Jan 18, 2013

Science + Art = Magic

Alright, confession time. I am a lazy mom. Entertaining kids all day is exhausting, especially when your oldest has the attention span of a... Well, a 2 year old. I am constantly on the lookout for entertaining, inexpensive projects to do with Isabel that will hold her attention for more than 30 seconds. Baby has had the flu this week, Isabel is on her second ear infection in a month, and I'm home with them today since they can't go to school and Nana is sick, too.

A while ago, I was inspired by my natural method of cleaning the drain in my kitchen sink - baking soda and vinegar. Baking soda is actually sodium bicarbonate , which, when dissolved in water separates into sodium and bicarbonate ions. Vinegar is acetic acid mixed in a solution of water. So, when you add vinegar to baking soda, you get an interesting reaction. (It's slightly more complicated than I wish to describe here, but if you want to know the full story, check out this great explanation here )

So, a little vinegar dropped into baking soda makes a big fizzle, and in turn, captures the attention of a two year old who has not been still for more than a millisecond the entire time I have been typing this explanation.

What you will need for this "experiment":
- 9x13 baking dish
- baking soda
- vinegar (I had a large bottle of regular on hand, but perhaps apple cider vinegar might smell a little better)
- food coloring
- small bowls
- droppers (found them on amazon for about $5 for 12, but I had a couple old baby medicine dispensers that worked great)
- apron or large shirt to protect your clothing as food coloring is hard to get out

Line the bottom of the baking dish with a thin layer of baking soda.
In the small bowls, mix a little vinegar (maybe 1/4 cup) with a few drops of food coloring.
Once your kiddo's clothes are sufficiently protected, put the baking dish in front of them with the small bowls of colored vinegar.
Teach them how to suck the liquid into the droppers and then drop it onto the baking soda and watch it fizz!

If you have small ones, this does require some adult supervision. While the ingredients themselves are not dangerous, the food coloring has a tendency to stain. Isabel got a little too excited and started shaking the dropper and it got all over her little table and even a few drops on her face. A few of her fingers were blue after our project, too.

Biggest downside to this project? When it has to end! When the baking soda got all soggy and baby was fussing because she wasn't getting attention and we had to put it away, Isabel cried and cried for more magic. Boy do I know how she feels...

Anyway, this is a great summer project for outside, or for the cooped up days of winter. I can't imagine a child who wouldn't enjoy this - even this mama thought it was pretty great.

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