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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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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Dr. Phillips Charities Presents 2020 Leadership Award to OSC

The Board of Directors of Dr. Phillips Charities has awarded the 2020 Dr. Phillips Leadership Award to Orlando Science Center.

In the innovative and philanthropic tradition of their founders, Dr. P. Phillips, his wife Della and their son Howard, the Dr. Phillips Leadership Award, which includes a donation of $250,000, honors nonprofit organizations that demonstrate community leadership, financial stewardship, and sustainable and impactful programs that change lives.

“We are proud to bestow the 2020 Dr. Phillips Leadership Award on JoAnn Newman and the Board of Directors of the Orlando Science Center,” said Kenneth Robinson, President of Dr. Phillips Charities. “They and their team have developed engaging, sustainable science programs and opportunities that help build essential skills and inspire current and future generations to pursue important STEM careers.”

The Dr. Phillips name has been a major economic and philanthropic presence in the Central Florida community since the turn of the 20th century. Dr. Phillips Charities honors the legacy of the Phillips family and its support of organizations that live up to their motto “to help others help themselves” by donating millions of dollars to more than 100 local charities.

Beyond its community impact, the award acknowledges Orlando Science Center and its leadership for their dedication to quality educational experiences by consistently premiering new exhibit areas, expanding resources and STEM learning opportunities, and fostering an environment that simulates creativity and innovation. Recipients receive the award and a $250,000 donation to their organization.

“From our first gift in 1958 to the Dr. Phillips CineDome and our recent support of the Orange Grove in KidsTown, Dr. Phillips Charities has been a longtime partner with Orlando Science Center,” said James Ferber, Chair of the Board for Dr. Phillips Charities. “Having given more than $4 Million in support of their mission and programs, we have seen their commitment to igniting innovation, and to enhancing lives in our community.”

Since 1955, Orlando Science Center has brought together diverse audiences of all ages to discover and explore science learning through immersive experiences. We are dedicated to sharing opportunities that show the relevance of science to people’s lives and create a better understanding of the world around them.

“For 65 years, Orlando Science Center has helped build important skills for the leaders and problem solvers of tomorrow. Science is the key to addressing some of our country’s greatest challenges, whether it’s returning Americans to space or combatting a global pandemic,” Newman said. “Partners like Dr. Phillips Charities are essential to help us as we advance our mission and inspire future generations. Together, we can change the world."

Science Facts About Dogs: Unleash Fun Facts About Your Furry Friends!

How much do you know about our canine companions? Test your knowledge with these fun science facts about dogs!

How much do you know about your pet? Are their behaviors a mystery to you? Let’s unleash some fun science facts about dogs!

Dogs see color the same way that a red-green colorblind person would.

Dogs can only distinguish a few hues, mostly blues and yellows. This is why some dogs have trouble finding red toys on green grass. They can’t see them!

Graphic depicting how dogs see color differently

A dog’s mouth isn’t actually cleaner than a human’s.

Dogs have about the same number of germs in their mouth as we do. Keep in mind that dogs use their mouths like we use our hands, so wash up after playing a slobbery game of tug o’ war!

Dog with its tongue out

Dogs can sweat!

Dogs can sweat through their paw pads. They do this in addition to regulating their temperature by panting. Some dog owners say that their dog’s paws smell like stale corn chips. Eww!

close-up of dog paw

Dogs are omnivores.

Over years of selective breeding, humans were actually able to change the diet of dogs! Domestic dogs are able to eat meat and plants. Most wild dog species are carnivores.

puppies eating

Dogs have about 300 million olfactory receptors.

Humans only have about 6 million! Dogs are known for their keen sense of smell – that's why they’re used for search and rescue and sniffing out crime.

close up of a dog nose

Expand on the Activity:

  •  Learn how our animal handlers in NatureWorks teach our animal ambassadors positive reinforcement.
  • Put your Animal Kingdom knowledge to the test with a Bee identification game To Bee or Not to Bee.

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6 Important LGBTQ Scientists Who Left a Mark on STEM Fields

These important LGBTQ scientists changed the world through science! 

June is Pride Month in the United States, commemorating the Stonewall Riots in June 1969 which are largely regarded as a catalyst for the LGBTQ+ movement for civil rights. The riots inspired LGBTQ+ people and allies throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights. 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.

In honor of Pride Month, we’ve rounded up a list of 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. Learn more about these important LGBTQ+ scientists and their impact.   

 

Sara Josephine Baker, known for tracking down Typhoid Mary, was openly gay. She contributed greatly to public health in New York City and took particular interest in helping communities of immigrants. She fought to provide access to medical care for all areas of the city and helped train new healthcare professionals. 

 

important LBGTQ scientists included Sarah Josephine Baker

 

Ben Barres was a pioneering neurobiologist at Stanford University. His work on a type of brain cells called glia revolutionized our understanding of the brain. In 2013, Barres became the first openly transgender member elected to the US National Academy of Sciences, an organization that includes many of the United States’ leading scientists.

important LBGTQ scientists include Ben Barres

 

Colin Turnbull was one of the first anthropologists to study ethnomusicology (the study of the music of different cultures). He was an activist in many causes, including prison reform and the celebration of immigrant cultures. He and his partner, Joseph Towles, both died of AIDS. 

important LBGTQ scientists include Colin Turnbull

 

Lauren Esposito is an arachnologist (a scientist who studies spiders and related animals such as scorpions) and the only woman expert on scorpions in the world. She is the co-founder of 500 Queer Scientists, a visibility movement and professional network that boosts the recognition and awareness of LGBTQ+ people working in STEM fields.

important LBGTQ scientists include Lauren Esposito

 

Ruth Gates was a leading marine biologist and conservationist who studied coral reefs. Her work on creating “super corals” that are more resistant to climate change can be seen in the documentary Chasing Coral. She was an inspiration to LGBTQ+ scientists as an out lesbian at the top of her field. 

 

important LBGTQ scientists include Ruth Gates

 

Richard Summerbell is a prominent mycologist (a scientist who studies fungi) and a leading expert on how fungi affect the health of humans and the environment. He has been an LGBTQ+ activity and commentator on HIV/AIDS since the 1970s during the gay liberation movement.

important LBGTQ scientists include Richard Summerbell

Learn more about the LQBTQ+ science community!

Remembering our nation's history is important, and it is equally important to continue working toward our bright future.

The 500 Queer Scientists website is a visibility campaign for LGBTQ+ people and their allies working in STEM and STEM-supporting jobs — a group that collectively represents a powerful force of scientific progress and discovery. You can learn more about this project via their website at www.500queerscientists.com

How are you celebrating Pride at home? Share your decorations, experiments, or lessons with us using #OSCatHome!

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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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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!

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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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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!

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!

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!