Tasty Science Party -7yr- Volcano Cake
Monica in Philadelphia, PA 19139
My daughter loves her Tasty Science Kit" so for her 7th birthday we came up with a variation on the Mad Science or Science Party theme centered around "Tasty Science" experiments. I did not find any websites with this theme so I put together activities using fun with food experiments and varying up the Mad Science ideas I found to fit the Tasty Science theme.
Invitations read "Please collaborate in <child name>'s Tasty Science Experiments. Purpose: To discover amazing food facts while celebrating <child name>'s 7th Birthday. Hypothesis: You will learn (and eat) something (safe) about food that you did not know (or eat) before!. Experiment Date/Time: <date>. Laboratory: <my address>. Laboratory cafeteria will serve snacks cake and experimental results! Please RSVP to the laboratory director by <date>. Children arrived and received a lab kit a square favor box with handle from Oriental Trading Company (OT) which I had labeled with each child's name and which contained supplies needed for upcoming experiments: Laboratory notebook (OT) pencil (10/a dollar at dollar store) pencil sharpener (5/a dollar at dollar store) roll of lifesavers (bulk from OT) magnifying glass (OT) test tube (OT) filled with pop rocks (bulk from ebay) and name badge pre-labeled with a cupcake sticker and Professor <guest name> (name badges were discounted at OT due to short lanyard but worked great for 7 y.o. and included safety clasp to prevent strangulation).
After all guests (20) had arrived the children sat around the table and first decorated "lab" aprons (multi-purpose aprons in fun colors bulk from OT) using foam letter stickers (for their names) and foam food stickers (OT). Next they decorated their foam cover lab books with their names and more stickers. We quickly moved into the experiments which I gathered from various internet sources. For each I asked the children to record simple predictions about the outcome:
Exp 1) Lifesavers: Do you think you can you tell the flavor of something if you cannot smell it? Hold nose and put lifesaver in mouth and try to guess flavor - difficult to judge flavor while holding nose.
Exp 2) Build molecules and other geometric shapes out of marshmallows (big and small) gumdrops and toothpicks (kids had a great time with this including eating the results). We provided the marshmallows and gumdrops in glass beakers.
Exp 3) Myth buster: If you drop a piece of buttered bread does it really always land butter side down? We gave each child a piece of buttered bread then asked them to toss it in the air so it landed on the table and on wipe board recorded the results - majority landed butter side up (which was good because they all wanted to eat the bread afterwards :)!
Exp 4) strange cornstarch slime - distributed baggies we had pre-filled with cornstarch they poured into petri dishes and we added a small amt of water to each. They explored the properties of cornflour slime as they moved their fingers quickly and slowly through the cornstarch. Note: this was the messiest experiment we did so I would recommend having a drop cloth under table (e.g. extra tablecloth) or using larger bowls than the petri dishes we used.
Grand Finale Exp 5) What happens when you mix pop rocks and soda? Told a version of the myth of Mikey (telling the 7 year olds that the myth was that Mikey's mouth exploded when he ate pop rocks and drank soda I thought this was less scary than saying that he had exploded) and asked whether it could be true. Gave each child a very small amount of sprite and all at once they ate their pop rocks from test tubes and drank the soda. Most of the children loved this experiment though warning: one of the children did get upset that she or the other children might explode and refused to do the experiment (which of course we reassured her that she didn't have to and that kids won't really explode) so if I did this again with young kids I would focus more on the "scientific properties" of pop rocks/soda and not on the myth.
Next the kids ate dinner (which after all that they really did eat their crock pot mac and cheese and Ikea meatballs) and we concluded with a volcano cake. I used a simple recipe using a plain vanilla sheet cake for the base frosted with green (food color buttercream) frosting for grass and an upper layer of chocolate cake formed using an angel food mold I have that is in the shape of a rose (when covered with chocolate frosting made great hills and ridges on the side of the volcano and using the angel food mold the hole in the center was already there). For erupting lava I warmed butter cream frosting in the microwave added red food coloring and drizzled this from the center on down the sides of the volcano. We placed plastic dinosaurs (10/dollar at dollar store) around the "grass." We had intended for the cake to erupt but I was unable to find dry ice and we were concerned that the alternate vinegar/baking soda method would harm the flavor of the cake so we just used a number 7 sparkler candle (party store) in the center of the cake. The kids loved the sparkler candle!
This ended the 2 hour party with approximately 15 minutes left for free play. The kids went home with their lab kits and personalized aprons. One of my daughters friends said this was the best party she had ever been to and parents have been telling me how much fun their kids had at this unique party and that the kids have been showing everyone the experiments!"
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