We have a friend who is a scientist.
A chemist, actually, I think.
He knows that our kids have a deep interest in interesting things pertaining to his field and he has encouraged our family to explore that. He brought us the shell of a penny a while ago. He had used a chemical to dissolve the zinc inside the penny but leave the copper shell intact. That was pretty cool. Bryce took that to school to show his science class.
Well, recently Bryce was learning about density and happened to mention that to this sweet man who gave me a great experiment to do at home that deals with surface tension and density.
Well, I never could turn my back on a fabulous experiment so over the Thanksgiving holiday we gave it a shot.
Here's how it went.
First, fill a shallow pan with whole milk (the milk fat is important here, the fattier your milk the better this works).
Next, let your youngsters squeeze a couple drops of food coloring into each corner of the pan. You will notice that some of our kidlets were a little more liberal than others in their idea of what "a few" drops meant.
Now, put a drop of dish soap (seriously, a drop is plenty) a little bit away from the food coloring and watch your milk morph into a tie dye work of art. The soap breaks up the fatty layer in the milk which breaks the surface tension allowing the more dense milk resting underneath the fat layer to move in and fill the gap and allowing young observers to see a beautiful convection action that makes the colors come alive. It is a lot of fun.
Thanks to our science minded friend for keeping us up on fun ideas that let our kids see the way things work and get hands on opportunities to learn.
For a better explanation of what is going on here or for clearer step by step instructions take a peek at this website. They also have lots of other fun science ideas that are great in your very own kitchen.