Science Chicago: Halloween slime and ooze

October 31, 2008 10:19:48 AM PDT
Halloween often conjures up images of mad scientists working in musty labs. And so it seems natural to use Halloween to teach valuable science lessons. Dr. Rabiah Mayas from the Museum of Science and Industry www.msichicago.org says it's easy to trick your children into learning by exploring Halloween traditions, including pumpkin carving. The idea is inspired by Science Chicago, www.sciencechicago.com the museum's year-long initiative to encourage children to think about science and to learn scientific concepts in new ways. Here are some experiments from Dr. Rabiah that can turn Halloween into fun and educational activities.

Oozing Pumpkin: pumpkin is filled with a liquid and green foam begins to ooze out of the eyes, nose and mouth of the pumpkin. The cause is a chemical reaction that produces oxygen, gas and water that then runs through a soap solution producing the ooze.

Do it yourself slime: Create slime through a simple chemical polymerization reaction between polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and a sodium borate solution. A little green food coloring makes it green. The resulting slime is safe to touch (but not eat or come in contact with the eyes).

HERE'S HOW TO MAKE SLIME:

Materials:

Elmer's Glue

Borax (sodium borate)

Food coloring (optional)

Plastic cups (to make the mixtures)

Procedure

1. Make a solution of Borax by adding 2 teaspoons Borax to one cup of water and mix to dissolve.

2. In a separate container, mix equal parts Elmer's Glue and water until completely mixed.

3. Mix equal parts of the two solutions in a fresh cup and stir until mixed. Add food coloring dropwise until the mixture is the color you desire.

4. The slime is ready to play with and touch, but be sure to wash your hands when you're done.

5. Store in a zip-seal bag to prevent the slime from drying out.

To learn more, visit Dr. Rabiah Mayas' blog at http://www.sciencechicago.com/blog/drrabiah.

Turning water into blood: This is an experiment based on acid/base principles, using a pH indicator that is colorless at low pH and changes to blood-red at higher pH. When these two colorless solutions (one containing the indicator, the other containing a base) are combined the solution turns red. The cool part is that the process is reversible, so by making the solution acidic again, it turns clear. Even cooler - you can actually turn the solution acidic by just blowing air into it (the carbon dioxide we exhale combines with a chemical in the solution and turns it acid). The processes take only seconds..

About Science Chicago

More than 100 public and private institutions have come together to present Science Chicago, www.sciencechicago.com the world's largest science celebration. Designed to awaken the inner scientist in all of us, thousands of dynamic and interactive activities provide hands-on learning; spur thoughtful debate; enhance classroom learning; and build enthusiasm for the pursuit of cutting-edge science, while establishing the critical value of science and math education. Science Chicago, a year-long program, encourages Chicagoans to think of life as a lab and discover the science all around them. Ongoing programming including Science Saturdays and Science Conversations, take place throughout the year; events and activities are designed to appeal to a wide range of ages and interests. For more information on Science Chicago visit at www.sciencechicago.com

Science Saturdays and Science Conversations

On select Saturdays, scientists give Chicagoans an all-access pass to top scientific locations to explore behind-the-scenes at research labs, industries, local ecosystems and universities. The next Science Saturday is November 15. You can visit:

o Argonne National Laboratory: See how Argonne scientists have developed innovative technologies to recycle foam, plastic and rubber from recycled vehicles.

o Museum of Science and Industry: Discover your inner scientist as you take part in fun activities about biology, physics, chemistry and more at MSI's new Science Theater.

o The University of Illinois at Chicago: Come learn about the science behind magnetic resonance imaging and see real life demonstrations where you'll observe brain activity with never-been-seen-before dimension and clarity through their new state-of-the-art MRI machine, which is three times more powerful than anything out there.

Science Conversations: Top innovators, scientists and researchers engage young people and adults in debates, panel discussions, conversations, and town hall meetings about scientific and technological issues.

For more information on Science Chicago visit at www.sciencechicago.com


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