Category Archives: Experiments

The Chemistry of Honey!

With the New Year upon us, we used chemistry to help us get things off to a sweet start! We decided to make taffy out of one ingredient: Honey! We started by placing the contents of one bottle of honey in a pot, warmed it up to roughly 280 degrees and then we drizzled the hot gooey mess into a buttered dish to cool. Not hot enough. It never got to the soft crack temp, so we started all over again. Honey in. This time more careful thermometer reading…just past 285 F and set to cool. Second batch – Success!

Once it was stiff enough to handle, it was time for the fun part: pulling the taffy! (Let me tell you, that is a real workout! ). Let me also say that it is a critical detail to grease your hands before grabbing the honey to pull. (see photo from our first failed try). After maybe 5 minutes of pulling and twisting, it started to take on an iridescent, yellowish color. I continued to pull mine while Olive and Mom began wrapping in waxed paper and then it turned to a light beige which surprised us all! Later, we learned through experience, that the darker the color, the harder it is to chew, so the one that didn’t get as much pulling felt like it could potentially take your tooth out… worth the extra pulling!

Thanks for reading this curious post and keep a lookout for more coming soon!

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Circuit Bending 1.0

Welcome to tech class! Before we begin, a brief over view of what circuit bending is: A man named Reed Ghazala created circuit bending in 1966 when unexpectedly, a toy shorted-out when it touched a metal object in his desk drawer. This created surprising types of unusual sounds. Circuit bending today is when people (like us!), customize the circuits in electronic devices, like toys and digital synthesizers to create new musical or visual instruments! WHEW! Now that you know what circuit bending is, let’s move on.

Over the last couple weeks we’ve made changes to over 8 different toys! We’ve changed things like the color of the lights inside, on toys that spoke we shifted the pitch of the words and even the speed of the sentences! By far the most complicated toy was Reggie the rooster. He has all sorts of springs, wires, lights, speakers and buttons which are all controlled by the circuit board inside. Plus, he sings great little songs… One thing that was particularly interesting with some of the toys that we first opened, is that some of them (the ones that have buttons that we could press and it starts talking or making noises) have these little plungers that are connected to the button, so when they touch the mother board, that triggers the lights and sounds! Cool right?

We used a jump wire to find circuits that made new sounds or glitch. By doing this we could make the lights change color, sounds go deeper or turn the board off or on entirely. We then took sounds and worked with Dad to loop them into his audio system. Now, we can use it to make MUSIC!

As an ongoing project, there will be more updates on this especially if something groundbreaking happens, but be sure to keep your notifications on and if you’re not willing to do that, keep an eye out for our next post!

 

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There’s dear little Reggie! (May he rest in peace.)

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Heres the inside of Todd- we ended up temporarily changing the color of his lights!

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Later, we hooked up one of the toys to dad’s music-ing machines and it made some pretty spooky sounds!

Water Tanks, Water Towers

Need a drink? How about a shower? In most places in America, it’s easy to turn a handle and watch the water come pouring out. But how does it get there?! Hydrostatic pressure of course! Most us have seen a water tower but the reason they’re there is because of water pressure. When pumps pull water up into the structures, it creates enormous amounts of pressure that allows gravity to drop the water back down and supply the communities around them. But in cities ‘ a problem: gravity can only push the water so far, so when it’s at its equilibrium (around five floors in NY City because of the height of the reservior that feeds the city) it can’t go any higher because gravity can’t push up, and that’s where water tanks come in! Above buildings and skyscrapers in New York (and most other big cities for that matter) water tanks are placed on top of the buildings where the gravity pulls it down though the building for people to use, that way the entire building can have water! Isn’t that useful? Water tanks are usually wooden and have large metal rings tightened like belts around them and there’s always more rings at the bottom rather than the top because of the increased water weight at the bottom of the tank. Once we understood that, we considered very large skyscrapers. Check out the link below and prepare to be amazed!

So we would completely understand this concept, we did an experiment where we saw this in action. Water at 3 different levels and with the use of siphons, in a few short minutes, all the water levels evened out. It’s gravity and water pressure in action!

Next time you turn on your faucet, give a shout out to a reservoir or water tower near you!

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This is our learning wall that Mom drew explaining how water towers work. Pretty cool!

 

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It’s Probably Blue…

M&Ms, probability and percentages. Seems unrelated, but WAIT! It’s not! What is your favorite color M&M? Based on statistics, I’m guessing you love blue and orange the best. Although we have gone over probability before, we did an activity to see how consistent colors are within bags of M&M’s – think the amount of each color is random? Think again!

