Dirty Laundry Lessons

Science at Home:  Dirty Laundry Lessons, Part 1

It shouldn’t have come as a shock to my family that I went to college and majored in a scientific field.  After all, I showed an early proclivity for experimentation, long before the days of chemistry class or science fair projects.  At the ripe age of 9, I conducted an “experiment” to see what types of materials burn faster.  (NOTE:  Do NOT try this at home, or at least not without extreme adult supervision!!)  All went well until I tested a Kleenex…which I promptly had to drop into the metal trash can…filled with Kleenex…well, you get the picture.  A few seconds later and after a mad fire stomp by several members of my family (Metal trash cans get hot when engulfed in flame and cannot be carried out of the house; that was my mom’s take home lesson), my first science lab was finished.  As was the carpet.  Not a stellar start to my science career, but it didn’t slow me down.  Much. 

However, I would like to suggest some fun and SAFER “science-y” things to do at home.  These ideas can be used as a simple introduction to the scientific method, or you can take it further and use it as a starting board for a full-blown science project.  First off, we’ll start in the laundry room, since I seem to spend a large portion of my life there! 

1)  What are the effects of hard/soft water on detergents?  Or, what are the effects of certain salts on detergents?  To do this experiment, create a universal stain on several cloth strips(all made of same material).  Be sure to leave some material unstained as a point of comparison.  To create a consistent stain, consider soaking in something like grape juice or coffee.  Stain all the material at the same time for the same amount of time.  Start with ½ liter of purified water in several 2 Liter bottles (this will be your washing machine).  Leave one “machine” as purified water only.  This is your control.  To each of the other two liters, add salts.  You can try different salts (Magnesium, Calcium, Sodium), OR try using different amounts of the same salt in different two liters.  Add a cloth strip and the same amount of detergent to each “machine.”  I recommend using only a teaspoon of detergent.  Count the number of shakes (do whatever your arms can handle; but do your best to shake each two liter the same amount of time/number of shakes).  

Oh, my mind races with the possibilities with this one:  comparing detergents, amounts of salts, lather, time, etc.  However, try to keep it simple.  Only test one thing at a time. 

Well, tune in next time for more laundry lab.  Who knows, if nothing else, you might get Suzie or Johnny interested in science and the upcoming science fair.  Or, at the very least, maybe they’ll do the laundry for you next time!

Yours in Science,
PS:  Want more details on a quick, easy science project….

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Choosing a Seventh Grade Science Projects

Choosing a 7th grade science project can be daunting. Maybe you’re trying to think of a fun and educational project to do with your favorite middle school student. There are several places you can look to try to find age appropriate and feasible science projects including the internet, your child’s teacher, even the public library. The most important thing is to use your resources to find a project you and your student can actually execute, and enjoy at the same time. 

When choosing a 7th grade science project topic, one of the best places to begin is by talking with your child’s science teacher. They can give you advice based on your what the science class is currently studying, and make sure that the project your child chooses fulfills the project requirements for the class. Their teacher might also be able to recommend a good science project book, which brings us to our next useful tool, the public library. The library is full of kid friendly science books, even books geared specifically toward science projects for any age. A great science project book might be helpful as you know you’d be using reliable information that will walk you through the experiment. 

The internet is also a great resource for finding a 7th grade science experiments. Either by searching specifically for a type of project i.e. “7th grade science project, chemistry,” or by searching for a database full of science projects like http://www.akronlibrary.org/DBS/SFDB/Default.aspx or http://www.youth.net/nsrc/sci/sci.index.html, you’re sure to be able to find an assortment of science experiments that your child will be interested. Another great find on the internet is the free science project guide at http://www.middle-school-science-projects.com/guide.pdf.

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Science Projects for Middle School

It can be overwhelming when your middle school student comes home with that annual science fair project packet. They often need help finding a topic that interests them and can execute on their own.  Luckily, the internet is full of resources that will help you find middle school science projects for every students’ interest, with all the necessary materials and steps to get it done. 

