Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

Posts tagged ‘experiments’

a purple bottle with silver polka dots lies on its side. a measuring tape is stretched across its length.

“How much did that plastic bottle shrink in the dishwasher?”

I got lazy this week so ran my daughter’s plastic (I know) reusable water bottle through the dishwater. It did not survive the experience. (I know.) But it did make for a fabulous opportunity to do a little science (and math — ssh!). Join my daughter and I as we figure out why our plastic water bottle melted in the dishwasher, and by how much.

fresh baked brownies in a clear baking pan

“Why do you have to change baking recipes at high altitudes?”

Hi all, it’s back to school time here at Caterpickles Central, which means my annual summer hiatus from blogging about the random questions that pop up in our lives is over. It also means that it’s time to bake the annual batch of back-to-school brownies. I normally skip over high altitude baking instructions because they aren’t relevant to my life, but today, for whatever reason, they caught my eye. My brownie mix said to add extra flour and water in high altitude locations and I couldn’t help but wonder why.

Excerpt from Candy Experiments which says: Never heat a jawbreaker.

“Why can’t you heat a jawbreaker?”

In an effort to finally rid the house of leftover Easter candy, I snagged a copy of Loralee Leavitt’s Candy Experiments and began to flip through looking for a way to dispose of all those unwanted Peeps. I hadn’t gotten very far before I found the warning: “Never heat a jawbreaker.” And all I’ve been able to think about since is why. Why can’t you heat a jawbreaker? What happens?

“How does a Galileo thermometer work?”

When The Ten-Year-Old first asked how Galileo thermometers work many moons ago, Daddyo knew the answer right away. Galileo thermometers operate on the principle that the density of a liquid changes with temperature, and that lower density objects float in higher density liquids. At first we surmised that each glass bubble held a liquid with slightly different densities. But it turns out the actual answer is much simpler than that.

“How do we reset the storm glass?”

Last week, we tested our storm glass to see whether the crystals were forming (or dissolving) in response to changes in temperature. Short answer: Yes. At the end of the experiment we were left with a thick and long-lasting collection of grainy crystals at the bottom of the glass. We needed to reset it. But how do you reset a storm glass?

“How do storm glasses work?” Part Two: The Testing

Storm glasses are not very reliable weather predictors.  According to a series of tests performed in Cecil Adam’s lab at the Straight Dope, storm glasses only correctly predict rain about half the time. Which got us wondering, if the storm glass isn’t reacting to changes in local weather conditions to make its predictions, what is it reacting to? How do storm glasses work, anyway?

(Not Even Sort of) Wordless Wednesday: Storm Glass Fun

Two days ago, I moved the storm glass into the master bathroom in preparation for the battery of tests we’re going to subject it to over the weekend. This morning I noticed that crystals had formed at the top of the glass. I’ve never seen that before. In theory, that means thunderstorms are headed our way. Guess we’ll see if the storm glass is right.