Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What the Fizz?! Fizzy Science Fun

Last Summer I began doing the Kids Cooking Classes for fun, since Z loved the ones done with another mom group we're also in. But now that she's older, I've been also looking into more science-y activities. So I decided to do a "Kids Science" event this year to see whether I want to commit to yet another thing! At first I was thinking we'd make silly putty or ooblek or something [Google them, if interested in finding recipes, or just search for "science for preschoolers" and see what fun stuff you can find!] Until I read a post from Superheroes and Princesses about their week of fizzy fun. Perfect! Idea stolen Inspiration!

I did this with two of my mom clubs, since I knew how much fun it would be. And to justify buying all the supplies! With my first group, I started off with a simple volcano to demonstrate the science behind the activity. I kept it simple, since I wanted them to SEE what was happening, so I just used a baby food jar without building a volcano around it, and I didn't add food coloring at all. I had the jar on a tray, to minimize the mess, filled the jar halfway with vinegar, then added a teaspoon of baking soda. Fun times! I hear mixing liquid soap with the vinegar first makes it extra bubbly too, but again, I wanted this to just show the chemical reaction. I also gave a brief summary of some of the differences between acids and bases, and listed some common ones.
Acids: Typically sour, frequently feel "sticky," usually gas or liquid form
Common acids: stomach acid, citric acid (lemons, oranges, etc,) Vitamin C (ascorbic acid; in apples, grapes, etc,) vinegar
Bases: Usually slippery, bitter, reacts with oils and greases (which makes them great cleansers,) frequently solid form
Common bases: Human saliva, eggs, baking soda

Then, off to the real fun!
16-ounce box baking soda
1/2 cup corn starch
1+ cup hot water
food coloring
vinegar (in spray bottle)
brushes, sponges, sticks, etc to spread the paint.

Step 1: Combine baking soda and corn starch thoroughly.
Step 2: Add most of a cup of hot water, mixing as you go to prevent clumps. Add water until you have a paint-like consistency. 
Step 3: Divide into separate containers (one for each color you wish to make.) Muffin tins work great, as do bowls. The muffin tins were too small for the sponges to fit easily, but I used disposable bowls the second time around and they worked perfectly.
Step 4: Add food coloring and mix each color. For the muffin tins, 1-2 drops per space was adequate (red, blue and green needed 2 drops, and I had to use red plus yellow to make orange.) I used 3-4 drops in the disposable Dixie bowls.
If paint starts to thicken, you can add a few drops of hot water and mix again to revive.
I found a variety of cheap shaped sponges at the Dollar Tree, 6/package. I got vehicles, basic shapes, bugs, outdoors, and girly packs. I wish now that I'd also bought the sea life pack. It would be perfect in a water sensory tub! Ah well. Dollar Tree also had packs of 5 brushes. I already had a pack of Crayola brushes (at $3, but with real hair bristles) but the cheap plastic bristle ones were better. Small spatulas or popsicle sticks would have worked well too, but the kids loved using the sponges and making their shape designs, so I'm glad I found those!
Since we were doing this at a park, I didn't have access to hot water, so we made-do with cold. It worked okay, but the paint was fairly thick and gloopy. Worked fine for these guys though!

Step 5: Spray painted area(s) with vinegar! It doesn't matter if the paint is wet or dry first.
These guys really went to town with the vinegar! I had to buy another jug for the second group! And I had to use my best Mommy skills to get them to share the spray bottles, since I only had 4 among 8-12 kids.

I had also planned on 'magically' inflating a balloon or exploding a Ziplock bag, but couldn't find my balloons, and was too lazy. But we did make fizzy Pixie Stix!

1/2 cup sugar
1 packet unsweetened Kool-Aid
~1tsp baking soda
Bendy straws
paper to make a small funnel

Princesses and Superheroes said to mix the Kool-Aid and sugar, then take 1tbsp of that and add 1/8th tsp of baking soda. I just did the math and figured that 1/2 cup sugar (4oz) is roughly 8 tbsp (2tbsp/oz,) so added a whole tsp of baking soda. But do it her way if you want to make these more sparingly. Since the reaction between the baking soda and ascorbic and/or citric acid in the Kool-Aid occurs when moisture is added (like saliva,) too much exposure to the moisture in the air can neutralize it, over time. Plus it can make the sugar clumpy. I used little tupperware containers, and they were still okay a week later. Clumpier though. Ziplocks with the air squeezed out would be better.
Fold the bendy part of the straws and tape them in place (so the powder doesn't just go shooting out the bottom.) Use a small funnel to fill the straws. Each one holds approximately 1tsp.
Since I was doing this with so many kids, I chose three flavors of Kool-Aid (cherry, orange, and grape) and made a batch of each. Because I had already mixed in the baking soda, I was able to make straws with a combination of two or three flavors as well.

The sugar straws were Z's favorite part, but my least favorite. Very labor intensive, making 2-3 straws per kid, with a tiny little funnel that kept clogging up. And the wind kept blowing straws away! And most everyone was so particular about what color stripes they wanted on their straws! I couldn't find the wider bendy straws, although I know they exist. These little skinny ones were hard to work with, but reduced the amount of sugar for each kid, so a wash, in my book.

And they taste okay. Like most sugary junk. And they do fizz in your mouth. Very weird!


  1. Too cool! I will have to do this.

    Following you from the Share it Friday link up.

  2. I love the idea of fizzing science! Fabulous post!

    Carla @ Jansen Family Adventures

  3. Making the fizzy candy straws (but putting it into bigger tubes-- purchased at a scrapbook store) for my daughter's 10th birthday. I plan to let her friends make them. :)Sue A

  4. I hadn't seen those fizzy straws before, very cool. We love baking soda and vinegar experiments around here. The sidewalk paint is on our bucket list for this summer.


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