Chief Scientist, Carl Nelson puts Peeps in a vacuum chamber to find out what happens when the air is removed from the fluffy candy.
Making circuits with Play-doh is pretty cool. If you have some doh at home you can use that for conductive circuits. To take it to the next level you will need some insulating doh as well. Below are recipes for both at home conductive and insulating “Play-doh”.
Making Conductive Play-doh
- 1 cup Water
- 1 1/2 cups Flour
- 1/4 cup Salt
- 3 Tbsp. Cream of Tartar (or 9Tbsp of lemon juice)
- 1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
- Food Coloring (optional)
- Mix water, 1cup of flour, salt, cream of tartar, vegetable oil, and food coloring in a medium sized pot.
- Cook over medium heat and stir continuously.
- The mixture will begin to boil and start to get chunky.
- Keep stirring the mixture until it forms a ball in the center of the pot.
- Once a ball forms, place the ball on a lightly floured surface.
- The ball will be very hot. We suggest flattening it out and letting it cool for a couple minutes before handling.
- Slowly knead the remaining flour into the ball until you’ve reached a desired consistency.
- Store in an airtight container or plastic bag. While in the bag, water from the dough will create condensation. This is normal. Just knead the dough after removing it from the bag, and it will be as good as new. If stored properly, the dough should keep for several weeks.
Making Insulating Play-doh
- 1 1/2 cup Flour
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 3 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
- 1/2 cup Deionized (or Distilled) Water
(You really want to use Distilled water to keep the amount of conductive ions to a minimum. Otherwise, the doh will be conductive rather than insulating.)
- Mix solid ingredients and oil in a pot or large bowl, setting aside ½ cup flour to be used later.
- Mix with this mixture a small amount of deionized water (about 1 Tbsp.) and stir.
- Repeat this step until a majority water is absorbed by the mixture.
- Once your mixture is at this consistency, knead the mixture into one “lump”.
- Knead more water into the dough until it has a sticky, dough-like texture.
- Now, knead in flour to the dough, until a desired texture is reached.
- Store in an airtight container or plastic bag. While in the bag, water from the dough will create condensation. This is normal. Just knead the dough after removing it from the bag, and it will be as good as new. If stored properly, the dough should keep for several weeks.
This is what happens when you put to much quickly expanding foam inside a pumpkin!
Using sodium alginate, a seaweed extract, you can make fun and edible “worms” just like some fancy restaurants.
Halloween is just around the corner and making a batch of edible blood is a great way to spend the day in your kitchen with the kids. If you’re gearing up for Halloween and are in need of some fake blood, there is no reason to go out and pay a lot of money for this kinda thing. You most likely have everything you need at home to whip up a batch of blood.
It turns out that the bottle of hydrogen peroxide you have in the bathroom really does nothing for small cuts and scrapes. Check out this article from the New York Times that talks about how peroxide use for cuts is really not all that effective. Of course don’t miss our video below that shows what you can do with concentrated hydrogen peroxide.
It’s become a classic summertime messy experiment. Drop some mentos (or lifesavers, or sweet tarts, or salt, or …) into a bottle of carbonated soda and you can release volumes of gas and soda from the container.
If you insert a bare lightbulb filament inserted in liquid nitrogen and turn on the power, will it light up?
Liquid nitrogen is very cold, 320 degrees below zero Fahrenheit! That’s cold enough to give you frostbite in seconds. See what happens when we dunk various things into such a cold liquid.
Create super bubbles at home with this simple bubble juice recipe.
Making a cloud in a bottle is easy if you have the right equipment. A bicycle pump and cork or rubber stopper will make an amazingly dense cloud inside a two liter bottle.
Depending on how much oxygen is around, hydrogen gas can combust in a few interesting ways.
Magnesium combusts in a dramatic way inside a block of solid carbon dioxide.
A mixture of cornstarch and water displays some interesting properties. Sometimes it’s a liquid, sometimes it’s a solid and it all depends on how you handle it.
Multiple chemical reactions occurring at the same time keep this solution clear, for a while, then it suddenly changes to a deep dark blue.
With a bit of science you can push something right through a balloon without it popping! Read more
The upcoming annular eclipse of 2012 won’t be visible to us in Ohio, however that dosen’t mean you still can have some fun with the sun.
As always, never look directly at the sun!
A safe and very simple way to view the sun is by making a pinhole viewer. Here is a nice description of how to make one. The Stanford Solar Center has some nice information on how to view the sun and of course NASA has a great calendar of upcoming solar events.
This demonstration has been done for over 2,000 years! Non-the-less there are still incorrect explanations of the science being published and distributed today. Read more
Combine some iron oxide (rust) with a little aluminum and you get some really nice sparks as well as some microscale chemistry.
