterns and designs on fabric or other materials using a needle and thread (or sometimes yarn). You can use different embroidery techniques, like satin stitch, chain stitch, backstitch, ladder stitch, and many others. Cross-stitch is a form of embroidery using a specific x-shaped stitch in a counted, grid pattern, much like pixel art, counting stitches to create a uniform design.

 

We’re going to focus on embroidery overall in this post.

Beginning with the basics:

Here is a great Instructables class to get you started with basic embroidery technique – it provides a really good overview of the materials, techniques, and terminology you need to understand to get going.

 

Visit https://www.instructables.com/class/Embroidery-Class/ for more tips and techniques 

If you can dream it, you can stitch it:

 Jessica Marquez, a Brooklyn maker who runs a shop called Miniature Rhino, wrote a series of beautiful articles for Design Sponge on how to use different embroidery techniques to make a unique scarf, constellation table runner using the French dot stitch, an embroidered pillowcase, as well as a playful way to embellish a plain t-shirt if you need a bit of extra luck.  

Simple yet stylish Sashiko:

Sashiko is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching (or functional embroidery) from Japan that started out of practical need. The Sashiko embroidery technique creates a beautifully geometric design using a simple running stitch. 

Watch and Learn:

If you’re a visual person, Cutsey Craft's YouTube channel has a variety of playlists that allow you to watch someone hand sew different stitches with expert insider tips and tricks!

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Pulse Nightclub Tribute ♥ How to Fold an Origami Heart

Celebrate Pride by Making These Pulse Nightclub Tribute Origami Hearts

This month, we celebrate Pride – a celebration of both the amazing people who fought for the rights of LGBTQ+ people and honoring the diverse self-expression and love of our LGBTQ+ community.

 

If you’ve been to the Science Center, you may have seen our Love Bridge – an installation of crystal hearts that hang above you as you walk across the bridge from the garage. This was originally made of origami hearts as a Pulse nightclub tribute in memoriam of the 49 people who lost their lives in June of 2016.

 

The Pulse tragedy deeply affected our community and the people of Orlando have continued to honor the souls we lost that night by working to make sure our city becomes a more welcoming place for all people. Inside each origami heart, our guests and staff wrote messages of what love means to them. We invite you to create your own reminder of love with this origami heart tutorial.

 

As we celebrate Pride, and remember the victims of the Pulse tragedy, we invite you to create your own reminder of love with this origami heart tutorial. 

Materials you will need:

  • Origami paper or a sheet of printer paper you can turn it into a square. 
    Learn how to use any paper for origami paper here.

Before you make any folds in your paper, write a message about love – what does it mean to you? 

h

The "Love Bridge" is a community art project created by guests of the Orlando Science Center to show support for the OneOrlando.org fund and those affected by the PULSE Nightclub tragedy.

 

The 7 colors of the rainbow span the length of the bridge in rows of 4. Each row holds a total of 49 origami hearts which represent the lives lost on that tragic night. The origami hearts were made by the community on One Orlando Night at the Museum and are filled with messages of love and hope.

 

The original origami heart installation has been replaced with a crystal version that will withstand the test of time. The original project was reimagined into a permanent tribute called Facets of Love, which hangs in our STEAM Gallery for all to enjoy. 

A girl fold paper into origami heart for Pulse nightclub tribute
Orlando Science Center One Orlando night, photo by Roberto Gonzalez

 

Expand on the activity!

June is Pride Month in the United States. Pride Month is a time to recognize past and present struggles and successes in the ongoing fight for civil rights, as well as to celebrate the accomplishments of LGBTQ+ individuals.

 

Meet some of the incredible scientists who self-identified as members of LGBTQ+ community and have left a lasting mark on the STEM fields with both their activism and scientific research.

 

Puffy Paint Technique: Try This Trick for Nearly Perfect Pictures!

Give your old clothes new life with this puffy paint technique!

