Need spring break ideas for the kids? Check out these science experiments

Published: Mar. 12, 2020 at 8:41 AM EDT
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Spring break is almost here and if you're looking for something fun and educational to do with your kids at home, try these science experiments!

Ms. Covey Denton and her children stopped by WITN News at Sunrise on Thursday to go over some fun science experiments for kids to try at home during spring break.

Be sure to watch the attached videos to see the experiments for yourself!

Here are Ms. Denton's descriptions and explanations of the following experiments:

Sharpie Tie Dye

Sharpie markers (and other permanent markers) have a permanent ink, which will not wash away with water. Unlike regular ink, permanent ink is "hydrophobic" which is literally "water-fearing," meaning it is not soluble in water. We are using a different solvent to make the ink dissolve. Rubbing alcohol is the best solvent for this experiment, but it is a bit difficult to find at the moment. Permanent inks are soluble in alcohol. The ink dissolves in the alcohol and the solvent carries the colors as it spreads in a circular pattern. Since we could find rubbing alcohol, we are using acetone, which is found in nail polish remover. It works well, but you want to be sure to use it in a well ventilated area.

For best results, don't flood the shirt with alcohol (or nail polish remover). Slowly drip about 20 drops on the shirt and allow the ink time to spread out. It's best to let the shirt dry for at least 48 hours before you launder it. I find that ironing the shirt before laundering sets the ink in place and less will come off the first washing.

Birthday Science

Birthday candles egg-in-a-bottle trick: The burning birthday candles heat up the air inside the bottle. When air gets warm, the molecules move far away from one another. Some of the molecules actually escape out past the egg. When the flame goes out, the molecules of air in the bottle cool down and move closer together. This creates a low pressure system called a partial vacuum. Normally, the air in the room would just come in and fill the bottle but we are blocking it with the egg. The pressure from the air outside the bottle is great enough that it will push the egg into the bottle!

A similar thing happens with the vase overturned on the plate. If you look very closely you might even see bubbles escaping out of the vase as it sits there and the candle burns, warming the air. The air is pushed out because hot air expands. A lot of people think that the water rises because we are using up all of the oxygen. If that were the case, then the water would rise gradually as the candle burns. If you watch closely, the water doesn't come rushing in until the candle goes out and the air cools. When that happens, the air cools down, making the pressure inside the vase lower than the pressure of the air outside the vase. The air pressure pushes the water up and into the vase until they are equal.

Glow Germs

This is a pigment that glows under a UV light. It is the same sort of thing that they mix into the paint on children's pj's to make them glow at night. This is a great visual to show young children (and those who are young at heart!) how easily germs spread.

Your skin is a great barrier to most germs--they can't hurt you on the outside so unless you have a cut or they get into your eyes, nose or mouth, germs on your skin aren't so bad. The problem is, when we shake hands, bite our nails, pick our nose, suck a thumb, eat food like an apple or sandwich, we give those germs a ticket to the inside of us. We touch so many things with our hands--our phones, light switches, computer mouse pads and handshakes. That is why we're encouraged to sneeze and cough into our elbows. Far fewer things are touched with your elbows than your hands Now if you turn off the lights you can see just how many things have our false "germs" on them. At this point, if we wash our hands, we can see just how effective we are at getting them off. It's best to wash with plain soap and water and sing the happy birthday or ABC song twice through. Really get between fingers, under fingernails and the fronts and the backs of your hands. That will remove the most germs from your hands and help to keep you healthy.

Covey Denton is an award-winning science teacher at the Greenfield School in Wilson. She and her kids make regular appearances on WITN News at Sunrise.

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