New Money

Well, making money look like new anyway! Today we did an experiment using copper pennies and vinegar. The Older loved this because he likes his coins shiny (and in proper order according to size, edges, and pictures on the coins, but that’s a whole other post).

Part of the fun was having the kids look for dirty pennies. It was like a scavenger hunt for them, and they really got into it! I even found The Older hanging upside down in the washer. Wish I had a picture of that, LOL!

We started with:

  • A few dull (not covered in gross stuff from the car’s cup holder or anything) pennies
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Nonmetal bowl
  • Paper towels
  • Spoon for stirring

Fist we put the vinegar and salt into the bowl and stirred it around a bit. Then we added the pennies and counted to 10…

Voila! Pretty coins!



Things we learned: Vinegar is an acid and reacts with the salt. It removed the carbon oxide which covered the pennies and made them dull.

We also did different things like trying different coins, different amounts of salt, and washing the coins after versus leaving them out to dry.

Make Your Own Slime

This was by far my favorite easy science experiment that we’ve done! The kids both had a blast, and their smiles and laughter did my heart a world of good after the week we’ve had.

There are 2 different ways I found to make “slime,” so I thought we’d do both and see which we liked best (and why).

The first slime consisted of:

  • 1/4 white craft glue
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup liquid starch
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Bowl
  • Spoon for mixing

First we put the glue in the mixing bowl, then added the water. We stirred that together, then added 6 drops of red food coloring. Once that was mixed we added the starch and continued to stir.

The kids loved this, and they spent a lot of time stirring it around. They even added some Little People to the mix!

The next slime experiment consisted of:

  • White craft glue
  • 2 disposable cups
  • Cup of water
  • Borax powder
  • Plastic stirring spoon
  • Tablespoon
  • Food coloring (optional)

We filled one cup with water (about 3/4 of the way to the top) and added a tablespoon of the Borax powder. We stirred that well, then set it aside. The other cup we filled with about 1 inch of the white craft glue, and then we added 3 tablespoons of water to the glue and stirred it. We added the food coloring here, stirred that, and then added the Borax mixture to that (1 tablespoon). After stirring that we let it sit for about 30 seconds, and the slime appeared! ( See top picture)

The Older and I talked about polymer, liquid vs solid molecules, and why combining different things create or change the form of what you’re working with (for a better description of the science behind this, search the internet for age-appropriate explanations of polymer).

The general consensus was that the Borax slime was “more fun” and “easier to play with.” However, they both spent a great deal of time going from one result to the the other, stretching, molding, and generally trying all sorts of things with each. The Older even touched both slimes which is a huge step for him considering his PDD; he refused when we first started, but by the time the last cup of the Borax slime (he made 4, LOL!), he managed to place a fingertip on the yellow :-)

Make Your Own Lava

Since The Older is still sick and we can’t go out and do anything, I pulled out my science experiments for kids binder that’s full of stuff I’ve collected for days such as this. The Older voted on Make Your Own Lava (like a lava lamp) to start with, so that’s where we began.

First I gathered what we needed. (I love this experiment because it’s done with things 99% of households already have, and there’s very little prep time to it.)

Oil, a clear glass filled 3/4 of the way with water, 1/4 cup oil, table salt, and food coloring. Yup, got that!

First we put 5 drops of red food coloring into the glass, and then The Older poured the 1/4 cup of oil into the water.

After that, we added a tablespoon of salt to the water (slowly!), and we waited to see what happened.

What fun! The oil, because it’s lighter than water, stayed at the top of the glass and the salt, because it’s heavier, dropped through the oil and pulled some of it down as well and created these neat “lava balls.” As the salt dissolved, the balls returned to the surface again, so the kids just kept adding more salt to the mixture.

This was a great experiment for The Older. Not only did we get to talk about why the experiment worked like this, we also went over science-based vocabulary (words like dissolve, density, mass, etc). The added bonus was both The Older and The Younger loved being in complete control and working together without Mom’s help!

Soda and Mentos Explosion

During this whole moving process, I did mange to do some fun things with the kids. My camera was packed away for most of them, but I did manage to take pictures of one experiment I did with The Older: The Soda and Mentos Explosion!

Since I’ve never done this before, I did a lot of reading about the experiment (but missed something important, as you’ll see). One of the main points people made were that all of the Mentos have to make it into the bottle at the same time. Sure, no problem! I thought. I’m quick like cat!

Nope, not even close. All I can say is that I’m glad I was wearing black, and I was super glad that I had thought to buy more than one bottle of soda and more than one package of Mentos!

Here is our innocent bottle of soda getting ready for combustion:

The Older was a bit nervous about putting the candy in the bottle. He had seen what happened to me so he wasn’t so sure about doing it himself, but he didn’t want me to do it either, so he really had no choice.

As you can see (?), I put the Mentos in tape. I rolled them into a tube with the top and bottom open so the soda could touch the candies, and figured that would be easier than trying to drop them in one at a time. By the way, I should tell you that was not easy to do. At all. And, it was messy. But, it worked (sort of):

Yes, it was a little less than thrilling because I had not been aware that you’re supposed to use DIET SODA . I managed to make up for it by acting excited and “beyond amazed” that we got a reaction by mixing two such innocent things, and The Older got swept up by my acting. Then he managed to make my stomach turn:

Yup, there he is, drinking the soda! Blech! He swears the candy “tasted good and kinda soda-y,” but it made me gag.

We came in after this and looked up why this reaction occurs (per Wikipedia , it is because the the surface of the mint Mentos is littered with many small holes that increase the surface area for reaction (and thus the quantity of reagents exposed to each other at any given time), thereby allowing CO 2 bubbles to form with a rapidity and in a quantity that are responsible for the “jet”- or “geyser”-like nature of the effusion). Of course this then led to a discussion and many, many hours of my assuring him that if he eats Mentos and drinks soda, he will not explode…