Ask A Pittsburgh Expert: 5 Fun & Easy Science Projects To Do At Home

March 25, 2016 8:00 AM

Photo Credit Thinkstock
science class Ask A Pittsburgh Expert: 5 Fun & Easy Science Projects To Do At Home

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Amanda Comeau manages an experienced staff who are trained in education and in all facets of the scientific process. The experience with Mad Science spans 25 years and working with the staff provides an advancement for scientific evolution for kids now and in the future. The planning for the workshops, camps, after- school programs and birthday parties are custom made and fun.

Amanda Comeau, Program Director
Mad Science Of Pittsburgh
100 Haffner Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15223
(412) 779-0123
www.pittsburgh.madscience.org

William Cody started Mad Science in 2009 and he has a passionate approach for science, and the 20,000 students throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania have been fortunate to see his talents on display. His background is in events and festival production has the kids mesmerized with a blend of humor and scientific curiosity.

Balancing Act

Ingredients:

  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Bottle Cork
  • Tape
  • 5 toothpicks
  • Markers
  • Modeling clay
  • Steel washer

Directions:

  1. Draw an animal head on the construction paper and cut it out. Tape the head to a toothpick and stick it into the top of the cork.
  2. Stick the other four toothpicks into the cork to make arms and legs. Wrap the ends of the toothpick with modeling clay to make paws.
  3. Try to balance your animal on your finger. Poke your animal with your other hand. Does it stay balanced?
  4. Wrap one end of the pipe cleaner around the washer. Attach the other end to the cork to make a tail for your animal.
  5. Try to balance your animal on your finger. Poke your animal with your other hand. Does it stay balanced? 

Traveling Toothpicks

Ingredients: What holds water droplets together. How to chemicals affect water?

  • Shallow bowl filled with water
  • 5 toothpicks
  • Dish soap
  • Small dish for dish soap

Directions:

  1. Arrange four toothpicks in pairs to make a V-shape. Float the pairs so that they point towards the center of the bowl of water.
  2. Dip the tip of the fifth toothpick in the dish soap. Touch the tip in the water, near the center of the bowl.
  3. What happens to the floating toothpicks?

Plant Perspiration

Ingredients:

  • 2 healthy broad leaves with long stems
  • 2 clear plastic cups, larger than the leaves
  • 2 pieces of cardboard to cover the tops of the jars
  • Food coloring
  • Petroleum jelly
  • 2 small rocks
  • 2 cotton balls
  • Scissors
  • Water

Directions:

  1. Hold the stems under water and trim the stems diagonally with the scissors. Fill both jars with water, and add 10 drops of food coloring in each jar.
  2. Poke a small hole in the middle of each cardboard piece. Fit the leaf stem through the hole and place one cardboard piece over each jar.
  3. Coat one leaf with petroleum jelly. Cover each leaf with a plastic cup.
  4. Put a small weight on top of each cup and place the jars on a sunny windowsill for one hour.
  5. Look inside the plastic cups. Which cup contains moisture? Use the cotton balls to wipe the moisture in the cup.
  6. Keep the cups on the windowsill for a day. look at the leaves the next day. Did they pick up the color from the food coloring?

Related: Ask A Pittsburgh Expert: 5 Best Snow Day Activities

Paper Frost – Writing In Crystal Ink

Ingredients:

  • Box of epsom salts
  • Small paintbrush
  • Sheet of black construction paper
  • Tablespoon
  • Large bowl
  • Water
  • Adult helper

Directions:

  1. Have your helper pour 1/2 cup hot water into a large bowl.
  2. Add epsom salts to the hot water and stir. Keep adding salts until they no longer dissolve.
  3. Paint a design on the sheet of black construction paper with the paintbrush and salt solution.
  4. Allow your design to dry. A “frost’ will appear on the black paper once it is completely dry.
  5. Compare your “frost” crystals to the salt grains. What do you notice?

Comeback Can 

Ingredients:

  • Coffee can with a plastic lid
  • Hammer
  • Small heavy weight- two or three large washers
  • Adult helper
  • Nail
  • Scissors
  • String
  • Large elastic band

Directions:

  1. Have your helper poke two holes in the lid and bottom of the can. The holes should be about 2 inches apart.
  2. Cut an elastic band so that it forms one long piece instead of a loop. Thread the elastic band through the holes in the coffee can and lid. Tie the elastic band’s ends to make a loop again.
  3. Tie a weight to the elastic band at the middle point of the band. The weight should hang without touching the inside of the can.
  4. Put the lid on the can and gently roll the can away from you. What happens?

Related: 5 Most Scenic College Campuses Near Pittsburgh

Gerry Cernicky is a retired health and physical education teacher with 36 years of experience. He is a former teacher of the year and a sports writer for the Vandergrift News. He delivers podcasts, and maintains a website and blog. He currently resides in Pittsburgh. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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