Saturday, July 28, 2012

Science Discovery Bottles

Fridays this summer have been Cousins days, so we were excited to have Gracen and Layla over again yesterday.  Gracen was gone for a bit for football camp, so I put Layla to work helping me make Science Discovery Bottles

We have been saving Gatorade bottles because they're nice and sturdy for these types of projects.  The kids loved having Gatorade to drink at Nolan's baseball games this summer.  So it was win-win.  I washed all the bottles and removed the labels.

Most of our ideas for these bottles came from the blog Familylicious.

Here are most of the supplies we used:

I basically looked at all the possible bottles we could make and made a list of supplies we might need.  I had lots of supplies on hand and hit up the dollar store for the rest.  Here's a list of most of the items we used:
  • Bottles
  • Vegetable oil
  • Clear shampoo (I could only find transparent green shampoo)
  • Clear hair gel
  • Baby oil
  • Shaving cream
  • Glitter, sequins, beads, or other add-ins
  • Rice (mine has been colored with food coloring)
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Wire
  • Magnets
And here are the bottles we made:

1.  Pipe Cleaners and Magnet

I cut pipe cleaners into 1-inch(ish) lengths, and Nora helped me put them in an empty, dry bottle.  Pipe cleaners are attracted to magnets because of the metal wire in their centers. 

The kids really enjoyed playing with magnets on the outside of this bottle to manipulate the pipe cleaners inside.  It reminded me of the Wooly Willy toy (the man's face with metal shavings you can move around for his hair and facial hair).  With time and creativity, you could make other cool magnetic toys with pipe cleaners.

2.  Hidden Magnetic Objects

We poured the colored rice into these bottles along with metal objects.  We used more pipe cleaners, some old sewing pins, and pieces of wire that Layla shaped into swirls and coils.  We actually ended up pouring all the contents into a gallon bag and mixing them all up and then pouring them back into the bottle so everything would be nicely mixed.  This was the only bottle that required a funnel for pouring the contents into the bottle.

The kids found it easiest to use this bottle on its side.  They rolled it to find hidden objects and used the magnet to pull the items out of the rice.  They liked this bottle, but it didn't hold their attention for very long.

3.  Static Electricity

This bottle contains squares of tissue paper (the dark purple areas) and bits of styrofoam (packing peanuts) in a dry bottle.

The kids rubbed the bottle against their hair and then used the static electricity to lift their hair.  The boys loved doing it, but their hair is too short!  So we relied on Nora and Layla to see the effects on this one.

Nora wasn't very cooperative with letting me take a picture, so this is all I got:

Layla got some good distance with her hair later when I had put the camera away.

4.  Shaving Cream and Food Color

Poor Layla started out helping me with this, and she ended up working on it for a loooong time.  The directions said to spray shaving cream into the bottle and pour in warm water to dissolve the shaving cream foam.  It sounded so simple.

The shaving cream just clogged the bottle opening every time we sprayed it in.  Then Layla used a long-handled spoon to try to poke and scrape it into the bottle.  Then she poured a little bit of warm water over it to push it down.  And then she repeated the process.  It took forever, but she clearly loved being the only kid big enough to do such a messy job.  She was a trooper.

Once the bottle was nearly full, we put in a few drops of food coloring (Layla chose pink).  Then we shook the bottle and...nothing.  It was pretty lame.  Layla was so positive and said in a chipper voice, "At least I had fun making it!"

Later in the day, when the kids were showing my sister our bottles, we noticed that the shaving cream bottle was a little more swirly and iridescent than it had appeared in the morning.  It did still have a thick foam on top of the swirly liquid.

The next day (today), this bottle is so cool!  The foam on top has disappeared, so all the shaving cream is fully dissolved into the water.  If you hold it by the top or bottom and swirl it (rather than shaking it), you can watch the shiny iridescent liquid flow over the contours of the bottle.  The kids love it!

5.  Oil and Colored Water Wave

This bottle is half water (with a drop of blue food color) and half vegetable oil.  We held the bottle sideways and rocked it back and forth to make waves.  It was too hard for me to capture photos of the waves, but they were cool.  This kids really enjoyed this bottle.

We talked about how water and oil will never mix.  Nolan wanted to test that, so he shook it up:

Then we watched it seperate:

6.  Shampoo and Baby Oil

This was the least favorite bottle.  Perhaps we didn't do it right?  It's shampoo and baby oil and food coloring.  The original instructions said to use water color paint or food coloring.  The instructions said to shake it up and then watch it separate.  Here's what ours did:

This bottle just didn't entertain the kids.  It was the most neglected bottle.

7.  Hair Gel and Trinkets

We spent a considerable amount of time choosing treasures to put in this bottle.  We found letter beads to spell all the kids' names.  Each child chose shaped sequins and sparkly embellishments to put in.  We also put in colored googly eyes.  Then I told Layla to put in "a little bit of glitter" and she got a little carried away!  Despite my panicked screeches to stop, she poured in a whole container of glitter.  So, unfortunately, you can't really see any of the treasures in this bottle.  I would recommend skipping the glitter on this bottle altogether. :)

8.  Shampoo and Trinkets

This bottle is filled with the rest of the shampoo (I wish we had just a little bit more to fill it all the way) and some of the leftover objects from the bottle above.  Nolan put in leftover letter beads, shaped sequins, googly eyes, and even some pom-poms. 

This bottle is pretty cool because you can shake it or turn it upside down, and the objects move slowly through the shampoo.  Don't add any water to this one or you'll get lots of bubbles!

9.  Jellyfish

This bottle was an epic fail.  I followed the instructions here.  I used the plain white side of a Target bag because I didn't have any clear shopping bags.  I couldn't get the head of my jellyfish to hold water and air (it just kept deflating), so I put a light-weight bouncy ball in the head (you can see the color swirls).  The bouncy ball head floated so the head would be on top, but unfortunately the tentacles also floated.  So the bag just bunched up near the top.  I couldn't figure out how to get my jellyfish's tentacles to dangle down instead of floating.  It was very frustrating after spending a bit of time cutting all the tentacles.

Here's what the bottle was supposed to look like:

My report:
The most successful bottles were the water and oil wave, pipe cleaners and magnet, and shaving cream and water.   The least successful were shampoo and baby oil and the jellyfish.  All the other bottles were well liked but just not the absolute favorites.

This project went much better than I anticipated.  There wasn't any fighting over who got to help.  The kids shared the finished bottles nicely.  Layla was able to help with "big kid" jobs.  We were able to try all the bottles I had in mind.  We discussed a little of the science behind some of these bottles.  I beamed with pride when my sister came to get her kids and all the kids wanted to show her the bottles we made.

I highly recommend this overall project to any other moms.  Your kids will likely prefer different bottles than mine did.  Maybe you can figure out the bottles that were highly unsuccessful for us!  There are a lot of other ideas for bottles that we didn't even try, too.

Another successful summer activity!


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