Sunday, March 22, 2015

Science Fun: Making Borax Crystals

Hello! Not too long ago a friend of mine sent me a link to this website called, Science Friday. They have many wonderful science projects and one that really caught my eye was about preserving snowflakes. We haven't had the chance to do that one yet (although it's supposed to snow this week so maybe we'll get to still.) However, they also listed instructions on making Borax Crystal Snowflakes so those, we could do :)

The materials you need are Borax, pipe cleaners, a wide-mouth jar, a pencil or skewer, string (or yarn), scissors, measuring cup and spoon, and water (and apparently an Angry Birds pig car.)

First, bend your pipe cleaners into whatever shape you want. We did snowflakes, hearts, and shamrocks. Next, cut off a length of string and tie it to your pipe cleaner shape. Tie the other end to the pencil. Place the pipe cleaner shape in the jar with the pencil resting across the mouth of the jar. Make sure no part of the pipe cleaner is touching the sides or bottom of the jar.

Take the pipe cleaner shape out of the jar and make the Borax solution. Measure out how many cups of water are needed to fill the jar. Use a teakettle or a microwave to boil the water. For every cup of water placed in the jar, mix in three tablespoons of Borax. (I used this opportunity to have K do some math.) Have an adult pour the boiling water in the jar and then add the Borax. Stir the solution until the Borax dissolves and hang the pipe cleaner shape back in the jar.

And then wait...

And wait some more. We left ours overnight.

 Hang the now crystallized pipe cleaners in an empty jar to dry and then hang in a sunny window.

To expand on this project, I had K look closely at the crystals and determine what shape they are. We also talked about how hot water can hold more dissolved Borax than cold, and how the crystals formed only after the water cooled back down. We also made the observation that the crystallized pipe cleaner shapes are much heavier than when we started.

I came across this neat one-sheet on this experiment that offers additional questions to ask your little scientist. It was an easy project to do with items we already had around the house. I hope you get the chance to do it at your home as well.

Friday, March 13, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Paper Clover Tutorial

Hello! Are you enjoying some glorious spring weather where you live? I know I am! And with that comes one of my favorite holidays, St. Patrick's Day. I love dressing up in crazy green clothes, I love going to the parades, I love clover. How can you not love a plant that's made up of hearts?!?

I found a wonderful tutorial online for making paper clovers and just made a few tweaks to it.

The materials needed are four strips of 9" green paper and five strips of 11" paper (or 10" and 12" if you're using scrapbook paper), bakers twine or clear nylon thread, glue or glue dots (I recommend the glue dots), and scissors.

Fold all of the strips in half except for one of the long ones. To give the stem a more 3-D effect [A] suggested folding it with the flat bottom instead of just in half.

Put two glue dots on the outside top of a longer strip and curve the ends in to make a heart (see below.)

Do this for all four of the long strips.

With the shorter strips, put two glue dots on the outside top just like the longer strips but then stick that end to the inside of the bigger heart.

Place two more glue dots on the other end and curve that around and stick it to the other side of the big heart.

Repeat that for the other three hearts. Congratulations! You now have the semblance of a four-leaf clover.

In order to hang this you'll need to add your string before gluing all of the big hearts together. Take two glue dots and place them on the outside edge of one large heart. Stick your nylon thread or bakers twine to it and then press your other top heart on it.

You can see the nylon thread stuck between my top two hearts here. If you're only hanging one, you don't need to leave as long of a tail as I did. I strung three together on one piece of thread so I needed to keep mine longer for the last clover.

Next, attach one bottom heart to one top heart using two glue dots.

On the free side of the bottom heart attach two glue dots and press on your stem.
This picture looks a bit confusing because I'm pulling the stem away so you can
see where I placed the glue dots. However, the stem should actually be stuck to
that big heart via those glue dots.
 On the last heart place glue dots on both sides and press it in place.

Ta da! You have a beautiful three dimensional paper clover to display.

This next step is optional but I think it looks a lot nicer. Perhaps if I used a stiffer paper it wouldn't be necessary.

Place one glue dot on the side of each of the smaller hearts and press it into the corner of the larger heart. This keeps the bottom edges of the hearts together and gives more structure to your clover.

On mine you can see that I stuck all but the bottom left small heart to to the bigger ones and it just makes the whole thing look a little cleaner.

And here they are hanging in our holiday display window with Lucky the Leprechaun.

I've really been enjoying making paper holiday displays. They're quick, easy, (cheap!), and I can either keep them until next year or recycle them when the holiday is over.

So, whether you're actually Irish or just Irish on St. Patrick's Day, here is my blessing to you:

There are good ships,
And there are wood ships,
The ships that sail the sea.
But the best ships, are friendships,
And may they always be.