Are Pterodactyls Dinosaurs? Learn More About These Prehistoric Predators

These pterrific facts will help you answer the popular question of whether pterodactyls are dinosaurs!

Pterodactyls, the common name for pterosaurs, are an extinct group of winged reptiles. There was a genus of pterosaur called Pterodactylus – which is where the word “pterodactyl” comes from – but not all pterosaurs belong to this genus.   

Are pterosaurs birds, dinosaurs, or mammals? The answer? D: none of the above! Because they flew and their front limbs stretch out to the sides, they are not dinosaurs. Instead, they’re a distant dinosaur cousin.

 

Pterosaurs lived from the late Triassic Period to the end of the Cretaceous Period, when they went extinct along with dinosaurs. Pterosaurs were carnivores, feeding mostly on fish and small animals. Many had hooked claws and sharp teeth that they used to grab their prey.

Pterosaurs evolved into dozens of individual species. Some were as large as F-16 fighter jets, while others were as small as paper airplanes.

They were also the first animals after insects to evolve powered flight. This means they didn’t just leap into the air or glide but flapped their wings to generate lift.

However, not all pterosaurs could fly. Pterodactylus flew using wings formed by a tough, thin membrane stretching along their bodies to their elongated fourth finger.  

Pterodactyls are carnivores

 

Like birds, pterosaurs had lightweight, hollow bones. Pterosaur skeletons survive as fossils only when their bodies came to rest in a very protected environment. Most pterosaur remains come from species that lived near the ocean or sea.  

Many Pterodactylus fossils are preserved in Bavaria, Germany. During the Jurassic period, the region was a swampy wetland at the edge of an ancient sea. Organisms that washed into the wetland became buried in the mud. This mud slowly hardened into limestone and the bones fossilized.  

Pterodactyls dinosaur fossil

While Pterodactyls are not classified as dinosaurs, they still have a lot in common with other prehistoric predators, and we still have much to learn about them. The rarity of fossils leaves major gaps in our knowledge about pterosaurs. How did they evolve flight? Why did they vanish? What exactly did they look like? Maybe one day you’ll help find answers to these questions! 

Expand on the activity! 

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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.

How to Build A Time Capsule: A True Test of Perseverance

Learn about NASA's Mars rover Perseverance while you learn how to build a time capsule.

Have you ever wanted to preserve time? Let us teach you how to build a time capsule! While you gather your materials and bulid your time capsule, check out this video about NASA's latest Mars rover, Perseverance.

On July 30, NASA is set to send its next rover to Mars. Our very own Science Interpreter Spencer served on a panel of judges that narrowed down the list of names. Then, the nation, and many of you, got to vote on its name!

The Perseverance rover will seek signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for a possible return to Earth.  

Materials you will need:

  • Scissors  
  • Hot Glue 
  • Paper 
  • Pencil 
  • Cylinder that is opened on both ends 
How to build a time capsule

Directions:

STEP 1:

Take your hot glue gun and glue around the base of your cylinder. Once you have completed the ring, quickly place the cylinder onto one or the cardboard squares and wait for the glue to dry.  

Building a time capsule materials

STEP 2:

Take your scissors and cut the excess cardboard off of the cardboard square that was glued to the bottom of your cylinder.  

Assembling a time capsule

STEP 3:

Put the objects inside the time capsule that you have decided to preserve. We choose wooden tokens that represent the different exhibits and programs we put on here at the science center. You should choose something with meaning but nothing that you won’t miss for being gone for too long. 

add things to your time capsule

STEP 4:

With your piece of paper and pencil, write yourself a note. It is always fun to read a note that you wrote in the past. Make it about what you think life might be like when you open the time capsule and why you choose the items that you did.  

add a note to your time capsule

STEP 5:

Repeat steps 1 and 2 on the lid side of the cylinder to seal in the objects and the note inside the time capsule.  

seal your time capsule

STEP 6:

Decorate! We choose to laser cut out some gears to glue all over our time capsule, but you can decorate your time capsule however you like. Make sure you leave some room for a warning label so nobody opens your time capsule too early.  

decorate your time capsule

STEP 7:

Once you finish decorating you should label your time capsule with a warning label so that way if anyone finds your time capsule they won’t open it too early.  

Lastly, decide where you are going to store your time capsule. You can keep your time capsule in many places, your closet, or even under your bed. If you bury your time capsule, make sure your time capsule can endure the elements!

