Mad Scientist Lab -9yr- Lab Coats & Goggles
Brenda in Lithia, Florida, USA
My son asked for a Mad Scientist Party for his 9th birthday. With a lot of planning and prep work, this became one of our best parties ever. I found so many great ideas on this site and by searching the web.
INVITATIONS: I always like the invitations to be interactive and fun, so for this party I made test tube shakers from scrapbooking materials. There are many tutorials on the web, but basically a shaker is two pieces of cardstock & clear acetate sandwiched with foam tape. The interior of this shaker was filled with seed beads, but you can also use glitter, sequins or anything with a low profile. When you move the card, the beads slide around inside the test tube. I placed clear epoxy stickers all around the test tube to look like it was bubbling. Inside the invitation was a picture from the web of a mad scientist. The invitation read: Come for cool chemical reactions, wacky experiments & explosive fun! Testing begins: (date & time of party), Lab location: (our address), Lab Director: (my name & our phone number for RSVP's), *The Lab Cafeteria will be serving dinner. The envelopes were sealed with a yellow radioactive Open With Caution sticker.
1) As the boys arrived, they were greeted in the foyer at the Scientist Check-In table. I had a table set up with a lap top, glow stick, clipboard with guest list & lava lamp. Each boy was asked their name & a helper checked it off the list. Then a retinal scan was done by passing the glow stick in front of the boys eyes. As this was done, I had a website up on the laptop that speaks whatever typed in a funky voice. For each boy, I had the computer say, Dr. ____ is confirmed. You may now enter the laboratory. The boys thought this was so cool!
COSTUMES: On the wall behind the check-in table I attached Command Hooks (to make it easy to remove after the party) and computer labels printed with each name, Dr. Drew, Dr. Ryan, etc. I printed enough name stickers to label everything in the party. This made it easier to keep track of each boy's experiments. On the hooks I hung a disposable lab coat & eye goggles for each boy. I made laminated ID badges with a picture of a mad scientist & the guest name. The ID number on each badge was my son's birth date. These were pinned to the pocket of each lab coat.
2) The first stop was TOWER BUILDING in the Engineering Department (dining room). I covered the table with a black sheet & removed the chairs. Each place was set with a styrofoam tray (free from the meat department at the local grocery store) labeled with a name sticker. Running down the center of the table were bowls filled with toothpicks and mini marshmallows. The boys had to construct free standing towers using the toothpicks & marshmallows. We set a 15-minute time limit & the 2 tallest towers won a prize. We used a measuring tape & had an easel with white board set out to record the heights. I had 3-D anatomy figures of the human body & a frog (from the dollar store) as prizes.
3) Next, we moved the boys outside for the ROCKET BLAST experiment. Each boy was given an empty film canister (free from local photo store) & a packet of Alka-Seltzer. I filled each canister with some water & had the boys quickly add a quarter piece of Alka-Seltzer & the lid. The chemical reaction causes the lid of the canister to pop off. This was a HUGE hit and the boys were able to do this several times. After I collected the canisters and added them to each boys experiment bag (which they got later in the party).
4) The boys went back into the house for dinner. I set the kitchen & adjoining family room up to look like a cafeteria. The kitchen table was set up like a cafeteria line and the boys ate at a long banquet table. I had a Bill Nye The Science Guy volcanoes DVD playing in the background (borrowed from the library).
5) After dinner it was time for experiments! I set up a mad scientist lab in our garage. Before the boys went into the lab they were given an experiment bag to collect the results from each of the lab activities. These were plain white handled gift bags that I decorated with a hazmat sticker & a name label. I used different stickers to break the boys into groups. The bags contained a pair of latex gloves and the empty film canister from the previous experiment. While I handed out the bags, my husband slipped into the lab (garage) and filled a large galvanized bucket with dry ice and water. When the boys walked in, the entire area was filled with smoke! Before the party, I made a cd of lab sounds (bubbling, glass breaking, electric currents, etc.) downloaded from the internet. To add to the effect, I had this cd playing on a loop in the lab. My husband ran the first 2 group experiments while went back into the kitchen to set up dessert
6) SOAP PUFF: My husband had bucket of water, several different brand name soap (including Ivory) & a microwave. He asked the boys if they thought each bar would sink or float as he placed them into the bucket (only the Ivory floats) and they talked about why that is. Then my husband placed the Ivory into the microwave and cooked it for 2 minutes on High. This causes the soap to expand into a huge, fluffy puff. Kids & parents alike thought this was very cool!
7) FINGERPRINTING: My son received a fingerprinting kit for Christmas and we used it for the boys to collect their own prints. A table was set up with a styrofoam tray, fingerprint card, magnifying glass, plastic cup & feather for each boy. My husband led the boys through the process of making a clear print on the cup, dusting with graphite powder & lifting it with tape. After, the boys put the print card, feather & magnifying glasses in their experiment bag. At this point, the boys were told to match the sticker on their bags to the stickers on the different experiment station signs. I had a table for each experiment set up all around the garage. The boys rotated through 5 different stations. Before the party, I asked several friends to help run the stations.
8) BALLOON BLAST: On the table I had an empty water bottle labeled for each boy. The bottles were partially filled with vinegar. Also on the table was a bowl of baking soda, funnels, spoons & balloons. Using a funnel, each boy placed a spoonful of baking soda into the balloon. Then the end of the balloon was fitted tightly over the mouth of the bottle. When ready, the boys lifted the balloon, allowing the baking soda to empty into the bottle. The chemical reaction of baking soda & vinegar causes the balloon to blow up! These went into the experiment bags.