To do this project we used 3 “Sharing Size” packs of M&M’s, a plate to sort with and a box with 6 slots. After sorting them and placing them in the box we realized that each of the bags were nearly identical!

Blue was added in 1995 – consumers voted it in (over pink and purple!) to replace the light brown – and now, by percentages, there are, on average 24% of each bag. Check out the history of colors on the chart below. Next time you grab a handful of M&M’s look down and see what the color mix – guessing not many yellow or brown!

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We found this online, but with no credits so we can’t offer them here either!
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This was published in the March 7th issue of Adweek. Check out the full article here.

How Sweet it is!

Hey! So it turns out that we forgot to put a post up from 2015!! It was finished we just forgot to post it… so we thought “now is as good’a time as any! So without further ado, Go forth brave soldier! Learn about sugar and its glory!!!!

Sugar has been a topic of discussion this week. We were also covering changes in states of matter. Combine the 2 and you get this experiment!

Our materials for this experiment were: domino sugar cubes, a paper towel, a big flat bowl filled with warm water and food coloring.  The first round of fun was putting 2 single cubes of sugar into the shallow bit of water and quickly placing a single drop of coloring on each. Within less than a minute they had completely dissolved!

We then make it even more exciting: we stacked 3 cubes and put one drop of food coloring on it. Then we quickly transferred the tower into the water of the bowl and a rainbow explosion of color went everywhere! {not the walls and ceiling just the bowl. :0) Less than 1 minute later the dots had dissolved and we were left with some dishes to do…

A cool experiment. Fast. Fun and very colorful!!

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notice how much better the iPhone 7 camera resolution is rather than the iPhone 5’s! Amazing!!!

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Are You a Super-taster?

We all know about taste buds. But did you know that your sense of taste is directly related to smell? This week we’ve been learning all about it…to start, we wanted to know how good our sense of smell was. To find out, first we needed to take a sneak peek at how our noses smell. At the back of our nose there’s a patch of skin called the Olfactory Epithelium and on that are the olfactory receptor cells. Those connect to the olfactory tract and then to the brain. Smell is the first sense a human uses when they’re born!

We tested our own sense of smell by taking four bowls of vinegar and water (tiny ones) each diluted at different percentages and we had to organize them in order – strongest to weakest. Harder than it sounds since your nose gets desensitized to the smell and after a minute or so, it’s hard to tell the difference! We then had unlabeled scents that we had to identify by smell alone. Some were easy to place, some not so much!

Now, on to taste. A super taster is someone that has the ability to taste more flavor than your average human. There are a couple different kinds of tests online to see if you are a super taster but we used a relatively simple one. All we used is our phone camera, our tongues, a little paper circle (we got ours from those lined sheets of paper that go in binders, and cut ours out) and blue food coloring. After carefully dabbing our tongues with food coloring, we got our little paper doughnut and placed it on the tip, then we quick took a picture and started counting. To know if you are in fact a super taster you need to have at least 40 or more taste buds in that designated area, although this number fluctuated depending on which site we looked at. We each did this, and Mom and Olive are super-tasters and not surprisingly, superior smellers, while me and Dad are not. This explains our love for spices and flavors and Mom and Olive’s amazement when we keep on adding more!

Are you a super-taster or super-smeller? Leave us a comment and let us know!

If you’re up for a 15 minute super funny test of silly guys testing their super tasting abilities, watch this!

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No labels, we had to sniff out what the scent was. Fun anytime!

The Skin You’re In…

Skin. The largest organ in the body. Ever wonder how much of it we actually have?  To find out, we did an experiment (of course!) we found here.  All you need is: a lot of paper (news paper would also work), tape and two or more well-mannered family members or friends.

LET US BEGIN!! For this fun project Olive decided to step up and be the star of the show, but if you don’t have an Olive handy, you can always use someone else ;0) Long story short, we covered our handy skin model in paper and tape, and carefully cut and ripped it all off in big chunks and then flattened into as close of a rectilinear shape as possible and measured it. We took the dimensions and found the area. Turns out all of Olive’s skin measured up to approximately 2,441 square inches!! I say approximately because we didn’t measure the skin between fingers and toes, into ears, eyelids, you get the idea. In case you’re wondering, average adults have around 2,800 square inches… that’s a LOT of SKIN!

From there, we figured out the pressure placed on her body. Atmospheric pressure is calculated at 14.7 pounds per square inch, which that means there’s 35,8827 pounds of force on her body from the sea of atmosphere around her! Talk about being under PRESSURE!!

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