Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Homeschool Science

Ooh! Ooh! Guess what we're doing right now?

We are growing sugar crystals!

Aren't you jealous? Shouldn't you be? :o)

This is part of Ryan's fascination with rocks and gems and crystals. I vaguely recalled doing an experiment with a sugar solution and string tied around a pencil. Thanks to the glory that is the internet (and Al Gore, of course), it took about 3.5 minutes to locate the experiment and get to work.

While I'm certain that some of the finer points of the process are lost on him (why we boiled the water to get more sugar in, for example), he does understand what evaporation is and kind of gets the basics. But he doesn't quite believe that sugar crystals will form on the string, so I'm quite looking forward to seeing him verify the results with his own eyes. One thing about being into rocks is that patience must be cultivated. He is like me--fundamentally impatient. So all this rock polishing that we are still doing and this crystal growing might be good for him. Oh all right--it's good for me anyway.

And also--it's very nerve-wracking to be boiling up some water and making a super-saturated sugar solution (say that 10 times fast), while two very eager small people who have yet to be seriously burned and so may not completely believe me about burns are this close to me the whole while and breathing down my neck. I let Ryan stir the sugar until he lost the ability to be careful and just started splashing sugar water everywhere. We all emerged unscathed, but now I remember why I never really liked doing chemistry experiments. For some, there is a thrill in the possibility that the beaker might explode or something might catch fire or acid might spray everywhere. I'm not one of those people. Nope!

Still, this was fun. I'll let you know how it turns out.


Charlie said...

Another fun experiment that A and I are doing right now is growing a potato from a potato. In late summer we bought some red and purple potatoes to grill, and had some left over that sat in a bowl for awhile.

The purple ones eventually sprouted, and so A and I undertook an experiment to watch the roots grow. We put toothpicks in it and suspended it in a clear glass with water, and in a couple of weeks there were roots everywhere. When shoots started to grow up and sprout leaves, we transplanted it to a pot and since then two giant 2.5' stalks have grown and sprouted many leaves. I'm thinking of transplanting the whole thing to a clear-as-possible tupperware dish or big glass bowl so we can watch for "baby potatoes".

So A is not quite 4, and much of the experiment is above her right now, but she was initially quite excited about it and we talked a lot about it for a couple of weeks at least. Now that it's just a plant, she's not interested, but if I put it in a clear bowl that will likely change.

Anyway, just thought I'd mention another fun and really easy experiment.

And one cool thing relating to our potato being purple, the stalks of the plant are purple too. Pretty crazy.

Rational Jenn said...

That's a neat idea! I think my kids will like that one, too. I also remember growing a bean plant. It seems so mundane, doesn't it, but sometimes I forget that they have never experienced these things for themselves. It's fun to get excited with them, even though I know just how it will turn out!