5 Sciency things to do this Christmas
Wherever there is magic, there will be science, and Christmas is no exception! Bring the Wow to your winter with these 5 quirky, festive experiments.
1. Get cool and curious with frost
We can hope for snow, but if those fabulous fractals don’t fall, then you can do lots of investing with frost!
One of the most spectacular ways to explore that magical change from liquid water to frozen ice is by watching ice crystals form on a bubble. You will need it to be freezing or just above freezing outside (no more than 3 degrees C), but other than that, all you need is some washing up liquid, a small ceramic plate and a bubble wand (you can make one with a pipe cleaner or bend a wire coat hanger into a circle).
- Pour a enough washing up liquid onto the plate to cover the bottom.
- Dip the bubble wand into the liquid, then turn the wand so that the O is vertical, with just the bottom still touching the liquid on the plate.
- Gently blow to create a bubble that sits on top of the bubble liquid.
- Wait and watch!
2. The Strongest Santa Sack
What would be the best material for Santa to use for his sack? It needs to be strong enough to hold A LOT of presents, be flexible enough to throw over his shoulder and able to withstand hot and cold temperatures as he travels all over the world. Before deciding, find out about materials and their properties here
.Could you design and make a super strong Santa sack? If you really want to blow your mind, then watch this video exploring 13 of the most astonishing materials:
3. Reindeer Footprints
Could you follow in the footsteps of great naturalists like Sir David Attenborough, Jane Goodall or Steve Backshall and try to track a reindeer? First you will need to work out what a reindeer foot looks like, then you can compare reindeer hooves to your own feet! How are they different? How are they similar? Download this template to draw your own set of Reindeer tracks and to create a reindeer face with your own footprint Reindeer Prints
1. The toes spread out wide to act like snowshoes – distributing the animal’s weight so that it can “float” over snow, soft ice, muskeg and wetlandswithout sinking in.
2. The sharp-edged hooves easily break and clear the snow when caribou dig for food. The name caribou comes from the Micmac Indian word “xalibu,” meaning “the pawer”.
3. Large feet make good paddles. Caribou are very strong swimmers and often have to cross wide rushing rivers or thaw lakes that block their migration path.
Caribou make a characteristic clicking sound when they move, but this does not come from their hooves, but rather from the tendons slipping over the bones in their feet. It’s a good thing they aren’t predators – how could they sneak up on anything when they “click” with every step?
4. How Hot is your Choc?
Your mission: To find out if marshmallows melt more quickly in water or milk!
You will need:
Step 1: Fill one mug with milk & one mug with water. Microwave for 60-90 seconds. Ask a grown up to remove mugs and check the temperature isn’t too hot. Pour the sachet of hot chocolate mix into each mug & stir until dissolved.
Step 2: Now make a prediction. Which mug do you think will be the hottest? Using a liquid-safe thermometer, take the temperature of each drink. Which one is hotter? Why is this? Where you right?
What’s going on? The result you get here will depend on a number of things. If you took the milk straight from the fridge and the water straight from the tap, the milk will probably be starting from a lower temperature and will come out colder than the water. It will also depend on the kind of milk you are using. Semi-skimmed milk is mostly water so the water and the milk will heat very similarly. Interestingly, water boils at a slightly lower temperature than milk so if you put two saucepans on the hob, one with 100ml of water and the other with 100ml of milk, then the water will boil first.
5. Mock Apple Pie: GROWN UP HELP REQUIRED
Your mission: To trick your tastebuds with a pie that tastes just like apple pie but contains no apple at all!
You will need:
Heat the oven to 220 degrees Centigrade or 200 in a fan oven
Step 1: Put the water, sugar and cream of tartar into a saucepan and gently bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Keep boiling until the liquid becomes a bit syrupy – until you have about 1.5 cups of liquid. Let it cool a little so that it is warm and won’t burn.
Step 2: Smash up the ritz crackers and put them to the side. Prepare your pie tin by lining it with a layer of pastry, about 0.5cm thick.
Step 3: Add the lemon and cinnamon to the saucepan, then tip in the crackers and mix well.
Step 4: Pour the syrupy cracker mix into the prepared pie dish and seal with a pastry lid. Pop in the oven for 20-30 minutes.
What’s going on? Did you know you can trick your tastebuds!? An edible chemical called tartaric acid tastes just like the tart, tanginess of apples. Using Tartaric acid (otherwise known as cream of tartar) in this recipe fools your tastebuds into thinking you are eating apple pie when there isn’t a spec of apple in sight!