Cotton Ball Science

Are you planning a Vacation Bible School this summer? Have you ever wanted to combine teaching science with teaching religion with your kids?  Then you must check out this book of science activities that illustrate Bible lessons!

I found this gem when I was preparing to give a talk to my church’s moms group. The topic is how to teach your kids about science and God’s creation. And of course I had to plan a talk to include a hands-on experiment!  I think this cotton ball experiment will be perfect to do with a large crowd (and inexpensive!)

So of course I tested it out with my kids and they LOVED it! The object is to see how many cotton balls you can place in a glass of water without it overflowing. The bible verse the book pairs with it is “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20)

Check this out. I just love how her expression changes from skeptical to magical.

What is the science?

Cotton is made of a plant fiber called cellulose. Cellulose under a microscope would look like tiny tubes filled with air. A cotton ball is made up of many tubes of cellulose. A cotton ball itself has a volume that is mostly empty space filled with air. So when you place the cotton ball in the glass it will mostly absorb the water instead of displacing it. Who knew a cotton ball is basically an air ball?

Q: How many cotton balls you can place in a glass of water without it overflowing?

A: We had to stop at 30 because I ran out of cotton balls. How many can you do?

What is the Bible lesson?

The cotton ball is surprising in it’s properties just as God capacity to love us is beyond our imagination.

I hope you enjoy sharing God’s creation with your little scientists!

Categories: 3 ingredient experiments, 5 minute experiments, lovely conversations Tags: , , ,
Science Music to my Ears 

Several years ago I thought it was so cute when Allie asked to get my husband bells for his birthday. Of course this turned out to be more of a present for her than for him.

Since then we’ve had two more kiddos and the bells have been stashed around the house because it turns out that noise exponentially increases the more kids you have. I’m sure there is a mathematical equation to prove this but I digress..

This afternoon the kids found one of the bells and began bickering over who was going to drive mom crazy with a bell solo. I figured it was the perfect time for a science experiment together while I put the bell away from reaching distance. Little did I know how much the kids would enjoy this experiment making music together.

What you need: 

  • Several glasses
  • Tap water
  • Metal spoon
  • Food coloring (I got the idea to color the water from this post… it really is genius.)
  • Optional: These trays will mitigate messes

How you do it:

  • Fill the water glasses with different levels of water
  • Add food coloring for fun
  • Gently tap the glasses
  • Discuss how the different water level changes the sound

 

Beautiful isn’t it? I think they were surprised too! We ended up taking the bells down and tried matching the bell note to the water glass. Now that was fun.

What’s the science? 

Sound occurs due to vibration. When you tap a spoon on glass, the glass vibrates at a certain frequency.  The lower the water level, the higher vibration frequency causing a high tone. The higher the water level, the lower the tone.

So thanks to science, what could have turned out to be a loud-bell-ringing-sibling-argument instead turned out to be a beautiful science symphony.

Categories: 3 ingredient experiments, 5 minute experiments Tags: ,
Rainbow Science

Who doesn’t stop and stare when they see a rainbow? And what kid doesn’t want to do science when the results burst into a colorful rainbow pattern? I hope you enjoy this colorful roundup on this first day of spring!

My kids love this simple walking water rainbow.

Candy and science. It’s what classics are made of!

Watch a rainbow of color explode in the Rainbow Milk experiment.

I dare you to do this Rainbow Magic Bag over the over your head like we did!

Add all the colors of the rainbow to make an amazing shaving cream Rain Cloud!

And my favorite, make your very own rainbow in your own backyard!

Categories: 3 ingredient experiments, science art Tags: ,
Valentine Heart Soap Boats

I ran across an easy surface tension experiment using soap boats and thought I would give it a twist for Valentine’s Day!  Needless to say it was a hit with the three year old and I can’t wait to show my first grader after school.  Check this out!

Here’s what you need:

  • an index card
  • a shallow baking dish
  • water
  • dish soap

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Draw a heart on an index card, color, and cut out
  2. Fill a shallow baking dish halfway with water
  3. Place the index card heart in the water
  4. Add a small drop of dish soap to the “V” in the heart and watch the heart zoom along!

What is the science?

The index card heart floats on top of the water due to surface tension. Surface tension is the water molecules creating a skin on the surface of the water. When you add dish soap the surface tension breaks and propels the heart boat forward.  Once the surface tension is broken you have to start over with clean water for the second (and third) boats.

This is a definite must to entertain the kiddos for Valentine’s Day! Enjoy!

Categories: 3 ingredient experiments, 5 minute experiments, science art Tags: , ,