Looking for an easy way to customize a t-shirt, tote bag, or even a pair of jeans?  Have you been burned in the past with attempting to free-hand a design with puffy paint? Never fear, we’ve got the solution! With this puffy paint technique, you have a chance to refine your design and keep yourself from suffering the agony of using puffy paint with a shaky hand.

Materials you will need:

  • A t-shirt, tote bag, jeans, or another garment you want to add your design to
  • Fabric puffy paint (look for the kind with a thin nozzle, especially if your image has a lot of detail)
  • A pencil
  • A piece of paper large enough for your design
Pencil, paper, t-shirt, and puffy paint needed for puffy paint technique

Directions:

Step 1:

Sketch or print out the design you want on a sheet of paper.

This puffy paint technique will mirror the image, so draw the image flipped from how you want it to appear on the shirt. 

use a pencil to sketch out the design you want to try puffy paint technique

Step 2: 

Prepare your garment. Make sure the area for the design is flat and protect your garment by sliding a piece of cardboard inside your garment where you want your design to go so the paint doesn't bleed through.

Step 3: 

Next, trace over the design in puffy paint. You want to work pretty fast so the paint doesn’t try before you finish your design.

Use the puffy paint technique to trace your design in puffy paint

Step 4:

Pick up the paper and place it paint side down on your shirt in the spot you want your design. Press down all over the back of the paper to push the paint into the fabric, but try not to move the paper around. Peel off the paper and you have your design!

 

If any of the paint dried too much and didn't transfer, you can go over them with the paint directly on the shirt and press down with a clean sheet of paper. Alternatively, retrace your original design, carefully line it up, and repeat the process. Enjoy!

The result of using puffy paint technique on a t-shirt

Expand on the activity!

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Science Prototyping Fails from Orlando Science Center Staff

Prototyping fails are a part of science. Check out some of ours!

Sometimes you don't get it right on the first try, or the second, or the thirtieth. But that's OK! In science, prototyping fails are a big part of the process. We try to always showcase our best work, but here are some messiest mistakes with you in honor of Mess Month! Enjoy!

Rainbow So-dud

We tried to do a Diet Coke and Mentos style fountain with different colored sodas to make a rainbow! We even invited some guests to watch us prototype, but as you can see it did not make for a quality show.

Indoor Foam-splosion

Leading up to Mess Fest last year, we invited some news anchors to come experience the mess with us outdoors. The weather didn’t cooperate with our plans, so we moved inside. We had forgotten how messy a foam explosion really is!

Foam explosion science fail inside Orlando Science Center

Diet Coke Disaster

During Mess Fest, we do several Diet Coke and Mentos fountains. In 2019, we bought 30 Diet Coke bottles for the occasion. Only 29 made it inside – one exploded at our loading dock.

two people standing in a puddle of diet coke

You Don't Want to Eat This Spaghetti

If you’ve done our 3D Design workshop in The Hive, you know how that even the smallest flaw in a 3D print can make things go awry. Whether it was the leveling of the print bed, the design sticking to the extruder, or something else, this vase did not turn out as expected.

3D printed vase prototyping fail

Basket Weaving Misadventure

We’ve been pretty lucky with our open make activities in The Hive. Usually, we prototype for a day or two, make adjustments, and end up with a successful activity. Basket weaving did not go this way! We ended up using most of our supplies in one day and ending up with a tangled mess of paper rods.

A failed attempt at basket weaving

A Colossal Cleanup

KidsTown gets messy on purpose pretty often – sensory play is an engaging way to learn fine motor skills, cause and effect, and more. But the cleanup can be a different story! Our staff and interns had to scrub for a long time to get all the paint off their hands!

Two people with paint on their hands at orlando science center in kidstown

What science mishaps have you had?

Be sure to submit your photos and videos of your experiments to our Science Showcase here or tag Orlando Science Center on social media and use hashtag #OSCatHome for a chance to be featured on our channels! 

As Miss Frizzle says, take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!

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