How did your time capsule turn out? We'd love to see it! Submit photos or videos of your projects to the OSC Science Showcase for a chance to be featured!  

store your time capsule

Expand on the activity!

Learn more about NASA's Mars Exploration Program:

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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.

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Bee Identification Game: To Bee or Not to Bee

Put your bee identification skills to the test!

Bee identification can BEE tricky when many bees, hornets, wasps, and other insects can have similar yellow patterns (or jackets).

 

Let’s find out as we play a bee identification game – a bee or not a bee! Test your knowledge of our pollinating pals, and find out what makes a bee a bee? 

 

Guess whether the picture is a bee or not a bee, then reveal the answer and some fun facts about our buzzing buddies! 

American Bumble Bee

Bumble bees live in underground colonies with a queen and many workers. They are the only bees that can perform buzz pollination - certain plants like tomatoes require specific vibration to release pollen. Bumble bees are the fuzziest bees. Because bumble bees are bigger and warmer, they can be out earlier and later in the day, at colder temperatures, and higher altitudes than other bees.

Hover Fly

These flies may hover around flowers like bees, but you can tell them apart if you look closely! Bees have four wings while flies only have two. Also, check out the antennae – fly antennae are usually small and hard to see, but bee antennae have a bend in them that’s pretty visible.

Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Mason bees are solitary; they use individual nesting holes but live near each other. These are the bees that you may have made bee houses for in the Hive! These bees use mud, like masons, to build walls in their nest tunnels. They can pollinate many plants including apple, peach, pear, and plum trees. Because of their efficient pollination, many farmers like to have them around.

Yellow Jacket

Wasps and bees have similar coloration, wings, and both have stingers so they are often confused. While most bees are gentle and solitary, wasps can be more aggressive and territorial. How do you tell them apart? Wasps often have brighter colors and a smooth texture. Wasps are not as hairy looking as bees are.

European Honey Bee

Of about 20,000 bee species, only seven produce honey! Honey bees are not native to the United States. Although they can pollinate plants, they are not nearly as efficient as native bee species. These bees are social and live in hives with up to several hundred bees.

 

Every bee performs specific tasks to accomplish goals for the hive. Because honey bees live in a community and have a home to defend, they will be upset and may sting if you disturb a hive. It’s important to respect animals and leave them alone to do their important job in our ecosystems.

Hornet

Hornets are the largest group of wasps. Remember how to tell bees and wasps apart? Wasps usually have brighter colors and are less hairy looking than bees!

Mud Dauber Wasp

Mud dauber wasps build their nests by molding mud with their mouths. You probably have seen mud dauber nests before – we have a lot of them in Florida! These wasps are carnivorous – they eat other creatures, such as spiders.

Snowberry Clearwing Moth

Moths and bees both have fuzzy bodies and both have two sets of wing per side. Most moths are nocturnal, but some are out during the day and are easily confused with bees. How do you tell them apart? Moths have slender legs, with no fluff or obvious pollen basket like a bee. Moths have a unique mouthpart, the long proboscis they use to feed.

Drone Fly

Drone flies look and sound like bees, but you can tell them apart by their antennae and wings. Flies have short antennae and two wings, not four like a bee.

Sweat Bee

Most types of sweat bees nest in the ground, but a few nest in rotten wood. Like most bees, they eat nectar and pollen. Sweat bees often hover around or land on sweaty humans because they want the salt in their sweat, not because they think humans are flowers.

Expand on the activity:

What was your score? Are you a bee expert?

  • Learn how you can help our pollinating pals at www.thehoneybeeconservancy.org/

  • You may have heard about the Asian giant hornet, an invasive species to the United States, starting to make its way here and harming the local bees. 

    We're not likely to see any of these hornets in Florida as sightings so far have been limited to the West Coast. Here are some tips to help you differentiate helpful bees from these and other hornet species: www.agr.wa.gov/departments/insects-pests-and-weeds/insects/hornets

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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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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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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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DIY pH Indicators: Turn Your Kitchen Into a Chemistry Lab!

Turn your kitchen into a chemistry lab by making your own DIY pH Indicators!

pH is a measurement of how acidic or basic something is on a scale of 0-14. 

 

Testing how acidic or basic something is with a color-changing indicator is a staple of many chemistry experiments. Now you can try it too! Turn your kitchen into a chemistry lab with DIY pH indicators!

 

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.

 

Try making one of these two natural DIY pH indicators and use it to test the pH of things you find around your home!

 

Recommend Age: 8+ with adult help for chopping and boiling.