Combine whole milk, some food coloring and dish detergent to create some cool color mixing patterns. Read more
How can you get an egg inside a jar that has an opening smaller than the diameter of the egg? Find out in this weeks Imagine It! video.
Using simple items you have in your bathroom and kitchen, you can extract DNA from fruits like bananas, kiwi or strawberries. Read more
Nothing is more fun that making a Naked Egg. Find out how to make one, or two or three! Read more
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day we’re making green snow, and blue snow, and pink snow …. Read more
What better way to determine the caloric content of food than to burn it with liquid oxygen? There are more exacting ways of course, but the flames (and smells) created this way are pretty impressive. Check it out!
Slime is one of those easy-to-do, fun activities that never gets old. There is something that everyone loves about making a substance that is gooey and gross. It always reminds me of Halloween and of course, chemistry and polymers. Read more
Using just air pressure, 14.7 pounds per square inch, we watch a steel drum collapse in on itself. Amazing example of the power of air pressure. Read more
Before watching the video answer this question, “does a soda can placed in water float or sink?” A clue might be that this is all about density, or the mass per volume of a substance.
Have you ever eaten to much and had to reach for an antacid? Check this out to see how an antacid makes you feel better.
A cow eye is very similar to a human eye. What better way to understand how your eye works than to take apart a cow eye? Check this out!
Our Extreme Scientist, Jesse, talks about the chemistry of disappearing inks. She has a little surprise for Chris near the end.
If you fill a plastic bottle with a small amount of liquid nitrogen, seal the bottle, then let the gas expand, you get an explosion. If you pour 30 gallons or so of plastic balls on top of the bottle before it explodes, you get a Ballplosion! Check it out!
With a head of red cabbage you can have lots of fun doing some kitchen chemistry. Red cabbage has a natural acid/base indicator that you can extract and test all sort of things to see if they are an acid or base.
Hot air makes these metal pipes howl with noise.
A rocket powered by the combustion of ethyl alcohol. In the end it’s all about action and reaction and rocket nozzle design.
What happens when you torch a towel soaked in a flammable liquid? This result may surprise you.
Using liquid nitrogen, which boils at -320 degrees, we make a batch of tasty ice cream in less than 2 minutes.
The Flame Tube (aka Rubens’ tube) allows us to “visualize sound waves” based on the gas pressure inside a steel tube. Read more
Our hovercraft is pretty simple in construction. A circle of plywood, a plastic tarp, a coffee can lid and a leaf blower. Check out this video for more information.
A tremendous amount of energy is released when you allow hydrogen and oxygen gas to combine to form water. Check out this demonstration.
We are celebrating Chemistry Week with all sorts of activities you need to check out!
The self carving pumpkin is featured in our special Spooky Science demonstration this weekend as we get geared up for Halloween. Read more
Halloween is just around the corner and making a batch of edible blood is a great way to spend the day in your kitchen with the kids. If you’re gearing up for Halloween and are in need of some fake blood, there is no reason to go out and pay a lot of money for this kinda thing. You most likely have everything you need at home to whip up a batch of blood. Read more
Using the seaweed extract, sodium alginate, and a solution of salty water you can create something that looks like worms in seconds.
Normally alginate is used as a food thickener for things like jellies, jams and pie fillings. That doesn’t mean you can’t play with it to make noodle-like “worms” and tiny spheres that look like caviar in just seconds.
We will be featuring this activity in the Science Studio during the month of October as part of our Spooky Science event. So stop by and ask a Team member for a demonstration.
During the month of October visitors will be able to dissect an actual cow eye in the science studio at Imagination Station. This is an amazing experience that you have to check out. Learn more in the video below or in this recent Toledo Blade article about our Spooky Science event. Read more
Let me set this up for you … it’s Labor day weekend and you’ve fired up the grill with some burgers, brats, or whatever grilled goodness you can think of. You head inside and grab the bag-o-buns and (gulp) notice a few small greenish spots on the surface.
While no one is looking you face the critical decision, do you pluck off the little green spots and serve the buns up, or is it time to head to the store for a fresh set? It’s a hard call, but keep this in mind – the colorful spots you see on food are just the surface spores that allow the mold to reproduce. Just like plants, mold has roots below the surface that can travel deep into the food.
Because the colorful spores on the surface of your food are just part of the mold, scraping or cutting this part off of your bread or bagel won’t save you from eating a mouthful of fungus. While you probably won’t die from eating fungus, keep in mind that foods that are moldy may also have invisible bacteria growing along with the mold.
