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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Salt Watercolor Painting Project • Paint Outside the Box

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

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

Materials you will need:

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

Directions:

Step 1

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

Begin your saltwater painting project by beginning to paint

Step 2

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

Observes salt on your watercolor painting project

Step 3 

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

The result of salt and watercolor painting project

Expand on the Activity:

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

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

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

 

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

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DIY Lava Lamp Experiment • Explore Density and Fizzy Reactions

Learn about density with this simple DIY Lava Lamp Experiment!

Density has to do with how much space something takes up in relation to what its mass is. While density can be a tricky concept for younger scientists to understand right away, this DIY lava lamp experiment is a great opportunity to observe density in action and make some initial observations while enjoying some fizzing good fun!

Materials:

  • Canola oil 
  • Measuring cup 
  • Water 
  • Tall, clear container (we used a clean salsa jar) 
  • Alka-Seltzer tablets (or any other effervescent tablets) 
  • Food coloring
    *Warning: Food coloring can stain! Feel free to substitute in washable paint such as liquid watercolor or tempera paint if you’re worried about mess. Either way, mess-friendly play clothes are recommended for this DIY lava lamp experiment!
Collection of experiment materials including a bottle of canola oil, a measuring cup of water, a tall clear container, Alka-Seltzer tablets, and a box of food coloring

Directions:

STEP 1
  • Fill your measuring cup with 1 cup water.
     
STEP 2
  • Add 10-15 drops of food coloring to your water then stir.

    Observe the food coloring drops as they enter the water. What do you notice? Do they float? Do they sink? Does the food coloring mix well into the water? What do you see?
Add drops of food coloring to cup of water
STEP 3
  • Fill a clear container ¾ of the way with canola oil.

STEP 4
  • Pour the dyed water into your clear container, along with your canola oil.

     
    What do you notice about the water and the canola oil?  Do they mix together?
    Which one sinks to the bottom? Is this the same as what you observed with the food coloring and water?

Mix dyed water with canola oil
STEP 6
  • Break up your effervescent tablets into several small pieces, drop them into your clear container one at a time, and enjoy the show!

     

    What happens when you add the effervescent tablets? Practice your observation skills and describe what you notice!

 

STEP 7
  • You can continue adding effervescent tablets as the bubbles slow.

     

Bubbles rise and fall in DIY lava lamp density experiment

Expand on the Activity:

  • Experiment with your effervescent tablets! What happens when you drop a full tablet in your lava lamp? What happens when you drop in several pieces at once? What happens if you crush your tablet into dust and then add it to your lamp?
  • Make something to remember your experiment! Drop several pieces of effervescent tablet into your lava lamp and cover the top with a piece of paper. As the bubbles pop, the food coloring will leave a surprise behind on the paper for you.
  • Looking for more fun with a fizz? Check out our Ice Chalk DIY Recipe!

 

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

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Demonstrate Laminar Flow at Home with this Water Optical Illusion

What if we told you that you could freeze time with just a balloon, tape, and some water? Now what if we showed you how to demonstrate laminar flow at home?

We promise this isn’t CGI magic or a trick of the camera. What you are seeing is a particularly interesting fluid dynamic, which is a scientific way of saying the flow of a fluid (which is any liquid or gas), called laminar flow. 

 

Below we are going to explore the following questions: What is laminar flow? What is laminar flow used for in everyday life? And most importantly, how can you demonstrate laminar flow at home? 

Laminar flow demonstration GIF

What is Laminar Flow? 

Laminar flow is a type of flow pattern of a fluid in which all the particles are flowing in parallel linesopposed to turbulent flow, where the particles flow in random and chaotic directions. A flow is either turbulent, laminar, or somewhere in between. This is measured by the Reynolds number which is a ratio between velocity (the speed of the flowand viscosity (how thick or thin the fluid is). The more viscous, or thick, the fluid is the faster it can flow without going turbulent 

 

What is Laminar Flow Used For?

 

Laminar flow has a wide range of real-life applications. A type of laminar flow is achieved everyday by pilots. A smooth flight occurs when the flow of the air over an aircraft’s wings is laminar. If the pilot runs into a very turbulent patch of air the wing cannot correct the air to make it laminar, causing turbulence.

 

A different example of laminar flow occurs everyday inside of you. Blood flowing throughout your body is flowing laminarly. 

