Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Steve Spangler Science Kit #1

I was feeling bad about the lack of hands-on science we were doing outside of 4-H.   We were reading about science and watching videos about science and doing 4-H STEM twice a month, but it still seemed lacking.

So, I did a trial membership with the Steve Spangler Science Club.   Since getting the materials together is probably the worst aspect of doing science at home, I figured this would help.  And it kind of did.  Kind of because we've actually had this kit for about three weeks, and I just got the shipping notice that our next kit is on its way, and we still hadn't done it.  To give me some credit part of the hold-up was I wanted to finish up our Mesopotamia unit before all my library books ran out of renewals.

The kits are geared toward ages 7 to 14, so right in line with Squidy and Vicki.

The great thing about these science kits - they really do come with everything.   The only things we needed to add to the contents of our kit were water, scissors and a towel.

The first experiment was a demonstration of air pressure, cohesion and adhesion of water molecules, and surface tension.   First we poured water into our screen covered mason jar.  We held the laminated card over the top and flipped it upside down.  When we let go, the card defied gravity and continued to hold the water in the jar.

We then slowly slide the card out from the lid and once again the water stayed in the jar, due to a combination of air pressure and surface tension.

Then, we tilted the jar just a little too much trying to take pictures and water poured out. Good thing we had that towel.

Our next activity involved using super-absorbent polymers to turn water into a solid almost instantly.

We put a small amount of the sodium polyacrylate into one of the included cups, quickly added poured in the water and watched it turn to a solid.  We then popped it out of the cup and played with it for a little while.

We then added a small amount of salt to the solid to watch it turn back into a liquid.  The rest of our solid, we're going to let dry out so we can reuse it.  We have quite a bit since we had to do this part a few times.

The final activity that we did involved pulling the stuffing out of a diaper (provided) and shaking out the powder.  

We then added water to the powder to show that it was a super-absorbent polymer.   We seem to have had too much water to the amount of powder we gathered because nothing happened.  So, we added another scoop of our sodium polyacrylate and watched it turned solid in the plastic bag.

The back of each of the experiment cards had information about how the various activities worked, as well as additional explorations (varying the temperature of the water, for example).

The kids had fun doing the activities.  They thought "it was cool!".  Depending on the topics of our subsequent kits we may use Mystery Science (we currently in a free trial period) or Kids Discover to expand on the science behind the activities.

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