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Spooky Science!

vintage ghost Halloween is a perfect time to do some spooky science! Here are a few experiments you can do at home with tissues, a pop bottle and some leftover candy.

Packing Peanut Vanishing Ghosts

What do you do with leftover packing peanuts? Well, if they’re the biodegradable ones try this!

What You Need:

  • Biodegradable Packing Peanuts (like these)
  • Black Permanent Marker
  • Small Bowl
  • Water

packing peanut ghost 2

What You Do

  1. Use a black permanent marker to draw a ghost face on each packing peanut.  Remember, they MUST be biodegradable packing peanuts. (That means they are made of starch, not polystyrene.)
  2. Now it’s time to make those ghosts vanish with a bit of science “magic.”
  3. Fill a small bowl with warm water.
  4. Place one ghost on top and watch what happens.
  5. You will start to see small bubbles appearing on the sides of the packing peanut ghost.  And then the ghost will disappear right before your eyes!

What’s Going On?

The peanuts are made from starch so they dissolve in water.



Two Ways to Launch a Ghost

Check in the bathroom for the items you need for these ghosts. Blow driers, tissues and toilet paper holders are the treats you need for these tricks.

Toilet Paper holder launcher

What You need

  • The spring loaded center to the toilet paper holder
  • a mini paper cup
  • tape
  • tissue
  • sharpie

What You Do

  1. Make your ghost by taping a tissue to a flipped-over paper cup. Draw a face with a sharpie.
  2. Take your spring-loaded tube and squeeze it short.
  3. Place the inside of the ghost–the opening of the cup–over the spring-loaded tube.
  4. Hold the bottom part of the tube and let the top part go.
  5. Blast off!

TP ghost 2

What’s Going on?

It’s a great big transfer of energy from the potential energy of the spring-loaded tube to the kinetic energy of the flying ghost. Newton would be so proud.


Ping Pong Ball Ghost

ping pong ghostThis one you have to see to believe.

What you need

  • a ping-pong ball
  • a blow dryer

What You Do

  1. Hold your blow dryer so the nozzle is pointing up. Turn it on high.
  2. Place your Ping-Pong ball about 6 inches above the nozzle and let go.
  3. It floats!

What’s Going On?

The ball stays in mid air because of a principle called the Bernoulli Principle. Air molecules are rushing past the bottom of the ball faster than they are on the top so the weight of the atmosphere pushes down on the ball and keeps it in line.


Eclipse Viewer


Solar Eclipse

The moon will pass directly between the sun and the Earth on Monday, Aug. 21, causing a total solar eclipse. This will be the first total eclipse in 40 years to be visible from the continental U.S., and for the first time in 99 years, the path of totality — when the sun’s light is completely blocked by the moon — will travel across the length of the continent.

09 March 2016 - Total Solar Eclipse from Palu, Indonesia

You may want to sneak a peek at the eclipse but you really don’t want to look at it directly because it can really do some damage to your eyes, even if most of its light is obscured by the moon. The sun’s rays can actually burn your retinas and because retinas have no pain receptors, you can permanently damage your vision without even feeling it happen. Don’t look at the sun during a solar eclipse!

The safest way to watch the eclipse is by viewing it indirectly. Here are a couple ways to do just that.

5th Graders With 'Sunscopes'





You’re at a picnic and BOOM! And eclipse starts what do you do? Whip out two paper plates and a pushpin and watch freely!

pinhole viewer


What You Need:

– Two plain white paper plates–or even two pieces of white cardstock

– a pin, needle, or pushpin


What You Do


  1. Use a pin or needle to make a TINY hole in the center of one plate.
  2. Stand with your back to the sun.
  3. Hold the plate with the hole in it up to the sun over your shoulder.
  4. Hold the non-hole plate in front of you.
  5. Adjust the whole thing until you see a small circle of sunlight on the plate in front of you.
  6. Watch!


What’s Going On?

The hole acts like a projector and the plate with no hole is the screen. You will see the shadow of the moon move across the sun. You will not need to focus the image. The farther apart the plates are, the larger the image of the Sun will be.



Box Head Method

Try making an eclipse viewing box out of a big box you can put right over your head.

Not only does this prevent you from being tempted to look at the sun, it’s a pretty good sunscreen!

box head viewer

What you need

  • A big box
  • White paper
  • Tin foil
  • A pin
  • Tape
  • Exacto knife


What You do

  1. On the short side of the box near the bottom edge, have a grown-up help you make a small rectangle hole with an exacto knife.
  2. Tape a piece of foil over the hole.
  3. Make a tiny pin home in the center.
  4. On the opposite short side of the box—on the inside, tape a piece of white paper. This is your viewing screen.
  5. Put the box on your head.
  6. Aim the hole at the sun and watch the eclipse in your own portable viewing theater.



