Weird Science -7yr- Rocket Launchers
Leslie in Poway, CA, USA
My daughter chose "Wierd Science" for her 7th birthday because she was looking for a theme that was be fun for both girls and boys. 16 children attended this party (11 girls and 5 boys).
We made invitations on the computer using science clip art, complete with Mad Scientist, flasks with colored potions, and petri dishes of "germs", printed onto cardstock.
Our decorations (ballons, tablecloths, napkins, plates) were blue, white and silver to look institutional. On the patio table, to greet the guests when they arrived was an array of "lab" items, such as gummy frogs, cut and pinned down (to look like they were being dissected), jars of "lab specimens".... things like a HUGE gummy snake, "lab animals".... not PC, but my daugher was getting creative (stuffed monkeys hanging from the umbrella, and beanie baby dogs in little toy cages), "potions", laced with dry ice just before party time for bubbling fun, a "lab notebook", pen and calculator, and some sciencey books. We made a sign to hang from the table saying "Welcome to the Lab", with additional science clip art.
I also had planned that beverages were sodas of every color in 2L bottles.... I had this set up near the "lab table" (10 bottles in a rainbow of colors to look like lab potions), with some bubbling flasks with dry ice and water. It was a beautiful fall afternoon and I gave the kids about 15 minutes playtime in the yard to allow late guests to arrive. I had 4 long tables set up around the yard as "lab stations", and one long table for the demo (with another sign, reading "Scientists at Work"). I explained that I would do some experiments first (with their help), and then they would split into lab groups and do their own experiments.
The demo (15 minutes) consisted of the egg in the bottle (I got lots of kids involved, trying to get them to get the egg in without breaking it.... they were AMAZED when my egg went in), a density experiment with a diet and regular pepsi in a big clear tub of water (this gave us a chance to discuss how scientists make a guess, and then test it out), did the "fireproof balloon" (light a match under one balloon.... it pops... put 1/4 c water in another balloon and blow up.... put that match under the water part and it will turn black and burn, but not pop... cool!), the Law of Motion (an object a rest will remain at rest, an object in motion will remain in motion..... coin, index card, glass.... flick the card and the coin will drop into the glass, which the card sails across the table..... can repeat many times!), and finally, to end the demo with a bang, water, vinegar and baking soda in a ziplock freezer bag for a discussion of chemical reactions and gas formation. I then broke them into lab groups, quickly explained about the four stations, and off they went. I had three other adults helping to man the stations, which were:
Station 1 - Red cabbage juice as a pH indicator. I got mini basters from Walmart, and the kids measured out the cabbage juice into clear plastic cups. Then they added solutions (the pharmacy sold me plastic eye droppers) of baking soda, washing soda, amminia, borax, salt, white vinegar, lemon juice, and soda water. They also tried a small amount of cream of tartar (from the shaker bottle), and Oxyclean (a small amount measured with a popsicle stick). The cabbage juice turns a rainbow of colors, including yellow, green, teal, brown, bluish, purple, pink, fuschia and red. At this station, the also painted a short message with lemon juice on a coffee filter, and when it dried, saw thier invisible ink turn pink when the filter was sprayed with cabbage juice.
Station 2 - Slime, made with white glue (you can buy a huge bottle a Home Depot really cheap), water and borax. I poured the glue into 3oz Dixie cups (not completely full), then gave them an equal amount of water in that cup. They had a choice of food coloring at this time. Then, the mixed the Borax and water in a jar and shook it up, then added some to the plastic bowl of glue/water to create slime. The took their slime home in Ziplock baggies with their names on it. I had a milk jug turned handwashing station here, along with a roll of paper towels!
Station 3 - Guess the flavor of you LifeSaver with no smell (you need your sense of smell to really taste!). Kids closed their eyes and held their noses while adult put candy on tounge. Kids opened eyes, and tried to guess with nose plugged. This was quick, and rather amazing that they couldn't tell the flavor without smell. Then, they explored physics and strong building shapes by creating bridges and other structures out of toothpicks and gumdrops. They ate as many gum drops as they wanted when they were finished.
Station 4 - I had planned a short race to demonstrate static electricity (rub a balloon on your hair, then use it to roll an empty coke can), but the girls didn't want to rub the balloon in their hair :-( Fotunately, the other part of this station was Alka Selzer rockets, and that was a huge hit. Kids made rocket launchers by taping a TP tube to a small paper plate (make three slits in the tube, then fold them down so you can tape it to the plate). The "rockets" were clear Fuji film containers (donated by the photo shop), plus a little warm water(in one of those pump carafes for coffee) and 1/4 generic Alka Selzer. Snap the top on, give a quick shake, and drop (lid down) into the launchers and wait for your "rocket" to fly high in the air. This works without launchers, but I think they go straighter up with the launchers. The kids rotated very well (10-15 minutes/station), then ran around a little more while I was getting the cake ready.
I served the "Errupting Volcano Cake" (recipe found on the internet), which I constructed using a 9" round, 8" round, and Wilton Wonder mold for the dome top (instead of stacking 6 cakes like most of the internet directions say). I frosted it with chocolate frosting, used some green for vegiation, and surrounded the most of bottom with green tinted coconut. I then used some graham cracker crumbs to create a "beach", and put a couple mini people from the dollhouse on an "Airheads" beach towel. I made some palm trees from green Airheads and pretzel sticks, and drizzed some red candy melt around the top (to hide my lava cup) and down the sides to look like the volcano was erruping a little. I gather the kids together at the small patio table (didn't want to mess up the eating table) and we errupted the volcano, but the cake got a little soggy in some parts. Nonetheless, the kids (and remaining parents) were awed by the errupting cake, and we all know that the kids are ususally too hyped up to eat much cake anyway :-)
After cake (and more lab potion sodas), we opened gifts, taking a picture of the guest whose gift was being opened along with the birthday girl for the thank you notes. The goody bags were blue and white striped cellophane bags, filled with a small notebook that I personalized ("Emily's Science Notebook", with that Mad Scientist clip art again) by running 3x5 stickers through the printer, colored ball point pens, magnifying glass, pop rocks, Nerds, and their slime.
Total time was 2 hours, 40 minutes (only 10 minutes over what I had scheduled), and I am still hearing from parents who didn't stay how much their child has been talking about the party. I had a great time, as did my "Weird Scientist" helpers. The planning was long, but well worth it!!!
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