Sometimes we’re led to believe that science is just for the classroom. But here at Curiosity Box HQ, we firmly believe that science is, in fact, everywhere!
You wake up in the morning, roll out of bed and head to the bathroom where you pick up your toothbrush to give your teeth their morning scrub. You then walk down the stairs to the kitchen where you pour yourself a bowl of cornflakes before splashing them with milk. Meanwhile, you notice the kitchen filling with steam as dad’s kettle starts to boil. Oh… and POP! goes the toast as it leaps out of the toaster.
It’s 7.20 am, and you’ve been awake a mere twenty minutes, but how many times have you already been directly interacting with science?
Well, believe it or not, we can spot at least SIX quite significant examples of science happening around you in your early morning routine. Can you spot them too?
Science process 1: Neurotransmission – The moment you wake up
Did you know that your body has its very own internal clock that keeps you in sync with the time of day?
There’s a special place in your brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (we call it SCN for short!) which is super sensitive to the signals of dark and light. So, when the optic nerve in your eye senses morning light, your SCN triggers your body to secrete hormones like cortisol that help wake you up!
The opposite happens at night. When your optic nerve senses darkness, the SCN triggers your pineal gland to secrete melatonin – an important hormone that helps you nod off.
So, before you’ve even woken up in the morning, there’s already been a lot of science going on in your brain. Your eyes are telling your brain that it’s light, therefore secreting important “wake up” chemicals to get you up and at’em!
Process 2: Avoiding erosion – Your tooth-brushing routine:
Did you realise that your teeth are covered in a coating called enamel that makes your teeth hard and strong?
In fact, tooth enamel is one of the hardest tissues in nature – nearly as hard as a diamond!!!
But, the acid which occurs naturally in foods like fruit, can erode (break down) your enamel which in turn can leave your teeth vulnerable to disease and decay. That’s why we brush our teeth using fluoride-rich toothpaste that helps your enamel to repair, along with the naturally occurring ingredients of your saliva.
So, when you next put your toothbrush to your teeth, remember those are precious diamond-strong gnashers you’ve got there to look after!
Process 3: Diffusion – Your soggy cornflakes
Ever thought about what’s going on when your crunchy crisp cornflakes turn into a soggy stew at the bottom of your bowl if you take too long to eat it?
Welcome to the world of diffusion! What’s happening is this: the atoms in milk are fast-moving, and are coming face-to-face with the vibrating atoms in the cereal. It’s at this point that the milk atoms diffuse into the atoms in the cereal.
When the milk has been absorbed, the density of the cereal increases, making it sink to the bottom of your bowl.
Process 4: Energy transformation- The boiling kettle
Onto that kettle boiling away. Have you ever wondered how kettles work?
If you were to look inside your kettle, you should see a metal coil. When you turn your kettle on, electrical energy travels through the coil (otherwise known as a heating element), turning into heat and warming the water around it.
The coil itself has an electrical resistance (something that makes electrical currents pass through it) that turns the electrical energy into heat. It’s this that ensures that the electrical energy turns into heat.
Science process 5: Changing states of matter – The steam-filled kitchen
The kettle has now boiled, and billowing from the spout is a cloud of steam. But where does this come from and why?
When water boils (which, incidentally, is when it reaches 100 degrees celsius), it will start to bubble because of the intense evaporation. It’s at this point that the water can’t stay as a liquid anymore, and evaporates into vapour, or steam.
So, there you have it, six pretty exciting scientific processes happening to you and around you before you’ve even finished your breakfast! So tomorrow morning, why not keep your eyes peeled for more sciency spectacles?
And finally, process 2: The Maillard Reaction – The toast browning in the toaster
Here’s Renee to explain:
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Photo by Providence Doucet on Unsplash