Techno tricks: Winter fun
With winter season setting in, children will have some time off from the regular routine of studies in the form of short vacation. This time can be spent in warm comfort of indoors, sharpening a few skills or even performing some science experiments, which is the topic today.
Performing simple scientific experiments at home can not only improve understanding of concepts learned through books and illustrations, but also prepares students for any competitions or exhibitions.
Let’s start with Funology.com — a site dedicated to introduce fun in the way science is studied simply by attaching the concepts with real world crafts, magic tricks, games and experiments.
Funology categorises experiments under subjects like chemistry, biology and physics. These experiments are designed to stimulate both creativity and learning. For example, there’s an experiment to create rainbow with a glass of water and plain white sheet — both placed on the edge of a table under sunshine. Similarly, there are other experiments which explain phenomena of condensation, evaporation and small scale version of real-world happenings, such as creating a small tornado, creating fog, creating a balance with a coat hanger, etc.
In addition to these replicas, the biology section deals with model creation, such as how to create a prehistoric looking fossil footprint, a habitat for model dinosaurs and a homemade greenhouse for house plants, etc.
The next site to take a look at is ScienceBob.com which also has a dedicated experiment section. Along with diagrams showing setup and post-experiment outcomes, the site also contains some stimulating questions. For example, there’s an experiment showing the concept of inertia where a coin resting over top of a cardboard ring comes straight down when the ring is removed from beneath using a pencil.
Young minds are challenged here with questions such as what were the factors that pulled down the coin, was it the shape of the coin, size of the paper ring or speed with which the ring was removed. One can try to answer these questions theoretically and then repeat the experiment as well to check the answer and understanding.
Similarly, simple experiments like creating a volcano are made more interesting with variation questions such as what combination of baking soda and vinegar will cause larger eruption? What is the role of vinegar temperature on model volcano eruption? And what can be added in the sample lava to slow down its travel like real lava?
This site is not only good for students looking for some challenge along with scientific modelling, but also serves well for teachers and evaluators who want to check how well the students understand the underlying subject and how good the surrounding knowledge is about a particular model.
An interesting example is that of a rocket using an antacid tablet placed inside a small container with some water — upside down. The variation questions add much to the otherwise simple rocket experiment, and can in fact lead to multiple attempts and extended time spent on getting clear understanding of concepts.
Here, after shooting up a model rocket, students can try out different water temperatures, change the water volume and see its impact on flight height and launch time, or change the volume of antacid tablet. Another variation introduces aerodynamics by adding fins to the container and attaching a cardboard nose cone at the top to see if flight path can be controlled and flight height can be increased. Then there are some acoustic experiments as well, including creating a chicken sound and a duck sound using plastic cups and straws.
The last site under review here for cool experiments is ScienceKids.co.nz, having a separate experiment section. Here, over 40 fun experiments are listed such as bending the water, creating invisible ink and some musical learning experiments such as creating a musical device with glasses of water filled with different quantities, creating different sounds and a balloon acting like a sound amplifier.
These and many more scientific activities are detailed out there on the websites mentioned above and elsewhere. All it takes is a little search and interest to perform these experiments to enhance knowledge, understanding and application of scientific concepts.
Beware… always perform these experiments with adult supervision. So have a safe and happy experimenting this winter!