As a former science teacher it’s in my DNA to make every opportunity science play. It doesn’t matter how old a child is, in fact, the younger the better and I especially like introducing young girls to science. After starting this “tradition,” every time I visit, my grand daughter now asks what “science experiment” we are going to do.
Our lesson for today was making a suspension substance.
Yes … I do use the real scientific words.
Here are the materials you will need:
- Box of cornstarch
- Large mixing bowl
- Cookie sheet, pie pan, or something similar
- Pitcher of water
- Measuring cup
- Food coloring
First I ask a question. This is the first step in the Scientific Method.
(Me) What do you think will happen if we mix this flour-like powder with water?
(A) It will get sticky.
Next I introduce a big word, Hypothesis.
(Me) Let’s make lots of guesses about what might happen. In science a guess like this is called a “hypothesis.” I guess it will get hard.
(A) “Hi pot a sis” she repeats. I guess it will get soft.
(Me) I guess it will get sticky also.
(A) Me too.
Let your children make guesses. If you want to, you can even write down the guesses.
Next comes the experiment.
Have child measure 1 cup of cornstarch and pour it into the mixing bowl.
In a separate mixing bowl with a spout, or large measuring cup, have your child measure 1 cup of water.
Add a few drops of food coloring to the water and stir.
Next let your child slowly begin to pour the water into the cornstarch and begin mixing. This can be mixed with a spoon, but it’s much more fun to mix it by hand. Do not add all of the water, rather add some water, mix, then more water until the mixture is the consistency of honey.
This will roughly be a mixture of 10 parts cornstarch to 1 part water. Notice that it gets thicker or more viscous with more cornstarch, and more watery if too much water is added. If this happens, just add more cornstarch until the desired mixture is obtained.
Have your child pour the substance into a shallow pan and allow your child to play with it or keep it in the bowl (I’d done both). Also you can drop a plastic toy into the mixture and then try to get it out. It’s difficult. Give the child a cup, plastic knife, and spoon and let him or her pour, scoop, and cut while noticing what happens.
There are endless opportunity for fun and discovery and this will keep your little ones occupied for a significant period of time.
Let’s talk resorts:
Ask your little one if his or her guesses were correct.
For older children, have him or her look up on the computer the term “suspension,” a mixture of two substances at once. It’s a solid dispersed in a liquid.
The cornstarch mixture will keep in containers for a few days. I used empty plastic baby food containers. The water will dry up, but by adding more water, the mixture is ready to go again.
Once you are ready to throw it away, it is VERY IMPORTANT to dispose of it in a garbage can and NOT the sink. Pouring it in a sink could cause it to settle in the pipes and clog them.
A nice by-product of playing with this mixture is that your hands will feel very soft.