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Friday, January 9, 2015

Weekly Science Experiment #1

Last year, the kids and I embarked on 52-week science project that we called "Pond Study."  We visited the swampy pond behind our yard each week and documented our observations on how the pond changed from week to week.  It was a fun and easy way to teach seasonal cycles, the impact of temperature on water and plants, and animal habitat.  I wanted to do a different but similar weekly project this year, but I just couldn't come up with an idea that didn't involve packing up and traveling to a different place.  In principle I wasn't opposed to a long-distance project, but in practice I knew that things would come up and the field trip would get put off for weeks at a time because of the inconvenience.  Then the really cold weather (wind chills -30 degrees) hit, and I lost any lingering interest in an outdoor science lesson.  I decided that instead we would do a simple science experiment each week.

Yesterday we did our first one.  I found it in a book Ian had called 50 Science Things to Make & Do (One of the famous "Usborne Books"!) and the experiment was called "Climbing Ink,"  The goal was to show that marker ink is actually made up of different colors that can be separated using water, because the chemical components of each color behave differently when they come in contact with water.  It seemed simple enough and best of all I had all the supplies already in the house!
We cut strips of absorbent paper out of coffee filters and used 5 different colored markers to make dots about  1.5 inches from one end of the strip.
 Then we hung a string across a large Tupperware container that had just enough water in it to cover the bottom.  We used paperclips to attach the strips to the string, hanging the strips so that just the very end of the paper was in the water.
Then we set the timer for ten minutes and waited.  When we checked back, we could see the water moving up the paper, but it hadn't reached the marker dots yet.  

 After another ten minutes "Something is happening to the ink, Mom!"  It looked like our first experiment was going to be a success!
 Yet another ten minutes passed and the ink was certainly moving up the paper strips, but it wasn't separating into different colors
 In hind site, using "Extra-washable Crayola Markers" probably wasn't a good choice for this experiment.  The ink never separated into separate colors, it just "washed" up the strips of paper.
Oh well, we ended up talked about gravity and water moving up due to "capillary action" (thanks to Daddy's knowledge) instead.

Happy science, everyone!


Jessica said...

Good old Usborne books.

Aaron said...

We are people of science!