What’s Going On?

The inside of the box is much darker. Thus, the image of the Sun on the

paper will have greater contrast and be easier to see. You will see the shadow of the moon as it crosses the sun.

Science Fun with Eggs!

It’s that time of year again! With egg-dyeing, hiding and hunting eggs are in the limelight. Why not combine the festivities with some science?

Kids and egg


Make an egg shell disappear



What You Need:

Raw egg

White vinegar



What You Do:

  1. Place the raw egg in the container.
  2. Cover it with vinegar.
  3. Leave it undisturbed for two days.
  4. Take the egg out and rinse.
  5. What do you notice?




What’s Going On?

Eggshells are made with calcium. It’s the hard mineral that gives the eggshell rigidity. Vinegar is an acid and it dissolves calcium. When the egg sits in a vinegar bath, you can see the reaction right away. Little bubbles appear on the surface of the egg. Eventually the whole hard part of the eggshell dissolves leaving the tough iner membrane to hold the contents of the egg.

 disappearing eggshell













Take it Further

Use your shell-less egg for the next experiments.



Shrink the Egg

Place the shell-less egg in a container and cover it with corn syrup. Leave it for a few hours. What do you notice?

The egg shrinks because there is less water in the corn syrup and more water inside the egg. Water wants to move where it is less crowded with water molecules. This is called diffusion. It travels across the membrane (this is called osmosis) to the syrupy solution. The result is a smaller egg with less water in it.

vinegar egg after corn syru[

Grow the Egg

Take the egg from the sugar syrup and rinse it. Place it in a container and cover it with water. You can even add food coloring. Wait a few hours. What do you see?

There are fewer water molecules inside the egg now, than the surrounding water so water moves across the membrane into the egg and makes it swell.

If you’ve added color, the color moves across with the water and the inside of you egg is colored now.


Erupt the Egg

Poke a hole in the egg with a toothpick and the water pressure inside makes it erupt out.












My Fizzy Valentine!

chemistry 3

Fizzy, Fun Valentine Science

Add a little science to Valentine’s Day and see the reactions you get. What’s better than sweet-smelling, fizzy hearts? Toss them in the tub, toss them in the sink or toss them in a bowl and watch the chemical reactions bubble up.chemistry 2


What You Ned

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 3/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 cup Epsom salt or cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup citric acid {available in spice sections or natural food stores for pickling and for canning}
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Food color (if you want)
  • Essential oils (if you want)
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Mixing spoon
  • Cooking spray
  • Muffin tin
  • Muffin cups
  • marbles


What You Do

  1. Make your dry mix
    1. In a large bowl, add the baking soda, corn starch, salt or sugar and citric acid.
    2. Mix well.
  2. Prep your sprayer
    1. Add a few drops of red or pink food coloring to your spray bottle of water.
    2. Add a few drops of essential oil to the spray bottle.


spray bottle

3. Mix your wet with your dry.

  1. Give your dry ingredients a spritz or two. You want to start slow.
  2. Wet the dry mix just enough to so that the mixture forms a clump when you squeeze it, but not so much that it looses its fizz or turns into soup.
  3. Listen to your mix. You can hear the fizzing after the first spray.

heart shape liners4. Make your heart shapes.

  1. Line your muffin tin with paper muffin cups.
  2. On one side place a small marble on the outside of the paper. You will see a heart shape appear in the paper liner.
  3. Gently spray the paper cups with cooking spray. This keeps the mixture from sticking to the paper after it dries.
  4. Scoop your mixture into the paper cups.
  5. Adjust the marble on the outside to get the heart shape you want.
  6. Let it all dry for an hour or so.
  7. Then take the paper lined hearts out of the in and set them o the couter to dry overnight.
  8. Gently pop your hearts out.
  9. Store them in an airtight plastic bag or container.

5. Make your hearts fizz

  1. Toss your hearts in the tub with you. Place them in a bowl of water or even the sink.
  2. See the bubbles?
  3. Feel the fizzy. What does it feel like? Is it warner than the water or colder?
  4. How long does it last?

fizzy bath bombs

What’s Going on?

When you drop your fizzy bomb into water it has a chemical reaction. Citric acid is an acid and the baking soda is a base. When you mix an acid and base you get a reaction. They create a gas—carbon dioxide. But since the citric acid and baking soda are dry they can’t interact as well and so they don’t react when they’re dry. Once you add water the acid and the base can now reach each other and they react creating fizzy carbon dioxide bubbles.

bathing beauty

Halloween Science!