You can begin searching for a relevant science project after finding out what area of science your middle school student is most interested in.  For example, if your child wants to do a chemistry-related project that is appropriate for their age and grade level, you might search for “chemistry science fair projects, 6th grade.” If you can’t easily find a feasible or clear project by just using a search engine, you can also try using a science project guide or inventory online. Some websites like http://www.youth.net/nsrc/sci/sci.index.html or http://www.akronlibrary.org/DBS/SFDB/Default.aspx have searchable databases of science fair projects that you can narrow down by subject matter or grade level. Another good resource to try is the free middle school science project guide at http://www.middle-school-science-projects.com/guide.pdf.

You’re sure to be able to find a fun and educational science project on the internet no matter what your student’s interest.   Just remember to always be safe and to have fun!

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24 Hour Science!

How to Find Science Experiments for Kids

Kids of all ages are always curious about how the world works, why things are the way they are, or how stuff works. By engaging their attention with a fun science experiment, you can help them understand the world around them, and hopefully have fun at the same time. Unless you’re a teacher or scientist though, it might be tricky to know what experiments are best, what materials you need, or what to look for in an experiment. Luckily, if you know where to look, you just might have access to lots of great kids science experiment ideas in places you visit everyday.

Public libraries or school libraries often carry books geared toward children full of fun and age appropriate projects. Be sure to look for one with good instructions and pictures to help you along. Your child’s teacher or science teacher might also be a great resource for finding a science experiment. Asking a teacher is also a good idea, as they might be able to help you find a kids science experiment idea that is relevant to what your child’s class is studying in science at that time. Finally, the internet has many websites geared toward science experiments for kids. Searching science experiments for kids will yield tons of helpful results, many of which are free like the science project guides you can find at https://www.24hourscienceprojects.com/guide.pdf  Remember to have fun by doing a project your child is interested in, and always be safe!


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Fun Science Experiments

Every student wants a fun middle school science project! To most kids, a science project simply has to be fun. Frankly, most teachers share this view. From a teacher’s standpoint, it’s much better for a student if he or she is interested in the topic being studied.

Of course, a fun science experiment isn’t the final goal. The purpose of a science project is to teach the child about science. To do that, teachers and science fair administrators usually have strict guidelines about what a project or experiment must include. Experiments must usually follow the scientific method. Demonstrations must explain a scientific principle. All projects must include research and references.

But a science project is also supposed to whet a child’s appetite for science. A fun and interesting project will make a student want to learn even more about our fascinating world and the scientific laws that govern it. And a fun science project is a great way to do just that.

Here is a list of idea for science projects that will expand a child’s science knowledge and experience, but also meet that number one kid requirement – of fun.

1. Show how yeast gives off gas. Put yeast in a bottle of warm water, top it a balloon, and watch the balloon fill up with gas. This project can be done as a demonstration in front of the class, or as an fun science experiment.

2. What can you do to speed up a chemical reaction? Plop Alka Seltzer into a cup of water and time it. Then crush the Alka Seltzer, and watch it fizz even faster after you put it into a cup of water. Still another time, reduce the amount of water, add Alka Selter, and see how fast it dissolves. This is a demonstration science project, and is terrific to wow classmates.

3. Explore the concept of density. Pour water, Karo syrup, rubbing alcohol, and vegetable oil into a tall container. Watch how they layer. Then drop in different items, like a penny, a cork, a Lego or a candle, and see where they float – or sink. The concept of density is advanced enough for middle schoolers, but can still be understood by kindergartners.

4. Show how a chicken egg is a cell with a selectively permeable membrane. Soak a raw egg in vinegar for a weekend. The shell will come off. Then put the egg into dark syrup and watch what happens! This is another fun science project that can be done as an investigation or a demonstration.

5. Find out about static cling. Rub a sheet of plexiglass with a wool sock, then show how balloons and hair stick to it. Or, try make a ball of aluminum foil dance, as shown in this You-Tube video.

Detailed instructions for these projects are available at Middle School Science Projects. You’ll also find all sorts of reference materials to help with the science involved. We’ll definitely be able to steer you in the right direction as you search for fun science experiments.

Kayla Fay

PS Hear, Hear is a fun science project that experiments to see if two ears hear better than one. Get step by step instructions for this project in the Weekend Page of our Science Project guides.