Pressure

A sucker’s bet – atmospheric pressure experiment

A sucker's bet Funny how we take every-day activities for granted. Take for instance - sucking through a straw. Have you ever stopped to think about how we are able to suck liquids through a straw. What exactly makes the liquid climb up the straw and into our mouths. Well, I know you're just itching to know so here we Fill the jar with water. Poke a hole in the lid just big enough for the straw to fit through. Put the straw through the hole. Seal the hole with clay. Make sure it is sealed tight! Try to suck water through the straw. What happens? When you drink from an open glass of water, air pressure allows the water to travel up the straw.…
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Motion/Energy

Vibrating pennies – conduction experiment

Vibrating pennies Take a bottle with a narrow opening. The opening should be just about the size of a penny. Dip a penny in a bowl of ice water. Hold the neck of the bottle in the ice water for a few seconds too. Place the penny over the mouth of the jar. Place some oil around the bottles opening or on the penny in order to provide a completely air tight seal. Now hold bottle in your hands and carefully observe the penny. It should begin bouncing around. Rubbing the bottle will increase the heat even more. Remember - heat causes things to expand (or get larger). Cold causes things to contract (or get smaller). The heat from your hands is transferred through conduction…
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Motion/Energy

Off to the races (with jars – that is) – friction experiment

Off to the races (with jars - that is) In this experiment we race two jars - one full of water and the other empty (actually it's full of air). Before racing the jars, take a guess as to which jar will finish first. Maybe make a little wager with Fill one of your jars with water. Put lids on both of the jars. Make sure the lid on the jar full of water is on tight. Place a three-ring binder on a level floor and start both of the jars from the top of the 'ramp'. Which one gets to the bottom of the ramp first? Which one rolls the farthest? Were you surprised at the outcome? When the race begins, the jar full…
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Motion/Energy

Moving Magical Marbles with More Momentum than Most

Moving Magical Marbles with More Momentum than Most Inertia means that a rolling ball on a smooth, level surface will roll forever if nothing stops it. In fact, friction and air pushing against the moving ball will eventually bring it to a stop. But interesting things happen when a motionless object gets in the way of a moving one. Try this experiment and see for yourself. Tape the yardsticks to a tabletop so they're parallel and about 1/2 inch apart (if you are under 5 then we feel compelled to remind you that mom and dad will not appreciate the artistic appeal of 2 yardsticks glued to the kitchen table). Put 2 marbles in the middle of the sticks (our 'track') a few inches apart.…
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Motion/Energy

Milk carton water wheel

Milk carton water wheel Ever held a toy under your running bath water? Did it spin or twist away from you? This is explained by a law proposed by a guy named Sir Isaac Newton. Specifically the law states that 'for every action there is a equal and opposite reaction'. You know, kind of like when you smack your big brother you know you're going to get smacked back. OK, so maybe that's not such a great example. Here's one that will aptly demonstrate Newton's law. Poke a hole in the bottom left hand corner of each of the four faces of a half-gallon, paper milk carton. Now poke a hole in the top flap of the milk carton. Tie a string through this hole.…
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Motion/Energy

Floating Ping Pong Balls

Floating Ping Pong Balls Gravity is a mysterious thing. We experience its effects every day but never really think about. Not enough gravity and we’d be floating around in space. Too much gravity and we’d be flattened like a pancake. Luckily, the gravitational pull is just right here on Earth. It keeps us comfortably anchored to the ground. Still, it helps to understand that with regards to gravity, there are opposing forces at work. Another principle demonstrated in this experiment is the Bernoulli Principle. The Bernoulli Principle states that as an air stream (or fluid) speeds up, a decrease in pressure occurs. Fast moving air will cause a drop in air pressure (relative to the air pressure outside the column of moving air). Turn hair…
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miscellaneous

Yep, you heard right. Make a homemade tornado

This tornado experiment will blow you away! A tornado is a powerful, twisting windstorm (now that really does sound like Dad, doesn't it). The winds of a tornado are the most violent winds that occur on the earth. They whirl around the center of the storm at speeds of more than 200 miles per hour (and that's faster than Dad running to the bathroom during a commercial break). A tornado is a rotating funnel cloud that extends downward from a mass of dark clouds. Some funnels do not reach the earth. Others may strike the surface of the earth, withdraw into the dark clouds above, and then dip down and strike the earth again. In this science experiment, we are going to recreate a tornado…
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miscellaneous

Trapped Bird in a cage

Trapped Bird in a cage Ever wonder how cartoons are created? Basically what happens is the artist draws the cartoon characters in multiple sequential images and presents them to us in a manner that causes our minds to fill in the missing pieces. This experiment helps demonstrate the basic principle of animation. Draw a picture of a tiger on the index card. On another card the same size, draw a picture of a cage. Now tape the two cards, with the drawings facing outwards, on opposite sides of a pen. Spin the pen between your hands or fingers. Does the tiger appear to be trapped in the cage? It appears to be caged because of how your eyes and brain work. When you see the…
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miscellaneous

Simulating Gravity on Film

Simulating Gravity on Film Zero-G refers to weightlessness and means “zero g-force” not “zero gravity” as some would believe. It’s most commonly envisioned as astronauts floating around in space. You can experience zero gravity in a free falling airplane too and in fact, astronauts use these free falling planes to train in a weightless environment. 300 miles above the earth, where the space shuttle flies, gravity is only about 15% less than it is at the surface of the Earth – not much of a difference. You can think of weightlessness either as the absence of gravity (which is basically wrong) or as gravitational force pulling on an object from all sides equally (which is basically right). In this experiment, we’ll change the direction that…
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miscellaneous

I’m feeling pretty heavy with all this metal in me

I’m feeling pretty heavy with all this metal in me If you sit there and ponder the foods that you eat for a bit, you’ll realize that you eat plants and animals just like other fuzzy creatures in the forest. But did it ever occur to you that you eat metal too? Just like a tool grinder chews through a metal blade, little scientists chew through metal in their food without even really thinking about it. Even more eye opening is the fact that metal in your diet is required to survive. Iron is a part of everyone’s healthy diet and yes, it’s the exact same iron that’s used to make metal nails. Oxygen is transported through your body in your blood and iron is…
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