 

One last example of laminar flow is syrup, or honey, flowing out the nozzle. Because the liquid is so thick, or viscous, the Reynolds number indicates that the flow is very laminar.  

How Can I Demonstrate Laminar Flow at Home?

The following video and steps below it are detailed for you to try and recreate laminar flow at home. 

 

Adult supervision is required as this experiment involves the usage of sharp and potentially dangerous objects.

  • Step One: Gather the following materials: 
    • One balloon 
    • Duct Tape or electrical tape 
    • Water 
    • A sharp object (to pierce the balloon)

  • Step Two: Fill the balloon with water and tie it off.


  • Step Three: Make a square on your balloon out of tape.
    Make sure you pat down the 
    tape, so its smoothly secured. Different sized squares result in different sized flows.
  • Step Four: With adult assistance pierce the balloon inside the square with your sharp object and watch as the water flows out laminarly 

 

How did it go? Try taking your own spin on the experiment, does the amount of water change the results? How about where you place the square? Do you think you can get multiple flows to happen on the same balloon?  

 

If you tried to demonstrate laminar flow at home, be sure you submit you 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!  

 

Until next time, STAY CURIOUS! 

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How to Make Bubble Snakes With Items You Already Have at Home!

Learn how to make bubble snakes with this STEM-sational DIY activity!

Bubbles, bubbles, everywhereWhat are the differences between one bubble and lots of bubbles? We'll show you how to make bubble snakes in the directions below so you can find out! 

 

Our Early Childhood Specialists in KidsTown put together this fun bubble exploration activity so you can practice your observation and critical-thinking skills at home. 

 

There is something magical about experimenting with bubbles, isn't there? For more bubbly goodness, check out our fan-favorite Un-Poppable Bubble recipe.

Materials:

  • Plastic bottle 
  • A sock 
  • Rubber band 
  • Scissors (and adult supervision)
  • Bubble solution*
  • A wide, shallow container 
  • A bubble wand or a pipe cleaner 
  • Optional: Washable paint for extension activity
Materials for how to make a bubble snake

*If you don't have bubble solution on hand, a mixture of dish soap and water will work for this project but you may have to do some tinkering with the amount of dish soap you add if you'd like to blow bubbles with a regular bubble wand. Sounds like another great opportunity to experiment to us!

Directions:

  • Use a bubble wand* to blow one bubble.

    Observe your bubble closely. What shape is the bubble? What colors do you see? How big is the bubble? How does the bubble move? What does it look like when the bubble pops? 


    Write down or draw your observations so you can reference them later!


    *If you don’t have a bubble wand handy, a pipe cleaner twisted to look like one works, too!

    Once you’ve completed your bubble observations, you’re ready to learn how to make bubble snakes!
pink pipecleaner twisted into bubble wand
  • Carefully cut the bottom off your plastic bottle. 

  • Cut your sock into a square that fits over the new opening in your plastic bottle with some room to spare on each side. 

  • Secure the sock to the bottom of the plastic bottle with a rubber band. 

Attach sock to bottle with rubber band
  • Pour your bubble solution into the container. 
  • Dip the plastic bottle into your bubble solution, sock end first. 
Dip water bottle into bubble solution
  • Blow into the plastic bottle from the end you would normally drink through and watch your bubble snake grow! 

  • Observe the bubbles in the bubble snake.

    What shape are these bubbles? What colors do you see? How big are these bubbles? How do they mo
    ve? What does it look like when the bubbles in the bubble snake pop? How is this group of bubbles the same as your first bubble, and how is it different? 
Bubble snake being blown out of a water bottle and sock

Expand on the Activity:

  • Experiment with the design of your bubble snake blower. 
    Try 
    using a plastic bottle with a different size or shape, experiment with different fabrics such as t-shirt or towel material, and give a few different bubble solution recipes a try. Which combination works best? 
  • Mix some washable paint into your bubble solution, or apply it directly to the sock after dipping it in the bubble solution, and then blow your bubble snake onto a piece of paper. Quickly remove the bubbles from the paper to reveal your bubble-painted masterpiece!  
  • Remember to check out our Unpoppable Bubble Recipe for more fun with bubbles! 
Example of art made by mixing paint into bubble snake solution

Did you have a blast with bubble snakes! Snap a photo or video and submit it to our Science Showcase here or tag Orlando Science Center and use #OSCatHome on social media! You might be featured on our channels. 

