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: , , ,
5 Science in a Bottle Experiments


It’s safe to say I will never look at an empty 2L bottle the same way again. Now that I’ve had the pleasure of doing several science demonstrations, I’ve learned that there are at least 5 amazing experiments you can keep mostly contained to a 2L bottle.

The best thing though is watching the kids come back to see the experiment over and over again. You can see their little gears spinning each time they observe it with new guesses and theories.

Note: I’ve rated these experiments from 0 to 10 (0 being the least messy and 10 being the most messy) so you can choose the level of clean up afterwards. (You can thank me later!)

Tornado in a Bottle (Messy rating = 0)

This one is just mesmerizing. Kids and adults alike will stop and try it out. You can make it even more fun by adding glitter and a few sponge animals to recreate the movie Twister. I’ve also found that it calms down kiddos so they are ready for a nap… score 1 for Mom! Check it out here.

Bottle Diver Experiment  (Messy rating = 2)

I’ve been wanting to try this experiment (also called Cartesian Diver) for a long time but was majorly nervous that it wouldn’t work. Then I found Danielle’s site with amazing step by step instructions here. It turns out this is amazingly simple and it is fascinating to watch!

(The messy rating is a 2 because if the diver’s “tank” gets flooded then you have to fish him out of the bottle by dumping all the water out and filling the bottle back up.)

Blowing up a Balloon with Yeast (Messy rating = 3)

This is a classic experiment you’ve got to try if you are into making homemade bread. It helped answer Allie’s question abut why bread can be so fluffy. Check it out here.

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Groovy Lava Lamps (Messy rating = 5)

The messy rating is going up but all you need for this one is a water bottle, water, vegetable oil, and Alka Seltzer tablets. The messy rating is a 5 because I have anxious kiddos who like to toss lots of Alka Seltzer tablets in already bubbling bottle of oily water. I’d advise doing the experiment over a pie plate to catch the oily water. Check out our lava lamp here.

A Mentos Geyser (Messy rating = 10… I think you can imagine why!)

Technically this does not start with an empty bottle but it will become empty in less than 15 seconds after this explosive experiment. I suggest you do it outside around a sprinkler or a pool for easy cleanup. Trust me, you will become an instant science celebrity to your kids! Check out Andrew’s birthday Mentos geyser here.

rockCan you think of other experiments in a bottle? I’d love to add your suggestions to the list!

Categories: 3 ingredient experiments, he loves science too!, Science Shows, Summer Bucket List Tags: , , , , ,
Fishing for Ice

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I have just found the easiest way to entertain kids while waiting at a busy restaurant. And I know this is short of a miracle because now you can entertain AND educate while you wait on your food.

All you need is a glass of ice water, salt, and a string.  Lay the string on top of the ice. Shake a little bit of salt on top of the ice and string. Count to 5 and voila! You’ve fished and caught ice!  We spent several minutes trying to see how many pieces of ice we could lift out of the water.

Check this out:

So how does this happen:

Salt lowers the freezing point of ice. When you shake a bit of salt on an ice cube it melts. Meanwhile the water in the string freezes and sticks to the ice. Simple science magic at it’s finest!

On a personal note:

We had an amazing fishing trip down to Rockport, TX. It brought back a lot of memories of fishing with my family as a kid and hanging out with friends.

Here is a picture of the sunrise when we snuck out super early to go fishing. All the kids were still asleep and needless to say it was quite peaceful.

redfish water pic

Then later in the week we fed the seagulls and Allie melted my heart when she said it was her favorite part of the trip. That’s my girl…

seagulls

I hope you’re having an amazing summer! And you can thank me later when fishing for ice has given you some peace at a restaurant!

 

Categories: 3 ingredient experiments, 5 minute experiments, how to videos Tags: , , ,
How to creatively grow your daughter’s spatial skills

Strong spatial skills are so important for kids interested in science and engineering careers.  Imagine how architects need to visualize a building to design, surgeons need to visualize operating around overlapping organs, and engineers need visualize a solution to an unseen problem.

But research shows that our girls are born with weaker spatial skills than boys. Some attribute weak spatial skills to how much early exposure our girls get to building sets and Legos. But surely strong spatial skills doesn’t end with how much our daughters play with Legos. Surely there is something more we can do to help her with this important skill.

The good news is that spatial skills can be strengthened with practice and exercise.

There are many creative ways to exercise our daughter’s spatial skill muscle. Can you believe activities like photography, doing puzzles, making maps, and folding paper are also ways to exercise spatial skills?

We can do simple things in our every day routines to help her build spatial skills.

For example, Allie loves getting notes in her lunchbox. The more creative the better.  So one day after school I enlisted her help in making her own notes.  We folded some cute simple origami animal faces that got packed in her lunch for the next several days.

I call this a win-win for everyone.  I got a whole week of notes to quickly toss in her lunchbox and she got to creatively build her spatial skills!

creative spatial skills
Here the instructions for each of these animal faces:

How did your creative spatial skill building go?  Let me know here on the blog. I’ll be posting several other ideas in the days ahead!

Until then, have an amazing Thursday!

 

Categories: STEM Tags: , ,