Most molds are harmless, but some are dangerous. Some contain mycotoxins. These are poisonous substances produced by certain molds found primarily in grain and nut crops, but are also known to be on celery, grape juice, apples, and other produce. These substances are often contained in and around the threads that burrow into the food and can cause allergic reactions or respiratory problems.
Are any food molds beneficial?
Yes, molds are used to make certain kinds of cheeses and can be on the surface of cheese or be developed internally. Blue veined cheese such as Roquefort, blue, Gorgonzola, and Stilton are created by the introduction of P. roqueforti or Penicillium roqueforti spores. Cheeses such as Brie and Camembert have white surface molds. Other cheeses have both an internal and a surface mold. The molds used to manufacture these cheeses are safe to eat.
What to do if you see mold on your food?
The USDA has a nice chart about how to deal with various foods that are moldy. Check it out for all the details. It breaks down into the two obvious options – Don’t Eat vs. Eat.
Don’t Eat – throw these out if you see mold
- Luncheon meats, bacon, or hot dogs, Cooked leftover meat and poultry, Cooked casseroles, Cooked grain and pasta, Soft cheese
- (such as cottage, cream cheese, Neufchatel, chevre, Bel Paese, etc.) Crumbled, shredded, and sliced cheeses (all types), Yogurt and sour cream, Peanut butter, legumes and nuts, Bread and baked goods.
- Jams and jellies (The mold could be producing a mycotoxin. Microbiologists recommend against scooping out the mold and using the remaining condiment.)
- Cheese made with mold (such as Roquefort, blue, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Brie, Camembert)
Eat – after cutting off the mold
- Hard salami and dry-cured country hams (Eat them. Scrub mold off surface. It is normal for these shelf-stable products to have surface mold.)
- Firm fruits and vegetables (such as cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, etc.) as well as hard cheeses are OK to eat if you remove the mold. Cut off at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot. Keep the knife out of the mold itself so it will not cross-contaminate other parts of the produce.
Remember while you’re preparing all this food, removing mold, etc. that you should be washing your hands and food prep surfaces often. Check out what can be growing in and around the surfaces of your house in this Imagine It! video segment. In short, avoid the molds and wash your hands – often!
We hear about hurricanes every year, but how do hurricanes work? Most hurricanes that form in the Atlantic Ocean start as thunderstorms off the coast of Africa. As they travel across the tropical waters around the equator, they pick up moisture and energy, eventually crashing into land where they quickly fall apart.
The age of the universe is estimated to be 13.7 billion years. The United States national debt is currently just over 14 trillion dollars. We hear these HUGE numbers thrown out in daily conversations (yes, I have daily conversations about the age of the universe and so should you…) but does anyone really have a grip on what a BILLION or a TRILLION of anything really looks like? Read more
Seriously, just watch the video. It is amazing!. If you don’t get chills within the first 15 seconds of this video, well, I don’t know, but you should! If you don’t you’ve gotten too jaded by CGI effects in movies. This is so amazing because it’s a REAL LIVING CREATURE!
Magnesium metal is used in some fireworks to create brilliant white sparks. Those sparks are created as the metal reacts with oxygen in the air.
While carbon dioxide is generally used to put out fires, it turns out that magnesium can also react with carbon dioxide to produce a brilliant flame. Read more
It’s hot outside. Really hot. But is it hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk? It’s only a matter of time before you will see someone on TV trying to make this happen. Most likely they will not be successful.
The problem is that an egg needs a temperature of 158°F to become firm. In order to cook, proteins in the egg must denature (modify), then coagulate, and that won’t happen until the temperature rises enough to start and maintain the process. Read more
A roll of mentos candies and some cola are all you need for some messy fun when it’s hot outside. It’s become a classic experiment to suddenly release all the carbon dioxide gas from a two liter bottle by dropping the candy inside. In fact, you can release the gas from a bottle of soda with lifesavers, sweet tarts and rock salt just to name a few.
The journal Perception reports on an interesting visual effect called the “Flashed Face Distortion Effect.” Apparently an undergraduate student was working on setting up an experiment that required a series of faces all scaled in such a way that the eyes of each image aligned. As he flipped through the images, he noticed that some of the faces began to appear distorted in unusual ways. Researchers are now working on experiments to shed more light on exactly what is happening in the visual processing system to create the effect. Read more
We talk about how fireworks get their colors everyday in our combustion demonstration at the science center. Something we don’t talk about is what the actual firework shell looks like and how it gets into the air. PBS’s NOVA website has some great information about fireworks, how they are made, the elements used to make the colors and an interview with a Chemistry Professor about fireworks in general. Read more
Oobleck is a suspension of cornstarch and water that can behave like a solid or a liquid depending on how much pressure you apply. Try to grab some in your hand and it will form a solid ball in your palm just until you release the pressure, then it will flow out between your fingers. Materials that behave this way are classified as non-Newtonian liquids because their flow properties are not described by a constant viscosity. Read more
How do they get the colors in fireworks? They add various metals to the combustible materials. Read more
Not only do we get WTVG meteorologist Jay Berschback to lay on a bed of nails, we also smash a cinder block on top of him. Check it out! Read more
Using just air pressure – not compressed air – you can accelerate a ping pong ball to amazing speeds. Fast enough to rip through a soda can.