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Learning at Home Resources From Orlando Science Center Partners

Learning at home can be a daunting task but these complimentary educational resources can help! 

Whether your STEM student is interested in outer space, engineering, or coding, there is something to pique everyone's interest in the list below. Some are more formal curriculum while others have you learn through game experiences. Either way, here are hours of ideas you can use when learning at home. 

 

For some more fun ideas tried and tested by Orlando Science Center staff, check out OSC at Home

Click on these links for external activities and resources to support learning at home.

Also For Educators

Don't miss these links of compiled activities and resources for use in your lessons.

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Microexpressions: A Universal Language You Wear on Your Face

A facial expression in a fraction of a second? Microexpressions help us communicate, whether or not we speak the same language!

There are about 6,500 spoken languages in the world. Cultures even have different gestures, like peace signs, that are unique to them. Is there any form of communication in the world that everyone can understand – across languages & cultures? 

 

Anthropologist Dr. Paul Ekman says yes – facial expressions! He traveled the world studying emotions in other cultures and found that there are seven human facial expressions called microexpressions that are universally understood – happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, contempt, fear, & surprise.

 

After even more study, Dr. Ekman found that when we experience emotions, we can’t help but display them on our faces, even for a fraction of a second. These glimpses into what we’re truly feeling are called microexpressions. Our brain is so linked to these muscle movements that we can make ourselves feel these emotions by performing the right expressions 

Headshot of Anthropologist Dr. Paul Ekman

Let’s make some faces!  

You will need: 

  • A mirror 
  • Yourself
  • Optional: A partner who you live with or can connect with via video call!

How to practice recognizing microexpressions:

Woman face with neutral expression

Relax your face.

Observe what you look like with no expression – this is your “neutral” face. Note how your muscles feel.

Woman face showing happiness with smile

Happiness. 

Smile! Look at your eyes – are your eyelids narrowed? Real smiles combine the contraction of the zygomaticus major at your mouth and the orbicularis oculi at your eyes.

 

Try to think of a joke and see if your expression changes!  

Woman face showing sadness

Sadness. 

Turn your lips down into a frown. Raise your cheeks as high as you can. This part is tricky – see if you can turn the inner corners of your eyebrows upwards.

 

Notice how your face feels – there’s a lot of tension in a sad face. Do you feel any emotions? 

Woman face showing anger

Anger. 

Tightened eyelids, eyebrows lowered and drawn together, and lips pressed together are displays of anger. In more intense expressions of anger, the jaw comes forward.  

Woman face showing disgust

Disgust.

Think of a nasty smell – what does your face do? Wrinkle your nose, bring your eyebrows down and together, and make your upper lip into an upside down “U” shape.   

Woman face showing contempt

Contempt. 

Contempt means thinking that someone is beneath you. It’s not a nice emotion. Raise one corner of your lips and try to look overconfident.

 

Notice that this is the only emotion displayed unilaterally – on one side of the face only.

Woman face showing fear

Fear. 

Think about being scared – open your eyes wide and tense your lower eyelids. Raise your eyebrows and bring them together. Try to pull the corners of your mouth backward, towards your ears.  

Woman face showing surprise

Surprise. 

This expression is very similar to fear – think about being startled! What does your face look like when a balloon pops? There should be less tension in your eyebrows – raise them, but don’t bring them together. Relax your lower eyelids, but keep your eyes wide.

 

Do you look surprised?  

What did you feel making these expressions? Did you notice any emotions beginning to form? Did any memories surface while you made the faces? Our brains’ emotion centers are very connected with the muscles in our face.  

 

So what’s the point? 

Dr. Ekman coded each facial muscle movement’s actions into a computer program. His program has been used by law enforcement to help catch criminals, healthcare professionals to better understand their patients, even poker players looking to up their game by reading microexpressions of their competitors! Some actors even study Dr. Ekman’s work to help them portray emotions more truthfully.  

 

Now that you’ve learned about the muscle movements that create these expressions, you can recognize them better in yourself and other people.  

 

Want to learn more? 

Check out www.paulekman.com to learn more about microexpression research!  

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5 T-Shirt Yarn Crafts to Try to Master New Maker Skills

Turn tired T-shirts into treasured projects with T-shirt yarn!