Materials you will need for a red cabbage pH indicator:

  • Red cabbage
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Warm water
  • Blender
  • Strainer or funnel with coffee filter
  • Container to collect indicator


WARNING: Cabbage and blueberry juices can stain clothes! Mess-friendly play clothes or coverings such as aprons are recommended for this activity.

You can can make a variety ph indicators with Orlando Science Center

Directions for making red cabbage pH indicator:

STEP 1
  • Peel 3 or 4 big leaves off a head of red cabbage and chop the leaves into small pieces.
  • Fill a blender halfway with hot water.
  • Add the chopped cabbage leaves to the blender.
  • Blend the leaves and water on high until the liquid turns purple and all the leaves are blended.

    *Alternatively, you can boil the chopped leaves in just enough water to cover them for a few minutes, then let steep for 30-60 minutes.

Red cabbage for DIY pH indicators
STEP 2 
  • Place a strainer or funnel lined with a coffee filter over a container to collect the indictor, such as bowl, pot, or bottle.
  • Pour the mixture through the strainer to remove the cabbage pulp.
  • Push down on the pulp in the strainer with a spoon or spatula to squeeze out more liquid.
strain blended cabbage for purple diy ph indicator
STEP 3
  • The purple liquid in your container is your indicator solution. The exact color will vary depending on the pH of the water you used.
  • Experiment with the indicator using the ideas below!
  • Red cabbage indicator can be saved in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Result of blending red cabbage to create diy ph indicator

Materials you will need for a blueberry pH indicator:

  • 200g blueberries
  • Masher, spoon, or spatula to mash blueberries
  • Water
  • Pot
  • Strainer or funnel with coffee filter
  • Container to collect indicator

Directions for making blueberry pH indicator:

STEP 1
  • Mash the blueberries in a bowl or pot to release the blueberry juice.
  • Add mashed blueberries, juice, and a half cup of water to a pot.
  • Boil the blueberries for 5-10 minutes. The blueberry juice will turn red-purple.
Mash and boil blueberries to make a blue DIY ph indicator
STEP 2
  • Place a strainer or funnel lined with a coffee filter over a container to collect the indictor.
  • Pour the mixture through the strainer to remove the blueberry skins.
  • Push down on the skins in the strainer with a spoon or spatula to squeeze out more liquid.
  • The purple liquid in your container is your indicator solution. The exact color will vary depending on the pH of the water you used.
result of using blueberries to make another diy ph indicator

What to do with your DIY pH indicators 

Now that you have your pH indicators, it's time to get to testing! Use household liquids such as salt or distilled water, different fruit juices, milk, liquid detergent or soap, and more!

  • Add each of the substances you would like to test to the cups. (Only add one substance to each cup.) 
  • Add a spoonful of indicator to the first cup, and stir the indicator into the substance.
  • Observe the color changes. What do you see? Encourage your scientist to write down what color each substance turns. You can use crayons or markers to help keep track of color changes.
You can use different household liquids to test you DIY indicators

Expand on the Activity:

  • What color changes did you see? Did you notice any patterns?
  • If you use vinegar or lemon juice, what do you think will happen to the color of the DIY pH indicator if you add baking soda or an antacid tablet

  • For another hands-on chemistry experiment, try making your own STEM slime activity

The Science: pH and pH indicators

  • 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.
  • Strong acids and bases can be very dangerous, while weaker acids and bases (those with a pH close to 7) are safer to use.
  • We find acids in many of the foods we eat, as well as in our stomachs. Acids found in foods give them a sour taste.
  • Bases are commonly found in cleaning products and antacid medications. Bases feel slippery and are rare in food because they taste bitter. For reference, think about the taste of soap!
  • pH indicators are compounds that change color in the presence of an acid or a base.
  • Different pH indicators have different ranges. Some may only be able to show whether something is acidic or basic, while others may have a wide range of colors that can show different strengths of acids and bases. Some may be better for showing the pH of acids, while others may be better at showing the pH of bases. In a lab, the best indicator to use depends on the pH range you want to see.

Learn More: Chemistry

  • 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.
  • Many red, purple, and blue plants contain chemicals called anthocyanins, which are weak acids that dissolve in water and change color in response to changes in pH. Because of this, plants with anthocyanins like red cabbage and blueberries can easily be made into pH indicators.

Did you make and test your own indicator? We’d love to see how it turned out! Snap a photo of you making or experimenting with your indicator and submit it to our Science Showcase here or use #OSCatHome 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!

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. 

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!