The cannon is a long PVC tube loaded up with a ping pong ball. To fire it off, both ends are sealed with a single layer of clear tape. Next, a vacuum pump is used to remove most of the air from the cannon tube. When the tape nearest the ball is ripped open (punctured by a knife) 14.7 pounds per square inch of air pressure rushes in and slams into the ball. With no air molecules in front of the ball, it can accelerate to speeds of nearly 300 miles per hour.
Of course if the ball does not rip through the can, you can always rip a soda can in half this way.
The space bag is a very thin black tube that you fill with air on a sunny day. As the bag warms in the sun the air inside also warms and slightly expands. Just like a hot air balloon, the bag begins to rise. Read more
We live in a ocean of air, in fact, we live at the bottom of that ocean of air. All those miles of air above us end up exerting a force of about 14.7 pounds over every square inch of our bodies. We take it for granted since the force per area (pressure) is the same all around us. Things start to get interesting when there is an imbalance in that pressure. What better way to find out what an imbalance in pressure feels like than to vacuum-pack WTVG-13 weekend anchor Christina Williams? Read more
This week Dr. Roy Glover talks about the exhibition in general. Dr. Glover is the Chief Medical Director for the exhibition and has been working with the exhibit since it began touring. Read more
Acid/Base indicators make cool things like disappearing ink possible. But, how do you get disappearing ink to fade as fast as possible? You saturate it with CO2 from a fire extinguisher…Dave Holmes from WTVG-13 had no idea what was coming. Read more
If you make some soapy bubbles filled with a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gas and then add a flame, what do you think will happen? You get an insanely loud detonation of hydrogen and oxygen. Seriously, you have to be there to really experience the amount of energy released in this reaction. It’s like a gunshot going off in your hands! Crazy Loud. Read more
Is there a better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than to freeze some flowers in liquid nitrogen? Probably, but flash freezing flowers and then watching them break like glass is pretty cool. Read more
Making an Air Cannon is super easy and you probably have everything you need at home or in the garage right now. Learn how it’s done. Read more
A “naked egg” is an egg that has no shell. Let me say that again, an egg with no shell. This is not something you normally run across and even when I show a naked egg to someone they often just don’t get the idea that the shell is gone – yet the egg stays intact. You might want to check out the anatomy of an egg to get an idea what we are dealing with. Read more
For the holiday we are exploding eggs filled with hydrogen gas. Check it out. Read more
When you combine a steel tube filled with a flammable gas and sound waves you can create a pretty cool display of the sound pressure inside the tube. Check this out.
Can an ordinary egg support the weight of a 30 pound cement block? That was the question that Jeff and Joe, two of our Team members, were investigating this past Saturday in the Science Studio. They discovered that a single egg is not up to the task of supporting the brick. It just made a big mess on the bottom of the brick when it was crushed. (Actually, a visitor at the Science Studio insisted we try just one egg to see what would happen.)
So the question is how many eggs would you need to support the brick? After cracking a number of eggs in the name of science, the smallest number of eggs they could get to support a block was eight. Check out the video to see how they did it. Read more
I’ve been poking around the internet and books for some cool experiments and information about eggs in general. I came across this really nice breakdown of the various parts of a chicken egg over at edinformatics.com and have duplicated the information below. I’ve always wondered what those white stringy things (Chalaza) are in my eggs when I make an omelet and now I know not only their name, but also what their function is inside the eggs!
Ripping a pop can in half with your bare hands is not all that hard if you know a bit of chemistry and a little about how soda cans are fabricated. The key, is the plastic liner that coats the inside of the can. In order to protect the aluminum can from the carbonic acid in sodas, can manufacturers coat the inside of a can with a plastic liner. The liner also protects the inside of beer cans as well.
Now, I suppose, if you were really strong you could rip any can in half with your bare hands. In order to make it a for-sure thing for this demonstration, I used a bit of chemistry knowledge to etch the can.
