Wigglin’ Gummy Bears!

What do you know about GELATIN!? Most people know about it because of Jello but it is used in all kinds of product besides that, including some manufacturing processes. As we  learned about the properties of gelatin, to our surprise, it is made of collagen, the stuff in bones, ligaments, skin and connective tissue! (Oh dear!!)! It is the most abundant protein in mammals. It is generally collected from cows & pigs for creating gelatin. It’s colorless, odorless and tasteless (well, we think it has a little taste, but we are sensitive to flavor). Wonder where the famous wiggle comes from? It originates in the structure in the protein strands which tangles and traps the water inside it. Structure + water = jiggle!

To get hands on experience with this, we moved into the kitchen to make tiny gummy bears. They are SO CUTE! For this cooking adventure we used: vegan gelatin, two flavors – grapefruit and apple, little gummy molds, a pipette to be extra exact when filling, and a pot and boiling water. Let’s get COOKING!!

We made 2 flavors. Apple lemon and grapefruit honey. We made the recipe, piped them into the molds and whacked them in the fridge for about an hour of so. The grapefruit one didn’t set, and they didn’t taste so great… The apple gummies set up great, but again, not such terrific flavor.  It was cool to know that inside those jiggly little bears were tiny microscopic mesh holding pockets of flavored liquid! Now that’s BEARY cool!!!

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The Effect of Color…

We’ve been learning about color and our awesome friend Annie sent us a tutorial showing her making marbled paper with acrylics and water. So in addition to the pour painting project we had planned, we added this one into the morning.

Here’s how it works: Start with warm water in a bowl, dip your brush into acrylic paint of your choice and let it move onto the water surface. The water tension will hold it in place so it will just float until you add the next color. Once you have what you want, give it a little swirl and the gently place your paper on top of your design. Wait a moment and pick it up – Voila! You have marbled paper! Super fun and easy to do. Thanks Annie! :0)

The next project was trying our Acrylic Pour Painting. We learned about artist Holton Rower, a famous sculptor. Wow is it COOL! Check out the images below, super simple, easy and fun. We’ve also included a link to one of Holton’s time lapse pour projects. Check it out and see what you think!

That’s all ‘pour’ now.

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What? I Can’t Ear You!

So! We’ve been learning about ears, sound and how they work.

To start, we learned about the parts of the ear: the pinna (the outside of your ear), the ear canal, the ear drum (a thin membrane that vibrates the occicles), the ossicles which are three tiny bones called the hammer, stirrup and anvil. And the cochlea which is a small tube filled with fluid and tiny hairs that detect vibrations from the ossicles and the ear drum, which is then sent messages to the brain and translated into sound! AWESOME!! To make it more 3D we made a model to show where things are placed.

As a little follow-up to that project, yesterday we tried to make big animal ears out of paper! First, we chose an ear shape to mimic and cut it out of colored craft paper, then we taped them into cones to amplify the sound and finally we cut ear holes, turned on some rad tunes and put them on our actual ears. We found that we looked very silly in bigger ears – it’s much more noticeable when you wiggle your ears in gigantic paper ones rather than your own and that the blue mouse ears and the red fox ears worked best. But they didn’t work how we expected them to, it made the sound more hollow rather than louder. But even so it was a really fun experiment!

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the dark blue coil is the cochlea, the deep yellow is the stirrup, anvil and hammer, the light blue circle is the ear drum and its obvious what color the ear is!

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Brownie Time!

We’re in luck! You may remember our Kitchen Chemistry experiments we posted throughout last year and now MIT’s Open CourseWare, program is offering an Advanced Kitchen Chemistry class! We will be using this as one aspect of our science/chemistry curriculum again this year and we couldn’t wait to get started. Enter….Brownies. Yes, brownies!

Before we started cooking we had to answer some questions, the first was: What is the  difference between cake flour, bread flour and all-purpose flour? The primary difference is the protein content which becomes gluten. Cake flour has the least amount of protein, (about 8%) while all-purpose has somewhere around 10-11%. finally, bread flour has the most protein AND it’s got a very fine texture. When your making cakes, you would want a flour that’s lower in protein.

Here’s the next question: What are the health benefits of chocolate? In milk and dark chocolate, it can give protection from disease-causing free radicals, potential cancer prevention (says the cocoa plants), improved heart health, good for overall cholesterol profile, better cognitive function, blood pressure\ blood sugar aid, and a SUPERFOOD!!! (which not much of this matters when people are adding piles of sugar on top!)

Next: What are the types of chocolate? SO MANY!!! Unsweetened, bittersweet, semisweet, milk, dark, sweet baking, unsweetened cocoa, white, pre-melted, candy coating, mexican (my personal fav!) and so much more!

Ever wonder why we crave chocolate? We learned about that in DEATH BY CHOCOLATE! an earlier post. Check it out here.

And finally: If you were optimizing the brownie recipe, what things would you examine? We decided the short answer is the type of flour, the amout of chocolate and the quantity of eggs.

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We loved baking these little treats! They were cakey and delicious, but too airy for us to call them brownies. This is where the optimization of ingredients begins. Today, we will alter the contents and see if we can create the perfect brownie for us! To be clear, nothing wrong with chocolate cake, but we were striving for a true brownie. :0)

Pots and Pizza…

It was raku day again at Jeff’s studio. The sun had finally come out after what seemed like a week of solid, steady rain. No better time to eat! Just before the pots were removed from the kiln, we began making PIZZAS! Street taco sized tortillas, sauce and cheese, we placed them into the kiln once the pots were removed, for a late morning snack. Minutes later, the bottoms were crisp, the cheese melted and our treats ready to eat. We let them cool while we checked on the pottery pieces, now covered in sawdust. 3 cheers were given by potters and just like that, they were gone!

Oh, the things you can do with a kiln! :0)

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On Your Mark… Get Set… Paint!

How do the roots from a garlic plant make their mark? As it turns out, kind of lightly! This week we are learning about how everyday objects in our home and nature work when combined with ink to “make their mark”. The results were different than you might expect!

We started by each finding 5 unique things, both inside and out. There was everything from balloons, matches, a silk flower, a real flower, bamboo tassels, tin foil, leaves, ribbon and of course, a feather! It was trickier than we thought to turn them into “brushes” by connecting the chosen objects and finding a way to secure them into the metal rods, and then onto sticks. But we did it – Hot glue to the rescue!

Once assembled, we ran out of time to do the actual painting, so today, we had that to look forward to. India ink and blank coasters were our medium. One ‘brush’. Dip. Paint. Another one. Dip. Paint. The results were interesting. We liked the marks of the sponge – bold and saturated. We expected a clearer pattern from the flowers, but the ink resisted. The feather, of course caused smiles and oooohhhh! The tassel and embroidery thread brushes were the most paint-brush-like, but not nearly stiff enough to get good control.

So there you have it! Next time you are anywhere in the world, look around you and see if you can imagine making a mark with unexpected things. Once you do, grab it and give it a try!!

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Happy Diwali!

Diwali is the festival of lights. It is one of the most popular festivals in India and extends over 5 days. We love the the significance of this occasion – it is the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, hope over despair. It is celebrated with candles and sweets, family and fireworks. Here is a Nat Geo Video that gives the highlights :0)

In honor of the very celebrated Hindu festival, (it’s also a festival for followers of Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism!) we made our own Rangoli – an expression in temporary art, it is created from sand in bright colors, many times in a mandala shaped design. We created some last year, but we think we have improved!

We watched many videos on tricks to create our rangoli. We have included 1 we thought was lovely for you to see.

So! We wish you a Happy Diwali! We love to celebrate anything that focuses on hope, light, love and family!

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