9) OOBLECK: At this station I had labeled plastic containers with lids (4 for $1 from dollar store) with cornstarch, a pitcher of water, measuring cup, popsicle sticks & plastic plates. By mixing equal parts cornstarch & water, a non-Newtonian solution is created that is not quite solid & not quite liquid, but has properties of both. The kids poured their mixture into the plates & played with it. When finished, they poured the mixture back into their containers & put the containers in their experiment bags.
10) LAVA LAMP: On this table I had labeled empty water bottles partially filled with vegetable oil, bottles of food color, test tubes filled with water & Alka-Seltzer tablets. The boys poured water & added food color to vegetable oil. The oil & water separate & only the water is colored. Then they added an Alka-Seltzer tablet to the bottle. This causes the colored water to bubble up through the oil, creating a lava lamp effect. After tightly sealed, the lava lamp bottles went into the experiment bags.
11) SLIME: At this table, food color, popsicle sticks, lid containers filled with a pre-mixed solution of white glue and water and empty baby food jars with a borax & water solution were set out. The boys poured the baby food jar contents & a drop of food color into the glue solution, creating a solid slime that they could stretch & play with. The slime was then put into the lid containers & put into their bags.
12) INSTA-SNOW: The table was set up with a lid container filled with instant snow granules (available from the Steve Spangler website) and cups of water. By adding water to the granules, the boys were able to make a powdery snow. This was a big hit with these Florida boys! The snow filled containers went into their bags.
13) After all of the experiments were completed, the boys went back to the Lab Cafeteria for cake & ice cream.
14) The last experiment of the party was DIET COKE & MENTOS GEYSERS. For this, we went back outside where each boy was given a 2-liter of diet soda & a roll of Mentos. I had 3 geyser tubes for the boys to share (Steve Spangler website). This was definitely the grand finale of the party! Dropping the Mentos candy into the soda causes a huge geyser eruption that everyone loved!
PARTY SNACKS: For dinner, I served pizza and chips. To drink, each boy had a 16-ounce bottle of green Gatorade & a crazy straw. The dessert was definitely my favorite. I made a volcano cake with a bundt pan, 2 different sized round pans & a cupcake. I added a glass to the center of the cake before icing so that dry ice & water could be added just before serving. For lava, I melted red hard candy and drizzled it on foil until it hardened. Then these candy drips were stuck into the cake. Lastly, I bought sparkler candles. It turned out so great! I had an Invent Your Own Sundae bar set out on the kitchen table. The boys had a blast topping their ice cream with gummy bears, gummy body parts, jimmies, chocolate chips, Nerds, marshmallow eyeballs, M&M's, whip cream, caramel sauce, strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce, hot fudge & cherries.
DECORATIONS: For each location or station, I had a sign with the station name. I made the signs from a half sheet of poster board, cardstock letters cut with a die-cut machine & science border purchased from a teacher's supply store. In the house, I had all of the decorations in bright neon blue, lime, orange & yellow. I hung rainbow colored wind spinners shaped like circles, triangles & rectangles (from dollar store) from the light fixtures. Above the buffet table I hung latex gloves that I had blown up & tied with curling ribbon.
Above the food table, I hung string from corner to corner of the room and taped alternating blown up balloons & cardstock spirals from the string. The buffet was covered in a yellow plastic tablecloth with a display of science flasks & beakers filled with moon sand. I also had a holographic picture of a mad scientist that turns into a monster scientist, depending on how you look at the picture (I bought this during Halloween).
The food table was covered in a blue plastic tablecloth. Each place had a lime colored napkin & crazy straw wrapped in neon colored pipe cleaner. I hung a clear plastic drop cloth in the archway between the dining room & kitchen area and cut the drop cloth into strips (to resemble what you see in labs). I wanted the lab to have an eerie feel, so I used black tarp to completely cover all of the walls of the garage.
Then I added a mad scientist Scene Setter from Oriental Trading. To give a stainless steel effect, each of the lab tables were covered in silver plastic tablecloths. I also set up a lab prop table. I saved empty glass jars & filled them with water & neon food color. To some of the jars, I added grow snakes, bugs & brain (the kind that expand over several days when added to water). To look like dissections, I used T-pins to attach a gummy hand, rat & frog to styrofoam trays. Lastly, I had a pair of black rubber gloves sitting out on the table. Throughout the house & garage I hung different biohazard signs that I found online and had printed at my local office store.
FAVORS: In addition to their experiment bags filled with their creations, each boy took home a goody bag. I used red plastic hazardous material bags from a local nursing home to hold the goodies. Inside each bag, the boys received gummy body parts, gummy worm, pop rocks, a test tube filled with slime & a bug, Alka-Seltzer packages (so they could do more experiments at home), a stink bag (very boy appropriate - you squeeze the bag to cause a chemical reaction which causes the pouch to expand, pop & emit a stinky sulfur smell!) & an Experiment Manual that I put together with directions & explanations of all of the experiments done at the party.
My best advice with a science party is to test all of the experiments a few days before the party & to have everything pre-mixed and separated for each guest. By far, this was the most laid back party I've ever done. The boys were respectful, attentive & had a great time!