Halloween is a great time to experiment and dazzle with science!


handsArticulated Severed Hand

Want to know how your hand works? You don’t actually have any muscles in your fingers. So how can they move? Make your own moving hand with paper and straws.


What You Need

Card stock paper or foam








What You Do

  1. Trace your hand on the paper and cut it out.
  2. Feel the bones in your fingers. How many do you feel? (three.
  3. Make lines on your paper hand where the lines on your actual fingers are.
  4. Cut three straw segments for each finger.
  5. Tape the segments on the hand. Make sure you have about ¼ inch of sopace between each straw.
  6. Feel the bones in your hand. How many can you feel? (five?)
  7. Cut five straws and tape them to the hand.
  8. Cut 5 pieces of string 1 foot long each.
  9. Tie the end of each to a bead.
  10. Thread the string through the straws of each finger and hand bone.
  11. Pull on the strings to see your hand move.

What’s Going On?

Hands are amazing! They are brimming with nerves which allow you to feel, blood vessels for bringing in nutrients and taking waste away, and bones.

There are 3 bones in each of your fingers, and 2 in your thumb. These bones are called phalanges. The phalanges connect to 5 bones in the main part of your hand, called metacarpals. Your wrist is made up of 8 bones that work together and connect to the two lower arm bones—the radius and the ulna. Bones are great, but they don’t move on their own.

Muscles are what move bones, and fingers don’t have a single muscle in them!

The muscles that move your fingers and thumb are actually in your forearm. Place your right hand on your arm right below your elbow on your left arm. Waggle your left fingers. Feel the muscles move?

Attached to the end of the muscles are tough string-like tissues called tendons. The muscles in your arm have long tendons that reach from the forearm muscles through the wrist and palm to the fingers and thumb. Like the strings in the straws, the tendons slide though little tunnels. The tunnels are called tendon sheaths and they are stuck to the bones in your fingers and thumb. This keeps all the tendons in place. When the muscles in the forearm contract, they pull on these tendons to move the bones.

















Mummified hotdogs

King Tut’s got nothing on you! There’s a science of mummification and it’s all about sucking out the moisture and killing off the little bugs that break tissues down.Make your own mummies by preserving hotdogs with kitchen chemicals.weiners



What You Need

3 Hot dogs

3 Airtight plastic storage box with lid that is longer, wider, and several centimeters deeper than the hot dog. Or you can use Ziploc baggies

A box of Baking soda

Salt—one whole container


 What You Do

  1. Put one hot dog in each baggie.
  2. Zip one shut and label that baggie “Control”. You won’t mummify this one. You’ll just see what happens to a hot dog when you do nothing and leave it out.
  3. In the next bag pour enough baking soda over the hot dog that it disappears entirely. You want to make sure every part is covered. Zip it shut. Label it “baking soda” .
  4. In the last bag cover the hot dog entirely with salt. Zip it shut and label it salt.
  5. Label all the baggies with the date and set them aside.
  6. Check back on your mummies after two days. What do you notice?
  7. Check back after four days. A week.
  8. How do the mummified hot dogs compare to the untreated one.

Want to take it further?

You’ll need these tools to measure the length, diameter and weight of your hot dog mummy at different stages of the experiment.


Piece of string or yarn (at least 10 cm long)

Kitchen scale,

Lab notebook and pencilWhat changes do you see? Which material makes the biggest change? How do your mummies feel? Record your findings in your notebook.mummy








Dry Ice Crystal Ball

You can make a great crystal ball bubble with smoke swirling around inside. All you need is a little chemistry!


What You Need

Dry ice

Warm water

A bowl with a smooth lip

Bubble solution

A rag


What You Do

  1. Fill your bowl ¾ of the way with warm water.
  2. Place a chunk of dry ice in the bowl. (Get a grown up to help and use gloves. This stuff is SUPER cold and can burn fingers. Use a piece of ice about the size of a golfball.)
  3. Dip your rag into the bubble solution and stretch it across the rim of the bowl. Swish the rag across the whole opening of the bowl to create a film.What’s Going on?
  4. As the dry ice sublimates, the carbon dioxide vapor is caught inside the bubble solution. The bubble expands, but the cooled bubble solution does not evaporate quickly so the bubble lasts for a relatively long time.
  5. Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide. It’s COLD! When you add it to water it immediately goes into a gas form. It looks like it is boiling. This is called sublimation.