Thursday, 16 June 2011

Homemade Science - Fun with Chemicals

Over the last few weeks we have been trying out lots of different ways of playing with bicarb of soda and vinegar.  Back in the New Year Boy and I made a homemade volcano from play dough and a mixture of vinegar, water, food colouring and washing up liquid.  We put all the liquid ingredients into a small plastic bottle and then build a 'volcano' around it using the dough.  I then added some bicarb to the top of the bottle and we had our very own volcano in the kitchen!  I found the idea in a book I love 'Mum's Stuff' which has loads of great ideas for children's activities.

More recently I was prompted to revisit bicarb and vinegar as I have noticed a number of posts about Fizzing Outdoor Paint.  I think the original can be found at Quirky Momma and the one I saw first is at Hands on as we Grow,  here.  There are many versions out there!  We did this last week at pre school and it was a great success.  I also let the children pour small bottles of vinegar onto bicarb mixed with paint.  The result was overflowing bubbles and lots of laughter!
I began to wonder how else we could let the children play with this simple chemical reaction.  They had enjoyed mixing art with science with the fizzing paint so I decided on this.  We mixed up some vinegar with food colouring.  I have done red and blue here.  If you used white vinegar you could do yellow too but this didn't work so well with brown vinegar!  Then we put a very fine layer of bicarb onto a plate.  Using the small syringes you get with children's medicines, Boy made chemical patterns.
We did this at pre school a few days back and used pipettes instead of syringes and this worked equally well.  Girl was able to have a go too, although I confess I was not brave enough to add colouring to her vinegar and she used a spoon instead of a syringe!
Boy came up with quite a gruesome looking design after a while and he picked up that when the two colours mixed they made purple.
I recommend you put down newspaper or something else to cover the surface because food colouring does stain.  At nursery I used powdered craft/water dye and this also worked well.
This activity was really engaging for Boy.  He had to really concentrate on mastering using the syringes.  He was able to be creative and make a piece of 'chemical art.'  He was also observing and commenting on what he saw - colour mixing and a chemical reaction.  He also got to make quite a bit of mess which is always great fun!
Girl was simply fascinated by the fizzing and bubbles!  She spilled vinegar all over herself so is now going a round smelling like she works at the local chippy!
I am looking for more chemistry activities to do so ideas are very very welcome!

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