Unique Gift Idea: An easy terrarium science ornament 

I have unintentionally started a new tradition at our house by making science related ornaments for the past three years. The kids have enjoyed making Borax crystal ornaments because they have an ‘overnight’ transformation that is really quite amazing. See our past ornaments here and here.

This year I was looking for an easy unique gift to give to science loving teachers, family, and friends. I ran across these mini terrarium bulbs and some Christmas-y succulents and voila! we have our easy science ornament for this year!

Here’s what you need:

  • These mini terrarium ornaments found here
  • small succulents
  • cactus, palm, & citrus potting mix
  • glass vase filler
  • small squirt bottle for watering
  • twine or ribbon

Here’s what you do:

  • Place a few glass vase fillers at bottom of ornament
  • Fill ornament with potting soil enough for succulents roots
  • Place succulent in potting soil
  • Add stones around the succulent for decoration
  • Spray with water once a day or as indicated by the succulent’s instructions
  • Add twine or ribbon to top of ornament

The best part of making terrariums is that they can be enjoyed long after Christmas is over. And my favorite part of this terrarium project was Allie said, “I can’t believe we made that!”

We hope you have a very Merry Christmas this year and enjoy this science ornament all year long!

Categories: 3 ingredient experiments Tags: , ,
Science Stocking Stuffers Under $10

stocking-stuffersstarI usually wait until the last minute to buy stocking stuffers for the kids because I never know what to put in there. I want their stockings to be a cool extension of their already cool Santa gifts instead of filled to the brim with chocolate kisses and candy canes.

Somehow this year I’ve stumbled across a TON of science stocking stuffers each under $10!  I still can’t believe how many things I found at Dollar General, Target’s Dollar Spot, and Hobby Lobby!  Many of them can also be found on Amazon.

Dollar General

Science Kits – This was an amazing find by a friend of mine in Houston. It includes 4 separate experiments (grow your own crystal tree, make water gel beads, grow snow, and make purple/pink crystals) each for only $1! Wow… you can’t beat that!  Check out Dollar General or watch for a restock on Amazon here.

Growing Crystals – Here’s another amazing find for growing crystal deposits on a rock. Again $1 people…. you can’t beat that for a science stocking stuffer! You can also find it here.

Tornado Tubes – I love tornado tubes especially after parties when I have half opened flat bottles of Dr. Pepper in my pantry. Pour out the pop, screw on these tornado tubes, add water, and a bit of dish soap and you’ve got hours of entertainment. You can also find it here.

Target Dollar Spot

Excavation Kit – Aren’t these excavation kits cute?! They include dinosaur, seashell, and pyramid excavation kits. Allie already pinched one and said she wanted the pyramid because it had jewels in it!  Here is a similar one if Target runs out.

Grow your Own Dino – Leave it up to Steve Spangler to make another amazing science doo-hickey. This one contains 3 separate experiments with growing a dinosaur, disappearing water, and absorbent baby diapers…

Hobby Lobby

Energy Stick – If you’ve ever been to one of my book signings I usually bring one of these energy sticks. Kids love them and its a great way to teach about circuits and teamwork. Another amazing toy from Steve Spangler!  Also found here.


Lemon Clock – I’ve been wanting to try out a lemon clock with the kids for a while but didn’t want to pay for it. Then I saw this at Hobby Lobby and thought heck why not! You can also find it here.

Bug locket – Is it just me or wouldn’t this be so fun to have a real live bug necklace? I think your kiddos will love opening this on Christmas day! Find it here.

Mentos Geyser Tube – We are big fans of celebrating birthday’s with Mentos geysers. You can check out all the fun we had here and trust me… its pretty amazing to watch. Also find here.mentos

MaKit & BaKit – Not your traditional science toy but I LOVED these as a kid. You can have all sorts of discussions from the temperature at which plastic melts to how light is effected when passing through different colors.  You can also find here.


Start early on stockings and don’t forget to give the gift of science this year!

Categories: gift guides Tags: , ,
Christmas Crystal Name Gift Tags

This Christmas season has been super crazy for me with three kiddos but last night we found some time to do a little science!

One of my favorite experiments at Christmas last year was making crystal ornaments.  You can see the instructions here.

crystal pin

They have such a nice magical sparkle on our Christmas tree.  This year we varied it up and crystallized our names. We will be using them as gift tags.

crystal names

This would be an amazing simple activity for you during the long Christmas break with your kids!  (Hint: Do them in the evening before bedtime since the crystals form best overnight!)

Simple easy science!


Categories: 3 ingredient experiments, science art Tags: , , , ,
S’more Science

smore scienceThe presents are unwrapped, the cookies are devoured, and the kids are still talking about Santa.  It is time for us parents to pat ourselves on the back and celebrate a job well done! Last night Matt and I decided to treat ourselves with a glass of wine and s’mores!  I had marshmallows left over from an experiment I did with Allie on Christmas Eve.

I was inspired by the ivory soap in the microwave experiment and thought, “What else could I nuke and not cause a huge mess?”  Then it hit me – marshmallows!  They would expand in a microwave, like the soap, and best of all we could eat them afterward!

Allie and I put a marshmallow on a plate and put it in the microwave for 45 seconds.

The video of our experiment cracks me up.  I was relatively calm but Allie was worried about a fire hazard.  (Next time I’ll only microwave for 30 seconds.)

What happened? Marshmallows are made of moisture, trapped air, and sugar. The microwave makes the trapped air hot and the air expands. The air expanding causes the marshmallow to blow up! This is Charles’ Law – heating air makes it expand.

After our experiment, we took it out of the microwave and scooped up the yummy goo with apple slices.  It was amazing.


So what do you do with leftover marshmallows?  Make s’mores.  Last night the kids crashed early, so I found a great recipe to make s’mores in a jar here. All you need are small jars and s’mores ingredients.  I didn’t have regular chocolate so I used peppermint patties from Santa Claus!

s'more set up

First, put a few graham cracker crumbs and chopped up peppermint patty in the bottom of the jar.



Then add a few marshmallows and top with the rest of the peppermint patty.


Place the jar in the microwave and nuke the jar for 10-15 seconds. Thanks to Charles’ Law the marshmallows will blow up, so make sure they don’t ooze out of the jar!  The first one I did made a little mess!

Remove from the microwave, add a few more graham crackers on top, and use a spoon to enjoy!

smore science

S’mores and science.  What a great way to end 2014!


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