It’s an interesting question. Before 1982, diapers relied on the absorbancy of cotton, paper and sponges to hold the, um, liquid in place. Unfortunately, those materials can only hold about 20 times their weight in water. The average diaper doesn’t really weight that much, so 20 times not very much equals leaks. Read more
It’s March Madness and we are getting crazy ourselves by dunking a basketball in super cold liquid nitrogen. What happens when you cool a basketball down to 320 degrees below zero? Watch the video to find out. Read more
Why explode an egg? Besides the expected “well, just because we can” answer, there’s actually some interesting science of combustion in the process. Hydrogen needs oxygen to combust, or burn. How it undergoes combustion depends on the amount of oxygen present. Read more
Can you balance an egg only on the vernal equinox? Of course not! you can balance an egg on its end any day of the year. Check out what else you can do with a few eggs at home. Read more
Amazing Milk is a fun “play with your food” moment. Milk is full of tiny clumps of fat. If you add a dash of dish detergent and some food coloring to a plate of milk something interesting starts to happen. Read more
After the massive earthquake near Japan this morning one wonders if it’s possible to build an earthquake-proof building? The answer is yes and no. There are of course, engineering techniques that can be used to create a very sound structure that will endure a modest or even strong quake. Read more
We have just passed through the 2011 peak flu season according to Google flu trends as well as the Center for Disease Control. This reminded me that washing your hands is one of the simplest things anyone can do to stop the spread of disease. It’s also one of those things that most people don’t do as often as they should. I thought it would be interesting to test some common surfaces around an office for bacteria. Even better would be to test some spots at abc13 – the host of our Imagine It segments. What do you think would have the highest bacterial count – the toilet seat or the microwave start button? Read more
OK, I have to admit that we really, really like the classic elephants toothpaste demonstration at Imagination Station. Combine a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and dish soap with a catalyst like sodium iodide and you get a foaming tower of, well, foam!
We like it so much that we do it everyday as part of our Method to the Madness demonstration. We have featured it on our weekly science segment Imagine-it on WTVG13 and on an episode of WTOL AM Saturday where we re-branded it “Dinosaur Toothpaste” because of the fossil exhibit we had at the science center at the time. Heck, we have even done it inside a pumpkin for Halloween where it squirts out the face to make a foamy mess. Read more
As part of Engineering Week 2011, we challenge local meteorologist Jay Berschback to build a stable tower on our Earthquake platform exhibit. Using only foam noodles and some cross-bracing he must construct a stable tower at least 5 stories tall. Find out if he can meet the challenge. Read more
Acid-base indicators provide a great platform for a variety of at home chemistry experiments that anyone can do. One of the simplest indicators that is readily available is red cabbage. It turns out that the colored pigment that gives the cabbage it color is a natural acid-base indicator. The red color of cabbage comes from a molecule called anthocyanin. This naturally occurring dye changes it color depending on the the presence of an acidic or alkaline (basic) substance. Read more
Find out what kinds of glass auto engineers use for the windshield and side windows of your car – and how they break. Read more
What happens if you take away all the air pressure from the outside of a marshmallow? It gets bigger. Normally, 14.7 pounds per square inch of air pressure is pressing on the outside of the marshmallow – and 14.7 pounds per square inch of pressure is pressing outward from the tiny air bubbles inside the mallow. Read more
We use our eyes to view our world. While our eyes are amazing detectors of light, they only “see” a tiny slice of the whole picture of electromagnetic energy that is all around us – we call what our eyes see “light.” Read more
This Sunday you may just need a break from the day-long preshow coverage of Superbowl 45. So grab the kids, or just yourself and a bowl of chips, and have some fun learning a little bit of the science behind all those tackles, passes and touchdowns – it’s a great learning lesson. Read more
Design a Newspaper Tower
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Visitors are invited to participate in this Engineering Challenge, brought to us by The Blade. Teams must build an 18-inch tall tower constructed solely from newspaper and tape that must support the weight of an ordinary baseball. Once completed, the tower must ‘Pass the Test’ – that is, towers will be placed directly in the path of a fan and must remain standing to be considered eligible. All supplies will be provided. Towers constructed off site are eligible to win as long as they pass the test. Prizes will be awarded to the engineers of the three lightest towers that pass the wind test. Read more
Check out these NASA images of what they are calling one of the largest storms to hit the US since the 1950′s. NOAA also has a great image to give you a sense of the size of the storm taken with the GOES-13 satellite. Some are calling the huge storm a “snowpocalypse“, while others are saying, “This is not a typical winter storm, this is one for the history books,” – Thats from Edward Fenelon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Romeoville, Ill. How much snow did you get? Let us know in the comments below.