Wednesday, November 11

Middle School Science Projects that Celebrate the Holidays

When the holidays arrive, it's so tempting to completely put school aside...but one does not preclude the other!  Here are some fun ways to include science in your Christmas school...

Science-y Snowflakes

Chemistry comes to life with this fun snowflake project!

You'll need:
  • Borax
  • Glass jar
  • Water
  • String
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Scissors
  • Pencils
  1. Create snowflakes from the pipe cleaners.  (Make them smaller than the mouth of your jar!)  
  2. Mix borax and boiling water.  Water should be slightly cloudy.  Pour mixture into jars.  Leave an inch or two of head space.
  3. Using string, suspend snowflakes into borax solution.  Set jars aside and wait two to three days for crystals to grow.  (They could grow quicker, but maximum effect will take a couple of days.)

Handmade Plastic Ornaments

This is a fun way to use up milk that is past its expiration date, and you can customize your ornaments for beautiful handmade gifts!  (Two cups of milk will make three set of ornaments.)

You'll need:
  • 2 c. Milk (skim doesn't work very well)
  • 2 Tbsp. White vinegar
  • Cheese cloth
  • Bowl
  • Paper towels
  • Silicone mold
  • Ribbon
  • Clear spray
  • Hot glue
  • Optional: Essential oils, glitter, food coloring
  1. Heat milk on the stove on the low setting.  Stir constantly until it just starts to steam.
  2. Pour steaming milk in a bowl and add 2 Tbsp vinegar.  Stir until milk separates into curds and whey (about one minute).
  3. Separate the curds from the whey by pouring through the cheese cloth.  (Toss the whey.)
  4. Squish the curds (the white lumps that are leftover) to remove all the liquid.  Then place them on a paper towel.
  5. Fold the paper towel and squish the curds again.  Do this a few times until you can make a ball with the curds.
  6. If you plan to add color, glitter, or aroma to your ornament, now is the time.  It only takes a couple of drops (because you want to keep them as dry as possible).  Work the extras into your ball o' curds.
  7. Place the curds into your silicone mold.  Pack them in well to remove air bubbles.
  8. Let dry for 24-48 hours.  Pop out of molds and air dry for another day.
  9. Poke a hole in the top of the ornament and string ribbon through it to hang.

Candy Cane Volcano

Put a holiday twist on the volcano with this peppermint blast!  This one is perfect for including younger siblings.

You'll need:
  • Baking soda
  • vinegar
  • candy canes
  • pipette
  • peppermint extract
  • red food coloring
  • roasting pan
  1. Mix 1 c vinegar with 5-7 drops red food coloring.  Add 10-15 drops peppermint extract.  Stir well.
  2. Coat a pan with baking soda.  Add a couple of candy canes just sitting in the bottom of the pan.
  3. Using pipettes, pour the vinegar mixture onto the baking soda and watch the magic!  It also smells super yummy.

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