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Kids can blow off STEAM with science

Kids can blow off STEAM with science

Winter is a great time for kids to blow off some "steam" with the help of Discovery Station in downtown Hagerstown.

STEAM is defined as science, technology, engineering, art and math activities that kids can do at home, under the close supervision of adults. Brittany Wedd, director of operations for Discovery Station, provided the following experiments. Wedd emphasized safety first when doing any type of experiment.

Glow-in-the-dark slime

This is a messy, hands-on science activity, recommended for those ages 7 and older. Safety goggles and old clothing are recommended, and parental supervision is required.

Supplies:

• Two small bowls

• Water

• Borax

• White or green glow-in-the-dark paint

• Glue bottle

• 5 ounces glue

• One large bowl

• Two spoons

• Measuring cup

• Measuring spoon

• Plastic tablecloth

• Safety goggles

Note: You may add food coloring or glitter. Note that added colorful materials will lessen the glow effect of the slime.

In one small bowl, pour in 1/2 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon Borax. Use a spoon to mix the ingredients together until the Borax dissolves.

Add the entire bottle of glow-in-the-dark paint to the bowl.

In the second small bowl, pour in the glue and add 1/2 cup of water. Use a spoon to mix the ingredients together.

Next, pour the contents from the bowl of Borax and water and the contents from the second bowl (glue and water) into the large bowl. Mix the ingredients together.

When the contents in the large bowl start to solidify into slime, use your hands to knead the mixture. Once there is only a little bit of liquid left, you may remove the slime from the bowl and place it on a table.

To recharge the glow-in-the-dark effect of your slime, place it under a light bulb.

What is happening?

The slime is a polymer and is held together through cohesion. The substance acts like a liquid and a solid. If you put your slime in a tall glass, it would take the shape of the glass, just like a liquid would (think of it like pouring milk into a glass). If you pick the slime up, it is thick enough that it wouldn’t slip through your fingers like a liquid.

Polymers are made up of chains of molecules. In a liquid, the molecules are spread out. In a solid, they are held tightly together in chains. The tight chains of molecules help hold molecules of the glow-in-the-dark paint together. 

Strawberry DNA extraction

This hands-on science experiment is a great activity for those ages 7 and older. Safety goggles and old clothing are recommended, and parental supervision is required.

Supplies:

• Isopropyl alcohol

• Small glass cup

• Water

• Liquid dish soap

• Salt

• Zip-lock bag

• Strawberries

• Strainer

• Large glass cup

• Tweezers

• Measuring cups

• Two spoons

• Safety goggles

Put the bottle of isopropyl alcohol in a freezer for about 15 minutes before starting the experiment. You want the alcohol to be cold, but not frozen.

Pour 90 milliliters of water into a cup.

Add 10 milliliters of liquid dish soap to the water.

Add 1/4 teaspoon salt to the water and soap mixture. Stir the salt until it dissolves. Once it dissolves, your extraction solution has been completed.

Pour the solution into the zip-lock baggie.

Place one strawberry in the baggie with the solution and push out as much air from the bag as possible. Seal the bag.

Use your hands to mash the strawberry inside the bag. Make sure there are no large chunks of strawberry left — you want it to be really mushy.

Next, pour the contents of the baggie through the strainer into the large glass cup. You can mash the mixture with a spoon to get as much liquid pushed through as possible.

Once you have the strawberry/extraction mixture in the large cup, pour the contents into the small glass cup.

Remove the alcohol from the freezer. Measure 5 milliliters of the alcohol and pour it slowly into the strawberry/extraction mixture.

Hold the small glass cup up to your eye. You will notice that there is a separation in the two liquids, with a white layer at the top.

Run the tweezers through the white layer. You will find that there are solid parts in that layer. This is the strawberry’s DNA. You can gently use the tweezers to pull the DNA from the glass cup.

What is happening?

Strawberries have a lot of DNA, compared to other fruits. That makes the strawberry DNA not only easy to extract, but visible.

The extraction mixture played a crucial role in the process. Strawberries are made up of cells that have an outer layer called membranes. The liquid dish soap in the extraction solution helps dissolve those membranes.

Inside those cells are protein chains that hold nucleic acids. The salt in the extraction solution will break up the protein chains and release the strawberry’s DNA. You added isopropyl alcohol to keep the DNA from being dissolved in the extraction solution.

Wind turbines

This hands-on science experiment is a great activity for those ages 7 and older. Safety goggles are recommended, and parental supervision is required.

Supplies:

• Colored card-stock paper (8 inches by  8 inches)

• Scissors

• Hole puncher

• Bendable straw

• Pressure-sensitive tape

• Pencil

• Plasticine

Pick a square of card stock and fold it in half at the corners. Repeat both ways and then unfold.

Cut slits along the folded lines. Start at the corners and cut three-quarters of the way toward the middle of the sheet. Do this for each corner.

At each of the corners, punch a hole in the left point. Only do this on the left point. Repeat this so you have four holes at each corner, and at the left point.

Next, punch a hole in the center of the square.

Fold a bendable straw at a right angle. Place the center of the sheet over the straw at the bendable section so the straw runs through the sheet of paper.

Pull one corner that has a hole toward the center of the sheet and push the straw through the hole. Tape it down and repeat that step with each of the four corners that have holes.

Remove the straw from the pinwheel. Push a pencil through the pinwheel to widen the center hole so the pinwheel can spin easily.

Push the straw back through the center of the pinwheel. Place a piece of plasticine on the end of the straw to prevent it from falling off.

Test your pinwheel by blowing on the wheel counterclockwise.

What is happening?

The colorful wheel has “blades” that spin counterclockwise when air passes through it. The blades are three-dimensional and act as “cups” to capture the air so they can move with the power of the wind.

Wind turbines harness the power of the wind to convert kinetic energy into electrical power. Unlike the pinwheel, a wind turbine typically has two or three blades. Wind turbines are considered an alternative-energy source.

If you go ...

WHAT: Make glow-in-the-dark slime

WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11

WHERE: Discovery Station, 101 W. Washington St., downtown Hagerstown

COST: Museum admission costs $7; $6 for ages 4 to 17. There is no additional charge to attend the demonstration.

CONTACT: Call 301-790-0076 or go to DiscoveryStation.org

 

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