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.
Create super bubbles at home with this simple bubble juice recipe.
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
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
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
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
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.
Our Extreme Scientist, Jesse, talks about the chemistry of disappearing inks. She has a little surprise for Chris near the end.
Eating too much spicy food? Or maybe just want to know how that antacid works in your stomach? Well check this 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.
The Flame Tube (aka Rubens’ tube) allows us to “visualize sound waves” based on the gas pressure inside a steel tube. Read more
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.
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!
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
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.
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
The periodic table may be a constant on the wall of science classrooms, but that doesn’t mean it never changes. Just this month scientists added two new elements to the periodic table! You won’t find elements 114 or 116 floating around just anywhere – they were made in an atom smasher and stick around for less than a second. Now the challenge is to name them – any ideas?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Many iron fortified cereals contain tiny iron fillings. I’m talking about plain old elemental iron, the kind you would find in a nail, train or car, in your breakfast cereal. It turns out that this form of iron is ideal for a cereal additive. Read more
Sloan combines history and science when talking about the origin of the modern breathalyzer – the Drunk-o-meter. Just after prohibition the need for a quantitative way to assess the drunkenness of an individual resulted in the Drunk-o-meter which then lead to the modern breathalyzer. Read more
Food calories are a measure of how much energy is contained in the food item. A very graphic way to visualize how much energy is in a handful of food is to burn it and observer the flame. We try this with a handful of cheesepuffs and Total cereal. Read more
This week Sloan and Jay create a couple of foam volcanoes using a solution of concentrated hydrogen peroxide and some dish soap. Using super concentrated solutions allows the reaction to happen so fast that the foam literally hits the ceiling in our demonstration theater. Check out the video. Read more
Making ice cream at home is actually pretty easy to do and you don’t need any fancy equipment if you’re just making small batches for fun. This is a great Saturday afternoon activity. You’ll be surprised at how good it actually tastes. Just keep in mind this is not low-fat low-calorie. Read more
What could be more cool than making a lava lamp with stuff you already have? With just a few items from your kitchen you can create a bubbling version of a lava lamp. To get started gather up some vegetable oil, water, food coloring, a plastic bottle and some effervescing (the bubbling kind) antacid tablets. 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 Read more
Did you eat a few to many chips loaded with a spicy dip? Perhaps just too much during the Game (Ohio vs. Michigan) and are in need of a bit of antacid relief? Check out this video to see just how an antacid works to reduce the acid level in your stomach. One thing I forgot to mention is that Milk of Magnesia is also a laxative … so with all meds read the label before consuming…! Read more
While it looks like Sloan is changing water into wine, what’s really taking place is a chemical clock reaction. Two reactions take place at the same time – reaction number one is trying to create a dark liquid, reaction number two is consuming a chemical needed to turn the liquid dark. After a few seconds the second reaction runs out and the liquid turns an inky black.
Super absorbers were developed in the 1960′s by the Department of Agriculture as a product to spread over crops to even out the drench-drought cycle. This class of polymers is capable of absorbing up to 400 times their weight in water. This amazing ability to hold liquids in a gel eventually led to their use in baby diapers, plant soil, grass seed and those fun “grow creatures” toys that swell in water. Read more
What would happen if you created a chemical reaction inside a carved pumpkin that generates a whole lot of foam? Watch the video to find out. Question is, what reaction would you choose? We thought it would be fun to use a 35% solution of hydrogen peroxide (that’s more than 10 times more concentrated than what you have at home) and some soap to catch the oxygen gas that is generated. Read more
Sodium Alginate is derived from seaweed and is used as a gelling agent in foods like pie fillings, jellies and even green olive stuffing’s. We think it’s just fun to play with. When you add the alginate to a calcium chloride salt solution it turns into a jet nearly instantly. You can make tiny spheres (or caviar) if you drip it, or if you squirt a solid stream it will turn gel into a “wormy” tube filled with a liquid interior.
Film Canister Rockets are a favorite experiment at Imagination Station. We do them frequently within the Science Studio, a learning world that allows visitors to do hands-on experiments and other activities.
One of the best things about this activity is that Read more
- 1 can of Soda
- 1 can of Diet Soda
- 1 or 2 Large clear containers (like an aquarium, or large bowls)
What to do:
- Add water to the aquarium so that it can cover the soda cans.
- Place the cans into the water.
What the Science:
The diet soda and regular soda differ in the amount of solids (sugar/sugar substitute, soft drink ingredients, etc.) that are dissolved in the liquid. The amount of dissolved solids in a liquid will affect the liquids density. An object will become buoyant (float) when it is less dense than the liquid surrounding it. Buoyancy is simply an upward acting force caused by the fluid. Archimedes was the first person to dissect this phenomenon and stated what is now known as Archimedes’ Principle “Any object, wholly or partially immersed in a fluid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object.”
Note that one packet of an artificial sweetener is approximately equal in sweetness to about three packets of sugar and the artificial sweetener weighs less. The regular soda has more solids (soft drink ingredients and sugar) dissolved in the liquid than the diet soda so it is denser than the water surrounding it in the aquarium causing it to sink, and the diet soda has less solids dissolved (soft drink ingredients and artificial sweetener) so it is less dense and floats.
If you happen to have been watching channel 11 (WTOL) on Saturday, August 7, 2010, then you saw our Chief Scientist, Carl Nelson do our Dinosaur Toothpaste demonstration. Well, the actual demonstrations name is Elephant’s Toothpaste and it is called this because Read more
Plastic is one of those materials that is used for everything from dishes to toys. Have you ever wondered about how it all gets made? We have an activity here that allows you to make your own plastic. This particular activity is one that we have free to all of our visitors in our Science Studio. This is a wonderful exhibit area that changes every day and has lots more activities. We also, for your reading pleasure, have gone on to extend the activity to discuss how plastic gets made and add a little more science behind, Plastic Milk. Read more
Making a shrunken head for Halloween is fun and it only takes a few items to get started. To create a shrunken head you need just a few items. Gather up an apple, granny smith, red delicious, whatever, pretty much any apple will work. The basic steps for making a shrunken head from an apple are: remove the skin, coat with lemon juice, carve features, soak in saltwater, let shrink for 2 weeks, decorate with optional features. See it’s so easy anyone can do it. Plus if you really mess up you can always eat the apple! Read more