Experiments and Books

Great experiments to try at home

Empty glass trick

Materials: A paper towel, a glass, a bowl filled with water

  1. Stuff a paper towel tightly into the bottom of a glass. It should stay there even when you turn the glass upside down.
  2. Fill a bowl with water.
  3. Turn the glass upside down. Hold the glass very straight and plunge it into the water.
  4. Slowly count to ten. Lift the glass out of the water without tipping it.
  5. Pull the paper towl out of the glass. Is the paper still dry?

The paper towel in the glass stayed dry because water couldn’t get into the glass. Why not? The glass was already full of air.

Strong Air

Materials: A glass half filled with water, an index card or piece of cardboard

  1. Fill the glass halfway with water.
  2. Put the cardboard over the top of the glass.
  3. Hold the cardboard tight against the glass.
  4. Turn the glass upside down while holding the cardboard in place. Keep the glass straight.
  5. Take your hand away from the cardboard.

What happened? Air pushes up, down, and sideways on everything it touches. This pushing power is called air pressure. The air pushed up on the cardboard more than the water and air inside the glass pushed down. This kept the water from falling out.

Balloon blow-up

Materials: Balloon, small funnel or straw, spoon, baking soda, vinegar, small juice or soda bottle

  1. Stretch the balloon, so that it will be easy to blow up.
  2. Use the straw to put two large spoonfuls of baking soda into the balloon.
  3. Half fill the bottle with vinegar.
  4. Stretch the neck of the balloon over the neck of the bottle. Don’t let any baking soda fall in.
  5. Hold the balloon up so that all the baking soda falls into the vinegar in the bottle.

What happened? When baking soda (a solid) and vinegar (a liquid) get together, they produce a gas called carbon dioxide. The gas takes up more room than there is in the bottle, so it blows up the balloon!

Raisin race

Materials: Clear glass jar, plastic spoon, ginger ale, raisins

  1. Place the glass jar on a flat surface such as a table or countertop.
  2. Carefully pour the ginger ale into the glass. *If you tip the glass and pour the ginger ale gently down the side, you will keep more of the fizz in the liquid.
  3. Drop two raisins into the ginger ale. Watch them race up and down.
  4. Use the spoon to remove the raisins. Squeeze one of them to flatten it. Now drop both raisins back into the ginger ale. Does one raisin go up and down faster than the other?
  5. Put a bunch of raisins into the ginger ale and watch them race.

What is happening? Ginger ale has a gas called carbon dioxide dissolved in it. A machine pumps the gas into the soft drink at the factory, and then the lid is sealed. When you open the drink, the hiss you hear is the gas escaping. As the gas comes out of the spaces between the molecules of liquid, it sticks to the raisins. When there are lots of bubbles, they lift the raisin to the surface. There the bubbles break and the raisin sinks again.

Oil and Water

Materials: 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, a small glass, food coloring

  1. Pour the water into the glass.
  2. Add a couple of drops of food coloring and mix.
  3. Add the oil. What do you see? Which layer is on top?
  4. Tightly cover the glass with plastic wrap.
  5. While holding the glass over the sink, shake the glass so that the two liquids are thoroughly mixed.
  6. Set the class down and watch what happens. Do oil and water mix?

Oil and water do not mix. The oil layer is on top of the water, because of the difference in the density of the two liquids. The density of a substance is the ratio of its mass to its volume. The oil is less dense than the water, so it is on top.

Check out these interesting science books!

The Big Bang (Great Ideas of Science)
by Paul Fleisher

This book is for anyone that has ever wondered about the origins of the universe. It explains how scientists’ observations of the stars led to the Big Bang theory.

The Great Brain Book: An Inside Look at the Inside of Your Head
by H.P. Newquist

This book is all about the brain and how the brain works. It covers the history of the brain, from the ancient Egyptians to modern-day research. The illustrations, photographs, and interseting sidebars (what really causes brain freeze?) make this a very interesting read.

The New Way Things Work
by David Macaulay

This is a great book for anyone who wants to understand how things work. The author not only shows how machines do what they do, but also shows how the concept behind one invention links to the concept behind another. How are zippers related to the ancient pyramids? How are dentist drills related to windmills? With detailed illustrations and descriptions of hundreds of machines, this is a great book for readers of all ages!

Genetics (Great Ideas of Science)
by Rebecca L. Johnson

If a brown cat and a white cat have kittens, what color will the kittens be? Genetics is the science of heredity (how traits are passed from parents to children). This book explains the discovery of DNA, how genes are passed on, and how the human genome is mapped. It includes color photos, diagrams, and interesting informational sidebars.

Women at the Edge of Discovery: 40 True Science Adventures
by Kendall Haven

Science is an exciting field of study that involves not only observation and discovery, but also a real element of danger. This book gives the thrilling stories of forty female scientists who have faced great challenges in the field. An action-packed, exciting read.

Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium
by Carla Killough McClafferty

Did you know that Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize? This biography examines Marie Curie’s life and work as a groundbreaking scientist.

Extraordinary Women Scientists
by Darlene R. Stille

This book begins with a history of women in science. It goes on to describe the lives and contributions of more than fifty important women scientists and the challenges they faced. An inspiring read.

Young Women of Achievement: A Resource fo Girls in Science, Math, and Technology
by Frances A. Karnes and Kristen R. Stephens

This is an excellent resource guide to help you start exploring and planning your career in science, math, and technology.

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women
by Catherine Thimmesh

This book features the biographies of ten women, two girls and their inventions that changed the world. The book also shows you how to start inventing yourself, with lists of organizations and websites to help you patent your inventions.

The Sky’s the Limit: Stories of Discovery by Women and Girls
by Catherine Thimmesh

From the author of Girls Think of Everything:Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women (see above), comes another volume featuring women and girls who have made remarkable discoveries.