Got an old T-shirt in your house? Good news! You’ve got everything you need to start crafting. We’re rounding up some awesome skills that you can learn using T-shirt yarn as your medium.

 

Not only are these projects fun and fabulous, but they'll help you hone your maker skills and you can apply what you've learned using T-shirt yarn to other fiber arts projects. 

First, round up your materials... those T-shirts that are a bit tired or have seen better days are PERFECT for these projects.

 

Now, let's literally round up the T-shirts into yarn! Watch this video to learn how to convert your fabrics to a usable yarn. 

Five crafts you can Do with T-shirt yarn 

Finger Knitting

Finger knitting is an easy way to get started with fiber crafts. Once you get the hang of it, it’s quite relaxing. Knit a long line and turn it into a necklace for an easy starter craft! 

Macrame

Macra-make some amazing things for your home! This video shows you the basic knots you’ll need to get started. T-shirt yarn is great for practicing before you commit to a project.  

Fabric Coiling

You can create a bowl out of fabric! T-shirt yarn is perfect for this since it’s chunkier and sturdier than most yarn. This bowl will be perfect to hold your crafting supplies! 

Pom Pom Making

They look easy, but there’s actually a pattern to creating pom poms! Use this template to learn to make t-shirt yarn pom poms, and then scale it down for smaller yarn – or if you prefer, you can purchase small pom pom makers at a craft store.

Crochet

Learn basic stitches and their abbreviations so that you can conquer a simple pattern! Note: you will need a crochet hook. Carving your own is a tutorial for another time…

Mother and daughter using T-shirt yarn to practice finger knitting

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

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

 

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

 

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Support OSC At Home

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

Stop Motion Animation: Create Movies Using a Tablet or Smartphone

You don't have to be a filmmaker or even be able to record video to create a movie clip with stop motion animation. 

Looking for a fun activity to do at home? Why not make a movie! Even if you don’t want to step behind the camera, there are a multitude of fun ways you can use stop motion to create a simple animated film or short sequence you can play on a loop. 

 

Stop motion is an animated filmmaking technique in which you physically move your subjects in small increments and take still images or photos of each scene. Using stop motion software, you can play the series of frames back and your subject will appear to move!

 

In The Hive: A Makerspace presented by The Isaacs Family, we like to make stop motion films using our iPads and the Stop Motion Studio app which is available for most devices. 

Here is what you’ll need to make a stop motion film:

  • A tablet or smartphone with Stop Motion Studio.
    Once you download the app, be sure to watch all of the instructions before you get started! 
  • A stand or something to hold your tablet/phone in place.
    You can make a stand out of cardboard, use a stand you have at home, build something with scrap materials, or if you have access to it, 3D print a stand!
  • Masking tape to mark off where your camera will stay.
    The most important thing with stop-motion animation is to keep your camera angle and view consistent so each frame of your animated film will line up.
  • A backdrop for your film.
    You can use a sheet or a piece of posterboard or a piece of cardboard or some butcher paper you’ve drawn a backdrop on or even a poster – do you have a large landscape photo or art print somewhere? Use that!
  • Characters!
    You could make a movie with anything! You can draw and cut out figures from cardboard or paper and move them around or you could get some action figures involved. Maybe you want to recreate the opening of Star Wars using cardboard, Barbies, and a baby Yoda doll. You can!

More things to consider when putting together your stop motion animation creation:

  • Music!
    You can use the music from a movie you like, or recreate a music video for your favorite song, or you can make your own music!  Here are some fun online resources for music like an online synthesizer, a cool song maker, and royalty-free music.  
  • Special effects
    We don’t mean computer visual effects, I mean use your creativity! Can you make a colored light? Can you use crinkled tissue paper as an explosion or a fire?
  • Get creative with scale 
    Forced perspective can create some fun effects with stop-motion animation.
  • Shadows!
    You could do an entirely shadow-based stop-motion film using a light, a sheet, and some fun cutouts.
maker workshop for stop motion animation at Orlando Science Center's adult night

For inspiration, check out some of these cool stop motion videos! 

Want to skip the storyboard and go straight to the stop motion? Try a shot-for-shot remake of an existing video!

Do you have LEGO sets at home? You’re halfway to a good themed film like this Force Awakens-themed stop motion project!

Here’s a fun tutorial on how to animate a fight scene in stop-motion animation. Can you use any of these techniques in your movie?